Blog: O Sleep, the certain knot of peace

By Marcus Hamilton

Marcus lives with chronic pain and faces a dilemma nearly every night.

Sir Phillip Sydney's poem Come Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace, could not have said it better!

While lying in bed watching the clock turn to 2 a.m., my nightly pain management deliberation begins – after all I have tried not having coffee after 12pm, going to bed at 7:30pm to let my body adjust to the blanket, played some Play Station to try and trick my mind into forgetting, tried meditating with Ajahin Brahmali, followed Wim Hof in his breathing exercises and tried a boring documentary on Netflix.

In fact, tonight I was laying here at 7:30pm listening to the neighbourhood kids playing merrily outside while I was stuck in bed undergoing the daily ritual of getting my CRPS used to the feeling of sheets on my foot and leg. This is where I insert my flash back to being age 7, listening to the neighbourhood kids playing outside while my sensible parents make me go to bed at a reasonable hour – while it is still light outside, damn you daylight savings!

Now back to the quandary of whether I should I take an upper limit of my daily dosage of codeine to dull the burn in the leg? Or should I do some more breathing to help numb the spasms?

Or do I ride out the pain and hope it does not reach a truly intolerable level?

My emotionally heightened deliberation continues. If I take more medication, I risk increasing the cognitive haze tomorrow morning, which of course will impact on my already lessened ability to perform intellectually demanding tasks like making a coffee or remembering to take yet more prescription drugs. If the pain keeps me awake, I am probably going to have increased Petit Mal fits, which of course means I cannot be trusted with my 3-year-old son or will forget to have lunch or fall and hurt myself.

Even if I do achieve sleep without any extra medication, I will appear unintelligent from the “pain brain” that occurs when my CRPS flares during the day. Which it will, my mouth is going dry just thinking about it.

This debate is uncomfortably isolating, no one can help with the decisions I need to make about my pain.

Sorry, but this is a very lonely experience and I wonder about the many other CRPS patients experience a similar predicament, pushing extended family and friends away, ultimately of course pushing away those close – not on purpose – just the pain talking every day. After 20 minutes of scrutiny, I am unable to come to a definitive conclusion.

Nothing I have mentioned is a very constructive option if you ask me. Right now, all I crave is an ordinary sleep pattern and a pure, social, pain-free life of a healthy mortal

Most of all I aspire to be my old self, a confident, full of beans husband and father who contributes to society.

Pain makes that seem impossible and very challenging. I want to care for my body. Even though I partake in various versions of this pain debate every day, there is never a straightforward answer, never. I decided to try one last attempt at slumber. I carefully adjust the pillows and gently ask my body to drift into a dream without pain or worry.

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