I am in the throes of what is accurately called night sweats. This phenomenon is very funny and terribly disruptive. I try to stay amused as my mental skills deteriorate from the lack of sleep but it’s not easy. I say funny because I hardly generated sweat my entire life despite many marathons and 15 years of martial arts training and now I am sodden as soon as the lights go out. Disruptive because endless cycles of hot and cold do not make for an easy rest. This morning I crawled out of bed with a no-sleep hangover and asked if I could have a cot on the roof. Last night Burt a tender hand on me and quickly withdrew it when he felt the heat and moisture. He knew to stay back. Way back.
I find hot flashes during the day cute and almost entertaining. The sudden spikes in body temperature came and went quickly. Here, during winter, at the temperate Tropic of Cancer it is easy to manage. A shawl on or off or a quick step into or out of the shade and I can find comfort. I’m also awake and it’s easy to solve the problem in daylight and on my feet. Hot flashes have been happening for about two years in the phase of feminine maturity called perimenopause. They did not bother me. I can’t remember my first night sweat. They were intermittent and I’d just throw of the covers and go back to sleep. I wondered why they were called night sweats instead of hot flashes. Seemed the same to me. About a month ago I entered a new phase of the gentle decline towards death. It is 252 days since my last period and I have started having three to five night sweats a night. Each week I am damper. I wonder about dehydration. Here’s how it feels: Wake and wonder why I’m awake. Recognize the weird anxious churning in my gut as Satan stoking the internal furnace, throw the covers off hoping to lessen the intensity, get really hot and a little stressed, start sweating, soak the sheets, lie there and wonder (again) how many calories are in a flash of heat like this (thermodynamics demands an answer), and then I’m cold. Wet and cold. This is the trickiest moment. If I cover myself too soon I’ll re-enter the hot phase. If I wait too long I’ll get so cold that I’ll cover myself too much and re-enter the hot phase. If I don’t do anything I lie awake feeling cold and clammy. Usually I play Bridge and fuss with the covers for twenty minutes. Eventually I fall asleep. And hour to two hours later it starts over. Sometimes I fall asleep just as the next one starts. Two days ago I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself tangled in a wreck of sheets, face plastered directly to the mattress and thought, “Time for a change.”
I’ve Googled advice and I can say DEATH TO THE PATRIARCHY to this list of bullshit. Get more exercise, eat properly, cut back on caffeine and alcohol, sleep naked. Get a cooling mattress and bedding! The only violation of personal habits is my taste in spicy food. They want to make us behave and be miserable with this list of habits. Surely if we can solve erectile dysfunction we can come up with a better list of to-dos. I want smart PJs that anticipate the change in climate before I wake and increase or decrease temperature accordingly. How about my fitbit adjusts the fan in the trailer? The technology is out there. I know it is.
So there I was wrapped up in some horrible blend sheets on this massive California queen mattress we accidentally bought three years ago. Remember that? Burt and I went mattress shopping and wound up with a mattress too big for the trailer. There are no easily found sheets or mattress pads for a California Queen. The salesman tried to warn us. It was a low intelligence day. Mimi loved our massive mistake. The 6″ longer mattress shortened her jump commute between the litter box and bed. Burt and I suffered. There were no mattress pads the right size. There were only hideous sheets in awful colors and sticky blends. We spent a lot of money chasing bedding. Most recently I found a set of sheets that were supposedly the right size but they would not stay in place for more than a night. So sleeping on synthetics sucked but waking up with our faces directly on the disgustingly unprotected mattress itself sucked even more. I finally realized 400 count cotton sheets and a natural fiber mattress pad were in the guest room and Mimi was dead. Yesterday I woke up and said, “We must switch mattresses.” This was a classic marital moment. Burt has been agitating for the switch for three years. Mimi always won. He did not say, “I told you so.” He was so happy to switch he just helped me make it happen the same day. I’ll spare you the description of us moving mattresses in and out of the gNash. The workers chuckled. (We’re surrounded by bricklayers for the next 2 months.)
I wish I could report that I slept better, that the ‘cooling’ mattress and bedding was the answer. I cannot. I can say I suffered less. I was disgustingly sodden and awake but in a cocoon of cotton. And the trailer is so much more spacious that I can’t believe Mimi got away with it all these years. Today I insisted we install the new vent fan I bought this summer. The high efficiency fan is whirring this very moment. Air is moving. That might help, too. Meanwhile I will keep trying to eat right and exercise. They say some one get through this phase in a short run of time. Others are tormented for years. I’m considering new hobbies for the evening hours.