May 2022

The Rest of the Story

My previous post spoke of a recent sleepwalking episode, but there’s more to the story.

Being old and sick has resulted in my no longer being afraid of anything because I have so little to lose, and since that episode was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before, I did not find it alarming. I did, of course, wonder about the cause and vaguely remembered reading that some prescription meds had side effects affecting mental capacity. It even occurred to me that a relatively new sleeping med for my chronic insomnia might be responsible, especially since on the evening in question I had taken a double dose to ensure that I’d go right to sleep. Ummm yes, so I filed that away for later consideration.

And then, a week after the episode it occurred to me that I could quite easily test whether the med was responsible by simply taking another double dose. In retrospect that seems breathtakingly stupid, but my having so little to lose has severely impacted my level of caution…and perhaps my common sense. So I took a double dose and nothing happened. Must have been something else that caused the problem because I felt fine the next morning and had not sleepwalked.

About noon I got a call from my sister. It turned out that Sheila, our wonderful building manager, had ratted me out. I was in the middle of reassuring Becky that the sleepwalking thing was a one-time-only event not to be worried about when there was a knock at my door. It was Sheila.

She was there to talk to me about last night’s event. Whaaaaat? Last night?

So I asked Sheila to wait a moment, told Becky I’d talk to her later about last night’s event, and ended the call. Then I got the full story from Sheila.

Yep, I’d sleepwalked again, and this time it was quite scary because I had (and have, other than the faintest impression of a large blue person putting a blood pressure cuff one me) absolutely no memory of it. Even when prompted. This time I’d not got out of the building. What I’d done was go down to the second floor and (this is speculation) apparently being lost, started trying doors until I found one that was unlocked so I could walk right in.

Linda kept a cool head about it, and when a brief conversation revealed that I was not making much sense, she called 911 and walked me down to the front door so we could let the mental health team in. She went back to her apartment, and the team, I am told, followed me to mine to take my vitals and determine that I was nonsensical rather than dangerous. And to keep talking with me until I started making sense before they tucked me into bed.

Sheila, Becky, and I agreed that my next move should be to call my internist, which I did. After she’d finished beating me up over the double dose, she confirmed my suspicion that the new sleeping med, Zolpidem, had a history of causing sleepwalking and even sleepdriving. (Yikes! Thank goodness I let go of my car last fall.) We agreed that I should stop taking the Zolpidem, even a single dose for now although I’d been taking the single dose some nights for several months with no problem.

The coda is that I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of my friends in the building with their many offers of help. I marvel at how lucky I am to be living here surrounded by people like Linda who are on my side, and this is above and beyond the solicitude of my friends outside the building, to whom I’m also grateful.

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Best One Yet

I was lost. It was nighttime but there was plenty of ambient light to see by as I wandered around on a residential street I didn’t recognize, trying to figure out where I was, when this nice lady came up to me on the sidewalk and asked if I were OK. After the woman and I had talked for a bit and I failed to make complete sense, a police car pulled up, and this pleasant young cop asked me some silly questions like who our president is. I passed that test but then admitted that I knew our President but what I didn’t know was where I was, Although I could tell him my name, I couldn’t find my billfold with my drivers’ license. Nor, for that matter, could I find my pants because all I was wearing was a tee shirt, boxer briefs, and socks. He asked me where I live, and I told him 190 Coleridge but that I didn’t know how to get there from here.

And then, breakthrough, I turned to look beyond the cop and recognized two doors down, the vehicular entrance structure for my building. I chortled to him that that’s where I live, so happy to no longer be lost. At this point, having noticed that I was shivering, the nice lady handed me a small blanket, which I gratefully wrapped myself in as I led the police down the entrance ramp and up to the front door. Oops, no key owing to no pants, but I remembered the entrance code that I could punch in to open the door when the buzzer went off.

Didn’t work. I kept trying until I accidentally rang the building manager, who kindly let us in and identified me to the cop. I led the cop down the hall and up the elevator and down the hall again to my door, which was, of course, unlocked because you have to lock it from the outside when you leave and I didn’t have the key. Once I found my drivers’ license and showed it to the cop, he left. And exhausted after all that work, I went back to bed and slept like a baby.

I talked with the apartment manager the next morning, and she showed me a video recording of me on the previous evening walking up to the front door, pushing to no avail on the right side, pushing on the left side with no success, and giving up and walking back the way I’d come. She continued the video that showed me sometime later returning to the front door and this time remembering to push a little lever that let the door open.

So I got out, walked up the ramp to the street, turned to the left, and after a short time was lost, which is where we came in.

Nothing remotely like this had ever happened to me before. I’d never sleepwalked, and I was left speculating about possible causes for this entertaining, if a bit strange, adventure.

In an apartment building full of old folks, nothing remains secret for long, so I told my side of the story to those I encountered during the day. One thing for sure, I told them, is that I’m grateful I don’t sleep in the nude.

Stay tuned, the story continues.

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