31 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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