Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Spying on Myself and Finding Ghosts


March 16th. How did that happen? Life goes by too quickly and sometimes I think that happens because I tend to over schedule myself but I know if I didn’t the Lord of Boredom steps up to harass me. And he has a wicked sense of humor. Monday I took Levi to the Foo-Foo Doggie Beauty Spa, then I picked up some lunch, stopped at the pet store and on to the grocery before swinging back around to collect the dog. Tuesday and Wednesday I emptied out my bedroom and bathroom of everything I could carry to get ready for the painters to come beautify my rooms. (You should have seen all the stuff I purged out of my media cabinet and my medicine cabinet!) Wednesday I went to a lecture on Music Theory and how it affects the brain. Thursday was book club day and I’m composing this post before the painters are due on Friday. Is this lineup enough to qualify as over-scheduling my life? It wouldn’t have been back in my heydays when if I didn’t have a half-dozen things to do each day I was on vacation.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I’ve been playing with my little spy tape recorder. Years ago when I was using it a lot, I had a bad habit of not labeling the tapes I made. And since I wanted to recorder myself sleeping to see if I snore with and without the Snore Stopper device I wrote about last week, I decided I should listen to a few tapes to see if there was anything worth keeping before I recorded over one of them. The first two I listened to were conversations with my dad---he died in 1999. Worth keeping. The third tape I pop in was a shocker. It was my husband’s last out-going message from his telephone answering machine. The forth tape had me cracking up laughing along with myself laughing on the tape. I was attending a lecture given by the humor columnist from our local newspaper but there’s no denying the other voices on the tape were mine and my husband’s from 25+ years ago. A few minutes into the lecture the speaker had asked the audience members to each state our names and why we came to the lecture. Here’s what I heard…

“My name is Jean and I’m here because I don’t get a lot of humor.”

The speaker: “Are there any comedians or comedy shows you do get and like?”

I like Barry Miller,” I answered, “but I don’t get Woody Allen. I really don’t!” Then the speaker explained the differences in the two kinds of humor employed in my examples. 

Next up was my husband. “I’m Don and I’ve got to agree with her. She doesn’t get all humor and I think she’s funny when she’s not getting humor.” I’m laughing in the background as he went on…and on. “Barry Miller is a classic and Night Court. I predict in the future there will be tapes of those shows we can watch over and over again and still see the humor in them. Robin Williams is another. When he gets on a roll---say on the Johnny Carson Show---he can have us laughing until our stomachs ache. Another thing I find funny are your columns.” Don was being a kiss-up, but I could tell he was nervous speaking in public because he always talked faster when he was. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside to hear the two of us having a good time laughing and interacting with the group. But I’m glad he wasn’t around to see what happened to Robin Williams. Don dealt with a few periods of deep depression in his life---which few people knew about---and Robin’s suicide would have hit him hard.

The first night I set the voice activated recorder to find out if I snore I was in bed from midnight to eight in the morning but my Fitbit claimed I only got three hours of sleep, the rest of the time I was restless. Now I know why. I’m not snoring but I sure am having a lot of conversations in a language that would take an intergalactic interpreter to translate. Pure gibberish punctuated with laughter and some whimpering and apparently I must look at the clock because at one point I said, “Three o’clock” as clear as a bell. Interestingly enough it was after 3:00 when Fitbit said I actually slept deep enough not to be labeled ‘restless.’ The second night I set the recorder I was wearing the Snore Stopper “baskets” up my nose and my Fitbit said I slept 6 hours and 53 minutes with only 49 minutes being labeled ‘restless.’ But the funny part was the words I was saying were easier to understand and there were less of them. 

Talking in your sleep is generally harmless, according to my online search and the only treatment needed is having your bed partner wear ear plugs, but have you ever tried making a dog wear them? I’d probably forget to take them back out in the morning and spend all day wondering why he’s ignoring me. It’s the Lord of Boredom who makes me do experiences like this, but all kidding aside, how much does a sleep study cost these days? A $1,000+? And I’ll bet I wouldn’t have learned a whole lot more. ©

28 comments:

  1. I did a sleep study one time. I didn't learn much except that I move sometimes when I'm dreaming, and we're not supposed to do that.

    I can't imagine finding those tapes of you and Don enjoying yourselves. His prediction sure did come true. We can find just about anything we want to watch anytime we want to watch it. Funny you mentioned Johnny. I mentioned him in my post today, too.

    Wow. The Snore Stoppers really made a difference. That 3 o'clock hour is a killer. I often wake at that time, too.

    I had a good friend who was like you. She loved to do things, be busy and was bored if she didn't get enough stimulation. When I look back, that was the busiest time of my life. We were always doing something fun.

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    1. I read that, too, about moving around while sleep talking is not good. One more step and you're sleep walking. I'm pretty sure I've never done that but my brother was a walker when he was a kid. He used to have some awful nightmares, too, that kind that woke up the whole house.

      My best friend growing up had am older sister who was always organizing groups of kids. She could run circles around me in the keep busy department. I've often said I'm glad I didn't live near her as an adult because she's the type who has everyone volunteering for everything.

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  2. I would just die if I were forced to go to as many lectures and such as you do. It's just the old different-strokes-for-different-folks business. I'm glad that the season's turning now, and you can get to some of those events you enjoy. Even when it's at its worst here, we don't get housebound, except for occasional ice storms or floods, but those don't last very long.

    I miss good humor, and I miss good late night tv. I loved the Johnny Carson show, but snarkiness, backbiting, and politics aren't my idea of good humor. You've set me to thinking about the Good Humor man, and wondering why an ice cream vendor got that name. It's certainly appropriate! Maybe that's why I always turn to ice cream when I'm in a bad humor!

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    1. You're an hands-on kind of learner and I'm a listener learner. Back in the 70s when leisure time classes were all the rage, I took a ton of those instead of going to lectures, even taught a few. Our senior hall offers a lot of walking tours but I'm not physically able to do those, or I would. I just like to learn new things one way or another.

      I hadn't thought of the Good Humor Ice Cream guy in a long time. I'll blame my love of ice cream on him, too.

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  3. You do go down paths that I wouldn’t! I have no interest in knowing what I do during the 8 hours that I sleep at night. I do sleep though and have, fortunately, been a good sleeper. I rarely remember anything that I was dreaming about when I wake in the morning. I snored as a child until they took out my tonsils when I was 12 and then I had to be taught to breathe with my mouth closed.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. You are fortunate that you sleep well. I don't and it drives me crazy when I toss and turn all night or am forced to take a sleeping pill to sleep. I had my tonsils out when I was 3 months old. I wonder if the can grow back.

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  4. Oh how I wish I had kept some tapes of my father & mother talking. I can't remember how they sound and I want to kick my self in the butt. I miss their voices. I went to have breakfast with my buddies and as I turned to go to the table, I tripped over a rug that wasn't properly placed and boom, down I went on my head. OUCH! Up I went, still had breakfast but my friend took me to the doctor. He checked me and said I looked OK but check for 24 hrs. This morning I still OK but sore all around. God must still be near me.Thank the Lord. See ya Jean.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Stroke survivors really need to be careful watching where they are walking. I'm glad you're okay.

      You should consider having some conversations with your grandkids on a video tape. Someday they will appreciate them. I had a list of questions to ask my dad about his youth. I had typed up what he said and put his answers in a family history book but hearing his tell those stories again really made me feel good.

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  5. What an interesting sleep study! I know I've been having a great deal of very odd and vivid dreams lately, but I don't move during my sleep. Making the bed is a matter of seconds.

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    1. Have you started any new medications? Some of those can contribute to more remembered dreams.

      I need to get new sheets and forbid my house cleaner from making my bed. When she does it I have to get up half through the night and remade the bed.

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  6. Sleep talking is interesting. Too bad you can't understand what you are saying. Well at least you aren't snoring. I too am not a good sleeper. I so envy those who have no problems. I go to sleep fine, I just wake up a couple of times a night (once to pee the rest random) I sometimes have trouble getting back to sleep--often resort to reading. My fitness tracker usually gives me 4 hours of deep sleep, the rest either in light sleep or awake. Sigh.

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    1. I have sleep envy, too. I usually fall asleep fast but wake up an hour later and then several more times through out the night. Sometimes I think the trackers add more stress and we're better off not knowing...

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  7. We could do our own sleep study!

    I got my anti-snore baskets ... and I'm using a new app called "Pillow". Last night was 5% awake, 3% REM, 21% light sleep and 71% percent deep sleep! I am now using Flonase twice a day and have a cool air humidifier on the way. I feel so much better during the day! Whoo hoo!

    I haven't watched any videos of him since his death. I think it might make me miss him too much.

    Maybe you were an Excorcist in a past life?????

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    1. I used to use Flonase back when I was treated for asthma and it was by prescription. I've kind of outgrown some of my allergies, but I'm eager to see if I sleep better in my newly painted room, carpet cleaner is coming this week and with any luck I'll have a new bed and mattress soon, too. Dust free and it will be easier to keep it that way with my new bed.

      For me, enough time has past that Don's voice didn't make me miss him more, just the opposite, made him feel closer by but I'm not sure seeing a video would be the same. I only have one and that's post-stroke. I've seen it a couple of times and it's made me sad for all the stuff he went through for so many years.

      The PIllow app you're using is if a white noise, relaxation app? Amazon app's have a lot of them that popped up in a search.

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    2. Not a white noise app but I think that is an option. Pillow “measures” phases of sleep but I can’t figure out how they can do that. I just added the snoring level feature. Stay tuned!

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  8. My daughter used to walk in her sleep sometimes. The night before she and her family were to move out of their 1920's two-story house, she had been pretty stressed out and got up while still asleep and fell down the narrow, steep stairs next to the bedroom. She wound up with only a mild concussion and bruises, thank goodness. The house used to have a ghost so she said it was probably punishing her for leaving. :)

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    1. Wow, your daughter was really lucky she didn't get hurt more. When my brother saw a doctor for his sleep walking they told my parents he had to do relaxing things in the two hours before bedtime like read and that seem to help him grow out of it.

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  9. I mostly sleep well at night, a real blessing after over 40 years of insomnia, but sometimes the bedding is a real mess when I wake up. I'm not exactly inactive!

    Good luck with getting more sleep. I know what you are going through.

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  10. Well that was a damn fascinating post Jean. I love, love, love, that you could listen to those tapes with you and Don. I'd be so happy and crying the whole time. But happy. And why did you just happen to run across spy recording equipment. Did I miss a post? Were you a spy? :-)
    You say talking in your sleep is harmless. Perhaps if not sleeping with some one. I could just hurt Rick with all his snoring or jibber jabbering. It does make me laugh until I can't fall back to sleep and he is sawing logs.
    Rick had a sleep study but he couldn't sleep with all the apparatus. He said there must be something better way than cords and machines on your chest when they expect you to sleep comfortably and restfully.

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    1. Don had a sleep study, too, and he was able to sleep but I was in the connecting room and I couldn't. It was a noisy place and they were always going in and out to check the tubing connections. Would be a waste of money in my case because a grain of sand in the bed would keep me awake.

      You may have missed the post where I explained I used the "spy" recorder to record doctors I took my dad and Don to, because never of them could help me remember what was said. And I was doing genealogy then, too, and interviewing people who didn't want to write out answers to a questionnaire I was using. Finding that one of me and Don having fun was such a happy surprise!

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  11. Oh, when you found those tapes... that touched me so very, very deeply. Hearing a voice. I wish I could remember my mother's. I have a few of my dad on his ham radio but mom's... And to have them be of a good time, good memory. Oh, yes.

    Interesting about the sleep. I wake almost nightly at 2 or so. Maybe with DST it will be 3 now...

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  12. I've done several sleep studies as prescribed by my doctor which were free...because Canada! Let's hear it for health care for everyone! I had had 2 TIAs in 2016 - the studies were recommended to rule out sleep apnea. One, and then a follow up. I think they are a bit like scams, because they push those apnea breathing machines on everyone. Even though both sleep studies showed NO sleep apnea, the sleep doctor thought I should get one, you know, just in case! I said no thanks. However, I am going to run an experiment like yours Jean, with comparing what my Fitbit says about my sleep with and without those little basket things in my nose. Thanks for the idea!!!

    Deb

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    1. I bought those basket thingies for $5 and already had the Fitbit so it was a pretty cheap test to run. I want to do a couple more comparisons just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. I'm getting a new mattress soon and I will probably do more tests after that...just because I can. LOL

      I think you're probably right about the sleep apnea machines getting pushed on everyone. never knew a single person who took the test who didn't end up with a machine and half the people don't use them once they get them. My husband's, however, did stop his snoring and what I called 'holding his breath'.

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  13. I have wanted to do this, but I do not have a voice activated machine. I know I snore as I woke myself up with a snore, while napping in my recliner.
    Medicare pays for the sleep apnea test. Maybe I should just try your "up the nose basket" and see what happens.

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    1. How anyone can sleep with all that equipment attached to them is beyond me. When my husband did his, the got all the information they needed by four in the morning and they woke him up and made us go home at that time of the night!

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  14. Those recordings of you and your husband are priceless. What a lovely way to bring memories alive. I am the "family documenter" and I can get carried away with photos and journals...can't imagine also having recordings of the mundane and funny moments of our lives too! So much to catalog. LOL

    I'm intrigued by your voice activated recorder. I may look for one. I have a young friend (28 y/o) who talks in her sleep in full sentences and thoughts and sometimes gets up...her BF has even gone a long with her by having conversations with her in the night. It's as if she has a whole separate life going on all night long. She has recorded herself too. I think talking in one's sleep is a little creepy....but who knows? Could be personalities we only glimpse during the day that come out at night to play!

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    1. Getting up while talking in your sleep crosses some sort of line where it should be mentioned to a doctor according to what I've read. It fascinates me what I dream about.

      I'm the family documentarian too. I really need to get someone to transfer what's on those tape to a CD which can be done...I found a place. When I did the family history book I interviewed little kids who are now married with kids of their own.

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