Yesterday, shortly after arriving at work, I noticed a rather large, gray “floater” in my field of vision. I’ve had floaters as long as I can remember, but this one was different. It was much larger (about the size of a fingernail at arm’s length) and when I closed that eye, it would turn white—with circulating black flecks inside it. This was not normal, and of course internet searches convinced me I was dying.
My dad had a history of detached retinas, so I feared the worst and called my opthamologist. I saw her yesterday afternoon. As I described to her, it was like the afterimage you get when staring into a bright light…except it never fades away.
She dilated my eyes and looked around in them for several minutes. Turns out it is a fairly common aspect of aging; the vitreous gel (the substance “inflating” the eyeball) starts to break down as we get older, and in doing so it can pull away from the retina, causing these spots. There was no sign of tearing or separation or macular degeneration, so there’s that, but it’s annoying as hell because it’s dead-center in the field of vision in my left eye (my dominant, “reading” eye) and because I’m so aware of it now I’m getting eye-strain headaches. “The spot may disappear completely as it migrates, or it may stay put.” How reassuring.
She noted to call immediately if anything changes—especially seeing bright flashes, but otherwise it’s nothing to worry about. I made an appointment to see in her in month’s time to followup.
I am generally not a fan of summer.
Surprisingly, it isn’t because of the 6-8 weeks of +110℉ temps we endure in Phoenix; that I can deal with. It’s because of the early morning light.
As I’ve gotten older, my sleep patterns have become increasingly erratic. I’m almost always in deep sleep within moments of my head hitting the pillow and usually have no recollection of Ben coming to bed. Some (rare) nights I don’t wake up until my alarm goes off. Other nights are a series of one hour blocks of sleep punctuated by half-to-full hour gaps of wakefulness—or a single incident of waking around 4 am and then tossing and turning until I finally fall back to sleep moments before the alarm goes off. Thankfully, most nights are usually just a single incident of getting up to use the bathroom (something I’ve done since I was a teenager, so no…it’s not my aging plumbing) and then falling right back to sleep upon returning to bed.
I understand that sleep problems are a grossly underreported aspect of aging. I know my dad suffered as he got older, and when I was in my 30s I was incredulous when he told me he’d wake up at 3 in the morning and more often than not, struggle—or not be able at all—to get back to sleep.
I’m also beginning to understand why he had sheets of black plastic completely covering his bedroom windows.
We have dark grey curtains in the bedroom. Closing them—and the blinds behind—does an decent job of keeping the room dark at night. But at this time of year with the sun coming up so early, the room still starts getting light around 5 am. It also doesn’t help that the dogs have reset their internal clocks to match the sun. They used to sleep until my alarm went off at 6; now they’re crawling on top of me anywhere from 5-5:30, demanding to be let out.
I can’t tell you the last time I woke up fully refreshed from a typical night’s sleep. Lately it seems I’m as exhausted—or more so—than when I went to bed. The one recent time I do remember waking fully recharged and feeling good was either a Saturday or Sunday a couple months ago where I got up at the usual time, piddled around the house for an hour or so and then went back to bed, sleeping in until shortly after noon.
35 years ago I would just be starting my night. Now I’m wondering if it’s too early to go to bed…
Insomnia is evil. I have no trouble falling asleep; in fact, it’s usually within seconds after my head hits the pillow. But for some reason almost every night between anywhere from 3 to 4:30 am, I wake up (usually from an intense dream) and can’t fall back asleep. I start worrying about what time it is and how soon my fucking alarm is going to go off, or even if I glance over and see I’ve still got over two hours before I have to be awake, my mind starts racing and at that point I’m fucked.
I so envy Ben’s ability to sleep for ten hours at a stretch and immediately fall back asleep if anyone wakes him up.
When I was in my 20s a trick I used on the rare instances I couldn’t get back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night was to tell myself that nothing was so important that I needed to fret over it and lose sleep—especially since nothing could be done about whatever it was that was bothering me until morning anyway. If only that still worked…
I long for the days when the most difficult part of my morning routine was putting in my contact lenses, and the worst health issue I had to contend with were allergies and an occasional bout of tonsillitis.