Staying in Focus: A Bump in the Night

Sorry I have been remiss in writing this blog over the past few days but I have a good excuse. You see, I ran into a wall. Literally. I have always prided myself in being in control of my actions. I do not drink or use drugs other than those prescribed by my doctors. Therein lies the problem. Since my diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 2007, I have taken a drug called Mirapex. It helps to control my tremor.  However, one of its side effects is abnormal dreams. For the most part I have tolerated this side effect. My dreams are like watching or being in a movie, vivid and very real to me while I sleep. One of the first things I noticed, or I should say, my husband noticed, was that I would talk out loud on occasion. He couldn’t make out what i was saying, so he called it my “talking in tongues”. The odd thing is. I knew when this was happening because in the dream, I would be trying to shout at someone, or warn them of danger, and my voice would be very weak, no matter how loud I would try to be. I couldn’t speak in the dream because my voice was speaking out in he real world. I never woke up from these dreams with my heart pounding as from a nightmare. but often remembered them in the morning.

The next step was waking up to realize I had just hurled a pillow across the room, or being awakened by my husband because I was clutching his arm. I decided to nix the dose of Mirapex I took at bedtime  to see if that helped and the dreams diminished in intensity until last Saturday at 5:30 in the morning. I was very threatened in the dream I was having, and frantic to escape this man swinging a hook on a fish line at me, drawing closer and closer to my face. Still asleep, I must have  gotten out of bed  and charged across the room The next thing I knew my husband was shouting my name and running toward me. I had hit the corner edge of a wall in our bedroom, then fallen to the floor. It took a few seconds to orient myself and I put my hand to my face and felt blood. Bill helped me up, We turned on the light and I could see that I had hit my nose and the area over my left eye as the blood was coming from a mark on the bridge of my nose and the area above my eye was swelling.

Of course, this happened on a weekend, as usual. I felt okay – no headache, my pupils looked fine, no nausea and dizziness and I didn’t feel like hanging out in the ER for hours, so I just kept ice on the area, along with Vaseline, which i had read boxers use to reduce swelling. I spoke to the doctor on call for my neurologist and she reduced the dosage  a little more until I could see my doctor. Of course, I got a shiner of a black eye from the encounter with the wall, but more than that I was afraid to go to sleep on the chance it might happen again.  A friend suggested I get one of those body pillows to make it harder to  get out of bed in my sleep. I bought one and a cover for it, and pushed books in the bottom to make it heavy. That and 2 large bolster pillows on top make a nice fortress and I wedge myself between that and my husband, hoping he’d feel me trying to get out of bed. We have  a king size bed with a tempurpedic mattress, so unless we are close , one of us can get out of bed without disturbing the other one at all.

I saw my doctor and we are in the process of discontinuing the Mriapex. According to my doctor, when PD patients reach their sixties,  they no longer can tolerate the MIrapex. I had read that taking clonazepam before bed  can also help, as the dreams  are not solely caused by the Mirapex, but exacerbated by it. The tendency toward these dreams is a part of the Parkinson’s disease itself. Since I am already taking clonazepam, I now split the pill in half and take half in the AM and half before bed. Since making these changes, along with meditating a while before falling asleep, I have had fewer dreams  and  sleep through the night. I’ll just have to see how much tremor I have once off the Mirapex  and how I handle my anxiety splitting the clonazepam in half.

It is  a scary thing to have your conscious mind disconnected from your body. . In REM sleep, which is when we  dream, our bodies are paralyzed temporarily by something in our brains. This keeps us from doing what I did. In Pd patients and people with REM behavior disorder, this malfunctions, allowing the dream state to take control. I intend to research this  phenomenon further,

I hope by posting this, I can help other PD patients avoid what happened to me.In the meantime , I hope the doctors find a way to control this, so I can avoid going bump in the night ever again..