Two hours, it is

Well, folks - there's no denying it. My nap has officially crept back to 2 hours.

If you recall, 6 1/2 years ago, around the time of a week long hospital stay, when my doctor declared the cause for my admittance "a pretty close call," I imposed a daily 2-hour nap. My company worked with me to revise my work day so that I could work up until 3pm everyday, giving me time to still be alert enough to drive home and hop into bed before that terrible lupus fatigue hit hard. Of course, I usually stretched my work day until after 4 (because you know how I am; if you don't, chapter 3 will explain everything), but come about 5pm, if I wasn't in bed sawing logs, I was a mess. I just couldn't fight the fatigue anymore. My body desperately needed to sleep mid-day, and the more I fought the fatigue, the sicker I became. If I didn't rest, I would be totally wiped out for the remainder of the day.

You know, I used the phrase, "I just couldn't fight the fatigue anymore", but that's not entirely true. I very well COULD have fought it. I could have pushed through every single day to work a full 9 hours (maintaining my full-time pay and my big-timer status at work - that would have been very nice.) I could have attempted to act as though this thing called lupus wasn't affecting me. I could have stood my ground and refused to admit that my body was a little bit weaker than it used to be. I could have avoided a nap at all costs, because 20-somethings don't take naps. But I can tell you how that story would have ended. Not well. I was sick. And as much as I wanted to ignore/deny/alter that fact, that wasn't an option. The crazy thing, is that once I started taking this much-resented nap everyday, I wasn't as sick as I had been. In fact, once my body started realizing that it didn't have to push so hard everyday, that I was going to give it a break every afternoon, it started responding positively. I can't say that my nap single-handedly brought me out of illness, but I do know that the fact that I continue to take an afternoon nap every day is what keeps me living well, despite lupus.

Sure, there are times when I hate cutting my activities short, or passing up on errands, or foregoing an outing that's going to prevent me from napping (anything that starts at 2pm is bad news for me.) And my husband and I have discussed the fact that, because I plan on napping every afternoon for the foreseeable future, there are lifestyle issues that we're always going to have to contend with (babysitters, his work schedule, my inability to work full-time). But we voluntarily make those decisions because taking a nap gives me a whole day to work with again. It allows me to care for my daughter, and lets me eat dinner with my family. It allows me to make evening plans, and it allows me to wake up in the morning, knowing that any twinge of fatigue will have its chance in 4-6 hours to be squelched. My nap keeps me well, and it keeps me healthy. It gives me my life back, and I can't think of any reason that could ever trump that.

All that said, about 4 years ago (give or take a year), my nap went from 2 hours to an hour and a half. It just happened over time...I became healthier and stronger, and my body didn't need as much refueling time as it did before. And I was thrilled! Imagine getting an entire 30 minutes back during days when you consistently ran out of time (because napping every day didn't make me a bump on a log. It was quite the opposite. Because I had all of this extra energy and wasn't fighting fatigue all day long, I became more productive.) It was awesome, and I was proud of the fact that I had built up my health enough to need less rest. It was quite a milestone.

Of course, during my pregnancy I needed a little more rest, and when Deirdre was up at night, all bets were off as to exactly how long I would nap. But despite those particularly instances, I was pretty darn consistent (and happy) with an hour and a half. Until now. Since Christmas, I've been taking longer and longer afternoon naps, and 4 (if not 5) days out 7, my nap has been closer to (if not longer than) 2 hours. Of course, I could fight it. I could convince myself that I only need an hour and a half, that that 30 minutes is my time, not lupus' time. But my body is telling me that I need more rest. And if it does, well, it does. Here's how this should go (and I say "should" because it's going to take a little discipline): everyday, I'll allow 2 hours for a nap. If I sleep the entire time, so be it. If I wake up after an hour and 45 minutes...sweet! I'll make sure I'm rested, and if so, I'll hop out of bed and enjoy an extra 15 minutes of my day. But refusing to give in to the signals my body is sending me would be silly. In fact, it would be stupid.

I want to be able to take care of Deirdre, and keep play dates, and appointments, and evenings out. I want to keep feeling good and have months between doctor's appointments. I want to keep traveling to talk about my book. I want to expand our family one day. I'm not going to be able to do any of those things if I'm sick. And if a 2-hour nap prevents that from happening, then sign me up.


Katie Rice said…
I agree. Thirty minutes more napping per day is a small price to pay for living well. It sounds like you are staying in charge, not Lupus!
Sara Gorman said…
Thanks, Katie!!!

Thirty minutes can seem like such a long, potenitally productive period of time (say that 10 times fast!), and yet it goes by so quickly...particularly when you're sleeping!

Talk soon - SG
GALE said…
I take a nap everyday so I'm a better wife and mother in the evening when it really counts with family. I have hated naps but I was looking at it in the wrong direction - Thanks it is about staying in charge of my lupus and taking a nap is important. When family calls during nap time I don't answer the phone. I'm that important to me - be a friend to me and listen to my body before it yells at me.

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