February 27, 2008 by · 1 Comment · Filed under: Bizarre 

Increasingly as I get older, periods of extreme physical and emotional distress will wipe me out to the point of plunging me into sleep, on the spot, literally.

It started when I was in labor.  The epidural only worked on one half of my body, and I was in horrific pain during contractions.  The moment the contraction was over, I would pass out cold, only to awake when the next one started, until I finally gave birth.  Then I was fine, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

The next time that happened was when my hernia got constricted or whatever it’s called.  My body would go through phases of trying to move my intestines, as bodies do, and this horrific pain (very near to child birth pain) would wash over me.  When my body gave up that attempt, boom – pass out into oblivion until the next one started.  That was until they put the nasopharangeal tube down my nose to my stomach and started vacumming out the contents, and wham!  I was asleep for about the next 3 hours.

Then last year, while driving to Iowa, I went through a horrific snowstorm in Wyoming with blowing snow over the interstate.  I couldn’t see more than 3 feet in front of me, but I couldn’t slow down below 55 or I’d be hit from behind by these semi trucks that were just blasting on through.  This was in the mountains, so I had the added stress of worry that I was going to plunge over the side of the mountain at any moment.  It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I had my 4-year-old in the car with me, sound asleep – was scared to death of crashing and hurting him.

And I nearly passed out from the stress every time the snow would let up just a little.  That happened once when I got to Des Moines, too, and I was driving on the freeway in a pretty bad snowstorm (have made sure that doesn’t happen again), and it was all I could do to keep from plunging into a deep sleep.

I understand this to be narcolepsy, but fortunately I seem to be not as much susceptible to it if I know I am needed at full faculty.  It does scare me a bit.  Hopefully it’s not something that gets worse as you get older.  I never did experience it even once until I was 35 and was giving birth.


ADDENDUM:  Oh, and the thing that made me think of this, I had a root canal at a dental college about 3 or 4 weeks ago that was horribly painful – they couldn’t get the anesthesia right, and I finally just told them it was fine.  Every time they clipped away at the pulp/nerve endings, I could feel every bit of it.  And when they would stop, I would immediately zonk out.  And on the way home I could barely keep my eyes open on the road.  I guess my body just shuts down after periods of extreme intensity.

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One Response to “Narcalepto”
  1. naomi says:

    during acute stress, like you describe, i’m very much alert. afterwards i nearly always get a severe headache. it’s constant low grade stress (like having to deal with being out in the world, being in school, that sort of stuff, that exhausts me. it’s no wonder i sleep all the time. i don’t knwo what i’d do if i reacted like you do. then again, i guess i’d deal, like you do, as best as possible under the circumstances.