It’s close to midnight on a Sunday when I fluff up the blankets in my bed, and slip into the comfort of my heated mattress pad. I am sleepy, and although my mind is always whirling, I endeavour to catch some winks to revive myself for the busy week ahead. I recalled my head sinking into the pillow, my body burrowed into the comfort of my blankets; sometime later, my sleepy eyes popped open. I blinked, scrutinising the darkness, puzzled by the lack of morning’s glow through my window. I looked at the clock on my bedside table – 3:00 am.
Five nights became two weeks, repeating the same baffling cycle. I read articles that hinted there might be a connection between RA and insomnia; several opinions presented themselves, ranging from medication side effects and burning inflammation, to stress and chronic pain; and while I can recognise why some of these attributes might disrupt sleep, there are times when I can’t correlate my insomnia to RA, and it becomes a perplexing puzzle wrapped in obscurity. Is it the relentless stiffness demanding movement from my joints that wakes me; is it the fiery pain of inflammation; has the old lady embedded something anonymous in my system, perhaps a nocturnal microchip revving up her disease activity like a hamster running in its wheel? Or could it be a new malady joining forces with the old lady? What is this mystifying cause that stirs me at the same time each night, pervading my body with a fretful energy?
I may never know what caused my errant sleeplessness; it may disappear as quickly as it arrived or it may stick around and plague me some more, but I can’t help wondering if old lady RA is up to some new tricks. When did I become the hamster in her wheel?