Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sleep - Part I

I have a brand new bed of my very own. A REAL (as in non-inflatable) bed.

And it's made a huge difference in our lives.

Over the last year, my sleeping habits have been inconsistent to say the least.

I thought I'd take a trip down sleepy-time lane to re-visit some of the spots I've (tried) to sleep in the last year.

Too bad I didn't take photos of them all. Probably because I'd like to forget most of them.

First there was the folding cot at the initial hospital Jeff was in. The mattress was no longer than I am tall (and I'm only 5'4). It was decently thick but was on horrid springs that squeaked with each move. Those were the early days, so I didn't sleep much anyway. I would position myself on the cot so that I could see Jeff just by opening my eyes, so most nights I slept with my glasses on. I was scared to death his trach would pop off in the middle of the night (and it did several times). He couldn't pull any breaths on his own at that time, so he would pass out quickly if he didn't have air. I guess I thought if I stared at his trach long enough, I could will it to stay in place - I don't know. What I mainly remember from those days was being horribly sleep deprived.

When I wasn't sleeping on the cot, it was stored in the folded position, and I rolled it into the bathroom. That always surprised the cleaning staff. But I learned early on that if you got a cot, you'd better hold on to it if you wanted to see it again.

The second spot was a short stay at a sub-acute facility with no guests beds. So I borrowed a camping cot from my Dad. In fact, I'd taken some forced naps on that thing in the ICU waiting room several weeks earlier. I quickly found that the metal bar located just beneath the canvas of the cot was an unwelcome intruder into my back/side during the night. So I put a thick sleeping bag on it which helped a bit.

Next it was back to the first facility because of pneumonia. So it was five more weeks on another equally squeaky folding cot.

The next bed was a doozie. And I even got a picture of this one. Now we were in the ICU at Rancho Los Amigos. Here Jeff would spend 3 weeks before being admitted. This bed is what I'd like to call a torture device. It was like an antique dental chair, or something equally unpleasant. It didn't unfold to a fully horizontal position, so there was a deep valley in the middle that I would inevitably be sucked into and get stuck. Trying to get out of the chair was a frustrating (to me) and funny (to Jeff) experience.

Pure torture

After Jeff was admitted to SCI rehab at Rancho, I was lucky enough to get the most comfy of convertible chair beds. It was a deep turquoise, leather-like chair that pulled out to an impressive 6 feet in length, and laid all the way flat. Hallelujah! It was actually really comfortable. Jeff's brother, Gary, also slept on that chair/bed when he visited, and was surprised at how comfortable it was. (He also slept on the folding cot from the first hospital, so he had a valid comparison.)

When Jeff had surgery on his tailbone and was transferred down the hall to the surgical unit, my comfy chair/bed mysteriously disappeared. (Lesson learned - do NOT depend on the nurses or staff to move it for you to your new room.) For a couple weeks, I had to go back to my Dad's camping cot which I tried to bolster with a borrowed padded camping roll. Still, I awoke every morning with stiff knees and a sore back - kind of like you would if you were actually camping - and I'm NOT a camper. It wasn't until Jeff's surgeon saw my sad setup and demanded I get the comfy chair/bed back that it made a re-appearance.  I wish I had a picture of this wonder chair. But I found this online, and it's close:
Ta da!

When Jeff was transferred back to the rehab unit (again, down the hall), you bet I rolled my chair/bed myself down that hall - and kept it in my possession the rest of his stay. I remember when a new patient moved in to the bed next to Jeff, and one of his family members was side-eyeing my chair asking if they could get one. Whenever I would leave Jeff to go home for a while, I would tell him, "Do NOT let anyone take my chair." I joked with the nurses on Jeff's discharge day that I just might try to roll it downstairs and into my car.

Once Jeff got home, my new bed became an inflatable mattress. Each night I would set it up next to Jeff's bed. Our bedroom wasn't big enough to allow my bed to stay in place full time, so each morning I would wrestle it out of the bedroom, slide it down the hall, and store it in the office.

I did this routine for 5 months.

Until I woke up one morning and my body locked up on me. I wrote about it in a blog post titled My Body is Rebelling

That's when I switched to using Evie's twin mattress on the floor next to Jeff's bed. That mattress was more comfortable, but now it required both my Mom and me to drag the mattress off Evie's bed every night, then drag it back onto her bed in the morning. Plus, Evie was having to sleep with my mom.

We did this final routine for a month until we got to the point where something HAD to give. 

I wanted to continue sleeping next to Jeff. I could no longer sleep in the same bed with him, but I could still sleep next to him, and I wanted to keep doing that. I just couldn't imagine sleeping in another room so far away from him.

But I also needed my own bed. A real bed. Not one you "bring out" every night for sleeping and "put away" every morning for storing.

And so I took a trip to the mattress store.

I tried out several beds, and tried not to let the fact that I was shopping for a twin bed bring me down. I wanted to shop for a king bed. A bed I would share with my husband. But that's a different story altogether.

In the end, I took my Mom to the mattress store on the next visit, and we both decided to get new beds. Our bodies go through a lot in the care we provide for Jeff, and we decided an investment in new, comfortable beds would be worth it.

And while we waited for our new beds to be delivered, we came up with a plan. We were going to shake things up with a major switcheroo at our house ...

... which I'll write about in the next post: Sleep - Part II

In the mean time, Sweet Dreams!


  1. Oh my, I remember all those fold out beds!! I was usually so tired I just needed to lay my head down. It's funny because I did this for 5 months also! I'm glad we found each other!

  2. I agree. It's sometimes hard to sleep soundly if you don’t have a soft and comfortable mattress. Not only does it affect your sleeping habits, but it can also cause back pains. Anyway, you must’ve been quite happy when the latest one arrived at your doorsteps. That being said, how’s the experience so far?

    Dante Storey @ The Healthy Bed Store