I grew up with a nasty alcoholic as a father…bottles of Teachers Scotch tucked away behind the bookshelves, in cabinets, the shoe drawer, etc. And in that reality, my dad was a good example to me of what NOT to do when I grew up. And it worked. I’ll have a drink or two when I want, but I know when to stop.
The other addiction: drugs, is something else that I’ve escaped pretty much 100%. Have I toked-up? Sure. I was alive in the 60s and 70s, but…I also remember ’em. Pamela’s the same way. After her hip surgery, they gave her oxycodone stuff, and she’s barely touched them. They sit there.
Invisible Addiction One: Okay, we got that out of the way. As most good matured adults, we’ve cut back on red meat, reduced salt, reduced sugars, etc. but fortunately…fortunately, all the tests they’ve done on coffee have come up pretty tame. In some cases it can be good for you and it’s a really nice pick-me-up. Soooo…no problem. Well, you’d think so. When we moved down here this past summer, I hired guys to help work on the house, but with my size XL ego, I really had to help out, too…and keep up with them…which was tiring. Another cup of coffee helped a lot, and then another after lunch, and so on and so on. No big deal.
After my first check-up, however, my GP said it’s high time to get on some blood pressure medication. WHAT??? Me? No way! If this were a cartoon, the Doctor would reply: “Way.” And so I went on. With Pamela’s surgery, the pressures and time spent caring for her escalated. More coffee…and more admonitions from my GP. At some point, Pam said, “You’re drinking a whole lot of coffee,” and I said, “So?” “Coffee increases your blood pressure.” Long-story-short, 12-15 cups of half-caff a day had somehow gone to 12-15 cups of the high-octane stuff. I told my GP and he apologized for not even bringing it up. After cutting back, my blood pressure decreased by 45 points. I’m figuring if I can be a dumbass, maybe someone out there could be, too. If I get through to just one of you, I’m really cool with that. Hint: My doctor warned me against withdrawal symptoms. My thought: “Hell, it’s just coffee.” Double dumbass. Going cold turkey is faster but the headaches were the worst I’ve ever had.
Invisible Addiction Two: Two things, I’m pretty sure we can all agree upon: One: It’s really great getting a good night’s sleep. Two: A good night’s sleep gets rarer as you get older. For decades Pam’s joked about having to say good night real fast when we go to bed. Forty-five seconds and I’m out. That changed a bit when we moved down here. So much stuff to do. And then preparing for her surgery, sleep got more problematic. No problem!!! Melatonin. Safe, non-addictive. Voila! But that didn’t always work all that well. Sooo… Anything that has a PM after its name: Tylenol PM, Excedrin PM, Advil PM. Safe!!! Non-addictive! No problem! Benadryl, too! Safe, non-addictive and you begin to see a pattern. If you haven’t already, check out this month’s Consumer Report on this very subject and do what I did last night. I dumped out a larger gaggle of bottles than I was expecting. What was happening? I had become acclimated to Melatonin, so I’d have two Melatonins which are super safe, plus an Excedrin PM and….as Jackie Gleason used to say, “Away we go!”
Here’s the punchline you should read carefully now. Here’s where just maybe, one or two or three or 50 or you might say, “Holy shit!!! I didn’t know!!!”
Melatonin: Care to guess how much benefit you actually get from them? Seven minutes quicker getting to sleep, and you sleep on average about 8 minutes longer. Are you familiar with the acronym BFD? Well… BFD!!! Oh, and by the way, Melatonin messes with your blood pressure. Nobody told you? Well, they did now.
Are there any completely safe OTC (over the counter) pills you can buy to sleep better? Not really unless you promise yourself not to take them for longer than a week or two. Can you do that? I didn’t really worry about that. I just really needed a good night’s sleep that night…and then the next night.
What do they recommend? I already knew this one and it does work. What happens right after you eat that Thanksgiving turkey? ZZzzzzzzzz… It’s the tryptophan. Have some sliced turkey or a drumstick if you can’t sleep.
A warm-to- hot shower: You sleep better and…you’re clean!
Other contributors to lousy sleep. Booze. Don’t drink alcohol for at least a few hours before bedtime and you WILL sleep better.Also, avoid sugary desserts.
Viewing any glowing screen before bedtime, iPhone, iPad, (anything with an “i” in it or glows in the dark). What’s great? A book. What’s even better? A dry, boring book. There are thousands to choose from.
For what it’s worth, the night before last was one of the worst sleeps in my entire life. Last night after dumping the big handful of safe, non-habit forming pills in the garbage, I had a GREAT sleep! I did have a small chicken leg, but I figure I have to eat.
Once more, if you knew all of this…Bravo and Brava! If you learned something or can contribute something, please write in and share with your fellow readers. They’re pretty good people…except for those two or three and you know who you are. :o)
P.S. A friend of mine just e-mailed a suggestion: Natural Calm, a magnesium product that I guess must be natural. I’ll have to report back on this one. H.
P.P.S. Small pet peeve: “Natural” shouldn’t put you too much at ease. Arsenic is natural. Lightning is natural. Dog shit is natural. Great white sharks are natural. Black widow spiders are natural. Tobacco is natural. And yet, I still try to avoid them.