The Wee Hour Sleeping Pill

Dearest Rachel –

It seems that so many of these letters are written to you in the wee hours of the morning, and they’re almost always about the never-ending struggle to get Chompers to bed. Well, for what it’s worth, it’s not intentional. It just so happens that in that hour or more that I find myself sitting around, waiting for him to fall asleep, I’ve got nothing better to do than to write you, even if I am otherwise uninspired.

This is definitely one of those times. Sure, I have other topics I want to touch on, things that are coming up for tomorrow (today? It is after midnight), homework I still have yet to do for Jan, that sort of thing. But at 2:30 in the morning – actually, now it’s closer to 3:30 – I’m really not feeling any of those things. All I want to do is get back to bed.

Not that I was in bed before. As you know, we’ve made something of a routine where, after dinner, Daniel and I watch a video or two while Chompers rests, until I realize that the dog is asleep, and decide to nap until such time as he wakes up. You know, that old saw about not waking sleeping dogs.

Thing is, that little bit of conventional wisdom kind of backfired on us tonight, and by the time I woke up from my ‘nap,’ it was already past 2:30. And yet, the old boy had yet to wake up from his own nap. But at this hour, if I didn’t do something, he would be awake for the rest of the night, such as it was.

I know it’s a running joke on certain get-well cards that I’ve seen about the 4 AM sleeping pill, and how ridiculous a concept that is. After all, if you’re already asleep, why do you need a sleeping pill? Of course, in Chompers’ case, the gabapentin isn’t specifically for him to fall asleep – that’s just a happy side effect. I’m still fairly certain that he reacts to it much the same way as in the hospital patient might to the situation.

But that’s the way things are; had he woken up at 10:30 or 11 like I was half expecting him to, we wouldn’t be here right now. But maybe, like so many other proverbs, the one about sleeping dogs needs to be prefaced with “as a general rule,” rather than necessarily taken as gospel.

And of course, for all its claims to induce profound sedation, once he’s been woken up, even to take his pills, he’s not about to fall asleep. At the same time, he’s not all that keen to be outside in his wheelchair, either. Oh, he pees a couple of times, but it isn’t long before he makes it abundantly clear he’s more than ready to come in again.

And of course, that’s when the struggle begins. I can set him down in the very spot where he fell asleep last night, but that’s never good enough for him. He literally has to drag himself (with an assist from me, nudging him to his feet each time he starts whining after he falls down – I wait for him to whine, because I’m never sure if this time, when he falls down, he’s done do because that’s where he wants to be. I’m usually wrong, but I’m going to always wait for confirmation) across the entire stretch of open ground on your side of the bedroom, panting and puffing like an old-time steam train. Daniel claims that his panting tends to be an indication that he needs to do more than just pee, but I’m never entirely sure. To be fair, sometimes it means I’m caught off guard.

And maybe I should try taking him out right now – just in case.

Heh. For a moment there, he had me going. Just as I had dictated that last sentence, and crossed over to your side of the bedroom to pick him up, he had gone quiet, like he actually was going to settle in for what’s left of the night. But eventually he began his typical nose breathing whine, and all was right with the world (why yes, I am being slightly sarcastic about that. Why do you ask?). Just as well to take him out this second time, though. After having lapped up the better part of his water bowl, he did make twice as many puddles as he did on his first excursion, so there’s that. If only he could avoid stepping into the ones he’d already made, though. At least, thanks to the wheelchair, he’s not falling into them.

But it seems clear he’s not going to do anything more than that, so I bring him in, and, as before, set him down on the little rug he’d slept on last night. He seems quiet and content, but his head is up, like he’s just not ready to go to sleep. So I continue to sit here, waiting for him, wishing we could both drop off, and continuing to dictate just to pass the time. I don’t feel like I have that much to tell you right now (and I’ve no mental capacity to work on one of my more philosophical posts right now), but with nothing else to do while I wait for him to finally give in to the sandman, I just keep alternating between dictation and typing. Sorry if this all seems boring. I do wonder if this is what you used to go through, back when I would sleep through the night, and you were the one dealing with the dog. I wonder if you ever resented the fact that I would sleep while you worked on him.

Of course, you loved that dog, like you loved all dogs – and really, all creatures – whereas I still just see him as a responsibility that I never asked for. So maybe for you, it just wasn’t the kind of chore that I see it as.

And of course, maybe it’s just that he’s that much more difficult in his old age.

Or maybe, I should’ve waking him up that much sooner, so he wouldn’t already be so well rested, and therefore not so eager to go back to bed when he had already spent so much time asleep.

Oh, well… what’s done is done. And it seems that he is done now, too. So I should sign off, before I fall asleep writing this, or you fall asleep reading this. Good night, my darling.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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