No, I haven’t seen the movie. I just liked the title, because it has to do with something that’s been on my mind lately. I find that sleep has a very directly proportional effect on my ability to cope with my GID. When I don’t get enough sleep, I have a really difficult time with it. Those times when I’ve had those tremors I described before—they all happened when I wasn’t getting enough sleep.
I guess the reason I think this is important is that I am thoroughly convinced that GID relates to some chemical imbalance and/or malformation in the brain. When I get enough sleep, the imbalance is more manageable. But when I don’t get enough, things go really crazy, and that’s when I have severe difficulty coping. The complication, of course, is that I have a high-stress job, and getting enough sleep is difficult. When you’re a young associate at a big law firm, your life is ruled by the almighty Billable Hour. That’s how the firm justifies your absurdly-high salary. And the tricky part about billable hours is the number of things you’re expected to do that are NOT billable (like practice group meetings, pro bono work , speaking with prospective clients, being involved in high-profile community activities that get the firm’s name out there, various interruptions; plus, it’s sometimes nice to eat lunch and use the restroom). A decent day is billing 8 hours, which doesn’t sound unreasonable, but I find that I need to be at work usually 10 to 12 hours to bill 8. And of course, more than 8 is preferred. The only way I’ve found that I am able to consistently bill 8 or more hours a day is to get up at 5:00 a.m. If I do that, I can do my morning scripture study, get into work before the traffic gets bad, and get some work done before people show up at the office and start bothering me. If I get up at 5:00, I can still usually come home at a reasonable hour, like 6:00 p.m., and still have a full day of billable hours behind me. So that’s my ideal day. In reality, I often have to stay late because one thing or another needs to get done, or I have some kind of meeting to attend, either for church or a community activity, or I’m a little behind from some other day when I didn’t get up at 5:00, so I need to stay a little late to make up some time.
The catch, of course, is that I am not and never have been a good morning person. I hate getting up early. For four years while I was in high school, I struggled every morning to get up for seminary. On my mission, I was very good and consistent about getting up at 6:00, but I never enjoyed it (that seems like sleeping in now). In short, morning is a bad time for me. The other thing is, it’s nice to have some time alone with my wife in the evening, which can be accomplished only when our children are asleep. Our oldest daughter is easy—she gets cranky if she’s not in bed by 8:00. But our 4-year-old is more after my heart. She will fight going to bed as long as possible (the baby just kind of goes to bed whenever). So it’s often 10:00 or so by the time our second daughter gets to sleep. That’s when we can have a little time together.
Of course, the problem there is that one of the reasons my wife and I were attracted to each other is that it’s easy for us to talk to each other. When we were both up at BYU for a while and sort of on and off dating, I remember thinking one night, “You know, I never get to bed before midnight. And usually it’s because I’m talking to [my wife now], either on the phone, or walking around the playground of that little elementary school, or at the park. Well, it’s 10:00 now, I’m tired, and I think I’m just going to go to bed tonight.” I went into my room, closed the door to shut out whatever my roommates were doing, turned out the lights, and laid down. As soon as I did this she called, and we talked until after midnight.
So the dilemma is, I need to get enough sleep. Six hours is the bare minimum, but seven is really nice if I can get it (I honestly don’t remember the last time I slept for eight hours at a stretch—that’s usually just not possible). If I don’t get enough sleep, my brain starts to get all out of sorts, and I have problems. But I have to get up so early to meet the demands of my job, and I can’t just crash at 9:00 if I’m going to give any reasonable time to my wife and children.
Here’s the part where I tell you the brilliant solution to all of this, except I’m still working on that part. I just kind of get through one day at a time. A couple of weeks ago, my Dad was in town, and I asked him for a blessing (actually, my wife did, but I should have). It was a really nice blessing, and the counsel he gave was about what I expected: that I needed to be sure to get sufficient sleep. It also reminded me that I owed it to my employer to meet the demands of my job, and that I had responsibilities at church and at home. None of that was news, but the blessing really helped. I felt a little better, and I’ve tried to be conscientious about insisting that our 4-year-old go to bed a little earlier and then agreeing with my wife to go to bed at a reasonable time.
Another thing that was nice is that I went to the temple last night. Whenever I go there, the Spirit is so strong and unrestrained, I can’t help but feel inspiration pouring into my mind. Whenever I even attempt to think about any part of the ceremony and what it might mean, inspiration starts flowing, and I feel like there is more knowledge there than I can contain in my limited capacity. In the temple, I have received very intense and powerful revelations about my personal situation and how some of these things relate to God’s plan for me. Much of that is of a very personal nature, and wouldn’t be appropriate for me to share in public (first, because it’s just personal, and second because it would not be proper for me to represent my personal interpretations of certain things as doctrine). But in any case, I feel so lifted after going to the Temple, and so full of happy knowledge, I can hardly despair.
I guess this post is turning into kind of a hodge podge, but I would like to throw out one other thing. First, a little history. My wife has had three somewhat difficult pregnancies, and the complications were compounded in the third. But we don’t feel like our family is complete. My wife spoke with her doctor, who acknowledged that it’s possible that she could have a fourth pregnancy that would be completely safe, but her history makes that much less likely, and that if she did get pregnant again, it would be considered high-risk from the very start. So after fasting, prayer, and consideration, we have felt that it would not be wise or safe for us to have more children. If we are to have more, it will have to be through adoption. We both felt very good about this decision, so we decided that it would be best for me to have a vasectomy, which I did recently. The doctor who performed it asked if I had children. I told him there were three—seven, four, and five months. He told me I would be bruised and sore for a while (boy, he wasn’t joking!), and warned me to be careful of the four-year old. He said they’re just the size and energy level to be dangerous. Well, our precious little girl was rough-housing with daddy a little bit a few days later, and she landed a pretty solid foot on a part that is sensitive to begin with, but was now quite bruised to boot. Needless to say, this was not pleasant. I do not mean to imply that it was the worst pain ever felt by man (my wife commented that there’s no way it was as bad as child birth), but it was pretty intense.
Well, to get to my point, after she nailed me, I did not immediately feel an intense pain. Instead, I went into what I would describe as a state of mild shock. For a minute, I knew I had been hammered hard, I knew the pain was coming, but it was being held in suspense. While I was in this state of shock, I noticed that I started having little tremors like I do when I’m hit with these overwhelming bouts of gender disorientation. So my little daughter, rambunctious as she is, taught me something. I now think that these tremors I have are, at least as far as the body chemistry, the same as a state of shock from a painful injury. I don’t know why that is, or what it means, but it was very interesting and enlightening.