Sleepwalking: an official "Medical Condition"

I have been in the ER four times in my adult life, all on holidays. Holidays should scare me, they really should.
2002: Halloween
2007: Thanksgiving
2008: Mother’s Day
2008: 4th of July

I am typing with one hand and a thumb today. I was injured last night – no, not by fireworks or anything of the sort. I went to bed around midnight, completely fine. As I have mentioned before, I have a slight problem with sleepwalking. It doesn’t happen too much anymore, but it has always scared me…like that I would walk outside in the middle of the night or something.

At 2:20 am, I had a dream that Ali had run off from me in this room full of dangerous equipment and was in imminent danger. Like any good Mommy, I chased after her as fast as I could. The only problem was, I was running in real life too.

According to Chris, I stood up on the bed and either stepped or lept off of it. I ran across the room, and in my dream I dove for the door, whose doorknob looked exactly like the bluntly edged pulls on our dresser. In real life, I dove into the dresser, and the dull edge hit the middle of my palm. Like I said, it is very dull, but because I hit it SO hard, It cut my hand open into a deep, 1 inch long gash. It’s right in the middle of my palm, so it kind of looks like a stigmata.

Chris came running over to me to get me back in bed, not realizing I was hurt. He was now in my dream and I was conversing with him amidst the scenery of my dream (all of this I remember vividly – it occurred to me later that this is what it must feel like to be schizophrenic – scary). I told him I was cut and frantically asked him where Ali went, since I was looking all around and couldn’t see her anymore. He thought the cut was a part of the dream, and since he is used to my sleepwalking, he calmly told me that Ali was safe in bed, that I was sleepwalking, and to come back to bed. I was now halfway in dream world and halfway in real world, and so I accepted the fact that Ali was ok, but showed him my hand, which by this point was streaming blood. He freaked and took me into the bathroom to get it cleaned up. As I said, I was still in half-dreamworld, so I began frantically asking him where Chris was. At this point, he starts to get really worried and starts asking me if I took medicine in my sleep. I told him that I was pretty sure I hadn’t taken anything, but WHERE’S CHRIS??? He told me “I AM Chris!!” Then at that point I remembered the other person in my dream and said “I know. But where’s my brother? JOHN Chris?” He told me that he was at his house, asleep with Lindsay, and that I needed to wake up!!

I don’t know if it was the pain, the loss of blood, or the shock and panic, but I started to get clammy and dizzy. I laid down and had the distinct thought – “So THIS is what it feels like to hurt worse than I’ve ever hurt before. I always wondered if I could, or if there were some limit to pain.” It definitely hurt worse than my two foot surgeries or my C-Section.

We spent the next hour trying to decide what to do. Call my parents frantically and get them to come over and keep Ali so we could go to the ER? Drop her off at JC and Lindsay’s? Take her with us? Could it wait until the morning? All the while I feel like I am about to die from the pain.

We finally decided that we should go, because there was no way I’d be able to sleep, and it was swelling quite ferociously, and we wanted to
make sure that there was no nerve damage. We decided that the best course of action would be to just take Ali with us, and if it was going to be a while, she and Chris could go back home.

We got to Brookwood, and there was only one other person in a room, so I was seen immediately. The male nurse who took my information asked me, “Do you have any other medical conditions other than sleepwalking?” I said, “Is sleepwalking a medical condition?!” And he looked at my hand and said, “If it makes you hurt yourself bad enough to end up here, then it is a medical condition!”

The doctor came in and gave me four stitches. He said that if I could feel my fingers (which I could until he gave me the most painful 6 shots I’ve ever had – lidocaine right in the cut), then there was no nerve damage. Since the back of my hand was very sore and swelling also, he had an x-ray done for broken bones – thank goodness there were none!

Every nurse and orderly in the place came by and asked me what happened. I think one of them went and told the others ” This girl’s story is good. Go ask her what she did to her hand.”

The doctor explained quite logically that the hand is the most sensitive part of the body, with so many nerve endings so that we have such sensitive touch, and so he wasn’t surprised that it was the most pain I had ever felt.

It happened at 2:20, we left at 3:30, and got home at 5:30. All three of us slept until 10:30. Thank you, Ali, for being awesome in the ER and not fussing at all or getting too impatient, and especially thank you for sleeping in until 10:30!!

And on one other note, I am quite proud of myself for my ability to endure pain. I never cried, never screamed. I did writhe around in the floor moaning for a while, but that’s it!

Everyone needs a good adventure every now and then, and every time I’ve ever gotten hurt in a dumb and boring way, I always wished I had a good story to go with it. This time I do!!

p.s. – to all of my squeamish readers out there: just for you I didn’t post the picture of my hand. I find that sort of thing cool in a geeky way, but I remembered you and was considerate. Be sure and be appreciative!! ;)

Editor’s Note: I finally caved and posted pics of this injury. You can find them here.

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Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    That is a very entertaining story, Rach, especially since I love hearing about the dreams people dream! I understand about pain in the hand. I once knocked my hand against a metal hook in the wall and was so convinced it was broken that I went to the doctor the next day. It wasn’t broken, but as a result of sitting in the waiting room, I caught the flu and was back at the doctor’s office the next week!
    2 of my 3 C-sections didn’t hurt either. However, for my last one, the IV tube was crimped and so none of the morphine was getting into my system. It took the pain to reach a 10 out of 10 before the nurse was finally convinced that I wasn’t just being a cry-baby and decided to check the IV line! THAT was the worst pain I’ve ever been in!
    Hope it heals quickly! If you need any help with Ali or anything in the meantime, I would be happy to!

  2. Ashley Spurling says:

    Rachel…oh my gosh!!! Bless your soul! I am not surprised either that it hurt more than anything you’ve ever felt. I had a procedure done on my hands once and it was torturous. I am so sorry. What an adventure. I am so glad that Ali slept so late and that you were both able to rest, too. Let me know if you need anything!!

    Ashley

  3. I would luuv to see a picture.

    You can email it to me if ya want :)

  4. Lindsay says:

    Ouchie… So sorry Rach! Please don’t hesitate to call us any time of day or night if you need us to watch Ali. Hopefully nothing like this will happen again, though!

  5. ouch! Sorry you hurt yourself. I hope that it isn’t too serious.

  6. Rachel Callahan says:

    Thanks everyone for all of the sympathy, it is much appreciated!
    Chris made a good point today – it was a good thing we DID take Ali with us, because that put her at the same sleep deficit as us, which allowed us to sleep in to catch up. If my parents had come and stayed until we got back, Ali would have still been up at her normal time, and we would have only gotten 4 hours of sleep all told.
    I’m a little scared of going to sleep tonight, because I almost slept-walked again last night after we got home, but caught myself. I’m really trying to reassure myself that this was a freak occurance, not a trend starting.

  7. Ann Marie & Scott says:

    good grief…you Zannis’ and hand injuries! :(
    hope you heal up well!

  8. Ann Marie & Scott says:

    good grief…you Zannis’ and hand injuries! :(
    hope you heal up well!

  9. Ann Marie & Scott says:

    good grief…you Zannis’ and hand injuries! :(
    hope you heal up well!

  10. Ann Marie & Scott says:

    good grief…you Zannis’ and hand injuries! :(
    hope you heal up well!

  11. humbledheart says:

    wow!!!
    that is amazing!!!!
    how is it healing?

    are they going to do anything for the :condition: that you have?

  12. How did I miss this? Wow and yeeeeeowch!

  13. (Yes, I am going through your older blogs on a Saturday afternoon.)

    Have you ever heard Mike Birbiglia's story about sleep walking on either the Moth or This American Life (Episode #361: Fear of Sleep, http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/361/fear-of-sleep). I don't want to scare you, but you should definitely check it out for a funny story and proof that it is indeed a medical condition.

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