Sunday, January 19, 2014

Coma Knight


It was way back in June of last year when my girlfriend, Doctor Belloq, finally clued me in to the fact that I have episodes of sleep paralysis.

Now, you might think I would have already known something like this – I mean, I was the one who was having these episodes, after all – but in that case, you’d be wrong. The truth is I did not know, or I didn’t consciously know, anyhow. This was because so long as I went on knocking myself out at bedtime every night with what can only be called heroic amounts of wine and Benadryl, the sleep paralysis did not happen.

Or maybe it did happen and I simply did not remember it.

I am still a little unclear on that point.

After Doctor Belloq taught me that I have these episodes, I went and I did a little research on it, since I had honestly never even heard of such a thing as sleep paralysis before. I did a lot of research, actually.

It turns out that sleep paralysis is a real thing. You can run a Google search on it and everything, and if you do, you will come up with mountains of strange and stranger material. The pictures alone would be enough to drive a good woman to consume heroic amounts of wine and Benadryl.

This is what I learned. I can give you the basics.

Every night, while you are asleep, you have dreams. It is not just you who has dreams; I have dreams, too. So does your Uncle Charlie, and the Vietnamese guy who cuts your hair, and even that ginger kid from down the street who always yanks leaves off the tree in your front yard when he walks by.

Everybody dreams, although not everybody remembers it later on.

While you dream, your brain paralyzes your body. Your brain has a really good reason for doing this to you. Your brain paralyzes your body so that as you are fighting that dragon during your first dream of the night, you do not thrust your dream sword through your sleeping husband lying next to you. Your brain paralyzes your body so that as you leap off that cliff into the ocean during your second dream of the night, you do not fall out of bed or jump down the stairs in this  world.

Your brain is just looking out for you, man.

The problem is that – like everything else your brain does – your brain can mess up on occasion. Like maybe it forgets to paralyze your body during your dream so you wind up punching your sleeping husband in the face after all.

Don’t get mad. Your brain is doing the best that it can, I’m sure. Consider what it has to work with.

Mistakes are made, though, and at the moment, the variety of mistake with which we are concerning ourselves is the one where your brain does get around to paralyzing your body, but at the wrong time.

So consider this: You wake up. Maybe you open your eyes. You go to stre-e-e-etch- and that’s right about the time you realize that you cannot move. Hell, you can hardly even breathe, or rather, you can breathe, only it feels like you can’t because your brain has your lungs on autopilot.  

Now, if you ask me, the whole autopilot breathing thing is where everything starts to go hinky. Without the autopilot breathing thing, the pictures and paintings that I’ve posted here would never get made.

You are awake. You are not breathing like you want to. Your chest feels crushed. Your lungs feel like lima beans.

You try to gasp… try struggling for deeper breaths…

…and you look for someone or something to blame.

It’s like I’ve already said: This is your brain’s fault. But brains get away with an awful lot of hinky shit that we wind up blaming on other things.

What you wind up blaming for the autopilot-breathing-crushed-chest-lima-bean-lung thing depends on who you are. Where you live. What you believe. It depends on what Mom and Dad taught you to fear.

The religious blame demons perched upon their chest, so they see demons. The secular blame aliens strapping them to the bed, so they see aliens. And the prudish see succubae mounting them for their precious seed, and people in snowy regions see an old hag, although it is not clear just why that is.

The Assyrians blamed alus  and the Sumerians blamed lillus. The Greeks blamed ephilates  and pnigalions, the Norse blamed maras, and Arabs blamed al-hahas, al-khanaqs, and al-gathans.**

I blame my brain but I still see Tarab. Tarab looks an awful lot like the Silence from “Doctor Who.”

I am telling you these things because you are my friends, and I want you to know where I am coming from before we go any farther.

This world is one big freak show if you take the time to look around.

Me, I am the Coma Knight, and I am just getting started. 


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**A lot of this information can be found in Shelley Adler’s excellent book, Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2011). 

40 comments:

  1. ERR... what happened to the comment?

    great pictures and I like this analogy "Your lungs feel like lima beans."

    Sleep... Oh! how I loathe those little slices of death.- Katy

    Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.

    In a dream you are never eighty

    I'll take the dream I had last night,
    And put it in my freezer,
    So someday long and far away,
    When I'm an old grey greezer,
    I'll take it out and thaw it out,
    This lovely dream I've frozen,
    And boil it up and sit me down
    And dip my old cold toes in.

    Dream A Little Dream Of Me
    http://youtu.be/jC4cXzvXSq4



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best sleep/dream lyrics are Flaming Lips' "Bad Days":

      "You're sorta stuck where you are
      But in your dreams you can buy expensive cars
      Or live on Mars
      And have it your way

      "And you hate your boss at your job
      Well, in your dreams you can blow his head off
      In your dreams
      Show no mercy

      "And all your bad days will end
      And all your bad days will end
      You have to sleep late when you can
      And all your bad days will end."

      Delete
  2. Due to the chilly season (17c / 63 f) the puppies are doing heroic amounts of dreaming of barbecued cats

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's sort of how Houston is, too.

      I had to wear a jacket a couple weeks ago. It was scary.

      Delete
  3. Kudos to showing off Romantic "Nightmare" paintings. Thanks to you, I will now being to associate the little demon/devil sitting on the helpless maiden's bosom as the things preventing lima bean lungs from getting enough air. :P

    -Barb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a sort of legacy, then.

      Years, from now, when I'm gone, people will hear my name and say, "Katy? She was the lima bean demon breast woman, right?"

      Delete
  4. I regularly kick and punch when I sleep. Last night I woke myself up screaming "Fucker! Fucker!" I wish we could balance out each other's brain chemicals.

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    1. Someone should open a business where you can go and mix dysfunctions with a friend. I'd mix sleep dysfunctions with you if you'd agree to average out our eye size: You have average-sized eyes and I have freakishly enormous ones, and that would average out to slightly-above-average sized.

      Delete
  5. I was wondering, what's the deal with the horses in those peoples bedrooms, in 2 of the paintings? Then it dawned on me, those are the Night Mares.

    I've never had that. I find I'm waking up frequently with my heart pounding so quick and hard I can feel it while I lay there, but I suspect it's more medical than demon related. But whose to say? Those demons can be tricky buggers.

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    1. The horses in the other two paintings are just hiding. But you bring up a good point: I've never considered the fact that i might be able to short-circuit this whole problem by not storing that damn horse in my bedroom.

      Delete
    2. like the concept "Night Mares" - will be linking next issue - my Friday

      Delete
    3. Cool. I will check that out on Friday. There's a lot of stuff available on the original concept of night mares (wasn't supposed to just be bad dreams), night terrors, and sleep paralysis. Going to sleep is really scary.

      Delete
  6. I thought I had an episode of sleep paralysis once, but after reading the symptoms you posted, I think it may have been something far less intense. I was awake and couldn't move, but I didn't have the feeling of suffocation, luckily.

    I've personally never known someone who suffers from sleep paralysis, but I've heard several accounts of it, and I think it's safe to say that I would never wish it upon anyone and would be content with never enduring it, myself.

    Also, I had to look up The Silence, and it's plain to see that Tarab's pretty damn terrifying.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. They say that if you don't panic, then you don't feel like you're suffocating. You might just be a cool character, Chiz.

      The Silence are pretty scary. The only good things about them are a) they have great fashion sense and always wear a suit and tie; and b) you don't remember seeing them after you turn away.

      Delete
  7. People dream? What's that like? I sure hope someone tells me about one of their dreams in excruciating detail. Sleep paralysis has to be preferable to night terrors, right?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I keep fighting an overwhelming desire to steal Kurt Vonnegut's style from Breakfast of Champions" and define EVERY concept in my blogs no matter how obvious or simple. This post really tempted me in that regard.

      Fortunately, we might be able to save this post yet by doing dream analysis in the comments section. I hope you have the comments rigged up to go to your email!

      Delete
    2. Love the Vonnegut reference. You just got ten bonus points on your final.

      Delete
    3. Woohoo! I can use the points. I just hope this doesn't mean I've accidentally graduated.

      Delete
  8. Last night while sleeping the wife punched me in the face. I don't know what she was dreaming about, but she could use a little demon-crushing lima bean-lungs in her life. If only for the sake of my face.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read about sleep dysfunctions last year, and it seems like these things get worse with age, so good luck, man.

      Delete
    2. You should sleep with a perpetually hyper 4th degree black belt who acts out her dreams! I'm always happy when I wake up and don't have a rib protruding through a lung.

      Delete
    3. It never took much to get me to go and sleep on the couch, and I've never gotten slugged in my sleep.

      Of course, you shouldn't take advice from me. My relationships tend to be complete failures.

      Delete
  9. I occasionally would sleep walk as a kid. And I do remember one time waking up in the morning and not being able to move at all for a little bit. Since it only happened once my parents never worried much about it but I have often wondered about it. Maybe it was this sleep paralysis, although I don't remember not being able to breath. Interesting stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you don't panic, the breathing thing apparently does not become an issue, which in turn means no demons. Sleep walking is a whole other scary thing, and one I am glad I do not suffer from. I have an ex who used to get up while asleep and start eating leftovers.

      When I say "eating leftovers" I mean food. That wasn't a self-deprecating lesbian joke.

      Delete
    2. Katy. I too have deep dreams and likewise some strange into-body happenings resulting. But, while I think men and women have many like-kind sleep maladies, we men suffer often from brain-caused dysfunctions of the pecker. The inability to handle or manage one's man member is akin to nothing a woman can imagine.

      Having said all that, I'm thinking I need some extra therapy. Fuck Walmart anyway.

      Delete
    3. Our brains are doing all sorts of evil stuff to us.

      It's like Homer Simpson says: "Okay, brain. You don't like me, and I don't like you, but let's get through this thing and then I can continue killing you with beer."

      Delete
  10. Wow, I actually learned something from coming here! And people say reading blogs is a waste of time :D


    My cell phone is going through repeated phases of not letting me sign on to Blogger. I read your post earlier but couldn't comment.


    In other news, I discovered I'm an ignorant racist jerk. Why? Because I said that there's nothing wrong with letting a dog lick your (and your kids') face. (For details, see my G+)


    Really, you learn something new every day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I included something substantive this time! Usually my blogs taste pretty good but have no nutritional value.

      It's so easy to offend people that it is practically unavoidable. I am worrying about it less and less. If someone is going to look to take offense at things I say, they are going to find plenty.

      Frankly, I've been in such a dark mood lately that putting one foot in front of the other is all I can manage.

      Delete
  11. I wonder if the reverse is what happened when I woke up, found I couldn't breathe deeply enough, and pulled my breathing tube out and part of my vocal cords with it? I also find my covers on the floor on my side of the bed. Either my body isn't paralyzing me or it can't paralyze me enough to stop those sex dreams. haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds pretty screwed up, man. Why do you want to drag all of that weird shit into my blog, huh?

      We're all well-adjusted, wholesome members of society around here.

      Hadn't you heard?

      Delete
  12. On a serious note, it sounds like a really difficult problem to have. I think I've only experienced something similar once in my life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right now, my biggest problem is that every time I hit "Reply" on these comments, the screen pops back up to the top and I have to scroll back down and give it another go.

      Delete
  13. I had an episode much akin to yours when I was a lad in rural SC. It took a very long time for me to wake and be able to move. My eyes were open and I could see, but was I paralyzed. It scared the bejeezus out of me; I don't mind telling you. A friend's Grandmother told me that I "had a haint" on my chest and it was a good thing that I woke up 'cause he was trying to "get inside". When I saw the header photo .... I had a mean flashback, and knew exactly what yer post was about before I read it. Not totally sure that haint ever left me .....
    and, stop trash talking your eyes! Like the rest of you (and your writing) they are a thing of beauty .....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, bj! I am amazed by how many of the people who read my blog have said they have stories like that - and how well they remember it even years later. Must be way more common than I thought... or else the people who stop by here are a strange bunch of people.

      Or both.

      My eyes thank you. They get upset when i talk about them that way...

      Delete
  14. And now I'm terrified to go to sleep tonight. Because it will happen to me. It just will. I can't even imagine how you get yourself into bed every night. You stay strong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I get worried about it happening, that's when it happens. Still, if I don't sleep on my back, the chances of it happening drop almost to zero.

      Delete
  15. The brain is suppose to let dreams run while speech and muscle units are on idle. But, it seems many of us have a clutch in the brain that engages at the crux of the dream, when your suppose to the kick overly friendly touchy preacher in the sack, or when it's time to tell the snot check-out lady to stop slamming the bags of chips into the scanner. I started that a couple years ago, the good news is I read it gets worse, like kick'n holes in the 200 thread count percale might become a regular thing, maybe there's a contest somewhere for that.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Based on what I've read, what you're describing gets worse with age, especially in men. There are old men who do all sorts of crazy stuff in their sleep. to the point where they basically need to get strapped down.

      Sleep disorders are crazy stuff!

      Delete
  16. Caught some of the post you took down.
    I use GoDaddy.com --- $70 for 5 whole years. Not bad. I never use Google/Blogger…
    Give them a call…

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I don't know what I'm going to do now, Deb. It appears that my account doesn't believe I originally signed up with this email address - and Google/Blogger has NO means of contacting them for help outside of flow charts and hit-or-miss user groups.

      My issue is that I can't access the system to pay for my domain, so I'll be switching domain names soon. I'll need a new name for my page!

      I also might switch to wordpress or something.

      Delete

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