Thursday, February 3, 2011

Use it or Lose it.


For over 8 years now,
I have been pregnant, breastfeeding or parenting young children.
All of which add up to a certain amount of chronic sleep deprivation,
unless (and maybe even in spite of finding that) you follow your children to bed at 7pm.

I pride myself on surviving with minimal sleep.
I am not a good sleeper anyway
but evenings are "my" time
and, however tired I am at 4pm,
by 9pm I am ready to party.
Well, at least sit up, read, sew or watch a late movie.

But I suspect it is taking its toll.
I am developing into a grumpy mummy
and can rarely shake my initial reactions
to silence any offspring's louder noises
and to spend my days getting the kids to clean up their messes
or correct their manners
or the way that they eat
or dress


My mind and memory are nowhere near as sharp
as they were when I was a working professional 9 years ago.

Yes, I am older.

Yes, as an at-home mum, I am doing a lot more duties that don't require me
to exercise my little brain cells.
But for a year or so,
 I have joked to my husband
that I am either losing it
or that he was delibarately hiding things to drive me bonkers.

But now that I have read "Still Alice",
I don't think I will make that joke anymore.

Little Boozle 2011

"Still Alice" by Lisa Genova
is about a 51 year old professor who develops early onset Alzheimer's Disease.
It is a work of fiction
but deals with raw facts.

It is heart breaking, absorbing
and it is like watching a train wreck unfold without being able to look away.
You know that there is no cure for Alzheimer's
and you know that there will be no happy ending.

It is one of those books that sits on the bedside table
with "The Kite Runner".
You want to read it but you are just not. ever. in. the. right. mood.
for that sort of book.

A bit like watching Schindler's List
or any movie about the Titanic.
I still have "Hotel Rwanda" in the DVD cupboard
because I hear that it is a brilliant movie
but knowing the content, I haven't pulled it out to watch since I got it 5 years ago.

I defy you to read this book without at least one good cry
and a little sad smile here and there.
There are a couple of laugh out loud moments
but you almost feel ashamed to be doing so.

You will read this till finished,
you will put it back on the bookshelf
and you will go and embrace your daily grind, your families and this precious thing that is life.

For a little while, at least, you wont take anything for granted.

And, like me, you will get a little bit antsy when you can't remember where you put those keys again today
or can't find the word in your brain that you are looking for.

And, perhaps, like me, you will try to get to bed a bit earlier each night
-and try to get your brain and body moving a bit more each day.


You will also come out the other side with a much better understanding
of how victims of dementia feel
and what they go through.

That, at least, is a good outcome from reading such an emotional rollercoaster of a book.


Sally said...

Wow. Thanks for the book recommendation.
I'm just like you in relation to evenings being "my" time... and so I might not be getting as much sleep as I should.
... mmmm... maybe I'll get my nintendo DS out again and do some brain training.

Mary said...

haven't read the book but have definitely been thinking along the same lines lately. Another who is suffering long term sleep deprivation, here's to an early night.

Davia said...

Wow amazing post! I am definatly going to read this one, just writing the name down now. I don't want to forget it. Seriously! 3 kids later my brain isn't performing the way it once did either. I feel empathy all round here. Thanks

Clodagh a.k.a. Isra said...

Mushy brain here too ... thanks for the book review.

zofia said...

hmmm, I have been really pushing the late nights (my time! my time!)...and then lying in.. bribing the youngest. ;)
Only 3 left, what a rude awakening Monday will be. Sigh.

Thanks for the book review-will check it out.
and yep, memory is failing!

Sarah said...

Sounds like a good wake up call Tas. I'm have no discipline around my bed time either, and I do need to excercise more... Hmm.

Posie Patchwork said...

I spent 8 years non stop pregnant & breast feeding too, now my eldest hits high school & youngest in year 2 at school, i'm really having a big re-think about myself. So i'm back at the gym, forcing myself to sleep (i'm not a good sleeper either but never sleep deprived, my babies were all brilliant sleepers, times 4 of them) but lack of sleep makes you gain weight & look old, that's enough to make me sleep!! Good luck, love Posie

Lola Nova said...

Nothing works quite like it once did I'm afraid.

Sounds like a fascinating book! My grandfather has just been moved into a care facility, this last year has seen the serious onset of Alzheimers and dementia. Of course, he turned 101 last year so he's done fairly well. Still, with my grandmother, it came on much earlier...long before we knew what it was. It was a hard and strange time. It has been a long road too for my mother, who has now, had to be the caregiver for both of them. They call it "The Long Goodbye" I think.

I shall have to look up the book!

Tania said...

Oh God. You just described me to a 'tee' (and 'T' is for Tania). YOu also described one of my greatest fears and sources of procrastination (finding time to 'use it', or going to bed early). Thank you. Big thank you. Let's see if I dare to go look up that book.

becci said...

Sounds like a fantastic book. I'll have to write it down so I don't forget it. BTW I have never watched Hotel Rawanda without fast-forwarding certain bits.

Tania said...

This afternoon at 12.15pm I went to the library and borrowed the book. Then the smallest fell asleep in the car and I stayed and read at the steering wheel, in our driveway for an hour. Then there were pick ups and drop offs and waiting time in between. And then after the kids were in bed, I read and read. I finished the book a few minutes ago. I sobbed through the last half. It scared me witless but I'm glad I read it and I thank you for 'defying' me to read it. It was the kick up the backside I needed. Er. And now I am way past my bedrime (says she of the Pumpkin Hour)...x