Imagine laying on the bed, a small blanket covering you to your waist. You try to pull it up, but it is too heavy. Your hands can’t grasp the edge and pull. You feel your arms getting colder. You lay there, forcing your eyes shut, trying to ignore the chill.
The blanket is warm against your legs, but it feels so far away. Such a simple thing, to reach down and pull it up, and to snuggle back into the pillow.
Finally, you can’t take it anymore.
“Hey babe….Can you cover me up?”
They reach over, pulling the thin, electric blanket up, and the soft snoring can be heard again within minutes.
Soon, you wake again. This time, as you are laying on your side, your hip begins to ache. You need to move to your back. You know that you have already woken the person beside you several times and its only been a couple hours. You stare at the back of their head, see their body move ever so slightly with each breathe. How long can you hold out?
Sleep is not coming. Instead, your mind wanders. Back to past memories. Like a black and white sitcom, you play them over and over. Remembering the smiles, and hugs from family members. The holidays. All those firsts. Then it turns to the sadder times. You remember scenes from each moment as if they were on repeat. The angry words thrown at loved ones, in anger and in pride. Suddenly those moments that seemed so important, now seem trivial.
Your hip is throbbing.
Still, you refuse to move. You try to make a deal with yourself. You won’t call out until they move first. Remember that game? The one where you would stare and not blink first? Doing anything and everything not to blink or look away. You always won that game! You can do it again.
Whoever moves first, loses. Ignore the pain. Ignore the tingling and sharp needle like pains running down into your leg. You can win. Just don’t think about it.
Has it been an hour? It feels like it. You can’t take it anymore. You break.
“Hey babe…Can you roll me over?”
They groan slightly, moving so slow. Please hurry…
Finally, they sit up, legs go over the edge of the bed, they stand. Why are they moving so slow? Don’t they know how long you have laid there, in excruciating pain? Don’t they understand how long you held out?
The floor creaks, as their feet shuffle.
Finally, they come to the other side, taking the blanket off of you, and grab onto your legs and shoulders, to roll you.
Your bladder sends a message to your brain.
Do you have to pee or not? Because they are up, and if you do and they lay down, you are going to have to hold it…
They turn to go lay back down.
“Hey babe? I need to pee.”
You hear the feet stop. You can tell they are irritated. They turn, mumbling. You don’t ask. You can tell its not something you want to hear anyway. The blanket gets whipped off, a little less gently this time. They grab your leg and shoulder again, this time rolling you the opposite way, and if they aren’t steady, you’ll fall to the floor like a bag of potatoes. Something cold touches you. It’s the cold plastic as they press the urinal against you.
Damn. It doesn’t just happen like that!
You need a few minutes.
Finally, right when you are sure their patience can’t possibly hold on much longer, you feel your bladder cooperate.
Several more minutes later, your pillow has been readjusted, your legs and arms are covered, and they lay down again.
You immediately feel guilty. You know they have to get up soon. You lay there thinking about how much is happening for the day. You know each day the work load gets heavier and heavier. Your guilt builds. How much more can they handle? How much more sleep deprivation and stress can they take.
You can feel your skin itch. You try to move your arm, but your hands aren’t strong enough and it only makes it worse.
You lay perfectly still, trying to breathe through it. Trying to think of another childhood game where you can’t move, you think of freeze tag. Don’t move or you are out…
The back of your head itches. That one is easy enough. You shake your head from side to side, digging your head into the pillow.
Sweet relief for just a moment!
Now the mask over your face has moved from your damn spastic head shaking. Before you can decide if you should call for help, the alarm sounds next to you.
You look to your side, just in time to see them jump out of bed, running over. Their face full of worry.
“Sorry babe, the mask needs adjusted..”
Their eyes go from worry to irritation.
They reach over, pushing the off button. Fiddling with the straps, they get it placed back on, and before they turn, you ask if you can lay on your side again.
With the finesse of a WWE wrestler, they quickly roll you to your side. Adjusting your legs, and blankets and pillows, they stomp back to their side of the bed.
You lay still, trying not to make any more noise than you have to.
You wonder what time it is? How much longer before you can have them get you up and put you in your wheelchair? At least then, you can move a bit more. You hate being in bed.
You hear them snoring again.
How can they do that? How do they fall asleep so quickly?
Then you remember. It’s been years of this. Every night. Some nights are better than others, but every night, you wake them up.
Your mind wonders to Chinese torture practices. Is this how they do it? Wake a person up every twenty minutes? Can a person go crazy?
How long can a person go without sleep? You wonder if you are going crazy?
You giggle, because this isn’t funny, but it is either laugh or cry.
Then the giggle turns to a groan. Okay, this definitely isn’t so funny anymore.
Your hip starts hurting again. You wait. You really try to. Until you can’t handle it anymore…