Sunday 19 December 2010


I sleep with tablets. They surround me. I try to minimise their lurking presence (lupus makes one a master of disguises). I use colourful scarves, drapes, jewel bright cushions, Neruda, Chanel, the latest Hello! or Elle. Thầy, Sai and Dalai, the lamas illuminate my walls. Friends tell me my room exudes peace.
Tablets, you see, don't speak. They lurk.

On this day, in 1848, at the age of 30, ill health was to take Emily Brontë. Having caught a cold during the funeral of her brother, she died two months later, having refused "no poisoning doctor" near her. My father being a doctor and all, I could never consider any doctor to be 'poisonous'.... but I have had to learn to become robust enough to cross swords (terribly politely, of course) with a long line of medics. The latest subject: sleeping tablets.

Now, I understand, I truly do, the RED ALERT FLAG that the words 'sleeping tablets' arouses in the average being. Successive flashcard: ADDICTION. But according to this medic, the worst of all, are little old ladies (his words) who, mid induced-sleep, go for a jolly little wander, and slip and fall and break. "I know it hasn't happened to you," (he paused, I nearly smiled), "not yet." Not Yet?!!! I've never asked him for a sleeping tablet before. I ground my teeth. I wasn't there to beg. "Sleep deprivation," he sweetly informed me, "is not a disease."
"And you, I suppose," my smile even sweeter, "pass into oblivion the moment your head touches your pillow?" He bowed in acquiescence. "It's about choice, a lifestyle change," he waved grandly.

I am an individual, I remind him. Not a statistic. Nor a morally reprehensible citizen. I was never asked to sign a consent form when the first barrage of drugs were pumped into my body. The steroids that nearly destroyed my sight were described as 'life-saving'. The immuno suppressant that caused needless, endless bleeding, was called 'a magic bullet'.
I stand my ground, and face the doctor down. "We could argue till the cows come home!" he attempts, jovially. But a few blusters later, he pronounced me, "Fascinating!" twice, hastily wrote me a prescription, and sent me packing with the fervent prayer, "We need to find a cure for you soon!" 

Back to the needles on the ward tomorrow for more mabtherapy. And a few good nights' SLEEEEEP!!!!
And who knows, when I wake.... what magic will await? Sometimes a girl just needs to sleep. It worked for Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, don't you think? At least, in the Disney version. Grimm's fairy tales may have brushed closer to the truth. 


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Shaista,I hope your hospital stay affords you some good sleep.(Though I personally find it impossible to sleep in hospitals, they are way too busy.) Sleep deprivation is horrible. I am horrified that medication they gave you affected your eyesight, such a precious commodity for a writer and reader. I hope your eyes are doing okay now. I just finished watching My Sister's Keeper, which was a real tear-jerker. Incredibly good acting, and very real. Loved it very much. Did you hear - be still, my heart! - they are making a movie of Water for Elephants? I CANT WAIT!!!!! I read the very intelligent open letter on your site written by Tenzin Tsundue. Wonderful writer and activist. I love the sound of your room with photos of Thay, and the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama's face greets me on three sides around my desk. Through the windo,w Tibetan prayer flags flutter in the breeze. In September 2009 I attended the Vancouver Peace Summit and heard the Dalai Lama speak, one of the most significant moments of my life. Just sharing the same air with such a being was incredible. The energy of the people attending was beautiful.

Yes, they must find a cure for you SOON. From his mouth to God's ear!

Lisa said...

Hi Shaista, my sleeping tablet had been the tv for the past two and a half years. When it should've been a good book.

A good sleep can be healing and princes can appear in it too:)

Ser said...

Sometimes, doctors/medical professionals (etc. etc.) can be so harsh in their methods and the way they shove the verdict to patient(s). I also dislike the way they sound and make us all believe that tablets are somewhat God sent (perhaps but maybe not).I wonder if doctors think they are GOD...(Note: Based on my personal experience with doctors back in my country - there were, still are doctors that we can categorise and label as "The Good, Bad & Evil" ones.

But doctors should be humble because all they do is use what's in the universe to heal people and other beings.

Thus, I trust and hope that this universe will bring you an encouraging cure. Take care & God bless.

Btw. I hope your eye-sight is better. You are an amazing individual. I pray that you will have many more smooth-sailing years ahead.

Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

A cure for you and a lover. That's what I prescribe.

wendy said...

I am so excited that you stopped by and visited my blog. How in the world did you find ME.
I am enjoying your blog very much. Sorry about your Lupus of course. It must be difficult to deal daily with health issues. I don't know very much about Lupus.

Your conversation with the doctor made me giggle. Nothing like a good nights sleep for sure.

I went through the rest of your blog to see what I could learn of you. I wrote down some books you had of yours on your side bar that looked interesting to me.

You sound like a woman of vision Shaista.
thanks so very much for your kind words on my blog. such simple things as that are very meaningful and helpful.

wendy said...

Oh, and one more thing. I also read Water for Elephants.
It was a good one.

Maude Lynn said...

I despise being treated like a drug seeker. Despise it.

Yin said...

I used to do this thing where I do nothing but concentrate on relaxing all the muscles in my body, starting with the foot. So if you imagine there's a tiny army of yous working the muscles in your whole body, you have to get them all to put down the ropes and walk out. Completely relaxing is quite hard - I've never made it past my ankles before nodding off though. But be warned I'm sure I read this in the says-he-is-a-former-lama T Lobsang Rampa's book The Third Eye. Regardless of whether he's a faker it works for me! :) Otherwise I'm wishing you many good sleeps (6 to Christmas Izzy reminds me)!

* said...

I use Tylenol PM to sleep, never used it until this year. It works, it's not addicting. Have you tried it? I used to think it was a 4 letter word, now, not so much, I just know it works.

PS: Love Water for Elephants, a riveting book, happy to see that you're reading it! Do share with me your thoughts on it!!!


Marion said...

I am so sorry you must deal with health problems. I am sending you best wishes and hoping for good health in the future. Remember beautiful Hope left in Pandora's jar.

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