Category Archives: Pain

The beat goes on for Only Child’s problems

How Only Child feels about the latest problems.

If I thought all the excess happenings in my life I posted about last week were more than enough, I have now reached higher or lower (depending on how you see it) limits.

AND I DON’T LIKE IT:

Why? Because they steal from my time, cause much frustration and pain, an make me very angry.

Here are two to add to the long list.

Health – now it’s my feet causing me grief. True I have a common problem – hammer toes and bunions – partly inherited from my late mother and partly caused by a life-time foot situation-i.e. flat feet. But there is more to it than just that. I’ve had various degrees of this problem for years but the pain in the right foot is recent. It travels from toe to foot bottom to another toe and sometimes there is no pain. From yesterday the pain seemed to go down or be gone. But I’m not trusting that to be the end of it as there are still a few pain quirks.

Living on low income for years also contributed to it. Podiatrists’ services and their products are not covered by OHIP – the dwindling Ontario health insurance plan. Anyone who thinks Canada’ health insurance is great and universal, can think again. You have to have secondary health insurance for all the “extras” (which are really part of your overall health) and if like me you can’t afford the health insurance you are out of luck.

The other one is computer-related – sort of. It is okay to be learning as you go with a new Mac laptop (and my son got it for me – I’m paying him back) -that’s expected. I’m using the MacBook for Dummies 2016 version.

It’s when one of your social media accounts and some of the basics just won’t work. I’m referring to bloody Facebook where I have an author page. Suddenly I can’t post anything or create an event. Well I can type the info into the box but when I hit “post” nothing happens. Yet, so far my two blogs’ weekly posts are still streamlined automatically to my Facebook page from WordPress. But that’s WordPress, not Facebook. And trying to find someone in Customer Service to fill in a form for help to solve the problem, well good luck. I did post a question to the Facebook Help Centre – at least I think I did. Who knows if it actually got posted.

With WordPress, if I can’t find a solution in their Help Centre I fill out their help support form. And I get an answer within a few days. And the answers are  usually helpful.

These are just two of the never-ending problems I’m faced with (pun intended). In line with that and my cutting what I do actions I might just not make it to an event I was going to this evening. It is free but it starts at 6 p.m., and no it’s not dinner. I have client work to do today and after all this social media nonsense (to promote an event I’m involved in as an author), I need to spend some time after lunch doing this client’s work. The client has been so patient so far with all my health issues since the beginning of 2017 and also having to take time to do several rewrites of my new Beyond mystery novel Beyond Faith coming out this fall (Plug here). I do not mind doing the rewrites at the publisher’s suggestion. That is par for the course.

It’s all this health stuff and social media snafus I don’t like or accept.

I definitely don’t follow the old serenity prayer. I believe that if problems are shoved at you, you do two things: solve the problem and if the problem is caused by someone else, get after them. But I also believe we all get too many problems to deal with in life.

Which throws out another belief, i.e., God gives us only the number of crosses we can bear. Or something like that.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Facebook, finances, Health, Healthcare coverage, Life demands, mystery novels, Only child, Pain, Problems

Only Child on living with chronic pain

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

Chronic pain can effect people in many different ways. Some will wallow in no hope. Some will complain constantly. Some will ignore the pain (or try to) and get on with their life. Some will be martyrs. Some will overdue the positive to the point of near Pollyanna portions. Some will just pray. Spare me from the latter three.

I live in constant on and off again chronic pain from digestive tract illnesses  – abdominal pain, lower back pain, pain radiating down my legs. If I had to pick which of the above categories for dealing with it, it is a variation of “ignore the pain (or try to) and get on with their life.” I do try to get on with my life, to live my life. Call me stubborn, resentful of the disease, and call me angry. I think those qualities are what motivates me to get going, at least in part. But I am never grateful for all of this pIN and when I do my usual morning litany of gratitude and non-gratitude, the pain/my health (or lack thereof) goes into the latter.

I also remember my mother, her chronic pain, and what it did to her.

The last yea’s of my late mother’s life were filled with pain – her pain, physical pain. Daily. She had rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma. To add  insult to injury, both diseases were crippling and deforming physically. She was in and out of doctors’offices, in and out of hospital until the arthritis indirectly caused her death from a fall. The fall caused a brain aneurysm.

My mother wasn’t an anomaly. Many people, and not just seniors, live in constant pain from various diseases. I’m talking chronic pain, not just something temporary. And studies show that women, more than men, live this way. I’m not going into (this post, anyway) the causes for this, so those who wave the “blame the victim” flag about lifestyle choices, well, wave it quietly.

We who are in pain have to deal with this reality. Unlike my mother I have too much I want to live for ( some years yet, although I can’t see me doddering around much past 80), and I’ll be damned if I let pain stop me – if I can help it.

So, I try to alleviate the pain where I can but I won’t take opiates or any strong meds. The strongest I take is acetaminophen and I know it can damage your liver. But when you are trying to live in the present…you have to choose either now or a maybe later. I also try to eat healthy, although I’m not sure how much that helps if just eating supper can sometimes start the abdominal spasms. It’s not what I eat, but the fact that I eat. Taking the aforementioned acetaminophen and the natural tranquilizer Valerian, then just lying down, often gets rid of the pain. Sometimes a glass of white wine in the evening will help.

But there are all the outside factors that contribute – stress being the big one. What causes the stress – financial problems, house problems, weather (if there is a threat for water to get in the basement, for example), family and friend problems, computer problems. All these and more can cause stress and that doesn’t help.

How much of people’s pain is worsened by stress? And of course, the worry about the pain adds to the stress load. But you have to deal with it one way or the other. Those who say “just relax” are only postponing dealing with the pain. Those who say “pray” are expecting some other being to get rid of their pain. . I’ve tried both and neither works. I see the same around me and in the world.

So I try to grab the stress-inducing problems by the bull horns (no bull here) and try to solve them; sometimes I ask for help from others.

I love my late mother very much. But I am not her and I am not living her life.

You have to own your life – pain and all.

This is the way I feel right now. If I get ALS or MS or a few other diseases, I could change my mind.

I’ll end with some links on chronic pain, including some statistics and studies.

The Prevalence of Chronic Pain

Scleroderma from the Mayo Clinic

Women’s College Hospital Pain Clinic (disclaimer here: one of the doctors here  – Dr. Gil Faclier  – was instrumental in getting rid of 90 per cent of my migraines – back in the 1980s when he was a resident doctor, when this clinic was still at Sunnybrook Hospital).

Some alternative medicine info:

Chronic Pain in Depth: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Pain Management Alternative Care

I also get regular newsletters from the Mayo Clinic – the digestive newsletter and the Women’s Hospital monthly Women’s Health Matters newsletter.

And I walk a lot. And garden – although not much of that lately with winter rearing its ugly head. Doing creative things like cooking and writing, especially writing also help with the endorphins and taking you to a different level, to some enjoyment in life, some life purpose.

How do you deal with physical pain?

Cheers.

Sharon’

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Digestive disorder, Gratitude, Health, Life demands, Only child, Pain

Empire Life Insurance apologizes and Hudson’s Bay reimburses

The garden is one way I have to heal

The garden is one way I have to heal

Last Friday, I followed through with phoning Empire Life Insurance and got a reasonable person in the call centre. After explaining the situation, she said she would look into it and get back to me Monday after 12 noon when she was back into work. When I said I had a dentist’s appointment that afternoon, we sorted out that I have vm and she could leave a message.

She did a couple better than that. She waited until 6 p.m. yesterday to call to make sure I was back home. And she fixed it. She checked my computer file and said there was a flag on it since 2013 to not send the letter and to automatically up the premium at the beginning of each new fiscal year in August. She explained that the letters are generated (from the computer) automatically and  sent out automatically unless someone follows the flagged info and someone missed doing that this year. She said it was human error and she apologized for the company. She also told me the amount of the increase which starts with the August bill and confirmed that the amount on the quarterly bill I have is the right one to pay by June 1  and to ignore the amount in the letter and the letter itself.

I accepted her apology. So, no repercussions for Empire Life Insurance Company now.

The companies doing something to fix their errors continues. I have mentioned before having problems with my prescription glasses which I bought at Hudson’s Bay Optical in December 2014. Unfortunately their warranty is only for one year – which covered the replacement of one pair of sunglasses last fall because the one frame handle kept falling off and could not be screwed back in – only could be temporarily glued. They still had one more frame like it, so the lenses were switched to those frames.

Last month the same thing happened with the new frame and in I went and had it glued back on with the caveat that new prescription glasses would need to be purchased as these glasses frames were no longer available.

Mother’s Day at the restaurant the frame side fell off again. My son snapped it in. Then two weekends ago, the right lens popped out of the regular prescription glasses. When I went in to have them popped in (this is free), I ordered a new pair of prescription glasses and of course had to pay full price as the warranted expired in December 2015.

The saga continues. Last Saturday the lens again popped out of the regular glasses and in a very bad mood I took public transit to Hudson’s Bay Optical. They didn’t mind popping it in again and did so. I was wearing the sunglasses and so just put the regular glasses back in their case. They did check and said the new sunglasses had left the manufacturers on Thursday and should arrive this week, Tuesday or afterwards. They also said the manufacturer is in the United States, which would explain the long time frame (pun intended).

Does this also explain the poor quality of the glasses? Because I decided to complain to the manager about all this nonsense. By then I was out of the optical department and walking through the cosmetic department. One of the cashiers called the manager and he came down.

We discussed the glasses problem with me making comments about the poor quality of the glasses and I never had this problem with Sears and had only switched to Hudson’s Bay Optical because the Sears store downtown had closed and the mall locations of Sears are too far for me to go on public transit. I also said I had been wearing glasses for 46 years and had never had lenses pop before. I also complained of the one-year warranty Hudson’s Bay policy compared to Sears two-year warranty policy. He said he would see what he could do about that.

Then he decided I should get half the amount back of what I paid for the sunglasses and had the clerk in cosmetics do the transaction.

While we were talking he noticed that the frame on my sunglasses had again become detached. I handed him the offensive glasses and like my son had done, he snapped it back it.

The next morning at home I noticed that the lens for the regular glasses hadn’t been popped in correctly – it was the same as I managed to do to pop it in with one corner not all the way in.

I’m hoping it stays until I go in later this week to pick up the new sunglasses. And I’m not wearing the sunglasses much if at all in case the frame falls off again. I cannot pop it back in.

The glitches/snafus are getting to be too much and they have affected my health. Last Thursday, I dealt with five problems – all sorted out; Friday was calling the insurance company. Yesterday I finally had that filling put in the back bottom tooth, so hope that is now going to be okay

What all this stress, all this having to be my own consumer advocate is doing is making my IBS and the like worse and it is scaring me. I’m making some changes – more exercise as in walking and gardening (neither of which was done from Saturday to yesterday because of the cold weather). Today it is still too cold to do more than collect fresh flowers but I hope to get out for a walk. I am changing my diet slightly, but mainly starting to drink more water as I’m sure I’m dehydrated. Have also done some more research on the Internet and will see a nutritionist at the Health Planet for suggestions on supplements to help.

And do some meditation regularly and other stress reduction things. Plus get more sleep. Eliminate some stuff from my life and postpone some.

All this may be very well. But God will have to do his part, i.e. stop sending me so many problems in all areas to deal with. And send me some more money to ease the financial burden. The latter is starting to happen. But the first part has to happen or all the lifestyle changes in the world may not be enough. I don’t have the good fortune to have a partner to help with things so the burden of all falls on me. Lessening it would be very helpful.

That’s my take anyway.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Anxiety, Consumer action, Digestive disorder, finances, Gardening health benefits, God, Healing through gardening, Health, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Life Insurance, Meditation, Older Women living alone and health, Pain, Worrying

Only Child hits the stress factor

Only Child's relaxing corner  in the backyard - when the garden finally flowers

Only Child’s relaxing corner in the backyard – when the garden finally flowers

There are many studies and articles about how stressed-out we are. It seems to be the norm to be over-busy and stressed out. It’s the so-called remedies that I don’t agree on. One in particular – change your attitudes on your life.

Yeah, right. As if that would get rid of the stress in your life. If it would work, I would try to change my attitude. However, as I mentioned in last week’s post, as one stressor goes, another one pops up to take its place.

Let’s consider changing your attitude. There is a big risk here of going into denial, i.e., you don’t have any problems so you don’t solve them. You might also fall into the Pollyanna attitude. And we all know what happened to Pollyanna. In the 1960 Disney movie of the same name, Pollyanna fell from a tree and was crippled.

So attitude change won’t work for me.

I’ve decided on a three-prong approach:

1. Take a long hard look at just what my stressors are and try to eliminate what I can. I know I said that one will pop up as one is deleted. But there just might be some that can go for good – so that would be one or two less included in the stressor list.
2. Learn to relax – that’s the biggie – but meditation has helped me in the past. It won’t eliminate the stress but might help the cortisol level and my immune system. Because of some physical medical conditions, I already have a compromised immune system and stress capulted it into high gear. No wonder I’m having a hard time getting rid of a viral respiratory condition in my neck and cheek glands, which started as sinusitis and is threatening to include that again. Here, my garden (whenever this weather decides it is actually spring – plants are about a month late this year) can help, both gardening and sitting in the garden and reading.
3. Solve the damn problems – and pick and choose wisely, which ones to tackle. And try not to tackle all at once – if it can be helped.

Here are a few articles and studies on ways to eliminate or reduce stress. I don’t necessarily agree 100 percent with them, but here they are anyway.
Stress and Positive Attitude
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
Stress and Aging http://www.economist.com/node/18526881
And my favourite – Eliminating Stress Brings Pain Relief
http://www.everydayhealth.com/pain-management/stress-and-pain.aspx

 

How do you tackle stress? Is it killing you? I’d like some comments.
Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford

 

Only Child Writes
Sharon A. Crawford teaches memoir writing workshops and courses in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her next workshop, Getting Your Memoir off the Ground is Saturday, May 10, 2014 at Hugh’s Books and the Studio @ Hughs in east end Toronto. If you are in the Toronto area and want to learn more about writing memoir, this might be the workshop for you. More details on at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/SpeakersBureau.html

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Filed under Gardening, Healing through gardening, Health, Only child, Overwhelm, Pain, Problem solving, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress

Only Child on eliminating big stressors

Sharon and her late mother in less stressful times.

Sharon and her late mother in less stressful times.

It all came together like a light bulb exploding inside my head. Three occurrences within the same time period.

Yet another editing client’s manuscript had big formatting problems beyond the usual editing – second one in a few months. I was beginning to wonder if it was my computer software programs. Nope. Checked other clients’ manuscripts from earlier this year and even my writing manuscripts and they were fine. I have to charge extra for this extra re-formatting which isn’t part of copy editing (unless the client can fix it himself) which doesn’t always sit too well with clients. But I didn’t create the formatting problem. No quandary with the first client here a few months ago.

My digestive disorder is acting up and giving me lower back pain so that sometimes I have difficulty standing up straight without pain. I find just moving around (gardening and longer walks) and drinking peppermint tea seem to help temporarily. I’ve also added some supplements, changed a bit of my diet, and play relaxing  music when editing. But stress and stressors trigger these attacks. (I have plenty of house and money-related stress and spent a good part of Friday on the phone trying to straighten some of them out only to find when I finally got around to checking my snail mail that the bank officer I’ve been dealing with screwed up my minimal RRSPs’ renewal – she didn’t listen to what I originally said and didn’t even return my phone call. I left her a blunt voice mail indicating that I was upset; she better fix it, and to call me Wednesday morning when she is back from her extended long weekend).

The final “wake-up call” was when my police consultant – a police officer and novelist of police procedures said he is  retiring  next year and he “just wants to write.”

Bingo.

Early next year I should be getting the OAS pension and can apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement – that with CPP, hits on my small amount RRSPs (if the bank officer fixes them now so I can get at some) plus income from teaching writing workshops and courses, writing, doing manuscript evaluations and writing marketing consulting – hopefully I will be able to live modestly on that. Meantime I plan to get more gigs in those areas. By this time next year I plan to quit doing copy editing of book manuscripts. If the CAA Toronto branch still wants me as their Writer in Residence I’ll still do that – it’s only 30 pages per client and is often manuscript evaluation and for the latter it doesn’t matter how messed up the formatting is. I’m picking a year from now to tie in with when I would have to renew my Editors’ Association of Canada membership next year (not renewing then). Those few months will also give me some time to see how the new way goes.

I don’t know if it’s a taste of “like mother, like daughter.” As I’ve posted before, my late mother had to quit working as a secretary, then a proofreader for an insurance company because of severe arthritis. My medical condition is different and there are other stressors coming at me too. But I can imagine my mother had a lot of stress about her situation because she was a worrier too and also didn’t have a partner as it was after Dad died. Maybe the lack of a partner is “”like mother, like daughter.”

Now, I have another big stressor to deal with – getting help with and getting the window air conditioner replaced.  Wish me luck or maybe a miracle – maybe I might actually believe in miracles then.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Burnout, Decisions, Health, Health Seniors, Life demands, Old Age pensions, Only child, Pain, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Uncategorized, Worrying

Only Child deals with a mixed Christmas

Only Child likes the Christmas tradition of gift giving

Only Child likes  gift giving

It’s going to take extra effort to get through this Christmas because I’m feeling the pain of being what I refer to as an “only person” (no partner, etc.). I think the pain here is coming from real physical pain and having to deal with it alone. It’s been a bad year for me with health issues but lately something more has been brewing and one of these physical pains can partly be blamed on having no partner and no car, i.e., having to cart heavy bags of groceries in several trips – now my right shoulder hurts. That should go away if I take it easy. I may be able to carry my purse on my left shoulder and refrain from buying heavy groceries until the weekend. But if we get all this snow that’s forecast for Boxing Day, it will create problems and more aloneness.

I have no one near here to shovel snow for me (and this winter, so far, I can afford to pay someone a reasonable fee to do so). So guess who will have to be out there shovelling snow – probably two sessions in the next couple of days? Not Santa Claus or any of his helpers.

The other situation is that my son and I were planning to meet for dinner on Boxing Day in downtown Toronto (somewhat a central location for both of us). Today he has a gaggle of friends from overseas staying with him and he is cooking Christmas dinner there. His girlfriend is off visiting her sister out of country because of a family issue there. With this snow coming, my son’s and my Boxing Day dinner might be postponed. Although I don’t mind having to postpone if necessary, I do mind now because for Christ’s sake it is Christmas (pun intended). I’m spending today, Christmas alone and the odd Christmas this happens it doesn’t bother me. But then I don’t have all these pains every Christmas (the other one in my foot I’m suspecting is fibromyalgia, at least from the symptoms and connections to another disease I have). Reading about that online is enough to make you depressed. Oh, that is a symptom of possible fibromyalgia.

So, to get over the hump of this season’s next few days, I will call my friends and my son – perhaps we can have the “snow” option of rescheduling Boxing Day dinner. I will also email friends and family from out of town, be grateful for the gifts I have received, prepare my traditional Christmas dinner (the first one – the second family one comes in January when Martin and Alison will be here for a belated Christmas dinner), savour it and the wine and eggnog – try not to overdue eating chocolate and ice cream, listen to Christmas music, read the current mystery novel on my Kobo, and remember Christmases past with my late parents when I was growing up. I’ll leave you with this remembrance of my childhood Christmas.

Christmas Day began with breakfast and tearing into the stockings hung on the mantle. Then it was the obligatory Christmas Mass at Church (a tradition I no longer follow as the only thing that moves me there is the music and I can get that on my stereo). Once back home we dived into the presents and I think it was the sharing that I liked best. When we stayed home for Christmas dinner Mom liked to try roasting a different type of bird each year – sometimes a greasy goose, sometimes a duck, sometimes a chicken, and sometimes a turkey. Some years she had to cook the goose another day because we were off to my aunt and uncle’s on dad’s side of the family for Christmas dinner. We travelled by public transit (no car) and when we got there I’d hang out with my three cousins.  I don’t remember the dinners, but remember this as I write in my memoir:

I gaze around the living room beyond the corner where we are sitting. The grownups are involved in their grownup talk, but my aunt sees me staring at the tree in the opposite corner. Three presents, like lost parcels, lie underneath the tree.

“Those are for Felicity,” my aunt says. “Her birthday is December 26, so she can’t open her birthday presents until tomorrow.” (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, Copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford)

Merry Christmas.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Christmas, Family and Friends, Health, Help and Support, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Only child memoir, Pain, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Winter Weather

Only Child’s overwhelm leads to insomnia

Only Child catching some much-needed zzzzs.

Looks like my new motto to put off until tomorrow what you don’t need to do today isn’t solving my overwhelm problem. Now the overwhelm has moved into insomnia. Not good for doing client work during weekdays. I don’t usually suffer from insomnia. I may go to bed very late but at least I sleep until the alarm rings or if I wake up, I fall back to sleep within a few minutes.

Not for the last few days. I know I’ve inherited the worry wart syndrome from my late mother, but don’t recall her suffering from insomnia. But how would I know? I didn’t sleep in her bedroom at home. And when visiting cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, if Mom and I shared a room, she slept.

Maybe I’ve inherited it from my late father. He could give Mom a run for her worry money.

Or maybe it’s secondary factors – anxiety over too much to do (and all seeming to need doing at the same times), pain from physical health conditions acting up, and unfortunately age. It might also be because dawn arrives much earlier in summer, but I don’t think that is really the reason as dawn has been arriving early for over a month and my insomnia just started late last week.

An article on the University of Maryland Medical Center website http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/insomnia-000096.htm/  lists those three (not the dawn one) as well as the expected ingesting stimulants like caffeine too close to bedtime, menopause, menstrual cycle hormone changes, circadian rhythms disrupted, sleep apnea, snoring partners, decongestants, and the one that surprises me – computer work. Snoring partners definitely isn’t my reason and neither is computer work. My writing and editing work has me on the computer on weekdays and some weekends I spend a few hours checking and replying to personal email. If computer use was the cause for me, I’d have constant insomnia.

I don’t know if this insomnia will turn into constant. To avoid adding insomnia to my lists of problems and things I’m not grateful for, I am attempting to make some changes. For beating insomnia, the sleep experts say you should go to bed the same time every night and get up the same time every morning. I do the former – it is just very late because of all the household stuff I am still doing late at night. A partner would be helpful here. I am trying to have a cut-off time for doing housework and follow my last week’s blog posting rule – leave it to another day. Now, if I could just get my mind to wind down (and it’s not caffeine. My last cup of coffee goes down before 11 a.m., more than 12 hours before I hit the bed). I walk and/or garden during the day as breaks from work and/or before and after work and get the afternoon sun. Before I go to sleep I do relaxing things – take a shower and read from whatever book I have on the go. The experts say don’t read anything too startling and I suppose mysteries could come under that. This is often my only time to read one of the many books stacked up in the bookshelf by my bed. My room is quiet and so is the neighbourhood I live in – until a bunch of racoons start fighting and crying. Or the newspaper is plunked inside the front door. That  woke me up Friday morning and this plunk never does.  Unlike other times when some noise awakens me, this time I didn’t go back to sleep.

The article at the University of Maryland Medical Center has some other ideas but I don’t agree with them. For example, it says don’t read in bed or watch TV in bed. I don’t have a TV in my bedroom but I do fall asleep in front of the TV in the living room in the late evening and it’s not boredom.  I figure if I read my book sitting up in the kitchen or living room – I would fall asleep. When I transport my body to my bed, guess what? Awake. The article also suggests getting 8 hours sleep; I’m having trouble landing over 5 hours lately. However, experience tells me that 7 ¼ hours works for me.

Now I just have to get the 7 ¼ hours.

Do any of you suffer from insomnia? How do you deal with it?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Books, Burnout, Only child, Overwhelm, Pain, Peace and quiet, Reading, Sharon Crawford, Sleep deprivation