Thursday, 14 May 2015

Getting up is hard to do

Here's a fun fact about me: every morning, without fail, I will wake up to find that one or both of my shoulders has partially dislocated.

When I tell someone this for the first time, I tend to experience one of three reactions. There's grim recognition from fellow bendy people; horror and wincing from my able-bodied friends; and a confused look of "I thought that was normal" from people I then advise to ask for a rheumatology referral from their GP.

The idea that not everyone wakes up in a certain amount of pain is a relatively new one for me. Because it's been happening to me for at least nine years, I'd assumed that this was normal for everyone to some degree - that everyone woke up and had to immediately readjust their shoulders, hips, and several vertebrae. Imagine my shock when I found out that some people can just roll out of bed and get on with their day!

I had long imagined that the world was divided into Morning People and Night Owls, and that the two would never understand each other. I thought that morning people probably practised some form of black magic, because mornings for me are impossible. To begin with, I can't remember the last time I slept through the night and woke up feeling refreshed. Between physical pain and the chronic anxiety that tends to soak into my dreaming subconscious, I wake up every few hours, gaze despairingly at the clock, and hope vainly that the next time I look at it will be when my alarm goes off. When my alarm does sound, I will very often fall asleep again the moment I press the off switch, because I'm still exhausted.

Once I eventually wake up, which can be up to four or five hours later if it's been a really bad night, I have a brief and blessed window before the pain kicks in. I'll spend about ten minutes gingerly testing all my various joints and limbs to see what's fallen out, and stretching any painful muscles, and then I'll try to get out of bed. This can take several attempts, because often my hips will pop out as I move to put my feet on the floor, or I'll see stars as I straighten up and have to sit or lie down again. The whole process of getting out of bed generally takes upwards of 45 minutes, and it's very difficult to accurately factor it into my plans for the day.

As an added bonus, it can take up to two hours after getting up before I can keep any food down. And I can't string a coherent sentence together until I've had two cups of tea, but I'm given to understand this is a rather more common experience.

So next time someone tells you they're not a morning person, hang onto your comments. They might just be a bit slow to start, but they might equally be going through something like this.

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