I thought, after I had written the page Living with RLS that I had solved my problems – but no!
Something new has come up. First, however, I must digress a little to a matter that seems to be related.
I remember on some occasions when driving to work along the motorway, I would suddenly be aware of having reached a certain point with absolutely no knowledge of how I got there. I was still driving, still alive, and fully conscious, but there was a blank period, during which I had traversed a considerable number of motorway miles with no conscious memory of having done so. It was as if I had switched to ‘Autopilot’ without realising it, and when the switch flopped back to the “Off” position, I was in full control again, but completely at a loss to say how I had got that far. This happened a number of times. It wasn’t a daily occurrence by any means, but it did happen frequently enough to become a real source of concern.
I tried to analyse the situation, but came up with little that would point to a specific cause.
Tiredness perhaps? I found no direct relationship with a specific occurence and how tired I was at the time. No, that wasn’t it.
Monotony perhaps? This could have had an input, I think, as I was driving the same route for a long time, and when there was light traffic, the brain had very little in the way of stimulus to keep it alert. Just pointing the car in the same direction, and keeping the speed more or less constant, was not exactly taxing one’s capabilities.
Whatever the cause, it was a little worrying. There was always the nagging doubt that the brain would switch back in time from ‘Autopilot’ to be able to deal consciously with an emergency – should one arise.
It seemed a better idea to do something about it, rather than take risks. Listening to the radio was some help, but not a guarantee by any means. Listening is always a one-way process, and it too can be switched off and ignored. Far better was to take a passenger, and talk to them. Conversation is two-way process in which the brain is much more stimulated, and therefore much more likely to remain in conscious mode, rather than switch over. Besides which, the companion could also act as a sort of detector, and cause a deliberate interrupt if they thought there was a problem.
Not that this is any guarantee either. I have been known to hold a perfectly lucid conversation with another person while I was asleep, and the other party had thought I was awake all the time! That was really weird discussing it the next day – they didn’t understand why I didn’t know what they had said, and I had no knowledge of them being there at all!
I have solved that problem now. I don’t work any more, and have no need to drive anywhere, so I consider myself “safe” in that respect. Especially as I have little to do other than to sit at my computer all day, and write items such as this, or keep myself up with the news, send an email or two – you know how it is.
But no. I’m still not safe!
Don’t laugh, but I sometimes fall asleep at the computer! The falling asleep is not the problem – its the waking up that could be dangerous! It is most likely to happen after I have eaten a meal. Digestion needs energy – diverting energy for that purpose means it can’t be used for something else. The consequence is that I get tired. I don’t always heed the indications, though, and continue with what I am doing regardless. That’s when it gets problematic.
The computer is sited on a computer stand, which comprises two steel sideframes, and various compressed fibre boards and a steel tube holding them together. The lowest board is about 3 inches off the floor – for anyone with RLS this is dangerous! It has drawn blood twice already, as on waking, I sometimes kick out and am not able to slow the leg down in time.
Looking at the design of the computer stand, I don’t see that bottom board as being essential for stability. I could be wrong, of course. I will certainly know for sure after the next earthquake.
That board has to go!
As far as I can see, that should cure my present problems, but what if there are new ones in the offing?
I may yet have to go for the ultimate solution – padding everywhere!