For people who have not followed my writings on this site for any length of time I need to let you know that for me, a career military officer and veteran of Iraq, and other adventures at sea and ashore that I suffer from PTSD, TBI and Moral Injury. As a result I endure terrible insomnia, nightmares and night terrors. A really good night sleep I have not enjoyed since I went to Iraq in 2007. Guy Sager, a German veteran of the Russian front wrote in his classic account of war and homecoming The Forgotten Soldier:
“Only happy people have nightmares, from overeating. For those who live a nightmare reality, sleep is a black hole, lost in time, like death.”
It is something that I fully understand. General Gouverneur Warren, a hero of Gettysburg also suffered from terrible insomnia and nightmares. He wrote:
“I wish I did not dream that much. They make me sometimes dread to go to sleep. Scenes from the war, are so constantly recalled, with bitter feelings I wish to never experience again. Lies, vanity, treachery, and carnage.”
Tonight I am undergoing a sleep study which will look at a number of aspects of what might be keeping me from sleep and what might help me. I will be examined for a number of neurological and respiratory conditions. I have about half an hour until the tech make the final hook of of all the paraphernalia that I have connected to me, wires, machines and bands across my head and my chest. I have wires connected to about every part of my body but my penis and sphincter.
As it is all of this is terrifying. I find test such as this to be troubling, for I do not know what they will reveal. Over the past couple of months I have been going through a lot of testing related to traumatic brain injury and concussive injuries. Frankly I have knocked my noggin a lot in my life, sports, the military, deployment and just dumb stuff.
I also have some worry because my father died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, what William Shatner’s character in the television series Boston Legal, Denny Crane referred to as the “Mad Cow.” I hated to see how that evil disease ravaged my dad’s mind. While it is unlikely that I would have it too, there is always the chance and of all the things to die of I would hate losing my mind, the one thing that defines who I am the most. Denny Crane said: “When God strips you of your talent, He should at least have the decency to strip away the memory of having had it.”
I do not like the night, noises seem amplified, an airplane, a helicopter, sirens and crashing noises will trigger me into a state of hyper-arousal that is almost impossible to come down from.
As such I am going to curl up with my iPad and continue to read To Kill a Mockingbird as I have been doing the past week.