Monday, March 2, 2009

Waking Up Is Hard To Do

Image found here. 

As I rolled out of bed this morning, bleary eyed and only half conscious, something occurred to me. Which is remarkable since most mornings, I can barely remember my name, let alone have any thoughts that make any sense at all. My realization this morning was this: 

I don't wake up gracefully. 

You recall the beautiful woman in all the sleeping medication commercials? The one that awakes with a lovely satin ribbon in her hair, face glowing, lip gloss shiny (for pete's sake), who flutters her long eyelashes as her eyes open, delicately stretches, perfectly manicured pink fingertips poised midair, and smiles at the sunshine streaming in her window? 

It ain't me, babe. I'll spare you the gruesome details, so just trust me on this one. 

No, I don't wake up gracefully, and even though I really would like to, I can't blame this one on Sjogren's Syndrome. Don't get me wrong - there are more things than I care to think about that legitimately belong to my diagnosis, but this serious character deficit has been around long before I started seeing a rheumatologist. 

I was thinking about my, um, not cheerful morning attitude after I had received an email from a very dear friend of mine. She and I go way back to our college days, and was remembering with a remarkable sense of affection the entertainment that I provided our dorm on days that I needed to wake up early. Until she reminded me, I hadn't thought of those panic-filled mornings for years. I probably stuck them away in my subconscious somewhere, not wanting to remember. Thanks, Diane, old buddy old pal, for resurrecting these delightful ??!? memories. 

Like most college kids, we enjoyed socializing on Thursday nights. Are Thursdays still party nights on college campuses these days? I think that we were all so anxious for the weekend to arrive, we decided to start early, so on Thursdays nights the clubs were filled. What fun. Nothing crazy or illegal - drinking was legal at age 18 back then. We danced and had a few drinks and just hung out with friends at the local disco. (Wince. It was in the late 70's, after all). 

We usually made it back to our dorm at about 2:30AM, which was a real problem for those of us who were in the nursing program. This was a problem since every Friday, we were scheduled to report to the hospital for our clinical training at 6:45AM. Sharp. There would be hell to pay if any of us were late, or were not impeccably dressed in our student nurse uniforms: white pantyhose, white shoes, spotless white student nurse dress, yes dress, and starched nurses cap pinned perfectly over demurely coifed hair. Believe it or not, our uniforms were almost exactly the same as pictured above, with the exception that we didn't receive the stripe across our caps until we graduated. 

I developed a strategy of sorts to attempt to survive my clinical instructor Nurse Oswald's scrutiny on those Friday mornings. Keep in mind, I would never have considered coming home at a reasonable hour on Thursday nights. 

That would have been just silly.

No, instead, on arriving back at my dorm room in the wee hours, I would carefully prepare myself for a streamlined early morning awakening. It seemed reasonable to me that to maximize my sleep time, which was by now roughly four hours, I needed to be able to spring out of bed as prepared as possible to face Nurse Oswald. 

So I hopped into bed at 2:30AM every Friday morning attired in clean underwear and bra, a white slip, and the dreaded white pantyhose. The plan was to rocket out of bed at the first sound of my alarm clock, throw on my uniform, slip into my white shoes, position the cap, and viola'! Student Nurse Julia at the ready. I even pre-loaded my toothbrush with toothpaste. 

What could possibly go wrong? 

As it turned out, plenty. Of course. Most of my problems were related to the fact that I have never once in my life rocketed out of bed on any morning. So I'd snore right through my alarm clock, or occasionally just throw it across the room. 

Luckily, I was blessed with friends who had these unbelievably amazing capabilities - they could awake after almost no sleep, get out of bed, dress themselves, and eat breakfast. I was constantly in awe of them, once I actually became conscious. 

I was also very lucky that these same friends considered it great entertainment to take it upon themselves to wake me up, and in doing so, ensured my graduation from nursing school. With about five minutes before I had to be out the door, one of them would pound on my door, and start the show. 

"Julia......get your butt out of bed girl! You're going to be late!" 

I was conditioned to actually open my eyes when I heard this, and after a look at the clock, panic set in. I would frantically pull on my uniform, wobble my way to the bathroom, wipe the toothpaste shrapnel off my face as I slapped my cap on and hoped that it was straight. Diane tells me that this whole slapstick routine was accompanied by screeches and screams and other exclamations. I don't remember this, but then I don't think that at this point in my morning routine I was actually awake. 

I usually achieved complete consciousness at some point when we all ran into the hospital lobby and began attempting to conduct ourselves in a manner which would not get us tossed out of the nursing program on our ears. 

I owe these friends an enormous debt of gratitude. Thanks, guys. I wouldn't have made it without you. 

I wish I could say that my morning habits are different nowadays. My schedule isn't as pressing as in my nursing school days, but cracking open those eyelids is still a painful, drawn out process that is put off until the last possible moment. See, what I really need is for my college buddies to move in with me. I don't sleep in my pantyhose and slip anymore but I still could use your help in getting my day started. Whaddya say, ol' nursing school buddies? 

Just don't pound on my door until after 9AM. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was fun to read and reassuring to know that those kind of mornings are experienced by others. Now that my daughters are older, I can be honestly irritated with consciousness and they understand. Your trip down college lane was also a nice little reminder of what I survived and what my girls are in for...

Thanks for the great start to my morning today~ even though I'm a couple of days late!