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Ouch! Avoid ramming into this footboard, even if there is a dog sleeping on the floor.

Sometimes a bad thing happens and what’s good about it is that it pushes us in the direction of something even better. Other times a bad thing exposes something good that is already happening.

I’m happy to report that I recently experienced the second situation—and I’m ecstatic about the underlying proof that my back and hips are continuing to heal—just wish I didn’t have to hurt myself to prove that!

I don’t know about you, but if I get up in the night to go to the bathroom or check on a noise, I leave the lights off. Some nights I do have to negotiate around sleeping dogs, but our current dogs, Sam and Furgus, don’t move much. Well, last week, while trying to avoid stepping on Sam, I leapt over him onto the mattress—or so I thought.

What I really did was ram my inner thigh right into the sharp edge of the footboard before rolling onto the mattress. Not sure how Sherman managed to sleep through the cursing and groaning that followed, as well as the rolling around in agony.

Lesson learned—I need to slow down when I’m moving around half asleep in the dark.

But you know what? Before my healing began, I couldn’t walk (or leap) quickly wide awake in the bright sunshine, let alone half asleep in the dark. In fact, half the time I would get out of bed too fast and have to hang onto the wall before my back would let me move forward at all. So that huge multi-colored bruise on my thigh proves that I’m well enough to walk faster than I should, as well as leap—yes, leap! It’s a possibility I couldn’t have even gotten into our new taller bed when my injury was at its worst.

And while I’m kind of proud that I can walk and leap, I haven’t exactly worn this visible badge proudly. The truth is I’ve never seen a bruise this deep that didn’t come from something more traumatic such as a car accident or a fall that led to significant injuries. Wouldn’t you know I did this right before the start of the only exercise class I do where I have to expose the top of my thigh. Yup, deep water class started today.

While putting on my aquatic belt so I could take the first plunge of my summer into the pool, I couldn’t get anyone to focus on anything other than my bruise.

I kept saying, “I’m fine and it’s a good thing, really.”

Not that they believed me, but I do.

At least the fact I can move is a good thing, but I think I’ll save my recently returned superwoman speed for daylight from now on . . .

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Maybe I’ve always had mixed feelings about nighttime—or maybe those feelings didn’t begin until after my brother Scott and I saw a man in our bedroom when we were two and four.

As far as I know, that’s as scary as this story gets, but I don’t think that memory is ever very far from my consciousness. There’s not much to tell, really, except we both agree that it happened. One night, in the brief period when we lived in a rental house before moving to our own home, my brother stage-whispered to me from his twin bed, “Trina, there’s a man in the room. Hide under the covers.”

I hid and eventually fell back asleep. The next morning we both told the story to our mother, who doubted it until she discovered the cellar door unlocked. Though we had just moved to a town of no bigger than 600, apparently a man who was losing his battle with mental illness had a habit of entering peoples’ homes in the middle of the night. One resident woke to see a lit cigarette glowing in the kitchen and discovered the man relaxing at the table.

My brother Scott and I in 1964.

Put my early experience together with a vivid imagination and my quicksilver ADD mind, and you can guess that I didn’t really grow up falling asleep too well. My increasing levels of nearsightedness probably didn’t help either. Even though I lived in two more homes before I left for college and then again to strike out on my own for good, my insomnia never abated in my family’s homes.

Luckily, the worst of my insomnia ended with that final move. No idea why—I’ve lived in six places since—all different as far as I can tell.

Which is not to say I’ve made complete peace with the night.

First of all, let me say that I love staying up at night—it’s not just about avoiding falling asleep. I am the queen of getting a second wind around bedtime. However, I don’t really like mornings and I do “get” that if I stay up late all the time, then those mornings will feel even more unpleasant than they normally do.

Second of all, I know that sleeping with my husband makes a big difference. I’m lucky that I haven’t had to sleep alone much in past couple decades. Plus, he got me Lasik surgery which means I can see if any bad guys are in the house—haven’t seen any, thank you very much! Still, he’ll tell you that everyone in my family of origin—including my father, mother, and yes, my brother Scott, as well as our own two children—has or had some problems with sleep.

He likes to say something such as, “What do you people have against going to sleep? I like going to sleep—why don’t you?”

Good question. You see, I like sleep a lot—I just don’t like going to sleep.

After you go through all that sleeplessness when your kids are young—and then again when they’re teenagers and young adults—you really learn to like that sleep. Not waiting for someone to come home and/or living with someone on a vastly different time clock was one of the greatest benefits of our short empty nest period. Doesn’t it seem so ironic, though, that the time when my body slept best happened when I couldn’t sleep much because of my kids?

Let’s just say that lately we’ve been working on improving our sleep setting and our habits since these days it doesn’t seem to take much of a distraction to interrupt our sleep. First we had to deal with old dogs that had to go out in the middle of the night and who played musical dog beds all night—without the music, of course. Then we had to deal with a puppy—at the same time my back began hurting. Well, the puppy got older but then Sherman’s back started hurting, too.

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

So our latest step in the quest for a good night’s sleep was saying goodbye to our waterbed (with much regret!) and hello to a new mattress, box springs, and bed-frame. The almost eight-week transitional process started when we put the mattress in the waterbed frame (can’t we ever pick anything not on back order??!!), then continued when we set up the new frame and added the box springs, and ended when I also got fitted sheets (never needed those before) and a new comforter.

Even if I’ll never quite forget my early experience, we are finally enjoying sweeter dreams.

Crescent moon on high.
Handful of stars in the sky.
Night—sweet guard of dreams.

by Trina (Lange) Lambert, Age 10

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

It’s official—Sherman and I have given up on sleeping on a waterbed. Yes, welcome to the 1990s, right?

Can you believe I bought that bed on layaway back in 1986 when I was single? Sherman bought an upgraded mattress a year or so later which we then switched into my frame when we combined households. Since then we’ve replaced the mattress and the heater once each—which has become a progressively harder task. And when we discovered last year’s leak, we also discovered our patch kit had dried up. Before we could start the repair process, first we had to rummage around town until we found a store that looked as if it were still stuck in the late 70s.

Still, we weren’t ready to give up on our way of sleeping—yet. In almost all my travels, most beds have either kept me up or made me wake up—I was such a princess who could find any pea. After awhile, I just wanted to get back home to my own bed.

That doesn’t prove the bed was good for me, though. In fact, before I knew I was injured I was waking up each morning with aching hips. After I’d start moving the aches would recede. In my defense for sticking with the bed, once I started healing, I didn’t wake up any worse than when I went to sleep.

Do you know that in all my treatments for my back no one asked about my bed? And, I didn’t really want them to either. Even though I had taken the chiropractor’s early advice on changing pillows and that had made a huge difference for my neck, I wasn’t ready for anyone to tell me to give up my bed!

Yet a few weeks ago when Sherman suggested that maybe his back problems—as well as some of mine—were related to our bed, I didn’t deny the possibility. How many people have we known who gave up their waterbeds under doctor’s advice? Many, that’s for sure.

But will it help? And how do you know what bed will help? All we know is what doesn’t help—rock hard beds such as our parents preferred—and that we weren’t ready to spend a huge amount of money on the different specialty systems out there.

Sleeping in a regular bed is really like moving into a whole new lifestyle. Will we get colder? Do we need to buy fitted sheets ASAP or can we handle the inconvenience? Will our 1940s room be better or worse without under-bed dresser storage? Still, what a concept that we can actually move the bed.

So Saturday afternoon I brought my special pillow to the mattress store, slipped off my shoes, and lounged around trying to be all “princess and the pea” in my pickiness since I think I know what causes my back to ache in many motel beds. Yes, it’s a leap in faith, but we think we found the mattress.

The good news is we can ease into our new set-up since the bed frame we want is out-of-stock. No, I don’t want any of those headboards that look as if Henry the VIII would sleep there—I repeat, this is a 1940s house and as such, opulence just looks silly here. For goodness’ sake, all we’re going to use a headboard for is to keep our pillows on the bed and to lean against when we read books. Not only do we not have breakfast delivered to us in bed, we also do not watch TV in our bedroom.

For now the box springs wait (inconveniently, may I add, in this 1940s house) while the mattress is set in the waterbed frame.

Not speaking for the prince—even though we are often those proverbial two peas in a pod—but this princess didn’t feel a single pea while sleeping last night. I only woke early thanks to the dogs’ sounding a “squirrel on the roof” alert. Even a good mattress can’t make me sleep through that . . .

However, for a person who has slept on a waterbed over half her life, I personally slept as snug as a pea in a pod—because, seriously, who really wants to be as snug as a bug in a rug anyway?

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