Since we are, even now, having some "issues" with sleep and medications, I thought I'd take the opportunity to relate our tale of Ambien-induced insanity from the week before Christmas.
For several days, I had noticed unexplained messes in the kitchen in the mornings, messes that hadn't been there the night before. There were also several nights that Alex woke me up when he got out of bed to go rattle around in the kitchen. I just assumed he was getting a drink, which is a habit of his. But then the morning messes I'd discover just became over-the-top ridiculous.
Many of you who read here are all too familiar with the challenges of dealing with the effect of bipolar disorder and its various medications on sleeping. When Alex is "cycling," he has a lot of trouble with his sleep habits. He almost always has a prescription for a sleep-aid, as do many bipolar people, because one thing you do NOT want to deal with is a bipolar person who is not getting good SLEEP. Trust me on this one.
So one night, he was driving me up the wall at bedtime with excessive irritability and MUCH flailing about in lieu of actual sleeping--so much so that I got up and relocated to the living room sofa. I just wanted to be away from the angry, restless person in my bed so that I could get some rest. Apparently, sometime around midnight, Alex took some Ambien. And had already had a Klonopin, because of the agitation/irritability. And he went to sleep. I didn't fare as well, since I was on the sofa, but I did manage to drift off around 2:30 AM, about 30 minutes after seeing and hearing Alex get up and bang about in the kitchen...for a really LONG time. After which he went and got back in bed, and slept like the dead.
Around 4:15 AM, I woke to the smell of smoke. (Yes, we do have electric smoke alarms, but my nose is faster.) I bolted up and ran to the kitchen, and was amazed at what I found. My husband, IN HIS SLEEP, had mixed up a pitcher of Crystal Light Fruit Punch. And microwaved (but not eaten) a Lean Pocket, which was still in the microwave, nestled in its little reflective cardboard sleeve. He had also consumed at least a half-dozen Pop-Tarts (yes, we are all about the health food).
The source of the smoke was two-fold, and to be found in the oven, which was set to 450 degrees, and just a-cookin' away for well over two hours: The charred remains of an entire box of 40 chicken nuggets, as well as an entire box of frozen waffles. The chicken nuggets were on a baking sheet, but the waffles had simply been tossed directly onto the lower oven rack--some of them were even stacked on top of each other, three deep.
This, folks, was some WELL-DONE food. Blackened waffles and fossilized chicken. (Fortunately, the wasted chicken was not in the form of THIS fine product, photographed but thankfully not purchased by a near-hysterical Alex on a recent shopping trip): Yumm. And the smoke, it was EVERYWHERE. So I did what any rational person would do--I went into the bedroom and poked and yelled at my snoring husband, attempting to inform him that he had NEARLY BURNED THE HOUSE DOWN AS WE SLEPT...but he couldn't even wake up.
We went to see the doctor about this episode the very next day, and the Ambien, especially in combination with Klonopin, was implicated immediately. Apparently there are people all over the country who are eating, driving, dating, and doing trigonometry while sound asleep, thanks to Ambien. Let the patient beware. It has never had any sort of such effect on me, but I'll certainly use more caution with it from now on.
I will also be tying Alex by his big toe (or some other appendage) to some sort of sleepwalker's booby-trap from now on.
And speaking of smoky ovens: When you are dealing with exploded chicken-nugget detritus and such, and decide, for the first time ever, to go ahead and push that "self-cleaning" button on your oven and see what happens? If you are as ignorant as me, let me just tell you what happens. The coolest thing is that the oven door LOCKS ITSELF SHUT. Me, I thought that was AWESOME, and waited with 'bated breath to see what came next. What came next were FLAMES. In my ELECTRIC oven. Which was also awesome. Because to "self-clean?" Your oven basically just heats itself up to 3,000 or so degrees Farenheit and burns every bit of junk present in the oven into oblivion. Which is cool.
Except that, the unintended consequence is a LOT of smoke, for a long time. Again, as with the Ambien, let our experience serve as your warning.