The Interruption of Normalcy

This week, I’m sort of all over the place. Lack of sleep over the past 48 hours has made focusing on writing a blog entry something of a difficult task. I said to my wife yesterday (who’s in the same nonsleep boat) that I feel like I used to feel in college after pulling an all-nighter. It’s still as unpleasant (actually, more so) as it was then, yet these days my exhaustion comes not from a decision I brought on because I put off for too many weeks that big paper or studying for a test. Nope. This current bout with sleeplessness runs household-wide.

Why? Two days ago, my wife and I adopted a wonderful two-and-a-half-year-old labradoodle named Ellie. In fact, Kathryn would say Ellie’s the perfect dog for us, and I’m inclined to agree. She’s calm. She doesn’t shed. And she has a great personality.


But while Ellie makes her transition from living at a kennel, on a farm miles from city, to living in our house in a city with its new smells, sounds, and sights (and steps! Stairs are a whole new experience for her), we’re finding that this transition for us includes getting up several times in the night to ensure that, until we figure out Ellie’s bathroom schedule, she opts not to use the floors of our house.

I’m happy to report that, thus far, there have been no accidents. We’re not deluding ourselves, though. We expect an accident here or there during this acclimation, or the chewing up of something that we were certain was out of reach or unattractive to a dog. Yeah, it would be wonderful if it didn’t happen, but I grew up with dogs and have had dogs during my adult life (though the past five years have been dogless), so I’m not entering into this with rose-colored glasses.

The new addition to our family, however, means inconsistent sleep patterns. It means earlier mornings for me, as well. There’s the 5:30 AM walk around the block while my wife sleeps. Yes, 5:30 might seem early, but I’m going into work at least two or three hours earlier for these first few days, so I take Ellie out to see if she has to go. Kathryn has altered her work schedule, too, and goes into work later than normal, around noon, then I come home early so that we don’t leave Ellie alone too long as she gets used to being the only hound in the house (she used to live in her own large kennel [she did have lots of space] with around 30 other dogs).

So, I’ve found that this lack of sleep in my mid-30’s brings with it, for me, the added concern of now having to pay attention to my blood glucose, not just the danger of nodding off in class in front of the professor. I’ve seen that when my schedule gets out of whack, I can sometimes pay a price in high or low blood glucose numbers—more often than not they’ll be high, because in my preoccupation with dog and work and caffeine, I won’t check my blood glucose as much as I normally do. A bad habit to get into, but it’s temporary, and I know that this transition period is simply that, and soon my sense of what is normal will shift slightly and settle back into routine.

Oh, and do we hope…wouldn’t it be great…wouldn’t it be wonderful, we think, if Ellie was one of those dogs who was able to sense low blood glucose levels in the middle of the night and woke us up. Yes, it would. But that’s not why we got her. I’m just saying, though…

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Eric Lagergren: Eric Lagergren was born in 1974 but didn’t give much thought to diabetes until March 2007, when he was diagnosed with Type 1. He now gives quite a bit of thought to the condition, and to help him better understand his life as a person with diabetes, he writes about it. Eric is the senior editor for the Testing Division at the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in Ann Arbor. (Eric Lagergren is not a medical professional.)

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