Fairly Spiritual: Contending for sleep | Bursch

I’m a restless sleeper. I don’t know if I toss at night, but I definitely turn.

I’m a restless sleeper. I don’t know if I toss at night, but I definitely turn.

I sleep on my sides. Unable to agree upon the right or left side, I switch between the two like a broken rotisserie. Each time I switch, I wake up. Or is it that I wake up and then I switch? I really haven’t pinned down the cause and effect of my sleeping disorders. However, I assume if I keep writing, someone out there will figure it out.

I have this reoccurring fear that abnormal psychology classes use my columns for case studies; each discussion centering around the question, “What is Mr. Bursch’s real problem?” I’d like to talk more about this fear, but I want to limit today’s column to one case study.

As previously mentioned, the patient has a difficult time sleeping. I also suffer from “mild” sleep apnea. I only stop breathing about six or

seven times a night. When the sleep specialist used the term “mild,” I thought, “Well, that’s a relief. I’m glad that every day of my life I

only ‘mildly’ stop breathing a half dozen times.” For some reason the label didn’t bring the comfort it was meant to imply.

In the medical field, the term mild is frequently misused. Such as “you may experience some mild discomfort” or “you’re having a mild reaction” or “you had a mild heart attack” or “you seem to have a mild case of dying.”

Although we are supposed to take comfort in the sad reality that someone has it way worse than us, it just doesn’t seem to work that way. In fact, it usually causes mild irritation. Regardless of my apnea’s limited severity, I still tried to use one of those breathing machines that shoots air up your nose when you stop breathing.

After several failed attempts, I gave up on the contraption. Let’s just say I should have listened more carefully to the doctor’s warning that my breathing apparatus might cause some “mild discomfort.”

At this point the psychology class must be thinking, “Do you have any other sleep related symptoms?” Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s nice when people really listen to you. Besides continually turning in my sleep and occasionally forgetting to breathe, I’m also a crazy dreamer.

These aren’t the “I have a dream” kind of dreams. They’re the “Oh no, I’m late to church and I forgot my sermon and I’m in my underwear and the guy in the third row looks like an iguana, and why is everyone speaking in French, and wait a second, the walls are moving, and wow, can you believe this, I’m flying and … “

Oh wait a second, time to wake up and turn.

Where was I “… Oh yah, it’s not a church, it’s a ship and we are all fighting an apocalyptic war against these green people who look similar to the abnormal psychology professor I had at Green River Community College” and … “Oh, time to stop breathing.”

So goes the night, and so goes my life. I’m well aware these issues are minor or mild inconveniences within the range of human misery. Even so I just needed you to understand why I usually look a little tired, why I just ordered a more expensive bed, why I’m “mildly” addicted to coffee and why I don’t always greet the morning with a smile and a song.

I also wanted you to know why I try my best to encourage people. If you are like me, you need encouragement, acceptance and motivation. You need an advocate to greet you after a restless slumber. You need someone who is willing to meet you in your grumpy discombobulated state. Someone who understands your current condition but still challenges you to embrace God’s best for your day.

I believe God is faithful. I believe His mercies are new every morning. In Christ, every day has meaning, purpose and beauty. Each of us must contend for this beauty. Even when we greet the dawn after a mildly restless night.

“Live from Seattle with Doug Bursch” can be heard 4-6 p.m. weekdays on KGNW 820 AM. Doug Bursch also pastors Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets at 10 a.m. Sundays at 2407 M St. SE next to Pioneer Elementary School. He can be reached at www.fairlyspiritual.org or doug@fairlyspiritual.org.