I’m on the iPad again. I’ve been exhausted since our trip to Chicago and was trying hard for a good night’s sleep tonight, but it was not meant to be. It’s just after 5:00 a.m. I’ve been in Martin’s room since 2:15.
Martin is detoxing. In the big picture, that’s a grand thing. In the middle of the night, it’s darn easy to lose the forest for the trees, the trees being sleep deprivation and annoyance. When Martin is detoxing, as I understand the process, pathogens—or yeast overgrowth, or viruses, or whatever we’re fighting at the moment—are dying off within him, and the little buggers don’t go without a fight. They flare up, causing mayhem in Martin’s system.
The result is that my three-year-old gets something like drunk. He thrashes around in his bed. He cries randomly. His sleep quality suffers. And he exhibits symptom that has freaked out me and Adrian ever since we first encountered it with yeast die-off: Martin laughs. Doesn’t sound so bad? Well, it’s not his pleasant, little-boy, tickle-me-some-more giggle. It’s a roaring, maniacal guffaw wholly inappropriate for a toddler. He cracks himself up singing song lyrics or repeating random phrases that, during the day, would produce no effect. At this moment he’s singsonging “Sorry about that!” interspersed with whoops of laughter that could suck the oxygen out of a whale.
As always, it could be worse. At least Martin’s not an angry drunk. To the contrary, he’s having the time of his life.
If I were to leave the room, the situation would change quickly. He would likely stay in bed (we’ve trained him in that), but his jolliness would turn to anguish. He hates to be alone during nighttime detox. So I stay, or I tag-team with Adrian so that one of us is here until Martin sleeps again.
My consolation prize for these all-nighters is two-fold. First, as I said, overall, detoxing is highly desirable, exactly what we’re trying to achieve these days. It is so directly consequential that Adrian and I often notice that interminable nights are followed by daytime breakthroughs like better speech and focus. Second, sleeplessness from detoxification is relatively infrequent compared to what we experienced before we radicalized Martin’s treatment. Martin used to be unable to sleep simply because he lacked the self-control to settle and/or the world overwhelmed his senses. We spent anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes just getting him to fall asleep (we had to restrain his legs physically, to help him lie still) and then expected that, most nights, he would be awake for several hours between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., doing nothing other than verbally self-stimming and rhythmically kicking the wall or marching in place. The memory of those days and nights makes the occasional drunken midnight fiesta quite tolerable.
So now it’s 6:00 a.m. and the dawn is breaking. One hour to finger-peck this post on the iPad. At least I’ve put part of my night to good use.