May 7, 2020


Wide Awake at Three AM: Hot Flashes and Worries by the Alphabet

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

Lying in bed with my head under the ceiling fan and my feet beside my husband’s face, enduring yet another hot flash, I listen to the storm outside our open window. I absorb the pounding rain and rumbling thunder. The flashes of light before the boom. Fabulous sounds to sleep by unless you’re a nighttime worrier like me.

I happen to love storms. What I don’t love are my two twelve-year-old dogs pacing around my room, panting like they used to after a good squirrel chase. Now, it’s anxiety-based heavy breathing for these old pups.

There’s also the gentle purring snore of my husband. Sometimes his snoring resembles a storm but at the moment, it’s pretty serene. He’s on his side of the bed thanks to my incessant hotness which is also the reason I am lying here unsettled with my head on my cooling gel pillow under the whirring fan.


The fan isn’t alone in all that whirring. My mind imitates the spinning paddles, grabbing my thoughts and flinging them all around my head so the winds of worry keep me awake for hours. The better to listen to the storm my dear, I suppose.

I think about all kinds of things that don’t come to mind during the daylight hours. Why now, during rem sleep time? I think of my vibrant mom who turns ninety-two in a few weeks and how we can celebrate in time of quarantine. I think of my college aged triplets and where their lives will take them. Will there be jobs? Housing? Family? Oh, and weddings—or not?

I think of our grandson who is only surrounded by adults, thanks to social distancing. Parallel play with a fellow toddler may never happen. He’ll be nearly grown soon. Is that a stage that he can skip? Some kids skip crawling and go straight to walking. Hopefully missing a stage or two doesn’t hamper anything important in child development.FA7BED03-499C-4F6F-86A3-C657FB8CB069

Right now, there are many growth stages and other milestone markers missing for young people the world over. Proms, graduations, sports events, dance and music recitals, plays, concerts, exhibitions and competitions. And colleges, oh my, how they’ve been interrupted. Humanitarian work, scientific study, internships, student teaching, foreign exchange programs, clinicals, of all sorts.

I won’t go into the closed businesses and job loss. Hungry people. Deeply suffering families. That black hole of worry would turn my hot flashes into cold shivers and nervous chattering teeth. Nope. Can’t go there.

Let’s direct my worried sleepless mind to what I can do. I can lie here and pray about all these worries. I can try to get them out of my head and share them with a power larger than myself. It’s hard to let go. I chew on worry like it’s worn out gum. Doing nothing but giving my teeth and jaw some worthless activity and potentially dental problems to add to the mix.

My lack of sleep doesn’t help anything or anyone. It merely slows my metabolism, along with my ability to concentrate during daylight hours. So that means I’m not fully functional night or day. Should I worry about that?

“Oh, hey Daisy Cat. Are you feeling needy? Get it? You’re “kneading” my chest like we do that bowl of quarantine sourdough bread rising in the kitchen. You’re safe from the scary loud storm now so you can purr instead of meowing. The dogs settled down so you can too. Hear all that snoring? I want to snore too.”IMG_4246.jpeg

Maybe I should go through the alphabet and think of something to pray for that starts with each letter? I’ve never tried that. Let’s see.

A for animals. Or air quality. No that’s too broad. How about my Aunt Thetus? No that would go under the letter T.

B for butter beans. The ones I planted that are finally growing. Please help them grow and flourish. Good.IMG_4255.jpeg

C for Daisy Cat’s kidneys so she’ll stop having accidents. Or should that be a K for kidney? Or a D for Daisy? No, I know what D is.

D for our old dogs. May they stop with the panic pacing and panting.IMG_4254.png

They are calm at the moment. But radar shows more storms coming. So, there will be more whirring worries. Better get back to my alphabet and hopefully some sleep. I’ll use ceiling fan for the C and K will be kitty for the one on my chest. Or should that be K for “kneedy”? Ha

H for Hot flashes! I’m so tired of “not-sleeping” under this fan plus having another one blowing from across the room. My poor husband looks like a blanket burrito. Yes, I know I’m going out of order and E is next but please take away these hot flashes? I’ll be eternally grateful.

How about E? Everyone. Or everything? May everyone and everything be ok. And may my eyes close and let me sleep. I’ll worry about all this tomorrow because after all, tomorrow is another day. At least I hope it will be. Should I worry about that too?

“Goodnight Scarlet. I mean Daisy.”


4 thoughts on “Wide Awake at Three AM: Hot Flashes and Worries by the Alphabet

  1. Good one! I get up and go sleep in another room. The new environment stops the whirring of my brain. Plus it’s in the lower level of our :”ranch with basement” and is 65 degrees instead of 70 that is upstairs. That seems to help a lot!!

  2. I’m constantly worrying these days.

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