posted by Dan M on October 17th, 2011

Perhaps you’ve seen the Captain of Industry wince as he cautiously reaches for his office door, fighting to maintain balance as he eases it shut.  Maybe you’ve noticed the Sports Maniac hobble slowly to his seat in the grandstand, or maybe you’ve observed with shock and curiosity the Happy Hour Hound struggling to retrieve his beer from the bar – inexplicably eschewing the use of his opposable thumb. These men, and thousands like them, are suffering from a mysterious, sinister ailment known to the Ancients and the medical elite as injurus nocturnus or “the sleep injury.

The sleep injury is devastating not only because of the excruciating pain but the confusion and disorientation it carries with it.  On a recent spring morning I sat up, swung my feet over the side of the bed, put my full weight on my legs and collapsed in a heap on the floor – my right hip completely failed.  How can a guy climb into bed perfectly healthy at night and be fully debilitated by dawn?  Such is the insidious nature of the sleep injury.  As I descend deeper and deeper into my forties, the sleep injury has reared its head nearly a dozen times.  My list of sleep injuries includes, but is not limited to:

  • Strained left shoulder (4 weeks recovery time)
  • Strained right shoulder (2 weeks recovery time)
  • Pulled hamstring (3 weeks recovery time)
  • Jammed left wrist (2 weeks recovery time)
  • Hyper-extend right elbow (3 weeks recovery time)
  • Achilles tendon strain (2 weeks recovery time)
  • Strained quad (1 week recovery time)
  • Dislocated kneecap (2 week recovery time)
  • Jammed right hip (2 weeks recovery time)
  • Strained lower back (3 weeks recovery time)
  • Dislodged kidney (1 week recovery time)

While preparing for “middle-aged man-dom,” I had braced for excessive nose hair (which keeps me warmer in the winter), fading vision (I now own three pairs of glasses – each with their own prescription for specific tasks), diminished hearing (too many Who concerts – but totally worth it), loss of virility (which, surprisingly hasn’t happened – AT ALL.  My sex drive continues to be epic, astoundingly impressive and borderline Herculean) and loss of short-term memory (which, as it turns out, is useful in it’s own way).    But this freaking sleep injury thing is killing me.  At some point during almost every week, I ache like I’ve gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson.  I hurt in places I didn’t know I had tendons or muscles or nerves or whatever it is that is throbbing.  Just as I’m recovering from, say, the dislocated kneecap, I’ll wake up and my ankle will be locked up like Bill Walton’s fused heel.  Perhaps during my slumber I’m overcompensating for one injury and inadvertently causing another.   As Mick and Keith once sang, “What a drag it is getting old…”

However, there is an evolutionary silver lining: through the ages, injurus nocturnus have grown increasingly benign.  During the Cro-Magnon age, the most common form of sleep injury was “smashed in skull.” Anthropologists posit that “cave man grade snoring” may have driven their cave women to silence this nocturnal assault by any means necessary – and apparently skull sized rocks were quite handy. This groundbreaking research piqued my curiosity and has led me to ask some hard questions. Questions like, “Hey, honey, how come I have a ‘knee shaped’ bruise in my lower back where my kidney used to live?” “Baby, why do you sleep with a hammer by your night light?” and “Did you just place a six pack of pop cans in that pillowcase?”  I realize placing blame on our wives for the sleep injury is controversial territory and it is merely one hypothesis I am currently investigating.   Truthfully, I attribute the majority of my sleep injuries to common causes like mismatched pillows (one synthetic, one down feather), extra heavy comforters and the sheets being tucked in just a little too tightly.  Wait a minute…I rarely make the bed, SHE does the tucking, do the math friends; perhaps the cure to injurus nocturnus is sleeping with one eye open.

EDITOR’S NOTE Matt W.: While not suffering from the plethora of injuries that our guest writer has suffered, I have had my share. Right after I mocked Dan M. for pulling a hamstring in bed, I suffered a pulled muscle in my thumb that hurt for a full month. And just when I thought my Karmic bill was settled, I woke up with the other thumb hurting. So I would like to go on record and say, “I’m sorry I mocked you for your night injury Dan M., I’m sure it was very painful (but really a hamstring, that’s pathetic). Sorry. Really this time. Sorry.”

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