Saturday, September 17, 2011

Retirement Confessions - Annoying Habits

Recently on Live with Regis and Kelly, co-host Kelly Ripa described things that annoy her to the brink of insanity. When she described them, a frisson went up my spine. “OMG,” thought I. “She’s bothered by the same things I am.”

I was especially excited to learn that one of these is an actual medical condition. If the sound of people chewing their food makes you want to throttle them, you probably suffer from misophonia. I looked it up to learn more.

Turns out the New York Times ran an article on this recently, too, noting (in what may be the understatement of the year) that the condition is “little studied and poorly understood.” Wikipedia tells us “sensitivity… is often far more severe when… the sound comes from a person that is emotionally connected to the sufferer.”

That explains why my misophonia seems to be singularly focused on my husband. Even then, it’s not all the time. I haven’t been able to pinpoint the specific foods that bother me.  It’s not like he chews with his mouth open. In fact, the more tightly it’s closed, the more the noise of his chewing can bother me.

As far as I know, you can go to jail for choking people just because they annoy you. I don’t think that misophonia would be an acceptable legal defense. So I’ve found another way to cope with this. I simply plug my ears with my index fingers and chant “la la la la la” until my husband is done eating.

Another of Kelly’s pet peeves is familiar to me. As a young girl, she shared a bed with her sister, who made dancing motions with her feet all night. It drove Kelly nuts, and she described it as restless leg syndrome.

I’ll bet it was actually PLMD (Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.) My husband suffers from this occasionally. Regular readers of this blog may remember it from my Retirochondria post of March 26th. PLMD happens only during sleep. It’s a repetitive jerking for just a few seconds, followed by a longer period of no movement. This lulls you into thinking it’s finally over, but it’s not. PLMD can go on all night.

My husband has been advised (for other medical reasons) to elevate his legs in bed, so he stuffs a spare pillow under them. This has had the side benefit of slowing down his PLMD. However, halfway through the evening, his legs usually slip off the pillow and that’s when the dancing begins. If it really annoys me, I get up and reposition his legs onto the pillow again.

I must confess that on a few occasions, other solutions have occurred to me. Tying his legs to the bedpost would certainly help. But Murphy’s law, there’d be a horrific fire and we would both perish because I couldn’t untie the knots. Even worse, people would think we were into bondage. Our families would be mortified.

No. Hogtying him is not a viable solution. I’ve also considered taking that spare pillow and beating him over the head with it. That would certainly de-stress me, and it would wake him up, so he would stop dancing. For awhile at least. But my husband can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. In no time, he’d be back in nod land and I’d be lying there all keyed up.

The best solution I’ve found so far is to dance along with him. It takes me a few minutes to figure out exactly what rhythm he’s twitching to. Once I have it, I try to match it to a popular song from my high school years. Then I sing along, usually in my head. Eventually, I get worn out enough to fall asleep myself.

Yes, dear readers, I’ve reached the point in life where I’m quite adept at adaptive behavior. Which is a good thing. Because I’m also at the point where more and more things annoy me. Fortunately, there’s not much that can’t be tolerated if you have a good pair of earplugs and nice bottle of red wine.

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