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The student news site of ADM High School

Black & (Red)gister

The student news site of ADM High School

Black & (Red)gister

What it Feels Like to Have Narcolepsy

As Told by Carter Padget

I wake up to my first alarm of the morning, but not the last. 15 minutes before I have to get out of bed, I have to take my medication. A pill that helps me stay awake throughout the day. Then it’s back to bed until I have to get up for school, practice, weightlifting, or whatever I start my morning with. When that final alarm does sound, it’s another pill, my second one of the day, all before I get out of bed.

I have severe narcolepsy, which affects me more than one might think. Narcolepsy is caused by a lack of a chemical called hypocretin, which regulates our body’s wakefulness levels. This means I am drowsy and tired throughout the day regardless of how much sleep I get the night before.

The only way I get through my day is by taking medication. Anywhere from 3 to 4, and maybe even more just so that I can get through the day without falling asleep.¬†Without these pills, I get what’s called a narcoleptic episode. A sudden and uncontrollable urge to sleep. It can happen at any time, anywhere, and I can do nothing to stop it. In the middle of class, while I’m doing my daily chores, or driving in the car. Without my medication, I’m at risk at all times.

Going through my day is tough. At its worst, I can only stay still for 10-15 minutes before I have to get up and move, or risk falling asleep. It makes school especially hard. Sitting through long classes without being active makes it very difficult to focus on what I need to work on. I can’t always put my full effort into my work because if I do, I will fall asleep. And when an episode does happen, I can be asleep for as long as 3 to 4 hours. With no control over how tired or awake I am, staying active is my only option. Doing activities such as football, weightlifting, or track helps keep me active and keeps my tiredness at bay. Along with the regular health benefits of staying active, it helps to limit symptoms of narcolepsy.

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Although I may seem like any ordinary student, and on most days I am able to act like one, life is different for me than it is for most people. The things I’m able to do, the time I spend doing one activity, and the medication I take affect the way I live my life are all different from the ordinary student. While there is no current cure for narcolepsy, the small things I can do to manage it go a long way in helping me live a normal life.


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