As a third-generation insomniac, I was grateful to receive several years ago, a book entitled, While Others Slept, which is the autobiography of Ellis Reynolds Shipp, who was the mother of six children and the second female to become a doctor in Utah.
She established her own practice and during her career delivered more than 5,000 children. The School of Nursing and Obstetrics, which she founded in 1879, trained five hundred women who became licensed midwives. She continued her study of medicine with graduate courses at the University of Michigan Medical School in 1893, graduating with honors. Her medical career lasted more than fifty years and she continued to teach obstetrics classes into her eighties.
Beyond her medical career, she remained an active and devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving on the general boards of the Relief Society and the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association. In public life, she was president of the Utah Women's Press Club and a delegate to the National Council of Women. She also wrote poetry. She died in Salt Lake City on 31 January 1939 at the age of ninety-two.
She obviously did a lot of stuff "while others slept", including writing her autobiography. Recapping her achievements makes me tired. (Well, okay, and so does blogging close to midnight in my quiet, dark home.)
For those of you who saw my "brain on steroids" post back in December may recall the time when I was taking advantage of my active post-op mind and my steroid-induced insomnia and writing up a storm "while others slept". My dad came downstairs and discovered me in my office in the wee hours of the morning, as I cranked out two articles for submission to a church magazine. One was accepted - with edits - for publication.
My other project "while others slept" was a book that I had "in me" for many years, but could never quite get it together. It had actually been stagnant for years. As I lay in my hospital bed, tearfully digesting the news about my diagnosis and prognosis, a very clear voice in my head said, "Finish your book." So I did. Pretty fast, in fact. While others slept. While my surgical incision was still raw. While I still had my brain on steroids.
I submitted it for publication at the beginning of the year, and the first publisher passed on it. But a favorite author of mine, who read my manuscript, gave me some helpful feedback and advice, as well as lots of encouragement to try again. While others slept, I made the recommended changes and sent the revised manuscript to another publisher. Their verdict was recently announced to me: a rare 100% committee consensus to proceed. I'm "pregnant" with a book that is due to be published in March. (Actually, that's a pretty poor analogy, since my "labor" is basically finished and theirs is only beginning as the publication and production process commences.)
My daytime hours are filled with doctor visits, lab tests, my children, and my clients. If I'm lucky, some laundry might also get done once in a while. And, of course, gotta squeeze in that daily exercise. (Every day that I eat, since May 5th!) It feels good to go to bed, having "earned" the night's rest after a busy day. Being busy is much better than being bored. Gotta use the good glial cells while I can, so I'm always grateful for the opportunities I have to work. Grateful that I have enough energy during this "chemo maintenance cycle # 5".
But sometimes, no matter how busy the day has been, I am still a third-generation insomniac and I am often drawn in this zombie state to my writing - be it blogging or creating a manuscript or doing some technical writing for a client or sending a long-overdue letter to a friend - while others are sleeping. I know it's not like raising six kids and getting a medical degree and establishing a medical school, but it's therapeutic and it's using something that I don't want to lose. After all, every so often I have half a mind (literally) to write!