Madison Wilson, math teacher

November 29, 2021

3 a.m.

Math teacher Madison Wilson can finally feel her legs begin to rest. Her breathing starts to slow. She can finally rest.

Only two hours later, Wilson jolts awake to her alarm. She reads the time: 5:30. It’s time to start her day.

Wilson suffers from restless leg syndrome, an incurable nerve disorder that causes massive discomfort in her legs. She compares the feeling to when your legs are about to sleep which creates an uncontrollable urge to try to shake out that pins and needles feeling.

“When I do [have it] I just want to almost get a hammer and hit my leg, which seems crazy, but if you have restless leg you know how it feels,” Wilson said.

Wilson also has insomnia. Around six months ago, she was prescribed a medicine that has helped, but she still has about two days a week where she only gets two to three hours of sleep. She gets dressed for work and heads down to the kitchen for coffee, desperate for energy.

Restless leg syndrome runs in her family with her mom and aunt having it as well. But for Wilson it really bad when she became pregnant with her first child. Now with two preschool daughters and a football coach husband who’s already left for the day, she has to take care of getting them ready too.

Math teacher Madison Wilson suffers from restless leg syndrome and insomnia. (Avery Jerina)

She puts their clothes on, brushes their teeth, does their hair, gets their backpacks ready and makes breakfast. Some days it’s after only two hours of sleep.

Wilson says her biggest challenge is remembering everything in the morning.

“I went to the store, and bought a box that looked exactly like [saline solution], it wasn’t, it was hydrogen peroxide,” Wilson said. “I was so tired, I wasn’t paying attention, I put that in my eyes, so that was rough. Stuff like that happens every day, every morning.”

She takes her kids to daycare, and finally makes it to school. There she teaches her classes but the lack of sleep doesn’t severely affect her teaching.

“Maybe if it was my first year, it would be, but since I’ve been doing this for a while, I feel like it’s almost something I can do in my sleep,” Wilson said.

She tries not to drink any caffeine because it lessens the effect of her medication. After teaching all day, she picks up her daughters and takes them home.

“You feel like sometimes you’ve used all your energy and then you go home and your kids need you,” Wilson said. “So sometimes you have to save energy throughout the day so you can do stuff at home.”

She gets back in bed and hopes this time she can sleep. That tomorrow isn’t one of those bad days and she can get enough sleep. But if she doesn’t, at least she knows who she’s doing it all for.

“The kids. My kids, these kids, they’re just so good. They want to learn, most of them, there’s exceptions of course,” Wilson said. “But when they appreciate the help you’re giving it makes you feel like it’s all worth it.”

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