My Insomnia Has a Soundtrack

I had the third infusion of the Adriamycin yesterday. Scored TWO popsicles this time — one red, one pink.  Don’t know the reason, but I’m wondering what you have to do to get three.

So far — so good. I feel fine, and still have hair. (I’m slightly past the doc’s prediction of 19 days, wondering if I’m going to wake up bald tomorrow.)  I have a little swelling in my lower legs, which can be a side effect of the infusion, but could also be from this dastardly heat wave.  Ninety degrees in the shade today, temps are headed to 100 tomorrow.  Even The Mountain has the good sense to cover itself in clouds.

The meeting with the naturopath was helpful.  For those of you who were asking, naturopathy is not the same as homeopathy but there can be some crossover.  Naturopaths may recommend some homeopathic remedies, but they go beyond that into supplements, diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, etc. Many people think both disciplines are suspect, but homeopathy really does seem a weird duck to me — diluting the essence of a therapeutic substance in solutions so much that almost nothing remains of the substance itself. A naturopath is trained in working with more “natural” substances rather than the supposedly harsher, synthesized Western-style pharmaceuticals.  There are those who believe naturopathy is a better way to go, but this doc’s approach is to complement, not supplant, what I’m doing with the oncologist. He sees patients in the oncology center offices and takes a good look at the the case files and patient’s history to see what might help what the regular M.D. is doing.

What he’s suggested for me is a probiotic capsule to ease any digestive problems, fish oil, and Coenzyme Q10 to help fatigue and fortify the heart (Adriamycin can damage the heart but my oncologist says it’s rare to see that at the dosage I’m on.  Still, I have a family history of heart disease).  Beyond that it’s the stuff we already know — eat a healthy balanced diet, avoid processed foods, exercise.  He helped clarify some of the confusion around things like eating soy products and drinking alcohol.  For estrogen-positive disease, these can be a problem, but they’re OK for me apparently.  No beer though — something about the hops and fermentation.  Guess I’ll just have to drink the hard stuff.

A few days ago, I forgot to take the Ativan (the antinausea/anxiety med) before bed.  The good news:  I found out I don’t need it for nausea.  Unfortunately, the insomnia I’d been having sporadically over the past few years returned. Most of the articles the media publish tell you how to get yourself to sleep. But getting there has rarely been a problem for me; it’s staying there.

Some of you may recognize the pattern.  3 a.m.  Wide awake.  Brain spinning.  Mostly mundane brain noise — the daily task list. Oh yeah, don’t forget to set out lunch money for the kids.  Gotta call the plumber, and take the dog to the vet. And where’s that handout I need for class?

But always, ALWAYS, my insomnia comes with music.  While my daughter was preparing for her recent piano concert, it was her medley of Cole Porter pieces: Anything Goes, In the Still of the Night, and My Heart Belongs to Daddy.  This time it was Billy Joel (again).  “Shades of Gray,” which my son had been playing on the iPod dock.  Over and over again, as he likes to do.

Shades of gray, wherever I go
The more I find out, the less that I know….

I don’t know why my insomnia comes with a soundtrack.  Regardless, I don’t follow the recommendations of those who counsel about insomnia, which is to get up and do something productive with the time.  I’m much too lazy for that.  So I just lie there and eventually the music fades and I drift back to sleep.

The first naturopath I worked with suggested that I was waking because I was actually hungry and my brain was afraid it was starving so it would wake me up.  She suggested a protein snack before bed.  Nice theory, but after three nights of cheese or nuts before bed, I was still waking up and had gained weight in my butt.  Now maybe you’re all thinking, well, you could USE a few pounds, but I can tell you, NO ONE needs to gain pounds in the backside while listening to music in your own head at 3 a.m.

Anyway, I’m making a point of writing out my thoughts here before I go to bed tonight so they don’t wake me up in the dark.  If they seem a bit frenetic, maybe it’s the residual effect of the steroids before the infusion yesterday. For me, writing sure beats cleaning house.  Tonight, I’ll remember to take the Ativan.

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