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.

Chemotherapy and Dog Days

One down — 23 to go!!

It’s 6 p.m. and I’m sitting here feeling…..quite normal, actually.

I had the first infusion of the adriamycin this morning.  I decided on the once-a-week “nutrition” program, so I’ll get the adriamycin (I’m nicknaming it Adrian — at the moment, it really does seem like a friend to me — and good friends don’t mind if you curse them out later, do they?)

Anyway — Adrian every Monday (except next week when we’ll be visiting family), and daily Cytoxan (doesn’t that one sound ominous) by mouth for 12 weeks, then switch to Taxol.  They’ve backed me up with 3 — count ’em THREE — antinausea meds.  I had to have a 10 minute conversation with the nurse to figure out what to take when. (Her best tip:  If the food doesn’t look good — take the drugs!)  I start the Cytoxan tomorrow.  So I’m sending this out while I feel OK.

My husband took me to the infusion center and hung out to make sure they did everything right.  Good to have a physician and perfectionist in the house just now. He pulled the drainage tube out last Friday, after we watched the 5th Harry Potter movie with the kids and before we went to bed.  Just a little quick surgery in the bathroom before bedtime.  The drain had clogged by that time anyway.

Busy day at the infusion center, and it took about 2.5 hours from seeing the oncologist, to setting up the infusion.  The infusion itself took about 10 minutes. I sat next to a man who’s been doing his routine for 10 months, sometimes daily.  Stamina.  That seems a key word.  The appointment time should decrease as we get the routine going.

Fortunately,  I had my college student back-up for errands and other duties today.  And perhaps more fortunately, I realized I’ve got some helpful subscriptions that arrive in my e-mail box strategically on Monday.  So, for those of you who haven’t yet discovered the Ironic Times and Uncle Jay, I’m putting the links here. If you like what you see, you can subscribe too.

http://www.ironictimes.com/ (Don’t miss the ad at the bottom of the first page.)

http://unclejayexplains.com/2009/06/28/uncle-jay-explains-july-4th-special/
(Can’t wait to see what Jay has to say about Republican governors)

Fingers crossed —  and so many thanks to all of you for your concern and uplifting words.  It helps me get through those anxious moments.

P.S.  If you like, you can send my dog good vibes.  It’s his 5th birthday today (My son says 35th if you do the dog math).  Here’s to a long happy life for the both of us.