Sleeping well is an activity I typically fail at because I have what I like to call a scumbag brain. The second I go to bed and settle in to sleep, my brain usually does something like this:
Brain: Hey, remember that pain in your left heel?
Me: Yeah…the one I’ve had since I severely sprained my right ankle two years ago, and my left ankle and foot compensated for the injury?
Brain: Yeah that one. What if it isn’t from compensation but cancer?
Or, something like this:
Brain: Remember when you were a bitch to your husband four years ago?
Brain: Sure you do! You said _____.
Brain: You should feel bad about that. Let’s feel bad RIGHT NOW.
Or, something like this:
Brain: Your lesson plan for tomorrow is boring. Your kids are going to be bored. You should fix it.
Me: It’s midnight. I have to be at work in seven hours. And, the lesson plan is fine. The kids will not be bored.
Brain: You have a boring lesson plan. FIX IT. NOW.
Me: *worries for hours*
On the nights when my brain leaves me alone, our cat usually doesn’t. He wants to be pet. IMMEDIATELY. And, he will meow at the top of his lungs. On the rare night when my brain and the cat behave, I like to stay awake because I’m a night owl. There’s Pinterest. There’s good books to read. There’s the internet to surf. There’s stuff to do!
Then, I found a lump in my breast, had tests, and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sleeping became next to impossible. My husband was the one who told my surgeon that I have trouble sleeping, and at that point, I hadn’t slept for longer than two or three hours in the days since my diagnosis. She wrote me a prescription for a sleep aid, and I haven’t touched the prescription.
I don’t want to take a prescription sleep aid. I don’t know why…I just don’t. Part of me doesn’t want to because I’m already on so many prescriptions to handle the side effects of my treatments. The other part of me doesn’t want to because sleeping is one of those things I can still control. If I want to stay awake and Netflix NCIS for hours, I can. I have control. If I want to stay awake and read for hours, I can. If I want to stay awake and Pinterest for hours, I can. If I just want to stay awake, I can.
With my cancer diagnosis came an absolute loss of control, and while I’m not a control freak, I like to know I can control things when I can. And, now, I can’t. It feels like I’m always at the mercy of someone or something else. I can’t plan ahead too much because I don’t know what I’m going to feel like day to day, especially on those days right after treatment. Just last night, my husband wanted to make plans for this weekend, but then he asked me when my next treatment is, which is this Friday, and the second I said that, there went setting plans for this weekend. We can’t commit because who knows if I will feel as good after round 5 as I’ve felt through round 4? What if round 5 is as bad as round 3? That’s the game we play, and I have no control over how I’m going to feel.
Letting go of control is hard. I want to feel like I can control some part of my life right now, but I can’t. I’m at the mercy of treatments and doctors and appointments and surgeries and side effects. It’s frustrating.
And, it’s one of the reason I struggle so much with sleeping well lately. When I feel as good as I have the last week, I don’t want to sleep. I want to stay awake and enjoy things. But, I know I need to sleep.
So, here I am. Sleepy, frustrated, and anxious with no one to blame but myself.