My Addiction

As I wrote my last post I wondered what other people do to help them sleep at night.  For so long, since Kevin died actually (11 months ago), I have been on sleeping pills.  Having a hot toddy and nodding off to sleep naturally (sort of) was kind of refreshing, not to have to take something chemical to make my mind clear when I go to bed.

I  figure there are a few obvious ways to get ready to head off into slumber. For me, it doesn’t matter what I’ve tried, I find sleep elusive at the end of the day.  Consequently I have been using sleeping pills literally since the beginning of April 2015, when I saw the doctor and she basically told me I looked awful.  I hadn’t slept more than three or four hours a night, and prefaced my sleep with a good long bout of crying.  In my defense, it does take a toll – the grief and the lack of sleep, so yes, I looked terrible.  I still have dark circles under my eyes, I honestly think they are permanent now.

Enter the sleeping pill, take one and half an hour later I was asleep. Trying to get off of them is not easy.  I have tried.  I substituted a nice hot bath, followed by some meditation, some relaxing music – didn’t work.  Tried using the Tibetan singing bowls to calm and relax me, it did while I was in that state of mind, but when my head hit the pillow the thoughts came back, the sadness.  I tried working out before I went to bed, exercising to get to the point of exhaustion.  I was exhausted, sure, but my mind still whirled.  It always comes back to the sleeping pills.  I love them, and I hate them.

Kevin would always say that sleep was overrated; the bags under his eyes were a testimony to the fact that he didn’t sleep very much.  Me, I always needed my sleep, and I still do.  I just don’t like the fact that I have to use a chemical inducement to enter into sleep.  It can’t be good for the body.  I suspect that having a shot of alcohol right before bed isn’t the answer either.

Fact is, for most things there are no answers, there’s just what works.  For me, for you, for her, for him.  Whatever works – within reason of course – and in moderation – of course. This is where I miss Kevin most, he’d toss reason out the window and believed ‘excess is best’, do it until you don’t want to do it anymore. For someone like me it was like living on the edge.  Now that he’s gone I am firmly grounded in the middle.

Fatigue

A picture of a glacier taken in Alberta, Canada during one of our travels.

A picture of a glacier taken in Alberta, Canada during one of our travels.

Fatigue – There are different definitions provided for this as a noun including: “a cause of weariness; slow ordeal; exertion” or “a tiring activity or effort” (Source: Dictionary.com).  Repeatedly throughout this process, from our preliminary discussions with our GP to the meetings with Oncology, we have discussed the side effects of chemotherapy particularly fatigue.  To be sure, this is one of the most debilitating things to deal with.  Normally when I write these pieces I don’t confer with my husband, after all this is my blog, my thoughts and my opinions, but for this one I did.  I asked him to describe what the fatigue he experiences is like.  I know what I see, I don’t know what he feels. 

He finds the fatigue frustrating, debilitating and discouraging.  More than anything else, the fatigue makes him question why he is doing this.  A day goes by and he doesn’t know where it went.  He sleeps more than he is awake, some days he can get up to 12 to 14 hours of sleep. 

He finds it an effort to do the simplest things. He believes that fatigue and apathy go hand in hand.  When there is any physical exertion required he has to psych himself up for it, something as basic as getting up from the bed to go to the bathroom is exhausting.  He has no concept of time; his perception of time is skewed.  He may take 20 minutes sitting at the side of the bed before he is able to get into it – time has no meaning at all.  In day-to-day activities, he has no interest in doing much of anything because he can’t participate at any level – he doesn’t have the strength or stamina.  

Over the course of this journey we have discussed many different things – this side effect is the most challenging because it is the one most difficult for him.  Activity, involvement, creativity and fun are things near and dear to his heart, and right now they are out of reach.  So each day he pushes himself to try to do a little bit more because he knows he will feel better for it, but to have to push himself to do such basic tasks reminds him of how much this disease has broken him down.  I have learnt to listen more than speak when he vents about this.  He knows what he needs to do, I don’t have to remind him.