Thursday, January 21, 2010


One of the pleasures of breast cancer treatment is the variety of drugs to you get to try. As a child of the '70s you can imagine how exciting it is to watch my pill bottles stack up.

My night stand rivals that of any senile 85 year old.

So, lately, having some new-found sleep disturbances, I figured I could add to my collection.

First, let me explain to you that trouble sleeping has never been part of my makeup - difficulty waking up? Yes. Sleeping? Hell no.

Being a night owl, my habit (when not working) has been to watch TV until 1:00 am, then to go bed and sleep until 10:00. Sometimes I'll even throw in an afternoon nap for good measure.

Now that chemo has taken out my ovaries, I only seem to be able to sleep mornings. 5:00 am to 9:00 am seems to be my schedule. When I try to nap - nothing. I just lie there, brain buzzing, but still tired.

At night, even after a couple episodes of Hoarders and Intervention, I'm not ready to drift off. I can't think of anything more soothing than watching an alcoholic start their drinking at 10:00 a.m. or watching people high-step over piles of garbage in their homes - but relaxation.

No sleep.

Knowing I'm going to go back to work soon, knowing it will be difficult enough to function even if I do get enough sleep - I finally asked for a sleep aid, and was prescribed Ambien.

I took my first one last night.

I also took my last one last night.

Maybe I was wrong about the '70s.

I took it at midnight after watching Little People, Big World. It worked. I was sleepy ten minutes later and was sound asleep by 12:30. But, as usual for me lately when I do fall asleep, it doesn't last long. I woke up at 2:34 am.

I was disappointed. It didn't work. So, I did what we all do when we can't sleep: Toss, turn, check the clock, plan the next day, adjust the covers, imagine a blog post. The cat was next to me so I scratched her ears. My eye was bothering me and I hoped I wasn't getting another infection. I made a mental note to order more contacts. I checked the clock again, felt too hot, then too cold.....tried to concentrate on the sounds of the rain to lull me to sleep... I remember it all clearly.

I was still awake when my husband's alarm went off at 5:20 a.m. I thought, "well now maybe I can get some sleep" and started thinking about the dreams I'd just had and how weird that house on the pole had been.



Yes, very detailed dreams.

That'd I'd just had.

But I'd been awake. Almost all night! Were the dreams 3 hours ago and did I think they were recent? No, I'm pretty sure I'd just had them - they were vivid. As vivid as the hours I'd just spent awake.

I really WAS wide awake and really DID dream. Weirdest damn thing.

It's like the drug split my brain in two.

And, I continued to do that until noon. I was awake, feeling really hot and wondering if I had a fever while neutropenic, while at the same time, I was dreaming about kids on a playground who could fly.

Plus, it gave me a killer headache. I finally ended the whole experience when I got up to take an imitrex and take my temperature, and decided not to go back to bed.

If I'm going to be awake and sleeping at the same time, I might as well read the newspaper.

I guess I'll add not sleeping as one of the things I have to put up with, because I'm done with Ambien.

My collection of pharmaceuticals just got smaller.



  1. I make very strange concoctions when I am on Ambien. I should write a cookbook!

  2. I wish Ambien had even affected me like THAT! It did nothing for me, not even waking dreams, darn it. Are you going to try anything else for sleep? I'm almost 2 months out of chemo and still not sleeping. Pleh. Thank you for your awesome blog.

  3. I'll see how I do in the next couple of weeks, and maybe ask for something else if I don't start sleeping. I'm hoping it's just a phase though.

    People can't heal when they don't sleep so it's important to me I get some.

  4. My 7 year old niece saw my night stand while she was visiting recently and said 'Wow, that's a lot of medicine!'.

    Maybe your doctor can suggest something else to help you sleep. Is it really inability to sleep or is it stress or something else that is keeping you awake?

  5. OT: Can I nominate your blog somewhere for the best blogtitle e.v.e.r?!
    And BTW, is it possible for me to comment not as an 'Anonymous' but as me 'Elsewhere' if I don't have an URL? Just asking.

  6. I thought I had all the settings so that anybody could post under any account they wanted. You should be able to even do it manually, but selecting Name/URL. The URL part is optional, you don't have to put that in. I'll double-check.

    If it doesn't work you can email me at butdoctorihatepink at and I'll see.

  7. Yes! I just have to ignore the first 'doesnot work' and click on Post Comment again and than is does work.
    Take care

  8. 'Glad' someone is experiencing the same sleep routine as me ... just in a different time zone!!

  9. hi ann, i'm 40 and making my way thru chemo and your blog...enjoying your blog much more than the chemo :-).

    while nursing my third baby, i discovered i had cancer in both breasts (stage 2 and stage 0), so bilateral mastectomy with immediate latissimus flap reconstruction. anyhow, chemo (weekly Taxol) has wrecked my sleep, too, and thought i'd share that Rx Restoril (+ a Benadryl or 2) usually works for me.

    just yesterday i finally bought one of those weekly morning/noon/eve/bed 7-day pill organizers bc i'm having trouble remembering when/if i'm taking all the pills & vitamin supplements (glutamine to ward off neuropathy, i'm hoping) i'm supposed to each day.

    i love your attitude and sense of humor (a lot like my own) makes me feel a little less alone to read what you're going thru (just getting to january after finding your blog a few days ago).

    take care, and write on!


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