At 10:30 I go to bed. It's a work day and I have to get up early. I decide to read a bit to relax. As I open my book, I begin to feel warm and sleepy.
Very warm. Very, very warm.
Oh shit, it's another hot flash. I read through it, dewdrops of sweat glistening off the hard mound of my tissue expander.
As the heat dissipates, I check the clock. It's 11:00, and I am beginning to get chilled, so I pull the covers up to my neck, pet the cat who has begun meowing, get comfortable, and turn out the light. At 11:04, another hot flash hits. I pull the covers off and turn the fan I have on my nightstand so it blows right on me. My skin soaks up the cool air. A few minutes later, when this hot flash lessens, I fall asleep.
11:24, I wake up, chilled from the fan. I pull the covers up to my neck again, and turn to lie on my stomach, which is easier on my aching hips.
With a tissue expander instead of a breast, lying on your stomach is like sleeping on a beach ball, so I prop pillows around the expander to try and get some balance. The cat curls up near my side, and I fall asleep again. 12:30, I wake up. I'm burning hot yet again, so I throw the covers aside, causing the cat to jump to the dresser. I look at the clock, and then turn to my left side. My hips are hurting pretty bad, and I put a pillow between my knees to try for balance.
I lie there, thinking about work the next day, chores I need to do, how much my body aches, how much I need to sleep. I try to get comfortable, using pillows as props.
At 1:43 I'm still awake. I wonder if I should start to read again since I'm clearly not fucking sleeping any time soon, but I decide not to. I pat the bed to convince the cat to come off the dresser and come sleep by my side. She gingerly steps down, and I pet her for a while. I make a little cave with the covers so she'll crawl inside and sleep beside my belly. My formerly feral cat finally does, and curls up next to me, purring. I pet her as another hot flash hits.
Now I have a problem. I really need to get those covers off me RIGHT NOW but I pretty much convinced the cat to come off her perch and cuddle with me. I debate - can I stand the heat? Is it fair to the cat to move the covers? As the heat builds to sauna-like strength, and my heels start to sweat, comfort wins out, and I rip the blankets off.
The cat jumps back on the dresser.
I turn to sleep on my right side, and feel the expander valve that is pushing through my skin dig into the mattress, and I vow - once again - to go buy a memory foam mattress pad to try and soften my night.
I look at the clock. 2:37.
At 3:33 my husband gets up to go to the bathroom, and as he opens the door I realize I had been asleep and am now awake.
And sweating. Covers off. I put my arm by the fan so the air will travel down to my chest.
It's 4:00 in the morning and I have to get up at 6:00. I don't have sleeping pills, but I decide to take a fioricet, a medicine I have for headaches. Although it has caffeine in it, sometimes it makes me slightly sleepy. It's worth a try - I can still get two hours, right?
4:15, I get into bed again, hips and legs and shoulders and back aching and wondering if if I should have taken a pain pill too, but I don't want to take the two kinds that close together. I take pain pills when I wake up, so I'll just wait.
Again, I prop myself with pillows and try to sleep on my stomach. At 4:30, I decide to turn ocean sounds on my iPhone and see if the rhythm of an endless loop of fake waves can lull me to sleep.
6:00, the alarm rings, and startles me awake.
I hit the snooze button and fall asleep again instantly. Ten minutes later, I do the same. And again. After the fourth time, I know I have to get up or be late for work and I've already missed my shower time, so I don't hit the snooze button this time. I pull the covers back and swing my aching knees over the side of the bed, knowing that now I could sleep for four hours straight.
As I wearily get up to go to work, I think that maybe if I start my night with an alarm and a snooze button, I'll get a deeper sleep.
The cat glares at me balefully from the dresser.
Tamoxifen has wrecked both of our nights.