Tag Archive | sleep

Sleeping with the Enemy

Or not sleeping, as the case may be.

Perhaps I am being melodramatic referring to my Aromasin (meds) as the enemy (and I apologize to those of you who might have thought I was referring to my husband…!), but the cumulative side effects of my aromatase inhibitor are catching up to me.

I started the Aromasin (also known as Exemestane) on March 7th of last year. I was handling it remarkably well, especially considering my experiences with Femara back in 2013. I had no side effects for quite a while, with the exception of an occasional hot flash and just being warm all the time. I could handle that. But over the past few months, other side effects are creeping in. I have some joint pain in my hands and feet, and that’s tolerable. It’s the absolute lack of sleep that is getting to me.

Most nights, for the past few months, I do not even attempt to go to bed until midnight. Then I tend to lie awake until wee hours of the morning. Tossing, turning, thinking, sweating, throwing covers off/on, and staring at the ceiling. I have started to just get up to do something productive rather than be continually frustrated with my inability to sleep. Last night, as an example, I did my menu plan and submitted my online grocery order at 2 a.m. I designed a t-shirt on my Cricut (for crafting, if you aren’t familiar), and I played some games on my phone. I returned to bed at 2:30 am and fell asleep about 4:15 am. One night, just a few weeks ago, I didn’t even go to bed until 5:15 am! Just about the time my husband starts his day.

I’ve always been one of those people who needs 8-10 hours sleep, so 2, 3, 4 hours just isn’t cutting it.

I’m not really sure what to do. I mean, when it’s a side effect of meds, do the usual things work? I try to limit my caffeine (no more than two cups of coffee a day) and certainly none after noon. I should probably do more reading and less time on my phone/laptop because of the light. I already take magnesium (which has helped me tremendously in the past). Melatonin and lavender have never really worked for me. It’s just something I think I’m going to have to suffer through for the next 5-10 years, which is sad. I do love to sleep!

If any of my BC sister warriors have suffered through this, any suggestions? And if any of you are up late, message me! We can chat!

* * * * * * * *

I would like to get back to recipe sharing again, so I’ll start with our New Year’s meal!

Growing up, January 1st meant my mother’s amazing roast pork and sauerkraut. Even when I ate meat, my preference was the sauerkraut. I loved that it cooked in the juices of the pork roast and it was one of my favorite meals of the year. But then I became a vegetarian and the pork had to go! But sauerkraut is still an amazing food!

Made from cabbage, sauerkraut is a cruciferous food with lots of anti-cancer properties. And one cup of sauerkraut is only 27 calories, with 4 grams of fiber, 35% of your Vitamin C requirements, 21% of your Vitamin K, and 12% of your iron for the day! As a fermented food, it contains healthy bacteria for great gut health. What’s not to love?

Enter the Tempeh Reuben! This is a twist on the fattier, less-healthy corn beef. It is totally one of our favorite meals. I pile the sauerkraut on top of my marinated/pan “fried” tempeh (no oil is used in the process), with a Russian dressing made from vegan mayo. It’s a delicious sandwich any day of the week, but it satisfied my sauerkraut fix for our New Year’s tradition!

If you make this, or if you have any questions, let me know! Enjoy!

IMDb: Sleeping With the Enemy (1991)

Control

Life as we know it has been irretrievably altered these past few months, with no specific end in sight. There is no one unaffected by what is happening in the world today. I pray that we do the right things, stay safe, and come out the other side changed for the better.

As a three-time cancer survivor who recently started new medication, I consider myself a higher risk than most, although not as much as many others. So for me, social distancing is a no-brainer. Other than for two hikes outside, I have not gone anywhere since, well, I’m not really sure. I’ve sort of lost track of time. But it’s safe to say, I’m not going anywhere. My fear of getting this virus is palpable, as is my fear of being denied treatment in a rationing situation.

As someone who is, at times, a bit of a control freak, it’s tough when something this big is out of my control. I’m sure we’re all feeling that anxiety when the big picture is so overwhelming. For me, the best way I can get through this is to focus on those things I can control, with my focus on things that will keep me and my family as healthy as we can be.

I CAN control what and how much I eat. Being home all day every day, in such close proximity to the fridge and the pantry, it would be easy to just say “what the heck?” and eat to my heart’s content. But that’s not the healthiest thing I can do. I still try to make nutritious, plant-based meals every day. It requires some creativity these days (I’ll save that for another post), but we’re doing pretty well. That’s not to say that we don’t have some treats, as well, but the focus is health.

I CAN control my movements. I have been getting on the treadmill every day since our social distancing started. I try to increase duration, speed, and/or incline each day, and I’m at the point where I’m doing a little over 3 miles a day. It’s been good cardio for me, which can only help keep my heart and lungs strong. I’m also getting some exercise through gardening on sunny days and cleaning my house. I’m not really a big fan of the latter, but I find it gives me peace of mind to know I’m doing something to keep germs at bay.

I CAN control what and how things enter my house. We are using online grocery shopping (and grateful for the ability to do so), and David is doing the pick up. What we can leave in the garage stays there for a day or so, and what has to come in the house gets the appropriate cleaning and repacking. Likewise with any other online ordering of supplies and our once a week take out (trying to support our local businesses!).

I CAN control what I focus my mind on. I was all-news-all-the-time in the beginning, but that wasn’t healthy. So now, I try to limit who I listen to, and how much. I’m trying to focus my time and energy on more fruitful activities like reading, crafting, and taking an online class. (Yale’s The Science of Well-Being, if anyone is interested… it’s free!) When I do think about the virus, I try to focus on praying for those who are sick, and for all of those people on the front lines helping us to stay healthy and keep our country moving – the medical community, first responders, grocery store workers, truck drivers, delivery people, restaurants, and so many more. (Yes, David, bankers, too!)

I CAN control ensuring I have social interaction. Technology has made this super easy for us; there’s no reason not to be connected. I try to reach out to 2 or 3 people every day. Phone, text, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, Google Hangout, email, and more. We’ve been able to visit with our grandson (and his parents!), go to church, meet with our church small group,  play games, have a few drinks, and watch Netflix with friends. Staying connected is super important in this time of isolation.

I’d like to say I can control sleep. But that’s pretty hit and miss with me. I do try to go to bed at a reasonable time and I try to allow my body to sleep as needed. However, Aromasin is not always cooperative in that regard. So I CAN control bedtime and when I get out of bed, but what happens in the middle is not always controllable!

I CAN control trying to bring some enjoyment into our lives. We’ve done game nights, even teaching Ethan how to play poker! We’ve watched our share of Disney movies and recently started watching “Tiger King”. I’m bingeing “The Handmaid’s Tale” while walking, although I’m sure those last two items can be debatable as to their entertainment value…! 🙂

So how is everyone else holding up? How are you managing your isolation? What tips are working for you to stay safe and healthy – and sane – during this crazy time?

Be well!

 

IMDb: Control (1987)

One Month Out

One month ago today, David and I were in Philadelphia, impatiently waiting for my local recurrence excision and revision surgery. My 90 minute surgery ended up taking closer to four hours, as my surgeons encountered more than they bargained for when planning the surgery. It’s been a learning experience ever sense.

On top of learning that my first surgeon had left so much breast tissue behind, I learned that my drains were not properly handled the first time. When I explained that they were only in for two days the first time, all of my medical practitioners sort of rolled their eyes with incredulity. Two days was not enough to measure the fluid to hit the criteria for removal. So, was it laziness or incompetence again?

Scar care? Not discussed at all first time around. This time, I am learning all about silicon gels and scar massage. Silicone gel (or sheets) is used to soften and flatten the scars. I’ve only been using it for a few days and I already see an improvement. Plus, because the scars are soften, I am finding that my chest is not as tight and I have more range of motion. It makes you wonder why this would not have been discussed with me previously. Again, lazy or incompetent?

I have not yet learned how to do the scar massage, but it was mentioned at my last visit to the plastic surgeon that they would be discussing it at my next appointment in mid-March.

Stretching exercises were also provided to me by the plastic surgeon to help return my range of motion to normal. I’ve been doing this (mostly) religiously since provided. First time? You guessed it. Not provided, and, in fact, I ended up at physical therapy and occupational therapy as a result. *sigh*

I’ve gotten back to walking to the treadmill each day, although not to the duration I was pre-surgery. I’m trying to add a minute or two each day to work my way back up. You don’t realize how much surgery takes out of you until you try to do what you did before. I was easily doing 45-60 minutes each day, using inclines; I am now at less than 20 minutes, with no inclines. But something is better than nothing, and I’ll keep working at it.

Sleep is still a challenge. I’m still not quite back to being able to sleep on my side. I have to find the sweet spot between not all the way on my back and not all the way on my side, but then my spine gets twisted so I can’t do it for too long. Sleeping on my back only results in a sore back by morning, but I’m managing. I’m thinking in a few weeks I’ll be back to normal.

This week I went to get that pesky mole removed from my sternum. The dermatologist agreed with my oncologist that it looked abnormal, but she didn’t seem too concerned that it was a melanoma or anything. She did remove it, though, so now I have a new little sore spot in between my two breast scars. It’s like Morse Code…  —- * —-  (The letter K). 🙂

Upcoming: Next week I go for my “non-urgent” ultrasounds of my thyroid and my uterus. (Prayers, please, that all is normal with both.) March 5th I’m back to Philly to meet with my UPenn oncologist, and March 18th, it’s back to the Plastic Surgeon in Bryn Mawr for a check up.

Thanks for following along, and thanks, as always, for your support and encouragement!

 

IMDb: One Month Out

The Wash

As cases of the flu and other winter illness abound, it’s time to get into full defensive mode!  My regimen includes daily doses of Vitamin C and echinacea, as well as daily juicing for everyone in the house (ok, so David doesn’t always get to participate…).  Today I was in a crunch for time, so we made a simple juice:  loads of carrots, 2 oranges, and some ginger.  Delicious and full of vitamins!

I’ve also been trying to send any sick people on my team home when they show up in the office. We will be discussing this at our next staff meeting.  Since we have the ability to work from home, if you’re sick, stay home!  No point in contaminating the whole office.

I always try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.  Lack of sleep totally destroys my immune system, so I try very hard not to let myself get run down.

And, of course, wash, wash, wash!  (Your hands, that is.)  Don’t forget to sing Happy Birthday (twice) while you wash your hands to ensure you are washing long enough.  Where I can help it, I try not to touch the stair railing or the bathroom door, etc.  Unfortunately, not everyone is as diligent on the hand washing…

So far I’ve been managed to keep illness at bay, but there’s still a lot of winter to get through.

*****

And speaking of winter, this bitter cold is wrecking my hands; they are completely chapped and cracked.  No amount of hand lotion is helping.  I’m trying to drink more water to hydrate from the inside out, but I just can’t keep up.  The Arctic vortex is winning this battle, I’m afraid.

Peeling oranges for juicing, and juicing lemons for tonight’s dinner, was a bit painful.  Talk about stinging!

By the way, my absolute favorite hand lotion:  Orange Lavender Hand Lotion by The Indulgent Apothecary.  I love the way it feels on my hands.  And when I am forced to use another brand, it’s just not the same.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/101594055/orange-lavender-body-lotion?ref=shop_home_feat_3

*****

Latest update on Mom:  She’s doing amazingly well.  As of today, she is disconnected from all tubes and lines.  She is walking around, eating well, and handling the pain with only Tylenol.  If the silly cough would just go away, she’d be great.  Unfortunately, she’s still coughing up gunk from the surgery and that, no surprise, is causing some pain in her chest.  Otherwise, she’s ready to head home.  Maybe Thursday?

*****

The Wash (2001) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0290332/

Gulliver’s Travels

Wow.  I haven’t blogged in five days (not counting the Ladies in Pink photos I posted).  It’s been a bit of a crazy week with three days of work travel, and I’m happy to be home.  While I get a lot out of these events (the best part is the networking), it completely throws my body out of whack.  I didn’t eat great (too much snacking, too much sugar, not enough vegetables).  I drank too much coffee (3-4 cups a day, although I did also drink water).  I sat for way too long (about 12 hours yesterday between bus, meeting, dinner and late night work).  And, of course, I did not sleep well (I’m a bad business traveler).  I really need to get back on track with everything!  I’m looking forward to starting with a good night’s sleep tonight!

*****

I have been working on health care reimbursement forms and had requested YTD statements from a few of my doctors.  I was shocked to see a charge by the oncologist for $121 for providing my medical records to Best Doctors.  This wasn’t something that I had to pay, as Best Doctors covered it, but I was surprised how large the charge was for copies of records.  And it made me appreciate further the value of this benefit from my employer.

*****

After reading my blog about removing my sparkly pink nail polish, my coworker, Tracy, shared the following link about the easiest way to remove nail polish.  I was surprised to learn that there is a acetone-free remover.

http://gingerbreadmanne.blogspot.com/2010/09/5-minutes-nail-polish-removal-tutorial.html

*****

Gulliver’s Travels (2010) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1320261/

Toy Story

Yesterday, my newest toy, the FitBit One, finally arrived on my doorstep.  I had been waiting for it all week, but thanks to FedEx, I received it three days later than expected.

At any rate, I’m already loving it, and my thanks to Lindsey at work for doing all the research on the fitness gadgets!  A group of us at work were looking into the right device to help us with our fitness goals.  We considered Jawbone, Nike Fuel, Gruve and the FitBit.  It was pretty unanimous that the FitBit provided the most functionality and was the most reasonably priced.  (And to top it off, my employer offered a discount!)

The device is pretty small and can be worn on your belt, in your pocket, or on your bra strap.  (The latter was not really an option for me…)  But it very securely attaches to the waistband on my pants and it’s small enough that it isn’t even noticeable.  I don’t even know it’s there.

So what does it do, you may ask?  It counts steps and flights of stairs climbed.  It counts calories burned and mileage walked.  There’s a cute little flower that grows when you are active, and shrinks when you spend too much time on your butt.  You can track food / calories and it even monitors your sleep patterns (very cool feature).  Night One, I was surprised to learn that I woke up a whopping 33 times!!!! (No, it was not a good night’s sleep.)

In general, my intent in purchasing this latest toy was to track my activity level and use it as a motivator to do more.  I even set silent alarms throughout the day that are to remind me to get up from my desk and move a little.  You can connect to friends (although I haven’t figured that part out yet) which I hope will help motivate the whole fitness gang at work.  There are at least 5 of us already who recently bought one, and a few more coworkers are in consideration.

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog… My mom and I were looking through some old pictures tonight, trying to find a good entry for next week’s “ugliest photo contest” at work, when we stumbled across the following photo.  While my hair is a tad shorter now than this photo, I thought it was pretty funny to see that my current style was my go-to style in childhood!  (Ok… my mother’s go-to style on my behalf!)  There are many more where this came from and it was fun to look through those old pictures!

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