(Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Unisom)
Doc: It’s vitally important that you get as much sleep as possible, especially during the first few days after a chemo session, so your body is able to build up reserves to recover from the onslaught of the chemo drugs.
Me: Right. But the pre-med steroid dose you give me to help reduce nausea (fail, BTW) and “shore up my ‘defenses'” only serves to make sleep damn near impossible.
Doc: Which is why we’ve prescribed you a sleep aid.
Me: That only works for 3 hours if I’m lucky and I’m not allowed to take more than one dosage in a night.
Doc: Have you tried traditional soothing techniques such as a cuppa chamomile at bedtime? Warm milk? Reading?
Me: Yes. Chamomile ain’t got nothing on steroids. Warm milk leaves me a warm milk taste in my mouth – so I brush my teeth (again) and suddenly I’m wide-awake with the minty sensation of Aquafresh. Reading to lull oneself to sleep only works if the subject matter is boring. Unfortunately all of my books are interesting page-turners, so I end up avidly reading with rapt attention all the way to the ending which usually leaves me exhilarated and very much not asleep.
Doc: You could buy a boring book.
Me: Yes, but I don’t want to put any more money in Sarah Palin’s pocket.
Doc: Describe for me what goes through your mind as you’re lying in bed, unable to sleep.
Me: Lately I’ve been pondering life’s unanswerable questions. Such as “How many angels can you fit on the head of the pin?” Problem is, I’ve solved that one.
Doc: Oh really? What’s the answer?
Me: Either zero or about 6 billion, depending on how you approach it. However, both answers rely on the acceptance that there is no god.
Me: But still, pondering imponderables doesn’t help me sleep. I just ponder until I come up with an answer that I find suitably logical (at least to me) and then move on to the next.
Doc: We could try to on that sleep aid with the moth mascot.
Me: The super-expensive one that has a potential side-effect of Death? Yeah, no.
Doc: Well, from a pharmaceutical approach, my other suggestion would be to take an over-the-counter sleep-aid such as Unisom as a supplement to the prescribed aid we’ve already got you on. But, you’d need to be very careful to avoid a potential overdose that could cause your breathing to slow too much so that you’d end up in a coma, or worse.
Me: So, again, side-effect – Death?
Doc: It is very unlikely. Especially considering the chronic pain you’re constantly experiencing as a result of the treatment. Your brain should keep your body alert enough with pain signals to prevent you from slipping beyond sleep into a comatose state.
Me: Ah yes. The pain. I’d actually managed to forget about that for a moment. Thanks, Doc.
Doc: Glad I could help.
Me: … … Right. So, I guess I’m going to take that “over-the-counter supplemental sleep-aid” now and see if I wake up in the morning.
Doc: You’ll be fine.
Me: Great. Thanks. In the meantime, watch this!: