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04/11/2012

Mahina's Journey - Sleepy, Sleepy, Sleepy

The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.       ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

March 2012 – In November 2011, I went back on hormone therapy to stunt the growth of the

prostate cancer.  Although hormones are not as hard on your body as radiation and chemo therapy, they are very invasive and have many side effects, so I am once again experiencing changes in sleep patterns, hot flashes, night sweats, and changes in appetite as well as hormone changes (more on that later) to name a few. One of the side effects that most affects me is the change to my sleep patterns.

 I’ve always had difficulty sleeping, do to various reasons. First, there was not being able to breathe out of one nostril. Even when I was young, I would have the nasal drain all night long and have to switch from side to side, in order to relieve the pressure build up. I was finally diagnosed with chronic sleep apnea about 8 years ago and went through the corrective surgery.  

 My apnea was very severe and I would stop breathing for up to 90 seconds!  At the same time I had a tonsillectomy which was the worst of the two surgeries. My throat hurt so badly that I could not swallow and this made for many panic attacks. But the kicker was the liquid codeine cough syrup with morphine added.  I had the hardest time trying to get it down my throat as it was sore and the medicine was NASTY. So, needless to say, that about this time I was also experiencing insomnia. I couldn’t sleep at all during the evenings and went for a stretch of 8 days without much sleep. I finally called my Pastor and asked him to come and pray for me. I knew John had gone through insomnia before. John brought over a book for me to read that might help me to relax. His visit was the medicine I needed, “The Lord.”

 During my recovery from prostate cancer surgery and coping with the radiation, I had really erratic sleep patterns. I would get some catnaps in during the days, but the nights were brutal. I was having unbearable bladder spasm and was taking about 8-10 Vicodin pills daily, trying to fight the pain. But110 the night would only bring me misery. I would fall off to sleep and then within an hour would awaken to the “Cramps” and crawl to the bathroom and sit there in agony for about half an hour, waiting for the pain to subside. So, by the time I crawled back to the couch (couldn’t sleep in our bed with Kristen, Lizzie and Stella – too much noise and motion), I would drop off again and  the process would start all over again and I would be up again within an hour. I couldn’t wait for the morning. That was sheer hell. It lasted for about 3 weeks.

 In September of 2009, I had developed a hernia. I had to have surgery to repair the hernia.  Because I had a rough time getting off the Vicodin during radiation, I didn’t take any this time around. But I did start to develop Restlessness Leg Syndrome. I wasn’t sure what this was being caused from. It started to get progressively worse and more frequent. Then the RLS became a full-blown problem. I was unable to lay still and would be constantly moving my feet and legs all about. It was driving Kristen and me crazy. I was going bonkers. It finally got so bad that I could not sleep an entire night, and into morning hours when I had to work that day. I was so tired and frustrated wanted to kill myself. Kristen made an appointment to visit Dr. Morton and talk about the symptoms. I never really believed that there could be any validity to RLS. Boy was I wrong. Dr. Morton prescribed a mild medicine that was once used for Parkinson disease. Hell, all I cared about is if it worked or not on me. And by God it did. Thank you Lord!

 Currently, because I am back on the hormone treatment, my sleep is once again disrupted. Because of the incontinence issue, I am up through the night, minimum 4 times, to go to the bathroom or I will wake up from my night sweats, totally soaked. Often after these disruptions I am unable to fall back asleep so I get up and work on the computer or do a little “Golf Shopping.”  (Kristen loves getting the little surprises from UPS) In addition to these problems, I have always been sensitive to the waxing and waning of the moon. Mahina does mean “moon” in Hawaiian, so I have a relationship with the moon and its cycles. On the nights surrounding the full moon, I am prowling the house wide awake. But the other side of the hormone side effects are they make me sleepy. About once a week, I have a “sleep marathon.”  I sleep about 10 to 14 hours at a stretch (getting up to go to the bathroom and then right back to sleep.) I know these sleep marathon worry Kristen but when it happens I have no control over it.  It is often frustrating to both of us but I need to listen to my body and. . .  I am just grateful that I can get enough rest to keep me going. God knows I need my sleep, not only for my health but if I am going to have any chance of scoring well on the course. The Lord is my strength and I pray that you may not have to ever have to experience sleep deprivation. Sweet dreams.

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