#172–Limbo-land, slumber-land & off to the printer . . .

Since October 23, I’ve been on a repetitive three-week schedule where this week should be chemo week. But since I finished my six scheduled cycles, I’m not starting a new one this week. I’m very pleased about that! But before I have a party to celebrate or even plan the next few months of my life, I have to see how a PET/CT scan I take on March 12 turns out. It will tell the tale as to whether the cancer is gone. I’ll either be done or head into phase II of cancer treatment. Between now and then, I’ll be in limbo-land.

In the meantime, I’ll start working in the yard gradually and taking short walks, and try to get some exercise. My muscles are almost non-existent and my endurance is totally non-existent. I have little energy even on a good day. What defines a good day is not that I have much energy, it’s that I have a lack of tiredness.

During limbo-land, I’ll also send out flyers announcing availability soon of Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known to all the places that carry my other books and see if anyone needs more of them. I have done practically no marketing of my books since September. And with the start of a new season, I should get going on that.

During this past cycle, it took longer to bounce back––10 days. The doctor had warned me that each cycle would be more difficult to come back. I had my black hole of six days where my gal Tres was here to help. That I had planned on. But the tiredness persisted for the next four days also. Since I didn’t expect it and did expect to accomplish stuff, I pushed through and got things done. It was difficult. This past Friday, February 20, the extreme tiredness left and I was so relieved.

All I want to do is sleep when I'm tired. And that's what I did much of these past two weeks.

All I want to do is sleep when I’m tired. And that’s what I did much of the past two weeks.

Because of all the tiredness during the past two weeks, I slept a lot. That is true each time I enter my black hole. I usually get up about 7 a.m., sleep most of the afternoon, and go to bed early.

Looking back over my six chemo cycles, I did a lot of sleeping. Sleep is very healing. I remember last spring when I had a totally stiff neck. The doctor gave me a prescription for Valium and told me to take all of them because I needed to relax my neck muscles. After one pill, all I wanted to do was sleep. I took two or three naps a day and went to bed early for a week and it worked. Within a couple of days, I could start my neck exercises and get my neck back to normal.

“Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood,” says Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at the National Institute of Health.

I’m sure all my sleeping during chemo was helpful in fighting the cancer as well as refilling my sleep deficit. The seven weeks prior to chemo between figuring out something was wrong and beginning treatment, was my most difficult time. I had pain that continued getting worse and caused difficulty in sleeping. I slept in short snatches and rarely got more than a couple of hours of sleep each night.

According to research: “Chronic insomnia––lasting at least three nights a week for more than a month––can trigger serious daytime problems such as exhaustion, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.” It’s a wonder I could function at all. I was also on heavy-duty pain meds around the clock the last month before chemo

Chemo took the pain away, but during the first couple of cycles, I still didn’t get good sleep. I slept in one- or two-hour segments and probably got little or no REM sleep.

According to research: “A good night’s sleep consists of four to five sleep cycles. Each cycle includes periods of deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when we dream. ‘As the night goes on, the portion of that cycle that is in REM sleep increases. It turns out that this pattern of cycling and progression is critical to the biology of sleep,’ ” says Dr. Michael Twery, another sleep expert at NIH.

Here is the mock-up of the new dust jacket of Devil Cat. Won't be long now!

Here is the mock-up of the new dust jacket of Devil Cat. Won’t be long now!

My sleep gradually improved during chemo, and these past couple of cycles, I’ve been sleeping in longer segments and having dreams. So I feel that my sleep deficit is gone, and I’m back to sleeping normally. I think that has helped make it possible for me to concentrate during the daytime for several hours at a stretch when I was editing the manuscript for Devil Cat.

Speaking of Devil Cat, it should be ready to send to the printer by the end of the week. I’ve done the last major go-through and I’ve proofed the designed dust jacket.

When I get the manuscript back in a day or two, I’ll check to see that Bob has put in the changes I found on my last go-through and any changes he’s found. Before he returns it to me, he’ll read the text. He hasn’t read it since he edited it last November. So he’ll be seeing the text with fresh eyes.

Right now, I’m feeling good and excited about Devil Cat but unsure about the future.

I’ll keep you posted.

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
This entry was posted in Adventures with Chemo, Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges, Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known, The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to #172–Limbo-land, slumber-land & off to the printer . . .

  1. Evelyn says:

    Delighted to hear you’re returning to as close to normal as possible for now. I can understand how sleep deprivation is such a successful method of torture! Most everyone I know has had sleep problems at some point, me included. Sooo not fun.

    Attitude is everything, however, and you certainly have the right outlook. Go forth and slay those dragons while also publishing a new book! (Love the cover.) 🙂

  2. Brenda Howe says:

    So glad for the update. Yes, graduallly exercising those skinny muscles will help get them into shape. It’s amazing how quickly we decondition. Chair (or bed) exercises are very beneficial, so you don’t have to start with weed-whacking: ust ask Groucho, the expert on naps (as are all cats). Do you have an effusior? I think that’s the correct spelling. I’ve recently run onto them and they are really wonderful aroma therapy tools. Of course, with aroma therapy, there are essential oils specific to various “ailments” or for relaxation. One of the instructors at the college has one that is supposed to help boost the immune system. At the skilled care facility where I’ve worked with some CNA students the past couple of weeks, they have a couple at strategic locations (reallly helps mask any unpleasant odors often associated with care facilities). Each one is a little square resevoir and mist floats out the top from a little hole (someone must have made one the shape of a whale somewhere out there in the world). I just drape myself over the nurse’s station counter with the little trail of vapor floating right up to my nostrils. It makes me smile in a dreamy manor (opens my sinuses for sure). 🙂 I hate having to leave that post. Can you picture a cartoon of me slumped over a vapor pot with a silly grin on my face?

    I hope you continue to gain some energy. I’d suggest a diffusor and maybe some essential oil of jalepanio or havenero would pep you right out of bed! Not, really … stick with the mild stuff.
    xoxox Brenda

    • Brenda Howe says:

      Gee … I’ve inhaled too much. I just reread my post and found the misspelled words: defusor not effusor, Just not ust ask Groucho and dreamy manner not manor … though maybe the facility should change their name to Dreamy Manor and have defusors at every corner. 🙂

      • I have several essential oils, but no effuser or defusor, but I may get one. I will be very, very careful on my inhaling. I do like the creativeness of your spellings, though!! I’m enjoying the thought of the cartoon image of you slumped over a vapor pot with a silly grin! Tee! Hee!

  3. Hope says:

    Thanks for the post, Judy. I’m always glad to read about you. Your forthrightness keeps me wanting more.

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