Friday, January 15, 2010

Horrible Night of "Sleep"

Well, I lay in the dark for about 7 hours with my eyes closed, after taking 20 mg of melatonin, but I don't think I slept much of it, with all of the anxiety that was in my body and the horrible thoughts that were in my head. Usually, worries don't keep me up at night. I can acknowledge them, then tuck them away for later while I focus on something happy/relaxing, and drift off to sleep. But last night...every time I'd tuck one anxious thought away, another would pop up. Because there are just a million things to be anxious about. Here's what was in my head all night -

- all the chemo fears I've already babbled about
- memories of how AWFUL it felt to have that male doctor who did my biopsy have to give me a breast exam
- worries of what it will be like with the male radiation oncologist - will he have to literally touch my breast every day for 6 weeks??
- there's a thread in one of the BC forums about how radiation treatments increase some women's asthma. My asthma has been well under control for years ago, and I'm going to be so pissed if radiation makes it flare up.
- the Oncotype dx test costs over $3,000. What if my insurance doesn't cover that?? Some insurance companies don't, because they consider the test "experimental" despite evidence to the contrary. I am so poor I'm on food stamps, and receive health insurance through the State of VT for low-income people. I started mentally calculating my average monthly income and how long it would take me to pay off that Oncotype bill.
- K is going to be leaving me soon and I don't know how I can do all this without her.
- Would chopping off both of my breasts eliminate my need for chemo and/or rads?? Because I would do it.
- Is my insurance company going to pay for annual MRI screenings for me? MRIs can cost like $1500. And for me, annual mammograms are not enough. It turns out there was a secondary area of cancer in my breast - microcalcifications - which ONLY showed up on the MRI, not the ultrasound or mammogram or physical exam.
- Will I be one of those people who doesn't have many side effects with radiation, and can continue working, or is it really going to hurt and make me so exhausted I have to take more time off?
- Have I slept at all yet? When's the sun coming up?
- What am I going to do with my cat, when I'm living at my parents' house for 6 weeks during radiation treatments?

I'm not looking for answers. These are each questions/worries I can theoretically tackle one by one, during the daylight, when I'm awake. Many of them are questions I need to ask people at the hospital, and I can and I will... But in the meantime, how to keep all of those questions and concerns from piling up and making noise in my head all night while I'm trying to sleep, I don't know. Even 20mg of melatonin didn't let me sleep.

You know, I think a big part of the problem is that the way that I cope with the stress of this cancer journey is by being very careful to just take things ONE STEP AT A TIME. That keeps me calm and focused. For example, if I know the next thing that's coming up is surgery, then I research what that surgery is like, ask the necessary questions about it, prepare for it, etc. But it was that AWFUL PHONE CALL yesterday morning that screwed all that up for me. I had been focusing only on getting through my upcoming 2nd surgery before even attempting to think about/plan the next steps...because THAT'S HOW MY BRAIN HAS TO DO IT. But this woman on the phone jumped the gun and started asking when I'm starting radiation and can we set those appointments up, and wanting to set up an appt for me to talk about chemo with some new doctor, and it was TOO MUCH. It ruined my plan of compartmentalizing and taking just one step at a time. She opened the floodgates of worry in my mind.

Now I have to get ready for work.


  1. Britta darling, why are you working right now? that just doesn't seem right at all! could your family help you, during this crucial time? Cathryn

  2. Based on your income and the fact you are on VT Medicaid, you will not have to pay for the Oncotype DX. The Oncotype company will offer you patient assistance. Take it!

  3. Thanks for the Oncotype tip... I will look into that.

    Cathryn, physically I've healed well from the surgery, and physically I'm able to work, if I can just get my emotions/anxiety under control somehow. I have an appt at Sojourns today...that will help.

  4. Britta,

    Please check with (call)Genomic Health to ask if they can provide assistance. many times the test is given to patientsat no charge without insurance coverage!!