The supporter experience #2: sleep

Perhaps my biggest and most consistent struggle since Andrea first discovered the lump in her right breast has been sleep. For a good chunk of September and almost all of October I was relieved if I could get four hours of sleep a night and thrilled if three hours came in one shot.

I did my best to not train my body into that pattern. I was more likely to lie in bed, restless and frustrated — yet still so as not to bother Andrea — than do something entertaining or productive. On the rare occasion I’d read a book or go to my computer and mindlessly surf for a few hours. The fact is, I had so many things on my mind that I wouldn’t remember much of what I did in those waking hours anyway.

Where at one time my sleepless nights were because of my concerns over Andrea’s health, our family and household, being unable to sleep became the ironic additional reason I couldn’t sleep.

And so it was that I would get by each day on a diminishing hours of sleep. Eventually, at the encouragement of my mother and her physician friend, I asked my family doctor for a prescription for Trazadone. I took it for three nights before I gave up on it and let my insomnia run its course.

I think it was mid-November before I was able to get a decent sleep. Since then I’ve also taken the occasional weekend nap knowing the role of sleep for staying healthy and effective for my family. The holidays were particularly nice for that.

Photo: Me, exhausted during a train ride to Quebec City, 2 days after Andrea’s diagnosis.