[No Longer] Sleepless in Saratoga

Max and Ollie kitchen 2012-06-28_19-15-19_701For women and the men who love us: This blog is not intended as medical advice, simply sharing my experience. Please talk to your health care provider about your concerns.

I’ve struggled with insomnia over the last 8 years. When comparing notes with women “my age”, it seems more common than bunions! Research suggests that there is nothing all that abnormal about insomnia, which is a good thing, I guess. Yet that information doesn’t lessen the impact of not getting enough sleep! Brain fog, the need for naps, crankiness, tears, craziness and outright hostility has been my unwanted response to sleep deprivation.

At first I just figured I was under a lot of stress. Granted, I was.  Raising my teenaged son with all the struggles that involves, having just lost both my parents in a span of 15 months, dealing with “estate” issues, recently married, considering a BIG move to another community — seemed like all the perfect ingredients to contribute to sleepless nights. A normal night for me might look like falling into bed exhausted at 10 PM, a coma like sleep, only to awaken at 2:00 and stay awake until 4:30, finally falling back to sleep and having trouble crawling out of bed at 6:00. Horrible. I suffered, took naps when I could. Tried Valerian root at the suggestion of my doctor, which was awful for me. I felt hung over the next day. I tried curtailing the internet at night, limiting my appointments with clients to earlier in the evening, avoiding heated conversations with my son… all to no avail. I was sleepless.

My husband and I moved four years ago. More stress. My son was horrified that I would move a whole hour away. I was riddled with guilt and questioning my choice. Settling into a new community and new routine had its challenges, insomnia continued. I figured there was nothing I could do.

Then I contacted a holistically minded nurse practitioner recommended to me by a friend. We talked about natural hormone replacement therapy for some other “issues” I was having. She tested hormone levels and since it was appropriate for me [given personal and family health history] she prescribed a compounded prescription to use topically. The first night I slept like a baby. I was astonished and delighted. I never suspected that the progesterone that was no longer adequately supplied naturally by my body was the cause of my sleeplessness. I was at peace.

Fast forward a couple years… in treatment for Hepatitis C, I took Interferon injections for nine months. Though the most common side effect is depression with this drug, I had a less common reaction, I was MANIC! Insomnia returned like gang busters, despite having blood counts so low, transfusion was suggested. I finished treatment over a year ago, but the mania, in the form of sleeplessness, has been relentless. I tried meditation, soothing music, EFT [Tapping], moving to the guest room, reading and finally an occasional sleeping pill. The most I could experience was a night or two of “good” sleep in a week. I felt awful, miserable, teary, angry, depressed and ready to snap.

Until last month.

I saw my nurse practitioner again, who recommended long-acting melatonin,  available over-the-counter at my compounding pharmacy. Although I still wake up during the night, I fall back to sleep easily most of the time. In addition, she made a few more adjustments in my bio-identical HRT and I feel so wonderful in contrast that I hardly recognize the woman I was a few short weeks ago.

The intention of this blog is not to suggest my specific remedy. It may not be appropriate for you. It is intended to encourage you to talk to your health care provider about your most personal health needs. Even if you’ve convinced yourself that you just need to “live with it”, whatever “it” is. It is quite possible your belief may not be true. There may very well be a solution for your “problem”. Do your own research and then talk to your provider as an informed health care consumer. If you don’t get satisfaction, find another health care provider. Ask your friends for recommendations, check with your health insurance company, search until you find someone who is in alignment and shares your highest vision for your health.

I’ve said it before and will say it again, you know yourself better than anyone. Be your own health care advocate. You are a consumer of health care, stand in your power and find what serves you.

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3 Responses to [No Longer] Sleepless in Saratoga

  1. Lori says:

    A superb piece – sorry you had to suffer through this, Cate. Coming from a medical family, I have always felt that we need to take charge of our health care. When I was suffering from stress the past three or four years (as you know), my good friend the Nurse Practitioner wrote me a script for Ativan, not once but twice, and I learned that a number of my close friends were taking it with very positive results. While my NP friend meant well – he was deeply concerned about me – I felt that the Ativan would be like placing a band-aid over a crevasse. I needed to address the problem, and not just cover it up temporarily. I still have the two scripts pinned to the bulletin board in my office as a reminder that one has to grasp the problem around the neck and choke the living s**t out of it, toss it aside and then move on. I am not saying this is the appropriate course of action for everyone going through stress (she grins), but it did work for me.

    • Agreed Lori. I have Rx’s I have never filled and ones I’ve filled and taken once or twice out of desperation. Again, neither of us make our sisters “wrong” for their choices… simply always encouraging that “take charge” that you speak to. Accepting “what is” offers an opportunity to explore options, not settle for the first thing if it doesn’t work or doesn’t feel right. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Win McIntyre says:

    Good one.

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