Sleep, Insomnia and Fear


Tonight, once again, I find it difficult to sleep.

Insomnia isn’t new for me. I cannot seem to shut down my brain.

Much of the time, I write about being positive, seeing beyond the challenges, and showing off a fierce, fearless version of me, but I need to acknowledge that life isn’t always easy for me. And it means that I have to share what I call, “my ugliness.” It’s a much more raw version of me that I will allow others to see.

Tonight, I’m wrestling with fear.

I’ve felt it coming on for the last several weeks. I’m sure it’s due, in part, to the fact that I’m coming up on my one year anniversary of a diagnosis. And so, sleep continues to elude me.

Nearly 10 months ago I found myself in the hospital ER, only to find out from a CT scan that I had a “cluster in my mesentery and lesions on my liver.” It was one of the scariest days of my life, because I started walking down a road that I never dreamed I’d have to walk–Stage IV cancer.

Oh, I’d had cancer before. Stage 0 Ductal Carcinoma in situ, aka breast cancer. I opted for a mastectomy and reconstruction, so I was able to kick its butt before it kicked mine. And that day in the ER, I was within weeks of five years of that diagnosis.

But now this? Stage IV carcinoid/neuroendocrine cancer.

The beast lives within.

And the last nine months have been surreal at times, and I have lost more sleep than what is healthy.

As I am coming up on the one-year mark, I find myself fearful. I put on a face of hope, but I’m scared, and angry, and confused. Oh, and did I mention, SCARED??

It’s difficult to forget, ignore, and let go of the words I heard from the first doctor. The words, “…a year…maybe two…” echoing in my head, as if he were banging a huge gong in my head. No wonder I have trouble with sleep!

I’m told by others who live with cancer that I’m not alone in this struggle…this fear…this lack of sleep.

I know that this is all part of my journey.

And here I am, nearly a year later, with more knowledge and understanding of carcinoid, and a new team of doctors who keep reminding me that this is slow-growing and that the prognosis is not quite as bleak as it was first presented.

Yet, I am facing the hurdle of that first anniversary. It has me spooked. And I cannot sleep.

I am told to pray. To give my fears to God. But I also struggle with this idea of trusting and negotiating all the details with “The Man Upstairs.” I feel like he walked out on me a very long time ago. Decades ago.

Five and a half decades of being thrown into fire with more hurt, more pain, more challenge, many nights with no sleep.

Quite frankly, I’m tired.

I hear platitudes from others who often don’t know what to say other than, “He (God) won’t give you anything more than you can handle,” as they walk out, and face their own sleepless nights.

For the most part, I can see the options, the best, the possibilities. But there are times, like tonight, where the “beyond” is associated with a date or situation that I have trouble facing.

When I coach others, I often ask this question: “Where do you see yourself in three months?”

Tonight, I ask myself that question and I’m feeling choked by the fear of someone else’s words and suggestion, that in three months I’ll be facing my imminent demise.

I know that there are no guarantees for any of us, including me. I understand that we all must live one day at a time. I try to live my life accordingly.

But there are sometimes when I can’t sleep. And those nights of fearful sleeplessness rob me of my joy the next day.

I’ll be glad to get through this spring and into the summer. Get past the one-year mark. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally be able to fall asleep…

peacefully.

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11 thoughts on “Sleep, Insomnia and Fear

  1. Dave Czohara

    Really a great piece. You expressed feelings that I believe everyone has at some point. Again, great piece. I wish you the best.

  2. Linda

    God Bless you Coral, and Maybe soon you will be able to rest peacefully.. Prayers and happy thoughts are with you today and always!

  3. Judy Veron

    Easy to say we have all had those same fears. Being able to express them OUTLOUD is courageous! Putting on a strong front and painting a smile for all the world to see people comment, “oh, look at her, she’s so strong and brave”. Being true to your fears can help overcoming them but by doing so you’re helping others know they are not alone in their feelings. You don’t have to be strong all the time. It’s ok to OWN YOUR FEELINGS!
    Just like when we were small, night fall brings out the demons. Our fears become greater and our ability to fight them is worn down by many things. Our activity level slows, our companionship with others lessens and the light gets dim, literally.
    Coral, you’ve faced so many things in your life that the shear energy to keep it up must be overwhelming! Please know we will reach out to you whenever the need and hope to bring peace and love to your being if not in body but in spirit. May you find the peace you seek when you close your eyes in sleep and may you awaken with renewed energy for the fight that lies ahead!
    XO 🙂
    Judy

  4. Mick

    A fine piece, written from the heart, surely, Coral, and as Dave said, it is only by a studied refusal to think about such things too deeply, that most of us manage to quieten the very same fears.

    I can only remind you of the solidarity of those folks sailing alongside you, in different boats, with different degrees of seaworthiness. You should’nt ever feel that you must endure 3am overwhelm, or fear, alone. You are’nt alone.

    You had a beginning, at your conception. You will have no end, and neither will any of us. That’s His promise, even if it feels like He’s abandoned you. Sometimes we forget he took on ‘utter abandonment’ himself.

    So do not be afraid 🙂

  5. Dave Smyth

    This is Very Nice…Didn’t know you did things like this. Very Nice…Thanks for writing it, fit a number of different things in my life.

    1. Thanks, Dave, for stopping in, reading and commenting. I find that, when we tell our truth, we find connection. Doesn’t seem to make it less scary, at times, to do so though. We just need to keep telling our truth. Maybe it will get easier as we commit to doing so?

  6. Pingback: Anger, violation and defeat | Beyond Life's Challenges

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