Sleeping Like a Baby

As I mentioned in my “Growing Old” post, there are many things that happen as you age that you are not warned about. We all know about the laugh lines, crows feet, and generally wrinkling up. Most of us are aware of the metabolism change resulting in the middle-aged paunch. As women, we know to start expecting hot flashes. We all joke about grandpa or grandma falling asleep in their easy chair.

Here’s what I didn’t know—sleep would also become a mysterious stranger. I have wondered over the last couple of years if I was under unknown stress that would wake me. Was I perhaps being awakened by a sound that I didn’t remember, but my mind woke me anyway. Maybe I was getting clinical insomnia.

Visiting a medical oncologist with irritating regularity still, one of the health forms I frequently fill out checks symptoms that could ail cancer/post-cancer patients. It asks about sleep patterns. I asked my doctor about it, figuring that it could be a side-effect of my medication. For the most part, it is not. Granted, my medication has an inconvenient effect of reducing an important female hormone that, when reduced, brings on aging effects. (I was going to say “aging symptoms” but they aren’t symptoms–they are the real dang thing!)

She also calmly and firmly reminded me that even though I am taking tamoxifen, that does not negate the fact that–like it or not–I AM (almost) 49, and the part and parcel that goes along with that is what I am experiencing. I’ve decided that rather than fighting it by denial, which I am prone to do, I am going to try healthy alternatives. I have recently upped my exercising. I am eating healthier. I am drinking less beer and coffee (both favorite beverages of mine). Something has to help!

At this time, I would like to point out something that resounds in my mind whenever I try a new anti-aging regime: It’s my mother’s voice calmly and humorously saying, “Oh, Julie … welcome to middle age.”

Dang it.

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Growing Old Gracefully

Hmm, maybe that title should be Growing Old Gracefully Medically?

I did warn you all that I am a middle-aged woman. I would love to say that life’s aches and pains are just a part of life and I try to not complain about them. But I do complain. It hurts. As part of my genetic make-up, I also find the humor in it. Like when my Cancer Friend Traci and I go off on the competitive “Who hurts more?” I do have to swallow my competitiveness because if we compare cancer battles, she wins hands down. I had Cancer Lite—the new and improved version. She had the old fashioned almost died, recovered, relapsed, damn-it-it’s-back, recovered, what-do-you-mean-this-ISN’T-“cancer”-if-she’s-still-so-sick?, relapsed, and (I think), remission. But she still has lots of battles due to all the treatments she has endured. But I digress—I was whining about my aches and pains. Let’s get back to that because this is my blog, I get to be selfish.

As young women, we all know menopause is coming and we can expect to gain weight, get some grey hair, actually lose track of tracking every 28 days, and get crow’s feet. What no one tells you is that it also uncomfortable. I imagine the same is true for men as they age.

I hurt. For no reason. Sometimes it feels like I just got done with a monstrous workout at a gym. Other times it is like the stiff muscles you have after a mild to moderate car accident. Sometimes the only time I don’t hurt is when I sleep.

So. There ya go. Whine whine whine.

Here’s the happy part (and no, it’s not the “just grateful I am alive” or “better than the alternative” stuff. Of course I am grateful. I am also a Christian, believing in the after-life, so I am okay with passing, too. I’d just prefer it later, rather than sooner)—the happy is because I think in my case, there might be a reprieve starting next summer.

Again, we women all know the aging is coming, but my not-even-to-Senior-Citizen age is not usually as painful and menopausal as I have been. My family all met for dinner last summer, and afterward three of us four daughters were talking. I complained about aging and feeling poorly, and the other two sisters both said they felt great and didn’t have the aches and pains I had. THEN I remembered—I am on medication that is “aging” me, as well as keeping me alive and cancer-free. Maybe, just maybe I will be given a few months’ or years’ break before all this sets in again.

This is my hope, and I am holding on to it. I am sure I’ll be sharing my post-medication pain-free life with you! Otherwise, grab some cheese—I’ll be whining.