Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hot Flash News Flash

Did you get your cancer fighter Over The Hills team member t-shirt yet? Orders open for a very short time, all profits go to Breast Cancer Action. Details here.
Have I mentioned that Taxol, my current chemo drug, induces hot flashes and night sweats?

My hot flashes are generally mild. At any given moment, a heat wave rolls up my spine and my skin steams. I strip off extraneous clothing, my scarf and sweater and the sweater under that (okay, so I tend to be cold), and my hat, if I'm wearing one. A minute or two later, cool and dry again, I put everything back on.

Here's a weird thing: I've noticed that these internal heat waves arise at moments when I'm worrying about letting someone down. For instance, the phone rings and I don't have the energy to get off the couch. Hot flash. I tell my husband I'm not up for watching a movie after all. Hot flash. My dog looks at me with sad eyes when I won't give her a bite of my food. No no no, that doesn't do it. I'm not that much of a sucker.

In the months leading up to my divorce, I had massive night sweats, so much so that I'd wake up, night after night, soaked. I'd need to fetch towels to lay under and over me between the sheets, to create a little sandwich-oasis of dryness to get me through the remaining hours until morning. The day that marriage blew up, my night sweats ended. (Then again, it was a long while before I actually slept properly again, so maybe that has something to do with it.) But I didn't forget that experience, and, reading about Taxol, I hoped I wouldn't be revisiting it.

So far, it hasn't been so bad. I've managed to wake up in time to throw the blankets aside whenever a heat wave encroaches. Last night, however, I rode through so many waves it was like an all-night roller coaster. Luckily, the one time things got really steamy — while dreaming an argument with my mother — I was at the extreme edge of my side of the bed and J~ was curled at the edge of his. I aired myself out, shifted out of the damp spot into the middle of the bed, and went back to sleep.

I don't know if this will apply to the night sweats, but I do plan to keep noting what I'm thinking about when the daytime hot flashes hit. I didn't realize I was concerned so often about keeping everyone happy! I want to divest myself of that notion. Because, news flash, not only is it not my responsibility, it's simply not possible.

In normal life, I won't have this hypersensitive internal thermostat letting me know when stress hits. Better learn from it while I can.


Catherine said...

I know exactly what you mean. Before a hot flash strikes, I always feel anxious - even if for no reason. My heart gets going and I'm totally worried about whatever is in front of my nose. But now - having had these things for about six months, I've learnt to recognize the anxiety (and its cause). Hmm, I also get hot flashes when embarrassed. Maybe we're always on the brink, and little things can tip it over?

Shafeenaaz said...

cancer is a great teacher albeit one we could have done without!

IndigoSatin said...

The best to you Amy! I'm a 'breast cancer sister' (2009).