Today I have an ultrasound, the latest in the list of tests to see why I’ve been plagued these sadistic night sweats over the past year.
I’ve tried changing every aspect of how I sleep – what I wear, how open the window is, taking different medications, avoiding different medications, different times for the heating to stop and start etc.
I was still waking up in the night to go through the routine – strip my clothes off, dry myself and my hair, put towels down on the bed, turn the duvet around, and try to go back to sleep.
If I was lucky I would only wake up once and have to do the routine, but often I’d wake up, do everything, go back to sleep and wake back up an hour later with all the towels re-soaked through. And then the next hour, and again…
The lack of sleep makes it hard to function without being grumpy or weepy and the washing loads were increasing to a crazy frequency, since I was firing through multiple towels a day.
I’d be so exhausted in the morning and seeing all the laundry would make me feel even worse, knowing if I missed a day I would now have at least another 4 towels to add into the mix.
I felt guilty my boyfriend had to put up with it every night when I’d wake up shivering, and stumble blindly to the bathroom looking for towels. Or talk me down when I’d woken up and felt like I was still somewhere else, slick with sweat and tears.
Anybody who suffers from bad night sweats or things that affect your sleep I feel for you because it really is miserable.
The doctor referred me to a haematologist who told me ‘usually by the time a patient gets to here, things have gotten visibly worse‘. Which is too disturbing to be comforting.
Then he palpitated parts of my body (with a force I wasn’t ready for, my God it was like someone trying to make my belly button kiss my spine) to rule out things like swollen lymph nodes. My lymph nodes were getting along fab.
He said night sweats are usually a sign that your body is fighting an infection whilst you sleep. This made sense to me, because I wasn’t getting hot flashes throughout the day. If anything I’m freezing all the time.
He told me sometimes people never get an answer about night sweats, sometimes they can be anxiety or stress, and they can stop as soon as they started. I tried to tell him with my eyes how tired I’d been for the past year and how unsatisfying that explanation is, even though I know it’s not his fault if he can’t tell me.
I started keeping a diary in the six weeks that I waited to see haematology, and there would be around 3 days every month where the night sweats would mysteriously stop, and around 7 days that were particularly bad.
I told my mum about the diary and she had a eureka moment, telling me I should try evening primrose oil.
I’d only been taking it for around 10 days by the time I seen the haematologist but I’d been having less nightmares and I wasn’t getting up so often to change the sheets. I showed him the diary in my notes too and he scrolled through it murmuring ‘….interesting….’.
If I was a doctor I would do that every appointment. I’d have a specific pair of glasses that I would put on for the express purpose of peering at people and saying ‘hmm yes….iiinnteresting….’. Maybe he does. Who knows.
He talked about having a CT scan and he said it was like having three hundred x-rays at once, which I can’t say I fancy.
So he booked me in for an ultrasound and 11 weeks later, here I go.