Of Fluttering Eyelids, Insomnia, and a Dose of Reality

Most people despise insomnia. I rather like it. Yes, I said “I like it.” There never seem to be enough hours in the day for me to do all the things I want and need to do. For most of my life I have been the most productive during the still and quiet times of the night. It’s as if my creative switch jumps into turbo mode and I find the need to heed its call. When my body says “hell no” my mind persists until I fling my legs over the side of the bed and shuffle off to my office in the dark. Sometimes I am rewarded with a moment of brilliance. At others I simply stare and curse at my inability to lasso all the free-ranging thoughts and ideas that inflict bruise marks upon my brain.

This past few weeks I have had many of those sleepless episodes. When I view it with logic I attribute it to the need for a bit of overtime to make up for all those unproductive post-op days. I know my body needs the rest and I will still grab several hours even at my worse, but I have photos to edit, code to write, blogging to catch up on, and jewelry to design.

When I allow myself to ease into my emotions I realize it’s all just smoke and mirrors. Time is short. We don’t have forever to make a contribution to this world. My insomnia is my mind’s way of reminding me that all our days are numbered. The dark, vacuous expanse of the night forces me to hear my own thoughts after the noise pollution from my day has finally been silenced. It’s like viewing a full-frontal image of a life not yet fully well-lived. Parts of it are crumbling, parts of it have already died. All the promise of youth; the dreams, the aspirations, the convictions. Some of them accomplished, a few of them long forgotten. Some of them never to be revisited again. They now stare blank faced and wrinkled before me. Energy expended. Searching for the reserves. Is that really all it is? A constant struggle to remake oneself and whittle the vision down into tiny little achievable pieces until the very end?

A little more than five weeks have passed since the Curettage and Electrodessication surgery to remove the skin cancer on my back and it has been four weeks since the Mohs surgery removed the cancer on my face. My body is healing well with a few exceptions. My energy level has not been the same but I attribute that to my body’s need to call on all reserves in order to heal itself. I suffered nausea and headaches for the first week and a half following my Mohs surgery but that has thankfully subsided to a day here and there. My back is still a bit tender as the new skin grows in to cover the hole left by the removal and I suffered a large rash around the area during the time I had to use bandages to cover the hole. Thankfully the rash is drying up. But I now have another curious growth below the scar that seems to be yet another Basal Cell (sigh). But the bruising and swelling around my eye that left me looking like a prize fighter or one badass hockey player is now only a dime-sized black and blue mark near my cheekbone.

The newest post-op symptom to arise is one that is driving me completely crazy. My upper eyelid has decided to flutter uncontrollably for the better part of every day, especially when I am attempting to get work done in front of my computer. It makes everything look like one of those flip book movies It doesn’t surprise me in that the surgeries (both the Mohs removal and reconstruction) took place on the Medial Canthus of the same eyelid. There are a number of nerves, muscles and vessels that pass through that area and my eye is working overtime to adjust to the trauma of the surgery itself. Fortunately the surgeon who did my reconstruction is an Opthalmologist and I have another follow-up appointment with him in three weeks. If the fluttering is still there at that time, he will be the best one to inquire about it.

Although I am not one to regularly kneel at the alter of vanity, my Oculoplastics surgeon did an amazing job of sealing the site. It looks like I will have a barely visible scar that gets covered for the most part by my eyeglasses. The scarring on my back is another story but the only time that area is shown in public is if I don a bathing suit and go lap swimming. And these days that is a very rare occasion indeed due to my need to stay out of the sun.

I am a realist at heart. I love all my friends who live in the world of a glass half full and who tend not to dwell on any possibility that doesn’t fall into the category of positive thinking. I prefer to pause at that half full mark more often than not, but in the case of skin cancer I know it is a chronic condition and I am bound to have more lesions arise over time. The DNA damage was done during my careless and clueless younger years and I am just now reaping the “benefits” of all those poor decisions. It’s not an illusion or a conjuring up of bad things that are now bound to happen because of negative thought processes. This is my reality but I feel prepared. I am definitely more cognizant of what to watch for in order to catch things as quickly as possible should they arise. I have developed a great relationship with a group of wonderful doctors who are looking out for my health and are ready to conquer any new demons when they arise. I feel blessed that I wasn’t handed the diagnosis of Melanoma and happy that my tumors were caught in time before further damage was done.

The next step in my journey will be the Flourouracil treatment (topical chemotherapy) on my face, and later my chest. I am stalling a bit in regards to the start date of this treatment. I know it will be extremely uncomfortable at best and absolutely horrible at its worst. My skin is very sensitive and my Dermatologist says I have a lot of spots on my face that he is concerned about, so I have the feeling my experience with Flourouracil will not be a pleasant gourmet Sunday picnic.

I am taking this time during my healing from the surgeries to catch up on a bunch of projects and basically get everything in order for the four plus weeks I will be dealing with the Flourouracil treatment. I am not expecting it to be a whole lot of fun, but at least it will mark the end of a very long and trying year.

About tracyth76

I am a professional photographer, obsessed iPhoneographer, freelance writer and website designer located in Northern, California. View all posts by tracyth76

3 responses to “Of Fluttering Eyelids, Insomnia, and a Dose of Reality

  • Madgew

    So sorry you are going through all this. Hopefully, the new little thing will not be a basal cell but just an area hurt by surgery. Also, I wear a rash guard to swim since I started exercising in the pool. I wear a hat, sun screen and the rash guard. Only my legs under the water are not protected except with sun screen. I heed all your warnings. My sister has done so many facial treatments and each one keeps her at home for only a few days and when the worse is over she goes out with a hat. And sunglasses. Looks bad and hurts for some time but her skin does look better when it was all done. She has done all sorts of treatments and finally I think she is finally clear of pre cancer stuff.

  • Alice Keys

    I also enjoy regular insomnia. I have even gotten into the habit of going to bed a bit earlier to encourage more insomnia. I get my best work done on the days I get up at four.

    I used to fret about insomnia. Now I rush to it with welcoming arms and get to work.

    Nicely written post. Great pictures. Thanks.

    Have a great weekend.


  • brosen2014

    Hope your healing is continuing to go well. I can totally understand how you feel about Flourouracil. I used it on my face and neck and hardly got any response, but because of that, ended up using imiquimod and got the reaction that I’m sure you’re expecting from Flourouracil…not fun. Hang in there…it will soon be over. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

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