Living with a cancer afflicted parent — A Series — Part 26

A good night sleep

Image credit — Google images

The first thing I do these days after waking up in the morning is ask Dad, how was his sleep last night. His usual reply over the past few weeks has been, “Slept well. Woke up at around five or four to use the washroom. Then woke up at 6 to pray.” He sleeps by 11.30 pm. So, a good 6 hours. And that’s my green signal to begin the day with a sigh of relief.

Ever since I’ve returned home after my Master’s, making sure that Dad is able to sleep well through the night has been a priority. And that became even more important post his surgery. In the days following his return from the hospital, Dad would wake up after every 40 minutes at minute, due to pain or cough or some form of discomfort. So his natural sleep cycle was disturbed, and so was his stamina. The weariness of the night would stretch through the day, leaving him incapable to walk around much or stay alert.

But things starting improving as his cough receded. The stretch of two hours sleep came, which extended to three, five and eventually now has come to six.

As a kid, we’re always told the importance of good undisturbed sleep. As we start getting older, that sleep pattern massively gets wrecked, and timely sleep becomes a luxury. So much so, that when you hear someone getting to rest before midnight, it’s considered quite an achievement. The benefits of a good sleep are massive, and your day really does go well. You remain more active and more attentive.

I’ve realised this now in Dad’s case, that getting a good sleep is a harbinger of a productive day. He feels generally relaxed, not in any irritable mood, and looks forward to doing chores. He prepares a health breakfast for himself and us, plans to run errands, makes lists, texts people, fixes broken things in the house.

Every night when I tuck him in bed, after his nebulization, I’m satisfied that he’ll sleep well. It’s a comforting feeling that cannot be described. I make sure his blanket is warm, he’s breathing fine, the glass of water is covered, no phones near him, and that he’s close enough to Mom to hold her hand at night.

It reminds me of my childhood, when Dad would tuck me and my sister in bed during winters. He would puff up the pillows, tighten the blankets around us, rub vaseline on our chapped lips and dry cheeks, and leave a zero-watt bulb on so my sister wouldn’t be scared of the dark. I don’t think one can sleep better than that.

As I walk out, switching off my parents’ room’s lights, a sense of relief washes over me, knowing that he’ll be sleeping well tonight.

I’m yet to find such comfort in my sleep again.


Hi, I’m Mariyam, thank you for reading my post. This is part of my series on finding positivity and decoding the ‘be positive’ attitude as my father fights through aggressive oral cancer.

If you liked it, you can read other posts on http://mariyamrazahaider.com.

You can also follow me on twitter @MariyamRaza for more. Much love 🙂

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