Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Monday, January 22, 2018

$17,372.05

I take a small cocktail of medications to treat my depression. Today I received my year end summary from the insurance company that pays for my prescriptions. Seventeen thousand, three hundred seventy two dollars and five cents. That's how much my medications cost in 2017. While there are a couple of other pills represented in that amount, the vast majority of the total cost came from my depression meds. $17,372.05. It's a bit shocking.

Fortunately, I pay for insurance to cover the majority of that total cost, so I did not pay $17,372.05 out of pocket. My health insurance coverage, including medication coverage, is quite expensive. I pay over $600 per month, but this year end summary reminded me why I pay the hefty price. It also got me thinking. What would I do if I couldn't afford my insurance? I certainly would not be able to afford my medications, and then what would happen? It's frightening to think about.

I need my medications. Without them I would not be functional. In fact, I likely would not be alive without my meds. They are an integral piece of my overall health plan. I take care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually, and I take my medications. That's what works for me. I am grateful I can afford the coverage I have.

Having a chronic illness is expensive. I know there are people out there less fortunate than I. This year end summary made me think of them. I know some people don't even fill their prescriptions, or they are forced to use less effective medication options due to cost. Two of my meds are quite new and therefore quite expensive, but they work where others haven't. If I couldn't cover their cost, my depression would likely get the best of me. That's sad. And scary.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Just thinking out loud, I guess, and processing the cost of chronic illness. Affording my insurance coverage is constantly on my mind, especially when I miss even a few days of work. It's a stressor I have to control. It would be great if treating illness wasn't a financial burden, but I don't have any answers to this conundrum. I'll leave that to greater minds than mine.

Seventeen thousand, three hundred seventy two dollars and five cents. That's a lot of money. I pray I will continue to be able to afford my insurance coverage in 2018.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Time Away

I'm excited tonight. I just finished packing for a short weekend away from home. I'm going to be spending the weekend in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St.Paul) with some very close friends. I haven't done anything remotely resembling an outing for a long, long time, so I'm due.

It's a working weekend for my friends, but we're planning plenty of playtime, too. We'll be meeting a couple of other friends for dinner, going to an NHL game (Go Wild!), and enjoying some warmer weather for a change. I've got my running clothes packed, as I love to explore new places by going for a run. And I'll be home in time for my football team's championship game on Sunday evening. Go Vikings! I'm really looking forward to getting away.

This weekend couldn't have come at a better time. We've been in another long, deep freeze for the last week, so I've been cooped up inside too much. It's been a bit of a stressful week at work as well. I don't usually feel stressed, and I don't like it. I think spending time with friends and having fun will be the perfect antidote.

I'm looking forward to starting next week fresh and energized. I think this weekend will be a a great opportunity to reset. I'm planning on taking advantage of the opportunity. If I do, I'll go into next week with improved patience and a better attitude. Gotta keep things simple. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Time to call the Doc

One of my fears about returning to running was injury. Specifically, I was worried that my weak left leg would alter my gait, which could cause an injury somewhere else. And even though my left leg seems to have regained its strength, and even though I cannot detect a significant alteration in my gait or running form, I seemingly have an injury to my right knee. I think I may have torn my medial meniscus.

My knee has been sore off and on for about a month, worse after running, but not so sore that I can't run. In fact, it doesn't hurt when I'm running, and my running is going well. Unfortunately, there have been a few occasions, the day after a run, when my knee has painfully locked up. That's the sign of a meniscus tear. I've been able to manually mobilize my knee, free it up quickly, and go about my day each time. Good thing I'm a physical therapist.

I was hoping to nurse myself through this, or that somehow it would magically heal itself, but I guess it's time to call the doctor. If the meniscus is torn, it's a relatively simple arthroscopic procedure to fix it. I'd rather take care of it now before it gets worse or I cause myself another problem. However, as long as it doesn't hurt while running, and it doesn't feel like it is getting worse, I'm not planning to quit running. Maybe that's asking for trouble, but that's me being a runner.

I am planning to call my orthopedic doctor tomorrow. Hopefully he can take a look at me soon, and I guess we'll go from there. I'm a little frustrated, but like I said, this is hopefully a pretty minor injury which can be fixed. I'm still looking toward running a marathon again early this summer. That's my goal. I need that goal to keep moving forward. I want to make it all the way back. I need to make it all the way back. This, I hope, will only be a small bump in a long road.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

4 miles

The deep freeze finally relented yesterday. It actually hit the mid 30's yesterday and almost 40 degrees today, unheard of for Minnesota in January! Going from at least a week of many, many degrees below zero to almost 40 made it feel like July. I took advantage of the warm sunny afternoon yesterday and went for a run outside with Jet. It was a perfect opportunity.

Since I've been back running, I think I've only managed 2-3 miles on a couple of occasions, with most of my runs averaging far less than that. Since I was sick in December, I've felt sluggish and slow. On my last run prior to yesterday, I barely managed 2 x 1 mile at 10+ minute per mile pace. It felt really awful, and I was certain I was never going to run the way I wanted to again.

Well, I'm happy to report the narrative changed yesterday. Jet and I managed a 4 mile run; 3 continuous miles followed by a short walking break before I finished with another mile. It was still slow, but I didn't feel sluggish and heavy. I wasn't panting like an overweight dog. I felt like a runner again! Finally.

I know it's going to be a long, long road for me to get back to being a marathoner, but I'm so glad I finally got to feel my body working in concert again. It's a small step toward the ultimate goal. I'm not very patient when it comes to athletic endeavors, but I'm doing my best to hold onto encouragement rather than focus on what could be interpreted with discouragement instead. I ran 4 miles, 3 without stopping! This is a big deal!

The deep freeze is about to settle back into our little tropical paradise here, so I don't know when I'll get the opportunity to run outside again. And I'm never as good running on a treadmill. I hate the "dreadmill," but maybe I'll be surprised again when I next try it. One thing is for sure, I'll keep fighting. I'm not giving up. I will be a runner again.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy 2018, finally

So I was minding my business the other morning, New Year's Day morning to be exact, sipping my coffee and perusing my favorite websites, when I reached across the table and dumped my coffee onto my laptop. I've been sipping coffee while perusing the web every morning for years. More than once I've thought about the possibility of doing exactly what I did, but I never changed my behavior. Perhaps I'll change it now, as I've been without a computer for the better part of a week. So I'm wishing you all a Happy New Year just a few days late.

With my luck over the whole of 2017, I figured my laptop was ruined for sure. It was an inauspicious start to the new year. I quickly soaked up the coffee with one of my super absorbent dog towels and then took a blow dryer to the keyboard. Surprisingly, when I left for work a few minutes later, my computer was working. I thought maybe my luck had turned! Unfortunately, by the time I arrived home later in the day that was not the case. I couldn't sign in. My computer was toast.

But perhaps my luck has turned. I can in no way afford a new laptop, so I took my computer to a repair shop. Of all the possibilities, up to and including my computer being toast, the diagnosis was relatively simple. I just need a new keyboard! Cleaning up the coffee immediately and thoroughly saved the important inner workings. For once, I thought, something went my way!

I'm hoping this is a sign of bigger and better things to come. Maybe my luck will turn around this year. A coworker sent me a text just after midnight, New Year's Day. It was a picture of a sign which said, "I don't make resolutions. All I want is for 2018 to be better than 2017." She thought of me, she said. It's always nice to be thought of, and I couldn't agree more! Please, 2018, be better than 2017! That's what I'm working toward today. Happy 2018, my friends!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

12 Years

It's a big day today. Twelve years ago today I began my journey into recovery. I've been sober for 12 years. Wow. Writing that down...it's barely believable. I never thought I'd be sober this long. It's truly a miracle.

Twelve years ago I never could have imagined how tremendously my life would change as a result of getting sober. I don't know what I expected, probably a miserable life without my favorite coping mechanism, but that's not what sobriety reaped. I stopped medicating my depression, and my depression got better. I stopped spending my free time drinking, and all my time got better. I became a valued employee, a more faithful friend, a responsible patient, a more respectful daughter, and a compassionate person. Who knew sobriety could reap such rewards?

I feel very lucky and quite proud to be celebrating 12 years of sobriety today. I don't know why I "got it" when so many others haven't. Perhaps it's because I became teachable for the first time in my life. I did what was suggested and took it one day at a time. But I've seen others who appeared teachable, who appeared committed, who said the right things, and they didn't get it. Why me and not them? I don't know. I'm proud of the work I've done, but I feel lucky to be here 12 years later, nonetheless.

This is a big day. I'm grateful for the life I've created, a life which never would have been possible if I had continued drinking. I'm grateful for my job, my friends, my house, my dog. I'm grateful I can handle situations which used to baffle and confound me. I'm a contributing member of society today, and I'm proud of that.

Today I have choices. Addiction does not allow for choices. It also doesn't engender responsibility. I am responsible for creating the life I lead. I know that now. And it's a life I get to choose only because I am sober. That's a gift.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

2 hour nap

Perhaps it's because I've been sick the entire month. I'm tired. I returned to work this week, and it's been a long, busy week. By yesterday my brain and body were screaming for a nap prior to lunch time! Unfortunately, I didn't get that nap, but I just woke up from a two hour nap I enjoyed today. Like yesterday, my body was screaming at me to lie down. I love napping, but I'm not used to being so tired.

I am still recovering from my illness. It's now 24 days and counting since I got sick. I'm still coughing a bit, and I can talk, although not yet normally. I appreciated being well enough to go to work this week, but other than that I didn't get much done. My evenings were spent vegging rather than doing chores or exercising. But I allowed that to be okay.

I vowed to get some exercise this weekend. I ran a nice interval workout this morning on the Alter-G treadmill. I ran at 70% of my body weight for 50 minutes with five, 3-minute intervals. Although I felt good during my run, I may have been a bit too aggressive. The fatigue set in shortly after I finished. I was whipped! It was all I could do to eat some lunch and finish my laundry before I gave in and took my delightful 2 hour nap.

With Christmas on the horizon, I have a couple more days to heal and rest prior to returning to work. I have no plans for Christmas, which is okay, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me feel a little sad. It's a big family holiday, and I just don't have that. My brothers all have their own families with children, in-laws, and grandparents. My parents live in Florida. It will just be Jet and I for Christmas here. No worries, I've got a couple of movies to watch, a couple treats for Jet, and perhaps I'll take a couple more 2 hour naps.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, my friends.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

50? Really?

It's hard to imagine, but I'm still sick. I'm on my second antibiotic for severe bronchitis. I can't stop coughing, and I still can't talk, although I think I heard a squeak when I tried to say something earlier today. Maybe things are looking up.

It's also hard to imagine, but I'll be 50 years old in less than 48 hours. On Monday, December 18th, I'll turn 50. I really can't believe it. They say age is just a number. Well, that's not true. Trust me. I work with the most aged among us. I see it, and am beginning to feel it, on a daily basis. Things change as we age, and so far, I'm not a big fan. But I guess the alternative isn't all that great either, so I'm going to be 50 on Monday whether I like it or not.

This has been a rough year, so you'd think I'd be happy leaving 49 behind, but I'm not. Maybe it's because it's been a rough year that I'm not looking forward to this birthday. I don't feel like I accomplished any of the things I set out to do this year. Rather than jump out of an airplane with my niece, nephew and brother, earn plenty of money to get me out of the country in 2018, or run at least 2 scheduled marathons, I was either in the hospital or home recovering from one thing or another. I lost the most important thing to me, my health, and as a result my lifestyle, this year.

On the other hand, I survived a very rough year. My health is improving. I'm beginning to be able to run again. I still have a job. And I'm still here writing about all of it.

Perhaps I'm stronger than I thought. I dealt with a wide array of difficulties this year, some of which I never imagined would happen to me, but I dealt with them nonetheless. My mood is okay. I beat back the beast of depression twice and held it at bay countless times. I have amazing friends, wonderful coworkers, and very supportive professionals in my life. Those are relationships I cherish. I know I have much for which to be grateful. And I am.

I guess there is another way to look at this. My 50th year can only improve upon my 49th, so I have much to look forward to. And I have friends who insist life begins at 50. I have big plans, so I'll do my best to prove them correct.

Monday, December 11, 2017

11 days, still down

The sooner this year ends the better. Only in this year of weird health dramas (hello, blowing a disc coughing in bed??), only in this year would a routine viral illness, perhaps the flu, still have me down 11 days later with no end in sight! I've already missed 6 full days of work. I actually did make it to work today, but I couldn't do much, as I have not been able to talk for the last 5 days. That's right, I can only whisper, and when you work with geriatric adults, whispering doesn't get you very far. I am so incredibly frustrated!

I'm feeling a little better, physically, but still quite uncomfortable and tired. Not being able to talk, however, really sucks! It's costing me money in lost wages, and worse, it's very isolating. I'm stuck in my house, alone with Jet, and I'm unable to even phone my friends for support or idle chit chat. I've never been a big text messenger, but I guess I should start getting used to it. Like I said, it seems this illness has no resolution in sight.

I'm probably being melodramatic now. Chalk it up to exasperation. This year I've fought and clawed my way back from 2 debilitating, months-long bouts of depression, 5 hospitalizations, a major back injury, back surgery, a four month absence from work, and a 6 month absence from running. After losing a majority of the strength in my left leg and core, I was just getting back to feeling strong and whole again. And to top it all off, I'm a week away from my 50th birthday! This is not how I wanted to celebrate.

I apologize for my negativity. This is not the type of post I like to write, but I wrote it anyway. I'm human. I know this is a temporary condition. I just wish it would speed up and pass. My patience is wearing ever more thin. Words of  encouragement, or wisdom, will now happily be accepted.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Illness

I hate being sick, and boy have I been sick! For 6 days I've had a painful cough, congestion, and body aches. I've been unable to work, exercise, or even get out of my house. Today I can't talk. It's been really rough. I keep waiting for whatever this is, likely flu, to improve, but it just keeps hanging on and dragging me down. Enough already!

As a result of being sick and being stuck in the house, my mood has taken a little dip. I have way too much time on my hands. I have little to no energy to do anything with my time, yet I can only sleep so much. So here I am, bored, and tired, and feeling under the weather for the sixth day in a row. I'm not sure what to do with myself.

I hate what this prolonged illness is doing to my fitness and finances. Just as I was getting back up to speed in both areas this virus comes along and stops me in my tracks. I've missed 3.5 days of work and 6 days of exercise. Money and fitness flying out the window. Frustrating. I'm reminding myself this is temporary. I'll feel better soon. But I'm getting a little impatient. I hate being sick.



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