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!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

8 years


Yesterday, December 28th, I officially hit 8 years of sober living. I haven't found it necessary to take a drink of alcohol since December 28, 2005. That, my friends, is a miracle! And I am profoundly grateful today. Despite all the pain this journey has sometimes entailed, I wouldn't give up my sobriety to change a moment of it. I am humbled by the assistance, guidance, and love I have received over these past eight years by my friends in recovery. I would not be sober, nor alive, today without the people around me or my recovery program. Living in the moment, one day at a time, and taking the next right action are all recovery principals which guide me through my days, whether they be good days filled with friends and love or bad days consumed by depression and isolation. By using the principals I've learned in sobriety I've stayed alive and functional. I'd be dead today had I not gotten sober. It's that simple. I pray for those still out there, still suffering, and hope they, too, find a way to a much better life. Eight years... I'm humbled. Wow.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Uneasy

When you've been in and out of the hospital five times in less than 90 days, and experienced depths of despair never before thought possible, and when previous successful treatments failed to relieve the pain, what do you do when you wake up feeling low, lethargic, and unmotivated? Of course, I am the person who's been in and out of the hospital, experienced the despair, and went through the failed treatments. And I am the one who woke up this morning with that uneasy feeling of a do-over right around the corner. What to do? What to do?

It's difficult not to be frightened by the slightest dip in my mood right now. It's difficult to ignore that uneasy feeling. You know the one, that feeling in the pit of your stomach that some thing's just a bit off. It's the same feeling you've had many times before, right before a crash. I tried to explain that feeling to my friend and my doctor's nurse today, but if you've dealt with depression, I'm betting no explanation is necessary. I'm trying not to put too much stock in the feelings, acknowledge them and move on, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.

I awoke feeling low. Low is okay. I can deal with low without much thought or concern. But low combined with the lethargy, fatigue, and lack of motivation to do anything other than pull the covers over my head? That, my friends, is a different story. I'd like to know how you deal with it? I'm just coming out of this dark, soul-sucking, hopeless abyss. The last thing I want to feel now is how I'm feeling today.

Likely my feelings today mean nothing. Healing is not linear. I know that. It's likely just another day in my recovery process, and that's what I'm hanging onto right now. I've acknowledged the feelings. I've noted the dread surrounding the feelings. I took the next right action anyway. I went to my appointment, ran my errand, and even accomplished my scheduled run. None of it came easily. Each task required a conscious decision and an effort not normally necessary for such tasks. I'm glad I pushed through, but I pray tomorrow I won't have to.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Still Going

It's been one week since I stepped out of the inpatient mental health unit after my most recent 10-day stay. It was the end of my fifth admission since September 30th, 2013. So far it doesn't look like I'll be going back anytime soon. Of course, as soon as I typed that sentence, my heart skipped a beat. Obviously recent history is not on my side, but so far I'm doing okay.

I've been keeping busy with exercise, running, AA meetings, errands and chores. I'm taking my meds and keeping all of my appointments. I've also continued to stay overnight with my friend Wendy as needed, which has been most nights. And like I said, so far it's been enough. I've maintained my mood, my energy level has been okay, and my thoughts have not been distressing. Busy has been good for me.

In other news, it's the holidays, which I know can be very difficult for many with mental illness. I was a little worried myself, but I finalized some plans tonight so I'll be around others for at least a part of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I didn't want to be alone. Usually I'm okay being alone, but I didn't want to push my luck right now. On top of Christmas, I also had a birthday a few days ago, and my sobriety anniversary is between Christmas and New Year's Day. It's a busy time with a lot of loaded "holidays" for me, but I'm still going.

I think I'm still going because I'm endeavoring to take only one moment at a time. I'm doing my best to take the next right action. When I'm tired, I nap. When I'm hungry, I eat, and I'm trying to eat well. When I'm lonely, I search out someone with whom to connect. And when my mood or emotions feel iffy, I talk to someone. I'm trying to stay focused on the things I can control and not worry about everything else. It's been hard not to get frightened when I've felt sad, for example, but by acknowledging the sadness and the fright, I've been able to keep moving forward.

I hope you are all able to keep moving forward through these next few days, too. I wish you all the peace, serenity, and happiness we each deserve during these holidays and into the new year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Busy Business

I have discovered that when one is away from home for 10+ days, there were a lot of things awaiting completion once I returned home. I've been a bit overwhelmed with the amount of items on my to-do list. Just opening my mail required half of an afternoon! And some of it is still sitting on my counter waiting to be filed or addressed. It seems every task results in two or three additional tasks. The more items I cross off my list, the more items I add! Yikes! I'm not sure I'll ever catch up.

It may sound like it, but I'm not complaining. I may be overwhelmed, but I'm overwhelmed at home! And that is an improvement. So far I'm doing fairly well. I've been spending my days at home, running errands, completing paperwork, paying bills, and running! My late evenings and overnights are still being spent 20 minutes away at my friend Wendy's home. It's a lot of traveling back and forth for Jet and I, but it is still the safest option, and I think being around others, especially at night, helps maintain my mood. It is what it is, and so far it's working.

I mentioned running. I ran the last 3 days in a row, and I have a long run, 10 miles, on my schedule for tomorrow. I'm officially in my first week of training for the Boston Marathon. My runs of 5, 4, and 3 miles have all been tough with 10 extra pounds on my frame, so I'm not sure what to expect tomorrow. I think I'll run two 5 mile loops just in case I'm not yet up to the task of ten. It may not be easy or pretty, but I'm happy to be out on the road. I'll try to be patient.

That's all for now, friends. I've got this to-do list staring at me. Thank you all for the support I received from you over these last three months. It's hard to believe I felt that bad for that long, but I'm hopeful the worst is past. That's all I can do, right? Keep the faith. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow will hopefully be better days.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rumination

It is the middle of the night. I awoke around 3:30 AM, and it is now 4:35 AM. I've been ruminating. Ruminating, in case you were unaware, is not conducive to sleep. Even Jet is looking at me with tired eyes, not bothering to get up, wondering what the hell I'm doing. I'm ruminating. Writing, I hope, will be the cure.

I got out of the hospital yesterday morning. It was snowing beautiful, fluffy snow, as it had been all morning. I went home briefly, tried to start my snowblower, but despite long distance help from my step-father via texted photos and phone calls, I had no luck. I pulled the snowblower back in the garage and ran off to my AA meeting instead. I thought a little wisdom and serenity time couldn't hurt so soon after discharge. It didn't.

Returning home, and after multiple attempts to start the snow blower, my friend Taylor arrived and started it for me. I now know the trick. Shouldn't be a problem from here on out. Taylor had arrived to return my mail. He kept an eye on my house and collected my mail over the last 10 days. It took me a few days, mail undoubtedly piling up in my mailbox and house appearing very empty, but I finally called Taylor from the hospital and asked for his assistance. He seemed genuinely pleased to be asked and took care of things for me. As a result, I didn't have to worry about my house while I was in the hospital. I guess that's what friends do for each other, huh?

I'm at my friend Wendy's house right now. After clearing the snow from my driveway and sidewalks, unpacking from my hospital stay, and organizing a few overdue projects in my house, I came here last evening to spend the night. Wendy and her family took good care of Jet while I was gone, and he and I had a delightful reunion. We took a cold, snowy walk under the full moon together, in order to release some of his excitement, and I didn't mind one bit. It was also nice to be back in Wendy's home with her active family. Normalcy felt good.

I've got some busy days ahead. I will have an 1.5 hour intake in a few hours for the outpatient mood disorders program I referred to a couple days ago. If the intake goes well, I will be beginning an eight hour per day, two week, intensive outpatient program at some point in the near future. That should keep me very busy, and structured, for awhile. The structure will be good, although I am a bit concerned about it being too much. I hope I can keep up with the rest of my life while participating.

That pretty much covers my rumination for now. I'm going to try to get a little bit of sleep before dawn. I need sleep or I don't function terribly well. It's nice to be here, typing from a bedroom rather than from an inpatient psychiatry unit. I'm going to do my best to make this recent admission my last admission and get back to my life. As usual, I'll let you know how that goes.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Moving Forward

Things are looking up. I am cautiously optimistic. I even feel hopeful today. I am feeling better. My brain is still ill, but it seems to be healing. My mood is good. My energy has maintained at a reasonable level. And my broken brain is sending fewer ill thoughts out to bang around inside my skull. Things are looking up.

The current plan is to leave the hospital on Monday. I feel well enough to leave today, but the treatment team did not want me to leave on a weekend. Leaving on Monday means there are five full days in front of me where hospitals, clinics, and other services are open with professionals working in case I have a need. That makes sense, and I agree it is a safer, more clinically sound decision than leaving on a weekend would have been. I am looking forward to going home Monday.

Unfortunately, I will be going home, and that is about it. I attempted to get into a daily, outpatient, intensive mood program, but I was unable to do so. Instead, I will have to fill my days with AA meetings, running, occasional outpatient appointments, getting together with friends, blogging, and I'm not sure what else. I am a little nervous about the lack of structure, but I am optimistic things will work out. I have a very thorough safety plan in place, and I feel better now than I have since September. I'm relieved.

Again, I will mention how fortunate I am to have so many caring people surrounding me. I will leave some of them here, amazing and compassionate nurses on this unit, but they have helped instill in me the confidence to move forward. I will spend the evenings and overnights with my friend, Wendy. I won't be home alone during what has been my most vulnerable time. I have appointments set up with my psychiatrist, my therapist, my social worker, and a new med-managing nurse. We put the med-managing nurse in place so I won't have any of my extra medications in my possession. I will only have a one week supply of meds at home. It's part of my safety plan. I think I'm ready to go.

I'm moving forward, and I feel good about that. I pray I will not falter once outside the walls of this inpatient unit. I pray I will hang onto the gains I've made, and my mood will remain at a functional, even healthy, happy level. I'm doing everything I'm being asked to do in hopes of success. I'm so relieved to be feeling better and heading home. Forward. It's a nice direction in which to be heading.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gratitude Today

While I am still in the hospital receiving more assistance with this episode of depression, I wanted to use this post to focus on my gratitude. I am grateful for my doctor. I am feeling a little more hopeful because the new medication my intelligent and compassionate psychiatrist added last week seems to be doing the trick. My thinking has mellowed. Perhaps my broken brain is beginning to be bandaged.

I am grateful for my social worker who is nothing short of amazing. She assisted me with a very important appointment yesterday, an event I never could have undertaken myself. And she does that for me routinely! I seriously don't know how I would get by without her.

I am grateful for the nursing staff on this mental health unit. They, without a thought, continue to be so helpful and empathetic, it often amazes me. No matter my mood; sad, cranky, irritable, or filled with despair, they have kind words to offer, plans for improvement, and a gentleness that encourages me no matter how discouraged I may be. They make a difficult job look easy.

I am grateful for my friends, especially my friend, Wendy, who is also nothing short of amazing. Despite my faulty Minnesota attitude of, "I can do this by myself, thank you very much," she has continued to assist me, even when I haven't made assisting me very easy. Wendy has helped me with everything from emergency room visits to housing. She is currently taking care of my dog, Jet, who can be a handful to say the least. All of my friends, even my co-workers, have offered non-judgemental and heartfelt support. I am fortunate to be surrounded by such individuals.

Finally, I want to thank all of you. Again. Without your readership, comments, and now donations (14 donations from all over the world), I don't know that I'd still be willing or motivated to keep moving forward. You may not believe this, but you guys do keep me going. I am humbled by your continued support. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Today, I choose to focus on gratitude. I have plenty of problems on which I could choose to focus, but I find my heart filled with hope and peace by focusing on what I have instead. I am one lucky woman. Many in this world have hardships far beyond anything I've ever faced. I have a nasty, chronic, challenging illness, but I have so much more than that. Gratitude today. That's where I'm at. Thank you, God. Thank you, everyone.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Readmitted

I am back within the confines of my local mental health hospital. I was re-hospitalized yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, though my mood seems somewhat improved, and I've even had a bit more energy to expend, my thinking is off the rails. My brain is broken.

I don't have a lot more to report today. To say I am discouraged is a massive understatement. I am so discouraged and depleted right now. I know this episode has to eventually pass. I know it can't last forever. But the depths of and length of this bout of depression has been beyond anything I've experienced in the past. I am praying for resolution. I am praying to hang on until I am returned from the abyss and able to resume my life once again. Keep moving forward with me, my friends. And thank you for your continued support.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Asking for Help

Why is it so difficult to ask for help? I know I am not the only one who finds the prospect of asking others for assistance distasteful. In fact, I grew up in a region of the country, among a nationality of people, who are known for, "No, no, I'm okay. Everything is fine." Meanwhile the barn is burning down behind them. (Anyone out there listen to Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion? He's not making up that attitude!) The point is, asking others for help is not one of my strengths.

Unfortunately for me, despite my distaste for needing assistance from others, I am now in a position where I need help. Despite my best efforts, this depression episode has me in a precarious financial position. My financial reality is grim. My first hospital admission was September 30, 2013. I have not worked one hour since then. Unfortunately, as of November 1st, both my accrued vacation time and my employer-provided disability benefit were exhausted. In other words, I no longer receive a paycheck. I have been without an income for five weeks, and that is not going to change any time soon.

Let me tell you a little about myself. I am a very proud woman. I value taking care of myself financially. I have an almost perfect credit score, do not use credit cards, and have rarely, if ever, been late paying a bill. Unfortunately, I do have debt. My house, my vehicle, student loans, healthcare loans, Jet's surgery loan, as well as normal household bills keep me on my toes. Fortunately, I do have a small amount of money saved. Rather than use it for the new garage siding for which it was intended, I am now using it to pay my monthly bills. Soon, my pride will be tested, as all of my financial accounts hit zero.

Since it looks like I may not be returning to work soon, my social worker and I have begun the 3-4 month process of applying for social security disability. Whether or not I will be approved is any body's guess. I am trying to remain calm, to stay in today, but my stress as I look into the future has begun to climb. And this is why and where I need to ask for help.

Despite my value of financial independence, I have placed a donation link on my blog today. The link will take you to PayPal, and a donation in any amount can be made. If you are interested in helping out, I will humbly accept your good will. I will use the donations to pay my bills. That's it. Every dollar received will go toward keeping me in my house with the heat on and the lights glowing,  supplying groceries to eat, and paying my healthcare bills. I will be seeking deferments of my loans, but most of my bills simply must be paid, or I will lose what I've worked so hard to gain.

Placing a donation link on my blog was an extremely difficult decision to make, and I likely would not have done it without significant encouragement from those closest to me. But now it's done, and as I said, should you choose to use it, I will graciously and humbly accept your assistance during this difficult time. I thank all of you for taking time out of your day to read, comment on, and support me through my little blog. My gratitude is enormous.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Filling the Hole

Yesterday was a strange day. I awoke feeling low, but I went to my AA meeting anyway. Perhaps that was a mistake, as I felt incredibly alone in that room full of people. On top of that, I had a discussion focused on how I used to use alcohol to fill the emptiness I used to feel, and how sobriety filled that hole, only to realize, as I walked out of the building, that I felt familiarly empty. I felt an aching hole in my heart, and I entered my vehicle in tears.

I drove home, even though I knew it was probably going to be very difficult, and perhaps unsafe, to be alone. A better decision would have been to turn right instead of left and drive to my friend Wendy's house. Alas, I made the decision to return home, and it was tough. The ache inside did not abate. There was a hole in my heart.

That incessant ache, usually a knock-out punch whenever I feel it, yesterday got me moving instead. I found a music station on my DirectTV, called Reality Bites, which appropriately plays some head-banging, angry music. I could not have turned it up much louder! With that as my background, I set about to clean my house. It hadn't been really cleaned since I first entered the hospital almost 8 weeks ago. And I got it done.

I thought I would take a nap after cleaning for 3 hours, but the combination of beautiful, sunny weather and heart-pounding music motivated me to put on my running clothes rather than my bed clothes. I was tired, my mood was low, my motivation to actually run even lower, but out the door I went anyway.

I ran. After 1.2 miles, my legs were complaining, and I wanted to stop. I kept going instead. Negative depression-related thoughts randomly bounced around my sick brain, but I kept running. Labored breathing and breathlessness made me want to give up. I'm not used to breathlessness. But I kept running instead. At 4 miles, I had the option of turning for home, about 1.5 miles away, or continuing around a small lake. Initially, I turned toward home, but I changed my mind and ran around the lake instead. Tired, breathless, and pleased, I arrived home with 8.25 miles under my belt.

Like I said, it was a strange day, filled with wildly divergent feelings and a variety of distracting activities, and I did end up driving to my friend Wendy's home after my run, as my brain quickly resumed it's sickness, but in the end, that aching, empty, hole was filled. I'm grateful for that.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Some days are hard

Isn't that title a glorious understatement? Some days are hard. With depression, especially my current episode, which I believe is now entering its eighth week, a lot of days are hard. I've been out of the hospital for almost seven days now, and I'd say five of the seven days have been extremely difficult. Today is no exception. Depression sucks. And I am so tired of it!

It's been almost one week since I stepped to the other side of those inpatient doors with an energetic step, a smile on my face, and hope in my heart. Instead, I've been battling the battle of illness all over again. I am so tired of depression. My brain is so broken. I thought it was fixed, but that temporary repair appears to have failed quite quickly. I've been following the plan. Now what do I do?

I've been attending all of my appointments. I'm participating in a daily, afternoon, outpatient transitional program. I'm taking my medications as prescribed. I'm talking with my treatment team members on an almost daily basis. I'm exercising when my tired body allows it. Today, for example, I was able to run 5 miles. Amazing. Yet my brain seems not to notice, or care, or positively adjust. Broken, it remains.

My broken brain... It seems to be back in control. I am pervasively sad. I feel discouraged, dejected and hopeless. Random, negative, violent thoughts bound about inside my skull. Changing clothes is a chore. Grooming hardly seems worth it. Performing household chores is virtually impossible. Eating? Thank God for yogurt and cold cereal. I am once again debilitated by depression. I'm so tired. I fear this illness will never let me go.

Today was a decent day, yet the sadness, lethargy, and scary thoughts never left. This mental and physical fatigue wears me down. I am not celebrating Thanksgiving with others today. I do have plenty for which to be grateful, but I do not have the energy to smile, chit chat, and mingle. I fear the energy required to do so would set me back for days. Instead, I ran today. That was a huge success. And that will have to be enough. After all, I'd like to be able to get out of bed tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. With depression, some days are hard. My prayer for you is that today is not one of them. I hope you all have happy, energetic, easy days!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Home Alone with Feelings

I left the hospital mid-day Friday. My mother picked me up. I ended up getting the blessing of my psychiatrist, especially after she became aware my mother would be with me most of the weekend. My mom and I did spend most of the past couple of days together, which was intermittently wonderful and irritating. I really appreciate quiet, and my mom was a bit chatty. But I shouldn't complain. It was very nice to have her here. I wouldn't have felt comfortable coming home to an empty house on Friday.

My mom was actually incredible. I'm so grateful she was here for me. She was so supportive. She took 18 days out of her life to live at my house, take care of my dog, spend her own money on and worry about me. For the last 48 hours, I thanked her every chance I got. And despite typically not saying so, I had no trouble telling her I loved her when I dropped her off at the airport today. She smiled, told me she loved me, too, and we parted ways.

I have to say I am a little sad being home alone. I battled familiar, negative, dark thoughts this afternoon shortly after returning home. That was discouraging. I felt so low at one point I sobbed. Jet, my dog, didn't care for that. He immediately arrived at my side and licked the tears from my face. Such a good boy, he really did comfort me.

The rest of the afternoon has been tough as well. I've struggled with sadness, hopelessness, and despair. It is discouraging to feel the familiar, sometimes frightening feelings I thought were behind me. I'm attempting to let them pass through me without weighing me down. And I'm trying to remember healing is not always a linear process. But I want to feel better. I don't want to fail. I want so badly to just be okay. I'm praying for less struggle and more harmony from this point forward.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Still improving, but...

I'm happy to report I am still improving and feeling better. In fact, we are currently in the process of deciding if I should go home from the hospital tomorrow. I really want to go, and I think I can handle it. My mom is in town until Sunday, so it would be nice to go home and spend a couple of days with her. Not to mention the fact that it would be nice to go home to a house that is not empty. I feel like I am ready.

I feel ready, but of course I am nervous and a little unsure. I mean this is my fourth hospital admission in the past 6 or 7 weeks. I don't want to come back in again, and I certainly don't want my mood to decline at all!

I'm actually a little more anxious about leaving this evening than I was just a few hours ago when it was almost a certainty I was going. I just learned two of my regular outpatient treatment team members, including my psychiatrist, are concerned about me leaving. They are especially concerned that I will be going on a Friday because there are few, if any, supportive services over the weekend. So they are concerned.

I don't exactly know why that increases my level of anxiety, but it does. I'm now near tears wondering what I should do. I want to go home so badly, but I don't want something to happen and end up disappointing anyone. I value and respect the opinions of my treatment team members. I'd hate to disappoint them. Yet I want to go home, and I think I'll be okay, but there is always a possibility I won't. I do have my weekend days generally planned in order to decrease the risk of getting overwhelmed, scared, or anxious. But this is an illness, after all. I only have so much control.

I'm happy to report I am still improving and feeling better. I'm discouraged to report I may not return home tomorrow, despite really, really wanting to go. At this moment, I'm not sure what I will do. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guess What?

I am so fortunate to have so many people pulling for me, cheering me on, visiting me, and supporting me in many, many ways. I am filled with gratitude tonight for all of you. Thank you. And guess what? I'm feeling better!

My mood has lightened slightly. I have more energy. I'm sarcastic again, which is always a good sign, and sometimes the first sign that I'm feeling better. In the past two days I've been told by my treatment team, nurses, friends, and family that I'm looking and acting more like the etta they all know. Apparently, and of course I have no memory of this, I was almost catatonic all the way up through last week. I had no idea!

Since the last day of September I was apparently a blank, slumped, slow slate. I've been told I made little to no eye contact, had no opinions about anything, moved very, very slowly, expressed my limited thoughts very slowly, and showed no emotion of any kind on my face. Now I'm making eye contact, having and expressing opinions and humor, and moving and speaking at a more normal speed. I feel lighter.

It's weird and frustrating having no concept of what people are telling me about my very recent history. I wish I had a picture or a videotape, because I just can't imagine it. Regardless, I am relieved to be feeling somewhat improved. I'm certainly not out of the woods, but I think I may have at least found the trail. Thank you all again for your continued support. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What more can I say?

As of Thursday evening, I once again became a hospital inpatient. I was admitted after I became aware of an increase in my suicidality. I hate to write that, because I know many of you come here looking for hope and life. But my reality right now contains little hope. Unfortunately, my reality is filled with scary thoughts, which I no longer find scary (and that is alarming), regarding hopelessness and suicide. My mood is low. My concentration and memory make simple daily tasks challenging. My energy has been lost. Things are tough. I'm in the right place.

I'm not sure how much more I have to say. Posting here requires brain power and energy, both of which are currently in short supply. One more thing I can say, however, is despite this monstrous and debilitating illness, I am fortunate. I am fortunate to be in a therapeutic place with expert and compassionate staff. I am fortunate to have supportive friends and family. My mother changed her flight home so that she will remain here for at least one more week in order to assist me. My friends, Wendy and Tiffany, visited yesterday morning and we laughed out loud together for the better part of two hours. That is the first, and only time I've laughed, I think, in more weeks than I can count. So there are a few things worth my gratitude. In these moments of despair, I am working to remember I still have fortune mingling among the pain. And I pray the pain subsides sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Sick One

I'm getting tired of pleading for help and support. That may seem like a strange thing to say, and maybe it is, but I'm tired of begging for help and support. I'm tired of needing other people in order to perform basic daily functions. I'm tired of being sick. I'm tired of having sick thoughts, lower than low moods, and a crippling lack of energy. I want to function again. I want to regain my energy, motivation and independence. I don't want to be ill any longer.

I'm so tired of being the sick one among my friends and colleagues. I worry I will wear others down. In no time at all I could be alone in the crowd. And who could blame any of them? I'm wiped out from living in this body and struggling with my brain. It's got to be exhausting for those around me, those forced to deal with my sick brain. My distorted thoughts, my inability to take meaningful action, my confusion and memory loss, my lethargy and fatigue; at some point, even my closest friends have got to throw in the towel. And I won't blame them. I'm expecting it. It's just a matter of when.

I'm tired of being the sick one; the one who can't work and risks losing her beloved job, the one who can't decipher her finances or settle her debts without motherly oversight, the one losing fitness and adding pounds as a result of lethargy and indifference, the one whose life has gradually become unrecognizable and difficult to navigate with any sort of grace. I'm tired of being the sick one.

And I'm tired of complaining, which is all I've done with this post, so it's time to end it now. I pray for relief. I pray for friends and colleagues with incredible stamina. I pray for the tolerance to accept and deal with whatever comes my way, to no longer identify as the sick one. And I pray for the strength and resilience to conquer this illness, to crush it, to free myself from that which binds, and to come through unfettered and healthier on the other side. Thank you for praying with me. Someday, the sick one I will no longer be.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Road is Rough

I apologize for the delay in posting this week. The road has been rough. I've been overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness, saddled with dark, disturbing thoughts, handicapped by the energy of a sloth, and stupefied with delayed mentation. I've been evaluated and reevaluated on a daily basis by multiple professionals, all of whom expressed concern over the level of my despair. Things have been almost unbelievably difficult, yet here I am. Life goes on.

At the request of a couple professionals, my mother flew in to stay with me after I was released from the hospital last week. She is here to help out and to keep me safe. She is assisting me with reintegrating into life, as my brain is severely disabled in the aftermath of ECT treatments, and possibly simply as a complication of the depression. I literally could not be more stupid! I cannot remember anything!

I feel like I've been dropped into my world without the benefit of any historical perspective. I cannot remember when or how many times I've been hospitalized over the past 4 weeks (3 times). I could not remember the fact that Jet had surgery on his elbow approximately two months ago. I can't remember race results which have previously been second nature. Heck, I can't even remember running most of the races I ran this past summer! I'm clueless, and it sucks! I have to ask my mom or my friends for every detail of my recent past, and even after they inform me, the details often remain totally unfamiliar. It is frustrating, unsettling, and bewildering. I hate it.

I do not wish this level of depression on anyone. Someone asked me the other day if I wanted to die. I've determined that I don't care anymore, but I won't take my life, as I care enough about the others around me that I would not want to bring them such hurt. My thinking, however, pulls me in that direction. I am using what little energy I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and move in the direction of life instead.

I appreciate your time here, dear readers. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Your recent comments are so appreciated. I am humbled by your words. Thank you all so much. You all help me more than you can or will ever know. Thank you. I only hope I am able to impart a tiny bit of wisdom somewhere within this pain. At least then there might be some purpose. I can only hope. Until next time, my friends, I'll keep on keeping on as best I can. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Suffering

I am in an unusual space. Depression has tunneled me to depths previously unimaginable, to the point where I am having trouble identifiying any point to continuing. I don't usually write things like this. I try to maintain a little more optimism, even in the face of pain, but this has been one hell of a brutal ride. I'm getting tired, and I want to step off now.

I'm doing my best to hang on. I'm talking to the professionals and to my friends. I'm in pain, and I'm letting everyone know it. But it sucks! I'm not sure what else I can do at this point in time. I've had the will to run stripped from me. I haven't run in weeks. That in and of itself is quite strange. I'm not working. My doctor has taken me off work, but I'm hoping to get back there soon. I miss my co-workers and my patients. It would be nice to get back to my old routine.

I'm home but feeling out of sorts and a little lost within my own home environment. That's the after effects of the ECT treatments. My own environment is unfamiliar. Previously, I had routines for everything. Making my breakfast oatmeal, for example, was a routine. This morning I couldn't remember what went in the bowl and what didn't. Likewise, my house bills are waiting to be addressed, but I can't remember how to address them! For someone as organized as me, this is all quite disconcerting. I feel like an idiot!

I am fortunate to have one friend, Wendy, who has been willing to sit with me a lot over these past couple weeks. She's been willing to witness the suffering, yet keep me safe, without attempting to fix everything. I appreciate her presence. Sometimes it's nice to just have someone to witness the pain. She doesn't talk. She doesn't offer rememdies. She just sits with me. I am so grateful for her presence.

And now I am going to attempt to move through my pain. I may even attempt a walk outside with my dog, Jet. We'll see. That sounds like quite an undertaking. I've called my mom. She's down south for the winter, but she may fly up to stay with me for a bit. I could use her assistance and guidance, at least until I get some space between me and depression's ugliness. And this may be the ugliest episode I have ever experienced. Relief cannot come soon enough.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Home Alone

I escaped the inpatient unit yesterday. Last night was my first night home alone with my dog, Jet. It's strange being home. Because ECT destroyed my memory, I feel lost in my own home. Nothing looks familiar. Nothing feels familiar. I can't remember why I'm doing certain things. It's very disconcerting. I feel like a stranger in my own home, and it sucks! Tomorrow I'm hoping to get outside and walk a little bit. I need to get back to running. I'm actually missing The New York City Marathon, which is tomorrow. I have many friends out in New York who will be running tomorrow. I got my plane ticket, hotel room reservation, and was planning to be there, too, but it was not meant to be. Hopefully, I'll make the journey next year instead. I'll focus my energy on getting myself back onto the road tomorrow. If I can accomplish that, tomorrow will be a very successful day. Besides running, I'll also hope to putz around my house a little tomorrow. After being away for so many days, I feel the need to be present and accounted for around here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hanging out Inpatient

I'm still in the hospital, where I've been since last week for this latest episode of depression. Tomorrow I have my twelfth ECT treatment and then plan to head home. My friend, Wendy, who assisted getting me to the hospital and who is currently watching my dog doesn't want me to go home yet. She is worried I continue to have the same dark thoughts which originally landed me in here. She doesn't think those thoughts have resolved enough yet, and she is worried I am going to go home and continue to struggle with my thinking. Neither of us want that. But I can't stand to be here for one more minute either! I really feel anxious to return to my life and my work. The New York City Marathon is next week. I am signed up and have a flight lined up, but I've decided I'm not going to go. This will be the second year in a row that I will miss the marathon, but I just haven't put in the training time to run it like I would like to run it. It's hard thinking about missing it again, but it doesn't make any sense to attempt it when I'm not prepared as needed. Maybe next year I'll finally get to run it. If I can just spend the next couple weeks getting back out onto the road, these next few weeks will be valuable. This depression dip has really stolen my running motivation from me. I'd like to get it back. That's about all I have to say at this moment. I'm anxiously awaiting tomorrow's treatment and my return home. I'm looking forward to being reunited with my dog, Jet, and returning to my daily routine. I'm anxious to get back into my own house and my own bed. At some point, this depression episode has got to abate. That will certainly be cause for celebration, and you'll hear it here first!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Back Inside Again

I've got bad news to report. I'm back in the hospital. My mom and a friend ganged up on me and brought me back in a couple days ago. Unfortunately, my mood has not responded yet to the ECT treatments. I had my tenth treatment session today. Usually I would have noticed a significant difference by now, but my mood is being particularly obstinant this time around. I'm still feeling quite low. I'm hoping for some relief within the next few days, although I'm not thrilled about spending the weekend here. Things tend to get quite boring here over the weekends. The other issue I'm coming to terms with is how unprepared I am to run a marathon. The New York City Marathon is just a few weeks away, and I am not in marathon-running shape. I've already paid my entry fee, reserved my plane ticket, and secured my hotel room. If I decide not to go, that will be a lot of money down the toilet, but I don't think I would have any fun going if I'm not in shape to run. I've got a lot more thinking to do yet, but right now I'm leaning toward staying home. That's all I have to report this evening. I'm still accepting prayers for relief from my low mood. Any good thoughts sent my way will be gladly accepted.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Struggles continue

I'm not feeling very wordy this evening. I had my eighth ECT treatment today. I'm still recovering. My mood continues to challenge, although I did have a slight reprieve over the weekend. D came to visit this weekend. We hadn't seen each other since Labor Day Weekend. It was really nice to see him.

While it was great to spend time together again, D being here also increased my stress just a bit. D is trying hard to understand what's happening with me, but he freely admits he doesn't know anything about depression. In fact, some of you may remember he disappeared a few years ago while I was being treated for a depression exacerbation. With that in mind, I thought this exacerbation might lead to the end of our relationship, but so far he's hanging in there.

In between running together, and a movie, and dinner with friends, D and I did chat a little bit about my illness. I tried to educate him without overwhelming or terrifying him. It's hard. He's not around for the daily grind. He doesn't see me day in and day out. Nevertheless, he appears to be hanging in there. He's trying to understand the illness and working to comprehend the treatment, especially ECT. I appreciated his willingness to ask questions and learn.

After my ECT treatment today, I received a text message from one of my coworkers. It was a coworker from whom I never would have expected a text. He said all of my coworkers were thinking about me and hoped I'd be back soon. That was really nice. I miss work. I miss my patients. I miss my coworkers. I feel totally useless. Yet I know I'm in no condition to work. As much as I'd like to, I know work is not an option today. Still, it was nice to hear from my coworkers.

Hopefully, if the ECT does the job it's supposed to do, I'll soon be back doing the job I'm meant to do helping the patients I'm meant to help. I continue to pray for relief from my depression symptoms so that all of the above will be possible sooner rather than later. I'll take any spare prayers from any of you, too.

Friday, October 18, 2013

ECT Revisited

After a long meeting with my regular psychiatrist yesterday afternoon, I agreed to reconsider ECT. In fact, I resumed outpatient ECT this morning. So today was my seventh ECT treatment. I'm hoping for no more than 12 total treatments, but we'll see how it goes. To say I'm ambivalent about this course of action is an understatement, but I trust my doctor. We had a good discussion of the pros and cons of ECT versus continuing on my current path of misery. In the end, I agreed with her. I cannot continue feeling as desperate and despondent as I've been feeling without risking my life. It's as simple as that.

Fortunately, my parents are in town for another couple of weeks, so they are able to assist me with getting to and from my treatments. My mom stayed with me today while I slept off the remainder of the anesthesia. It's late afternoon, and I'm just starting to feel normal again. I guess I'll only be training/running on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the next couple weeks.

A slight disruption of my training schedule will be a minor inconvenience, however. My bigger concern is for my memory. ECT severely disrupts my memory. I've written down my passwords, and I'm going to try to be vigilant about documenting conversations and life events over these next few weeks. If I don't, I'll be lost, and I hate that feeling.

I'm praying that I'm doing the right thing by resuming ECT. With how poorly I've been feeling, I think it's about the best option I have left. Hopefully it will work as it has in the past to get me back on track. And hopefully I don't get too stupid in the process. Your continued prayers are certainly appreciated.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Things Looking Bleak

Life has not improved around here. My mood, unfortunately, has not changed. I'm feeling about as bleak as I can recall feeling in the recent and not-so-recent past. The medication changes have not made an impact. The 6 ECT treatments I've already received did not change the course I am apparently on at this time, and I'm not willing to continue subjecting my brain to the amnesia-inducing seizures. Although the pressure from my psychiatrist, whom I trust implicitly and respect immensely, to continue ECT is significant. I'm meeting with her tomorrow, so who knows? I may be convinced to change my mind.

I am miserable enough, at this point, that I will listen to other treatment ideas. I'm trying to resume my normal routine, but low energy, difficulty concentrating, and general lethargy make returning to any kind of routine difficult. I did get a 7-mile run in yesterday, but that knocked me flat for the rest of the day. Still, it was nice to run. I ran hard, made it hurt, and that helped temporarily. Physical pain is so much easier for me to deal with than mental pain.

I'm going to try to run a little again today. I actually have The New York City Marathon coming up in three weeks. I don't think I'll be at my best for that event, but I'm already entered, and I have my room and flight reserved, so I'm going to go and experience it anyway. I hope my mood is better by then. I don't think I can take three more weeks of this. I appreciate your comments and support. Your continued prayers for relief are certainly appreciated.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Trying to settle in

I've slept in my own bed for two nights now. My mom is staying with me for a few days. I'm trying to get back into some sort of a routine. I ran 13 miles yesterday and paid my overdue bills today. I took Jet out for a walk with a friend. I went grocery shopping with my mom, and she spent the rest of the day making some food to fill my freezer for the winter months.

My mom turned the spoiled bananas into some fabulous banana bread, with chocolate chips, just the way I like it. On the stove top at the moment is some wonderful split pea and ham soup, which we all ate for dinner and I will now pack in multiple freezer containers for the months down the road. Tomorrow, we've got spaghetti sauce on the menu. I look forward to eating that throughout the winter months, too.

My mom cooked like this for me last fall, as well. Being the non-cook that I am, it's really nice to pull something homemade out of the freezer in the middle of January. She might be spoiling me just a bit, but I'm okay with that!

As far as my mood goes, I'm not sure it's much improved. I'm glad to be out of the hospital. I'm glad to be in my own home. But I'm still feeling low. I'm still feeling hopeless. I have not totally turned the corner. I know that. I am not out of the woods yet.

Despite understanding that fact, I have made some decisions regarding my treatment. I've decided I am not going to do anymore ECT treatments, because the loss of memory side effect is just too severe and too scary for me to deal with any longer. I feel confused as to how I ended up in the hospital. I don't recall the events leading up to either of my recent hospitalizations, and that is as a direct result of ECT.

ECT erases history. I feel like I've been dropped into today. Being dropped into a day, with no understanding of how I got there, is very disconcerting. It's unsettling. It's confusing. There's no past on which to base my current state of being. I don't like it. I feel really, really stupid. I'm not stupid, but if you were around me for more than an hour, you might think I was. It's that bad. ECT makes me stupid.

For that reason, I'm hoping to get the rest of the way through this episode without ECT. Hopefully medication adjustments and time will be what I need to heal. Until then, I'm trying my best to settle into home, return to a routine, get back to running, and eventually return to work. That's the plan.

I'm tired now. Depression wears me down, but I'd rather be worn down and on my way to my own bed than on my way to a hospital bed any day of the week. And that's where I'm off to right now, my own bed. Good night.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Home Again

After my sixth ECT treatment in the last 14 days, I got out of the hospital today. My parents are here with me, which is nice. They'll be staying nearby for the next couple of weeks before heading south for the winter. I wish I could say that everything is great, that my mood has returned to normal, but I can't. Nevertheless, I would have gotten stir-crazy had I stayed an inpatient much longer. It was time to come home.

Being home is overwhelming. The side effects of ECT, namely loss of my memory, make getting resettled very difficult. It's like I've been dropped into my home, today, with no background as to how I got here. I don't remember what sent me to the hospital again. I don't recall what my employer knows or doesn't know. I have to re-read my own blog in order to understand how I made it to today. It's extremely unsettling to have no context for my own life.

ECT stupidity is the primary reason I've made the decision to discontinue ECT. Six treatments is a fair course, anyway, but it's the possible long term impact on my brain which really concerns me. If ECT makes me this stupid in the present, what damage will it do years from now? Nobody knows the answer to that question. I'd feel a lot better if I had an answer to that question.

In other news, I need to get back on the road. I've got The New York City Marathon coming up in 3 weeks. I could not motivate to get on that damn hospital treadmill this week, so I haven't run since last Sunday's 15-miler. I'll try to get out there for at least 13 miles tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

And now I'm going to settle into my favorite chair and watch whatever the hell I want on television. It's nice to be home.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Update

I'm still in the hospital. I had my fifth ECT treatment today. I'm planning to have one more treatment on Friday and then head home. My parents are now in town, on their way south for the winter, so I'd like to spend some time with them. Right now they are at my house taking care of Jet for me.

I think my mood has improved slightly, not as much as I'd like, but I think it is slightly better. I worry that ECT will eventually lose its effectiveness. I mean how many times can you go to the well? I have nothing on which to base that fear. It's just fear, and I hope I am wrong. Perhaps I should instead focus on the fact that it appears to be working once again. I'm grateful for that.

I don't have much more to report. Not much happens in the hospital. I should be continuing my training for New York City, which is now 3 weeks away, but I've yet to get on one of the available treadmills. I'll try to make up for it by running long this weekend. I'm just going to run New York for the experience, anyway. It won't be about racing on that day.

That's all I've got. I so appreciate all of the comments I've received from you, my readers, on my last few posts. Thank you so much. Know that your comments do make a difference. I am one lucky woman. Here's hoping things continue to move forward and upward.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Back inside

Things remain tough here in my world. In fact, I am back in the hospital. After my third ECT treatment in the morning, I went home Friday afternoon. My friend, Wendy, picked me up and helped me get settled back at home. Unfortunately, and my memory is a bit fuzzy as to all the particulars, but by Friday evening, my mood had sunk back to such depths that Wendy came back and spent the night. My thoughts, I recall, got very dark very quickly. I crashed.

I was hoping to run The Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, but by Saturday morning it was pretty clear that wasn't likely to happen. I spent Saturday with Wendy and her family, and we discussed returning to the hospital, but I was really hoping to stay out. I made it to Sunday morning, and I even got out on the road for a run. I had no idea how far I would make it, but I was happy to be putting one foot in front of the other.

It was a beautiful, cool morning, and based on how sore I am today, I probably ran too far, 15 miles, but it was so nice to be outside, moving, challenging my muscles, occupying my brain, and not focusing on my low mood, I just kept going. Unfortunately, once I returned home the dark thoughts did not abate.

Wendy returned to my home last night and eventually we made the decision to head back to the emergency room. I could complete an entire additional post on the idiot, ER, psychiatry resident and his absolutely unnecessary contribution to my misery, but I'm choosing to skip that drama, hopefully in furtherance of my mental health. Suffice it to say, after 3.5 hours of utter frustration and exasperation for both Wendy and I, the appropriate decision was made to re-admit me to the hospital.

I had my fourth ECT treatment this morning, with two additional treatments scheduled for later this week, and hopes for discharge by the weekend. I appreciate all of your ongoing thoughts and prayers. Your support is invaluable. Thank you. I'll keep you posted as the saga continues.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rough

It was a long night here at the etta house. My friend, Wendy, went home late in the evening, but she ended up coming back to spend the night. I was having a hard time settling. Things are very dark right now. I don't like writing about feeling dark. I certainly don't like feeling dark. At this moment, depression has me tightly in its grimy grip, and I'm not sure what else I can do to release its grasp.

It looks like running The Twin Cities Marathon will not be possible. I don't even have the energy to go pick up my number at the expo, which is a one hour drive from here. It's probably better that I don't run, as running a marathon can impact my mood, and at this point I'm betting the impact would be negative. Still, I'm sad and frustrated to give up such a beloved race. It's yet another example of depression's master thievery.

I'm feeling pretty rough. It's been quite awhile since my illness has taken such a stranglehold. I'm still fighting, but right now I feel like I'm losing more ground than I'm gaining. That's frustrating. If you're open to prayer, a few thrown my direction would be welcome anytime.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Home with Sitter

After 4+ days in the hospital, I am now home. While an inpatient, I had 3 ECT treatments, including one today. I have ambivalent feelings regarding ECT. The process is simple and relatively painless. It's worked for me in the past. It's brought me back from the brink of self-destruction more than once. I'd likely not be alive today without it. But that healing comes at a price, of course. ECT really screws up my memory. I get pretty stupid.

The other dilemma with ECT is the "babysitter" requirement. Because ECT involves being put to sleep, the docs require 24 hour supervision afterward. That means my friend, Wendy, is here right now. Next week, it will be my parents. I have 3 more treatments scheduled for next week. I'm not a fan of babysitters, but I understand the need.

I am feeling a little bit better, not a lot better, but a little bit better. I couldn't imagine staying in the hospital over the weekend, as there is little to occupy one's time, so I was anxious to get out of there today. I had big plans for this weekend, anyway. The Twin Cities Marathon is on Sunday.

If I choose to do so, the doctors have cleared me to run. I am feeling quite ambivalent about it. After all, I've done absolutely nothing for the past 5 days. I believe the last time I ran was a short outing last Sunday. My energy followed my mood right down the toilet, and I'm sure I've gained a few pounds sitting on my butt all week. I'm not sure I'm in ideal condition to run a marathon.

I also worry how running a marathon would look to outsiders peering in, especially my coworkers. I imagine them thinking, "If she can't work, how can she run a marathon?" I can't blame them. I hope they know I'd rather be working and running! So I've yet to decide on the marathon. At this moment, 26.2 miles seems like an awful long way to run. I'm not sure I've got it in me.

That's about all I have right now. Like I said, I wish I was feeling better than I am. I hope being home with Jet, getting back into my routine, possibly running a marathon, and continuing with ECT combine to bring me out of the darkness.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Where's etta?

The predicted, feared crash finally took me down. I couldn't make it to work on Monday morning. I contacted my friend and co-worker, Wendy, and she made the 30 minute trip to my door. Apparently my voice was slow and thoughts dark. My memories of that morning are already a bit fuzzy. After Wendy and I spent half of the morning in the emergency room, I was admitted to the inpatient psych unit for treatment. That's where I am right now.

I've already completed two ECT treatments with another scheduled for Friday. Yesterday's treatment left me stiff and sore, but the doctors figured out the right dose of pre-medication today, and it went much better. My friend, Wendy, was just here to visit, and she thinks I sound better already. I'm hoping to get out of here by the weekend and continue my ECT treatments as an outpatient next week.

ECT likely sounds barbaric to some of you, and I admit, it is not my favorite treatment option, but it has always worked when I've needed it. The process is actually quick and painless, as I am sedated throughout the procedure. After the treatment, I spend several hours sleeping prior to slowly resuming my day. I do feel a little lighter already, but I hate the forgetfulness which accompanies getting my brain zapped.

Hopefully, the memory deficits will not be too bothersome, and the benefits of the ECT will pull me out of the pit. I don't like feeling so dark and slow. It's been a long time since I've been this low. I hope initiating the quick ECT intervention will keep this episode short lived. My life is waiting outside these doors.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Not a Superhero

Over the past several days, one fact has burst from the shadows and stepped into the clear. It is standing there now, chest puffed, hands on hips, bathed in yellow light. Fact: I am not a superhero. In the midst of my desperate search for rescue from the recent chaos in my head, this fact splendiferously revealed itself. If I was a superhero, the chaos would have been zapped into oblivion by now, and I'd be walking around in awe of and gratitude for my mystical powers. Alas, I am not a superhero.

The chaos seems to be giving way to a crash, and you all know how much I love crashes. I am doing everything I can, and everything I am being asked to do. Well, almost everything. I did refuse to go to the ER for an evaluation. That's a pretty deep line in my sandbox, and I do not plan to cross it.  But I have been reaching out, calling, e-mailing, talking, texting, and writing. And I despise having to make these connections. I don't want to be that person; the friend, co-worker, or even patient everyone is now concerned about. I just want to be me. I prefer to be the helper, not the help-ee. If only a superhero could pull me from my free fall.

I am not a superhero, and apparently there isn't one ready to catch me from my fall. Therefore, I've continued to reach out. But the chaos in my head is overwhelming enough without the added pressure of revealing it to multiple people. Yet I need their support. Yet revealing my fucked-up thoughts and soul-crushing feelings increases my fear of losing their support. Who among them won't be stunned and horrified by what's emerging from this otherwise normal appearing human form; the person they know as their likable and funny friend, happy and skilled co-worker, or successful and healthy patient. Their shock and disgust, that is what I fear.

Depression is rarely a socially acceptable, rally-around-the-patient, kind of illness. In its ugliest form, as in my case right now, this illness even horrifies me! My inclination is to keep it all in, wait for it to pass, smile and carry on, or my favorite, fake it until I make it. But my thoughts are scary, my friends. Even here, in the space of my anonymous blog, I do not feel safe revealing their sadistic content for fear of alienation and retribution.

And the fear of alienation and retribution, that's probably depression talking, too! This illness warps my reality as it envelops me in an ever-tightening, concentric maze of thoughts and feelings. Struggling for rationality only solidifies its grip. If I keep struggling, the way out will become impossible to figure and desperation will ensue. Unfortunately, it is only work, collaboration, and patience, not desperation, which will eventually release me from its trap. I know that. Somewhere in my muddled brain, I know that, and I'm doing my best. But a superhero would be beneficial, too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Little change

I truly have nothing new to report tonight. I'm exhausted. I've had three long, very busy days of work in a row, with another on the horizon tomorrow. Work has been good, even fun, but spending so many hours with debilitated patients with multiple needs is fatiguing. I've only been home for about an hour and a half tonight, and I'm already preparing for bed. I did get my 6-mile run in before work this morning, but GI distress made it quite challenging and frustrating. Speaking of frustrating, my mood continues to challenge, too. Unfortunately, there's been little change.

I apologize. I feel less than inspiring tonight. I'm trying to be patient. Everything is temporary, so I know change is on the way. I'm tired, but I have yet to give up. I guess that's encouraging. Hopefully I'll have more positive news in a few days. Thanks for listening, my friends.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rocky Road

Life has been a bit rocky lately. My mood has been unpredictable. While I've been functioning well at work, socializing a bit, and running, well, a little less, I've also been tired, sleeping a lot, and had random attacks of utter hopelessness. I've struggled with some really low moments and low motivation over the past couple of weeks. It's been challenging.

I don't think I ever mentioned it here, but about 5 or 6 weeks ago, since I had been doing so well for so long, I asked to have one of my anti-depressants decreased. My doctor agreed. So we decreased the dose by one third. It's not that I was having any side effects, at least not that I know of, but I always want to be on the lowest dose possible. Of course, my grand hope is full remission and eventually no medication, hence this recent experiment.

I'm not so sure the rocky road I've been experiencing is entirely due to the decreased anti-depressant. I've had a lot of emotional stuff going on lately as well. But of course it makes sense to go back up on my dose and attempt to stop this slide before it really gets rolling. After consultation with my social worker and doctor, I resumed taking my previous inti-depressant dose.

Here's the thing. I feel like I failed. I know it's stupid. Taking a certain dose of a certain medication does not mean I failed. If one of my patients with high blood pressure or diabetes made lifestyle changes in an effort to decrease their medication, and it didn't pan out, I would never, ever think they failed. Many chronic, biological illnesses respond to lifestyle changes, yet still require medication to control. I know that.

I also know I, too, have a chronic, biological illness, but I still feel like I failed. And to tell you the truth, failing makes me angry. I'm so tired of being attached to this illness, and I don't know how much more I can do to fight it. I work hard to keep my life stable and drama-free. I eat well. I get plenty of sleep. I exercise. I challenge myself and set goals in order to keep moving forward. I work with people I enjoy at a very fulfilling job. I stay sober and participate in my AA community. I socialize with other healthy people. What else is there? Shouldn't all of these good habits make a difference?

Intellectually I know what I'm doing probably is making a difference. I can't imagine the power and control this illness would wield if I didn't have a healthy lifestyle. I'm certainly going to keep doing what I'm doing, and I know taking my medication is part of the whole equation. I guess I need to stop worrying about how much or how many meds I take. Perhaps I need to remember to be grateful I have meds that work instead. I'll work on that.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jet's Progress

My little boy, Jet, will be 1 year old tomorrow. It's hard to believe he's that old already. Of course, he and I have only been together for 9 months, and we're still working things out. Now that he's able to take walks, post arthroscopic elbow surgery, we've been getting in some good training time. We walk about 12 blocks every night, and I'm training him to heel. Tonight, for the first time, he did it on a loose leash! He's catching on.

Unfortunately, I don't think the surgery fixed his elbow. Four weeks post-op he still seems to be having discomfort in that joint. He does fine being quiet around the house, but after we return from our walks, he usually ends up limping. For that reason I haven't stopped the "keeping him quiet" routine. With the exception of one day, when he was too wild out there and came in limping, he hasn't played in his backyard since surgery. He goes out on leash with me every time he needs a potty break, so his only activity is our daily walk.

I'm planning to continue our quiet routine until at least 6 weeks post-op, so we've got a couple weeks to go. He should be really good at heeling by then! With the exception of that bright spot, however, I am concerned. I hate not allowing him to play, but I'm still hoping for the best long term outcome. I really don't want him to be in pain his entire life. I don't want him to be prematurely lame either, but right now I'm scared that's where we're headed.

I'm going to follow up with the surgeon or my local vet tomorrow. I pray the surgeon says he's doing as expected and things will continue to improve. I'm grateful Jet's still as enthusiatic, creative, and funny as always. His right elbow may not be fixed, but his personality is far from broken! He's a joy!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Sobering Run

Between miles 3 and 5, I couldn't stop thinking about Puck. Memories of the thousands of miles we ran together, his excited arrival in my bedroom every time I opened the "running clothes drawer," his gentle demeanor and our trusted 13-year bond; these and other warm recollections accompanied my every step. It took several minutes, but I finally realized the reason. Puck died 9 months ago today. As I write this now, tears fill my eyes. I miss you, buddy. You will always be mama's best boy.

Between miles 7 and 9, I decided to challenge myself and ran up a 2 mile long hill alongside a two lane highway. As I wished, it was a challenge, but it was also loud and grimy. Vehicles of every size streamed by at 60+ miles per hour. More than once I was showered with road grime as a semitrailer truck steamed past a little too close. As I finally crested the hill, at the large intersection with another two lane highway, an erie stillness replaced the chaos.

A long procession of police vehicles, sans sirens but with lights flashing, slowly approached from the right, turned right, and disappeared out of sight in front of me. Cars and pedestrians stacked up on all sides of the intersection as the procession silently continued. I realized I was likely witnessing the funeral procession of a 43-year-old sheriff's captain who was the victim of a shocking fatal heart attack earlier this week. It was an honorable, eerily quiet, somber scene. As the last vehicle cleared the intersection, I thanked God for my blessings and reflected on the cruel fickleness of life.

Between miles 13 and 15, I ran around the local lake where they were just finishing the annual suicide awareness and prevention walk. Survivors of suicide populated the path surrounding the lake with large placards filled with names, pictures, and artifacts of loved ones lost to suicide. I stopped at every placard I passed. It didn't take long before my heart heaved with sorrow.

A 14-year-old daughter and friend, a 23-year-old military veteran who never made it home from Iraq, a 50-year-old mother and grandmother, a 20-year-old handsome son; there were too many sorrows to comprehend. I ran past families with matching t-shirts proclaiming their love and loss and felt guilty doing such a trivial thing in the midst of their pain. Nevertheless, I continued on. Suicide has been on my mind lately. It was ironic to be surrounded by it 3/4 of the way through my run.

Twenty miles later, I am sitting in my living room alone. I'm tired, as usual, from my effort, but I'm also sad and reflective. I had a good run, a sobering run, on a beautiful day. Life is short, unpredictable, and sometimes unfair and/or hard. I'm reminded to speak up, to say thank you, I love you, or anything else I need to say, and to say it today. None of us is promised tomorrow. Be well, friends.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Depleted.

I don't have too much to say tonight, although there is quite a bit going on, mostly in my head. I struggled over the weekend with continued memories and flashbacks from my teen years. Of course each memory seemed to be laden with heavy emotion, and what to do with the many emotions became an unending challenge. Tonight I am mentally and physically worn out.

Over the past three days, most of my recurring thoughts and emotions centered around Pam, my step-sister who was killed 30 years ago. My entire 6-miler after work on Sunday was filled with memories of her. I even felt her presence, running with me step-for-step, as I circled the golf course on my way home. That was pretty cool. But it was also sad. I can't stop wondering what she'd be doing and what our relationship would be if she were alive today. I'm glad for the memories, but I'm tired.

Further challenges to my mental state came from a couple of recent heavy conversations, one with D about our tense moments last weekend, and one with a friend who owed me an apology. Both conversations went well, although neither was perfect, and more could have been said, but the emotional expenditure left me spent.

Running, usually a savior, didn't help. It only further depleted my energy stores. I barely finished 11 of my scheduled 12 miles on Saturday. I finally just gave in and walked home. My body just wouldn't go. Sunday's shorter jaunt was barely any better. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm quite certain my recent mental gymnastics have not been beneficial physically either.

And that's where I'm at right now. I'm physically and mentally depleted. I'm sad. I'm sore. I'm tired. I'm done. I don't have any more to say, because it would be too much. It would take more energy than I have left to give. I just want my brain settled and my body recovered. And I don't want to talk about it any more. Good night, friends.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pam

Recently, I've been experiencing multiple flashbacks from my youth. And I do mean youth, 15, 16, and 17 years old. The memories first showed up in my dreams before gradually interrupting my daily activities as well. For over a week, I've been trying to understand why this has been happening and what it all means.

Yesterday was particularly disconcerting. I was restless, irritable and discontent. I was being bombarded by flashbacks, good and bad, one after another. I felt like I was going to crawl right out of my skin, and I couldn't figure out what was going on. By late afternoon, I was absolutely nuts.

I called a friend. I texted with another. I sent my doctor an e-mail. And that's when it hit me. Thirty years ago today, 9/7/1983, my 14-year-old step-sister left the house to go for a bike ride with a friend. She never returned. Pam was hit by a vehicle, which ran over her head and killed her instantly. My step-mother decided to donate all of her organs, so she technically died on September 8th, 1983. But 30 years ago today, this evening, was the day her life stopped. I was fifteen.

Pam and I had only been sisters for 2 or 3 years, but we had grown close since the marriage of our parents. We had little choice. Our blended family lived in such a small home, Pam and I not only shared a bedroom, we shared the bed. It wasn't easy at first. There was tension. But within a short time, things turned around. Neither of us had a biological sister. I had 3 brothers. She had one. So we bonded.

I have memories of lying in that bed talking, deep, sisterly, girl talks, almost every night before we fell asleep. It was our routine, and in our dysfunctional, unstable home, I know we both valued that time together.

Pam never played sports. She never cared. But after my athletic, competitive family arrived, we discovered she was an incredible middle distance runner. She joined junior high track and routinely ran away from her competition in both the 400 and 800 meters. We spent the summer months prior to her freshman year, which she had just begun when she was killed, training together.

With her entry into high school just under way, Pam's death came at a time of incredible hope and promise. It was tragic. I don't always remember this tragic date, but I hope I never lose the memories of my special moments with Pam. I've been remembering her and thinking about her all day today. She had unlimited potential. I wonder what she'd be doing if she were alive? What would we be doing if she were here? Imagine... Miss you, Pam.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Out of Sync

I'm still settling back into my home after the long weekend away with D. It was a good weekend, but it was also an interesting weekend. Acutally, I'm still digesting and sorting through what we did and how I felt. Lessons, I believe, are in the details if I choose to be open to them.

In direct contrast to the last weekend we spent together, when D and I seemed to be perfectly in sync, enjoyed each other immensely, and shared every moment; this past weekend we seemed to be perfectly out of sync. We spent fewer moments enjoying each other and a bunch of moments on each other's nerves. We shared space but not necessarily time. We moved about in parallel planes rather than intersecting ones. It was much different than my last experience with D.

Different doesn't make it good or bad. It was what it was. I know relationships require work and are not all fun all the time, so I'm not freaking out about this. I'm just noting it, replaying a few moments, and trying to learn what I can.

My primary lesson, I think, is to speak up when I need to speak up. I cannot let fear be my guide. There were a few instances this past weekend, after moments of tension, when I had the opportunity to express my feelings but didn't. That likely only made things worse. I pride myself on communicating well, but I didn't take the opportunities presented to me this weekend.

In general neither of us communicated well. We were equally prickly. I can't control D's actions, but I need to be vigilant in the future and speak up. Keeping my feelings inside will do nothing to expand our relationship. It will only breed resentment. Resentment has no place in any of my relationships, especially this one. I will work harder to communicate better in the future.

This relationship is important to me. I am a little shaken by the mood of this past weekend, but I think we are okay. My feelings for D certainly haven't changed. We'll talk soon. I'll say what I need to say, and hopefully we'll continue moving forward.

It wasn't fun being out of sync with each other, but I'm taking from the experience what I can. Sometimes I wish lessons weren't so necessary or so challenging, but I guess God thought I could handle this one. I'll do my best to live up to the expectation.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back, but not yet at it.

Tonight I have the briefest of brief notes for you. I just returned from an extended weekend vacation in northern Wisconsin with my boyfriend, D. It was lovely. It was relaxing. I had a good 20-mile run through the woods on Saturday followed by a great 10-miler on Sunday. We had good food, good friends, and quiet time, too. I even got to start a new book. I am a lucky woman. But now it is late, and it is past my bedtime. It's hard enough to return to work after vacation. I don't want to be overly tired, too. I promise a better update will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Looking Forward

It's been a crazy, busy week here. And with the oppressive heat wave we've been having, things have only seemed crazier and busier. It's been so hot and humid, it's been difficult to motivate or even move! I'm really looking forward to the upcoming holiday weekend. I can't wait to sit back and relax.

Jet and I will be off for an extended weekend at D's lake house immediately after work on Friday. We have little planned, well, little except running through the woods, spending time with friends, eating great food, lounging with good coffee, boating, water skiing, kayaking, reading, and of course, napping. Right now that last option sounds the most appealing!

Actually, the only concrete weekend plan I have is my 20-mile run through the woods early Saturday morning. Other than that, everything else is open and optional! I am really looking forward to more time with D. I've missed him since our last weekend together, and that was only two weeks ago! It will be so nice to be together in the peace, beauty and quiet of the lake.

I'm also looking forward to tomorrow. I have the day off, and I have lots of things on my to-do list, but by late afternoon it will be all about laughter and friendship. I'm spending the evening with two of my good friends. We try to get together every few weeks, but with work and family schedules, it usually ends up being more like once every couple of months. No matter, we always find time.

Life is always breezier after the three of us spend time together. Tomorrow we're going to hang out at one friend's house, chat and laugh, order pizza, jump on the trampoline, laugh some more, solve each others' problems, polish our nails, giggle, solve the world's problems, and probably laugh all the way home. It's always a fun, energizing time. I can't wait.

Right now, however, I can't wait to hit my pillow. I'm looking forward to my bed. Other than tired, Jet and I are both doing well. I've even been able to reduce one of my anti-depressants! But that's another post for another day. Until then, stay healthy, friends!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Two Halves, Seven Days

I've been a total slug today. That is, I've been a total slug since returning home around 10:00 AM after running my second half marathon in the last seven days. I raced last Saturday morning in Madison, Wisconsin. This morning, exactly 7 days since the gun went off in Madison, I toed the starting line in downtown Rochester. Wise? Probably not.

Scheduled to do a 13-15 miler today, anyway, I decided to join the crowd at my local half marathon. I began by slowly running the mile from my home to the race start as a warm-up. I planned, out loud, to do this half marathon not as a race, but as my training run, albeit a little faster than normal training pace. I thought I could probably comfortably handle 8:00 to 8:05 pace and then run a relaxed cool-down home afterward.

I actually did stick to my plan. I went through the first 3 miles at exactly 8:05 pace. We hit the highlight of the course, a long, long, constantly climbing, fairly steep hill shortly thereafter. It hurt. It hurt everyone. I actually passed many people on the way to the top, which was nice, but my legs never fully recovered for the rest of the race. And that's when I should have changed the plan. Instead, I stuck to it.

By sticking to the plan, I ended up "racing" the rest of the course. That is, even though I stuck to my plan to run around 8 minutes per mile, 8 minutes per mile was no longer a comfortable pace. It was racing pace. I really don't think I could have run any faster. So my training run turned into a race, and by the end I was wiped out! Ironically, I finished in 1:44:51, and guess what? That's an 8:01 per mile pace. Like I said, I did stick to the plan.

Sometimes the wiser course of action is to alter, rather than stick to the plan! Hopefully learning has occurred, but I doubt it! I spent the rest of today recovering. I ate a delicious, way-to-big-burger and fries after the race. And I spent the rest my time, i.e. all day, stretched out in bed, curled up on the sofa, or sitting in my recliner doing absolutely nothing. Well, I did drive 5 minutes to the grocery store about an hour ago, as I needed some ice cream and chocolate syrup! It's been a non-productive, sleepy, fattening day. So much for that damn plan!

Actually, it's not so bad. I've accepted being a sloth today. I have to work tomorrow, so I know I'll not carry my sluggishness into another day. I'll remember this lesson if and when a similar situation arises in the future, but knowing me, I may overdo it again anyway. Oh well. I do enjoy challenging myself, even if it isn't always the brightest thing to do.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

He's Recovering


Hanging out chewing his Kong, Jet's recovering nicely from his surgery. The surgery was a complete success. The surgeon found a "huge chunk of bone" floating around in Jet's right elbow joint. The bone fragment was so large, the surgeon had to break it into smaller pieces in order to extract it from the joint. This was all done arthroscopically, so the recovery "quiet" time will only last two weeks, rather than six, as I had originally been told. That was a relief!

I was also relieved the surgeon actually discovered the chunk of bone. It certainly did not show up on the x-rays, so we were just supposing it was there based on his other symptoms. Jet was likely in a fair amount of pain, despite not always showing it. He does have arthritis in the joint, which is a result of the bony fragment floating around in there. Hopefully, with supplements and a slow return to activity, it will remain mild for a long time to come.

The surgeon told me the recovery from this procedure varies widely. He thought Jet had a good chance for meaningful recovery, but he had no way of predicting if Jet will ever tolerate normal levels of activity, like running with his mama. We've got some doggy physical therapy to do over the next 4-6 weeks, and then we can begin short walks. We can't even attempt running for at least another 6 months. Of course, if he limps with walking, we won't ever attempt running.

I'm not worrying too much about running right now. I'm relieved he's home and well. I'm grateful this procedure gives him at least a chance at a full recovery. Thank you for your kind words and prayers as Jet and I have traveled through this process. He's doing well. And come to think of it, so am I.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wonderful Weekend!

A good race, lots of great food, an improv show, some beautiful gardens, and a loving relationship; those were a few of the highlights of my weekend away with D. We spent the weekend together in Madison, Wisconsin. Our relationship continues to grow deeper and deeper. I so enjoy spending time with him, and he is so good to me. This weekend was really special.

After a nice dinner with D and his son Friday evening, all three of us toed the starting line of the Madison Half Marathon Saturday morning. D's son and I were pretty evenly matched. I finished the hilly but scenic race in 1:42:04, D's son came in around 1:43:20, and D finished just under 2 hours. We were all fairly satisfied with our times. My time was decent, especially since I didn't taper for the event, but I was most happy with my age group performance. I finished 8th out of 190 women in my age group. That was very satisfying.

D's son joined us for burgers after the race before he departed for home. D and I stayed to play. We had some restful time together after the race and before dinner and an improv comedy show Saturday evening. That was a blast! It was so fun to laugh out loud for 2 hours! Improv comedians are quite impressive! We enjoyed their talent and wit.

Sunday morning I had a beautiful run along the shore of one of Madison's three lakes. D and I then spent most of the day wandering about at The Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Oh my! Everyone raved about this place in online reviews, and they were all correct. What a treasure! I am not a gardener, and I barely know a rose from a carnation, but this place was unbelievably beautiful! We walked, gawked, and talked for hours. It was a peaceful, lovely end to a wonderful weekend.

I'm now back to reality in my living room. Work went well today, although I did have trouble staying focused. My thoughts kept flashing back to my weekend with D and forward to Jet's surgery tomorrow. Surgery will take place at a clinic about 1 hour and 15 minutes north of here. I'll drop him off at 7:30 in the morning, drive back here and attempt to work all day, and then return to pick him up tomorrow evening. That's reality.

I'm worried and sad. I wish I could explain to Jet what's going to be happening to him. He won't understand why I won't feed him tomorrow morning. He won't know why I'm leaving him in a strange, chaotic place with unfamiliar people. He'll wake up in pain. I feel so bad that he's got to go through this process. I'm saying my prayers. I appreciate any you can spare as well. Of course I'll let you know how everything goes.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Off to Race

I'm spending the weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, with D. It should be fun. We are running a half marathon together tomorrow morning and then spending the rest of the weekend bumming around Madison. As usual it will be nice to see D and spend time with him, and the race is known to be well organized and fun. D's son will be joining us this evening for dinner, and he's also running the race tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to a nice weekend away.

I don't know what kind of performance to expect, as I didn't really taper for this race. I altered my schedule a bit. I ran 10 miles twice this week, but I didn't do any speed work, and I did skip one of my kettlebell classes. I think I'll just run by feel again and try to enjoy the event. I'd like to run fast, of course, but I'll try not to freak out if I don't. My performance is not that important. Preparing for Twin Cities Marathon is the long-term goal. This weekend is more about having fun with D.

Overall, I'm still feeling pretty good. I was physically whipped earlier this week, but I've recovered from that. I think skipping my Wednesday night kettlebell class helped me recoup some needed energy. My mood seems okay. It could be better, but it's not in the pits. Things have been busy but smooth.

The only drama I currently face is Jet's upcoming surgery. I'm feeling quite ambivalent about putting him through it. He's not limping nearly as much as he was, and I'm not sure what to think about that. He's so joyous and spirited. I hate to be responsible for bringing him pain. I hate the thought of him having to be quiet and sedate for six weeks. It's going to be a real challenge, and I question whether it is worth it.

The problem is, I can't just put it off. This surgery is only done on very young dogs. It is not successful on older dogs, but younger dogs do benefit from it. So it's an either now or never decision, and I'm struggling with it. I'm leaning toward doing it, but I'm going to discuss it more in depth with the vet today. His surgery is currently scheduled for next Tuesday, the 20th. He'll have just turned 11 months old.

I'm going to leave you with a picture of my boy. He's sitting on my back deck with about 1/4 of his collection of sticks and toys. When I mow, I pick each of these up and place them on the deck. Jet thinks this is great fun! As quickly as I can set them down, he races to put each one back in the yard. Doesn't he look proud of himself? Have a great weekend, friends!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back on my feet

Just a brief post this evening, as I am wiped out from a busy last 3 days. I am back in the swing of things. The knock down I experienced at the end of last week only kept me down for a couple of days. By late Friday evening I was feeling lighter, and I was back on course by Saturday.

In fact, I ran 20 miles Saturday morning in absolutely perfect, beautiful weather. That certainly helped begin the weekend on the right foot. I stayed busy with errands and chores the rest of Saturday, as I had to work Sunday. My mood was good, and I had the energy to get done what needed to be done.

After working 9 hours Sunday, I took an hour to put my feet up and enjoy Jet's comedic antics, and then I ran 8 miles. Those were very tough miles. My legs were tired! But I persevered and then got to bed early before another 9 hour work day today. My kettlebell and suspension training class tonight was tougher than usual. I was fatigued, but I did what I could.

Now I've got my feet are up. I'm watching my favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, and enjoying a cup of decaf, as I gather my thoughts and prepare myself for tomorrow's schedule. I've got 10 miles to run before heading off to work mid-morning. Hopefully I'll have enough energy after work to attend my evening AA meeting. I think I'm due. But I'll worry about that tomorrow.

I'm doing well. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I'm grateful to be feeling better.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Knocked Down

I don't want to write about not feeling good. It's been so long. But for some reason, or no reason at all, yesterday was a rough day. It was weird. I awoke Thursday morning feeling like I had been hit by a truck. I couldn't seem to shake the sleep from my body. My mood was very low right off the bat.

I had an appointment early in the morning. After returning home, it was my plan to go running. I had a hill workout on my schedule. But when I got home, all I could do was go back to bed. My parents were visiting and just starting their day, but I couldn't even stay awake for them. They went about their business while I slept.

I figured I'd be refreshed and ready to run when I awoke. But two hours later, nothing had changed. The extra sleep didn't help. In fact, I laid back down shortly after I got up. And it wasn't only physical. For the first time in a long time, my mood was in the tank.

I saw my doctor mid-afternoon. At our last visit, we discussed decreasing my anti-depressant. We were going to make a decision at yesterday's appointment, but based upon how I was feeling, we decided against it. Of course that made sense, but I was so looking forward to lowering my dose.

Things continued along the same lines most of the day. I did get out with my mom for a couple hours late in the afternoon, but I never did get those hills run. We ate dinner out, and I couldn't wait to get home. I went to bed long before they retired. Fortunately, my parents understand my occasional need for lots of sleep.

Today has been slightly better. I'm still lower than I've been, but I'm not pushing the panic button yet. I did okay at work today, even though I wasn't my usual chatty, cheerful self. I'm scheduled to run 20 miles tomorrow, and with the cooperation of our current gorgeous, sunny, dry weather, I'm feeling fairly optimistic I'll get it done. I'm preparing now, and I plan for another early bed time tonight.

I'm feeling more hopeful this precipitous descent will reverse itself as quickly as it attacked. And that's what it felt like, a sneak attack. It came out of the blue on what should have been a beautiful, happy day. Thankfully, that was yesterday, and I don't have to live it again. Moving forward now, we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A decent race

For the second Saturday in a row, I ran a race. This race was 11 miles long. It's an annual event held on a paved bike trail which runs through the woods northwest of town. It's a very laid back race, and only about 50 people ran despite the perfect, sunny and cool weather conditions. I run this race every year, even though I always find myself questioning that decision somewhere around mile nine every year.

This year was no exception. I was feeling quite cooked by mile nine and cursing myself for running yet again. Despite that, I did have a decent race. I ran entirely by feel. I didn't look at my watch once. I wore one, because I like to see my mile splits after the fact, but I wanted to run without worrying about pace. Unfortunately, I had some uncomfortable GI distress, which kept my anxiety up until I finally took a quick pit-stop around mile four. After that I was able to focus all of my anxiety on the discomfort of running an out-and-back 11-mile race! (That was a joke.)

This is what I looked like about one half mile prior to the finish. I definitely look a lot better than I felt! I was totally ready to be done!

 
I ended up finishing second overall, and first of only two women in my age division, in a time of 1:25:21. I'm okay with that. I didn't take any easy or rest days prior to the race, and I'm in the middle weeks of my marathon training, so 1:25:21 is a decent time. I'm sure I could run faster, but I guess I'll have to wait until next year to prove that. Next year... yup, I'm sure I'll go back.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Jet's Surgical Consult

Jet and I made the trek to the orthopedic surgery veterinarian yesterday. Unfortunately, the consulting vet hadn't yet seen Jet's x-rays, as my vet neglected to mail them. I'm not sure how that happened, as he received the rest of Jet's file. Regardless, we went ahead with the consult. He read the radiologist's report, manually checked all of Jet's joints, and watched him walk and run. Without the x-rays, of course, he couldn't confirm the fragmented coronoid process diagnosis, but we discussed the options for that diagnosis anyway.

The best option for a dog Jet's age is arthroscopic surgery.  If Jet was older, in fact, surgery wouldn't be an option, so it's actually good he developed this at an early age. Go figure. The surgeon will clean out the debris in the joint and remove any free-floating bony fragments. The vet wants to see the x-rays before we schedule anything, but the sooner Jet has the surgery the better his long-term outcome will be.

Besides figuring out how to manage this financially, I'll have to try to get a loan, the most challenging aspect of this surgery will be Jet's recovery. The recovery will take at least 6 weeks, and Jet has to be still and quiet the entire time. Still and quiet are words that have never been applicable to Jet! I'm not sure who will crack first, me or Jet! It's going to be very difficult for both of us!

I feel a little better now that I've met with the surgeon. He said it's "not unheard of" for a dog Jet's age to have a complete recovery from this procedure and to regain normal function for years to come. He wouldn't even rule out Jet running with me in the future. It may be a possibility. Unfortunately, the reality is Jet does have arthritis already, and the surgeon confirmed it will only progress over time. He recommended I begin supplementing Jet's diet with fish oil immediately, which I will do, as fish oil is apparently quite good for animal joints. I'll do whatever I can.

I left the vet consult feeling a little hopeful, a little worried, and a little overwhelmed. I need to look into financing the surgery somehow. I want to be ready to go as soon as the vet calls with confirmation of the diagnosis and plan. I need to look into getting some sort of small outdoor kennel so that Jet can at least be outside while being still and quiet. He loves being outside, and I don't want to take that away from him. And I need to keep praying. I need to trust my higher power and have faith this will all work out eventually. I can only take the actions for which I have control. I need to leave the outcome to something bigger than me.



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