Monday, November 11, 2013

Where I've been, why I haven't been writing, and why I really should be writing more.

I really do not want to write this. I want to be positive and upbeat and encouraging.  But I  do not have that in me right now.  And I resent the hell out of that.  I live such a blessed life that I have NO LOGICAL REASON to be depressed!  I live in an amazing country, have a great house, and belong to a wonderful community.  My kids are smart and strong and have very few health issues. I have a loving husband and extended family.  Very few financial stressors. My family never goes hungry or has to wait for health care.  Yet..the depression is there.  And it is far more than "everybody feels a little blue sometimes."  That I could understand. THAT I could cope with. It is this overwhelming sadness that I just can't wrap my brain around.

I have been dealing with some pretty rough depression over the past several weeks.  Had my hormone levels tested 2 and half weeks ago and my testosterone was down to 87. (when it should be between 100-300)  I can't remember my estradiol, but it was higher than it was at the last check.  So they inserted 1 testosterone and only 3 of the E2 this time.

I felt "okay" after that, but not great. Then last week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I felt GREAT. I was sick on a couple of those days, but emotionally I felt really good.  I should have gone in to get my hormones retested. The doctor calls this my "feel good" test. They want to see where my levels are when I am feeling great. And then we would try to keep them in that range. 

Friday was a very low energy day. I was feeling a bit blue, but not horrible. Then Saturday was really rough. Not sure what set it off.  Anxiety in the morning, and just got worse throughout the day.  Even though we went to visit my son, I felt awful. Then on Sunday, things were pretty upbeat.  We drove back up to see the boy again, went to see a movie, and then took him shopping for groceries. I wasn't over the moon happy, but things felt "good."   

Today I'm feeling overwhelmed with depression and anxiety.  Irrational thoughts floating around. Nothing horrible, but the thought of renting a one bedroom apartment somewhere far away seems really appealing. Also regretting having the surgery done. Which I know is ridiculous.  Physically I am feeling a LOT better.  No more cramps, don't have to deal with menstrual cycles , and my libido has improved.  But the emotional ups and downs are more intense.  I've also been contemplating looking into antidepressants again, which is something I would rather NOT have to do. But, the doctor advised that I wait until hormones get leveled out. Which, logically I agree with, but dammit, I want the "quick fix." What I really need to do is find a good therapist. Specifically one who works with woman's issues.

I KNOW I do better when I am out of the house most of the time. Last month, the time I spent dealing with the death of my grandpa and the hospitalization of my grandma, I felt strong and focused. Which feels odd to me. That should be the time when I am overwhelmed. But I had a job to do and people depending on me.  

I do better when I am around people, (not a LOT)  but at the same time, I don't want to be around anyone. I also do better when I am exercising. But days like this, when I am in such a deep hole, it's damn near impossible.  

Something else the doctor said...stress makes you burn through the hormone pellets faster, which might explain why my testosterone level was so low. However, exercise helps keep the hormones level for longer.  Not sure how that works because I figured that with the increased metabolism from working out, you would burn through the pellets faster. But I guess that is not the case. 

I also just had a thought today. I am wondering if part of this is due to the upcoming holidays.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but with all the stores RAMMING Christmas down our throats before Halloween, I just feel yuck about the whole damn thing.  And no matter how hard I try, the memories of my childhood Christmases always out "glare" the memories of the last 25 years.  Which is pretty pathetic. And...maybe a post for another time.

With luck, in the next couple of weeks I will be doing a bit better.  I've been asked to help a friend out with the upcoming community theater production. In the past working with this group has really lifted my spirits. They are energetic and funny and I do love being around them. Feeling hopeful this will be a step towards climbing out of the hole.  At the very least, it will help me get through the next few weeks and through the holidays.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Long Month

Part 2

Early Monday morning Grandma had started suffering from severe stomach pain and shortness of breath. The EMTs were called and she was taken to a nearby hospital.  By the time I made it to the hospital Monday afternoon, they had just decided that Grandma would be having surgery that evening.  She was suffering from a very large hiatal hernia.  So, Dad, his fiancĂ©, and I waited while Grandma was in the OR. When we finally got back to see her it was pretty late. She was sedated and on a ventilator.   If you have never seen a loved one in that condition, let me assure you, it is rough.  At one point she woke up and was very wide eyed and scared. 

Grandma had the vent in until Wed afternoon. It was heartbreaking. Most of the time she was sedated, but every now and then they would put her on “sedation vacation”, turn the vent down, and see if how well she could breathe on her own.  During those times she was conscious, she would desperately try to talk to me.  She tried using her hands to get points across, but she was wearing these huge clumsy mittens to prevent her from pulling the vent out on her own.  There were times she would be crying and I could do nothing to help her but hold her mittened hand and tell her that she wasn’t alone.  I felt incredibly helpless. 

I stayed in Ohio until Friday morning. Spending my days at the hospital with Grandma and Dad and my nights at my in-laws home, 30 minutes away.  I am so blessed to have the in-laws that I do.  Their home is a place I consider a safe haven. A place I can recharge.  I can go there and be completely at ease.

My husband and I ended up driving back down to visit Grandma Saturday afternoon. My aunt and uncle drove back up from Tennessee as well. After visiting Grandma at the hospital we all went back to the condo to see Irwin. Hospice had just put him on 24 hour watch.  While we were there Irwin’s sister called and he was able to talk to her a bit. I was holding his hand while they spoke to each other and when he told her that he loved her, he reached up and started gently patting my face.  I know he was imagining that I was his baby sister. Maybe it makes me weird, but I can’t express how that made me feel, to be part of such loving moment was very special.  

At that point my uncle said “Well, if he was able to talk to his sister…”  I didn’t even let him finish. I said “YES! We HAVE to let Grandma talk to him!”  I had wanted to have them talk on the phone since she’d gotten off the vent…but I felt that I was “just the granddaughter” and did not have the confidence to suggest it.  (I hate that I am like that)  So, my husband, aunt, cousin, and I went to the hospital to be with Grandma and the others stayed back with Irwin.  I felt that it was important that Grandma had someone on her end while they talked.  They were able to talk for about 5 minutes. And Irwin was more animated than he’d been in a couple of days.  They were able to laugh about the first time they’d met when my grandma was 12 and he was 17 and the train rides they took together 50 years later. They were able to say their last I love you’s and their last goodbyes. Grandma kept telling us that we had given her a gift by making sure they got to talk again.  Again, I am the one who felt like I’d been given a gift to be part of something so intimate.   

That night we stayed with my aunt and uncle at a rented condo next to Irwin’s. We expected a phone call or knock on the door in the middle of the night, but it did not come.  My uncle and I both woke up early the next morning and spent a couple of hours talking.  I’m grateful for that time. My uncle is very special to me and we do not get to see each other often. To have that one on one time meant a lot to me.

After visiting both Irwin and Grandma one last time, we left for home.  The girls and I had to pack because we were heading out to Florida the next day.  I spent a long time debating on whether to go. I felt guilty, but for a variety of reasons, we decided it was the right thing to do.   

It's Been a LONG Month

Part 1:

It’s Been a Long Month

Running…has sort of been on hold.  The AFM 5K on Friday (Sept 20) was canceled due to t-storms. Good call on the organizers, but I was disappointed.  People still got their medals, which was cool. (Of course I felt that I had to earn my medal, so that Monday I went out and did a total of 4 miles.  And my 5K split was 45:54, and I was pleased.  But since then, I’ve only run 4 times, and I have a 5K in just over a week which I am NOT prepared for.  Oh well.)

After the cancellation of the 5K, we went to our friends’ house and had dinner. It’d been far too long since we’d spent time with them and we really enjoyed ourselves. During dinner I was introduced to a brand of wine called Rex-Goliath: Giant 47 Pound Rooster…or as I like to call it “The Giant Cock.”  (I know, not terribly creative)  She’d bought Moscato, which I had JUST tried for the first time a few days before. I LOVE it.  I’m sure I’d be criticized by “real wine connoisseurs” because it is far too sweet.  Well, they can bite me. It’s yummy.  

The following morning my husband did his 10K. His goal was to beat his time from when he was 22 years old.  He honestly did not think he would pull it off.  But he did…by nearly 2 minutes, 54:29.  I was very proud of him.  I have now challenged him to go for 50 minutes.  (yes, sometimes I’m the little devil on the shoulder.)
Jim after 10K walking to get his finishers medal. (I won't lie, he was looking pretty sexy at that point)

That night we went to visit my Grandma and step-Grandpa to celebrate their birthdays. Grandpa Irwin had been fighting prostate cancer for years and I knew that fight was coming to an end. But when we saw him that night I was stunned at how much he’d decline in the past month. He was so frail.  They’d brought in a hospital bed and put it up in their sun room.  When we’d been there just a few weeks before, he’d been sitting in the living room on the couch.  But now he was only leaving the hospital bed to go to the bathroom. 
Grandma was telling me that she was having problems caring for him due to her own health issues.  So that night my family decided that I would come back on Monday and stay the week with them so Grandma wasn’t trying to care for him alone.  And selfishly, it allowed me to spend some more time with him.

By the time I got there on Monday, they had aides coming in to help during most of the day. That was a HUGE help.  It was a rough week, but also a good week.  He was in a lot of pain and at times he was very confused and agitated. Then there would be periods of time when he was sitting up in bed, doing the crossword puzzles and laughing.  We watched Dancing with the Stars together and talked about the news. Sometimes he would get irritated about all the different aides coming in and out of the condo and would rant about that for a while. Or get upset about his medications and lash out a bit.  But the man was in pain and he was scared and dammit, he DESERVED to be able to bitch and complain and holler! I do NOT begrudge him of that at all.  And the fact that he would always apologize later, after the pain subsided, would break my heart.  But, *I* was able to handle that. Grandma was not. *I* knew it was not personal. Grandma would internalize it. It was very sad. I was torn between wanting him to be able to yell at the world and wanting him to stay calm so Grandma wouldn’t get worked up.

The last night I was there was a good night. The three of us stayed up late and he was telling me some stories about the end of World War ll.  Some sad and some funny.  We all ended up laughing before it was time for bed.   As sad as it was, I will always cherish that week and especially that evening. 

The plan was for me to come back the following Monday and stay for a couple of days and then his children would come and take turns helping.  But I got a text early Monday morning from my dad.  Grandma had been taken to the ER.  

The end of week one and start of week two.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pre-Race Blahs

I really don’t want to be writing. Haven’t wanted to for days.  But, the husband said I should. The point of me starting this blog was to talk about what I’m going through with the whole menopause and bHRT.  OK. Fine. You’re right, Dear.

The past week (maybe even 2 weeks now) have been rough. More than half the time I am feeling blue. I have no drive and no interest in most things. I want to stay hidden. I want to cry.  I want to yell.  When I DO go out, it’s because I have forced myself to do it.  The thing is, there are times when I just CAN’T force myself. 

Please, please, please do NOT give me the “You just have to make yourself happy” or “you just have to make yourself do it” bullshit.  Because it does NOT work for everyone.  One of the WORST things you can tell someone who suffers from major depression is “Just THINK yourself happy.”   Because when they try and they are not able to do it, that is just ONE MORE THING they feel they have failed! 

I am not saying that cognitive therapy is not helpful. FAR from it.  It is vital! But know it is not as simple as “just think happy thoughts.” It takes a LONG time. It takes “retraining” your brain.  It’s not just a simple switch that you can flip on or off.  It is a total rewiring!   
OK. OFF that soap box.

I’ve also been a bit more snippy.   The husband has been irritating me.  He actually had the nerve to try to recommend a solution to a complaint I had the other night.  I was getting really mad at him.  When he wouldn’t stop talking I finally yelled “IT'S NOT ABOUT THE NAIL!!”  At least that soothed things a bit and we were able to laugh.

 Then yesterday morning, I got mad at him for trying to make me a ham sandwich.  WTH?  He was trying to be nice. He was doing something I had asked. But it wasn’t fast enough and I changed my mind and I snapped at him.   I did apologize.  He said he was sure it was the hormones and that I’m really not that much of a bitch. (OK, he didn’t add the bitch part. That was me) And that was when he suggested that I write about all yuck that I am feeling.

For whatever reason, I am feeling far more down than I did while I was recovering from my surgery. More irritable.   I think I got overconfident when I was feeling so upbeat emotionally (most of the time) those first few weeks.  Now, I guess the hormone roller-coaster is in full swing. 

Hell, this is Air Force Marathon weekend. I should be super excited!  But I’m not.  I had to force myself to leave the house yesterday morning. Yes, I was looking forward to seeing my friends and family, but I’m not excited or really happy about the rest of it.  I’ve only had a couple minor episodes of pre-race butterflies. I am hoping that changes as the day goes on. But I’m not terribly hopeful as the weather is looking iffy for tonight. 

This will change. Things will get better.  I know I was foolish to think that maybe anxiety and depression would somehow be surgically removed with the uterus. But hey, can’t blame a girl for hoping.   On the plus side, I’ve dealt with depression enough that I am not blindsided by this.  I can’t imagine how it must feel for women who have never been depressed to suddenly be swallowed up by it after surgery or once menopause starts.   

So now, time to force myself out of the house. I need to hit the bank and then go back to the expo to buy a couple items.  Retail therapy?  Maybe a little. But these were two things I’d already allotted for. (Don’t worry Farmboy, I promise not to go overboard.)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Better Day! C25K Week 2 Day 4

 Emotionally…MUCH BETTER today.  At least thus far. I’ve learned that it can change in a moment’s notice.  Which is always a lot fun.   But so far, so good.

This morning the husband and I went back out to Fort Ben to get some more hill work in before Friday’s 5K.  I decided I wanted to do the whole loop, rather than keeping mostly to the flat areas. I know I’ve said it before, but there are some really good hills out there!

My running partners for this years AFM 5K.
I really wanted to improve my best post-surgery time, but wasn’t confident that I could, given the terrain.  Somehow I pulled it off.  47:54.   Last week, I’d dropped my time down to 50:50 and that was all on the flat bike trail.  So I am thrilled that I dropped nearly 3 minutes with all the hills!  AND my last split was my fastest post-surgery mile at 14:43.  Hoping the excitement and energy of the other runners will help me cut those last 2 minutes off my time on Friday night. 

I will also have my posse running with me. My husband and my two younger girls and one of my sole sisters. They’ve all promised to help me reach my goal time.   And then dinner with friends to celebrate! (and to fuel the hubby for his 7:30 am 10K…in which he hopes to beat the time he set as a 22 year old. And honestly, he has a good shot of doing that. If not in this race, in one later this season!) 
My Sole Sisters at last year Columbus Hot Chocolate Run. Love these women so much!

In other news…OUCH! First time my shins have hurt since starting intervals!  But even with the sore body, I feel so much better than I did this weekend. Might be my body and spirit’s way of telling me that 5 days without running, makes for one sad, cranky mama.   

Oh yeah...tomorrow marks 2 months since my surgery. Hell yeah! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hormone Stuff

Getting a little worried.  Friday was a rough day.  Started off OK at 5:00am, but 2 hours later I was anxious and agitated.  And the day just got worse from there. Nothing set it off. Just felt “bad.”   By the time we hit the road for Bloomington, around 7:00pm, I was a mess.  And the fact that all the crazy drivers in Indiana appear to live on the south side, did not help. 

One woman intentionally tried to run us into the lane to our right, where there were other cars. (and yes, I am POSITIVE it was intentional.)  In my 24 years of driving, I think I have only flipped the bird 2 times.  Friday night was my 3rd.   I also called her some names that I am not terribly proud of and wished terrible things on her.  Maybe, if I had been alone in the car, I would not have said that I hoped she would have a horrible, single car accident.  But I wasn’t alone. My girls and husband were with me and all I could think about was ripping that woman’s throat out with my bare hands.  The sheer RAGE that I felt was incredibly intense. And it took over an hour for me to calm down.  Once I did, I was really ashamed of myself.  It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde.  (Given the chance though, I’d still like punch her in the face and burn her driver's license.)

Saturday morning was better.  I spent it outside at Lake Lemon with my family, watching my sister in law compete in her first sprint triathlon.  And I got to spend hours doing one of the things I love the most…taking pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Sadly, I am an idiot and did not check to see WHICH SD card I had.  I didn’t even KNOW we owned a 2gb card!  I hit 500 pictures and the card was FULL!  Thankfully, I had time to go through and delete a bunch of pictures so I didn’t miss any shots of the sister.  (who, by the way, got 2nd in her age group!)   I did a lot of running around and ended up a bit sore. But it was a good sore. (on the other hand, I feel like a total wuss for admitting that after watching all those people finish racing.) 
Lake Lemon the morning of the triathlon.

Later, we went out to dinner at a restaurant with a beautiful view of the lake and valley.  We listened to live jazz and had a great meal. Unfortunately, I was still feeling “off.” I can’t put my finger on it, but I was still agitated.  The band was great, but a bit too loud for me.  The people sitting behind us were far too close.  It was very difficult to just immerse myself in the surroundings and ENJOY it. I was never able to just relax. Even after a glass of wine.  Perfect weather, good music, very yummy wine, my beautiful family…what’s not to love?  Why should I feel less than happy?  

Statue in front of Scenic View restaurant.

Today has been more of the same. But a bit worse. Feeling blue. Feeling anxious. Tears for no reason.  A bit of anger…for various reasons.  Can’t shake it.   Desperately wanting to “run away.” 

Really hoping that this is just a bad couple of days.  Just some of the fluctuations that come with menopause and hormone therapy.  The doctor told me to chart days like these. Might mean I need to adjust my treatments.

 I know this will take a while. Levels need to adjust and all that.  I just HATE feeling like this when I know there is no real “external” reason for it.  


* I HIGHLY recommend The Scenic View resteraunt if you are ever in Bloomington.