Ugly crying

I found myself ugly crying in the shower so I thought I’d finally processed some of my emotions.  I always find myself being strong for everyone else, doing what is required in the situation for my family. 

Holding it together so I don’t burden the people around me who love me even though they don’t have to. 

It’d been a few weeks since the awful call. 

I had been sitting there cross stitching Mr Resetti for Tim, talking to Nate when I my phone buzzed.  A missed Facebook call from Jenny.  We hadn’t spoken in years.  It must be a fat finger.  And then another call.  My stomach drops.  I message her back asking if everything is okay.

A third call and I answer.

Sobbing.  My brother Chris is gone. 

Just like that.  Someone found him.  No one knows why. Gone. 

I’m numb.  I don’t know what to think.  I don’t know what to do.  I jump to conclusions.  I cry. 

I call my mom crying.  Ruin her night hell her life. Telling her that her first son is gone from this world. No I don’t know where.  No I don’t know how.  All I know is he’s gone. 

Sure it’s the week before Christmas. It sure doesn’t feel like it though. It feels like I’m in purgatory ot Beetlejuice. Nothing makes sense.

I message my boss. I try to carry on. I cry. Nothing makes sense. I can barely function. I can’t believe it. My boss asks me to please stop trying to work. Please take time off. No it doesn’t matter that it’s the holiday and most of the staff is off. Just close the laptop. Stop going through the motions.

Deal with the emotions. Stop and actually feel them. Be there for my family.

Instead I write bad poetry. The first in years. Hell decades.

Recovery

Recovery is going very slowly. I’m trying to not run, and it’s really getting to me. I have been sleeping 10 or 12 hours a day instead of my usual 8 and my anxiety has been through the roof.

Nate and I went to a different grocery store than we typically do. Same chain, but a different location with slightly better produce and cheese selection. Initially he had wanted to eat at a restaurant nearby, but realized he wasn’t familiar with how clean they are. (Turns out this can be scary during a pandemic.)

We skipped the restaurant and went to the grocery store, it was 4:00 and there were people everywhere. This store has one way aisles to prevent crowding and promote social distancing. It seemed like every aisle had someone going the wrong way, someone dragging 4 kids, an old trophy wife in giant stilettos in the middle of the aisle, or a combination of all the above. Plus throw in the occasional hurried businessman or completely lost patron.

Nate was annoyed, and I was on edge by the time we got through a few aisles. We didn’t need much, but we’re not familiar with the layout so we’re going everywhere. I’m getting anxious and he’s getting annoyed, declaring people won’t push him through the aisles. By the time we get to the cheese I’m 15 seconds from totally melting down and leaving my cart.

Sometimes I forget how much running helps and not working out for a week is getting to me. I’m not addicted in a fitorexia sort of way (I weigh twice my ideal body weight) but it’s become such a stress reliever that I question if my anti anxiety medications are doing anything at all.

The first time I tried to run I decided to do a 5 minute waking warmup then 30 second runs and 1 minute walks. I managed to get one 30 second hobble in before my leg cramp set it. 2 mile walk it was.

Back to massage, foam rolling, hot baths, and biofreeze.

Covid Struggle

The Covid pandemic has been a really weird dream like concept for me. I haven’t known what to believe or how likely I am to get it, how long it lives on different surfaces, etc because we just don’t know enough facts yet.

I have friends who have only left their house twice a month to have groceries deposited into their trunk and I’ve had friends who went from Cedar Point to New York to Disney and back home with no quarantine in between.

I personally have been going to the grocery store once a week, wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer, cart wipes, not touching stuff I don’t intend to buy. And going to the fitness boutique gym that props open doors, has you sanitize as soon as you come in, wear a mask to your treadmill which is 6 feet from the next, and wipe it all down and carry your weights back to the rack while wearing your mask.

Point being, I don’t know what precautions make sense these days.

Last week I thought my heart stopped when I received an email saying I had possibly been exposed to COVID-19 from a person I had run with. It seems like everything is a symptom so Nate and I started playing the Russian roulette of is it Covid or allergies?

I learned about the possible exposure 72 hours after the fact, and started looking up testing times. Another 2 days to schedule an appointment and 3-5 days for results that may or may not be accurate? (Fun fact, if you have diarrhea like I did, you’re more likely to have a false negative from the nasal swab. It would require a stool sample which we do not do here in the US.)

It has been a week. I have not had the energy to work out, and am quarantining until I feel better (plus a couple days) I don’t want to chance infecting someone.

I can not begin to tell you how depressed I am from sitting at home, not working out. I’m barely functioning.

Sleepless Nights

I’ve been having a hard time sleeping lately.  And it’s not just the 90°+ weather. Although that’s been spectacular. 

Our A/C unit is 30+ years old so we open windows,  turn on fans,  and just sweat it out. When it’s really bad, we’ll sleep with ice packs on our chest or back.  I’ve found the clay ones stay cold for ages. 

“Get the A/C fixed!” you cry. Except our slab concrete porch was sinking and putting pressure on our basement wall,  causing a slowly growing crack.  We had the Basement Doctor out.  They (literally) girded up our basement for several grand. 

Then we realized the gutter on the front of the house was overflowing so we had someone out to check for a blockage and found out water was flowing from our gutter into the front of our house.  The clay pipes were long since destroyed if they ever existed at all. 

They used a neat tool called a Ditch Witch to put a trench up our front yard,  hand dug under our porch,  and then laid all the piping and connected it to make sure it flowed away from our foundation and sinking porch. That was stressful and not inexpensive. 

While this happened, we realized our chimney needed chinked.  We know a Jack of all trades, but masonry work is best left to the pros.  They came out and ran a camera up into our chimney and horrified us with everything wrong.  The flashing where the gutter meets the chimney had a gap so water was pouring over it causing the external damage we saw.   It was also destroying the entire chimney box inside. 

We had them fix the gutter,  chink the bricks outside,  replace the box and flu inside,  and also fix the pipes from our furnace because THAT was not correct either.  (They told us to get a CO2 detector the same day and that we were lucky my niece slept downstairs in the summer when the furnace was not on to give you an Idea.)

That was not cheap. 

Fast forward…. well okay not really.  Maybe a year? 6 months? We had our Jack of All Trades come out with a jackhammer to destroy our slab porch.  We also had the city come out to permit us.  Our JOAT was dumbfounded by the depth of the slab and the amount of stone underneath. 

Nate and I helped where we could to save time and money.  Nate helped break up concrete.  We both threw slabs into the dumpster.  It was not pretty.  We still have scrape marks on our walk way from the wheelbarrow of concrete chunks.  (Did I mention we grow tons of flowers and didn’t want to completely destroy the yard?)

Our JOAT sets the concrete for the beams, and our porch comes together beautifully.  He also tends to come around 12 and work until 6, and typically forgets something and has to drive across town in rush hour traffic to get it. (Even though I complain about it,  he does an amazing job,  and his mind works in a totally different way than mine does.  Perhaps I envy him to a degree.)

In any case…. that wasn’t cheap either. 

This past Fall he came back out to insulate our house.  He used a drill with a special attachment to cut 4″ holes in our crawl space and blow insulation in.  (Nate manned the machine that chopped it up and blew it up 20+ feet of hose through an open second floor window and into the 4″ holes in the crawl space.

That was (relatively?) cheap. It was under a grand anyways.

So yeah…. I can’t sleep these days. It’s not the heat necessarily as much as my anxiety.

I’ve been writing this for an hour, and we’ll hopefully replace our central air unit within the next few years. In any case, I’ll be getting up at 4:50am tomorrow, lacing up my running shoes, and hopefully running off some of my anxiety.

Hilltop (Virtual) 5K

Over the Independence Day weekend, I ran a virtual 5K with my friend Michelle.  It wasn’t originally supposed to be a virtual event, but like so many others, it had to switch because of Covid-19. 

The Hilltop 5K is put on by the Columbus Westside Running Club and benefits local veterans.  A few of their honored guests included local VFW posts and the Columbus Mounted Police. They offered a traditional 5K and a rucksack 5K where you fill a backpack, rucksack, or other bag with 35 pounds of stuff and run/walk for 3.1 miles.  I’m already carrying an extra hundred pounds of fat on my body, so I passed on the rucksack challenge.  (Michelle told me that the Columbus Westside Running Group is completely free, I just joined today and added them to my Strava.  I need all the motivation I can get.)

Since it was a virtual event, volunteers dropped off the t-shirts, race bibs, and medals in advance.  Michelle had completed it last year, so she also received a dog tag with her name and last year’s race results on it.  Last year the event kicked off around 9am and was blazing hot.  She said she walked the last mile and begged someone to spray her with a garden hose to cool her down.

This year, Michelle wanted to PR it and crush last year’s results.   We met at Westgate Park before 6AM.  (I have to say running in Ohio in July has me on a super weird sleep schedule!  I am up a few days a week at 4:50AM to run at 5:30AM!  Other days I sleep in until 7am.  Either way, I still go to bed at 9PM like a grandma and take naps every chance I get.) But I digress, we each got up at the butt crack of dawn and met at the park to beat the heat.   

We wore our bibs and left our medals in our cars for afterward to make it more “official.” Michelle had never run a virtual 5K before, and I had only run a couple before this year.  It was cool- only reached 66 by the time we were done, but we worked up a sweat doing run walk intervals anyways.  It was nice to catch up and talk about work, our mutual friends, home remodeling projects etc in between sprints.  I think my favorite part was when we saw someone running down the road wearing the Hilltop 5K t-shirt, probably doing the same virtual race.  If there’s 3 of us doing it at the same place, that makes it a non-virtual, in person official race, right?  Especially since one was a stranger!

We completed it in 46:14, which crushed Michelle’s last attempt.  She was very happy, and then went on that day to work with her husband delivering packages and more than doubled her step goal.  All in all, it was great.  It made me realize a few things.  Not all virtual races are a cash grab- some can benefit your community.  Running early is the way to do it.  And last but not least, having an accountabili-buddy is really helpful

Breathing Room

After a few days, a few kinds of anesthesia, a few attempts to have mom breathe on her own, her lungs are finally clear enough for her to manage. They take out all of the tubes and bring her back to consciousness.

Her throat hurts which is understandable and to be expected. Her voice sounds stronger than it has in ages. It sounds like she has some of her pep back. The antibiotics and fluid removal is working. The swelling in her legs is down and her lungs are clear. After seeing her under anesthesia with breathing tubes, this seems like a miracle.

I tell her that my niece, C, and I will be up Saturday to visit her in the hospital. I know it cheers her up to see us and it’s always nice to see her. We’re not able to do this often because of the bedbugs at her house. Honestly, I miss her and wish I could spend more time with her and help out more than I can from Columbus.

I am very relieved that she’s doing well enough to be moved out of ICU, and expect she’ll be back home Monday.

I’m forcing myself to get workouts in at work. Spin once, strength training a few days, and one short run in. I keep telling myself I need to keep myself healthy too. I also know it helps my stress levels and mental health. I feel guilty for not running more, but I’m pulling overtime when I can at work.

Life just gets in the way

I’ve been meaning to post for weeks now but life keeps happening. It started with several reminders/ prompts from my computer that I have zero right to privacy on company computers/ time. Which I respect, but means it’s all cell phone all the time for posts.

And then things with mom keep popping up. I’ve been stressed and not handling it well. I’m eating foods that I know disagree with me, and too many of them trying to find some sort of comfort. I’m forcing myself to continue my strength training and spin workouts but find myself avoiding running because I don’t want to be left alone with my thoughts.

I’ve noticed that when Nate is totally stressed, our cat starts getting sick.

Well, I’ve now managed to make him vomit everywhere too. I guess he’s accepted me? Lucky him, and lucky me.

Anyways, I intend to write some posts in the coming weeks about everything that’s been going on, and I intend to make running more of a priority or I’ll never make it to the Columbus Half marathon.

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression- and the Unexpected Solutions

 by Johann Hari

This past week I read Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression. I believe I may have seen it referenced in another book I read recently, Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse. If it wasn’t that, it may have been on the news. I have a habit of adding books to my to-read queue on Goodreads if the author sounds interesting while they’re being interviewed. I also like to add books that are referenced in other books that I’m reading.

Enough about my weird habits though.

The author wrote about his history of depression, and how his doctor prescribed anti-depressants which seemed to help at first, but then were less effective, repeatedly as the dosage increases and his body got used to the newer dosage. Ultimately, he began to investigate and realized that the science behind this logic – and prescription of antidepressants was faulty at best and intentionally misleading for profit at worst. Hari describes feeling slightly attacked. Like this couldn’t be true, because he WANTED the drugs to work. He wanted the science to be true because it seemed as though his life wasn’t that bad.

I can relate to this. The first time I was prescribed Paxil I was 19, fresh out of High School. I had graduated with Honors, I was accepted to the Austin E Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University, and was engaged set to marry my High School sweetheart in a matter of months. Everything was perfect.

So why was I spending an average of 18-20 hours a day sleeping, and the other 4-6 crying uncontrollably and having panic attacks? There HAD to be something wrong in my brain. It HAD to be chemistry. Picking up the phone to make that appointment with the doctor is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. Just a note: if one of your friends or family members is struggling, you may want to offer to make some phone calls for them, especially if it’s social anxiety or something that prevents them from wanting to leave the house.

I had my appointment, I checked off almost all the boxes on the doctor’s depression checklist, I was prescribed Paxil and sent on my merry way with a pat on the back. During this time, I also broke off my engagement, quit my job, and did not move to attend college. But baby steps, I had the medication and my faulty brain chemistry would be fixed. (Or maybe not so much and I’ll be blogging about this nearly twenty years later.)

It turns out, there’s no real proof that these drugs work for people with depression. I am absolutely 100% unequivocally NOT telling people to stop their medication. That is a discussion for you and your doctor. What I am saying is, I read this book and it struck several notes with me. For one, it may have helped if someone asked me if I was ready to move to another city for college, if I was sure I wanted to marry my High School Sweetheart or if I felt that I would forever be trapped as his mommy rather than his partner, if I was feeling stagnant at my fast food manager job, or if stresses at home or if I had recently started taking hormonal birth control before these mood swings.

The author doesn’t just bash on medications and suggest talk therapy. We’re all unique, we all have different needs, and for some of us anxiety is bad enough that that’s not a possibility. What he does spend a great deal of the book talking about is alternatives.

He talks about a group of people who are brought together to change this nasty dog turd filled lot into a park for the community, and how it changed their lives. How they learned to talk to one another, defend and advocate for themselves, and how much enrichment being outside in the fresh air working on something to help other people gave them meaning that they felt was missing in their life at that time.

He also talks about an accountant who is asked to speak to a school about budgeting and realizes that the students are interested in buying things to fit in rather than for the actual enjoyment of the objects. He breaks the class down into a group that continues to do this, and a group that gets together and discusses what brings them quality of life and how to achieve those goals, and their happiness over time.

I’d recommend picking it up from your local library and giving it a chance- there’s several other things I haven’t included in my review since this isn’t Cliff’s Notes.