Friday, December 31, 2021

Goodbye 2021

I'm floored that it's almost 2022. I think I may actually say that every year... but it's still completely true. And, really, probably more true this year than most. Because, let's face it, 2021 has been kind of a shitshow. Hell, the last two years have been, which I think is almost everyone's experience since the start of the pandemic. The last two years have been so memorable, I'm sure I'll never forget them. I'm not sure the dumpster fire is worth the memories, but it's not really up to me.

This year started with me being out of work and ended with surgery for a badly broken leg. In the middle we had a broken down vehicle, had to have our 15 year old Shih-tzu put down, adopted two sweet little cats, I went to the doctor for the first time in seven years, I got a new job, had a pretty serious upper respiratory infection and no voice for two months, a cancelled vacation to AZ, had a visit from my little sister, and my best friend earning her Ph.D. It's been a crazy year.

In all that, my #1 take away from 2021 has been not to take the things you have, and can do, for granted. So, as we go into a new year, that's my focus. I'm going to take every day with gratitude and not take the small things for granted. Will I always succeed at that? Hell no, nope, no way. Zero chance. But, I'm going to try and that's what's important. I'm going to try to be happy with what I have, be grateful for the ability to walk, even a little bit, and do everything I can to make 2022 a better year than the last two have been. Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas

It's been a tough, trying year but we're ending it on a quiet note here in Northern Utah. Wherever you are, we hope your Christmas is calm and bright. Merry Christmas!



Thursday, December 16, 2021

Kinda, Sorta Back on My Feet

I'm partial weight bearing! I went to the doctor on December 10th for my 6 week surgical follow-up and the doctor was so happy with my progress. He said the x-rays looked fantastic, the bone is healing up, and everything looks great. No infection, no issues, so he told me I could move to the walker boot (no more splints!!!) and partial weight bearing. Then, in a few weeks, I could try to move to full weight bearing. So, it looks like I'll be walking on my own in another week or so... maybe.

I let the doctor know that I was scared to try to walk again. He seemed sympathetic to that, so it's probably something he hears from time to time. But, he said he was also a little bit glad I was nervous about it because it means I'll be cautious and not try to overdo it. He's right and wrong, because anxiety is something I live with every day and I'm impatient. Being afraid or worried is a default state for me. It might not slow me down from trying to get moving as quickly as possible because, while I know that I should take it easy, pushing through fear is a big part of my every day life. 

When we got home after that appointment, I tried to take a step by myself so I wouldn't fall off the porch and the pain was intense. Strangely, it wasn't the bones in my leg that hurt, it was my heel. I immediately didn't try that again. But, after that, I was also even more scared to try to walk because I'm not a fan of hurting and I've been in so much pain over the last two and a half months, I don't want to do something that's going to increase that. Jokes on me, though, because trying to walk again hurts. 

I used my crutches to partially weight bear to began hobbling around and, surprisingly, it was going pretty dang well. I could suddenly be vertical on my own. I learned how to get out of my chair without needing my knee scooter. In fact, the knee scooter isn't that compatible with the walking boot's weight, so it's better without the scooter. I could go into the tiny front bathroom in my house again without trouble, I could go into the kitchen for a tiny bit, and I could return to my diamond painting hobby for a little while before the pain in my foot became too much.

On Tuesday this week, the dreaded walker showed up. I got it off the porch all by myself even though it took forever for me to do so and got it set-up. And, not going to lie, it's made my life so much easier. It's helped with my atrocious balance issues and I bought a pouch for the front that helps me carry things, something I couldn't do with crutches. I still use the crutches to go up and down the stairs and I used the knee scooter to get out of the bathtub, because I'm not allowed to weight bear without the walker boot, but that's all. It's walker all the way.

Yesterday, I was able to take a shower by myself. I used my scooter to get out and my bath chair, but I did it without needing my husband's help. For the first time in more than two months, I did something for myself. I've also been able to do a bit of laundry and I did a load of dishes. I'm going to start trying to cook dinner again because ordering Door Dash all the time is for the birds. Not only is it unhealthy to eat out all the time, but it's crazy expensive to order food to the house.

It seems like I'm on the upswing, which is something I'm trying hard to remember when I'm feeling low. This whole ordeal has made my mental health pretty atrocious, but with the help of a loving, supportive husband and a very supportive family, I've been able to power through the down days. And, it's almost Christmas and the snow has finally come to Northern Utah, which is picking up my spirits. Onward and upward, as they say. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

I Bought a Damn Walker

I literally just ordered a walker on Amazon. I'm 43 years old and I've never felt older than I do right now. This whole ordeal with my foot has been trying, but ordering a walker seems to be the thing that's really pushing my boundaries. I didn't feel too bad when I got crutches, or when I ordered the knee scooter, but buying the walker is kind of emotionally painful. 

I mean, of course, I feel completely awful about falling down the stairs and breaking my leg in two places (bimallolear fracture). I feel completely ridiculous about needing a pretty major surgery after having a random klutzy moment. I've been up and down, I've felt completely helpless, I've been angry and depressed. I've been upset about needing so much help, not being about to do much around the house or cook meals. I've been antsy about getting back on my feet. I've been feeling grateful and loved to have a husband who has been so amazing through the whole ordeal. But, ordering a walker has made me feel like an complete invalid.

Do I know, intellectually, that that's ridiculous? Of course! Walkers aren't just for elderly people, they're for anyone with any sort of mobility issues. That's me. I also know that I'm not that old. But, ordering a damn walker has made me feel pretty terrible. Which, in itself, is kind of... well, terrible. Because ordering a walker means that I'm making progress, that I'm closer to being back on my feet even though I'll need help. And, while I have crutches, have y'all tried to use crutches? They are pretty fucking terrible. 

So, my shiny new walker will be here middle of next week. About a half-week after I'll actually need it. But, if what I've been reading is any indication, I'm going to need it for a while. Heck, even my doctor says that I'm not going to even be 80% for 3-4 months. So, if I can start to walk again after a month and a half (God willing) then that adds up to a bit of time learning to walk on my right leg again. Which, frankly, is going to suck. I'm sort of terrified about that part. I mean, laying in bed is easy, even if it's boring. And, even though I'm eager to be back on my feet, I'm scared too. 

Even though tomorrow is officially my 6 week post-op, my appointment isn't until Friday (12/10). They'll take x-rays, see if I'm ready, and will probably be moved to partial weight bearing. I am so eager and nervous about this appointment because I'm ready to walk again, but I'm scared about how that's going to go. I want to start driving again, but I know I have a few months before that'll be possible. I'm honestly just sick of being unable to move on my own. I want to be independent again, even if that means using a walker for a while. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Not Feeling Thankful (Surgery Update)

 Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and, I won't lie, I'm struggling a little bit this year to feel thankful. 2021 has been a hard year, I've had a hard few months, and it might just be that my mental health (despite the anti-depressants) has taken a hit. Even so, knowing why I feel low doesn't really seem to be helping me feel better. Add to all the chaos that I seem to have lost interest in most of my hobbies of late and I'm a bit of a thankless mess.

My surgery recovery is still slow and when I talked to my doc last Friday (11/19) he said that it can take up to 3-4 months before most people feel even 80% better, and up to a whole year before most people are completely back to normal. While I kind of knew that because all I have to do lately is research every little tiny thing on the internet until I fall into a never-ending internet rabbit hole, to hear it come out of his mouth was tough. 

They did take out the staples, so that's positive, but that process is painful. The nurse who took the staples out said some people pass out, others ask to go to the OR and be put under for the staple removal (which they do not do), while others still cry. I sat and took it like a champ, or at least she says so, though maybe they say that to everyone so they feel better about the situation. She did happen to mention to me, when she had just two of the 31 staples out, that the lower extremities (legs & feet) are the most painful for staple removal, so that's fun. Here she is passing along that info when they still had 29 staples to go. At least they're all super nice and knowledgeable in that office, which always manages to make me feel better.

I got a removable splint, which it turns out is just the same thing as all the other splints, just without the annoying cotton padding. It's still like a million layers of stuff... okay, like five, but it feels like more than that when we're taking it off so I can shower. And, hubs is having to remove the steri-strips from the wound, which is super ouch, and replace them with new ones every time I shower. That hurts as much, if not more, than having the staples pulled. It is gruesome. 

And, just for shits and giggles, my foot is literally flaking away. The top layer of skin has been white and dry and cracking since just after the surgery, but now it's even worse. I put lotion on it and my foot just laughed... like mustachio villain laughter, and proceeded to try to shed the whole top layer of skin. It looks, and feels, pretty disgusting. So yeah, fun times.

Overall, I think my recovery is actually coming along pretty nicely. Most of the pain is just about gone, except the aching in my right side when I move my leg certain ways, but that's where the plate and screws are, so I'm guessing that's normal. I go back on December 10th for the 6 weeks post op appointment where they'll take 3 more x-rays and see how it's healing. If it's healing nicely, they'll put me in the walking boot and I'll transition to partial weight bearing. And... I. Am. Terrified. 

When the splint was off so I could bathe, my foot felt so wobbly and unstable. I've also read online that a lot of people who have this procedure have pain when walking after prolonged non-weight bearing. By that point, I will have not put much/any weight it for almost 8 weeks, 6 weeks of which were total non-weight bearing after my surgery. So yeah, I'm looking forward to being able to put both feet on the ground again, but I'm scared to actually put my surgically repaired foot on the ground again.

Add the whole broken leg, surgical repair healing, to the fact that the year started off with having to put my dog to sleep, then in the summer I spent almost two months with a severe upper respiratory infection, then we planned a trip to AZ which we ended up having to cancel, and this year has been something of a dud. So this Thanksgiving, I am struggling hard to feel anything but depressed. Especially when you consider that being a little bit helpless for the last almost two months has got me feeling some kinda way about life. I can't put up my Christmas tree, I can't stand up in our tiny kitchen long enough to cook a Thanksgiving meal... or almost any meal, really. It's got me down.

All I can think to be thankful for is my amazing husband who has been so loving and supportive, taking care of me through this broken leg ordeal. He really is my hero. And, of course, for my friends and for having an online, part-time teaching job that I really enjoy and that allows me to continue working through this time of healing. Finally, I'm thankful that this year is almost over. Hopefully next year will be better. Fingers crossed. For now, I leave you with another gruesome picture of my healing foot.

4 weeks post opp, after the staples came out

Monday, November 15, 2021

3 Weeks Post-Op

Tomorrow has been 3 weeks since my open reduction, internal fixation ankle surgery and I'm still in pain, which is a little bit surprising to me. I know it takes longer than 3 weeks for a bone to heal and my leg has to heal around the 10 screws the doc drove into my bone, but I'm a little concerned about the continued ache that doesn't seem to be improving much day-by-day. With that said, the pain is actually so bearable that I'm not even taking Tylenol for it at this point. So, that's a blessing.

My little sister went home on Saturday, so it's just me and Matt again, but he's doing such an amazing job helping me. He's even taken Friday (11/19) off work to take me to my next orthopedist appointment. They're going to take out the 31 staples and give me a removable splint, so I'm pretty excited for that appointment. Scared, too, about the pain, but excited. I think that some of the continued pain I'm feeling is actually the staples, so the sooner they go the better. By that appointment, those staples will have been in my leg 24 days.

I also still have little zings of pain here and there, little twitches and stabs. I read that's normal and my doctor didn't seem too concerned about that, so I'm trying not to worry about it. One of the biggest problems I'm continuing to have is the painful skin on the top of my foot which is not at all improving, but seems to be worsening. My doc says it's the packing, which I absolutely believe. With the staples out and the removable splint, I'm hoping that I can put some lotion on my foot and start the healing there. My skin is so dry on the top of my foot it's white, cracking, and flaking. It's pretty gross.

Overall, I'm trying to keep everything in perspective but being in constant pain for the last 6 weeks since I broke is has been tough on my mental health (thank goodness for the Fluoxetine!). I'm just looking forward to the day it's no longer hurting, until them I'm hanging in there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

I Had Surgery...

My little sister, Candi, is in the kitchen frying bacon for the mac and cheese and it smells amazing. She's been here since last Thursday afternoon because I'm a bit of an invalid right now. I'm in my bed with my leg up and can't really do much more than that since my surgery. I'm kind of stuck in my bedroom since the stairs that broke my leg are holding me hostage. Let me explain.

I met with the sports med doctor about my broken ankle and he was very helpful. Not only was he nice, but he was able to explain to me exactly what was wrong and why I would need surgery. It turns out the break is much worse than they told me in Instacare. It's broken in two places and disassociated in another, and my tendons are messed up. So, I made an appointment to see the surgeon the following Friday when he's back from vacation. 

Well, on Monday, October 25th, the surgeon called me personally and told me he doesn't need to see me for a consult. He said, "Come on in tomorrow and let's do this." So, I had surgery on the evening of October 26th with a very lovely surgeon who apparently does this surgery several times a week. He says it's pretty common. I was absolutely terrified, but I managed it without much more than a little hypertension and anxiety. It was outpatient, but we ended up being at the hospital's same day surgery unit from about 2:45pm until about 11pm and I felt awful when I went home. 

I had an Open Reduction, Internal Fixation procedure. They cut my leg open on both sides, installed some titanium hardware (Stryker plate and screws) to get everything back together, and then stapled me closed. The surgery went well with no complications and they did a nerve block in my leg so I wouldn't have any post-op pain until the next day. Let me say right now, the nerve block was just gross. Not being able to feel your leg at all is extremely uncomfortable. I would have to think pretty hard about whether I'd do that again.

For the first almost two weeks, I was in a serious amount of pain and on some pretty strong painkillers. After that, I just dealt with the pain and took a little bit of Tylenol, but I've been in bed with my leg up for almost two weeks, except when I have to use the restroom. Thank goodness I had the foresight to buy a knee scooter early because there is no way in hell I could crutch around here. 

But, since the surgery, I've also been stuck in my bedroom most of the time because I'm not allowed to put any weight on my leg for 6-weeks. That doesn't sound that long, but not being able to walk on two legs for a month and a half is proving to be a challenge. I can't clean my house, cook meals, do my laundry. I can't drive myself anywhere (right leg break). I can't even get into the shower by myself. It's ridiculous. Necessary, but ridiculous. 

Of course, Matt doesn't clean and can't cook, so my house devolved into a total disaster and we were eating a ton of DoorDash, which is crazy pricey! This is where Candi comes in. She offered to come stay with me for a week to help clean up my place, cook meals, and take care of me. Thank goodness she's here, she's been amazing help. She even took me to my follow-up doctor appointment this week when Matt's work schedule changed and he wasn't able to take me. She cleaned up my house, so it isn't super gross, and has been great company. Since she lives in Arizona, I hardly see her. And, since our trip to Arizona got cancelled on account of this broken leg, I was so bummed about not being able to see my family. So, this has been great!!

At my follow up I found out that I'm healing up great, they took new x-rays to see how it's progressing, and I don't have any infection or swelling anymore. They re-splinted it with a lighter splint, so that's all good news. Turns out I have 31 staples in my leg, though, that's going to be taken out at my 4-week appointment next Friday. I'm scared about that because I feel like it's going to hurt, but also excited to get the staples out so I can be more comfortable. After the appointment, though, I was sooooooo exhausted. Turns out, if you're not doing a damn thing for weeks, getting up to actually do something is rough! 

Sadly, Candi is leaving to go home to Arizona on Saturday afternoon, so I'll be on my own with Matt again at that point. I'm a little scared about what we'll eat, or the house devolving into chaos again, but I'm hopeful that it'll be just fine. Matt's been amazing through this whole thing, taking such great care of me. The care he's shown me through this whole ordeal (and it has certainly been an ordeal) has gone a long way to healing some of the wounds I've been feeling about him working on our milestone anniversary (20th anniversary!). He loves me, it's clear he does in the way he's cared for me this past month. He's a great husband. 

With that, I leave you with this lovely image and the hope that the pain will really start to subside in the next few weeks!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

I Broke My Leg...

What on Earth? I cannot believe it's been so long since I've been here. My summer has just flown by and things don't really seem to be slowing down. I would say that's because I got a job, but that's not really it at the moment. Though, I am loving my new job teaching English comp to community college students online. But, the real issue right now is my broken leg. 

Yeah, so the Saturday before last, I fell down the bedroom stairs. There's only three steps, but it's still a remarkably long fall when you take my height (5'5") into account. I'm not tall, but adding that to the two and a half feet of stairs, and it's a spill. This is not the first time I've fallen down those stairs. It's the second time, just this year! But, I normally don't hurt myself quite so severely. The last time, for example, I got a few bruises and lost a toe nail.

This time was different. I was looking at my phone and took a spill down the stairs, which caused my right leg to snap back underneath me. I heard a snapping/popping/cracking sound and slid down the stairs on my leg. This caused a hell of a lot of pain, much more than usual. I cannot even believe I have to say "much more than usual"... that's how often I'm falling down these stupid stairs. Yeah, so I sat on the ground for a few minutes trying to figure out what I'd messed up and it seemed like my ankle, but I managed to get up off the floor and over to the bed, so I figured it was just sprained. 

I waited six days to go to the doctor, y'all. SIX DAMN DAYS! By the time I went to the doctor, the pain was pretty bad and getting worse. But, I couldn't really have gone sooner. You see, Matt wasn't home on the first day or the second day. After that it was awful weather, like, it snowed in October here. The real issue, though, was that I could hardly walk and there's a huge muddy ditch in front of my house thanks to the city doing road work to install curbs, sidewalks, and park strips. They've been doing that for a month, or so they say. They've basically dug a HUGE ditch in front of my house and left it that way. They're not even working on it most days. So, to go out to Instacare, I had to trek across this almost 3' wide muddy pit. This was not fun! 

So, they took x-rays and the x-ray tech was like... "Daaaannnngggg... I can see why it's not feeling better!" But y'all know those guys can't tell you anything. I asked if it was bad, he agreed it was, but that's all. He did say, "You must be one tough lady to deal with this for a week before coming in here." Um, yeah. I'm generally not, but sometimes I can be stubborn. Never underestimate the power of stubborn. The doctor finally came back and confirmed it's broken in two places. He says I'll probably need surgery and gave me the number for an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon. But, that guy is on vacation for two weeks. 

They gave me a walking boot (which doesn't fit my huge calves very well) and told me to get crutches. The doctor said I don't have to wear the boot at night while I'm in bed. So, I've been spending as much time in bed as possible so I don't have to wear the boot. I know it's bad, but I absolutely hate the stupid thing. It's uncomfortable and hurts my foot. So, I've probably worn it about half the time. I'll ask the doc about it when I see him this week.

You see, tomorrow I'm going to brave the damn muddy ditch to go see a doctor for a consult. A sports medicine doctor (not my first choice at all!), but he should be able to tell me if it's going to need surgery or what the next steps will be... yay. I would have rather seen the guy who's on vacation, but what can you do? I would imagine it's going to need surgery because the bone is slightly displaced. To say I'm scared about that possibility is an understatement. 

So, I suppose the moral of this story is this: Don't try walking down the stairs while looking at your phone. That's a new rule in our house, so says Matt, who has been heckling me about how I got this broken leg for a week now. He's even told his co-workers about his wife would broke a leg looking at her phone. At least someone's getting some good mileage out of this.  As for me... I'm in a WHOLE mood about it. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

"College Age Only"

While browsing Facebook the other day, I noticed a job posting on a page meant for locals. The company was looking for a few employees, but the ad specified that they were looking for "college age applicants only." It took me a couple of minutes to move past this and I've been thinking about it all week, since happening upon the posting. The job wasn't one that required only young people or that only young people could do. It was from a company that was moving into the valley, so while it might be that they are aware that we have several colleges here and hoped to appeal to students looking for work, it rubbed me the wrong way. 

I mean, it's discriminatory, right? It occurs to me that there are several things wrong here. First, you cannot legally only hire employees who are under a certain age. Second, as a person who was a non-traditional student, I consider the implication that there's such a thing as "college age" outright wrong. But, it's something I've been noticing more and more as I get older or work in industries where most of my colleagues are young people. Maybe it's something that's always been a problem, if research into age discrimination is any indication, but that I never noticed before now. I'm sure I'm just more sensitive to it as I face down my mid-40s. 

And, perhaps that's the real issue, that it's almost my 43rd birthday and I'm beginning to see how culture devalues people as they age. We're perceived as less useful, less valuable, and less capable the older we get. It's not just in business, but everywhere in American culture, and it's sad. There are cultures around the world where aging is considered a gathering of wisdom, where elders are not only appreciated, but admired. 

Sadly, as much as I don't want to think I ever participated in these stereotypes, I probably did. When I was in my mid-20s, I began playing World of Warcraft. A fairly common stereotype among video gamers is that you must be young to be good at them, or that you have to be a man. Gamers regularly make fun of older players and, if a person isn't as proficient at playing, they're automatically assumed to be either old or a woman. While I never actively promoted these ideas, I never tried to debunk them either. I was a sort of passive spectator to the intolerance that, at that point, really didn't apply to me.

This behavior, while still harmful, is fairly unserious in the context of video games. But, when you take that example and apply that same behavior to the work place, you have a real problem. The really nefarious part is that ageism isn't always as visible, or obvious, as the add in that Facebook group. It's often something that takes place in a way where it can't be pointed to as the central issue. It's obfuscated by other less serious issues that cover for it. Maybe it should be refreshing when it's out in the open and unpretentious; when it's not trying to hide.

When we first moved to the valley, I worked for a company where everyone in leadership was either an attractive, young (25 years old or under) woman, or a man. Anyone who tried to move up into leadership who didn't fit those parameters met with roadblocks. They didn't take into account education, experience with the company, or good leadership characteristics. There were leaders who had been with the company one month, while people with lots of experience and good leadership qualities were kept in lower level positions because they didn't fit the image. As a person who was already in my late 30s--and overweight--I found it impossible to move up there even though I have an advanced degree (master's level) and good leadership qualities. Needless to say, I quit that job and went looking for something where I might be valued.

A job I had after that, working for a tech company, was staffed with leaders who were all under 30. They never overtly didn't promote older people, but there were always reasons a person who was a little bit older wasn't fitting those roles. I was once told, outright, that a younger person who hadn't done my job at all was a better candidate for a promotion than I was.

My point is this: Ageism is discrimination so pervasive that there are now companies willing to openly discriminate against anyone older than college age. If it's so common they are willing to openly, and publicly, discriminate than what must be happening in companies that try to hide it? It's sad, because older people come with an experience and work ethic that should be valued, despite their age. But, that's not what's happening. Getting older is brutal enough without having to worry how you'll support yourself when all the good jobs are open to people "college age only."

Friday, May 14, 2021

I Went to the Doctor...

I went to the doctor today for the first time in seven years. Between the anxiety and being overweight, I've struggled to go, so I made an appointment for Matt at the same time/place so I would have the emotional support and accountability to actually go this time... see, I've cancelled this appointment several times over the last year. But today I was braver than I was comfortable and went to the damn doctor. And you know what, I'm doing okay. 

I saw a nurse practitioner, rather than an MD, and she was absolutely amazing. She was friendly and informative, we talked at length about my health, and she made me feel so comfortable. Considering how anxious I am about doctors, this is a feat. Fact is, not all doctors are created equal. I had initially wanted to go to the hub's doctor, but I didn't want to see a man for my wellness check-up (read: I'm a prude). So I decided on the female NP because, well, she's a woman. But, she was fantastic and got me on the meds I need for both birth control and my emotional issues (depression & anxiety).

I'm just waiting for test results now, which are hopefully okay, too. Everything she was able to check in the office was fine, so that's encouraging, hopefully my blood work will be equally so. She's even testing my vitamins B and D because I'm vegan.

I think the most surprising thing, honestly, was that even though we talked about my weight and exercise, she didn't treat me any differently than she would anyone else because I'm heavy. She didn't discount my fears and anxieties, she didn't chalk any issues I might have up to my weight, and she didn't ignore my concerns. The reality is, overweight people often face discrimination with doctors, so that I might face this obstacle was a big part of my anxiety. It's refreshing that I didn't and, I think, I've been lucky in this regard because the doctor I used to see in Texas was also great.

Overall, I'm just glad to have that done for the year. I have to go back in a few months, but just to discuss the meds she gave me for depression and anxiety. For now, though, I'm just going to leave this super vulnerable pic from today right here...


Quick update: I have to just put this here. Being overweight does not mean unhealthy. I am trying to lose weight for my comfort and to look better in my skin, and to curb any potential genetic issues, like diabetes. I got much of my blood work back and I am completely healthy. My A1c is 5, by cholesterol is all the lower sides of normal, my thyroid is completely normal. I'm still waiting for my pap results and to have a mamo scheduled, but my bloodwork is good. So far, I'm good. 😊

Monday, May 10, 2021

Being a Better Me, For Me

I don't know if it's the anxiety from the pandemic or the series of losses we've faced since the middle of last year, but I've (predictably) gained some weight. I'm sure I'm not the only one, but for me this is a huge problem because I'm already not at all a small person. So, in an effort to feel better and lose some of the weight, I've started trying to eat better and am getting some exercise... voluntarily, because I actually want to, which is a first for me. Every other time I've tried to take weight off it's been for reasons other than my own personal desire to make myself better. 

And, you know, I feel a bit bad because it's taken me until I'm 42 years old to try to fix all the damage I've done to myself all these years. Losing my gallbladder when I was in my early 20s wasn't enough warning, the scale ticking up and up wasn't either. My husband's best friend dying at 38 of a stroke didn't do it. I have a scale and mirrors, I know what I look like, but until recently and despite all the things that should have encouraged me to get healthier, I haven't had the want or will to actually do it. Which, is pretty damn stupid, but I struggle with all the work it takes to actually get healthy. As much as I wish I was a person who was just naturally thin, that's never been the case and, as I've gotten older, it's certainly not becoming the case. And, being manic depressive doesn't help either.

But then, last month, my 39 year old cousin died. She had many issues and was an addict, and she didn't die of being overweight, but she was overweight and in the end it was a contributing factor. She had many health issues, many of them stemming from her weight. Being my first cousin, we share genetics. I don't want to put myself in a position where I die early because of my weight. Especially since this is something I can try to control. And, while I may not be able to undo all the damage I've done to myself, I'm certainly not getting my gallbladder back, I can undo some and prevent others.

So with that in mind, I've been taking myself for walks and eating better. Being vegan doesn't always mean what we're eating is healthy, even if it is healthier than the non-vegan options. So, I'm focusing on making better choices and, weirdly, eating more meals per day. I'm not doing anything fancy, just energy in/energy out (calorie and exercise counting). And, though I'm scared, I'm going to the doctor for the first time in seven years. Because, and this probably goes without saying, seven years is way, way too long to go without going to the doctor, especially when my grandmother died of ovarian cancer, my great grandmother died of cervical cancer, and my mother is a breast cancer survivor. I need to get myself checked out and see how my blood work is looking these days. 

But, I'm going to be honest here, going to the doctor when you have depression that makes it hard to get out of bed some days, anxiety that makes it hard to leave the house most days, and are overweight is hard. This is not an excuse, it's just a fact. I struggle to function some days, most days, and going to the doctor is terrifying for me. Getting a well woman check up is, frankly, humiliating and it's the #1 reason I haven't gone to the doctor. There has seriously got to be a better way to get this whole thing done than poking around up there, right? It's 2021, people, let's make this less traumatizing.

Cross your fingers for me and hope that I'm okay. Meanwhile, I'm just going to keep trekking along, trying to make myself better. So far, I've lost about six pounds, which isn't a lot but it's progress and that's what matters. I feel like it's six pounds now, but in a few months it could be 60 pounds. My goal weight is 165 lbs, for now. I'm looking forward to being lighter! 

Awful, vulnerable picture from a year ago... when I was 10 lbs lighter.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

2020 Hyundai Kona

Sooooo... you know how I got a new car in March 2019? One I didn't need, but that I had really wanted? Yeah, um, I traded that car last week. It's kind of a long story, but let's sum it up like this: The Veloster N was just sitting in my garage. In two years, I had only put 2,730 miles on the thing. It was time to suck it up, face the truth about why I wasn't driving it, and do something that would make it easier for me to get out of the house more. So, after talking to Matt who was as supportive as he could be, I did just that.

The thing is, I loved the 2019 Veloster N, but I realized that part of the reason it was just sitting in the garage undriven was that I wasn't terribly comfortable driving it... which, let me say, was a really hard for me to admit. I used to love to drive a manual, but over the years it's become something I'm not as comfortable doing. I don't have good coordination to start with and it's gotten worse as I've gotten older. Between my ears and my depth perception, I'm just not as coordinated as I used to be. So, when I'd go out, I'd find myself avoiding certain routes so I didn't end up on a hill (not easy around here, by the way!) and not being able to take certain exits/entrances into parking lots because the car sat too close to the ground. What's worse, I would avoid going out at all because that car wasn't easy to drive and it was causing me unnecessary anxiety. And let's not even talk about how I didn't go out all winter because, thanks to the car sitting very low and the sports tires, it couldn't handle the ice and snow, at all. 

So, I had been seeing, for a while, on the Veloster Facebook group that Carvana was offering a lot for the Veloster N's. When I got my quote from them, I was completely astonished. They wanted to give me $26,500, only a few thousand less than I paid for the car two years ago. So, I started the process to sell it to them so I could get into a Hyundai Kona. During this time, while my sale with Carvana was pending, I talked with the salesman who sold me the Veloster to see what they had on their lot because, though it had originally been my intention to buy from Carvana, I wanted to see about buying the new car locally instead. He convinced me to bring the Veloster in to them and, through some discussion that I won't go into here, I ended up trading the Veloster to them for a 2020 Kona Limited on their lot.

To say I love this car would be an understatement... I LOVE THIS CAR. It's a bright, shiny green and has all the bells and whistles I've been missing the last few years. It's a an automatic with a turbo engine, has heated leather seats, a sun/moonroof, and so many other cool features, I'm so stoked. The mirror on this car has a RF button that will open my garage door. Goodbye ugly garage door opening clicker! Best of all, it's very easy to drive, in that it drives a lot like my 2014 Veloster did, except that it's larger and sits up higher. It's a small SUV (smaller than Matt's small Jeep), but it's big enough that I feel safe, which is important. Best of all, I feel comfortable enough driving it that I'm going out more and not hesitating to leave the house because of my car. I am thrilled! 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Kittens and COVID Vaccines

Every time I sit down to blog, I can't quite figure out how to get started. You'd think after being a fairly regular blogger for more than 15 years, I'd have some notion of how to jump in, but there you have it. Maybe the issue is that my life isn't particularly interesting right now or maybe it's just been that the irregularity with which I've been blogging this last few months has made starting again hard. Either way, it's looking like writing about not being able to write is helping me break through, so that's something. But, not writing much also means a bit of a brain dump is coming.

In February, after losing Chewbi in August and Ani in January, we decided the house was far too quiet. Animals bring something to a space, even when they're not interacting with you, they make a house more full. With that in mind, we adopted two kittens from PetSmart (through a local animal rescue, 4Paws) in mid-February. They're were 10 months old at the time, two scared little black cats from the same litter, so we adopted both of them instead of just one. The little name plates on the glass said they had been surrendered, with their mama and littermates, to be euthanized. That broke my heart, because I cannot even begin to imagine what would make someone believe that euthanizing a mama cat and all her kittens was even remotely okay. That just seems cruel.

Their names were Venus and Luna, but as we do, we renamed them Eilistraee and Selûne (Goddesses from Dungeons and Dragons). They are so stinkin' adorable and have really brought life back into our house... after they stopped hiding under the furniture, that is. Eilistraee is a healthy girl, while Selûne has some minor health issues that we're working through with the vet (ongoing tummy troubles and conjunctivitis in one eye). Both are still a little skittish, even though they've been with us for several months now, but Eilistraee has warmed up to me quite a bit. Selûne still hides under she seems me coming, except when I'm laying in the bed, then she's come to me. It's been lovely to have them, even when they're getting into mischief. 

Selûne (left) and Eilistraee (right)
In March and April, we got our COVID-19 vaccine. It's probably true of every community, but there's a large group of mostly middle-age and older, mostly conservative people who're vaccine deniers/refuseres. They claim it's "a personal decision" but that's a little bit hard for me to swallow because it's not just a personal issue, it's a community issue. The more people who're vaccinated, the better off are we all. But, living in a small community that's been hit by the virus to a lesser extent than some larger places has lulled them into a false sense of security. 

I digress... We both got Pfizer and with the first shot I had arm pain and was a little bit tired, but that's it.  Matt had absolutely no symptoms whatsoever, not even a little bit of arm tenderness. It was the second shot that really hit me. While Matt again had no symptoms, I wasn't so lucky. The arm pain was extreme, much worse than the first shot, and I felt generally crappy for a couple of days. About two days after the shot, I started to have pain in my underarm on the side where I'd gotten the shot. The lymph nodes in my armpit swelled up and were pretty sore for almost a week. Turns out this is a known, but less common, side effect and is more common with Moderna, than with Pfizer. Something like .3% with the Pfizer vaccine, so I was one of the very few lucky ones. Once that went away, I was back to feeling 100% relatively quickly. All told, I was feeling cruddy for a little more than a week, but that's still so much better than the alternative. 

In April, Matt took vacation time because he was concerned he would get sick after the second shot and didn't want to have to work. When it was time for him to go back to work, though, his boss asked him to go to nights for a month to help with that shift. This means he went from working days (3 on, 2 off, 2 on, 3 off) to working nights (4 on, 4 off). He's not as young as he used to be, even though he hates it when I say that, and going back and forth from days to nights is tough. But, he's handling it like a pro and is always happy to do whatever is needed to make sure his department is running as smoothly as possible. He's very much a team player and very invested in the success of the process. I, on the other hand, am salty AF.

I don't believe he should have to go to nights, that's my first issue. He's put in the time and paid his dues, but he's willing to do it because it has to be done. Fine, okay. My second issue is all about me and how, thanks to my anxiety, I deal with these sorts of changes. I struggle to sleep when he's not home. This is a security issue for me. Matt = security, so when he's not here my anxiety allows my imagination to run away with me and every little sound the house makes triggers an anxious fear response. When Matt's home, on the other hand, I feel safe and am able to sleep at night. You can see where this is going. With him on nights, I'm sleeping like crap. Some nights, I'm awake until 3 or 4am, then up at 7 or 8am. I'm not getting enough sleep, which is making me exhausted, and the anxiety, which is already exhausting, is compounding the issue. Thankfully, he's not on nights much longer and things can start to get back to normal soon.

And...yikes! I just realized this has gone really long already. While I have one more thing to talk about, I'm going to leave this here for now and write about the other thing another time. Not only is this going way too long, but I have an eye doctor appointment in a bit that I need to get ready for... yay. 😂

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

I Hate My Neighbors

I'm about to say the most cliché thing, and complain for a bit, please forgive me but... I completely hate my neighbors. There, I said it. I wrote before about how I don't love home ownership. At that point, my neighbors weren't a factor, but I think I need to add "you cannot get away from your shitty neighbors" to the list of things I don't enjoy about home ownership. I would love to pack these people up and send them somewhere elsewhere (we were here first!).

Since moving here almost six years ago, we've had four or five different neighbors in the house on the left side of ours. It seems like it's constantly changing hands, once even belonging to a nice guy that worked with my husband before he moved to Washington to take up organic farming (or something like that). For the most part, the people who have lived over there have been clean and quiet, to varying degrees. But, and maybe this is just me, it's annoying to constantly get new neighbors. What is wrong with that house that it changes hands so much? 

For the most part, the most recent people over there are generally pretty quiet. Though it seems like there're two families living in the house next door, judging by the number of adults and cars there are over there, they keep to themselves and their kids usually aren't too noisy. The neighbor on the other side of us is a total dick, but he also keeps to himself, so I have no issue with him. We don't at all want to associate with our neighbors, on either side, so that's fine by us. We're those neighbors, the ones that keep to themselves and expect everyone else to do the same.

Here's the part that makes me hate them... every so often (a few times a year) these people make themselves a total nuisance. Around mid-2020 they shoved almost 50 people and a goddamn DJ into their postage-stamp-sized back yard for a baby shower. This isn't an exaggeration, the yard is literally tiny. I actually think my master bedroom with bathroom is roughly the same size as their yard. While the bedroom isn't at all small, if it were a backyard, it would be tiny! It's ridiculous... particularly because we're in a pandemic. Do you think a single one of those people were wearing a mask or social distancing? Yeah, no.

Over the fourth of July and Pioneer Day, they were shooting off fireworks all night for almost a week around each of those events. The noise, due to the closeness of our houses, was insanely loud. It was also so dry, sparks were flying everywhere, that I was seriously worried that they might set something (like our house) on fire.

Then, this past Saturday night, they were at the noise it again for a little kids birthday. Except, this time it was more than 50 people and again, zero masks. In fact, they were letting their kids play in my driveway and my husband almost ran them over when he came home from work. They moved, then went right back to playing loudly in my driveway. On and there was a piñata, because of course there was, and this thing literally shed tissue/crepe paper all over the neighborhood. They didn't clean it up, so there's still crepe paper stuck in one of the bushes in my front yard. They'll let their monsters play in my driveway, but won't come into my front yard to clean up after themselves.

On these occasions, they inconsiderately played loud music, with heavy bass, until the middle of the night and their tiny back yard is literally 15 feet from my bedroom windows. I almost called the police, but I don't ever want to be that neighbor. I generally like to keep the peace, even if it makes me angry or triggers my anxiety. So, instead, I sat inside and seethed, because sleep is completely out of the question when there's a fucking DJ right outside my windows. Why would the need a damn DJ for a two year old's birthday?! It's ridiculous!

I wish I could understand why people cannot be more considerate of their neighbors. We all have to live together, none of us are going anywhere anytime soon, so making the people who live next door hate you seems kind of stupid. I suppose I should be glad they're not doing that every weekend... I think I would go completely insane.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Let's Skip Valentine's Day

Our 21st wedding anniversary is coming up here in the next week. I'm going to be a little tiny bit vulnerable and say that I'm feeling pretty meh about it. We've been married for 21 years on Valentine's day and the hubs has to work. He actually chose to prioritize work over our 20th wedding anniversary last year and, maybe stupidly, I'm still feeling so salty about that. A year later, I feel incredibly small that, given the chance to take a vacation day to spend our 20th anniversary with me, he chose work. To be fair, there're a lot of reasons he had to chose work, logically I understand it, but in my heart I'm a little bit broken about it and think I might always be. How many times do you get a 20th anniversary? It's a milestone.

This year, the struggle is inside me. My self-worth is at an all time low and in the last few months, we've suffered some immense personal loses. My anxiety is so high I can hardly function many days and I can't sleep. I'm extremely depressed. All of that together makes me feel completely useless and I feel like my husband must feel the same way. He's not the most communicative person, he doesn't really answer my texts, which in turn makes me completely certain that he's angry with me. Since there's no reason that he should be, I know the problem is with me.

I want to go to therapy, but I don't yet have medical insurance and, even when we get that worked out with my husband's job (since I left mine), it won't pay for therapy until we meet our deductible. Which, I'm sorry, is absurd. He makes too much to qualify for any sort of assistance, but we have bills, so we can't afford to pay for it out of pocket. The whole thing is ridiculous, but sadly, it puts me in a really unpleasant position. I can hardly function, but I can't get help.

Compound that with the fact that marriage is hard and I'm feeling so ugly on the inside lately. All that ugliness is making it hard to enjoy anything fun, like an upcoming wedding anniversary. Add to that that we can't really go anywhere because, you know, pandemic, and I'm less than enthused about it. Maybe as we get closer my feelings will change? Maybe something will happen that lift my spirits? As much as I adore my husband, for now I'm really feeling like it might be okay to skip Valentine's day this year.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

I'm Not a Stitcher... am I?

I'm struggling with a bit of insomnia. I lay awake next to my husband and stare at the ceiling, toss and turn, and struggle to get my mind to shut the fuck up. I'm also being eaten alive by anxiety. Worried about absolutely everything, even especially things I can't control. So, I scroll social media in the middle of the night. I know this won't help me sleep, but it gives my brain something to focus on. 

While doing this song and dance the other night, I made the spontaneous decision to take on a stitching project someone was talking about on one of my Facebook craft groups. Um, I don't stitch, I diamond paint. Cross stitching has never been able to hold my interest, so I'm not really clear what I was thinking when I bought a pattern for a temperature cross stitch on Etsy. 

Here's the thing, stitching has too many moving parts for me. It's too messy. The chaos of constantly changing colors, counting those tiny little squares, making sure all my stitches are going the same direction, and having little loose pieces of thread everywhere triggers my anxiety. This seems kind of silly, since diamond painting isn't all that different, but diamond painting feels more manageable. And frankly, I suck at stitching. It's something I can do, but not something I do very well. No matter how hard I try, it always looks so messy.

I had plenty of chances to learn to be a good stitcher. My dad's only sister, my Aunt Pam, is an avid cross stitcher. She constantly made us cross stitched gifts. She made other things, like crocheted blankets and porcelain dolls, but cross stitch was always her first love. She tried to teach me to stitch many times, without much success. I remember vividly that we had this yellow gingham fabric in the garage, with big white and yellow squares, that she used the first time she was trying to teach me the basics.

Then, when I was in my early 20s, I did a few small cross stitch kits, but I never finished them, instead losing interest when they were half done. In the last few years, I worked on a stitch project from Subversive Cross Stitch and just about finished it, but the anxiety of having to count the stitches to finish the little flowers on the top and bottom of the project have stopped my progress. I'm a little bit of a lost cause where stitching is concerned.

So, at like 2am, I bought this temperature cross stitch pattern (cross stitching a 5x5 square each day in a color corresponding to the highest temperature that day, look it up) and decided to give it a go. When I woke up the next morning, I realized pretty quickly that I have no idea how to put together the materials for a cross stitch that didn't come in a kit. Kits have everything, patterns are just instructions. It didn't say exactly what size and count aida I would need, it didn't tell me what size needle to buy, though it did say what size the finished project would be. My sister, Candi, is a stitcher like my Aunt Pam, so she helped me figure it out and I got started yesterday. 

It took two false starts to actually get going. The first one, I had too many strands of floss and it looked kind of... quilty. The second time the strands were right but... I didn't follow the damn pattern, so I just had a square of stitches. Fantastic. On the third start, after ripping out the stitches twice, I managed to get it right. Since I decided to go back to January and start at the beginning of the year, I'm a little bit behind, but there's no rush. The weird thing is, now that I've gotten going, I'm actually having a pretty good time with it. If I actually complete this project this year, I'm going to start calling myself a stitcher.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Lots of Cleaning...

Since I'm not working right now, I'm spending my days trying to really clean my house. This is turning out to be a huge chore, way bigger than I expected, but I feel like I should be doing something productive since I'm not punching a clock. Turns out my house is a level of deeply dirty that's got me running non-stop trying to scrub it down. On the surface, it doesn't seem that dirty, but everywhere I look there's something I've been neglecting for the last few years. And, let's be honest, living with animals can be gross.

Doing all this cleaning, it's really hit home how lonely things can be without animals. In the 21 years we've been together, we've had four furbabies--Chummer (1999-2005), Galileo (2004-2019), Anakin (2005-2021), and Chewbacca (2011-2020). Our last furbaby, a 15 1/2 year old Shih-tzu, Ani, crossed the rainbow bridge two weeks ago. So, it's just us now and I think I have a little bit of empty nest syndrome. Do you think it's possible to have empty nest syndrome over animals? Heh, yeah. Animals can't talk to you, but their presence really fills up a space and you have to care for them each day. And, those beasts were my babies.

It's going to be a long time before everything is actually completely clean and until our house feels whole again. Since my husband will be off for a week, I won't have a ton of time to clean during that time, so I'm trying to get as much done as I can while he's working. It helps me to be less lonely when I'm busy, even if it's just around the house. Hilariously, the hubs doesn't even really notice (or care) if the house is clean. But, I want him to have a clean place to live and, honestly, I want to pull my weight while I'm not bringing in income. Wish me luck getting it all clean... I'm going to need it.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

RIP Ani

On January 14th we sent our sweet baby, Anakin, over the rainbow bridge to be with his brothers. We've never had to put an animal down before and it was the hardest thing we've ever had to do. He was always an ornery little guy, but was so sweet, too. In his last years he developed cognitive impairment and went blind. At the end of his life, he struggled with pain. We knew it was time to let him go, however much that hurt us.

Five months to the day after losing Chewbi, we let Ani go. He was 15 1/2 years old. We miss you and love you, little guy, rest well. ♥

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

One Year Veganniversary!!

We've been vegan for one year! Our vegan anniversary was some time in late December; I wish I'd tracked the exact day. The most amazing part is that this is the first time we've succeeded making a substantial change to our eating habits and improve our health. Best of all, it's become almost effortless on a day-to-day basis. To celebrate our milestone and because it's Veganuary, I wanted to share some things I wish I'd known when we started down this road in December 2019.
  1. It's not as hard as you think it will be. We always hear "Wow, I could never do that." Heck, I used to say I could never do it. I once had a supervisor who was vegan and I was absolutely amazed by her. Now, I get it. While making any life change isn't easy, it's not nearly as difficult as you think it will be. You will learn, grow, and it will get easier.
  2. You don't have to eat anything weird, unless you want to. This is a big one. My immediate response to many of the recipes on Pinterest was "oh, hell no." I wasn't interested in eating chickpeas and kale. I didn't want to make lentil meatloaf, seitan, or eat tofu. The good news is, it's absolutely possible to make many of the foods you already eat vegan.
  3. Try something new, you might like it. I know I just said you don't have to eat anything weird, but the time will come when you're going to want to try something different or eat some of these "vegan foods." Chickpeas actually taste really good, if you make them correctly. I particularly like the chickpea salad sandwich (faux tuna or egg salad sandwiches). I just got brave enough to make seitan and wish I had sooner. My husband doesn't like mushrooms, but he loved the Portobello mushroom steaks I made for dinner once. Many vegan foods are delicious, once you can get past how different it is from the way you might already be eating. You never know unless you try.
  4. Vegan dairy alternatives are ridiculously good. So many people don't want to go vegan because they can't give up cheese or ice cream. Vegan cheese has come a long way, is so much healthier than dairy cheeses, and tastes good. Vegan ice cream is crazy good! My favorites are So Delicious, Daiya, and Magnum also makes dairy-free ice cream bars.
  5. It's okay if you're not perfect. If you accidently, or even on purpose, eat something that's not vegan it's not the end of the world. But, you may find that your tastes have changed and you don't love it as much as you used to. There've been a couple of times that we accidently ate something that wasn't vegan. We learned and moved on. You can't un-eat it, so don't stress. Being vegan is about intention, not perfection. 
This really is a great time to be vegan because it's ridiculously easy now. Even 10 years ago, being vegan was so much more work than it is now. I love how simple it is to look for a new recipe on Pinterest, the vegan blogs, and how many vegan cookbooks there are with completely practical recipes. And there are so many great vegan foods there are out there now. Almost every single dairy product has a vegan alternative, vegan meat alternatives are mostly delicious, and most pastas are vegan. And, of course, fruits and veggies are always vegan! 

But, the most important take-away is this... THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO BE A VEGAN. There is no one right reason to be a vegan. Whatever your way or reason is, it's the right one. If you're doing it for the animals, amazing! If you're doing it for your health, fantastic!

There are so many people with so many opinions about the right way to be a vegan, the right reasons to be vegan, the right things to eat as a vegan. People will say not to eat meat alternatives and judge those who do, or they will say that eating processed foods is wrong. So, one more time... there is no right way to be a vegan. Tell those judgy people to shut the f*ck up and do your own thing. Your life will be so much happier and being vegan will be so much easier.

Please know this is not in anyway a sponsored post, but I do I believe in what Veganuary is doing. So, please check them out and, if it strikes your fancy, give it a shot this January! 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

I Quit

I left my job of 3 years, this week. While I've generally been happy with that job, something happened this month that made it impossible for me to stay. So, I took the financially unhealthy route in order to save my mental health and dignity. I decided that would rather be broke than disrespected. So, with Matt's support, I quit my job and we lost a good chunk of income. This makes me a burden on my family, rather than a contributor to our success, I know this, but there are things I cannot choose to ignore. Even if it means finding a part-time or lower paying job, or figuring out how to venture out on my own, I simply could not stay.

I feel like I need to write this down, for the sake of my sanity, because I have lost nights sleep and so many tears over this choice. I'm choosing to leave the name of the company out, because I still believe that they are generally a good company and a good place to work, depending on your position. And because the best leader I have ever had in my adult life, was a leader I had at this company.