Life, in a few words

13 Apr

5:19 pm

It’s mid-working day on a Tuesday, and all I have to say is, I am tired. Like, I know I work from home, but…I feel kind of burnt out. To be sure, I am grateful, which is why and how I keep going, day in and day out; but I’m tired, too. It’s made keeping up with this blog difficult, actually, even though all I need to do is take 20 minutes and jot a post. So, I am finally doing that now…

In a nutshell, my dad was officially diagnosed with mild-to-moderate dementia/Alzheimer’s disease–and um, yeah, if you’re sort of going, well, what does that mean, I am rolling my eyes and thinking the same thing. Life! Why can’t you be who I want you to be! Haha.

The truth is, that’s about as close as we’re going to get, in terms of closure to our questions about the why and how of his recent descent into bizarre thinking and behaving. (And, it’s about the same with getting any definite answers when it comes to menopause: well, your serum levels say this, but…you might feel this, or that; this drug may, or may not, take away some, or all, of your symptoms to some, uh, variable degree…) Insert head-crashing-on-table emoji!

Through a lot of sweat and tears (and PTSD-like anticipatory dread of his phone calls to us and our ever-repetitive answers back to him), we’ve somehow managed (all remotely, with the help of our soon-to-be ex-step-mom and the nursing staff) to get him to stay at the nursing home since December; and get him back and forth for an MRI and then, to see a neurologist, who did an EEG and came back with an official diagnosis (they found evidence of dementia on the scan, which puts *us* at ease, mostly; I think my dad has already forgotten about the entire appointment).

What else? Well, we’ve gotten him through a messy divorce involving cleaning up his dumpster fire of a financial life and applying for Medicaid. One day soon, we’ll have to go back to our home town to “transfer” him (kicking and screaming, I’m sure) to a new facility that takes Medicaid as well as clean out his (our) farm house in order to list it for sale sometime in the late summer or early fall. He’s lived there since 1979, and it’s where I grew up; needless to say, it’s the end of an era, *his* era, but he won’t be around to see what happens to the place that he loved so fiercely that he never left. (My mom bolted us out of there in 1988 after she divorced him; and we only went back to the farm to visit him, once in a while, over the years.)

What have I taken away from this experience? Hmm. Well, I can say for sure that neither my brothers nor myself is in any way interested in buying the farm (he cannot gift it to us on Medicaid) for any kind of old time’s or sentimental sake. Going through this process has made me glad I don’t have kids of my own and clued me in further as to why I never did. And, I am seriously thinking of hitting up a lawyer and having some sort of living will written that explicitly instructs my partner on what to do if I develop dementia.

I’m not sure if I care enough about my dad to look on the bright side; he wasn’t a good father, he didn’t care about his kids when we got older (he cared about himself), and I’ve literally spent my entire adult life trying to build my own wealth because he one, never cared to do so for us when he was younger and two, spent (like, beyond spent) any and all retirement savings he had doing stupid shit. We aren’t jones’ing to visit him in the nursing home; the only time I’ve seen him is on a video doctor’s appointment a few months ago, and he treated me like I was a “little woman.”

I feel bad for him, I do; I feel guilty about not caring that much, even guiltier about letting it go and living my life. But, I have to; my brothers and I have to let go and live our lives. We get to be happy…even though what he’s going through really sucks. No one can live it for him, unfortunately.

That’s mainly what’s been happening here. I am still cranking out 1.5 jobs, wrangling two new mutts (the one needs some serious training–we seem to have finally housetrained her; now we’re working on getting her to not go cray-cray pulling and barking when she sees another dog or human on the walk–and they both need to be treated for heartworm, which the one is getting and the other will get in a few weeks), and managing my post-menopausal stuff (things have gotten better, but it’s up and down; I think that being athletic and sober has really helped my symptoms not be all that bad, relatively speaking). I am still really happy and grateful…and looking forward to life post-vaccine (gulp: we got the Janssen jab a week ago, so…haha, I am just waiting for that two-week mark to come and go without um, a blood clot!?).

On that note, I am being eaten alive and sweating to death; seems the weather has turned to zero breeze and 90% humidity overnight, and the mossies are out in full force, nibbling at my ankles and feet. Hope all are well and I write more soon!

Stay strong, and stay sober. You got this.

In with a bang?

21 Feb

12:20 pm

Is that an expression? I think it’s actually, out with a bang, but considering how much of a whirlwind the first seven weeks of 2021 have been, I don’t think it really matters…

I’ll dive right in, how’s that? I have to say, while this year has had a lot of good stuff, which I’ll get to later, it’s been sort of a shit show on one end. I feel less in control of life than I have ever felt–mainly due to my dad having dementia, believing he is being “held hostage” by us, his three kids, in the skilled nursing facility (aka, nursing home) where he is at right now. I think I have a newfound understanding of anxiety! I mean, I have always reacted to certain things or thoughts with anxious behavior, but I have never felt what I guess some people describe as “anxiety,” which is, I wake up every morning with this feeling of uncertainty, like an elevator is dropping in my belly, like there is no solution to how to stop the rock that is going to be careening downhill at me that day.

I have missed writing, and I’m sorry that I have not this year; I just feel like all I’ve been doing, all year long so far, is triaging the dad situation on the weeknights and weekends with my brothers: getting him to a nursing home, getting him to stay there, getting him on much-overdue meds; delving into his crumbling life, which is, managing his assets to get him through his divorce in order to apply for Medicaid in order to find him a “home” for after he is (soon to be) discharged from the nursing home. (He’s there for hip rehab from a hip reconstruction surgery that he had to have because he drove at night without breaks, crashing his car into a tree and crushing his hip; he refused to stay at the first rehab back in September, and ultimately, he was in and out of ERs until early December–it was a mess!)

Um, I have felt mostly guilt and anxiety over this, but, past few weeks, as we talk more with him and the staff–well, I am starting to feel less guilty. It really is what it is, and there is nothing we can do to change or fix it for him. His short-term memory issue does not seem to be getting better, in that, he does not remember from one minute or block of time to the next; practically, that means he doesn’t remember the conversation that we had with him yesterday, let alone yelling at us for telling him that we are moving ahead with the divorce in spite of his objections. Where his mind is at is, I was served papers and OK, I am in agreement with getting divorced. In reality, our step-mom filed in May 2020; he was unable and/or unwilling, mentally, to respond by the deadline last July; so, we have managed the work of organizing his assets, hiring an attorney to represent “him,” negotiating the settlement proposal with all parties excluding him, and finally, beginning to list his assets for sale as part of the fulfillment of his end of the deal. It’s just one example of the loops we’ve found ourselves to be stuck in when trying to reason with him.

In fact, there is no “reasoning” with him anymore, even though he is quite lucid. Which means, when the time comes to “put him somewhere,” he is going to go kicking and screaming, literally. And, just getting to the point where we are all somehow OK with that–that’s caused and causing me anxiety. However, the facts don’t lie: he has dementia-thinking (which, goes FAR BEYOND memory loss and goes way back, before his accident). Like everything, it’s a process, and, well, many others have been down this road. This, too, shall pass.

Anyhoo… Other than that, life is pretty OK! Working a ton–my new job continues to kick my butt; but, at least I am down to only one gig–and spending a lot of time training our two new foster dogs. The second one, a girl, is a handful, but she is getting better and better at being someone’s dog. We had to sort of housetrain her when she got here; we’re working on getting her to not bark at our landlady; soon, I hope she can just chill inside, not in her crate, when I leave the house.

This weekend, I started on new glaucoma drops (yeah, man, wtf? I am 46 years old, and the doc said that I have mild in one eye, mild to moderate in the other!), and they suck. They give me anxiety! It is strange and I thought I was imagining it, but no, turns out, thanks to good old Google, that timolol is notorious for its systemic side effects. I am sensitive, sure, but these drops make me feel really out of sorts. We’ll see; I mean, there are other options, so, of course, I am gonna have to advocate for myself.

And, I have to say, the menopause stuff (yeah, man, am I just a fast ager? Haha) is finally seeming to iron itself out. My hormone therapy still does need some tweaking, but, after, um, almost a full year, at least I am beginning to see what might be ME and not a side effect (or vice versa); and, importantly, what works for ME and not what every article on the Internet says “should” be the right dose or effect! All this said, my night heat is much better (not gone, but better), my insomnia has much improved (knock wood!?), and the “other stuff” is super-slowly getting better. Thank GAWDess. The worst thing about this has been, ya don’t know what to expect so everything feels permanent and catastrophic. I would tell my early 40s self, and anyone out there who would listen, this is NOT true; it will change, and it will get better.

Whew.

In any case, I remain ever-grateful, still, for my sobriety, for the lessons learned. No matter how many ups and downs the days take me on, I still have that overwhelmingly sense of, I am one of the lucky ones, I got out. No matter how “bad” things seem, I am still sober–and that is everything good. That is literally everything. That is glitter and unicorns and an endless Mardi Gras parade.

And…2021? What?

2 Jan

11:59 am

I remember when it was Y2K! Haha. Remember that? Y2K. Remember when that was a thing–I mean, almost as “big” of a thing as Covid? Ahh, to think that we were worried about that, when THIS was what was in store for us, 21 years later.

Jesus, 21 years?

Um, 21 years is sounding like a LONG time to me, at this very moment. Of course, lately, since my dad has been having dementia-related memory problems–and as we (meaning, my brothers and myself) learn how to talk to him in a way that is helpful and constructive–it’s got me thinking a lot about time, aging, and the reliability and (d)evolution of our memories as we get older. Sometimes I wonder if I have some form of early-onset dementia–organizing and cataloguing my thoughts just makes me feel irritated, and I definitely have had moments lately where I’m like, wait, why don’t I remember every gory detail anymore of what happened when?

It’s been saddening, shocking, and angering–yup; this feels like grief, as in, all of the sudden, you’re angry at the thing before you melt into tears (on the inside)–to watch my dad’s mind stop working. And, as a life scientist, I do wonder what is happening up there, with all those neurons. His thought patterns remind me a lot of someone in a blackout; he does not remember minute to minute, sometimes second to second, yet, he is present, conversing, and remembering other things. I noticed that his sense of sequential time is all mixed up, too; sometimes, he’ll recycle the same words or conversations that we have had more than once, months ago, as if he is still there, in that moment. Maybe he is? The other night–he was tired, and I’ve read that people with dementia “sun down” and get looser and more confused at nighttime–he kept saying the same thing, in response to anything I asked him; and, it was totally unrelated to anything. He has been fixated on a couple of things–getting out, and getting to the cordless phone at the nursing station so that he can call strangers to get him out–since Thanksgiving, when he was in the first ER/hospital. He was uber-combative then. Now, he seems to just have accepted what is, or, he has more awareness and/memory around why he is inside to begin with (I guess?).

It’s all really, really hard to understand, what’s going on in his brain. We are doing our best, trying to get him from point a to b to c–some days, I feel really deflated, like someone stunned me (the same feeling I had after the hurricanes ripped through our area and tore many a house down). Some days, like tonight, I rally, do what I am supposed to, and stay on track (tonight, I had to start looking at community-based residential facilities, which is just SO, so sad; with my dad, it’s definitely going to be like putting a rare creature who is used to running on the African savannah into a cage in a zoo). Fortunately, I have my brothers to lean on…

Otherwise, yeah, 2021 feels…a bit quiet so far. It was a busy holiday season, actually, since we did almost everything we usually do as well as I had this whole Dad situation to think about. We had a nice dinner at a friend’s place, went sailing on a catamaran (well, the captain motored us around!), and managed to get to three beaches (it’s been like, hurricane-windy here for the past week, which does not make for great beach days). Many days last week, I vowed to give up writing; most nights, I remembered how grateful I am to have a (writing) job to go back to come Monday (my contract was extended). I watched a movie and started watching “Long Strange Trip”–I can’t believe how young Jerry Garcia was when he died!

I managed to patch up a rough spot with a friend of mine, love more on our neighbor dog–we have a special connection since she was my Best Girl’s “angel”–and just lounge around with our new pup on my lap (he is quite the needy boy!). I’ve been running, too, but the hills are not easy on the knees and uh, I have some residual joint pain from the estrogen patch (sure of this; I have no clue why estrogen replacement therapy would cause your body to react as if its joints were arthritic, and I have honestly stopped wondering–see, is this dementia? I am just too tired to care anymore; I am not dying, so all is well, right?).

We actually masked up and went out for sushi on New Year’s Eve; it was quiet around town, and we were home and in our jammies by 10:30. LOL. I really Could Not Even with this year’s New Year’s Eve; I mean, everything was messed up, tossed around, twisted into a new shape during 2020, so, “celebrating” NYE took on a different meaning for me this year, as in, who really cares? Haha.

I haven’t felt much like dwelling on the literal lately, as I said–and so, it’s been hard to come up with some sort of “yearly word.” At first, I was like, God, I’m too tired to care. However, the more I journaled today, the more I felt something brewing…

This year might just be about finally letting go of my expectations, my past projects and goals and dreams–and setting new ones that I want to do, that fit, that feel right. And, if they stop feeling right, move on. It’s like, I don’t have the energy to hang onto my old self and old dreams anymore, you know? Maybe because my heart feels crushed by watching my dad lose his mind?

One of my fondest memories of my dad keeps coming back to this (and, it makes me want to cry every night, because I look up at the sky every night): because he was a trained merchant marine (a sailor), he knew the night sky very well. He knew a lot of things very well, and he could entertain people endlessly with his facts and figures. Anyway, whenever we’d be outside on a summer night on the farm, looking up at the stars–so many, so bright–he’d point and say, Look, that’s Sirius. There, that’s Benetnash and Mizar; there’s Alioth, Megrez, Phad, Merak, Dubhe–all the stars in the Big Dipper. It was ridiculous because, well, most people never even heard of these stars let alone could point them out in the night sky.

Maybe that’s why I go out now, and look up; I want to remember him.

And, I want him to remember, too. I want him to look up, to see the night sky, to remember pointing up, There, that’s Benetnash and Mizar; there’s Alioth, Megrez, Phad

Happy holidaze

27 Dec

12:58 am

I do sort of feel like I’ve been in a daze this season, mainly because of everything that’s been going on. The other day, I posted something and then deleted it, worried that it was too revealing about my father. And, I’m glad I did; this isn’t a blog about him.

I haven’t felt much like blogging recently; not sure why, it just feels like overexposure. I’ve also been working a ton and going-going-going with my brothers, getting my dad situated in a nursing facility–simply put, we think he has dementia, and it is *probably* not going to get better. I mean, we can hope it’s related to a transient, post-operative effect (he recently had surgery; the reason he had surgery, though, was because of his “dementia” thinking, which I see so clearly now)–but, he’s been in decline for like, at least three years, it just wasn’t presenting itself as memory loss, per se. Anyway, it’s been draining; there is no rule book, which is bizarre since so many people go through this!

In light of everything that’s come to a head this year–started menopause, put my dog to sleep, watched my dad literally go from, ‘Oh, Dad’s just being Dad’ in August, to, ‘Holy shit, there is something really very wrong here’ in November–I do feel grateful. I mean, I’m still here, for one. I’m still sane, still working (uber-grateful for this), still breathing, still loving, still content with most everything that comes my way.

Everything that has happened this year that could have definitely been given a strictly negative spin has actually led to something better. I lost my job–but I needed to leave anyway, and ended up finding something better, for the most part. I had to put my dog down–but she needed to Rest, and we were just holding onto a creature who was in unbearable pain. I went into menopause–but I feel SO much better, overall, than I did in perimenopause, and, I’m no longer on the birth control pill, which, I would say is much worse than hormone therapy (today’s bioidentical versions). What else? Oh, so yeah, my dad sort of “went into” dementia–but, considering that these past three years have been a long, crazy lead-up to what we’ve all just realized is actually cognitive decline, at least my dad is safe now. Even Covid has had many silver linings–one could say that Covid allowed nature to come back, people to take stock and be more mindful, mRNA vaccines to have their day probably faster than they would have had.

Anyway, it’s been a long few months. I had a GREAT Christmas, though; yes, we got together, and no, I don’t feel guilty about it (though, there are some people in places where Covid is still raging who would blame me and my friends for spreading the virus)–we are not a hot spot, and the people I hang out with are like me in that, no one really socializes! I am not worried that anyone in the group last night had Covid or has been exposed recently; there were three younger people (someone’s kids in their 20s) who had flown in, but, only two were recent arrivals and everyone has to take a Covid test before being allowed to enter the airport.

Tomorrow, we’re going on a boat trip–a big, twin-hulled catamaran, which should be awesome! I have never stepped foot on a boat like that, so I am looking forward to the experience. Speaking of which, I’ve had some down time to actually remember and cherish some old trips and friends lately–to mind come volunteer trips to Haiti, to Ecuador; a self-styled yoga retreat to Nosara, Costa Rica; years ago, a solo trip to Turkey; years before that, one to Greece; a year abroad in Paris; many exploratory trips all over the mainland through recent years. Ahh, the memories; I am proud of the trips I’ve taken of late, and really, truly can’t wait to be able to travel again…

I hope my dad can entertain himself with his own memories; it’s painful, wondering what he is thinking about right now, you know? I know he has some great memories, so…that’s a small consolation.

Oh, and we got another doggay! He is the most ridiculous dog ever–his cuddle factor is so high, he’s almost TOO cuddly! I do miss my girl so very much–and our boy–but…life goes on. It’s nice to have a little buddy to care about, to walk, to have sleep all over you (we are not letting him on the bed; he will never, ever leave if we do…).

The parent trap

5 Dec

10:12 pm

No, not the movie. MY parents–or, rather, parent…though, both have their issues.

I haven’t really felt like writing lately, considering work and life. We did have a nice Thanksgiving–with old friends and new, a small group; so far, so good re: Covid–and I took a SWEET day off to go hiking with a friend. It was THE best thing I’ve done in a while, to get out of my ‘hood, my house, my head for the entire day, to spend it talking and walking and swimming with a new friend. Today, we went by the shelter to check on our new boy–YES, we’ve finally decided that we’re ready to welcome a new dog! We get to take him home on Monday. (Actually, it was my boo’s pick, so I guess I should say, HE is ready to have a son again. I had my eye on another dog at the shelter, but when I walked her today, I just didn’t feel like we had a connection; I feel bad for her, since she’s been there a year, but…I don’t know if I am ready yet. My old dog, who we put down almost four months ago, was such a smart, ridiculous friend–she was part chow, part shepherd, and I don’t know if I’ll ever meet a girl like her again, so maybe I should lower my expectations? It might be that I’m just not ready for another pup yet…)

Other stuff hasn’t been so good or easy, but I’ll get through this, too. The older I get, the more I realize that I will get through anything; and, a positive, selfless (as in, it’s not about ME, ever; I don’t ever have to choose to take anything personally) attitude goes a long way toward keeping self, others, and events in perspective. However, this thing with my dad has really thrown me for a loop!

Past couple months, shit has truly hit the fan with my dad. To summarize, he has always had what I would call a personality disorder (the closest I can come to describing him is narcissistic–like, according to Wikipedia, he has all three of these: exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive craving for admiration, and struggles with empathy; in fact, I would say his lack of empathy has always almost bordered on sociopathy, mainly because he has often had very little regard for others’ well being and he lies a lot). BUT, he’s also had lifelong UNTREATED bipolar disorder (yeah, it took me until 40 years old to unravel my issues from growing up with that shit!), which seems to have morphed into a full-blown dementia somewhere between five years ago and now–which seemed to be kicked into high gear by going under general anesthesia during a recent hip surgery (in fact, he has had serious mood/personality changes from past surgeries, too, it seems).

Anyway, it’s been a trip trying to deal with him because he’s not incompetent, but…he can’t do what he used to do (work-wise) OR take care of himself anymore. It’s very bad; I don’t really have the energy to go into details, but he is 100% unable to take care of himself (as in, he does not shower, he has not been eating, he didn’t think it was a big deal that he has no heat–it’s freezing cold where he lives now), and he seems 100% incapable of making rational decisions, of executive level thinking. Yet, he is also 100% in denial about this and does not believe anything is wrong.

Tomorrow, a social worker is coming to the house; I guess she will interview him and make the decision on whether to send him to a care facility. It will be interesting to see if and how he takes that; he has been extra-belligerent with my step-mom, and there is NO forcing him to do anything. I don’t know. It’s interesting to wonder about all the mental health stuff–I had no idea that people could pass for so long, as in, hide their dementia; I had no idea that dementia can include all sorts of mental changes, like delusional thinking that can be so very subtle that you don’t distinguish it from “normal” personality-disordered thinking; I had no idea that untreated mental health disorders can actually cause issues like this or wreak havoc later (he’s only 73; pretty young to be this bad, right?).

I have spent hours on the phone with him, my brothers (yep, plural; first time I have talked to the one brother who wrote me off in 3.5 years–eh, I am so over it that I felt next to nothing), my step-mom, trying to get him to understand that he needs care, that he can’t go home–he has no bridges left to burn, and at this point, I am not sure what the future holds for him.

I have thought once or twice about how this would feel if I had wine to rely on for escape; probably just more muddled and overwhelming. No, thanks–I like the extreme clarity re: other people’s “crazy” that being sober affords me these days! It has caused me some anxiety, though…

Anyway…just a short post. Even though I haven’t blogged much lately, I am always reading and following your posts, so keep ’em coming!

A painful truth vs a beautiful lie

21 Nov

9:23 pm

One day last week–sorry, it’s been SO LONG since I’ve posted a blog; I’ve been buried under work, the kind that makes me not want to read or write for “fun” after the day is over–I came across someone’s meme on Facebook that read: You hate me (haha; only on the ‘book can you feel assaulted and insulted after three words of a half-read meme) because you are a beautiful lie and I am a painful truth.

Ouch. And, huh.

Well, for one, I don’t hate this person (or anyone, for that matter!) and I really haven’t been thinking about it all that much–her life, I guess, and how it’s turned out these past oh, 30 years since she got pregnant at 16 and dropped out of high school (and went on to build a nice life and family, btw)–but, now that you mention it; yeah, it’s kind of true. Not the hating anyone part, but the difference between beautiful lies and painful truths *on social media*.

The sad (to me) reality is, we don’t ever tell or talk about our painful truths. I mean, not really. Not ever, really. And, I guess that’s the challenge of authentic living–how to talk about your painful truths without scaring people away. I am still figuring that one out, but, I will say, social media turns that battle even more uphill because of what it encourages, which are glossy, doctored misrepresentations of a life. It’s not real!

I think I might just need to take a break from Facebook again…

Speaking of real, things are still pretty real here. It’s been quite the trip these past four months/three effing years (haha), trying to “balance my hormones.” After years of dealing with the most disturbing symptoms of perimenopause (which, after going on some Facebook groups, mine have not been bad at all, compared to what some other women go through), nothing really scares me about it anymore. However, I have kind of resigned myself to the fact that, it’s just going to take trial and error, time, and hopefully, not becoming an exhausted lunatic before either *I* get my “hormones balanced” once and for all, or, they balance themselves out over time.

The insomnia comes hard the majority of nights, and I usually don’t get more than three hours in a row–it truly sucks, but there is beauty in those wee morning hours. I see new constellations now–a reminder that a whole season has passed since I was sitting on the floor next to my dying dog, trying to comfort her as she freaked out all night. I find solace in knowing that the light I see is ancient, some of it from sources that have long since burned out; that that light will be here LONG after I am gone. There is immense beauty in getting a momentary glimpse of what is really here, which is so much bigger than me, and my life, and my dog’s much shorter life. I don’t know.

On a different note, today marks ONE year since we flew back here–a place that we lived for many years, left for about two, and then came back to last year (we moved back into the same house, with our old furniture even!?). It’s been a strange year, actually, and not just because of the Covid. It’s been a year of, well, painful truths, honestly. Good truths, but still painful ones. I feel like the vast majority of people we called friends here have either moved on physically/literally or just aren’t really friends anymore. Maybe they weren’t to begin with? I feel like I have aged two decades in two years and am really done with passive aggressive behavior.

Good also came: I was forced out of a job by the Covid but ended up finding well, a better job. I am slowly but surely getting over putting our dog to rest (sweet girl!) and becoming ready to love a new furry best friend again. I would never in a lifetime have volunteered to make the turkey, but–this year, I feel safe enough in my own skin and um, cooking abilities, to have put that into motion! I am heading up the Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing-making! What? Yup! Add a key lime pie to the mix (I swapped desserts for drinking when I first got sober), and we’re going to be very good to go next week. (we are doing a small thing, just a few close friends who practice safe Covid’ing)

Yeah, so, that’s it, in a nutshell. I mean, lots more on the parents front–aging sucks; mental health disorders left untreated over the course of a lifetime suck even more!–but I will save that for another Saturday night. 🙂

Happy sober weekend, all!

Still here, plugging away

24 Oct

9:39 pm

I just wanted to jump on here and say, hi! I am still here, just plugging away at two jobs (when it rains, it pours; but, I’ll take the deluge after being unemployed for five months after I was furloughed from my job, thanks to Covid). Essentially, I have been working 12-hour days since the start of the month, which has left little time for anything else (especially fun stuff like my blog!).

In any case, I had been having this weird leg muscle and joint pain the last time I blogged, and I had gone to the doctor to seek some answers–and all the tests came back normal and/or negative.

As it turns out, I went off the generic and onto a (much more expensive) brand name estradiol patch and lo and behold, MOST of my leg *muscle* pain went away within a day, or days. I’ve been on it for a week now, and while my joints (hip/groin/lower back, ankles, feet, fingers) still (sort of) hurt, I swear, my legs started feeling better within a day of taking the new medication. Could it be? Well, yeah, it must be, right? I recently read a story about semi-shady pharma manufacturing plants in India and how, the FDA-sanctioned regulatory checks at drug-making plants there leave a lot to be desired in that they let shit slip through the cracks. I have had a similar experience with a generic birth control pill in that I had all the side effects, but the second I went back on my name brand drug, they went away.

Correlation does not equal causation, but, I am like, 99% sure that the DAY AFTER I changed patches, my leg muscles started to feel normal again. That continues to today, where I have gone for a couple jogs this week and have not felt debilitating pain for days after my workout, where I am able to just get up and go for walk and not feel like I ran a marathon. Fingers crossed, it keeps getting better. I will pay the price if it means that I don’t have crazy leg pain! (I will add, with every generic or brand name switch, it has felt like I’ve changed medications and am starting over, so, that kind of sucks)

Today, I got to go for a walk in the morning and a soak/swim in the afternoon–and, it felt like a long-lost luxury. Add to that coffee and the tropical natural world? Cloud freaking nine, people.

On that note, I have missed touching base with this community and my “old” DDG self (am I still her? is she still here?). I hope I find more time soon so that I’ll be able to just ponder and enjoy and be grateful because, well, I miss that and I need that.

Sunday afternoon ramblings

4 Oct

2:53 pm

As I wrote about recently, over the past few weeks (going on a month now, actually), I’ve had terrible leg pain. I thought I had some terrible disease (of course, I did), so I went to the doctor–a first in that, this doc took me seriously and ran every blood test possible for a complaint like, “my legs hurt”–and, well…nothing is wrong. No Covid, no infectious disease, no autoimmune disease, blood panel good, muscles fine. I also got a blood test done for both my estrogen and progesterone levels, and for where I am at in the process of both menopause and taking estradiol via the patch, those came back normal, too.

SO, I have to conclude that it’s something to do with the estradiol patch (which, btw, is only one method of transdermal application; there are also creams, gels, sprays, probably others). And, that kind of really sucks since, I don’t know if another via-the-skin application will work for me. I am going to keep riding it out and see what happens.

So, that’s one reason I’ve been quiet on my blog, I’m just trying to take care of myself–mentally, it’s really hard for me to accept pain and not being able to work out because of pain. I usually just push through pain, but my muscles seem to take days to recover from even the slightest workout, so I have been obeying my body’s commands. It’s not easy not knowing either; and, I’ll never know unless I take the time to go off everything, let my body readjust, and then, go back on things one at a time. The patch is working for my night heat and insomnia, though, which is glorious!? Still, if I can’t live WITH the medication, then…it’d have to be a dealbreaker.

I am well, and my doctors took me very seriously–so, a huge win. Plus, it appears that I never got Covid, which is a relief as well.

I’ve been working full-time and will start working a new remote contract gig this week, putting me at full-time-plus for the next few months, so…that’s been great! It’s a relief to have work, sure, but even more of a relief to not have to job and gig search for a while.

Another thing that’s been going on is that my dad has gotten himself into some physical trouble (think: crashing cars and breaking bones) due to well, untreated bipolar disorder (in my opinion). Long story short, he’s doing fine but he’s still up to his tricks, so to speak. Lesson learned on my part: he will never change until and unless he takes medication; he will never admit anything is wrong; and, importantly, there is nothing I can do for him. I have thought of telling him, I refuse to talk to you until you get meds, but, I don’t quite get how an “intervention” or “ultimatum” would truly work or be beneficial for a mental health disorder like his. He doesn’t believe–refuses to believe–that there is anything wrong. How can you force him to consider an ultimatum that doesn’t really mesh with his version of reality? I don’t know.

On that note, I am going to exhale–my mantra these days–and go for a walk. I can do that at least; it’s funny how much of an “athlete” I am: I have already acclimated to this new level of pain and have found ways around it. I will never stop working out! (maybe that’s what got me here to begin with? lol)

Thank you, one and all, for still being part of my life. This blog-o-sphere is truly one of my favorite places to be on a Sunday afternoon…

A challenging few weeks

22 Sep

11:10 am

I just wanted to check in to say, hi, howdy, hope all is well with everyone!

In brief, I have been suffering…from pain, like, full body pain. I’ve gone from being an athlete who stands at her desk most of the day, walks the dog (well, with no more dog, I walk myself), AND goes for a jog or swim/soak every day. SURE, that’s a lot, and I do have probably above-average aches and pains. BUT, since last week, the symptoms of achey joints and malaise that I wrote about all the way back in late July–and have only kept getting worse since then–took a turn for the much worse!

Last Tuesday was the last day I could jog–or walk–without pain. I also had some weird neurological stuff going on Friday through Sunday, but thankfully, that’s gone. (I had headache; cognitive difficulties; changes to vision, hearing; anxiety–um, happily, living through many years of active alcoholism and ridiculous hangovers prepped me well to endure feeling like I was losing my mind for a few days!) It is scary and it sucks! I have been trying to not take anything (no pain meds, no CBD) and see how I feel, but every day, I wake up feeling a burning ache in my entire leg muscles, lower back, and joint pain pretty much everywhere.

I thought it was that my old chikungunya infection (from 2014; it comes back now and then, with mild symptoms) had resurfaced, but, that usually doesn’t last for more than a few days; and, this leg muscle pain is definitely not how that feels. I have a hunch/obsession that this is all due to the estrogen patch–strangely, the same week I put my first patch on is the week that these pains started. But, I don’t know. I mean, how can one know? Maybe THIS is menopause and I need more estrogen (higher patch dose). Maybe this is the patch side effects–and I just need to give it more time? I’ve been on it for about 10 weeks, and the pain has just increasingly gotten worse. I don’t know.

I am starting what I would call my “diagnostic odyssey” on Wednesday by going to see a general doctor to rule out some of the obvious–Covid, Lyme’s, maybe some common sources of bacterial or viral arthritis, possibly some common autoimmune diseases, like, RA and lupus. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? I am SO new to this menopause and hormone replacement stuff that any ideas would be welcome. All I know is, this cannot be my life for the next 40 or (hopefully) 50 years.

Otherwise, things are going pretty well! I’ve been working steadily since the start of this month, and while I haven’t gotten paid yet (gotta love contracting and/or freelancing!), it’s coming. As for the Covid, we’ve re-opened a little bit here, with restos at limited capacity, some establishments open; bars are still closed, and there might be a universal mask order put in place soon (meaning, masks all the time, everywhere). I have been too busy and in too much pain to really do much in the outside world the past week, but, that’s what I’ve heard/read is going on.

I hope everyone is doing well. I have to say, after joining a few menopause Facebook groups, you guys a refreshingly SANE bunch–so, thank you for being part of my world!

Exhale, and believe

7 Sep

3:01 pm

That’s my mantra these days. Exhale, and believe.

Exhale, sure. Calm down. But, believe? In what? Well, that things will change. That, um, I will change. That I will have the courage to just let things be if they’re not working for me anymore. That I will have the courage to just let my thoughts go if they’re causing me more harm than good.

This past week turned out better that I imagined it would, considering that I landed two contract jobs, which means I’ll have at least part-time work through the end of the year. (My “dream job” got back to me, too, requesting an interview, but…I am not sure what’s going to transpire with that, so, I’m just waiting and seeing.) All the work I am doing now came from networking with my existing contacts, not cold calls, as it were. So, that’s a big lesson right there, which is, eff Indeed! (haha)

I am slowly getting over putting our sweet girl down coming up on a month this Wednesday. We’ve thought about fostering a dog (or two) since we’ve now got the time *and* have to be in the same place (now that I am working again, I need to be settled; plus, the only place we would want to travel would be the West, in an RV, and um, it’s kind of literally Hell there right now). It’d be a shame, in my opinion, to not give love when you are able to give love; there are plenty of dogs in need at the local shelter–just like our girl and our boy needed our love, those many years ago. We’ll see…

I’ve sort of been on autopilot the past few weeks, sometimes wanting to give up this blog, sometimes wanting to write more on it; just plugging, getting back into work mode (man, my brain is slow after five months on furlough–haha). It’s been great, though, to redirect my attention to something else, anything else, but trying to work on my book (hashtag fail) and staring at my belly button.

I don’t know if my new hormone therapy is working or not, really; there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to “what is supposed to happen in menopause” and I am not sure if I can expect 100% “back to normal.” However, I know what I want, and I don’t feel what I want yet. Unfortunately, even though I’ve been going through this crap for three years, I probably won’t see the light at the end of the very hot tunnel until the end of this year, considering how long you have to take your regimen to see if it’s working (three months) before you can request a change or upgrade (if that’s even possible, I don’t know). The wait is not as much of a problem as the fact that this has been going on for three years, and it has been really trying, and I just want to feel like myself again. The uncertainty factor has been the most irritating part of this process–you just don’t know how you’re going to feel or when it’s going to feel better.

Today marks three years plus one day that Hurricane Irma hit. Our lives were forever changed. A part of me really misses that time; amidst the chaos there was excitement, and promise–of something new. We lived that “new” and are now back to where we started. Except, there’s a pandemic now and no one can do anything–which, actually, kind of sucks more than the aftermath of a hurricane, mostly because, the aftermath and rebuilding had/has a finite end! Anyway, I wonder, what’s next? What’s going to be new? I am so jones’ing for something new again, aren’t you?

So, I come back to my mantra: exhale–what will be, will be; let the planning go for now–and believe–things will change, they will not be this way forever. Exhale, and believe.

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