Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


The verdict is in. I will be having surgery on my right knee. As I expected, I have a torn lateral meniscus. The only question remaining is how severely it is torn, and we won't know that until my MD sticks his scope in there and peeks around. So I won't know until after I wake up on October 11th, the day of my surgery, how long my recovery will take. It all depends on what my doctor finds and how much of my meniscus he will have to remove. It could take a few weeks or a few months. Obviously, I'm hoping for the former rather than the latter.

I'm very relieved to finally get moving on this problem. It's been frustrating waiting for my doctor's appointment when I've known for a month what was likely going on. I'm especially fortunate to have such a good relationship with this MD, as his next available surgery appointment was actually in mid-November! Instead, he was kind enough to add me to his schedule on what was supposed to be the last day of his upcoming vacation. He knows how important running is to my overall health and well-being, and we both knew it would be almost impossible for me to wait another 6 weeks for surgery. By scheduling me on October 11th, I may be back to running by mid to late November! I'm very, very grateful my doctor afforded me such an opportunity. 

I'll be spending the next 10-12 days getting ready for surgery. There are pre-op doctor's appointments to be attended, and there is paperwork to be completed. I also have to work out time off with my boss. I don't know what I'm going to do to pay my bills while I'm out, as I haven't yet accrued enough sick time to cover more than 2 or 3 days off. If I don't work, I don't get paid. I'm worried about that. I'm trusting it will all work out. I just don't know how yet. I'll also have to find some volunteers to walk Puck while I'm gimping around. He won't tolerate sitting still for long. My yard may need to be mowed or raked, and I don't know how long I'll be unable to drive. There are a few things to figure out over the next week and a half. Obviously, getting ready for surgery will require more than just getting ready for the surgery.

Nonetheless, I'm grateful to have a diagnosis that is fixable. I'm grateful my MD fit me into his personal schedule. And I'm really grateful to be moving forward rather than standing still. I'm relieved. While having surgery may create some other issues, I don't think any of those issues will be impossible to deal with. One day at a time, I'll deal with them as they arise. In the end, I'll eventually be back to running, and that's what I'm focused on right now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Still sick

Ugh! It's been a long week so far. I've been feeling like crap since Saturday night. I thought it was just a bad cold, but now I think it's more likely been the flu. My body has been aching so badly it's kept me awake at night. I had a low-grade fever through yesterday. And my head has been painfully stuffed up. Last night I was up coughing half the night. Needless to say, things have not been fun. I hate lying around doing nothing, but I really didn't have a choice.

This morning my temp is back to normal. I'm tired, but my body is aching less. I have to go to work because I have four new patients who need to be evaluated. I think I'm past being contagious, but I'm going to wear a mask so I don't get anyone else sick. Once my evaluations are done, I'll be back home resting again.

I also have my appointment with my orthopedic doctor this afternoon. Hopefully, I'll finally have a definitive diagnosis and a plan for recovery. My knee has been worse the past few days, and I've finally made the decision that I won't be running on Sunday. It will be hard.

My friend Kate will arrive Friday night for marathon weekend. I guess I will be her personal chauffer for the weekend. I'd rather stay away from the race all together, but obviously I can't do that with Kate here to run. Oh well. It will be nice to see Kate again, and I'm sure she will love the race.

That's all for now. I'm off to ready myself for my day. I'll let you know the outcome of my ortho appointment. Send prayers for something easily fixable. And have a great day!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Under the weather today

I'm supposed to be at work right now. Unfortunately, I spent much of the night awake with a sore throat, headache and body aches. I do believe I am getting sick. I hate being sick. I especially hate being sick one week prior to my next marathon. Hmmm...perhaps God really is trying to tell me something.

Speaking of sick, my orthopedic doctor called in sick on Friday. Therefore, I did not get to have my knee evaluated. I'm pretty sure I have a torn meniscus in there, but I need him to confirm that and to get the ball rolling to recovery ( i.e. cut it out). Fortunately, I was able to reschedule the appointment for this Wednesday, so I don't have too long to wait to see him. I'm going to see what he says about running vs. not running the marathon next week.

My friend, Kate, will be coming into town for the marathon. This will be the fifth marathon we will be doing together in the last year and a half. I'm looking forward to seeing her and showing off my home state. I just wish I was in better shape myself. Oh well, whether I run or not, I know she will enjoy herself.

Well, my head is pounding. I guess it's time to lie back down. I've gotta get my rest. I've got no time to waste!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A shared experience

I finally got around to reading my October Runner's World magazine today. One particular article had been recommended, and so I went there first. The article was about Frank Shorter, the 1972 Olympic gold medalist and 1976 Olympic silver medalist, in the marathon. He is widely known as the initiator of the 1970's running boom, and he remains revered within the running community to this day. I was anxious to read the article.

My anticipation stemmed from the article's focus. Titled Frank's Story, it detailed the abuse he endured as a child. In it, Frank Shorter discussed how his dad, a small town, heroic, doctor, mercilessly abused him and his siblings. He detailed his memories of walking on eggshells around his dad, listening to him climb the stairs before he chose which sibling to beat with a belt, and of his father's competition with his own children--belittling their accomplishments rather than celebrating them. Those details were all too familiar to me.

I was so moved by Frank's Story, and his brutal honesty, that I looked him up. I found him, too. After a few deep breaths, I dialed his number. I recognized his voice on his voicemail, so I left him a message. I told him how much I respected his honesty and openness, and I let him know I shared many of his memories. I left my phone number, and three hours later he called back. We talked for quite awhile--me and an Olympic gold medalist--and I hung up amazed. Our shared experience brought us together in a way nothing else ever could. Amazing.

And just now, I am realizing that's exactly what I'm doing with you through this blog. Sharing experiences... Most of you don't have a clue who I am, and yet we are here, together, because of our shared experiences, whether that's running, or depression, or a little of both. I'm so grateful for my interaction with Mr. Shorter today, and I'm thankful you are here, too, sharing my experiences with me. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Revolt of my Body

I'm afraid my body is against me. My right knee has been steadily improving. It has improved so much, in fact, that I was able to run on it today. I did a one mile lap with Puck to warm up, and that went really well. After dropping Puck at home, I set out again. I was just settling into my relaxed pace when I felt a tug and then burning in my left calf. I knew immediately. It stopped me in my tracks. I pulled my left calf muscle again. My body, apparently, is revolting.

I'm so frustrated. I was only two miles into my run when this happened. I don't know what to think. I've been working hard and doing the right things, but to no avail. I guess I'll make a massage appointment. My massage therapist fixed my calf in August. Maybe she can work her magic again. The Twin Cities Marathon is looking more doubtful every day. Oh well, maybe this is God's way of telling me to rest. If so, I don't like the message!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pleasantly Tired

It's the end of a long weekend with D. He's on his way home. He left 3 hours ago, so he's probably getting close to home now. I miss him. I feel a little silly saying that, but it's the truth. I miss him. My house feels empty. I think Puck's even a little sad. We're missing part of the pack.

It's funny. This is the first time he's come here, rather than me going there, and this is the first time I've felt sad when we've parted. Usually, I've felt pleasantly tired and happy. Today I'm pleasantly tired and sad. Weird. My friend Cindy says it means I'm falling in love...

D and I had a great time together this weekend. He seemed more relaxed. It's probably because he didn't have to worry about what we were going to do next. This time that was my worry. The weekend went by so quickly, I didn't have much time to worry though.

It was a busy weekend. Actually, Friday was relaxing, but Saturday was quite busy. My sponsor and her husband treated us to a Minnesota Twins game yesterday. After working out, we left home early for the game, which took up most of the day. The Twins lost, but we had a lot of fun. After returning home, we had about 30 minutes to relax before going out for dinner with my sponsor, her husband, and friends, Bill and Cindy. Dinner took up the rest of the day. We were whipped by the time we got home for bed.

Today was a little more relaxed, but it was too short. We worked out this morning, had coffee with Bill and Cindy, and watched a little football before he had to head home. We basically had just over 48 hours together. I'm not complaining, but I can't wait until we can spend more time together.

Hmmm... I just got off the phone with D. Maybe my friend Cindy is right...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Going back to Boston

I registered for the 2012 Boston Marathon today. I was worried the race would fill before I got a chance to register, but thankfully, I got in. I can't wait to go back to Boston next April. I've got a bone to pick with that race. It was the toughest and slowest marathon I ran this past year. I'd like spend more time running and less time walking next time.

Speaking of running, I haven't done a lick of it since Saturday. I've only run twice since my last marathon 3 weeks ago. My knee is not responding to the rest, ice, or ultrasound. It's better, but I can't run without pain, so I'm not running. I'm pretty sure my lateral meniscus is torn. That's the cartilage between the bones on the outside of my knee. I see my orthopedic doctor in 10 days, and I think we may be discussing surgery. But we'll see. Maybe things will yet improve on their own.

I've been training hard despite not being able to run. I've been swimming, biking and lifting weights. I feel good. I don't think I've lost a lot of fitness, but time away from running always hurts running performance. I'm still holding out hope of completing The Twin Cities Marathon in a few weeks, even if I have to walk most of it. That may not make sense to my non-running readers, but I love this event and I'd like to finish it. I hate signing up and not showing up. Of course, I won't do it if it means I'll do major damage. I'll likely decide after discussing it with my doctor next week.

I've been busy sprucing up my home and getting ready for D to come visit. He'll arrive Friday morning for the weekend. I'm really looking forward to seeing him. I'm also anxious for him to meet Bill and Cindy. They are my closest friends and a huge part of my life. He needs to know who they are. We are having dinner with them one night this weekend. I can't wait. I'm sure it will be fun.

Well, I think my kitchen floor has dried, so it's time for me to move onward. I'll sign off for now with best wishes for a good night and a better tomorrow. Thanks for reading, my friends.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Less to say

Things are continuing to go well. I guess I could complain about my knee, which is still bothering me, but complaining is so useless. Besides, I had a great workout today. If I were able to run as I wished, I would have done 20 miles in preparation for my next marathon, which is now 3 weeks away. But 20 miles was out of the question, so I decided to bike, run and swim instead.

I wanted to work out for three hours, which is approximately how long it would take me to run 20 miles. I began my morning in the pre-dawn light on my bike. As the sun rose, I biked a 34.4 mile loop. It was quite chilly when I began, but by the time I finished, the sun had warmed me nicely. I jumped off my bike and ran 3.6 miles. My knee hurt, but it was tolerable. It was too bad, for I felt like I could have kept running forever. After my run, I drove a couple miles to my gym and got into the pool. I swam one mile. In total, I completed 39 miles in just about three hours. It was a great workout. I had plenty of energy, and switching things up definitely kept me interested throughout.

The rest of my day has been filled with errands, chores, and of course, a nap. I may go to a movie with friends tonight. Tomorrow I have to work. Pretty boring...

That's the problem with feeling well. I have less and less to say. I worry about what to write here. I don't want to bore you. I know some with depression have trouble relating when my life is so "normal." But this is my life with depression. Sometimes it hurts and sucks. And sometimes, as is the case right now, I feel well. So I apologize for having less to say, but I'll keep writing about my boring life as long as you'll have me. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Updates

The long weekend with my friend D went well, although not as swimmingly as in the past. There was a simple reason. D's 30-year-old son joined us at the lake. He's a nice guy, and he likes me, but it made things different. First of all, he's a very intense young man. I'm not used to being around intense people. It was a little tiring.

There were also some moments of tension. I think D wanted to please both of us and/or didn't want to offend either of us. For example, I wanted to take D out for breakfast on Sunday, just the two of us, but he thought it would be rude to leave his 30-year-old son home alone. I disagreed. I ended up going out with my parents instead.

Some of the tension was of my own making. D's divided attention caused me to worry. My fears of being hurt reared their ugly head. I had to work hard to accept the situation as it was, accept D's divided attention, and to not read anything into that divided attention (for example, thinking it meant I was not liked). By the end of the weekend, I accomplished that. It was, overall, a good weekend once again.

The other update is not so promising. I am injured again. Actually, I tweaked my knee during my last marathon, and it's been bothering me ever since. I have a longstanding, slight meniscus tear in my right knee, and I think I irritated it coming down one of the long, steep hills during the race. I actually didn't run at all during the last week. I biked, swam, or lifted weights everyday instead. By Saturday, the pain was significantly less.

As per my plan, I set out for my usual long run on Saturday. D's son is also training for a marathon, and we were both scheduled to go 14 miles. Unfortunately, despite feeling good prior to the run, my knee flared up around 4 miles. I made it 8 miles, but that was it. And I payed for it later.

I'm taking another break from running now. I will treat myself with some ultrasound, get a massage, and cross-train again. It's already better than it was over the weekend, but I'm worried. I don't know how soon I'll be able to run again.

Despite my injury, my mood is still holding steady. I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful for all of you readers. You really keep me going. You have no idea! I have a busy week ahead. I'm hoping things go smoothly.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Another long weekend ahead

I've not got much to report. Things are going well. I noticed a slight dip in my mood early this week, following my DNF over the weekend, but I was able to right myself relatively quickly. I just had to let go of the disappointment and focus on what my reader, Maggie, mentioned in her helpful comment. DNF means Did Not Fail. I like that. Thanks Maggie.

I'm off to the lake again this weekend. It's supposed to be nice, and of course I'm looking forward to seeing D! I'm hoping to run 13-15 miles with D and his son on Saturday. His son is training for his first marathon, which unfortunately is the same weekend as my next marathon, so D will be far away with his son on that day (as he should be). I've had a refreshingly good week of training so far. It will be nice to run through the quiet woods, with someone whose company I enjoy, to finish off the week tomorrow.

Nothing more to report from here. Have a safe, enjoyable, healthy holiday weekend!