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!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Taking the Actions

It is said, if you take the action the mind will follow. It's kind of like faking it until you make it. It's what I've been forced to do for the past several days. As best I can, I'm taking the actions in hopes that my mind will follow. With the exception of yesterday, when I was dark and virtually catatonic, I've been trying to put one foot in front of the other. So far my mind has stayed put.

This will be a short post because I don't want to whine. Besides, I've not got much else to say. My mood is low. Yesterday was long and solo. I did make it to the pool for a swim, but just leaving the house brought tears to my eyes. This morning, after some encouragement, I made it to an AA meeting. That brought temporary relief, just enough to get me into the grocery store. The tearfulness returned somewhere in the produce aisle. I hastily made my retreat. Home again, I'm still trying to do the next right thing. Right now it's laundry. One foot in front of the other... I wish my mind would get on board.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not the full truth

I guess I lied to you when I said I was okay. Here you were, sitting on my sofa, asking just that very question, and I lied. I don't know why. Perhaps because I'm trying to ignore the descent. I'm trying to shut out the darkness that's already made its way in. I lied because I don't want it to be so, but it is.

It makes sense, this descent. Healing has left me to spend much time alone. I'm not able to move my body in the ways of which I am accustomed. And the outcome of this injury-surgery-healing process is still largely unknown. The darkness outside is descending, too, as each day dwindles and less light is produced. It's a perfect storm of circumstance. Descent into my own darkness makes perfect sense.

The problem is I seem perfectly content to let it be so. To be left alone, that is my wish. Maybe that is why I lied. Perhaps I'm not so much ignoring the descent as I am going with it. There seems no fight in me right now. I know it's coming. Hell, it's already here, and I don't seem to care. I can't explain why that is so, but it is. I guess I lied to you when I said I was okay. I'm not, and yet I am.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Accepting help

D just left my house. He's on his way home. As usual, it was great to see him and difficult to see him go. We had another nice weekend together, although his purpose this weekend was to assist me. That was his idea. He was going to do some work at his lake home this weekend, but he decided to come here instead. He thought I needed help, and he wanted to be the helper. That was nice.

I've been receiving help from several people lately. My friend Therese has taken Puck for several walks and short runs. Without her, Puck would likely be going nuts by now. D also took Puck for a couple of long walks over the weekend. My friend Katie arrived at my home Thursday morning with four boys and some rakes. She and her boys raked my leaves and mowed my lawn. My lawn now looks presentable. Even my parents got into the act. My mom made me some good pea soup, three quarters of which I froze, before she and my step-dad went south for the winter. I'm not used to receiving so much assistance.

I'm not used to receiving help, and accepting help makes me uncomfortable. After all, I'm a pretty independent gal. This weekend D kept asking, "What can I do for you?" I didn't know what to say. He kept making me sit down so he could get me water, or coffee, or whatever I needed. I was a little embarrassed. When Katie was here raking, I couldn't sit down. I kept wandering around outside, but with me on crutches, there was little I could do. I just felt like I shouldn't sit when so many others were working. Even when Therese is out walking Puck, I barely sit. It's silly. Accepting help is difficult for me. I always say thank you, but sometimes that just doesn't seem enough.

I need to work on accepting help gracefully. Recovering from this knee surgery will give me that opportunity, I guess. Maybe that's one of the things I'm supposed to learn while I sit on the sidelines. I'm very grateful for the assistance I've recently received. But I can't wait until I am again the helper rather than the helpee.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Disappointing news

I saw my orthopedic surgeon today. He took the stitches out of my knee, explained the photos of the surgical procedure, and checked on my progress. Then we talked about rehab. Unfortunately, the microfracture surgery he performed is not a quick healing procedure. In fact, he doesn't even want me fully weightbearing on my right leg for another 2-3 weeks. Since he repaired the patello-femoral joint, I have to avoid loading my knee when it is in any more than a slightly flexed position. That means I cannot go up or down stairs, squat, kneel, bike, jump, row, or run. I can return to swimming next week. I can return to gentle biking from a high seat in 2-3 weeks. I won't be able to climb stairs, squat, or kneel for quite awhile. But here's the kicker. I may not be able to run for 6 months. Ouch.

I wasn't expecting the running news. I thought 3 months would be the longest possible layoff. Six months took me by surprise, and I've been working on swallowing it for the rest of the day. Obviously, things could be worse. He could have told me never to run again. I guess I'm having a hard time accepting this because it was a surprise. I wasn't prepared. The other problem is The Boston Marathon, for which I am already registered, have a room and a flight, is almost exactly 6 months from today. I really wanted to run a good Boston in 2012. The news from my doctor today was very disappointing.

Despite the disappointing news, I have much to look forward to. I am really looking forward to getting in the pool next week. I feel heavy and out of shape already. It will be nice to move freely and expand my lungs again. I'm also looking forward to this weekend. D is coming to visit. It will be nice to see him and spend time together. And I'm looking forward to continued healing. Day be day, things will improve, and I'll likely be running again before I know it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Things are getting better

I'm healing fairly well. I spent most of the weekend inside, sitting, icing, reading, and watching TV. It was beautiful outside, so I hobbled around a bit in the driveway. There wasn't much for me to do out there, and I wasn't sure I was supposed to drive yet anyway. Today I didn't care. I got in my car and took myself to the gym. I spent 45 minutes lifting weights. People were staring at me hobbling on my crutches from machine to machine, but I didn't care. It felt good to move my body. I probably should have gotten myself there earlier.

I stopped into work to say hello. I'm hoping to get back to my job soon, as I don't know how these bills are going to get paid if I don't. Financially, I'm stressed. I hate financial stress, and that's all I'm going to say about that!

My mood remains good, but I do miss running. I'm anxious about my recovery. There's no guarantee the surgery will cure me to the point of running again, but I try really hard not to think about that. Instead, I'm looking forward to being out there in the sun again, running, and painfree. That will be a glorious day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Healing is boring

I've not got much to report today. I'm feeling a little better everyday. My knee is coming along. The swelling is significantly less. I'm able to put some weight on it, and I'm working on flexing it a little further everyday. I'm pleased with the progress.

The main issue I'm having is boredom! There is only so much one can do in one's own house when one only has the use of one leg! I'm spending most of my time sitting on my butt watching TV, reading, and snoozing. For a little wrinkle, I add ice to my knee. I get up and amble around, but I have a little house. That distraction doesn't take very long. The days are getting really long. I'm bored.

Things are getting taken care of around here. I'm not supposed to drive yet, but I went out to a board meeting the other night. I had to get out of the house! A friend picked me up for an AA meeting this morning. That was nice. AA'ers are good people. One friend has been taking Puck for walks. She even took him for a run today. That made him happy and tired him out! Another friend offered her sons to mow my lawn and rake my leaves. If they agree, that would be a big relief! So I've really got nothing to complain about. I'm grateful to be surrounded by such caring people.

Things are going well despite my lack of patience. I'm anxious to exercise again, and I may try lifting some light weights tomorrow. Other than that, I'll be here sitting. It's all part of the process to get me running again. That's the goal waiting on the other side of the boredom. With patience, I'll get there.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alive but not kicking

I'm about 24 hours post-op right now. My right knee is very, very sore. I've not yet been able to put more than a few ounces of weight on my leg and bending my knee is still out of the question. I wasn't quite prepared for this level of discomfort. Ice and pain meds have been crucial.

The good news, and the odd news, is that my lateral meniscus was totally intact. My doctor and I were both surprised. Rather than a lateral meniscus tear, as we had thought, I had a totally screwed up patella-femoral joint. That's the joint between the knee cap and the femur. The joint surfaces were very rough. They're supposed to be as smooth as glass. There were bone spurs on my patella. The cartilage was torn up. And strangest of all, I had a hunk of scar tissue sitting right in the joint space. Yet I had NO patella-femoral joint pain! All of my pain was posterior and lateral. Patella-femoral pain should occur right under the knee cap. My doctor said he'd only seen such a thing once or twice before in his many years of practice. What can I say? I guess I'm unique.

My doctor fixed me up. He smoothed out the roughened joint surfaces, removed the damaged cartilage and bone spurs, and excised the scar tissue. He then performed microfracture surgery. In microfracture surgery, holes are drilled in the bone surface down to the layer of bone marrow. He drilled holes in my femur. The holes allow growth factor and blood circulation to reach the outer bone surface which regenerates the cartilage. If the procedure works, new cartilage will fill in the gaps created by removing the damaged cartilage. The recovery may take a little longer, but hopefully I'll be able to run painfree in the end.

I'm optimistic. Since surgery, I've done a lot of reading and watched some YouTube videos about microfracture surgery. Several athletes have had positive results and returned to their sports after having the surgery performed. That's all I want. I want to return to my sport.

Hopefully the pain will subside soon, and I can get on with moving and strengthening my knee. I'll be on crutches for at least one week. At that point, I'll follow-up with my doctor and learn more. Thank you for all of the prayers and well wishes. I really appreciated the support.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

At the lake

I'm sorry for the long delay in posting this week. I have finally recovered from my illness. I'm spending this weekend with D at the lake. It has been an unbelievably gorgeous weekend. The sun has been shining non-stop, and the temperatures have been in the 80's. The leaves are beautiful, and the smell of fall fills the air. This is exactly what I needed.

Not only is the weather beautiful, things with D are going great. We've spent a lot of quality time together. It's so great that we like to do the same things. Yesterday we returned to the bike trail in the woods, the trail on which we met, and went for a long bike ride. We stopped a few times and took some pictures, chatted with a few other folks on the trail, and generally had a lovely time together. After dinner last night we didn't want to come inside, so we built a fire and sat quietly under the stars before retiring for the night. This morning, the lake was like glass, so we set out in the kayaks for a journey around some islands. Again, it was beautiful. We took our time, took more pictures, and soaked in the sun. Like I said, this is exactly what I needed this weekend. I'm happy.

I return home tomorrow to prepare for my surgery. Tuesday really can't come soon enough. I'm so ready to get this thing taken care of. I'm anxious, of course, as I won't know until I wake up from surgery what kind of recovery to expect. The unknown is always scary. But I'm optimistic everything will work out as it should, and I will be back running soon enough. I'm trying to combat my worry with faith. Any prayers you may offer will certainly be appreciated.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sick and Stressed

I don't know about you, but being ill exhausts me. I have been feeling poorly for over a week now. Last week was brutal. I had a fever, sore throat, stuffy head, and fatigue for 5 days. Then the cough set in. I've been coughing day and night since late last week. It's exhausting.

It's been a tough 10 days. Besides being sick, which makes everything else more challenging, I've been worrying about my knee and upcoming surgery. I'm worried about how long the recovery will take, and if/when I'll be able to run again. I'm worried about my finances, as I don't have enough sick time to cover my extended leave from work after surgery. I'm anxious about my physical condition, and not being able to exercise has compounded my stress. I just feel like crap.

I hate to complain. Things could be worse. And a lot of things are going well. I am a little worried about my mood. It seems to be sliding. I'm not surprised. I don't think I'm dealing with things very well right now.

My friend, Kate, was here this past weekend to run The Twin Cities Marathon. We were supposed to run it together. It was nice to see her, show her around my state, and introduce her to my friends. Unfortunately, I think all the socializing we did wore me out. And it was really tough watching a race I was supposed to have run. By Sunday night, I was wiped out.

I'm supposed to visit D. this weekend at his lake home. I'm not looking forward to the 5.5 hour drive. I'm still so tired, and I just don't know if I have the energy to be social for another entire weekend. That scares me. Like I said, I'm worried about my mood. I'm finding myself wanting to stay home and sleep instead of doing just about anything else.

I've contacted my doctor, and I've let my best friends know I'm worried about my sliding mood. Now I'm letting you know, too. I need to arrest this before I sink. I think this upcoming surgery will be stressful enough. I don't want to add a depression relapse on top of it. I've got to be on guard and proactive. I can't ignore it. As my friend, Cindy, told me last night, I have to keep moving forward, one step at a time, and do the next right thing. If I can just focus on the next right thing, this too shall pass.