Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 18 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!

Friday, December 28, 2018

13 years

I'm not sure why I got it when so many others didn't. Luck? Willingness? Chemistry? Maybe a bit of all three? I don't know, but I'm happy I got it. I'm thrilled and grateful today to be celebrating 13 years of sobriety. Most of you reading this post have no idea what I was like when I was drinking. Allow me to give you a glimpse.

When I was in the thick of my disease, and that includes years of abstinence, I did not know what gratitude meant. I did not understand the word, and I'm pretty sure I never once uttered it in conversation. Humility was even more foreign to me. I certainly didn't understand the concept. And if I was ever aware of the word, I probably thought it had something to do with humiliation.

I was selfish, self centered, and controlling. I figured it was my responsibility to make sure you knew what you should be doing, whether that was as a colleague, a family member, or a friend. I could be a jerk, but if I was, I was sure it was because you caused me to be a jerk. Rationalization was one concept I did understand. I'm sure I often wasn't a pleasant person to be around, but I had no idea.

Since I knew what was best for me, I didn't come to sobriety willingly. Believing in something greater than myself, listening to suggestions from others, and admitting I was powerless? None of those ideas sounded even remotely right. Like I said, I'm still not sure why I got it. After all, I came to sobriety kicking and screaming.

I kicked and screamed for well over a year, if I remember correctly. I'm so lucky the people attempting to assist me, to listen to me, to share their knowledge with me; I'm so lucky they didn't give up. They continued to share their experience, strength and hope, despite my reservations and probably protestations. But for some reason I continued to come back for more.

I guess that's what was required, though, because at some point something clicked. Maybe I became willing? Maybe I gave up thinking I knew what was best, not only for me but for you, too? Maybe I realized I actually was powerless? At some point, I got it. Something clicked, and I began to change.

Sobriety is about so much more than not drinking. For me, it's about becoming a better person, a kinder, gentler person. It's about learning to trust. It's about living life on life's terms rather than mine. Amazingly, when I gave up trying to control everything, I found a freedom like I'd never known before. It's weird, and strange, and wonderful.

I'm amazed to be sitting here 13 years sober today. I'm humbled, and grateful, and happy. If you're struggling, know it's possible. If you're willing, a better life, not necessarily an easier life, but a better life is there for the taking. After all, if I can get it, anyone can.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Pity or Participate

I admit it. I awoke this morning feeling a little sad, which was unusual, so initially I didn't pay much attention. I've spent many years alone on Christmas day, and it's never been a big deal. I mean I haven't even put up a Christmas tree or decorated for at least 10-12 years. I'm not anti-Christmas. I actually like Christmas a lot, but it's just me and Jet, so decorating seems a bit much. It's Christmas, but it's also just another day for me.

I got up this morning as usual and prepared to go to work. Everything was fine until I pulled out of my driveway. The neighborhood was so quiet. There wasn't another moving vehicle or person in sight. That's when the sadness really set in.

I began thinking about all of the excited activity taking place out of sight in those still and tranquil homes. I began thinking about all of the families who were together this morning, rather than at work or school. The traditional and special meals were likely underway. I knew I wasn't going to be having a traditional or special meal today, and I felt sad, and maybe a bit of self pity, because I wasn't going to be a part of any of it.

The feelings surprised me. After all, this was a normal Christmas day for me. Just yesterday a coworker inquired as to what my plans were for today. I told her I was working, and maybe Jet and I would go for a run, but that's all. She scrunched up her face and gave me a concerned look. I told her not to worry. It was no big deal. And I wasn't lying. So feeling sad and a little pitiful this morning really surprised me.

I entertained the pity for about 10 minutes, reinforced it by noting the empty roads around me, and even got a little tearful. Then I picked up my phone. I woke up one of my close friends. She and her family were soon going to be opening their presents. At first that heightened my sadness. I shared how I was feeling and then made plans to stop in after work. But I was still feeling a bit low, so I made another call.

I left a voicemail for my brother. He lives about an hour away. I knew he was spending the morning with his family. I left a message asking if he wanted to go for a run this afternoon. While awaiting his response, I saw 4 patients, all of whom were cheerful and happy to participate. One long term, very debilitated patient even made a huge leap forward today when she accomplished something she has been working toward since August! I was ecstatic! To top it off, the dietary department fed us (the staff) a free traditional meal. That was unexpected and delicious.

Just as I finished my meal, my brother called and accepted my offer to go for a run. So instead of going to my friend's house after work, I drove to my brother's house, and we went for a long run together. It was a beautiful, crisp day. The roads were almost empty, and we had practically free run of the city. We ran and chatted and wished Merry Christmas to everyone we passed. Before I knew it we had run 9.2 miles. That's the furthest I've run since early September. I may pay for it with sore Achilles tendons tomorrow, but it was worth it to have that quality time with my brother.

I'm proud of what I did today. I could have wallowed in self pity, but I didn't. Instead of wallowing, I participated. My day was resurrected by participating fully in everything I did today, whether that was as a physical therapist, a happy diner, a runner, or a sister. I had a good day. I'm happy tonight to be sitting here alone, typing, with Jet by my side. Life is good. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Running update

I celebrated another birthday this week. My goal for my 51st year is to actually run a race again. I ran my last race the day before I turned 49. So it's now officially been more than two years since I last raced. Two years! I can't believe it. It's been a long, long time, and I'm not sure an end to the drought is in sight.

With that in mind, I ventured out on my second run this week. I've run 2 to 5 miles, 2 or 3 times per week for the last 6 weeks. My Achilles tendons, both of them, have been sore, so 3 weeks ago I began running in a new shoe, the Nike Vaporfly 4%, in hopes I might avoid further injury. The Vaporfly 4% shoes are the super high tech running shoes which were created for the Nike Breaking 2 project.

The new shoes were ridiculously expensive, but they really are super-cushioned and energy-returning, just as advertised. Almost immediately I was running faster with the same or less effort. It's not that I'm focused on speed right now, but running the same pace with less energy expenditure feels great. Unfortunately, my Achilles soreness has not abated.

As I sit here right now I fear I will not get a chance for a third run this week, as both of my Achilles tendons are hurting. So while I'm thrilled with my run today, a very comfortable and easy 5.6 miles, I'm frustrated beyond belief with this chronic Achilles soreness. My legs and my lungs are clearly ready to increase training volume, but I dare not. The last thing I need is another Achilles tear.

I'm doing everything I can to avoid further injury. I'm running less and advancing mileage slowly. I've got the new, high tech shoes. I'm foam rolling my calves after every run and often on the days in between, too. I'm using heat and/or ice on an almost daily basis. I'm strengthening my calves, and I'm stretching, even though I already have excellent ankle range of motion. I don't know what else I can do. I can't figure it out. There seems to be nothing left to fix.

My plan, therefore, is to continue forward slowly. I'll keep doing what I'm doing, take days off as needed, and pray for the best possible outcome. I'm longing to be the runner I used to be. I'm yearning to feel the grace and freedom, in my body and soul, of floating along effortlessly, enjoying a beautiful day, with Jet running by my side. It's been a long time since I've experienced that. I know it's possible. I just have to get there. Somehow I will. I have to believe that.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Psych Nurses

I'm thinking about psych nurses today. They are a unique bunch. I have been very fortunate. I have been a patient of some of the best mental health nurses around. Whether inpatient or outpatient, psych nurses have special skills, and several have had a lasting impact on my life.

Vicky, my psychiatrist's primary nurse, is one nurse who has had a tremendous impact on the quality of my life. She is retiring this week. Her absence will be a huge loss to my doctor and her entire outpatient department, but I am dreading her departure. My psychiatrist has other nurses, and they are also very good, but when I struggle, when my depression has me flat on the couch contemplating life, it's Vicky with whom I want to connect. For 18 years, my entire illness, Vicky has been available and integral.

As everyone knows, outpatient nurses are gatekeepers for their docs, whether it's a psychiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon. And I'm sure that's how I initially connected with Vicky, as a gatekeeper, when what I really wanted was to speak to my psychiatrist. But Vicky has special skills. She's gone above and beyond the gatekeeper role throughout our interconnected time. Over the last 8-10 years, I've frequently called Vicky, not as a conduit to my psychiatrist, but as a trusted confidant and counselor.

I've called Vicky to talk to, well, Vicky. I've spoken to Vicky from my car, my couch, and my bed. I've reached out to Vicky while out on a run, while hiking in a state park, and even while trekking in the Himalayas. It hasn't mattered whether she was at her desk or not. I've called Vicky at all hours of the day and night. I've left lengthy, desperate messages on her voicemail because sometimes I just needed to talk. Even if she wasn't there, I found comfort speaking out loud to Vicky. And she always, always called me back.

The thing about Vicky is she never freaked out. Over the years we developed a trusting relationship. Besides my psychiatrist, Vicky was the only person I trusted with some of my darkest, scariest thoughts. She always listened without judgment. She wasn't afraid to ask direct questions, and she always made sure I was safe. Vicky knew when to offer support and let me be. But she also knew when more assessment and/or hospitalization was needed. She was a conduit to my doctor, but she was so much more than that.

I'm happy for Vicky. She deserves a most fulfilling, happy retirement. Selfishly, however, I wish Vicky wasn't retiring. I'm sure I'll notice her absence when I next visit my doctor, as Vicky and I typically shared a smile and a laugh. I'm worried about life without Vicky in my corner. I'm not sure how I'll handle it when/if I have a significant depression relapse in the future. It will be different. I will miss Vicky. I'm sure of that.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

How to Help Those with Depression

I have a friend who is struggling with her depression right now. It's different for me to be on this side of the scene. Usually I'm the one in need. Her struggle has me thinking about what I appreciate when I'm not doing well. I have the advantage of understanding her illness and needs from the inside. But for those on the outside looking in, I think supporting someone with a mental illness is not as intuitive as supporting a friend or family member with, for example, cancer or MS. Here are a few ways you may be able to help your loved one with depression.

First of all, get past the stigma of mental illness and remember it is an illness, no different nor any less debilitating than other, more publicly acceptable illnesses. Depression is not a weakness. It is not caused by thinking negative thoughts or not socializing enough. (Those are actually symptoms, not causes of depression.) Depression is caused by biological, chemical processes gone awry, just as is the case for cancer, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis.

Likewise, depression is not cured by being "more positive" or by "pulling oneself up by the bootstraps." Charging forward as if nothing is wrong doesn't work either. Depression often requires intervention. It may be treated with hospitalization, medication, counseling, ECT, and/or a variety of newer interventions including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or Ketamine. And if, like me, your loved one has treatment resistant depression, it may require multiple interventions, similar to other chronic illnesses.

With that in mind, I urge people to treat a loved one with depression just as they would treat a loved one with any other debilitating illness. If hospitalized, send your friend or family member a card, some flowers, or a balloon bouquet. Support him or her with words of encouragement. And visit! You don't have to know what to say. You don't have to say anything. Sometimes it's just nice to be in the presence of somebody who cares.

If a loved one is unable to work because of depression, they likely are unable to take care of the house, the yard, the car, or the children/pets, too. Again, just as you would for a person with another debilitating condition, offer to help out. When I'm sick, it's difficult to do anything around my house, but cooking especially suffers. I appreciate offers to get groceries or to cook a meal. Walk my dog, mow the yard or shovel the snow. Depression saps my energy and makes even little things feel overwhelming. Offer to do something practical. It will make a big difference.

However, if helping with chores is not your forte, at the very least keep in touch. Depression is an isolating illness. Isolation is a symptom of the illness, but it is also an unfortunate result of having a poorly understood, stigmatized condition. Friends and family, perhaps out of shame, or I think often it is simply a result of not knowing what to say or do; friends and family sometimes disappear. It's happened to me. And based on past comments on this blog, it has routinely happened to others, too. Even if you don't know what to say or do, even if you're uncomfortable and don't understand what's going on, don't leave your loved one on an island. Don't disappear.

Stay present, but don't expect you have to fix our depression. We don't expect that, and frankly trying to fix me only makes me feel worse. When I don't feel well, it is not helpful if someone tries to commiserate. I end up feeling more isolated and misunderstood. You see, all of us have felt depressed. Feeling depressed is part of the human condition, which is why people (without depression) think they can fix it in others. But feeling depressed is not depression. Depressed is a feeling. Depression is an illness. 

There is so much more to depression than feeling sad or low. From thinking to concentration to movement to bathing and sleeping, depression affects it all. It is a life altering, sometimes life threatening, debilitating condition. Let your friend know you're available. Assure your family member that although you may not understand their struggle, you're willing to assist, to listen, or simply to sit. Be there. That's enough. Fixing is not required.

I plan to be present for my friend. I don't yet know exactly what she needs or where she needs help, but I'll do my best to be available. And that may be all she needs, simply to know somebody is available. For me, when I don't feel well, it's often just that simple.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Boston Overnight

I'm sitting here processing my whirlwind overnight trip to Boston. I was invited to participate in a blogger advisory board meeting by the pharmaceutical company, Alkermes.  I left at 6:00 AM Thursday morning and walked back through my door at 12:20 AM this morning. I spent just 27 hours in Boston. I felt like a real business person!

I really enjoyed being back in Boston. I had barely arrived at my hotel before I changed into my running gear and was on my way to run around the Charles River. It was my favorite place to run when I lived in Boston many years ago. I planned to continue my gradual mileage build up, running a bit, walking a bit, for about 3 miles. But I was so happy and energized by running again on the old, familiar paths, I ran almost 5 miles with very few walking breaks. And even then I had to force myself to return to the hotel! The good news is I didn't suffer any obvious deleterious effects. Despite pushing it a bit, I seem to have recovered well.

Here's a quick tour of my run. So many memories...
Just past mile 25 of the Boston Marathon. I remember running under here in 2014, the year after the bombings.


The Hatch Band Shell on The Charles River Esplanade. More than once I watched The Boston Pops perform live on the 4th of July as fireworks lit up the sky over the Charles River. I also saw Ray Charles perform here once, totally by accident, as I was out for a run when I ran into thousands of people enjoying his free concert in the park. I stopped and enjoyed it, too.

The famous Citgo sign, from the other side of the river in Cambridge, where I used to live.
The famous Citgo sign right in front of my hotel, which happens to be mile 25 of The Boston Marathon. Unfortunately, a runner can see this sign for miles before arriving here, but it feels so great to finally run underneath it!

Boston University building where I spent many hours working on my first graduate degree.
And of course, Fenway Park. This was taken behind the "green monster," the right field fence. Spent a few hours here, too.
I had a wonderful, memory-filled run Thursday afternoon, followed by an energizing walk after dinner late Thursday night. The city was alive and buzzing with activity. I miss that sometimes. It was nice to be back in that environment for a bit.

As for the meeting I was honored to attend, it was a wonderful learning experience. I was joined by 5 other bloggers from around the country. I enjoyed meeting other writers who, like me, share a passion for supporting people with and educating people about depression and mental illness. I only wish I could have spent more time getting to know each of them. But the whirlwind trip didn't allow that this time. Nevertheless, I'm so grateful for the opportunity I was given to share time with this group. 

And now... back to my laundry.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Letting go

I'm wondering if it's just me. When something disconcerting, difficult, or downright traumatic happens to me, I seem to have difficulty getting it out of my brain. It's troubling because I end up rehashing and re-living the experience, whether it's just hurtful words or scary situations, I have difficulty letting it go. I'll give you a couple of recent examples.

While I was in the midst of my trip in the Himalayas a good friend lashed out at me via text message. She blasted me with almost delusional falsehoods and damning words, at one point calling me pathetic. I was stunned, angry, sad, and hurt. Now I knew, intellectually, her words were a symptom of something going on with her and not really about me, but that didn't erase the shock or pain.

After exchanging just a couple of replies in my defense, it became clear I was not going to change her perspective, so I blocked her and tried to move on. But I couldn't. I couldn't get her words or the unfairness of her attack out of my mind. Even though I didn't want to think about it, even though I wasn't trying to think about it, even while moving forward and enjoying my adventure, I couldn't let it go. Her words rattled in my brain and the hurt she effected weighed heavy in my heart. For days...

Another example occurred a couple of days ago. While we were out enjoying a beautiful, snowy walk, Jet was attacked by a much larger, aggressive dog. Jet was healing at my left side on a 4 foot leash. We were on a public path in a local park. The other dog was unleashed, playing with his owner in the front yard of their home. As soon as the dog saw Jet, it took off. It ran at least 50 yards, full throttle, and was on top of Jet within seconds.

I yelled and frantically began pulling at the aggressive dog. Joined by the dog's owner, we struggled for what felt like an eternity to get her dog off of Jet. At one point I pulled him off by his collar, but he wriggled out of the collar and was instantly back on top of Jet. He had Jet's neck in his mouth and was pushing him to the ground. I thought he was going to kill my dog. Finally, his owner got her dog around the chest and pulled him off while I pulled Jet up the path. It was incredibly scary and awful!

What occurred next only made it more awful. I screamed at the owner something about the local leash law, at which point she said, "Your dog was being just as aggressive." More cussing and screaming in defense of Jet occurred. At some point she ridiculously asserted that her dog was just coming over to "say hi." There was no apology, no hint of taking any responsibility for not controlling her dog, which is against the law in this city. Instead, she seemed to blame Jet for being attacked.

If she had at least taken some responsibility, perhaps I wouldn't have called the police. But she didn't, so I called the police as soon as we got home. (Jet was, thankfully, physically unharmed as far as I could tell.) The officer took my report and stated he would issue a citation to the owner. I don't know if that will do anything to change her behavior in the future, but I felt like I needed to do something.

Unfortunately, the visit with the officer did not end my anger, fear, and anguish. I am still re-living the attack and all of those feelings. I envy my dog, as I'm sure he's long forgotten what happened. I, on the other hand, can't seem to get it out of my head. It's been almost two days, but it's still foremost in my brain, and that's very disconcerting. I can't seem to let it go.

I know about acceptance and letting go. I've put time and effort into acceptance and letting go as part of my recovery from alcoholism. I know the importance of each skill for maintaining my mental health and stability. Unfortunately, it seems I've lost whatever skills I'd previously gained. Traumatic events seem to haunt me, whether they are hurtful words or frightening events.

I'd like to be able to let things go more easily. I don't expect I won't be hurt or scared by these emotionally charged events, but I wish the feelings didn't hang around so long. I'd like to discontinue re-living the circumstances which create the feelings. I expend precious energy and fuel stress and  consternation when I continually rehash and replay. I'd love to hear how you deal with emotionally charged situations. Are you able to let go? Or do you also struggle? I'm looking for answers and relief.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Copy and Paste

It's happening again. Somebody is copying my blog posts. Again. The mad-copier has been working on several posts from December, 2008, and is now moving into January, 2009, as well as other random posts from other random dates and years. I'm sorry to have to be writing this again for those of you who've followed along for awhile, but for the person doing the copying, listen.

Perhaps you thought I'd have no way of knowing you were copying what I wrote, but I do. Perhaps you thought limiting your copying to 5 posts per day wouldn't tip me off, but it did. I not only know how many posts you've copied, I also know which posts you've copied and precisely how many words you've copied. I know more than you think.

I'd like to optimistically think you are copying my posts for some innocent reason, a reason which does not involve passing off my words as your own, but past history proves this has never been the case. So please, for your sake and mine, if you are publishing or plan to publish my posts in any way, shape or form, quit now. Unfortunately, out of necessity, I'm quite skilled at finding people who plagiarize. And I have never failed to identify a plagiarist in the past.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Time flies

I can't believe it's been a week since I last wrote. Where did the time go? I guess being busy at work, a mid-week holiday, and working on two consecutive Saturdays has kept me from thinking about writing. Sorry about that. But here I am, blatantly avoiding vacuuming my house, as writing here is way more important. At least I'm doing my laundry while I write.

I spent Thanksgiving at my brother's house with his wife, two of their three adult children, significant others, and my grand-nephew and grand-niece. Oh, and two cats and a dog, in addition to Jet, who, of course, accompanied me. It was a different Thanksgiving location for Jet and I. For the past 3 or 4 years, we've gone to my friend Wendy's house. But this year I kind of invited myself over to my brother's house.

My brother picked me up from the airport when I returned from Nepal earlier this month. In the emotionally-charged aftermath of my return, I felt like I needed to spend more time with my family. And this brother was extremely supportive while I was away. He followed my daily progress, and nary a Facebook post passed without one (or more) of his hilarious observations or comments. His online presence was not only funny but comforting. So I invited myself over for Thanksgiving.

We had a good day. My brother and his wife don't even own a television, however, so it was one of the only times I didn't watch at least a little football on Thanksgiving. But it was nice to spend time with his family, talk, laugh, eat and eat some more, and relax. My grand-nephew and niece are 3 and 1, respectively, so it was also loud and chaotic at times, but fun, nonetheless.

I mentioned being busy. I've worked 10 of the last 12 days, which is more than I'm used to working, but I survived. I'll move back into a more normal schedule beginning tomorrow. I'm looking forward to that. I can handle an uptick in days working for awhile, but I've learned I can't sustain it. My mood usually takes a hit if I work too much. Right now it's just my housework that's taken the hit!

I'm back to running a little bit. I completed my own Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning. I wanted to run with my brother in his community race, but I decided that would have resulted in a very long day for Jet and I, too long, so I took Jet on our own 5K instead. Our unofficial, official time was 31:09. That's a far cry from my PR of 19:11, but it's a start.

Well, I've put off vacuuming long enough, and vacuuming is just the beginning of my long-overdue-housework list. I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, or whatever it is you celebrated this weekend. I'm grateful for your time and attention. Thank you for your readership and for your support of me and my little blog. Carry on, my friends.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Settling in

Life goes on. I've returned to work. I've returned to exercising--walking, running, lifting weights, and cycling classes. I'm taking care of some professional obligations in order to keep my physical therapy license in good standing. And I'm doing a few chores. Basically, I'm settling back in to my routine.

I'm busy, which is good, but I'm guarding against getting overwhelmed. I guess that's the best way to describe it. I'm guarded. In the back of my mind, I've had an inkling of worry that maybe my mood would crash after such a monumental experience like the one I had in Nepal. So far, I've intermittently felt a bit off at times, low at other times, and perfectly okay at others. Nothing alarming has occurred, so I should probably just quit worrying and instead let each day arrive as it will.

I'm doing a pretty good job keeping up with things. My house is messy, but I'm feeling fine with that. I had to be so organized during my trek, unpacking and packing on a daily basis, I'm actually kind of enjoying having a bit of stuff strewn about haphazardly. It's comforting somehow.

I am feeling fatigued. Part of that, I think, is being back on a regular schedule, but I've also not yet returned to deep sleep since I've been home. In fact, my fancy new Garmin watch tells me I'm averaging less than an hour of deep sleep most nights. That doesn't seem like enough. I'm hoping it slowly improves. Again, so far, I'm managing despite less sleep than I would like.

It's been fun reviewing my trip with various friends and coworkers. I really enjoy looking at all the pictures and trying to remember exactly where I was and what I did on each day. I have a map of my route, my itinerary, my Facebook posts, and my photos out on my kitchen table at this moment. I'm working to label all the photos and assemble a timeline of my trip before I forget. I've already had requests for group presentations from a few people. That would certainly be fun. So if I can figure out how to put together some sort of multimedia presentation, I plan to take them up on their offers.

I'm sure you're tired of hearing about my trip by now, but it remains foremost in my mind. I don't want to forget it. I want to keep it fresh, to relive it, to feel the fear, challenge, awe, and adventure all over again. Eventually I'm sure I'll have more to think and talk about, but you'll have to forgive me if I'm a bit slow in letting it all slip behind me. Maybe you have some memories of great moments in your life, too? Feel free, take a minute, let those memories wash over you, experience them all over again. Join me. I hate to have so much fun alone.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Connections

Something strange has happened. Being away, it seems, increased my sense of connection, especially to the people in my life. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude in the wee hours of yesterday morning (my sleep is still not back to normal) I wrote a letter about it. I posted the letter to the private Facebook group I created prior to my trip, which allowed 25 coworkers, friends and family members to follow my progress.

Posting the letter to the group was a little scary, as I laid my emotions out there in a very personal way. I'm used to writing about these things here, somewhat anonymously, and posting my feelings to the black hole of the Internet. Even if my friends or family read what I write here, I rarely know about it. There's some safety in that. But yesterday, I felt the need to let those people closest to me know exactly what I was feeling. So far, I'm glad I did.

And now I'd like to let you in on it, too. If it inspires you to take a risk, to be open to adventure, to go after a dream, or simply to open yourself up to those in your life, to be honest and vulnerable, then publishing my thoughts and feelings here will be worth it, too. Here you go:

I know sometimes we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone. It’s human nature, right? I try to live each day with gratitude in my heart; to recognize the little things, the people, and the opportunities I have which make my life what it is, a pretty good life. No matter the challenges, the hardships, or the illness, I have a pretty good life.

As I sit here this morning, 5 days after returning home from a 27-day bucket list trip to Nepal and The Himalayas, I am feeling overwhelming gratitude. I am so lucky, and primarily I am lucky because of you. All of you…

My brothers. Despite our trials and tribulations, despite disparity and distance between us, I have siblings that care today. I have three brothers with wonderful families of their own. I have nieces and nephews I don’t often get to see, but cherish nonetheless. As a lot, we are healthy, prospering, successful contributors to society.

Though sometimes I feel distant from your nuclear family lives, being away made me feel more connected to you, my brothers, and your families. From your hilarious comments and “likes” to the thoughts and observations of my sisters-in-law in response to my Facebook posts, I knew you were each paying attention and interested, despite the business of your own family lives. That was comforting and reassuring.

Mom, you have often been a source of comfort and reassurance. It was no different while I was away. I could tell you were anxious and slightly fearful of the challenge I was undertaking, but you were wholeheartedly supportive, nonetheless. Among other things, you were crucial in assisting with changing my airline ticket when it became evident to me I needed to return early or risk my mental health. I haven’t always been the easiest daughter to raise, or even observe from a distance, of that I am sure, but you’ve always had my back. Thanks, Mom. I’m lucky. And grateful.

Speaking of gratitude, I will never, ever be able to express the depth of my gratitude to my psychiatrist, Dr. L. You were not only interested in and willing to follow my progress while I was away, you were a lifeline. When the altitude began wreaking havoc on my brain, heightening my anxiety to levels I’ve rarely, if ever, experienced, you were there. You were willing to participate in a dialogue with me, guide me, make suggestions, and reassure me. All the while I was halfway around the world! As usual, you went above and beyond what would be expected of any doctor. You were a touchstone, a presence, a voice to fall back on when I was tired, unsure, struggling, or frightened. I am certain this trip would not have been as successful if I hadn’t been allowed the selfless connection and support you granted me, Dr. L. Thank you.

As far as granting support, it is a rare opportunity to be able to take off for a month and still be allowed back to work with open arms. It was so reassuring to be connected to each of you, my coworkers, while I was away. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my experience with you. My connection to you, my colleagues, with whom I have always had the utmost respect, was only strengthened by my time across the globe. To feel your sense of excitement and joy in each of my accomplishments and milestones was wonderful, absolutely wonderful. I felt valued, appreciated, and respected. Where you could have been resentful and envious, left to pick up my slack while I traipsed around the world, you instead celebrated with me and relished in my adventure. I’ve never been so happy to return to work. I am truly grateful to work with so many amazing, supportive, selfless people. We are a good team.

Another team I appreciate now more than ever are the friends with whom I shared this adventure. Being a bit of a loner, I guess I wasn’t expecting the excitement and encouragement I received from each of you. I don’t do a lot of socializing. My world tends to be on the small side. But while I was out trekking alone, I felt nothing but support and camaraderie from the friends I allowed to follow me. I admit, I was surprised. And rather than saying anything special about me, it is instead a reflection of the kind, generous people I have in my life. Even if I see many of you only rarely, and even though I tend to think of myself as a unit of one, this trip made me realize I actually do have many caring, supportive friends. I only need to let you in to feel the love you so willingly shared with me this past month. Thank you, each of you. Thank you.

I am a lucky woman. I took an adventure to an area I had dreamed about for years. I expected to be challenged and thrilled, and I was. I’m proud of myself for taking the opportunity to make a dream reality. I expected I would learn a bit about the world, a different culture, and myself on this trip. And I did. What I didn’t expect, however, turned out to be the true gift. Love, support, connection… on so many levels. I’m still reeling a bit processing all of it.

I guess I just wanted to say thank you, to all of you, many of whom, like me, I’m sure never expected this outpouring of heartfelt gratitude. Perhaps you never imagined your singular place in my life could make such a huge impact. Perhaps that’s the lesson for all of us. We make a difference. Even when we think we are just doing what’s expected in our particular roles, we are making a difference in somebody’s life.

I want to thank each of you, today, for making a difference in mine. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Home again

I arrived home from Nepal around 9:00 PM, US Central Time, on Sunday, November 4, 2018. I had traveled well over 30 hours by the time I walked in my door. I was tired and relieved.

Jet was here waiting for me. My assistant, Michelle, who took care of Jet while I was gone, dropped him at home a few hours before I arrived. Perhaps it was a function of traveler's fatigue, or perhaps it was simply that I really missed Jet, but I basically bawled my eyes out on and off for several hours after arriving home. It was strange. I was overwhelmed, sad, relieved, happy, and who knows what else! I was out of sorts, to say the least.

There was so much to do after getting home. It would have been easy to collapse on the sofa and leave the bags in the middle of the floor. Fortunately, I resisted the urge to do just that. Instead, I've kept busy resettling. I've unpacked, done all of my laundry, gone grocery shopping, completed paperwork for my health insurance, and updated this blog with photos from my trip. So if you're looking for some pictures, I went back and added several to each post I wrote while away. Check them out and let me know what you think.

I plan to return to work tomorrow. I still have my high altitude cough, developed about 10 days ago, so I will also check in with my doctor tomorrow, too. I'd like to get rid of that. On Thursday, I'm looking forward to checking in with my psychiatrist. She was very helpful while I was away, allowing me to stay in contact as needed (like when my anxiety rose off the charts). She followed my progress on Facebook, as well. I am very lucky to have such a skilled, caring doctor. I'll always be grateful for her assistance.

I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Everest Base Camp, but I'm looking forward to getting back into my regular routine. Right now I have no desire to begin exercising again, but I'm going to force myself to get back out there soon. I did lose 10 pounds while away, so I'd like to put some muscle back on my frame. And I'd like to become a runner again. I'm going to take it slow, see if I can avoid injury, maybe run a Turkey Trot in a few weeks, and eventually, I hope, race the marathon again. Now that I've put Everest Base Camp behind me, that will be my focus. Just run...

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Back in Kathmandu

Sunset in Lukla
Sunset in Lukla
Sunset in Lukla
It took another stressful 2 days of waiting and negotiating at the Lukla airport to finally get on a flight yesterday, which brought me back to Kathmandu, after finishing my trek.  That makes 4.5 wasted, incredibly anxiety-filled days on the front and back ends of my trek spent at airports with seemingly no ability to transport the vast numbers of trekkers awaiting flights. It tarnished an otherwise incredible experience.

The past two days were full of anxious tears and major frustration, as I was bumping up against my international flight home, which begins later tonight. I was so relieved to actually get on a flight yesterday, that that too brought me to tears. I'm really tired of crying now.

After arriving at the hotel yesterday, I took my first real, hot shower in almost a month. What a gratifying thrill! I also got my first look at myself. Weird. I literally had not seen my face or most of my body for a month.

There are no mirrors in the Himalayas, and even if there were, it wouldn't matter, as I was covered from head to toe 99% of time! I discovered I badly need a haircut, and I've lost at least 10 pounds! I've been working hard on the desserts since getting back to the city.

Last night was also the first night I slept on a mattress in a warm bed since early October. It was wonderful! Toilets, toilet paper I don't have to supply myself, hot and cold running water... these are a few of the things I will never take for granted again.

And clean air! While the air was pristine in the mountains, it is thick with exhaust, dust, and who knows what else here in Kathmandu! I have been using my asthma inhaler every four hours like clockwork, and it's still difficult to breathe. I'm really looking forward to getting out of the city and on my way home.

I go to the airport in 6 hours for a middle of the night flight to begin my journey home. I'm actually really surprised at how incredibly home sick I am. I can't wait to get back to Jet and my normal, boring little routine.

This was a difficult trip, physically, mentally, and spiritually. The trekking itself was, of course, challenging. It required that I dig to a deep, rarely visited level more often than not. The lack of infrastructure made every detail, like securing a guesthouse room each night or a timely flight when needed, impossible to count on or even predict. And the physical conditions; 24-hour cold, high altitude, lack of running water, no toilets, did I mention the cold(?) wore on me. Regardless, I accomplished my goal.

I'm so thrilled to have set foot on the soil of Everest Basecamp. That's been a dream for more years than I can count. And I'm proud of myself for overcoming all of the challenges and obstacles this trek laid in my path. I stepped over, around, and through each one of them, accomplishing some things I never imagined myself  accomplishing.

Everest Base Camp, October 22, 2018
This was a more difficult experience than that which I had expected, but I've come out the other side a better human being, hopefully, because of it. That sounds cliche, but in this case, I believe it's true.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Headed downhill

Last night I slept below 15,000 feet for the first time in at least a week, and I felt like I was in an oxygen tent! On the way up I got anxious and could barely breathe above 14,000 feet! What a difference a week makes.

Unfortunately, I also had one of my toughest days yesterday. I woke up with a sore throat and cough. My chest was congested. And the first order of business yesterday was to climb up 17,600 foot Renjo La Pass. It was a climb that just wouldn't end! It took 3 hours and 47 minutes of climbing to reach the top, and I felt so poorly I was actually getting scared. As promised the 360 degree view of the Everest range was spectacular, but I didn't even get a picture. I needed to get lower quickly, so that's what I did.

Picture from top of Renjo La Pass, taken by my guide, of the entire Everest range.
The difficulty was just getting started, however, as we still had 3-4 hours of trekking before we would reach the next village. In total, we went 10.4 miles in close to 8 hours. I felt so poorly, I even let my guide carry my pack when he offered. It was a tough day.

I'm fortunate my doctor prescribed a just-in-case antibiotic for just such an occasion. She had mentioned that more treks are interrupted or discontinued due to respiratory illness rather than anything else. I'm glad she knew that. I began taking the antibiotic last night, and I already feel better.

We only hiked about 3 hours today, and it will be mostly downhill from here. I had my first shower in at least 2 weeks this afternoon, quite a treat even though my host's definition of hot differs quite a bit from mine! And at this point I'm contemplating whether I will wash or simply throw away every garment I've repeatedly worn on this excursion! Trekking is amazing, but it is not at all luxurious!

That's all for now folks. Hopefully the next time you hear from me I won't be sitting inside a mountain guesthouse wearing two down jackets, two layers of thermal pants, and a hat, all the while freezing my one exposed finger, which I needed to type this post!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Basecamp

I made it to Everest Base Camp. In the past 3 days I've also climbed up and over an 18,000 foot mountain pass and summited Mount Kalapthar, around 18,400 feet. I never imagined I'd be able to do any of these things, and each was extremely difficult, to say the least, but I did them.

View on the way up to Kong Ma La Pass

Top of Kong Ma La Pass, 18,016 feet.

The "trail" down from the top of Kong Ma La Pass. You can see it, right, a trail? Me, either. This was fairly typical hiking when going up and over passes, challenging to say the least.
What I came to do! Everest Base Camp, October 22, 2018
Defeat the Stigma of Mental Illness, Everest Base Camp, October 22, 2018
Summit of Mount Kalapatthar, which faces Mount Everest, October 23, 2018

Exhausted at summit of Mount Kalapatthar

Summit of Mount Kalapatthar, with Mount Everest and Nuptse Mountains in background
Basecamp was a dream come true. I cried tears of joy when I arrived. I have two more high passes to conquer and a visit to a beautiful high altitude lake before heading back, but the highest altitudes and climbs have already been accomplished.

Rough day with anxiety and fatigue today, but hope to feel better tomorrow. The anxiety meds have made a huge difference, and I tried to go without this morning. Might have been a mistake. I won't make it again. Onward and upward.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Anxiety

I'm on my bucket list trip to Everest base camp, and I am battling a fight within my brain. My anxiety, something with which I don't often struggle, is almost out of control. It's already harder to breathe up here, but I think that shortness of breath is triggering for me. It's why I can't swim, even though I'm a very good swimmer, in lakes where the water is over my head. That feeling of breathlessness (with no escape route) triggers more breathlessness! And then (now) I get in full panic mode. It's so, so uncomfortable!

So even though I climbed from 14,000 feet to 16,487 feet and back just this morning, I'm now sitting here at only 14,000 feet panicking. I can't breathe.

Don't get me wrong, I panicked on the early part of the climb, too. Even shed a few tears, but I stuck with it, took it slow, got my breathing into a rhythm, and felt great at the summit. I figured that accomplishment would quell the anxiety, but apparently it hasn't.

I do have an as needed anxiety med with me, but I worry about taking that, too. Not sure it's totally okay at high altitude. Unfortunately, I've had to take it, and fortunately it does help after awhile.

I'm frustrated to be feeling this way. I knew this trip would be physically challenging. I guess I never contemplated or expected this mental battle. It's all I can do not to turn around and go home. I'm going to keep forging ahead and hope I can overcome some of this anxiety. If not, I've got a long way to go. Any words of encouragement gladly accepted.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Trekking

I'm on day 5, I think, of my trek. Currently around 14,000 feet. The actual trekking has been challenging but wonderful. I've seen Everest the last 2 days. Still several days away from basecamp, though. I'll try to post some photos, but internet is sketchy at best now. I've had some challenges with anxiety outside of trekking time. Not happy about that but forging ahead. I'll update as I'm able.

Yaks transporting goods along trekking paths

Amazing waterfall. One of many.

Donkeys transporting goods crossing one of the many suspension bridges along the route.

This suspension bridge was at least 1/4 mile above the raging river below. It was amazing!

First view of Mount Everest (on left)

If not on the backs of donkeys or yaks, human porters are the amazing transporters of goods throughout the Himalayas. These guys routinely passed me carrying hundreds of pounds of goods on their backs.

Typical guesthouse room. No heat. Little to no electricity. No running water. I got really good at wearing my next day's clothing to bed, as it was just too damn cold to get dressed in the mornings!

Ama Dablam dominated the landscape early in my trek.

Me. And mountains, go figure...

My first summit. Although even at close to 17,000 feet, this officially is only a HILL in the Himalayas--Nagarjun Hill, to be exact.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Kathmandu

This post may be short and sweet, as I am attempting to type it on my cellphone. Interesting to say the least, but here goes.

I arrived in Kathmandu Thursday in the middle of the night (it's Saturday morning here now-- neat trick, huh? This post published a day before I wrote it. ) My trip here was entirely uneventful, which was pretty amazing considering I took 3 flights over 30 hours. Unfortunately, my ride from the airport failed to show up. An AM/PM mistake I learned later. However, the situation was quickly resolved, and I was on my way.

Kathmandu is about as chaotic a place as I have ever experienced. It's fascinating, a total culture shock as compared to my bucolic life, which I never thought of as bucolic until now! I would not survive such a lifestyle, but it's been interesting to experience.

Drivers and pedestrians approach from every direction. It's amazing nobody gets run over. Honking horns are constant!

Normal electrical pole in Kathmandu. Yikes!
The people here are wonderful; polite, accommodating, and friendly. I met my trekking guide yesterday. He is from the Sherpa culture, and his parents still live in the Himalayan village where he was born. I'm looking forward to learning from him.

My trek was supposed to begin yesterday with a local flight to Lukla, elevation 9500 feet, where we were to begin hiking. Unfortunately, as is routinely the case, after waiting thru 7+ hours of delays--in an obscenely packed and chaotic domestic terminal--our flight was canceled due to poor weather in Lukla. The process will be repeated today.  I'm praying our flight takes off as planned.

Chaos at Kathmandu domestic terminal with everyone awaiting flights to Lukla
These days in Kathmandu have left me quite anxious, to the point where it's been a struggle to soothe myself. I'm really hoping/expecting getting my boots on the ground will bring about more of the physical and spiritual experience for which I planned.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Ready or not

Nepal is on the horizon. I'm excited, anxious, and ready to go. I'm not looking forward to the actual travel there and back, but I'm prepared to take it in stride and roll with whatever comes my way. Eventually, I will get there. I'll do my best to embrace the journey.

Preparation for this bucket list trip has been a bit complex and challenging. Trekking through the Himalayas followed by riding an elephant in the jungle meant I needed a lot of different gear, so packing required maximum thought and planning. In fact, the first time I packed last Sunday, it took me 6.5 hours! I'm now almost completely packed. In addition, the house sitters, dog sitter, lawn care guy, and transportation friends have all been set up. Everything is taken care of. Finally.

I'm not sure what to expect once I land in Kathmandu. I mean, I know the schedule of each day, but I've never traveled to this part of the world before. I've been to several foreign countries, but Nepal will be the least westernized among them. I'm really looking forward to soaking in the various cultures, Kathmandu city versus Sherpa villages versus jungle inhabitants, which I will experience.

I'm not sure how often I will have a chance to post here once I'm trekking, but I will do my best to keep you updated. At the very least, know there will be a boat load of pictures on the way. Until then, carry on, my friends.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Best(?) Blog... Wow.

Heartfelt gratitude and appreciation today to Dan Brown of My Therapy App. He wrote to me earlier this week to inform me My Therapy App has selected my little blog as the "Best Depression Blog for Life." I was shocked and completely humbled. He posted his top ten blogs in ten different categories on his site today. I am grateful for the recognition, glad to know some people find solace and hope in my words, and I admit, surprised to be noticed.

I've been writing this blog for over a decade. Sometimes, especially when I'm doing well, I wonder if I'm making a difference, if anything I write is helpful. This honor won't totally take those worries from me, but it inspires me to keep writing despite my intermittent reservations. Thanks, Dan. Thanks for letting me know I've made a difference in at least one person's life.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Hiking rather than worrying

Jet and I went for a hike yesterday. It was his first hike since injuring his elbow, and it was probably my last hike prior to leaving for Nepal. I was so anxious about preparing for my trip yesterday morning, I couldn't take it anymore, so I grabbed Jet and we left. We ended up on top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. It was a beautiful, sunny, cool day. And it worked. I forgot about preparing for my trip and enjoyed my dog. Have you ever tried to take a selfie with a dog? I have.






Hope that brightened your day! He always brightens mine. Happy day!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Lost friends, injuries, running, hiking

Sometimes I don't realize how much I miss certain people until I accidentally run into them in the hardware store. That's exactly what happened yesterday. I ran into a couple I hadn't seen in a few years. They are friends I met in the local running community. Wonderful, fun, happy people. But I've been away from the local running community for several years due to my various injuries. And I'm not all that social. So despite the fact that he's been very supportive during times of struggle, and we laugh a lot when we're together, I'm not one to reach out just to say hello. They have their lives, I have mine, but maybe I should work on that reaching out thing.

It was so wonderful to see them yesterday. I was at the store to quickly return an item and then planned to be on my way, but once we connected we must have talked for 20 minutes. I could have talked and laughed with them for hours. As I left I realized how much I've missed spending time with them. Knowing me, it will take another accidental meeting before I see them again, but perhaps meeting them yesterday will spur me to say hello more often and more purposefully than that.

Speaking of running and injuries, I'm sort of injured again. Yup, I can't believe it either. I had worked my way up to running/walking (mostly running) 12.8 miles as recently as two weeks ago. In fact, I was up to running/walking almost 25 miles per week. But 3-4 days after that 12.8 mile run, which was on September 2nd, both of my calves tightened up, and both Achilles tendons began to hurt.

I backed off for several days. I just walked and rode my ElliptiGo. No problem. But every time I attempted to run, even jog super slowly, my Achilles tendons got very tight and sore. Of course, with my recent history of a right Achilles tendon tear and surgery, I was (and am) quite alarmed by this new development. My left Achilles is actually more sore than the right, but I don't want to risk another tear.

As a result of this development, I've shut down my running. I'm not going to be able to make my racing return in a couple weeks. The Twin Cities 10-Miler will go on without me. That sucks, and I'm very disappointed, but I have bigger fish to fry. By focusing on walking and my ElliptiGo, rather than running, I think I'll be okay hiking in Nepal.

I leave for my trip to the Himalayas in just 18 days. It feels like the day is approaching quicker and quicker! I'm anxious, but I think I've finally accumulated everything I need. I still need to organize Jet's care, house watching, yard maintenance, bill paying, and some transportation details. I also need to figure out Skype or some other type of free communication. I'm a bit of a tech/app neophyte, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Whew, I've got plenty yet to do!

With that realization, my anxiety level has again risen, so I'd better get busy. Right now!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Choosing where to focus


Approximately one mile into my commute this morning a mid-20's, white dude, in a black SUV smashed into the back of my vehicle, also an SUV. There was little damage, but I was enraged! When I profanely confronted him, he was sitting with his phone still in his hand on his lap. He apologized and admitted he was fiddling with his phone when he hit me. I told him to pull over and call the police, and then I followed him to the curb. That's when I noticed he had a "Whiskey plate."

In Minnesota, when someone has a serious DUI history, and he's allowed to drive (often after losing his license for a time) his vehicle gets a special license plate. It's plain black and white, and the first letter is a 'W'. It allows law enforcement to pay extra close attention to the driver. As I exited my vehicle to express my dismay at the fact he would risk his license by fiddling with his phone, I thought to myself, "I should take a picture of his plate." I didn't.

After more discussion, laced with profanity, I must admit, and after he assured me he was on hold with the non-emergency police line, I went to check on Jet in the back of my vehicle. I opened my hatchback, checked in with Jet, who was quivering, and reassured him we were all right. When I looked up, the apologetic drunk, who likely didn't have insurance, and may even have been under the influence, was gone! I couldn't believe it!

I dialed 911 and gave the dispatcher all of the particulars. I remembered the first two letters of his plate, WY, and what I thought I remembered of the other four numbers, some combination of 2's, 3's and 6's. Twenty minutes later the police officer arrived. He informed me the plate number I thought I remembered came back to a gold car in another city, so I clearly didn't get the last four numbers in the correct order. By the time he finished the accident report I was barely down to a simmer from my initial boiling rage.

I still can't believe it, and I'm still angry with myself for being so stupid--should've taken a picture, should've parked in front of him, should've immediately gotten his driver's license, etc, etc, etc. Next time I'll know better.

By now you're probably wondering what's up with the photo at the top of this post? What does it have to do with a hit and run car accident? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And that's the point.

The picture shows what I came home to today. My mom, as she usually does before moving back to Florida for the Winter, spent all afternoon, a portion of the night, and much of today making me spaghetti sauce and split pea with ham soup. My freezer is full of 5 containers of each. To top it off, my kitchen was spotless, like nobody was even here! It was so nice to arrive home to such comfort.

So tonight I'm choosing to focus my energy on the love and kindness of my mother. She deserves more space in my brain, anyway. I'm so grateful to her. I have a tiny kitchen, my mom is getting older and less mobile, and yet she expended the time and energy to take care of me. I'm lucky. Plus, my mom makes awesome spaghetti sauce and split pea soup! I'll remember this part of this day every time I have a delicious, warm, home cooked meal this Winter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Voice from the Other Side

A few years back I wrote a post which contained a letter to our friends and family members. It is a post which apparently resonated with a lot of people, as it has been viewed a lot. A few days ago I read a post which resonated with me, and I think it pairs with my friends and family post quite well. So, if you'd like, check out my post, entitled Dear Friends and Family. Then check out this very well written post. It is a voice from the other side of the fence, not a perspective often heard, and I loved it. I'd love to hear what you think as well.

Friday, September 7, 2018

May I vent?

Whew...it's been a hell of a week. First of all, I have a migraine. I've had it all day, but I worked through it, took Jet to the vet with it, and mowed my lawn despite it. I hate migraines. Mine sometimes last for days. I have to work tomorrow, and I'm going to see Hamilton (yes, I got tickets) on Sunday. I don't have the time or patience for a migraine.

Perhaps the reason I have a migraine is because I've been overwhelmed with fear this week. At least that's what my sponsor tells me. Fear of economic insecurity, fear of the unknown...fear upon fear upon fear. No wonder my head hurts and I feel anxious.

Here's the scoop. Late last week I found out my vehicle needs 4 new tires. The old ones only have 37,000 miles on them. That was frustrating news, but I've been saving my money, so I thought I could handle it.

Unfortunately, soon after the tire news, Jet injured his left elbow. If you want to see me maximally worried and anxious, watch me when my dog is sick or hurting. He was so uncomfortable I made an urgent trip to the vet last Friday. That was expensive, but worse, I didn't get a definitive answer. I've had to keep him quiet all week, which has been very, very stressful.

Like I said, the vet wasn't sure what was going on, but there was a good possibility it might be more than a sprain. My mind, of course, went to the worst scenario, which would involve surgery and potential expenditure of more than $2000! Did I mention I'm leaving for Nepal in a month?

Speaking of Nepal, early this week I discovered I need a new passport, even though mine will not expire for 3 months, in order to enter Nepal a month from now. I had to apply for an expedited passport. That wasn't money, almost $200, I was planning on spending. And the discovery, application process, and photo fetching were just a bit stressful!

After that surprise, I decided I better get busy and see what else I need for my rapidly approaching trip. I've spent hours every night on my computer. One thing seems to lead to another, and another, and another. I bought my travel insurance, which I knew I was going to need, so that wasn't a surprise, just another expenditure.

Another planned expenditure, however, did end up surprisingly. I ordered my new Garmin GPS watch, which I was supposed to get for $400, but someone I've never heard of already used my $100 gift card, so right now it's a $500 watch. How does that happen? No one seems to know. The company assures me they'll make it right, but we'll see. That was not a nice surprise.

I got a recommended equipment list from my travel company, and there were a few surprises there, too. More research and purchases on the horizon. I also researched recommended vaccines and medications. As a result, I made appointments for Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations. And I made an appointment to get prescriptions for antibiotics and altitude sickness meds. It seems the more I research, the less I want to know!

In the midst of all of this my dehumidifier quit and my toilet broke. Oh, and I'm still waiting for my new storm door to be installed. Each of these, singularly, is not a big deal. But when they all happen at once, as I'm preparing to go on a bucket list trip, well, I'm a little stressed! The timing has been impeccable! No wonder I have a migraine.

Thank you for letting me vent. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

My State Fair



I took a coworker to the Minnesota State Fair yesterday. It was her first time, so it was fun to experience it again with a rookie. We took the ride above about 10 minutes after we walked through the gates. It was awesome! It spun at 70 miles per hour, forward and backwards, while the chairs in which we sat tumbled around and around. Sometimes we were facing directly at the ground as we came around. Other times we were tumbling upside down and backwards. I sent a note to my doctor joking that I think my mood got better after this rush of a ride!


We did a bit of shopping. I especially liked this shirt. Ain't that the truth?





We joined about 1000 other people (not kidding) in the "Miracle of Life" building, where we saw baby goats (kids), piglets, calves and this newborn lamb! In fact, we were there as it happened! I've spent some time on farms in my day, but I had never seen anything give birth before. It was pretty cool!




But the main reason millions of Minnesotans attend the state fair each year is to EAT! You can buy just about anything on a stick at the fair. Really, anything! Between the two of us, my coworker and I consumed two pronto pups (basically a corn dog made with pancake batter rather than cornmeal--a Minnesota creation, I believe), fresh squeezed lemonade, fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade, double chocolate strawberry shortcake, deep fried apple pie with ice cream, and 8 dozen Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies! Okay, we didn't eat all 8 dozen cookies, but that's how many you get in your bucket. Take it from a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, they are amazing! The owners of Sweet Martha's make so many millions of dollars during the Minnesota State Fair, they don't have to work the rest of the year! Nice. Looking forward to enjoying them for, hopefully, at least a couple more days.

It was a good day at the fair. We went early and left by early afternoon. There's no way to see or do it all, and there are so many people, it's hard to move around by noon. But it was fun, and I'm glad I went. And I really do think it helped my mood. Bonus!



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