Month: March 2015

March Tootie-Too, Too Fousand Fiddeen

Please know I’m giggling like an idiot at the title of this post. Tootie-too!

Alright, enough shenanigans. This is serious business. Get it together, people.

Here’s what is up: I’m trying to keep it together myself. Last week was not a good week at all, and this coming week is Dad’s Chemo Week (registered trademark symbol here), so it isn’t looking well, either. Plus, he gets his second PET/CT scan done on Wednesday to see if the cancer has either been all “whoa now, what’s this chemo shit and why haven’t us cancer cells just straight up annihilated this guy yet?” or “ha ha, cancer: 1, Dan: 0!” I’m…well, I’m expecting the latter. I’m not hopeful at all. This is definitely a defense mechanism on my part–expect the absolute worst and hopefully be pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.

I hope the chemo is working. I hope the nightmarish hell my dad is going through is paying off. I hope the oncologist will tell us there hasn’t been any advancement in his cancer and my dad is giving those mutated cells a giant “fuck you!!” But, we also must be realistic here. He has terminal cancer. Shortly after his surgery in November, he had a CT scan that showed cancer in his lower abdomen and a few questionable spots on his liver and lungs. A month later he had another one done to stage the disease, and in that short time, more cropped up, so this stuff is not messing around. It’s metastasizing. Let’s just hope the chemo has slowed the process, but I’m extremely doubtful of that. Am I being too pessimistic? Oh, probably, but like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I think it’s better to have zero expectations and assume it’s not working at all.  If anyone has a better suggestion as to how to deal with this, I’m all ears, man.

If I may be selfish for a moment (isn’t that new and different?), I truly hope I can deal with this impending sense of doom better and not do like I did two weeks ago and came down with a horrendous case of the fuckits. I threw my hands up in resignation toward going to the gym and eating well and I shamefully admit I turned to alcohol for a few days, which is something I hadn’t done in a long while. I handled myself poorly. I didn’t really care, which is a very, very slippery slope that I’ve found myself on countless times before. I slip and falter and then decide I’ve fucked up so there’s no point in correcting myself and I let myself keep fucking up until I get so goddamn disgusted with myself, that I have a “come to Jesus” talk and grasp to regain control. I refuse to let this happen this week. I mean, yes, I’m under stress, but compared to what my dad is suffering? Jesus Christ, E. Perspective is a helluva thing sometimes. Comparatively speaking, I’m equating my paper cut to my father’s gunshot wound.

Again, I know I’m being hard in myself. It’s like, my thing. Some people are double-jointed or can touch the tip of their nose with their tongue; I beat myself up for funsies. It’s part of my charm. If I were a superhero, I’d be Self-Deprecating Girl! Who has the power to make herself feel like poop in a single bound? Why, Self-Deprecating Girl, of course! My costume would be really cool. No capes, though.

So, I’m going to be proactive in not allowing myself to face plant again. Feeling overwhelmed, E? Take a deep breath and chill out a minute. Have you gone to the gym yet today? No? Perhaps you should work out your feelings by releasing some endorphins. You know that always makes you feel better. And it does, too. Don’t make up an excuse to not go, either. Get your butt to the gym, crank up the power jams, and get sweaty. DO IT.

Having said that, I haven’t been yet today. I let myself sleep in this morning, something I haven’t done in a long time. I did wake up around 6 a.m., and considered staying up, but then I told myself to go back to bed, which I did, and slept another two and a half hours. It was lovely.

Okay then. This week is going to blow, but I won’t let it get to me again. I got this shit. And same to any of you who may be struggling–you got this, boo. I believe in you.

Now, off to the gym to get ridiculously sweaty. Please enjoy your Sunday, as well. Okay? Okay.

As always, thanks for reading.
E

March 13, 2105

Good morning!

I guess this blog has turned into my online journal and I’m wholly incapable of writing fiction anymore. Oh well.

Having said that, READ ABOUT MY LIFE OKAY.

It’s Friday the 13th of March, Two Thousand Fifteen, The Year of Our Lord, and I can’t really say I’ve had a bad week, because I really haven’t. I’ve had an unusual week, but unusual in a good way.

Monday was fine, was busy with my local atheist group making plans to help us be a more positive force in our city, which is great. Tuesday is my half day at work and I ended up spending all afternoon helping my crazy father look for stuff in his storage unit, which was a goddamn trip and a half. This is rude, but chemo is totally messing with his brain, but that is another post for another time. Tuesday nights are reserved for Indian food and Trivia Night at a local brewery and may be my favorite night of all even though my team and I are chronic 2nd place finishers. Wednesday, I met with my orthopedic doctor to talk about my knee and to get an injection of supplemental synovial fluid since I apparently have none. That night, I attended a lecture by theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss and that was fucking surreal. He’s smart. So, so smart. I loved every second of it. Thursday is Dad’s Chemo Day. Typically not a “fun” day for obvious reasons, but it still is weirdly fun. Today, I start physical therapy for my knee and I’m anxious about that. It’s gonna hurt.

So, see? Not a bad week at all. So why am I bitching?

The reason I’m trying to make it seem like a bad week is because I haven’t been to the gym since Sunday and I’ve been extremely lackadaisical in my proper eating habits. I fully admit I am now at the “well, fuck. I’ve been shitty with taking care of myself for four days already, might as well throw in the goddamn towel and go back to how things were.” Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhjdkdbcjdirjjdjsjfifjsn.

I despise this mentality. This is why I’m a yo yo dieter: I’ll be all guns a-blazin’ about eating better and being active, then something happens to get me off my routine and then I just chuck it in the fuck it bucket. Classic E. Classic. I have lost count of how many times I have done this, and not just with eating well/exercise, but with anything.

My writing is another example. I get a fire lit under my flat ass, am determined and headstrong to fucking nail this thing and I work hard and accomplish shit for a while…then something snaps and I revert to my old ways. Forever Disappointing Erin.

I know, stop being so hard on yourself.

No! I won’t! I’m my toughest critic and I’m so goddamn tired of letting apathy set in. Just once, I want to find something and keep the same fire and passion I had for this something at the beginning and have the same fire and passion go to the goddamn end, but nooooooOOOOOOOooooooOOOOOOOooooo. You have to be a twat and give up, don’t you? DON’T YOU?!?

As you can see, I’m a bit upset about this.

I know what you’re going to say: “don’t give up. You fell off, but get back on again.” And you’re right, of course, it’s just that I get so goddamn pissed at myself that I wavered in the first place and then intense hatred and self-loathing set in and aaaaahhhhhdieugjcnzksirigjncnzlalworjfnc.
I have no valid reason for this, though. None. Oh sure, you can give me some leeway and say that Chemo Week fills me with such stress and whatever and I turned to food as a false comfort to me, and you’d be right, but that is a shit excuse…even though I have been telling myself that all week. And sure, you can say to lighten up on the gym thing because you had been going 5-6 days a week prior to this slip-up and you need a break, for crissake. And you’re probably right, but that’s the thing; I had been going 80% of the time and to suddenly not go? I feel like all previous eight weeks of hard work just got dumped down the toilet. And truth be told, I’m scared to go because of my knee. I want to fucking hit it hard and push myself physically to the limits and do all this intense shit, but meanwhile, my knee is telling me to calm the fuck down. That’s the most infuriatingly frustrating thing ever: to be 33 and to have to be careful of what I do physically because of my knee. What am I, 83? No, but my knee is.

I’m not going to give in this time. I can’t. I refuse. Most times my stubbornness is bad for me, but it’s vital this time around. I just have to get over myself and realize yeah, so, you fucked up a few days, but don’t let that keep you from giving up like you have in the past. You fight and you fight like hell.

I’m done now. Thanks for indulging my tantrum there.

And as always, thanks for reading.
E

March 3, 2015

Hello on this Tuesday morning, gentle readers.

It’s been a fun week so far, and I don’t mean that to be as sarcastic as it implies. Allow me to elaborate.

First, a bit of back story, because I have deemed this shit important. Once upon a time twenty-two years ago, I was a precocious 11-year-old. The world, well, she was my oyster. I had plans for myself, by golly! Then, in an instant, life was altered forever (I’m very good at dramatics sometimes).

I believe it was a cold, snowy day in December and I was outside for noon recess because it was the very early 90’s and back then, we weren’t whiny little bitches like the kids today who get a day off school if it’s too cold outside. In my day, we played outside in below freezing temperatures and we liked it! It built character! Look at how much character I have now because of it! I’m lousy with character! I have too much of it! It gets in the way!

Anyway, I was playing on this bizarre bit of playground equipment my elementary school had; it was a twenty feet tall by twenty feet wide wall of used tires that were connected together by chains. We’d crawl all over that damn thing like the little monkeys we were, which is what I happened to be doing.

Over two decades later, I’m still not sure how it happened, but I was crawling on this tire wall and fell off from about four feet off the ground, which doesn’t seem like a great distance to the ground, but when you land on your hands and knees like I did, it was a doozy. I had immediate and intense pain in my right knee and could barely put weight on it to hobble over to the teacher and explain what happened. My knee swelled up like something that gets really swollen and that’s the day my life was different.

The orthopaedic doctor I went to initially had no idea what I did. I didn’t fracture my knee or anything major like eff up tendons or ligaments, it was just a huge freaking knee. About two years later, I had my first arthroscopic surgery on it and had a bunch of fluid drained from it and things were okay for a while, until I was basketball practice in junior high and twisted my knee just right–or wrong, depending on how you look at it. Enter another arthroscopic surgery. By then I was told I should stay away from contact sports because the next injury I have will be a big one.

Things were okay again for a few more years, and my memory isn’t the greatest, but I ended back at the ortho and when I was 17, had my first major surgery where my leg had to be broken to realign it properly and screws were placed and yeah. Ever since then, it’s been a downhill trip.

My knee never returned to normal size and as the years went by, it was painfully–both literally and figuratively–that my knee was beyond fucked. Pardon my French.

Due to inactivity because of a busted wheel, I obviously gained weight and I was trying to get that weight off, which I did successfully but it did come with some consequences. See, the thing is, to lose weight, you must be active. I became active and that ended up causing my knee to give me tremendous issues, so I went back to the ortho and things did not look good at all. In the span of ten years, I had developed a lovely case of osteoarthritis and my poor joint was barely recognizable from x-rays taken. I was told at that appointment that in cases such as these, a knee replacement is warranted, but given my young age of 28, no doctor was going to touch me. Artificial knees only lasted roughly fifteen years and a revision can be done after that, but if my math is correct, I’d be in my mid-fifties and out of options because I’d have exhausted them all by then. I was told with a sorry shrug to come back when I was older and then we can do something for you.

Disappointment galore! But I did just that. I’ve learned to live with this thing, testing my limitations to find out what I can/cannot do, and dealt with the pain.

Flash forward six years to just a few weeks ago when, same old song and dance, I have put on most of the weight I lost before and am working on losing it again. I was at the gym using the elliptical machine and towards the end of my workout, I felt a new pain I hadn’t experienced before. Oh, goody.

Since I work for a doctor, I asked her the next day if there was a knee brace I could get that would help me out a bit. She’s familiar with my medical history, so she erred on the side of caution and requested x-rays again.

I wish I had a camera when my doctor looked at the images. The look of horror on her face was golden. She was adamant I return to the orthopaedic doctor for evaluation because in the time since my last appointment, things had gotten far worse.

So, that’s what I did yesterday morning. I visited with the same doctor that performed the surgery when I was 17 and you know how when you do something dumb and your parents aren’t necessarily mad at you, but say they’re disappointed in you and how that’s so much worse? I feel that’s what my doctor’s reaction to my knee was upon examining it. I don’t mean he was disappointed in me specifically, but rather the knee itself and maybe he felt bad his surgical efforts sixteen years ago should have yielded a better outcome.

He examined me and this is what he came up with: yes, Erin, your knee is a piece of garbage, but again, I wish you were ten years older because I would without a doubt replace that thing for you. But since you’re still a baby in terms of such procedures, here is what we can do for now. First, I want to determine the strength in the leg and joint. Second, I want to give you an injection into your knee that will offer some extra cushion and lubrication for the joint because your arthritis is extensive and severe. Based on the results of the strength testing and how the injection works for you, our only other option is partial knee replacement, aka getting a new knee cap, since that’s were the majority of your issues lie. Sound good? Sounds good. Okay then, let’s get this puppy fired up.

I just got back from my strength test and I can say with certainty that was one of the most unusual things I’ve ever done. The machine used for this test was ancient and I was nervous about getting near it because it looked like an electric chair. No kidding. How it works is, you sit on the machine and the PT guy strapped my normal leg down on a hinged arm. I had to do three separate tests, but all tested the same things: how strong my quad and hamstring are. First test was kind of difficult as there was some pressure being applied, but basically, all I had to do was extend my leg straight, then bend it back down as hard and fast as I could. Second test had less resistance, but same flex/extend deal, and the third, no resistance at all, just up down as fast as I could. I knew at the end of the first test how fucking horrible it was going to be on my right leg. I have barely a quad muscle on the right and know it’s weak as shit.

We switched legs. Hilarity ensued. The therapist printed off my results and said, “you don’t cry easily, do you?” Oh, Jesus…

He showed me two graphs, one representing the left leg, the other the right. Just looking at them, I knew it wasn’t good. He went over the numbers and said that my left leg is great and strong I performed really well on all tests.

“The right leg, however…” he trailed off, ” look at the difference in the measurements. Based on these results, you have over sixty percent muscle deficit in your right leg compared to your left.”

This didn’t surprise me at all, but it was just weird being told that and having numbers and graphs to back that claim up. I can put all my weight on right leg and within seconds, it starts shaking violently because I have no muscle mass. It’s really rather funny to see, but I have an odd sense of humor.

I don’t know what’s next for me, aside from the injection. I’m supposed to have a follow-up appointment with the doctor to discuss the results, but that hasn’t been made yet.

I’m conflicted about how we treat this thing. I want some normalcy back in my life and I want to be able to ride a bike for a long distance without wishing I could cut my right leg off. I want to be able to walk up and down stairs with ease. I just want to have a normal knee. If that means surgery, then by golly, hand me the damn scalpel and I’ll make the first cut for you.

But in the same breath, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. I wish I hadn’t made a fuss over this at all because if I do need surgery, that’s going to effect how I am able to help my dad out and getting him to chemo and looking after him. I’ll be laid up for a few weeks post surgery and won’t be able to drive for a few more. That’s not cool when I’m the one who takes my dad to and from chemo. Yes, he has some people to help him in the event I’m unable to, but that makes me feel like dog shit because I feel it’s MY responsibility to get Dad places, not these other people, even though they have offered because they are kind and good, but still. It’s my dad, I should be the one helping him out.

Plus, and this is what happens when I start thinking too hard about stuff, but I’m also struggling with the fact that did I instigate action on my knee because I wanted the attention? As in, “sure my dad my have cancer and that’s completely horrible, but hey guys, look at me and my knee and I have issues, too! Pay attention to me for a minute!” Like, that totally bummed me the fuck out when I thought about it that way. How childish of me if that really is the root of why I am doing this. I don’t think it is because I’m not faking anything at all, but the timing again seems too coincidental for me to ignore that possibility.

And that’s all I have for now. Thanks for letting me ramble on. Sorry to bore those who are masochistic and read this whole thing. You know I’m grateful for your reading, though.

As always,

E

March 1, 2015

Let the madness begin!

Happy first day of March, everyone. In like a lion! Rawr!

Okay, let me get to it.

I read a Buzzfeed article this morning when I woke up based on Tumblr posts about depression, and some of the points made was like a physical slap to the face and made me cry, because fuck Folgers in your cup as the best part of waking up; try a good goddamn soul-shaking cry at 6:00 a.m.

Here’s the thing: I don’t necessarily think I’m “cured” of my depression…I don’t take any medication for it anymore, and haven’t for about three years, save the three or so months I was on Effexor and then Wellbutrin after my hysterectomy last June because I was having a heck of a time with hormones being all whackadoo. It’s because I think I’m somewhat better equipped in my ripe old age of 33 and a half years to deal (and I use that word very loosely) with my symptoms.

Or so I thought until yesterday.

I’ve noticed a peculiar pattern the last four months: since my father’s diagnosis with cancer and his starting chemo, the week of his chemo, I get into a funk, which I feel is solely empathy-based for him. He dreads it because lately, he’s been getting severely ill a day after his treatments, so in turn, I dread it for him, but I also try very hard to be extremely positive and get him to laugh about dumb things while we’re traveling to Omaha for chemo, while we’re sitting in the waiting room, etc. It helps both of us to laugh like idiots at silly things when we’re in a place as somber as an oncology office. For the most part, I think it works.

Dad’s chemo is every other Thursday, and I usually leave him midday Friday per his request as he’s exhausted and just wants to rest and mainly because he feels awful that I’m “doing so much for him,” which I think is silly. I don’t think I’m doing enough, but whatever. So, the pattern I’m noticing is that by Saturday after chemo, I get into a tremendous funk. That’s the day when everything catches up with me emotion-wise and I just let those emotions manifest in different ways. Sometimes, I’m more angry and passive aggressive about things, and I act like a damn cunt to people, but mostly, I’ll just cry at anything. For example, I’m playing that goddamn Trivia Crack game and the person I was playing against denied my request for a new game. What did I do? I cried about it. Early yesterday evening, I went to Target to get a few things and I was looking at the shoe section because I admit I was doing some retail therapy, but the shoe section was kind of picked over and bare and I didn’t cry about that, but it did make me sad. Plus, the fact I was aware I was using this shopping trip as a form of therapy also made me sad.

But I also had a fair amount of aggression yesterday, as well. I’m looking after a friend’s three dogs and house while she and her boyfriend are out of town for a few days, and then my housemate texted me around 6 pm last night asking if I’d also look after the dogs at home, and I got pissed off at that for no good reason other than I wanted to get pissy about something…well, and two of the three dogs at our house are fucking jerks and one of them refuses to come inside despite the fact it was in the teens last night and I may have yelled at it, “Fine! I hope you fucking freeze to death!”

Anger issues much?

What’s my point? I don’t know, really. I guess I’m just writing this stuff down to help me understand what’s going on with my brain or whatever.

Like I said, I don’t think I’m cured at all. I know I’m not. And again as I said, I do think I’m better ready to handle this stuff. Joining the gym was a really smart move on my part, I think. Not only have I lost 17 pounds so far, but exercise is a proven aid in helping fight depression symptoms. I won’t get all science-y on you, but something about brain chemicals and yeah and science!

It truly does help, though. I can be in a shit mood before I do to the gym, then I’ll sweat my fat butt off for an hour and I’ll leave with a general well feeling…and a wicked case of stinky feet, but that’s a different story. You may ask yourself why didn’t I go to the gym yesterday when I started feeling angry? Well, sillies, I had already been there in the morning and it was like, 6:30 and the gym closes at 7pm on Saturday nights. But believe me–I definitely thought about it and cursed the hours of operation.

I am going this morning. I don’t feel as hostile and powder keg-ish as I did last night, but I can feel residual effects lingering, so it’s best I again haul my fat and slightly achy butt to the gym as soon as I’m done writing this.

In summary, I still have depression; it still kicks me in my face every now and again; I still have a fat butt; the gym is great (especially on Sunday mornings because everyone is at church. Ha ha! I don’t believe in god, so I get first dibs on the best machines. Ha ha!).

As always and usual, thanks for reading.

E