A humbling lesson

2018 has been teaching me a humbling lesson. We’re nearly two weeks in and I’m still not healthy. I’ve only been able to work two days so far (one of those being my birthday, but more on that in another post), and those were tough. I’ve only exercised once (I went to a boot camp class on my birthday) and that turned out to be a terrible idea because I experienced a relapse of my lingering illness the next morning. I’ve barely gone out my front door since New Year’s, and I haven’t had enough energy to do much of anything around the house either, so I’m slowly losing my mind. Suffice to say, things aren’t going well for me at the moment. If I think about everyone who’s out there living their lives to the fullest right now it makes me angry, jealous, and sad. And then there’s Facebook and Instagram showing me multitudes of pictures of smiling faces and all of their exciting experiences. It’s gut-wrenching for me. Especially seeing photos from my friends who successfully completed the Dopey Challenge last week. That was supposed to be me. I planned for it, I worked for it, and I deserved to cross the finish line with everyone else. But I’m starting to realize that I can’t live in the past anymore. I can’t compare my journey with anyone else’s. My best-laid plans didn’t come to fruition this time and I have to accept that. This wasn’t a failure, but an unavoidable obstacle that I had to navigate. The only thing I can do now is move forward. It certainly won’t be easy, but I think that once I’m healthy (whenever that is) and back to my normal routine that I can start preparing for the rest of the year. I cannot wait for that to happen.

Right now I’m sitting in a hotel room in Carlsbad. Back in October I registered for the Carlsbad Half Marathon without considering that a flu virus could knock me down so hard that I wouldn’t be in any shape to run 13.1 miles on January 14th. So last week I called the race company to ask whether it would be possible for me to switch to the 5K instead due to my extremely poor health. Luckily that wasn’t a problem at all. So tomorrow morning I’ll be attempting to complete a measly 3.1 miles and finally, finally start my 2018 running journey. Hopefully that journey will culminate in training for neat year’s Dopey Challenge (January 10-13, 2019), but I have a long road to navigate before I get there. This first step is infuriatingly small, but I have to start somewhere. I wish I wasn’t so incredibly out of shape, but there’s really no other possible outcome after three weeks of near inactivity. These next few weeks are going to be painful. So many miles, so many races, and so many more obstacles waiting for me, I’m sure. Let’s hope I’m up for it.

Healing

My progression through the stages of grief has been uneven, and also potentially nonlinear. I didn’t spend a lot of time in denial (first stage), but I think I more than made up for it with the intensity of my anger (second stage). Knowing myself, I’m probably going to be incensed about this unfortunate turn of events until I get my next shot at the Dopey Challenge, hopefully next January. But as of today I find myself buried in the fourth stage of grief – depression. I seemed to have skipped bargaining (third stage), but I’ll get back to that later. Even though the last time I updated my webpage I said I was going to try to go back to work, that actually hasn’t happened yet. On Wednesday night I made all of the necessary preparations to go to work, but then I woke up on Thursday morning with a severe sore throat and painful congestion. It was so agonizing that I reached for the prescription ibuprofen that I got from the urgent care doctor on New Year’s Day. The lymph node of the left side of my throat was swollen too so my body was obviously still fighting off some sort of virus. After a couple of days of these new and terrible developments I considered another visit to urgent care, but since I didn’t have a fever or other worrying symptoms I figured it wouldn’t be helpful. I already know that I had the flu and my body is more than likely just struggling to fight off the remaining strains. Luckily I felt marginally better when I woke up this morning so I think I’m finally on the road to recovery. I still slept all afternoon on my couch, though. I’m certainly not 100% well yet.

The Walt Disney World Marathon is taking place tomorrow morning and there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to be there running with all of the other participants, including several friends. I haven’t run since December 26th and I know that I’ll basically be starting from square one with my fitness once I’m able to lace up my sneakers again. I’m not looking forward to that one bit. But in the depths of my despair today I’ll admit that I did a little research to see if I could determine when the Disney World marathon weekend will be held in 2019 so that can make some preliminary plans for that trip. Maybe this is the bargaining stage of grief intermingling with the depression? Actually, since bargaining is supposed to come before depression, maybe it’s more like acceptance (fifth and last stage), which would mean that I’m on the road to emotional recovery as well as physical. One can only hope. My body has been an absolute wreck since before Christmas, and I’ve been in a foul mood since I cancelled my Orlando vacation on Monday. So my favorite holiday was less than perfect, and the entirety of 2018 so far has been a disaster. Fantastic. In order to avoid making this year any worse than it already is I’ve been successfully maintaining my social media blackout for the past four days. I’ve spent the last week sick at home, staring at one screen or another almost the whole time, but actively avoiding the websites I most frequently visit. I’ve still been using Facebook Messenger on my phone to keep in touch with a few friends, and I sometimes check Twitter out of sheer boredom, but Facebook and Instagram are strictly off-limits for the time being. And it’s been refreshing. I definitely need to limit social media in my daily internet diet going forward. Maybe I’ll even make it one of my 2018 resolutions. But that will have to wait until I feel better, which will hopefully be very soon.

Social media blackout

As of this morning I found myself solidly entrenched in the second stage of grief – anger. I thought I was upset yesterday due to the cancellation of the vacation I’ve been planning for a year, but it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg. I spent most of today completely enraged. Not only am I mad that this stupid flu caused me to miss the Dopey Challenge and my birthday vacation at Disney World, but I woke up to texts from my dad that it was snowing in Tallahassee. A once in a lifetime experience in North Florida. I feel like am missing EVERYTHING this week. I’ve been sick at home for the last five days and it feels like the world is rubbing salt in my open wound. What else can I be jealous/resentful/bitter about? Like people who are successfully working on their New Year’s fitness resolutions while I don’t have enough energy to leave my house for more than an hour at a time. And folks thriving on their new healthy diets while I’m eating leftover pizza because nothing else is palatable right now. I’ve reached my limit. So before even getting out of bed this morning I instituted a social media blackout until at least Monday. Maybe longer. There’s no use letting myself get even more bothered by my friends’ pictures from Disney World or playing in the snow in Tallahassee. I can’t be with them enjoying those experiences and there’s no use being reminded of that fact every time I’m online. The only option that isn’t detrimental to my already bruised mental state is logging off and focusing on myself for a while. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m healthy enough to resume my normal routine. I look forward to that. I’ll probably go back to work tomorrow so that will keep me from despondently moping around the house all day. Life is pretty gloomy right now, but I know it will get better. It just can’t happen soon enough for me.

Progress

Today was marginally better than yesterday. (Let’s ignore the fact that I was supposed to be on a plan to Orlando this morning. If I dwell on that too long I’ll get really annoyed.) First of all, I successfully picked up the Tamiflu at Walgreens this morning. The downside? Apparently my prescription drug insurance doesn’t have a contract with Walgreens so the medication cost me over $100. And that was for the generic version! Ridiculous. The only reason I had to fill the prescription there is because no CVS in the area has Tamiflu in stock. Apparently it’s been a rough flu season already. So I reluctant paid the exorbitant price because Walgreens had somehow cornered the market on flu drugs and my insurance is woefully inadequate. Also, I was feeling very light headed standing at the pharmacy counter so simply giving them my credit card was the fastest way for me to get back to my car where I could sit down. So not only did I lose a lot of money cancelling my Disney World vacation due to this stupid illness, but it also cost me an arm and a leg for drugs to combat it! Even though I’m recovering, this whole situation seems to be getting worse every day.

On a positive note, I managed to gather enough energy to go to the grocery store tonight. My refrigerator was relatively bare because I was planning to be on vacation starting today, and I’ve been too sick to go anywhere before now, so I’ve been living off Domino’s pizza delivery for the last two days. Not that I’ve had much of an appetite, but I’m still sick of eating food with no nutritional value. So this evening I filled up my shopping cart with mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce department of the grocery store was pretty picked over, probably from all of the folks who are trying to fulfill their New Year’s resolution to eat healthier. I had to really search for a bag of broccoli florets (my preferred green vegetable for weekday lunches), and I couldn’t find the steam-in-bag green beans that I was looking for (so that I’ll have some much-needed green vegetable variety). Otherwise I had a very successful shopping trip. Even though I’m planning to stay home from work again tomorrow, I’m going to try and do a little cooking and food prep. I might only be able to scramble some eggs for breakfast and chop up some vegetables for future salads, but that will be a major improvement over most everything I’ve eaten since I got back from Florida last week. In order to establish more permanent healthy eating habits (and, let’s face it, lose some weight too) I want to adopt a new meal plan as soon as I am completely over this flu. I’ll detail that in a future post. But for now I’m going to continue focusing on healing. I can’t wait to feel like myself again.

New Year’s Day 2018

Happy New Year! First of all, I have a lot of explaining to do regarding why I didn’t blog at all during the month of December, but that will have to wait for another day. There are a multitude of reasons/excuses that I didn’t write a single word since the end of November. In the simplest sense, life has been complicated, which made the end of 2017 less than satisfactory. But now 2018 is here, and with a new year comes a chance for a fresh start. And how did this one begin? With the flu. I could regale you with the entire sequence of New Year’s Eve events that led to my really awful January 1st, but that is not my intended goal for this post. In short, I had what I thought was a bad head cold which quickly morphed into the flu yesterday afternoon. It was miserable. What I want to share on the first day of 2018 is the aftermath of this very untimely illness. By the time I was attempting to go to sleep last night (long before midnight as I was too sick to care about ringing in the new year with any fanfare) I realized that my trip to Orlando on January 2nd was in serious jeopardy. Then when I woke up this morning, after a very fitful and feverish night, I put on some clean clothes (i.e., not the pajamas I had been wearing for over 24 hours) and drove to urgent care to consult with a doctor. I didn’t think had a fever anymore, probably thanks to the Aleve I took at 4 AM to combat a wicked headache, but I still felt horrible. When I arrived at urgent care at 8 AM to discover that it was closed I nearly cried. No where on their website or on their voicemail message did they indicate that the office was closed for the holidays. Don’t they think that’s information that should be readily available for desperate patients such as myself? I was extremely frustrated and I figured I wasn’t going to be able to see a medical professional at all today. Instead I headed to CVS to buy a thermometer because I thought I might still have a fever. In spite of it being 50 deg outside I was sweating like crazy. To my surprise, the pharmacist told me that their Minute Clinic was going to be open at 10 AM so I would be able to see a doctor today after all. About two hours later I walked out of the Minute Clinic with a prescription for Tamiflu. Then came my attempts to fill it. Once again, I’ll refrain from going into extreme detail, but the bottom line is that I drove to three different pharmacies and was unable to get my prescribed medication at any of them. I will have to try again tomorrow. So that brings us to the worst part of January 1st. While standing in line at the third pharmacy I felt so weak that I thought I was going to pass out. That’s when I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to participate in the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World this weekend. When I got home and wearily crawled back into bed I made all of the necessary phone calls and mouse clicks (no pun intended, Mickey) to cancel my trip. This was the very outcome I was trying to avoid, but I knew that even if my health improves significantly over the next few days that I still wouldn’t be in any shape to run 48.6 miles between Thursday and Sunday. Heck, I can barely run a marathon on my best days! It would be an understatement to say that I’m disappointed that I won’t be on a plane to Orlando in the morning, but I know staying home was the right choice. I worked so hard to prepare for the race challenge so admitting that I was defeated by a simple virus is making me crazy. I guarantee that over the next week I will feel many moments of anger, sadness, and generally regret. I am going to second guess my decision a million times. It’s going to be awful. Even so, I had to put my health first. As I was reminded by one of my running buddies, there will be other races. It’s hard to see that right now, but she is absolutely right. Not everything in life is going to work out according to plan and you have to figure out how to make the best of unfortunate circumstances. If possible I will attempt the Dopey Challenge next year, but for now I am going to focus on healing and recuperating. I will live to run another day!

Day 11 – Exercise begins again

I didn’t want to, but I went for a run tonight. When I got home from work my couch was calling me. Loudly. It looked so inviting, right there in front of my laptop and the TV. I could have sat down there, unmoving, and entertained myself with all forms of electronics until it was time to get ready for bed. But somehow I managed to drag myself upstairs to change my clothes in preparation for a run. And I’m so glad I did! Based on my running performance over the last 10 days (the marathon itself plus my last few training runs beforehand) or so I wasn’t expecting much tonight. However, by some miracle I felt great and even ran 5 miles because I wasn’t completely exhausted after 4. The best news is that I don’t seem to have any lingering ailments from the marathon on Sunday (except my wounded pride). I do have an appointment with my podiatrist tomorrow because my new orthotics aren’t quite supportive enough to correct my overpronation. I discovered this just before the marathon and I need to get the problem corrected before my next long training run. Isn’t my life exciting? I’m even boring myself now so I’m going to get ready for bed. After washing some dishes. Because if there’s one thing I can say about this new diet it’s that my sink is always full of dirty dishes. I really wish I had a dishwasher.

Today’s meals:
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs with diced vegetables, spinach (more fiber!), and chicken apple sausage
Snack #1 – Cashews, peanuts (yes, I know they’re not allowed on Whole30)
Snack #2 – Apple
Lunch – Turkey taco meat (with tomato sauce and taco seasoning), roasted broccoli and carrots, and roasted diced potato and sweet potato
Dinner – Pumpkin chili

P.S. The PMS cravings were strong today. And all the ladies out there know that they’re just the opening act for the horrors to come. Cramps are the least disgusting thing I have in my immediate future!

Day 10 – A slippery slope

Today was my first full day back on track with this whole diet thing. Yesterday actually didn’t go too badly, but I was weak and scarfed down some chocolate chip cookies and sweet potato chips from little sample bags that I got at my weekend races. It wasn’t a huge cheat, but I was still annoyed with myself for letting junk food overcome my willpower. Then at work today I was fighting some major chocolate cravings after lunch. That’s when I realized that I am in the midst of battling a mighty foe – PMS! Sorry for any dudes who happen to be reading this, but PMS is a force to be reckoned with in most female’s lives. It usually comes with bloating (got it), cravings (get ’em), and depression (probably pending, but I’m taking supplements to hopefully curb it). Put all of those symptoms together and it makes avoiding crappy food all but impossible, at least for me. For the next few days I’m going to pack as many different healthy snack items as possible in my work bag so that I have options when I get peckish. Let’s hope that’s enough to avoid my Kryptonite – peanut butter pretzels! Actually, my biggest problem is that once I slip up once it’s easier to justify additional edible treats. It’s a slippery slope. If I can just avoid that first processed bite I think I’ll be fine.

Speaking of a slippery slope, I have done nothing athletic since the marathon on Sunday. This is probably for the best as far as the well-being of my muscles and bones is concerned, but I still feel guilty for being so lazy. I almost never have more than one day off from my workouts. It’s yet another slippery slope where missing one day makes it that much easier to miss the next day. And now that I’ve missed two days already this week it is going to be a struggle to either get myself to the gym for boot camp or out for a run in my neighborhood tomorrow night. But my next major event (the Dopey challenge at Disney World in January) will be here before I know it so I can only rest for a short while before kicking the training back into gear. Let’s hope this motivates me to work up a sweat tomorrow!

Today’s meals:
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs with diced vegetables and chicken apple sausage (eggcellent)
Snack #1 – Mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, and pistachios)
Lunch – Shredded garlic chicken, roasted broccoli and carrots, and roasted diced potato and sweet potato
Snack #2 – Banana with almond butter
Dinner – Tomato soup with Italian sausage (last serving), grapes

Thank you, Old Navy

“The other day I realized that some of the new pants I ordered from Old Navy recently (during a 50% off Labor Day sale online) were feeling loose. Not like I’ve lost a full pants size yet, but I might be getting there. Will I be disappointed if all of my brand new pants don’t fit in a month? A little, but I’ll be much happier being smaller and lighter than I’ve been in about a year and a half. And running will be easier too.”
10/2/16 webpage post

“It’s official – my pants are too big. This morning as I was getting dressed for work I slipped on a pair of my favorite pants – olive green skinny jeans from Old Navy. I ordered them just a couple of months ago, about a week after I started my Nutrisystem diet. I was so excited to have started losing weight that I treated myself to some new clothes to celebrate. What I didn’t think about was those new clothes being too big for my shrinking body a few short weeks later. Even though I knew I’d been making great progress, I was still shocked when I buttoned my pants this morning and discovered how loose they are in the waist. Really baggy everywhere but the legs (this runner’s legs are muscular!). Not quite unwearable yet, but they’re getting close.”
11/9/16 webpage post

A couple of weeks ago Old Navy was having a 50% off sale on jeans. Based on the fact that most of the pants from my pre-diet days no longer fit me properly I figured it was the perfect time to restock my wardrobe. It was so satisfying selecting a smaller size when filling up my shopping cart. I’ve lost 17 lbs (and counting) since September and I look damn good. Especially now that I’m a size 4 again. Due to the very timely sale I went a little crazy and bought six new pairs of Rock Star jeans and pants to replace the ones that I can’t wear on a regular basis anymore. About a week later they finally arrived at my door I eagerly tried on every pair. The purchases were mostly a success because I decided to keep five of the six pairs. I’m so excited to have more items of clothing that fit me at my current size rather than pulling the same couple of pairs of jeans out of the drawer day after day. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. Last night I tried on all of my old size 6 pants to decide whether any of them were worth keeping. Due to the less than superior construction of Old Navy garments every one fits a little differently even though the tags all have the same size printed on them. I’m not quite ready to donate all of the old pants yet, especially my beloved corduroys (winter will last a while longer here in LA), so I’m going to try throwing them in the dryer to see if I can shrink them just a little bit. Not that I have any place to store both the old and new pairs, though. I know it’s a first world problem, but I’m really going to miss my favorite purple pants if I have to get rid of them!

Gym excuses

Three night shifts done with the fourth starting soon. I’m starting to get into the groove of this schedule – just in time for it to be over after tomorrow night. While I’m waiting to go in to work tonight I’ll start catching up on some of the backlog of blog topics that I’ve been intending to write about for a while.

I didn’t get back to the gym after the Disney World Marathon until last Monday, 2/6. That was a hiatus of more than a month. I intended to go back a lot sooner, but there were some extenuating circumstances. Illness and injury kept me sidelined for a while after I got back from Orlando, and I only seriously considered going to boot camp on Friday, 2/3. However, it didn’t happen on that particular day for a couple of reasons.

1) Cubicle move…again
My work group was slated to move our offices to a different area at the end of the day so all of our belongings, including our computers, had to be boxed up and ready for the movers by 5 PM. Since I started working on my program in 2005 I have moved my cubicle so many times that I’ve lost count of the actual number. It’s somewhere on the order of 6 or 7 – enough to make you wonder whether unpacking is even worth it. So on top of having a lot of work to do that Friday, I also had to pack up all of my personal items and disconnect all of my computers (I have more than one in my cubicle) before leaving for the day. It was a messy and time-consuming endeavor. The office move preparation was complicated by the fact that I had to leave early that day for a doctor’s appointment at 3:30 PM.

2) Doctor’s appointment
If you read my blog then you’re familiar with the foot and knee injuries I sustained during the Disney World Marathon. Luckily the foot problems disappeared shortly after I got back from Orlando and never reappeared, but The knee pain lingered a bit longer. Every time I went running my knee would hurt for about 24 hours afterwards, especially when I was going up or down stairs. This made me wonder if there was something more serious going on. So just in case I made an appointment with the physician’s assistant that I saw the first two times I had running-related afflictions. The last thing I wanted was to continue running through the pain (which was admittedly mild compared to previous ailments) and cause permanent damage. I was late to my appointment due to the cubicle move at work, but that annoyance was forgotten because I got good news from the PA. I was very happy when she told me that my symptoms are simply due to IT band tightness and nothing serious. Phew! Nothing some stretching and visits to the sports chiropractor can’t fix!

After this ordeal last Friday I did make it back to the gym on Monday, 2/3. I’m so happy to be back to my regular workout routine so I hope I can keep it up. No more excuses (or injuries, hopefully)!

Saturday random thoughts

***I’m still sick, but I think I’m finally getting better. I got through a full day of work yesterday without feeling like death. I was still exhausted afterwards, though, and it didn’t help that I had to stay until 8 PM running a test. And I probably need to work for at least a few hours tomorrow to get some seriously overdue documents ready for release, but being able to go to work regularly is one step towards being completely healthy again.

***My good friend Natalie and I were planning to celebrate my birthday at Disneyland this afternoon/evening, but after admitting that we are both sick, we decided that it was necessary to reschedule. We had to give up our dinner at Steakhouse 55, but now we have a meal reservation for February 11th that will give us a reserved spot to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade that has recently returned to Disneyland. I have never actually seen the Electrical Parade, either in Anaheim the last time it was here or when it was in Orlando up through last year, so I can’t wait!

***Except for the Star Wars 5K and one other solitary 4-mile run over a week ago I haven’t done any exercise since my marathon on January 8th. Even so, I am going to attempt to run 10 miles at the Great Chocolate Race in Long Beach tomorrow morning. I am incredibly nervous. First of all, I have no idea if my foot is going to be up to the challenge. Luckily I haven’t had any foot pain since I got back from Orlando which is a very good sign, but I only have two successful short runs to convince me that I won’t fracture any bones tomorrow. I didn’t even go back to the chiropractor this week because I was sick. So that’s one unknown. And then my secondary concern is that I am completely out of shape after deviating my training regime for so long. There’s a good chance I have no endurance at all anymore. Tomorrow is going to be interesting, to say the least. One way or another I’ll let you know how it goes!

***This morning my running buddies and I had to pick up our race packets for tomorrow. While figuring out where we needed to go to get the bibs, we discovered that the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck was going to be parked at a mall nearby so of course we decided to check it out. We arrived only 30 minutes after it was scheduled to open, but the line was already around the block! We waited for about an hour in the surprisingly warm late-January sun, only advancing a fairly short distance, before we gave up and left to get our race bibs without acquiring any Hello Kitty merchandise. So we saved money, but wasted a lot of precious weekend time.

***I still haven’t put away my Christmas decorations. The tree currently is lying on the floor in pieces, and all of the ornaments and other decorative items are covering my entire kitchen table. One of my goals for tomorrow afternoon is to finally close the books on Christmas 2016. Otherwise I should just put the tree back up and pronounce my house ready for Christmas 2017 a little early.