Written on 1/1/20
Happy New Year, everyone! I’m sitting at my dining room table wrapped in a blanket (my thermostat is currently inoperable so no central heat) trying to figure out what to do on this first day of January. New Year’s Day 2020 looks a lot different when compared to previous iterations. First of all, it’s 10:30 AM and I’m still in my pajamas. My usual January 1st tradition is to go to Disneyland in the early morning, before the large crowds arrive, but due to my myriad of health issues that is not something that I can count on being able to do. I went to bed at 10 PM last night because I wanted to give myself the best chance of fulfilling my tradition, but when I woke up at 6:30 AM today my body told me it wasn’t going to happen. I have gotten much better at listening to my body when it tells me I don’t have the energy for a particular activity, so I wasn’t going to push myself. Hence why I’m still in my pajamas!
So my energy level was so low on January 1st that I never even finished this post! Having chronic illnesses means that nonessential activities often fall by the wayside. I really hate it, but sometimes I’m forced to operate in survival mode where rest trumps everything. That was basically the entirety of my New Year’s Day. However, one of my goals for 2020 is to blog regularly. (In order to avoid undue stress I’m not going to explicitly define what “regularly” means. At least not yet.) Making New Year’s resolutions have never worked out well for me so I’m not going to write a traditional list or anything. I just have a few goals for the year that I want to work on. So for my first post of 2020 here is a little story from the end of 2019!
I took my large suitcase to Tallahassee for Christmas because I was going to be there for a full week, and December weather in Florida weather can be extremely variable. I needed clothes for warm weather, plus coats of different weights in case winter decided to show up for any period of time. This suitcase was a Christmas gift from my ex-husband back in 2008 (see the first photo above) when we were traveling to New Zealand for the holidays. An amazing present. It was a really nice (and expensive) suitcase, but back then luggage didn’t have the multi-directional spinner wheels like they do now. A suitcase only had two wheels so you could tilt it by the handle and drag it behind you through the airport. Not ideal these days, but still perfectly functional, even at 11 years-old. Except for the antiquated wheel technology this suitcase is perfect. First of all, it’s bright green (i.e., easily identifiable on any baggage claim carousel). Also, it’s big enough to hold a lot, but not so big that I have to worry about it being over any airline’s checked baggage weight limit. I had absolutely no complaints about this piece of luggage…until December 29th. On my way home from the holidays I flew from Tallahassee to Orange County with a layover in Dallas. I was tired when my flight arrived at the John Wayne airport that evening so as soon as my suitcase appeared in baggage claim I was happy to grab it and start my journey back home. As I began the long walk to the parking structure I wondered why my bag felt so sluggish. Maybe the wheels didn’t function well on the airport carpet? I wasn’t sure. But when I got outside onto the concrete I knew something was amiss. Upon further inspection one of the two wheels on my trusty green suitcase was gone (see the second photo above). So sad! (And so much harder to drag to my car with only one wheel!) He had flown his last flight. Farewell to my trusty traveling companion of 11 years! You will be missed!
Who has two thumbs and wasn’t even able to keep up with NaBloPoMo for a full week? This gal! The writing was already on the wall by day 3 when I first mentioned my exhaustion, and it only got worse after that. I’m not sure what precisely prevented me from publishing anything on day 6, but I’m sure it had something to do with being tired. Big surprise, I know! I looked back at my day planner to see if I could figure it out, but there were no entries for November 6th or 7th. That general means that I slept an excessive number of hours those two days. Unexplained fatigue is no joke, folks! I guarantee that blogging wasn’t the only thing that was neglected in that time period. When I started the month I was afraid that my health would jeopardize this blogging challenge, but I wanted to attempt it anyway. If nothing else, I got five posts out of my abbreviated NaBloPoMo that I probably wouldn’t have written otherwise. In spite of my medical issues I do still have things going on in my life that I want to document. Like my insane Thanksgiving yesterday. Stay tuned for that post, hopefully this weekend.
Remember the other day when I wrote that life is too short for nonessentials? Well, recently something has fallen off my priority list that I usually look forward every year – Boeing on the Move. In the past I’ve used this fitness challenge to increase my daily activity, get more chores done around the house, and compete with my co-workers for the highest number of steps. It has always energized me, but this year I decided it wasn’t worth the effort for a number of reasons. First of all, the online interface now has a completely new platform which is not user friendly. In fact, it was so complicated that I could barely figure out how to register for 2018 challenge. Then I discovered that we weren’t going to be mailed our annual free pedometer to track our steps. Not that I’ve ever been a huge fan of those cheap little plastic things, but they were strictly mechanical and I was allowed to wear one in the classified area where I work. The thing that annoys me the most about Boeing on the Move this year is that there is an assumption that all of the participants can use their smart phone, smart watch, or Fitbit to track their daily activity. Unfortunately I can’t because all of those items are forbidden in classified areas. It’s practically a miracle that my 2017 pedometer is still in my possession (I tend to lose them) and still functional, but with all of the other new restrictions on the challenge I am just not motivated to go through the annoyance of wearing it again this year. Anything that requires extra effort just feels like too much trouble right now. Life is stressful enough without worrying about something silly like Boeing on the Move. Granted, earning points towards gift cards is really tempting, but I am putting my mental health above monetary rewards this time around. (Instead I’ve been finding several ways to save money every month. Explanatory post to follow!) Maybe next year I’ll feel differently. Plus, I’ve already gotten back into some semblance of a regular exercise routine with boot camp classes and occasional running (needs to be more than just occasional running, but that’s another story) without an official fitness challenge. This means I’m already halfway to reaping all of the benefits of Boeing on the Move. Now if I can increase my activity while I’m at work and once I get home in the evenings I will be fulfilling basically all of my personal goals for Boeing on the Move. And my chores will all get done in a timely manner too. A priceless reward! I’ll let you know how it goes!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The day before I left for Orlando I got an email from my credit card company stating that there had been some unusual activity on my account. The email encouraged me to give them a call. Now let’s remember that this was Halloween so I was not only incredibly busy with the chili cook-off at work, but also trying to get some actual work done before my vacation, so I didn’t have a lot of time to make phone calls. Plus, I initially thought the email was a scam so there was no way I was going to call the number provided without doing some research. When I had a free minute I logged on to my credit card account to see if I could recognize anything strange. It took about 5 seconds for me to realize that the “scam” in this situation was not the email, but the recent $9600 charge on my card! Apparently, someone had gotten a hold of my number and tried to charge $9600 to Ticketmaster. Holy cow! I am grateful to the credit card company for identifying that this was out of character for my account and flagging it immediately. The downside was that my card had to be cancelled the day before I went to Orlando. Not the most convenient scenario, but I got along just fine with only my debit card while I was gone. I just wasn’t earning Hilton Honors points on all of my Disney World purchases. The horror! When I shared this story in one of my Facebook groups a good friend made a hilarious joke (see the photo above) that still makes me laugh two weeks later. I sympathize with any thief who was so desperate to get a ticket for “Hamilton” that he or she needed a stolen credit card number. I just wish it wasn’t mine!
“I finally dismantled my Christmas tree on Wednesday. I was stuck at home for a fifth day with this wretched cold/flu and getting quite restless so I started undecking my halls. I still haven’t put anything away properly yet (i.e., in the cabinet with all of my other seasonal decorations), but my house no longer screams, ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year!’ ”
1/21/17 webpage post
“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.”
1/28/17 webpage post
One month ago something amazing happened. On May 19th, just about a month shy of the official first day of summer, I finally put away all of my Christmas 2016 decorations. The good news is that my tree wasn’t up and trimmed that entire time, but none of my holiday baubles had moved far from where they had been on display in December. My Christmas tree was first put up on December 18th which means that it was out of storage for a solid 5 months. Like I said, the tree wasn’t out and decorated that long, but it might as well have been. I disassembled it in January, but the pieces were sitting in a box on the floor of my living room until the miracle day of May 19th. And all of the ornaments and other decorations, like my multiple nativities, took up every square inch of real estate on my kitchen table for those 5 months. Holy cow, how did it come to this? With the Los Angeles weather threatening shorts and flip-flop conditions very soon, I was dangerously close to the tipping point between putting my Christmas tree away and just putting it back up in anticipation of Christmas 2017. So on the afternoon of May 19th I found myself standing in front of that mountain of yuletide cheer and vowing to finally put it back in the closet. At least for a few months. After all was said and done I was very happy to have closed the door on the 2016 holidays. It’ll be that much more exciting when, in six months, it’s socially acceptable to start decorating for Christmas again. But for now, ’tis the season to survive another summer without air conditioning!