Thanksgiving Struggles

Yesterday I wrote about being thankful, and today I am going to do a bit of complaining. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

I had planned on going to the gym this morning, and I had even taken my usual steps to be prepared. Yesterday I had put clean shorts and socks into my gym bag and printed off the week’s training program. After breakfast, I filled my water bottle and put it in my gym bag before heading to the bedroom to get dressed. I was half-dressed when I paused, considered my options and schedule for the week, and made the last minute decision to put off training until tomorrow. Today would have been a better choice than tomorrow, but the delay works better for the rest of the week.

Mornings have been tough since herniating a disc. Between the pain, various medications, and trouble sleeping, I wake up each morning feeling exhausted and sluggish. This morning was no exception; it was worse. My daughter asked me how long my alarm was going before I shut it off, and her question surprised me. I wasn’t even aware that it had been going off more than a few seconds.

I have a nasty headache. It is crawling up the back of my neck and piercing through my eyeballs. The headache may be at least partially due to some kind of tweak in my trapezius. Not entirely sure what happened to make my trap so sore. It was perfectly fine when I stepped into the tub for a bath yesterday morning, but by the time I was drying off to step out of the tub, I could hardly move my neck. Eventually I realized that my neck wasn’t the actual problem, but my efforts to release the sore muscles hasn’t helped.

The nerve pain running from my buttocks down to my feet has been stronger these last few days. It’s not a huge increase, definitely nothing like the pain of the first few months, but I have noticed an increase since starting on Cymbalta. The numb feeling in my left calf has also been stronger lately, along with throbbing and a burning sensation. About the only positive of being on this drug is that the pins & needles feeling in my feet isĀ sometimes less, but apparently it takes some time to get past side effects to real benefits. Or so I’ve been hearing from others.

I did finish my cup of coffee this morning, which shouldn’t be surprising but actually is, oddly enough. For the past few days, I haven’t been able to finish a cup of coffee at all. Not even half of a cup! Of course, since starting this drug, I haven’t had much of an appetite and I’ve had frequent waves of nausea. Last night’s turkey dinner was the most I’ve eaten at one time in almost two weeks.

So there’s my complaints for the day, although most of them are daily complaints. These complaints have been “regular” life for me for many months, so much so that they almost don’t even feel like complaints to me anymore. They are just facts. But I do get to spend another day with my daughter before sending her back to school. I have a short work shift later today and a short work week ahead. There is turkey and pumpkin pie leftovers to eat. A Star Wars marathon is playing on the television. Maybe I’ll even attempt a second cup of coffee!

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Half Empty Cups

Our extended long weekend is coming to an end. We left home early Saturday morning, drove for approximately four hours, spent about two hours in Ikea, checked into our hotel room in Abbotsford, picked up some last minute essentials at Wal-Mart, and found somewhere to eat dinner before crashing into our beds. Our Sunday morning started gently with breakfast and a local church service. Sunday afternoon was spent unloading and unpacking, moving our daughter into her dorm, a parent information meeting and BBQ, and saying good-bye. My husband and I checked out of the hotel early Monday morning, ate breakfast, and drove up the road a bit. Our plan had been to take an extra day to spend the night at Harrison. We honeymooned in Harrison and thoroughly enjoyed returning last year to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Since we were only staying one night, we checked into the fancy Harrison Hot Springs resort and took advantage of their multiple pools.

Harrison is simply a delightful little place. All of the action takes place along the lake shore, with hotels, restaurants, and shops all within easy walking distance. In fact, we parked our car in the hotel lot and walked anywhere we needed to go. We sat on a bench along the walkway overlooking the beach and watched children playing in the sand, boats coming and going from the docks, people walking, the mountains, and the clouds, the waves gently lapping. Time slowed down while we were in Harrison, and it was very good.

I have had many cups of coffee over the course of the weekend, at least twelve, I think. For some, this might not seem like a lot of coffee when spread over four days, but the average is higher than my normal consumption of 1-2 cups per day. And yet, I haven’t actually had as much coffee as the numbers would indicate! Close to half of those cups of coffee were never finished. In fact, I don’t believe I even drank half of the cup for all of those unfinished drinks.

As I was making a bit of dinner around 5:00 tonight, I decided to make myself a cup of coffee. This was my FOURTH cup of coffee today but the only one I finished. I had barely half a cup from the hotel room Keurig…it tasted like subtly flavoured water. For a light breakfast, I had a muffin and Americano from the hotel coffee shop. I ate the entire muffin but only drank half of the coffee before we headed down to the hot springs pools. After lunch, we grabbed coffees for the drive home. I got myself an iced latte, knowing that I would be sipping it slowly, because I didn’t want to make too many pit stops along the way. I sipped it slowly! Too slowly, I guess, because it wasn’t even half empty by the time we got home and Kane tossed it in the garbage. I have to say that my evening cup of coffee was delicious to the very last drop!

So we have been home for only a few hours, and life is still slow and quiet before we return to regular activities tomorrow. I have a very short work week with two little closing shifts Wednesday and Thursday, and I am thankful for it. As enjoyable as the weekend has been, my legs have been angry for all of it. Oh hey! Today is the 10 month anniversary of herniating my disc. The legs have been unhappy and upset for ten months, but all of the necessary and unavoidable sitting this weekend has only made them more cranky, more pained, more tingly, more numb. It is still an improvement compared to months ago, and yet I greedily want more and more. Because even though I can walk normally most of the time now, walking this weekend was painful more often than not.

It was nice to be away for the weekend, to settle Abby into her dorm as she begins this new adventure, and it was even nicer to spend 24 hours or so in Harrison. As good as all that was though, being back home and on the brink of routine is just as good!

No Tears Today

Today has been an incredibly long day but a good one. We ate breakfast, then drove around Abbotsford to explore a bit before registration began at Columbia Bible College. Between arriving at the college and saying our good-byes, time seemed to drag by ever so slowly and yet still much too fast. One line to check in. Another line to sign her life away. A third line to get keys for her dorm and mailbox.

Then the real fun began…unloading the car and bringing all of her possessions up to her third floor dorm room! Let me tell you how fun that was! It wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have these ongoing pains and issues with my legs. The back itself held up fine, but the nerve pains in my legs have been strong since the drive down yesterday. Far too much sitting! I cannot even sit for a couple of minutes now without strong pains running from my buttocks to the back of my knees or without numbness and strong ‘pins & needles’ in both feet. So, trekking up and down stairs really put my poor legs through the wringer. During one trip upstairs, I actually thought back to some of the questions the neurosurgeon asked me, especially the one about my ability to use stairs. By the time I got to see the neurosurgeon my mobility was greatly improved, so naturally I indicated that I had no trouble walking or using stairs. I still don’t have any real trouble with either; however, today is a reminder that I am not nearly as back to normal as I want to be. But anyway…

I had thought that Abby was packing way too much stuff for the school, and the car was definitely packed as full as it could possibly be. And yet, I was somewhat amazed to see how much stuff was being carried into the dorms by other students and parents. Abby is sharing a room with two other girls. I think she was a little disappointed to not be in a two-person room, but I think the extra body will be a good thing in the long run. At least I hope so…we didn’t get to meet the other student before we left. We did have the opportunity to meet one of her roommates and her parents though, and we even shared a table over the BBQ dinner. They seem like good people, and I feel confident that Abby will have no problem getting along with this roommate.

After helping Abby unpack and organize all of her worldly possessions into four drawers, half of a wardrobe closet, and a couple of shelves, we took a quick tour through The Metzger Collection. We only had enough time to scan the exhibits, but it was a place I’d like to spend more time. Then it was time for the parent meeting, which was both reassuring, informative, and extremely painful…for me. Following the parent meeting was the BBQ for parents and students. The food was delicious and more substantial than anticipated. Parents were also welcome to attend a worship/concert time between 6:30 and 8:00, but I could not tolerate anymore sitting or even standing. Abby understood and was okay with us leaving after dinner. We hugged and said our good-byes, and I didn’t even cry!

Now Kane and I are back at the hotel. Obviously I’m on my laptop, blogging, and we’re watching an X-Men movie on the TV. I am also finding my thoughts frequently turning back to my daughter and tears threaten. So far, so good though! But I know they will come eventually. If not tonight, then maybe tomorrow. Or Tuesday when we get back home. Or next week. Or next month when she comes home for Thanksgiving. Maybe all of the above. I know it will happen, because I am the sort of person who leaks. There will be tears because I miss her, but the tears won’t necessarily be sad ones. I can miss her and still be extremely proud of her. I can miss her and still know that this is going to be an amazing experience for her. Oh, but I am going to miss my girl!

Family Night

Weeks of smoky haze has given way to cool temperatures and rain. Beautiful rain! This pluviophile is especially happy for this rainy day.

As my days off are drawing to an end, the gentle pitter-patter of rain through the open windows has been effective in slowing the passing of time. Or at least that’s how it feels to me. Time is precious this week. Aside from the busyness of the week with work, a medical appointment, a car appointment, and training sessions, I am operating on a deadline of sorts. On Saturday, we are leaving to take our daughter to college in a city a few hours away, which means there is a lot to get done before then.

It was my daughter’s request for a family game night one last time before her departure, and so, that was what we did today. I made her favourites for dinner: scalloped potatoes, ham, and green beans. Our middle child came over early this afternoon to hang out with us on his day off. Since his short-term rental has just been extended for another year, I was also able to pass along some kitchen items I had in excess, which made both of us happy as he’s glad to have the items and I’m glad to free up some clutter.

The afternoon and early evening was wonderful. Laughter and joking and gentle teasing. Winners and losers. Good food. Family. This is unlikely to happen again before Thanksgiving, and that is the reality I have not given much thought to yet. Now it is staring me in the face. In one week, my husband and I will be saying good-bye to our baby girl as we leave her at college. With two out of three children out of the house, the coming months are going to be something entirely new to us. I think it will be okay, more than okay actually, but it is still going to be different.

Who is going to nag me to go shopping for clothes? Who is going to go for a coffee run with me? Who is going to stumble down the hall in the morning asking for covfefe when I am thinking the exact same thing? Who is going to watch Star Wars or one of my favourite chick flicks with me? Who am I going to harass while brushing my teeth and share random weird people rants with? My introvert buddy is going to be gone!

Life is going to look a lot different around here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lost & Found

My husband was doing some cleaning in his office this morning. This amazes me, because I don’t think he has ever actually made an effort to do this in all the years he has had an office downstairs. I am not complaining though, and I am glad that he is the one doing the office cleaning. I did have to laugh when he discovered 6, yes SIX, pairs of reading glasses lost among the notebooks and junk on his bookshelves. My husband tends to “lose” things quite easily, so reading glasses are a frequent purchase.

Yesterday I took an hour or two to completely empty the Tupperware cupboard, ruthlessly purge the contents, and then re-organize. The cupboard went from haphazard and overflowing to clean, lean and organized. As much as I am constantly finding ways to purge and get rid of clutter, there are some things which are more difficult to remove from the house. Tupperware is such a thing. What if I need it someday? Tupperware isn’t cheap. But yesterday I was ruthless. I completely removed anything damaged, even the containers with lids that no longer sealed tightly, and I set aside those random containers missing lids or lids missing containers. I think my daughter leaving for school next weekend is inspiring me to “downsize” and purge even more deeply than usual.

As I was watching my husband clean his office for a few minutes this morning, I noticed a Tupperware container on his desk…a container that matched one of the solitary lids I had set aside yesterday! This is why I set those items aside, because the missing pieces might yet turn up.

When I mentioned the missing lids to my husband, he mentioned the possibility of them being in his work van. I scoffed. Why would anyone have a Tupperware lid in a vehicle without the accompanying container? My husband said that he would. I was doubtful and later mentioned the conservation to my son who works with his dad. My son agreed with his dad, saying that it would not be weird if the lids were in the work van! What kind of people are in my family?! Who does that?

Despite what my son and husband say, I sincerely doubt that the missing Tupperware lids are in the van. Missing containers maybe but not random lids. But I have no idea where those lids have disappeared to. It’s like missing socks from the dryer. Who knows where they go!

Mamma Mia!

My daughter is going away to college in a few weeks, and I ran straight into that reality last night as we watched the local production of Mamma Mia!

Abby has been dreaming and planning for this year of college for quite a while now, and she has been driving me crazy lately with all of her dorm room shopping and talk about dorm room shopping. It makes me a little crazy, because I don’t like shopping and I didn’t see the need to obsess over it months in advance. Aside from the shopping annoyance, I’ve been pragmatic about her leaving in the fall. I’ve made sure that I have the weekend free to take her to school, and I’ve booked the hotel room for that weekend. Time has kept its steady pace, and I haven’t been oblivious to the speed with which September is approaching, but I haven’t been emotional about it yet. Well, until last night.

There we were at our community theatre to watch the absolutely amazing performance of Mamma Mia! Abby had placed herself between her father and I for the night, which meant she and I shared many glances, nudges, and bits of conversation. We shuddered together over some fashion choices in the crowd. We nudged each other when someone from a middle seat had to get out in the middle of the performance, because we had talked about the tightness of the rows, our preference for sitting on the aisle, and the fact that it always seems to be a person in the middle who needs to get up during a show. During the song Knowing Me, Knowing You, I leaned over to hit her with the “a-ha” of the chorus, and that’s when reality smacked me in the face.

My girl is going away in a few short weeks, and I am going to miss her. The house won’t be empty, but there will be a void. Abby and I have a good relationship, and it is going to be strange to not have her here to speak sarcasm with and to disagree over Captain America and the Winter Soldier. I won’t have someone blessing me for having a pot of coffee on in the morning or understanding the need for chocolate. Instead I will need to make sure the cat gets fed and the litter box cleaned out, but I refuse to FaceTime the cat for Abby. Maybe towels won’t get lost in her bedroom once she’s gone, and maybe my chocolate will last longer.

Because I am who I am, my eyes leaked during the performance from start to finish. The waterworks were especially strong during the song Slipping Through My Fingers. Abby told me after that she had looked over during the song and seen the tears on my face. That made her laugh a bit, at least enough to stop her from getting too emotional. Typical.

My emotional balance has been restored with the light of day. For now. Abby tried to make me cry this morning by playing Slipping Through My Fingers again, but I’m okay. She’s determined to make me emotional about her leaving, and she will likely succeed at some point. That can’t be helped or avoided, but I am not at all sad for her to go. I am excited for her to go and learn and spread her wings.

In The Moment

When I pull my brain back from tomorrow and my heart from yesterday, I live with joy today.

(I came across that quote somewhere a while back, but I have no idea who originally said or wrote it.)

It’s been a weird week. There was the unexpected follow up appointment with the neurosurgeon and a couple of surprise announcements that are going to take some time to process and accept. After a deload week in my training, I began this week expecting a fresh training week feeling strong and fresh, but that never quite materialized. At the gym on Wednesday, I wanted to throw a kettlebell through a wall, because the back was so achy and uncomfortable, and I cannot always avoid feeling frustrated and stuck. I had no anger or frustration issues at the gym today; however, my mood was drooping and I simply felt tired and weak.

I didn’t sleep well at all last night, probably the worst night in a while now. Sleep has been tricky since the start of this injury, but the past few months has at least allowed me to settle into a reasonable, functional rhythm of lying awake, falling asleep, lots of tossing and position changes, and a few wakeful periods. Last night had plenty of tossing and position changes and lying awake…not so much sleep though. It wasn’t all due to the physical symptoms. The brain was racing for the first hour or two, twisting problems into knots before unraveling them to start over again, but the brain did eventually quiet and settle. Still no sleep. Despite the central air-conditioning and bedroom fan blowing, I felt too hot, too uncomfortable. The lack of sleep probably didn’t help me out at the gym this morning.

Although I stopped taking my prescriptions more than a month ago, I still have them. Lots of them actually because the last refill had been a big one. In all the time that I was on the medications, I never felt like they made a difference in the pain or symptoms, which is why I stopped taking them. I hate taking medication, but there are moments when I pause to consider the vials on my counter. What if I was wrong about the impact they made on the pain I felt? As much as my current pain levels are a far cry from what they used to be, I am still in pain. All of the time. It sucks. It saps energy and life from your body. It eats away at you from the inside and wears you down. Most of the time I can look beyond the pain and discomfort, but there are moments, sometimes days, when that is difficult to do. I think today is one of those days. Perhaps most of the week has been like that, and certainly my body is still re-learning and adjusting to being back at work, even if with limited hours.

I am tired, frustrated, and hurting, yet the day was not all gloom.

I got to go to the gym today! Although this injury has significantly impacted my ability to train as I would like, I am still of the mindset that going to the gym is a positive. My body might not always enjoy working out these days, but I am always glad to be able to do it.

My youngest son came by today. Sure, he was only here to pick up some mail, but that’s two days in a row I got to see my baby boy.

It’s far too easy to allow pain, fatigue, and low mood to throw road blocks in front of any sort of productivity I might have planned, but I managed to get a few things done today.

I laughed. Not the fake laugh one does when being polite but genuine laughter. Mostly at my own expense and that’s okay. It was still the sort of laughter that lessens the weightiness of whatever is sitting on your shoulders. And I didn’t laugh alone, which only increases its’ potency.

I finished off one book and began another. You would think that someone who had been off work and essentially idle for seven months would have read plenty of books, but the pain was too distracting and my head too foggy to focus on written words up until recently.