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Bahamas 2017

Since I had my laptop with me anyway, since I had taken it to do my homework, I figured I’d keep a daily journal on it and post it as a blog post.

Day 1 – travel day – October 7, 2017

I left Louisville at 6pm on a Saturday.  My destination for that day was Orlando, FL.  The flight was quick and painless.  I sat next to a young mother and her two year-old son.  At first, I was annoyed with this because I have heard nothing but horror stories about sitting next to little kids on planes.  However, I quickly learned that the little boy, named Caden, was sweet and at times, rambunctious.  I enjoyed the 2 hours sitting next to them.

I made it to my hotel around 9pm that night.  I settled in and finished up some homework that I had forgotten to do before leaving.  I realized it before leaving, so I grabbed my laptop and threw it in my bags to bring with me.

Fascination

Day 2 – October 8, 2017 – Day 1 of cruise

I woke up bright and early for the cruise day!  I was so excited to get on the ship.  I woke up at 530am!  My shuttle wasn’t going to arrive to the hotel until 1130 or so.  Ugh.  I went downstairs and ate breakfast and sat outside for a bit.

When the shuttle got there, I could hardly contain myself.  I kept thinking, I’m going on a cruise!!!!

We got to the port and filtered in to the terminal to check in.  The check in process was quick and painless since I purchased the Faster to the Fun package, which gave me a dedicated line for check in.  It also gives me a dedicated line at guest services on board and priority debarkation.

Once I got on board and found my cabin, I wandered the ship for a long time.  I found the buffet, the smoking sections, and the spa.  Once my bags were outside of my room, I unpacked and got comfortable with the cabin.  These inside cabins are perfect for one person.  I don’t know how I’ll ever go back to cruising with someone again because I like having all this room to myself (but you know I will cruise with others!)

Day 3 – October 9, 2017 – Day 2 of cruise

This was our sea day.  So we were cruising at sea all day long.  This was also my spa day.  I had pre-purchased a manicure, pedicure, and Swedish massage.  While I took a tour of the spa, I set up a consultation with the doctor who does acupuncture.  I have always been intrigued with it and I wanted to know what it could do for me.  I ended up buying 3 treatments.  These treatments were for my left big toe (arthritis) and my back and neck tension.  My stress levels got to a point that it was very painful for the massage to happen.  I had my first session with Dr. Cai that night at 7:30pm after dinner.  Besides a little pinching every now and then, it was painless and once the needles were in, it was like they weren’t even there.  My toe was pain free for the rest of that night and into Tuesday until I walked around Nassau that is.

Day 4 – October 10, 2017  –  Day 3 of cruise

sunrise in NassauWe arrived in Nassau in the Bahamas at around 8am.  I stood on deck near the front of the ship to watch us come into port.  It was magical.  I can’t even put it into words how it felt watching the ship maneuver into the port.  There were a few other cruise ships in port with us, Carnival Liberty, Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, and a Disney ship that made the rest of our ships look like row boats.  It was huge!!!

I ate breakfast and then headed out to check Nassau out.  The Bahamas are on my bucket list and now I get to cross them off that list!  It was a busy little town.   Cars speeding by and people bustling all over.  I walked around the shopping areas and kept close to other tourists, since I was solo.

I finally got tired of walking, so I paid $30 for a horse and carriage tour of the downtown area.  It was educational and I enjoyed learning about the Bahamas and Nassau.  We went by Princess Margaret Hospital and my driver told me that it’s $10 to see the doctor and $5 for the medications.  For everyone. There were a lot of lawyer offices on this tour.  He said that there is an over-abundance of lawyers on the islands due to the fact people come there to do their offshore banking and launder money (just like the Cayman Islands!)  I found that fascinating!

I went back onto the ship and wandered.  I napped and then did my 3pm appointment in the spa for more acupuncture.  Dinner was amazing as usual and I had their famous chocolate melting cake for dessert.  Holy crap!

Day 5 – October 11, 2017  – Day 4 of the cruise

We arrived in Freeport as the sun was coming up. There were a few boats and ships in dry dock there, including the Carnival Conquest.  It was a very industrial looking area, completely opposite from Nassau.  I didn’t really like the look of things, but there was a little fenced in shopping area for us to walk around in there.   So, I hung out on the pool deck for a bit and then went off the ship to wander the shopping area.  Once I was done with that, I went back onboard for a quick nap, lunch, and my 3rd and final acupuncture appointment in the spa.

Sunset the last night

It’s so hard to believe that the cruise is just about over.  I have to pack and put my bags outside my room while saving stuff I’ll need for the morning.  Or I need to keep my bags and wheel them off myself.  Pfft.  Heck no, I’m packing and putting them outside my room.  Any time I can make my life easier on this trip, I’m doing it.  I stuffed my large suitcase and my smaller one to the brim with the stuff I brought and the stuff I bought.

My backpack is stuffed full and I bought a small bag on board to help carry my little purse and other essentials for my travel day.  I skipped dinner in the dining room so I could go out on deck for the sunset.  I grabbed some food from the buffet and went out on the deck where they have some tables there.  I ate and watched the sun set.  It was beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6 – October 12, 2017 – time to go home

I got up at 6am this morning, anxious to get the day started.  I figure the sooner I start the day, the sooner I’ll be at home with my munchkins.  I knew this day was going to be long and I will be spending a lot of time in some airports.  I’m currently sitting in the Orlando airport while I wait for my 2:15pm flight to Baltimore.    From there, I’ll go back to Louisville where my friend will pick me up and take me home to my babies.

I have been trying to find the words to describe how I feel about this vacation and I just can’t seem to find them right now.  I knew I needed this vacation in a big way and I haven’t been that relaxed in a very long time.  It was such a well-deserved vacation and I spoiled myself rotten while I was gone.  I need to give myself permission to go on vacation once a year like this because I can’t go another 10 years before visiting somewhere I’ve never been.

 

 

My mom…

Four months ago today, I lost my mom.  While it wasn’t “sudden,” it was very quick.  She hadn’t been feeling well since November and finally got an answer to what was going on in May.  On May 10, we found out she had stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to several places in her body, including her brain and spine.  On June 3, she was gone.  I feel shell shocked still and the loss has been crushing for me.  I push through each day, trying to pretend that I’m okay.  But I’m not.  Here’s my story:

When mom got out of the hospital, I rushed down there for an extended weekend in May.  I was there around May 12, just a few days after she got out of the hospital from coughing up blood.  This is when we found out she had lung cancer.  While I was there that weekend, we had a home health nurse come out and we found out a little more extensively what was going on and where the cancer had spread.  We found out she had lesions in her brain.  Home health nurse called hospice, who came out as well.  We found out even more of the extent of her cancer.  It was horrifying.

I came home to go back to work and to take care of my babies, planning to go back down in a few weeks.  I originally planned to go back down the weekend of June 9.  However, the Tuesday before she passed, my brother text me and said he felt I should come down sooner, he had a weird feeling about things.  I figured things out and I found someone to watch my dogs and I left on June 1, Thursday.  I made it down there around 2:30 in the afternoon.  Mom was bedridden by then and barely conscious.  She recognized me and we said, “I love you,” a few times.  I held her hand for a few moments before going out to the living room to chat with my brother and sister in law.

That evening, something happened that I never thought would occur.  As I was walking Beck in the driveway, the neighbor dog came over and attacked us.  She ripped Beck right out of my arms.  He was in my arms because I realized the dog was near us and I didn’t know how they would get along, so I picked him up.  She came over, circling us and then got faster than me and snagged him right out of my arms.  She started flipping him around like a little rag doll.  Did you know dogs scream?  I didn’t either until then.  The owner finally came over and was able to get her off of Beck.  In the process, I got bit, but I don’t know if she bit me or Beck bit me.  I had jumped in and was punching the dog’s head, trying to get her to let him go.  Somewhere in there, I got bit.  My brother and I rushed Beck to the emergency vet and they shaved him up and cleaned his wounds.  They wanted way too much money to keep him over night.  The next morning, we took him to the vet my mom used for Chloe.  Doc Win was amazing.  Beck had emergency surgery that day.  I spent more time in the vet office than I did with my mom those few days that followed.  It was traumatizing and I’m still having nightmares and dealing with the emotional and physical kick back of that.

Mom passed on June 3, Saturday.  In a way, I feel like I did not get there in time to spend more time with her before she left us.  I know I did, logically.  Emotionally, though, I feel like I didn’t.  I feel robbed of time with her, too.  The time I could have been spending with her, I ended up having to worry about my munchkin and getting him healed up and well again.  I don’t resent him at all.  I’m angry at the dog who attacked us.  I’m angry she stole time away from me that I could have been spending with my mom.  I know this may not sound logical to some people and it’s probably not that logical.  But it’s how I feel and if I’ve learned anything over the course of being in Gambler’s Anonymous for 16 years, is that I’m allowed to feel how I feel.

In the process of grieving for my mom, I started going to a Grief Share class that has helped me a lot deal with a lot of things.  It’s helped me start working through my grief for Todd, my dad, and my mom.  It’s also helped me start working through the emotions I feel over the dog attack too.

Until next time…

What is your grief journey like?

Grief.  It’s what we’ve been having for breakfast.  And lunch.  There may have been a  small side serving at dinner too.

Late in the first week of March, as I was preparing to leave work, I found out that someone I have known my entire adult life passed away.   I was in the middle of a conversation with my coworker when I got an alert on my phone, so I looked and it was a message on FB asking me if I had heard about our friend passing.  I immediately stopped the conversation and called another friend in California, looking for clarification.  I was devastated.   I just couldn’t believe it.  Actually, I still can’t believe it – but then I go to his FB profile and I see that it’s true.  The pain I felt when I found out he died was similar to the pain I felt when I found out Todd died and at one point the following day, I felt like it was worse than when Todd died.  I don’t know how true that is or if it was just feeling that way because it’s been almost 12 years since Todd passed.  The entire world seemed so much darker for me, it felt like I was gutted and then run over by a semi-truck.  It was horrible.  And if that was the pain *I* was going through?  I could only imagine how his family was feeling.  I lost my dad last year, at the end of this month, so it’s pretty raw for me still.  But his death was expected and I think that gives it a difference to a degree.  It didn’t make it any less painful, but it wasn’t unexpected and it wasn’t something I didn’t see coming.  This was something his family did not see coming.  It was sudden and it was unexpected.

I met Jef at the young age of 18 while I was working at Odyssey Records.  He was working at Boston Pizza across the street with his best friend, Mark.  Shortly after meeting them, chatting with them when I’d go over there for a break or calling and ordering food, we found out we were all on a bulletin board system (BBS) called Multi-Comm (it kind of predates the internet, similar to ICQ. chat rooms.)  A small group of us formed a tight circle.  We were all so close.  So young, silly, loyal, constantly together.  I say this almost every time I talk about him, but I think it’s awesome, so it must be repeated!  His daughter was the first baby that I ever changed a diaper on.  We had our differences, we had our similarities and we always had our loyalty towards each other.  There wasn’t much I wouldn’t do for that guy and his family.  He was one of my favorite people to walk this earth for any amount of time.  Before I moved to Louisville, we had lost contact.  But thanks to Facebook, we were reconnected shortly after I relocated.  When I would go back home, we would try to meet up for coffee.  Sometimes it didn’t work, sometimes it did.  I loved meeting at Starbucks at Desert Inn and Eastern, catching up and chatting for an hour or more before one of us would notice the time and had to go.  We disagreed on a lot of things, but we never let those disagreements take over our respect for each other as humans; as friends.

There was a celebration of life the weekend after he passed.  It was such last minute for me, I couldn’t make it there for that one.  But a mutual friend planned another one the following weekend and I was able to get some time off work and get back home to pay my respects to my dear friend and his family.  Three of us who live out of town all went into Vegas for the celebration.  It was amazing.  His daughter, his sister, and several of our old friends from Multi-Comm were there, including his best friend from when he was a child.  We cried a little and laughed a lot.  We shared stories, we did shots in his honor, we reminisced and we mourned together.

I will never forget the impact he had on me, as a person, and on my life overall.  Rest easy, my friend.  You’re work here is done.  We’ll take over the watch and be sure to watch out for us.  I’ll see you soon.

Until next time…

 

Making my way back to feeling healthy

In 2010, I started doing Crossfit style workouts, as a lot of you know.  I loved it.  I could take a regular Crossfit workout, you know the ones that have names to them, and adjust it and make it mine.  I could change regular push-ups to knee push-ups.  I could change box jumps to box step ups.  Whatever worked for me and my body at that moment.  I loved it.  I religiously did it for a couple years, every day after work, rarely missing a day.  One of our firefighters would give me a workout a day.  And if he forgot, another one would help me make up my own.  And then I started having foot problems.  My right foot would feel like it was catching on fire and it was horribly painful to walk on.  It would also, sometimes, cramp up so badly my toes would become like hammer toes.  THAT was the worst.

I finally went to a foot doctor in December of 2011.  He told me I had something called “Morton’s Neuroma.”  It’s a growth on one of the nerves between the toes.  Holy shit does it hurt!  We tried six months of injections.  The first four injections were cortisone.  The last two were an alcohol solution to “kill” the neuroma.  None of those worked and after the last injection of alcohol solution, I decided no one would ever (EVER) put a needle towards my foot again, unless it was for surgery.  The last two injections discolored the top of my foot and changed the way my foot looks.  To this day, the top of my foot is discolored and the skin looks thinner.

They also almost made me get close to passing out from the pain of it and it never once took away the pain from the neuroma.  During the series of injections, I tried to continue working out with my Crossfit style workouts.  I was healthier and happier than I ever had been in my 40 some years.  Some days I could do my workouts and some days my foot hurt so badly, it took all I had to not just burst into tears.  How did I know the pain was cry worthy?  During the few years I did Crossfit, my pain levels went up.  It took a lot to make me hurt physically.  So when it was close to making me cry, I knew it was hurting.

We scheduled surgery for the end of June in 2012.  I had the surgery and he told me it would be several months before I could do any type of high impact activities.  This meant no running, no box jumps, etc.  After my foot healed up a bit, I started out slowly going back to working out every day after work.  Some days, I could do it and some days I couldn’t.  Even just doing deadlifts where you have to plant your heel into the floor, my foot would hurt and sometimes cramp up.  It was heartbreaking.

A few months after I realized I couldn’t really do much, I got depressed.  During the years I did Crossfit, I didn’t need to take an anti-depressant.  My doctor and I had weened me off of them after I started doing the regular workout routine.  Here I was a few months later, back on something for my depression and anxiety.  I tried to keep going to the gym regularly, but I was half-assing it.  I knew I was, but I wanted to present the appearance of at least trying.   I was back to having anxiety attacks and feeling very despondent.  I ended up canceling my membership at The Ville, citing “financial issues.”  Which in part, was true, but was not 100% true.  Most of it was the fact I felt horrible about myself and I just lost my motivation.  I lost my motivation to feel healthy and feel better about myself.

So, to soothe my hurt feelings over not being able to do my full workouts anymore, I would eat.  I would eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and I didn’t care.  I knew most of the food I was putting in my mouth was bad for me.  I just didn’t care.  I started to gain weight, a lot of weight (60 pounds to be exact), which added to the depression and anxiety.  And then I really didn’t care.  I stopped paying a few creditors, I kept eating shit, I sunk into a funk that I was in for at least a year and a half before something snapped.  My dad was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, which didn’t help the depression.  He later passed away with me 5 feet away on the couch in his living room.  I spent a month helping my stepmom take care of him and as painful as it was, I am ever so grateful for that month.  I got to know him through the eyes of his wife and his friends.  He had changed.  He was a different person than the dad I knew way back when.  It was an amazing experience for me, as difficult as it was to get through.

September and October of 2016 changed me.  Eventually, I realized it was for the better, but during those two months, I was scared and even more anxious and depressed.  At the beginning of September, I noticed my ankles were swelling.  I mean, really swelling.  It was horrible.  And I noticed it hurt to walk and that my heart rate would go insane whenever I got up to do something.  It didn’t matter if it was to just go to the bathroom, my heart rate would skyrocket.

My blood pressure spiked up to 148/98.  This was the highest that I know it got, however, I didn’t have it taken all that often, so it could have been much higher at some point.  I don’t remember what my heart rate was that day, but I know it was higher than 100.  This was on Monday, September 14 around 8am.  Later that day, I went to my doctor and explained everything I was feeling and about my blood pressure.  She immediately put me on a water pill for the swelling and blood pressure.  She couldn’t put me on a beta blocker because I have asthma, so we could just hope the water pill worked.  She also referred me to a cardiologist for follow up.  My doctor felt that my anxiety levels were through the roof (she wasn’t wrong), so she changed my anxiety medication as well.

Three days later, I was having chest pains at work so I had a coworker take me to the ER.  They did an EKG (2nd in a week) and it was fine.  They took blood and it was fine.  They did a chest x-ray and it was fine.  I sat in that ER for 7-8 hours and had a lot of time to think about shit in my life.   The ER sent me home with no medications, no fluids, nothing.  Nothing was wrong with me.  I am currently fighting with their billing department because the doctor and the billers put down that I was treated for nicotine addiction.  That is a story for another day.

After getting home that day, after a firefighter picked me up from the ER and took me back to my car, I sat down and I meditated.  I thought, I processed, I analyzed.  My slip down this depressed slope started when I couldn’t do my full Crossfit workouts anymore, yes, all those years ago (at least 4).  It continued due to financial stress and the physical stress of working two jobs and going to school.

I started to let my new meds work.  The water pill helped my ankle bloating and I got a home blood pressure thing so I could monitor it myself as well.  I went to the cardiologist and they found nothing.  They gave me an EKG, it showed nothing.  They sent me for a nuclear stress test, it showed nothing.  I still owe about $1500 on that one, and yes, I have insurance.  The new anxiety/depression meds started to work and I started to see the fog lifting.

October of 2016, I resigned from my second job and immediately felt a sense of relief after giving my resignation notice.  Almost immediately, I noticed a difference.  I was sleeping better, I was feeling better, and my thought processes were better.  I started thinking about what I wanted to happen and my main goal is to feel healthier and get back to some sort of working out.  I have a row machine here at home, which I’ve used off and on, but not regularly.  So I need to get consistent with that.  I’ve also become very consistent in taking my medications at the same time (or within an hour) every day.  I was in a spot in my life where I would half-ass taking my meds, just like I would half-ass a lot of other things.  Taking them every single day around the same time has made a huge difference in how I’m feeling.

During this process, I was invited to a good friend’s house for a “Health and Wellness” class type thing.  I jumped at the chance to go learn something new about how to improve my health and wellness.  I figured I would just be listening and taking notes, learning things about nutrition and ways to make my home less toxic for me and my furbabies.  I am still a bit skeptical about some of it, but I’m improving little things each day and I haven’t felt this good in a very long time.

I signed up for an online shopping club, with the intent to try a few products here and there with the hopes of improving my health.  Three months later, I’ve changed all of my cleaning products over to their products.  There are no toxic chemicals in them.  Specifically, no ammonia or bleach, which I really like.  I did have to get used to it at first, because it doesn’t smell like PineSol up in here when I clean now.  So, ya know, I had to let go of that old thinking.  “If it doesn’t smell like bleach or PineSol, it’s not clean!!!!”

I’m slowly changing my eating habits and I’m using an appetite control protein powder and make a shake every morning.  I’m counting calories, I’m tracking my water intake and I’ve gone to eating 5 to 6 meals a day instead of 3 meals a day.  I’ve pretty much stopped drinking Dr. Pepper regularly.  I’ll have one every few days, but usually just one (compared to drinking 2 or 3 of the 20 ounce bottles a day).  I’ve started taking a supplement for menopause, which has just been miraculous for me.  I’m sleeping better, I’m feeling better, and I’m having fewer hot flashes and no night sweats after the first week of being on it.  I’m also taking a multi vitamin pack that has a multi-vitamin, an omega-3, some probiotics, and an antioxidant.  My energy levels have gone through the roof and I’ve started to slowly lose weight.  And my bragging moment?  I’ve lost almost 5 pounds since the beginning of December.  A little slower than some, but it’s at my pace and I’m taking my time learning new habits and what not.

With all of this being said, if you made it this far in the post, I love you and am grateful you are here.  I’m working towards a better me, so that I can be a better person, a better friend, a better employee, a better woman.

Until next time….

Anxiety

After coming home on April 4th from spending 3.5 weeks helping my stepmom with my father’s end of life care, my house was burglarized on the 7th.  They got in through one of the windows of the garage and then into the house.  Thankfully, they didn’t hurt my dogs from what I can see.  They did, however, feed them raw bacon to keep them distracted.  They took some electronics, costume jewelry, and Yankees memorabilia.  All replaceable.

I would be lying if I said I was okay.  I put on this public perception that I’m okay and I’m pushing through and I’m fighting it.  That’s my public persona.  In private, I’m a mess.  I am afraid of every little sound.  I’m sleeping with lights on and a bat next to my bed.  I’m obsessively checking the locks on the doors and windows.

drakeThis quote is something I keep telling myself.  I am unstoppable.  I got this.  I can do this.  But in all honesty, I’m afraid to be here alone anymore.  I am on edge and jump at every little sound.  I need to get back into both jobs this week and I’m not looking forward to it.  It worries me.  I’m anxious.  I’m not sleeping well.  I’m not eating well.

I’ve rearranged the house where they ransacked it.  Just by looking at it, you wouldn’t be able to tell that anyone was in here and that anything is missing.  I’m looking forward to getting a new laptop (about another week) so I can do my regular and main stress relief – play World of Warcraft.  No one understands the release it gives me (well, maybe another gamer would) and how relaxing it really is for me.

Until next time….I will keep moving forward and I will keep breathing and I think it’s stupid that we have to “remember to breathe” when going through anxiety attacks.

My Old Lady Josie

When Josie turned 13 years old (about 2.5 years ago), I started calling her my “Old Lady.”  She was the longest “relationship” I’ve ever had.  She was the love of my life, my soul mate, my companion and my ride or die bitch.

In June of 2000, I saw her for the first time when she was just days old and I named her.  I named her after the cartoon Josie and the Pussycats, if you’re wondering.  In August of 2000, when she was 7 weeks old, I brought her home.  She was so tiny, she fit in the palm of my hand.  Over the years, she grew quite a bit, but never went over 8.5 pounds.

Josie as a baby

 

Here she is as a very young Josie.  Looking over the edge of my bed, trying to figure out if she would make it or not!

She was such a precious girl.

She was loving and cuddly for the first few years of her life.  As she grew older, she didn’t like to be held unless she was in the mood.  She didn’t like to cuddle as much unless she didn’t feel well.

In October of 2000, I had surgery on my left hand.  I was laying on my bed, propped up against the wall, watching TV and playing “tug” with her with my right hand.  At one point, she jumped and landed on my left hand.  I moved my left arm so fast, it flung her off the bed and across the floor.  I just about died.  I was in tears until I knew she was okay.

One of her favorite things to do was to jump up on my lap while I was on the phone or in a conversation and since I wasn’t paying attention to her, she would put one of her paws on my mouth to try to shut me up.  She would do this to very few people, but my best friend Tobe was given this treatment when I lived with her and her sons.

In May of 2015, she had a stroke.  At that time, we discovered she had a slipped disc in her back, which was causing a lot of her clumsiness.  She was also in the beginning of kidney failure and dementia.  She had high blood pressure, a heart murmur and was deaf.  In May, the vet told me it would just be a matter of time and that my Josie would let me now when she was ready to go.

Yesterday, when I got home from work, I discovered Josie had lost control of her bowels and bladder.  She was experiencing very labored breathing and was whimpering in between each breath.  After I cleaned things up as best I could (including her butt that was caked with poop), I wrapped her in a pee pad and a towel and snuggled her.  I knew it was time.

me and josieI was devastated and heart broken.  As I cuddled her, I took this photo because I wanted that reminder of how I knew.  She let me know through the way she was looking at me that she was done.  She needed to rest.

I called my mom in a panic and we agreed it was time.  I then took her to Blue Pearl Veterinary Hospital over in Louisville.

They put us in a “comfort room” and came in to talk to me (between my sobs I learned the vet’s name was Ruth).  Ruth let me know that they would do it in this room and I could hold her as long as I needed before they did it and after.

The tech took my Josie to put in an IV port and then brought her back to me, still wrapped up in the pad and towel.  I held my girl and sobbed and told her I loved her and that I would be okay.  She could rest now.  I thanked her for being the best dog ever and for being my constant companion for the last 15.5 years.  The vet came in and gave her a sedative through the IV.  I immediately felt and heard a difference in Josie’s breathing.  It was no longer labored.  She then made eye contact with me as Ruth put the meds in that would put her to sleep.  She went within 2 minutes of that injection, the entire time, holding eye contact with me.  I watched the pain leave my baby’s eyes and I watched her rest for the final time.  It was the most precious and heart wrenching thing I have ever experienced.

Less than 24 hours later and I’m going in between being numb and being devastated and sobbing.  Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m sobbing.  I have to get ready for my 2nd job though so I need to compose myself and get ready for that.

Josie Barrett was born June 4, 2000 and passed away November 30, 2015.  My best friend, my soul mate, the love of my life.  I will never forget her.  She was the best companion I could have ever asked for.

Until next time…

Being proactive.

After my last post, I started reaching out.  I’ve contacted my work EAP and have my first counseling/therapy session on Monday after work.  The therapist answered her own phone and I got a great vibe from her after just a 1o minute conversation, I’m actually looking forward to it.  I’ve also started a 9 week program online through the same EAP for my anxiety.  It’s a Cognitive Behavior Therapy thing and I think it’ll really help.

I’ve rejoined a gym.  I did cancel my membership at Crossfit the Ville per my doctor’s orders and I’ve gone back to the chain gym type.  I joined Planet Fitness for $10 a month.  I have 24/7 unlimited access to the equipment.  Their cardio area is to die for as far as I’m concerned.  They have treadmills (I can’t use those – too high impact); ellipticals, Arc machines and rowing machines.  The rowing machines and Arc machines will be my best friends when I go.  I tried the Arc machine and loved it, so I can see myself using that quite often.   If I were to upgrade to the $19.95 a month membership, I’d have unlimited tanning each month (once a day) and unlimited use of their hydro-massage tables.

Did you know that working out is the least used anti-depressant there is and in order to save my feet, I had to go with the lower impact stuff.  I’m looking forward to getting back at it as much as my feet will let me without trying to push myself to the brink of death, as I did with Crossfit.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Crossfit.  I mean, insanely love Crossfit.  I’m hoping I can work my way back to the Crossfit box once my doctor and I get my feet under control.

I also got a new dog.  This was a spur of the moment decision and I ended up getting him for free.  A friend had to re-home her 5 year old Havanese because he got aggressive with their son.  She posted on Facebook about it and I told her that if Zeevah got along with him, I’d take great care of him and spoil him rotten.  I took her over there Tuesday evening after work so they could have a “play date” and they got along very well.  I can’t blame her for doing it, but I know how heartbroken she was.  So I’ve added a new four legged friend to my routine and I just adore him.  He is so stinking cute, I can hardly stand it most days.  The girls are getting along with him very well.  Zeevah has a new play mate and Josie loves it because now Zeevah doesn’t aggravate her as much as she used too.  It was a good decision and he’s turning into a great addition to the family.

So while I’m working through this depression and anxiety, I’m finding myself not having to force as much as I was.  For months, I was forcing myself to act “normal.”  I was forcing myself to pretend everything was okay and nothing was wrong with me, all the while isolating myself, not doing things that I enjoyed (except play WoW and shop).  Now that I’m done pretending and I’m taking proactive steps to fix it and recover, I’m feeling slightly better.  The road to recovery will be ongoing and possible a lifetime of work.  And I’m okay with that.

Here is my Motley Crew now (from left: Josie, 15 year old Yorkie; Zeevah, not quite 2 year old black lab/GSD mix; and Beck, 5 year old pure bred Havanese)

My motley crew

How do you deal with it?

Thousands of people have been diagnosed with – and some have not been diagnosed, but suffer from – depression.  Whether it’s mild or major, the depression lives within a lot of us.  There is a project going around, called “The Semi-Colon Project.”  This project is about tattooing a semi colon.  You can find out more here .  The author of that blog post puts into words things I have never been able to say out loud to anyone.  Except one or two people in my life.

A semi-colon is a place in a sentence where the author has the decision to stop with a period, but chooses not to. A semi-colon is a reminder to pause and then keep going.

There’s been a rush to get semi-colon tattoos somewhere that you can see everyday.  It brings awareness to depression and I think it will be a really good thing.  Also in this blog post, the author says, “You cannot spot depression because you become depression.”  And it rings very true for me.  My doctor recently told me that he felt my health issues I was having was my depression and insomnia playing tricks on me.  I poo-poo’d that idea right out the window because I ALWAYS recognize my depression.  Right.  I see how well that has gone for me lately.  So when I re-posted the blog post, I also posted this; “This project intrigues me. On many different levels and taking a little nudge from the author of this blog post; I am depression and I’m an educated, successful, independent woman. I am depression and I am a college student who made the Dean’s List with straight A’s last semester. I am depression and I have successfully worked in public safety as support personnel for the majority of my adult life. I am depression and I am not ashamed to tell you that.”

Several weeks ago, I posted about an old friend who died suddenly of acute liver failure.  We had not been friends for a long time, but I thought of her often and missed her friendship.  She passed before I could tell her I missed her.  I struggled with guilt for a while and then I think I settled into a depression that I haven’t quite gotten out of yet.  I feel like crap all the time and when I sit and analyze it (as I am prone to do), I realize a lot of (actually most of) it started right after she passed and I went to Indy for her funeral (which was beautiful by the way).  I have felt an overwhelming sadness ever since then I haven’t been able to shake it.  While I’ve moved forward and continue living, I find myself wanting to do nothing but sleep.  I have had several anxiety attacks (as a matter of fact, I am in the middle of one right now waiting for the Ativan to kick in) and instead of posting on Facebook that I’m feeling this way, I post it here.  I’ll probably post this link onto FB later, but for now, this is where I need to talk about it.

We got a new EAP again this fiscal year as of July 1, so I’m trying to register on their website so I can utilize some of their services (they are free), and I somehow locked my account out.  *sigh*  This just set me deeper into that funk. So I emailed their webmaster and I’m awaiting a response from them on how to unlock the thing.

In the meantime, I think about things going on and I have to say I am blessed.  I have a good job (even though I get frustrated and overwhelmed a lot), I have a beautiful roof over my head (I love this house even after 10 months), I have the love of an amazing family and amazing framily.  My GA family, my blood family, my work family.  I have a TON of people who care about me.   So, it’s time for me to come clean.  I’m struggling with my depression, which seems to make me struggle with my physical health too and the two together are nothing but shit sandwiches back to back.

And to help me feel even worse, some Douchebag decided to put some raw meat in my trash can outside so I spent an hour or more on Saturday bleaching the shit out of my trash can and killing thousands of little white maggots that made my skin crawl.

So while I wait for my account to get unlocked with my EAP, I thank you for letting me share and for being there for me as usual.

Until next time…

 

Guilt, regret, peace, forgiveness, hope

Yesterday marked a week since my old friend passed away.  In that seven days, I experienced a myriad of emotions that left me exhausted and extremely sad.  The first thing I felt was guilt/regret.  Guilt that I never reached out to mend those fences, regret that I would never get a chance to do so in this lifetime, face to face, physically.  I let the guilt and regret consume me for several days, including the day of her funeral in Indy.  I felt devastated that I would not get the chance to tell her to her face that I love her, forgive her, and hoped she felt the same.  Fear of rejection is a horrific thing to feel and we really need to learn to work through all of that.

I’ve been in recovery for more than a decade and while I’ve struggled every now and then, one thing I’ve always done is work the steps.  I live by those steps in all things I do.  And I forgot Step 9.  I forgot to work Step 9 and I feel guilt over that.  However, forgiving myself is something I must do; otherwise I will be miserable and it will eat me up for years to come.  Step 9 says “Made amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Whether that amend is positively received or not, the amend must be made to give myself inner peace and forgiveness.

I get this daily email with a reading in it, about recovery and my disease.  It gives me guidance and ideas on how to deal with whatever it is I’m feeling.  Yesterday’s seemed to be fitting since it had been a week since she passed:

June 16 Reflection for the Day
The Ninth Step of the Gamblers Anonymous Program is: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
To make restitution for the wrongs we’ve done can be extremely difficult,to say the least;if nothing else,it deflates our egos and batters our pride.Yet that in itself is a reward, and such restitution can bring still greater rewards. When we go to a person and say we’re sorry,the reaction is almost invariably positive. Courage is required,to be sure,but the results more than justify the action.

Have I done my best to make all the restitution possible?

Today I Pray
May I count on my Higher Power to stop me if I start to crawl out from under my Ninth Step responsibility.May I feel that blessed,liberating wash of relief that goes with saying,out loud,to someone I have harmed,”I was wrong.I made mistakes.I am honestly sorry.”May I not worry about cracking that brittle,cover-up crust of my ego,because the inside will be ?more mature.
Today I Will Remember
Restitution is blessed.
When I read this email yesterday, I immediately felt a sense of peace and forgiveness towards myself that I had not experience since before finding out she had died.  I’d like to think it was her “sign” to me that all was forgiven and all was okay with us.  I’m sad I’ll never get to see her smile again or physically give her a hug.  But I am at peace, knowing that I have made my amends to her now and that she will be watching over all of us, guiding us to better grammar and smarter choices.
Until we meet again, my old friend, RIP.

Misunderstandings and forgiveness

I was on a break from work yesterday when I opened up Facebook on my phone and got one of the biggest shocks of my life.  Someone I had once considered a great friend had passed away at the age of 40.  It was unexpected from what I’ve gathered.  Many years ago, we had a falling out.  We were both mean and it was ugly.  I remember the details, but I won’t go into them here.  I’m just going to say that I held a grudge for a few years.  Somewhere along the way, I forgave her for her part in it and hoped that she forgave me.  Over the last year or so, I would think about reaching out to her to mend fences and then I’d just chicken out.  I didn’t know how it would be received and I just didn’t want to face rejection, if that’s where it would end up.

It was a clusterfuck of misunderstandings that led to our fall out.  I don’t know exactly when that fall out started, but I know where it ended and it never sat well with me.  My feelings were hurt and I got angry.  My anger and resentments have always been fear or pain based.  And until I worked on that part of myself, I felt anger and resentment towards her.

At one point in time, we were as close as two people could be.  We had so much fun together.  We helped each other, we challenged each other to be better women.  She also flew all the way to Vegas to drive cross country with me when I moved here to Louisville.  How many friends do that?  She was a very large part of why I moved to this region.  She was just a few short hours away in Indy, so I knew we could spend weekends together whenever we wanted to or had time.

And now she’s gone.  I’ve talked to her, I’ve let her know I love her and forgive her and hoped that before she left this world, she forgave me for my part.

I am sad.  I am heartbroken for her husband, best friend and family.  She was so young and so full of life.  Rest in Peace, my old friend.  Until we see each other again.  xoxo