Thursday, December 31, 2009
So here's a brief list of what we've seen in this decade:
9/11 and the rise in terrorism
Iraq and Afghanistan wars
Tsunamis in Asia with horribly high death tolls
Major financial and housing crisis, recession
Issue of global warming brought to the forefront
First US African-American President
Heightened airport security
Prominence of China everywhere
All of the political scandals and nuances of the Capitol
Human genome project and the significance of the role of DNA in a variety of disorders
Stem cell research emergence
Gene therapy promises
Rise in alternative medicine, organic foods and yoga movement
Rise in social media and networking, including twitter, facebook, myspace, and blogging that changed the way we communicate
Introduction to ipods, blackberries, and iphones which also led to increase in texting and yes sexting as well
Wikipedia, youtube, and google
Introduction to Harry Potter!
Shows Sopranos, Lost, Law and Order series, The Office, 30 Rock, and many others reigned
Reality tv took off with a variety of shows and unforgettable characters
Many prominent deaths, probably death of Michael Jackson will be most highlighted
I know this just scratches the surface, but it gives a good picture of the good, bad, the ugly, and how it has all affected us in one way or another.
Now, as for me, the decade has been a teachable one with many defeats, triumphs, and most of all self growth.
10 years ago, I was a lonely, depressed, burnt out, sophomore in college who further learned how much the eating disorder was affecting my life.
10 years ago, I got my first puppy as my own, Baxter, and started my first therapy stint in college with C. I learned that raising a puppy was tough and at times therapy even harder.
10 years ago, I was diagnosed with hepatitis B, had a biopsy, and began treatment. I learned the complex, confusing system of hepatitis B and how it can severely affect your body and mind.
9 years ago, I started my job at the kennel and began obedience with Baxter. I learned what possibilities there were with Baxter if I kept a good head of patience.
8 years ago, I did a 4-month treatment course of interferon (horrible!) and had a brief taste of what recovery was like.
7 years ago, I had non-epileptic seizures which forced me to take a medical leave of absence from college. I learned that I had much anxiety about the future, and that it was not going away anytime soon.
7 years ago, I graduated from college and had no clue what to do with my life. I learned it was really not the end of the world, something at the time I thought about.
7 years ago, I began on a path towards learning about animal behavior and becoming a trainer. I learned I was actually good at this and it could possibly be a goal for the future.
6 years ago, ED relapsed back into my life, and I thought I'd never get better; began therapy with new therapist, K.
6 years ago, I gave Hank, my Aussie X, a home after briefly being a psychiatric service dog and living in the kennel for over a year. From him, I learned about letting go of expectations in my dogs.
6 years ago, I learned that not everything was my fault
5 years ago, I learned that people were not always as they seemed
4 years ago, I adopted Daphne, my deaf white Boxer, at first a foster who became permanent. I learned a whole new language and challenged my training skills through her deafness.
3 years ago, I seroconverted and no longer carried any hepatitis B signs clinically speaking. I learned this holy grail was actually possible despite having been a chronic carrier for so long.
2 years ago, I ended therapy with K, began this blog, and decided to really put forth a true effort in recovery.
1.5 years ago, I ran my first marathon and did a second. I learned the ability and strength of my body.
1.5 years ago, I finally began making real strides in recovery and began therapy again with C. working on tough issues.
1 year ago, I found Tovah and gave her a home. I re-learned the difficulty of raising a puppy, but learned from my mistakes with Baxter.
2 months ago, I got up in front of 100s of people and did laughter yoga (this was a big thing for me!) I learned that it was possible for me to be a bit outgoing if I stopped worrying so much about what other people thought.
1.5 months ago, I bought my first house, moved to a new area, and changed jobs. I learned that though this was/is all a scary process and transition, I could endure it.
23 days ago, I learned about letting go and saying good-bye to a dear companion. I learned that my heart could be broken, but that I could be mended.
0 days ago, I learned that recovery is still reachable for me, and that I'm actually beginning to have some belief in that.
I don't know what the next decade will bring. I don't like to think in large time spans, as I know life can always throw curve balls, and it won't necessarily be what you dreamed or hoped. I don't do resolutions but instead, I like to think about the small goals I can make. Each success of a small goal makes an impact, giving me a little more self-esteem in the long run. It reminds me that deep within, there lies strength, courage, and a continued hope for a better tomorrow.
So what is your decade in review (or year)? What have you learned? What do you hope to do or learn?
Lastly, I hope for each of you, the next year and decade in coming brings about a renewed sense of hope, a ray of happiness and stability, health, and peace within yourself. Here's to 2010!
Note--*I thank all of you for your support and comments. I hope this blog has been just as helpful to you as it has been to me.
I did attend the meeting last week to get more information. There were quite a few people of all ages in attendance The interests varied from running a full marathon to walking to completing a half-marathon. Some were seasoned runners who wanted to qualify for Boston, others were newbies looking for a challenge.
The program itself is rather large. Last year, they had over 800 people sign up in their three locations. A fourth was added this year for more convenience and option for runners. They expect that this will also increase the total sign up number.
In general, I think the program is laid out nicely with various workouts and rest days in between. There are trainers--some with a lot of expertise, others more like cheerleaders who help runners in every workout session. Everything is done at your own comfort pace. You can move around between groups if you decide to switch from a marathon to half marathon or vice versa. You can join at any time throughout the year. Obviously, there are many people to socialize with. And lastly, you get some cool, free perks!
So with all that in mind plus all those other deeply thought out answers which I'll get to in a minute I have decided NOT to join at this time.
Reason number 1: In the last 48 hours, I have manged to get some sore throat/cold thing, so I just don't feel like it is wise to run, breathing in 20 degree weather, especially when a provoking hack of a cough has ensued.
Reason number 2: I'm afraid of being really strained for time with everything else going on. I know in February especially, things will be getting VERY busy. I'm also still learning my way around here. Take for example the few runs I did last week/weekend. I went on a nearby golf course and got completely lost. Later, I found out it is actually three golf courses combined! After 45 minutes of being lost, I really just did want to get home in the WARM house. That day was windy with a wind chill in the teens or less!
Reason 3 tied in with number 2: I also have a lot of stuff that I want to do with the house, especially near spring. I don't know if I'd really have enough time to get everything done if I'm training. I'm sure it would be doable, but I think I almost need to cut myself some slack here.
Reason number 4: I worry about overexercising/overtraining/obsessive quantity. Even the best sought out plan for me, I still have a tendency to do too much too fast and wind up injured about 2/3 through the training. Though I have learned to take rest days, there is usually still a bit of a guilt feeling leftover.
Reason 5: I worry about not eating enough. I do tend to eat more while training and it helps to a degree with eating issues, but I still do not eat enough. I think I read somewhere that something like 50% or more of female runners do not eat enough. Sounds about right to me.
Reason 6 tied in with number 4, I do fear a risk of lapsing back where I have been. Without any treatment team set up at all, I think it could be detrimental to any progress I've made thus far.
These are the main reasons not to join the training group, This doesn't mean that in the future I cannot join, but just that I think I need to give myself some time to feel a little more comfortable with a new setting, a new house, a new job, etc. Though I worry about the socialization aspect of things, it just means I have to work a little harder. I do think that if I do not put myself out there within a relatively short period of time, depression and isolation can easily follow. And I'm trying really hard to not to let that happen.
So for now, I am sticking with my walks with the dogs and a few short runs, nothing major. The walking is mostly with my clients' dogs, but I do walk my own dogs as well. With Tovah, I am doing some running/walking with her since she just has SO much energy, and without playing at the kennel all day like she used to, she just seems to be my WILD child. (It's a good thing her buddy Betty is coming for a slumber party tomorrow) It's good for me, because I do not push her too much due to her young age. By thinking about her and her own joints/muscles, it gives me perspective on what is healthy. (kind of like this post about the importance of fat)
Thinking through this reminds me of how I could cognitively cogitate through this process. Before, I'd probably would have just jumped on the running bandwagon, then regretted it, but would have felt unable to back out of it. I guess this is just another brick added to the my layer of recovery. :-)
I hope any of you who may be going through a similar ordeal can look at all perspectives and decide for yourself what is best. And if not, then as commenter M said in a recent Carrie post on "enough" exercise: "It sounds like plenty of qualified people who know you and your health history are willing to define "enough" for you ... but maybe you don't really like the answer, so you're waiting for a better one..." (M. hope you don't mind me calling you out, but this was a great comment, and I think a lot of people can relate)
The appointment was pretty straight forward. The dentist just asked why I was there--mostly to get the bridge re-cemented. The bad news is that there is a huge hole in it where the cement has worn off which is likely the culprit of the cold sensitivity. This also means I'll have to get this bridge replaced or an implant put in. The good news is that the teeth that are under the bridge look good. Once she re-cemented it (and with some lovely stinging pain), I was good to go.
The next appt. will be more comprehensive and other questions then may be asked about my teeth. I pretty much stuck to the basics of my general dental history today. At another point in time, I'll bring up the ED history if she has already not guessed it.
The ironic thing is that my boss knows this dentist! Apparently, she had some work done by the dentist's husband a few years ago. Smallish world I guess.
Note: *Just a quick observation This dentist was tiny! I normally never feel a certain way with professionals, but I felt like the Marshmallow man (I guess technically that is Marshmallow woman) standing next to her.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
But since my mother is in San Diego at her husband's son's wedding (technically, this makes him my older step-brother but I honestly never think of him that way), and I declined having my father visit me out of pity for Christmas, I'm here alone. Trust me, I'm used to it, it's not a big deal anymore. However, I will be going to Christmas dinner at an unknown person's house, kind of similar to Thanksgiving. This person is my boss's husband's mother who apparently loves to entertain. She's been told I was vegetarian and do not drink (there is a champagne toast somewhere thrown in the occasion), so it should be interesting to see what is available. I've been told there will be plenty of vegetables.
I'm not too worried about the dinner itself but I actually feel a bit of concern about what to wear as I've been told this person can be judgmental at times. I asked A. about this, and she said she never wears jeans, so I guess it that means khakis, dress pants, or a dress. Hmmm. I think I only have option khakis in my closet with perhaps a nice blouse.
Gingerbread cookie joke
(I hope your holiday does not wind up like the gingerbread cookie men)
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Wheels turn in my head, should I join or not?
Previously, I ran two marathons last year (that feels like sooo long ago) and ran up until this past May. Then, I took a break from running all together and have not run one iota since. This is a record for me since 2001 maybe? I have, however, been leisurely walking dogs almost everyday which has felt good.
Part of me really wants to join so I can meet some new people around here. The other part of me isn't sure I am ready to be training again. But then again, I was oh so close to qualifying for Boston at my last marathon. While it is true, training did help motivate me towards a goal and fuel myself better, I still had many days of falling into an obsessive route.
I like to think that maybe by joining a group, I might be able to keep a better balance of things, but we all know how easy it can be to lapse into an extra workout here or there, only to wind up having exercise take over a complete pie chart of your life.
So I don't know what to do. I have to decide soon. The informational meeting is tomorrow evening, but I don't think you actually have to confirm and pay until the first workout in January.
I ask you, should Tiptoe join the group and take a chance that she is healthy enough in recovery to keep herself stable? Or should Tiptoe not risk it at all and continue leisurely walking dogs and maybe adding a jog or two here or there? Maybe it's too much right now? Please vote in poll as well as commenting here.
Note: *Just to add, I'm not in any treatment at all right now. Several weeks ago, I actually called C. and told her to close my file since I had no clue when I'd be able to see her again, and it had already been a few months since I had an appt. I know I can reopen my file at anytime, but it is not likely since I am a further distance from her--driveable but difficult.
Monday, December 21, 2009
My boss was saying how she had been trying to eat healthier. She said after her mom died recently, it made her reassess things. The other office person in the room said she noticed that her clothes were baggier too. A. said something along the lines of "yeah, can you imagine me anorexic at my height and weighing XX pounds?" My reply was, "yes, and I've known many similar stories." I kind of gave A. a look and said that it was good to be healthy but that it can easily go overboard, that it is more about moderation than anything else. A. agreed but I still worry.
I've known A. for a long time and a few years ago, she told me about her anorexia plight in high school, and I revealed to her my own struggles as well. A. recovered from her anorexia by essentially having her parents use a "modified" version of the Maudsley Method. They had sit down meals where A. had to finish her meals. They checked her weight often, telling her it had to be an X amount before doing certain socialite activities. The only thing I'd say she did not have was any therapy at all. Amazingly, A. never relapsed, at least not full fledged, but still I know she presents some of the underlying factors that easily contribute to eating disorders.
I did not tell her during this conversation, but what I wanted to say was, "you really do need to be careful, because it is so easy to fall back with just one misstep. She also said to me that there were times when she just simply did not feel like eating or felt physically ill (this was after her mom's death). I understood this and held my tongue in saying, "you really need to try to eat at those times, because you can spiral out of control."
Ironically, after this entire episode, we went out to lunch at a buffet and A. commented that this was the most she'd seen me eat. She added in that she meant that in a healthy way as she's been me pick at food before. Normally, this kind of comment would have thrown me into some tail spin, like "Yes, I really do eat, people!" However, this time, it did not. Instead, I just went on my merry way of eating lunch just like, well, it was lunch and nothing more than that. We went on with other topics of conversation related to work, the dogs, etc. Truly, A. has done a tremendous amount for me, and I feel in a way, I owe it to her to stay healthy as kind of her "right arm" person. There's honestly too much at stake for me to fall ill again and crumble.
Perhaps, that is one incentive for me to continue on the bandwagon in recovery. It is of course for myself too, and there are certainly times I have to remind myself where I once was to where I am now. Life is still not completely fulfilled. I have a long way to go with that, but having a clearer head, feeling less tired, especially driving (yes, there was a massive link for me with undernutrition, sleep deprivation, and driving), learning to feel emotions again feel worth it right now. And so, I continue to trudge along my off-beaten path.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Some of these include:
Resigning from my job
Starting a new job
Buying a house
Moving into a new house
Relocating to a different area
Dealing with Baxter's illness, surgery, and treatment
Grieving the loss of Baxter
In the archives of October, November, and December, you can read about my first time house buying experience, moving, and everything that went on with Baxter.
Losing Baxter is still very difficult. I think about him and visualize all the places where he used to be, the funny habits and quirks he had, and the comforting feeling I felt when his head was literally next to my head on the pillow at bedtime. I miss his presence dearly and how he used to pick up all the dog bowls for me. Now, I actually have to pick them up myself until I teach another dog to.
I think the saddest thing for me is that I feel like as I embark on a new chapter in my life, Baxter should be here with me to test out all the waters. The thing that gives me a sense of acceptance is reminding myself that everything happens for a reason. We may not be able to see it at the time, but I do believe, there is always a reason.
Overall, I think I've handled things fairly well--at least better than I have in the past. I still got stressed, worried, anxious, eating fell off the bandwagon slightly for a week or two, but for the most part, these emotions didn't rule every aspect of my life so much. It helped tremendously having a gps to get around as driving in new locations is not my forte and causes a lot of anxiety. Yes, I still got lost, but I at least was able to find another route. Now, I can actually drive places without the gps which makes me feel much more confident!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Sadly, I had to make the decision to let Baxter go. As my previous post said, he was not doing well. I visited him on Saturday night, and there was no change in his demeanor--still comatose, despite high dose steroids and mannitol, a drug to reduce cerebral edema often used with trauma patients. The next afternoon, I made my final decision to release him to the Rainbow Bridge.
His passing could not be a spur of the moment thing, however, as I really wanted things done a certain way. I had been in touch with the UMN vet the entire time, and she finally realized Baxter's grave condition and agreed with my assessments. We both decided that a necropsy would be very helpful, not only for research purposes (she was very gracious that I even allowed this as many owners would not have gone to that trouble), but also to hopefully shed light on answers and causes. His death was untimely, unpredictable, and we were all kind of stunned, honestly.
Through much arrangement, the emergency vet center agreed to send his body (unfortunately it had to be in two shipments--yes gross I know), and then, I could proceed with his final days here on earth. I took Hank and Daphne on Monday night to see Baxter one last time. I knew they would understand. This was probably more for me in the long run, but I felt like they needed to say good-bye. They both did well, remained calm, and seemed sad too. There was a moment when Hank had water droplets on his nose. I like to think those were his tears.
I took Tovah the next day with me. Some people argue about this, but I really wanted her to understand. I took precautions as I did not want to upset her terribly. She did very well, sniffing him before and afterwards. The friend I had with me said that when the medications were administered, she came to her and buried her head in her legs. I knew she understood and was able to say her good-bye. Afterwards, she was able to play with her new buddy, Betty, a standard poodle whom my friend and I are taking care of for our vet who recently got married and is on her honeymoon. Since they met last week, they are like two peas in a pod!
Baxter's passing was quick. With two long snores, he was gone. I knew in a sense he was not completely there, but at the same time, I think his body held on long enough for me to release him. By this time, I knew it was time as he had some swelling in his paws. I stroked his head, cried, talked to him, told him how much I loved him, how he had been such a strong fighter, how I would be okay eventually, how he would be a in a place that was pain-free, how he was such a good boy, how I'd miss him so much, how I could have never asked for anything more from him.
Though this is all so sad and difficult for me, I have to give much credit to the emergency vets, to the UMN vet, my personal vet and substitute vet who worked really hard to save him.. I think each of them were affected by his passing and are very interested to hear what the necropsy results are. I feel closest to the UMN vet, because I know she had a lot of stake in this. I know she is just as confused and saddened as I am. I feel grateful knowing that she did not treat Baxter just as "dog number 14," but as Baxter, a dog trying to get better from brain cancer, a dog who was someone's constant companion. I'm also quite grateful I was here in this location at the time, as I know where I had been living, they would not have been equipped to handle Baxter's care.
This week has been filled with many many tears. One reason why this has been so difficult for me is because Baxter was my first dog on my own. I obtained him in college at a point when I was severely depressed and lonely. He helped in so many ways with filling such an empty void. Baxter did other things for me as well. It was because of him I got into dog training. It was because of him I got into natural diets and wanting to provide the best nutrition possible for him. He taught me so many things about life and was there to weather the storm on all my bad days and become the ray of sunshine I needed. In essence, he was "the dog," as my friend says. He was "the dog" that changed my life.
The one consolation for me in all of this is in hoping that a good outcome is possible. I hope that by learning from Baxter, he can help other dogs and humans in the future. In that, I like to think of this as Baxter's greatest attribute to service.
I know I have all the memories of him from puppyhood to adulthood that will always remain with me forever, but still, sometimes, I think I am waiting for some sign from him just to know he made it safely to the Rainbow Bridge. If you're there Baxter, drop a dog bowl on the ground so I can hear it or hit the doggie doorbells. Then, I will know you are where you need to be.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
The deal with this was that he had forgotten than my mother (she is a co-signer) had remarried, so he needed a disclosure saying that her husband did not have any rights to the property. This was not a problem, however, getting this document to him was a hassle since he was in the midst of traveling. In the end, he was able to receive the document in an e-mail at the hotel and sign it. However, it had to be an original, therefore, he had to get it notorized and overnighted. What a pain!
According to my realtor and title agency woman, due to the new housing laws, closings have become a nightmare with one hag-up after another. I certainly was not any different. Be forewarned if you are getting a house any time soon. By the way, the first time homeowner's credit has been extended until June.
It was interesting at the closing, because this was the first time I actually saw the seller (had seen the husband once but not the wife who was handling most of it) face to face. As soon she we got there, she began crying. She had lived there since 1997, bought it as her first home in 2001, had her father live there until his passing, became married, and had two children. I could understand why she was emotional. There were memories made and left. She said that morning she did a video for her kids in the empty house, and it was really hard.
I could empathize with her feelings, especially with my last post. We both know these are steps for the better (with she and her husband, they will be living in her childhood home for a bit and then building a home), but it is still difficult. For me, there is a lot of excitement in owning my first home, but at the same time, all those jitters of uncertainty and stress too.
This closing was what they call a "dry closing," meaning I got possession of the house but the exchange of funds will be done today or at the latest Monday when that one document is received.
I'm happy truly, but I'll be happier when the packing is done, the movers come tomorrow, and I'm settled in.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Slowly, I've been getting things done, like getting cable set up, getting an estimate for the movers, speaking with the new vet, getting homeowners insurance, all those sorts of things. This is a time when I must keep moving forward and not procrastinate. Somehow, though my father came to help, it is slightly more difficult with him here. I can't really put my finger on it, maybe he just doesn't understand how hard this is for me.
I was thinking about that just today and it was beginning to hit me some of the things I will miss. I will miss driving home at night and seeing a group of deer, just standing and watching me. I'll miss the roads I've run on for so many years (some of the dogs I won't miss though) I'll miss the smell of fresh, country air. I'll miss the quietness in the night. I'll miss going to my favorite Asian grocery store. I stopped by there yesterday to pick up some stuff. I waved to them but didn't tell them I was leaving. I'll miss the Arboretum--a place of sanctuary with its colorful flowers and trees. I'll miss many of my clients whom I have gotten to know over the years. I'll miss the kennel, even though there were many not so great parts about it.
I want to be able to see these things one last time to have closure, to say my good-byes. However, that is likely not to happen simply because I do not have the time. And that saddens me not to have that.
Even knowing that the new move and job are positive steps, there is still a feeling of loss. I've tried hard to put that feeling of loss behind me, but today it's just caught up with me. I know it is only natural to feel this way with big change. But I'm afraid of missing it too much, like it is some sort of crutch. That feeling of uncertainty is blistering through my mind, wondering whether everything is really going to work.
It's like just when I'm finally moving past some of my fears, my fears just start bubbling to the surface again, waiting to paralyze me. I wonder with the move, will I be the same person or different? Will I retreat to my shell because it is safer, or will I extend my neck out to see what else is out there?
I know the first few months are going to be an adjustment period. I guess this is when the best approach is to to "ride out the wave."
Sunday, November 8, 2009
We stayed across the street from this cheese shop in Wisconsin. If you do not know, WI is known as "America's Dairyland" and is well known for cheese. Many call them "cheeseheads" affectionately. ;-) It really is too bad I do not like much cheese, as this would have been a great taste sampler. Here is my story of my cheese aversion if you have not read it yet.
In Minnesota, however, I did eat this wonderful veggie pizza from Pizza Luce. They use Rinotta as a substitute for cheese which is made from nuts. This place really catered to vegetarians and vegans, including gluten-free items, "mock duck, chicken, and sausage," and plenty of vegetables.
While in MN, how could you not stop by Mall of America, the largest mall in the US. It is quite huge with four levels, 400 stores, a large movie theater, and an amusement park in the center. The stores are mostly chain type, so nothing real specialized. I wasn't that impressed to be honest.
On the fourth floor, the Bodies Exhibit was there. It truly was pretty amazing to see the inner parts of an entire body from head to toe. I had forgotten until looking up the website that there has been a huge amount of controversy about the "ethics" of how these bodies were produced and are shown. Wikipedia does a nice job of outlining the controversy of the various body exhibits around the world. I somehow feel slightly guilty now as I am all about obtaining and preserving cadavers in appropriate ways, as well as giving consent.
Lastly, here are a few pictures of Baxter post-surgery. As you can see there are two incisions. The small one is where they had to take part of the zygomatic arch out in order to get to the tumor better. The large incision is where they had to cut to remove the tumor. It is like a flap, and luckily, they did not have to take out bone. Therefore, they were able to reclose the flap, otherwise, it would have been open. He still has some swelling on the left side but it does seem to be slightly better. His sight in his right eye is not there yet, therefore, he keeps doing left turns. His hearing is also not there completely. All of these symptoms should be transient, so I'm hoping within a week or two, they will have dissolved. The point at the back of his head is simply from loss of muscle. I'm presuming that and the more prominence of his spine are old age-related, at least that is my hope.
I keep saying with his head shaved, he looks more "Boxerish." My dad just says, "he looks like he has had brain surgery." I'll post other pictures as he is healing. The next two weeks are crucial in making sure he gets rest, is not very active, gets all his meds, etc. Then, his sutures will be taken out, and he will get his first dose of vaccine.
Oh yeah, and poor Baxter, had several other shaved spots on his body from the IVs and heart monitoring, etc. It will probably take a good 3-6 months or more for his fur to all grow back. Maybe he'll let me put more sweaters on him? :grin: