Saturday, March 22, 2008

Anti-anxiety vs Anti-depressant drugs

I've had a couple of friends ask me the same questions now, so I'm going to clarify.

I take an anti-depressant (Lexapro) every single day, at the same time, and I have since my meltdown in October. Anti-depressants work over time as regulators for mood, and you can't take them as-needed. I take mine daily, without fail.

My new prescription is for an anti-anxiety drug (Klonopin). This is for when I feel absolutely panicky and overwhelmed and unable to cope, and is used as when I have to schedule surgery and I'm freaking out. This is the drug I only take on occassion, and sparingly.

I point out the difference because more than one friend has been concerned that I'm taking anti-depressants "as needed" and I want to assure my readers that I know better, and that I'm sorry I miscommunicated that in some way.

I long for the days when I didn't take any drugs, avoiding even ibuprofen. Those days are gone.

Not alone

Today I got an email from someone I know who was diagnosed around the same time I was, and who has been an inspiration to me in her tireless work to help find a cure for breast cancer and her amazing attitude.

She wrote that she has needed anti-depressants, that she is struggling, that she has to avoid the volunteer work because of all of the cancer feelings it brings up.

Wow. I thought I was the only one struggling like this. I do NOT wish this on my friend (she's lovely) but I had held her up as something to aspire toward, and considered myself a failure next to her, and yet she, too, is human and frail. There is a lesson in that somewhere.

I'm struggling. I don't know how else to put it. I'm fine. I'm not on the edge of a precipice. I'm just struggling, and so tired from the struggle. I don't feel settled or happy. Everything takes so much effort. I'm eating unhealthy food, not working out, not finding joy. I'm horribly unmotivated. The garden sits waiting for me. Thank you cards go unwritten. Laundry piles up. Phone calls are not returned. Yes, I do other things...but I'm struggling and I'm tired.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Doctor anxiety

I have major doctor anxiety at this point. Too many worst case scenerios have played themselves out in my life or in my head. It took anti-anxiety meds to get me to the doorway or the plastic surgeon today.

He is kind; he understands. He is being gentle with me.

I can't "snap out of it." I can't seem to get it together. I'm taking the day off tomorrow - I'm going to walk the dog, garden, hang out and do nothing. I need ot get my head in order.

A week and a half 'til surgery, whether I'm ready or not. And I'm not.

Tessa Update

The newest culprit is allergies. We have a referral to an allergist, and Tessa's taking OTC Claritin (children's variety, of course). She also has antibiotics because it's moved into her ears, causing her discomfort and (reversable) hearing loss.

Tessa slept well last night, and is in good spirits this morning. She slept in so we're keeping her out of preschool, but we have a playdate scheduled with Anna this afternoon.

This morning I have a pre-op appointment with the new PS to get ready for surgery. There are other things I wish I was doing but I'll be okay....I hope!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Off to the doc

Tessa is much better today, and didn't cough ALL night, only part of it...but we're still going to the doctor. I'm worried about how deep in her chest this cold has moved, and I want to rule out the idea of it being something more than a cold. I suspect that she is on the mend, but I want the doctor to confirm that.

I am so pleased with my painting project from yesterday. That stairwell has been an eyesore since before we moved in, and it's amazing what a little paint can do. There's still a board that needs replacing (hard to explain, but on the ceiling) and I hope to get that done this weekend - it's not a tough project, just needs DOING!

I have two other projects that I think I will do soon:
1. Paint the downstairs bathroom. It's "fresh" paint from the previous owners, but it's a hideous shade of peach. Not my style at all, and ready for a change. I painted one wall the same blue as our upstairs, but due to different lighting it looks gray, which is not great for a dark, small room, so I'm going to go with a pale yellow, I think.
2. Touch up all the white trim and the doors. I really like the crisp white of our trim, offset against the colors of the walls, but it's getting a little tired looking. The bathroom door, in particular, could use a nice coat of fresh paint, and I'd like to update the hardware hooks that hold our bathrobes (somebody painted over them in the past, and I'd like shiny silver ones).

Each of these projects is relatively small, and inexpensive (we already have the paint and supplies). If I dedicated a day to each one, the results would be significant.

Of course, though, there's the garden, and I need to do more work on it first.

Ryan's next big project is replacing the fence between our house and Steven & Sarah's house. Steven and Ryan are going to do it together, and (as all good neighbors should) split the costs. My personal request is that we put up a tall pole for a clothesline that I can access from our deck; we'll see how that goes and how much difficulty it adds. We had planned on doing our front porch first, but though the fence looks okay from our side on Steven & Sarah's it's obvious that it's about to fall over...sigh.

Let's hope we get a good tax refund!

I'll update if there's any real news about Tessa's doctor's appointment - but I do assume that it's "just a bad cold."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I'm glad today is over.

Tessa threw up repeatedly from the force of her cough. I hate throw up under general principles, but my heart ached for her on top of my general disgust. (Poor kid!) She's doing okay tonight but it was a rough day.

And, to prove that I'm certifiably crazy, I did a painting project half the day. The hallway between upstairs/downstairs (the stairwell, really) was dingy and gross and impossible to clean - I'll bet it hadn't been painted in 20 years, and it was the last part of our house to be painted since we moved in (except the downstairs bathroom, which has newish but gross paint). Anyway, after my satisfaction from the light fixture project, I thought "okay this has been bugging me for years - let's just take care of it!" so I did. We had paint leftover from painting the kitchen, and since that hallway is visible from the kitchen I thought it made sense to continue with it. (It's also a satin finish, great for wiping handprints...important due to its location.) We also had trimwork paint left over, and so I did that, too (though the trim had been painted monochromatic before).

And then I touched up Tessa's bathroom stepstool, too.

I'm exhausted. It was a hard day, physically, and my mental state of being is still questionable. (Ha!)

Still, I'm glad I did it. It's an improvement to our home, and it was free. It's good to see tangible results.

And now I'm going to bed. I'm wiped.

Quiet day

Today Tessa and I have snuggled; I've drunk coffee (thanks, Ryan) and she's drunk tea with honey to calm her cough. I currently have three ponytails and about 20 barrettes in my hair, thanks to a session of playing hair-dresser together. We've read stories. I've done some tidying, and I'm considering a couple of projects for the afternoon...but we're still in our PJs at noon.

Tessa's still coughing, and I'm hoping that the quiet gets her over the hump.

As for me, I'm trying a day with no expectations for myself. It's actually sort of a treat that the phone doesn't work - usually it rings all day, and today I am appreciative of the quiet. (Don't worry, friends, I do love talking ot you - just today I need quiet.)

And on another note -
There are two homes on my street for sale! Hans and Holly's house went on the market this weekend, and they have done tons of work on it - it's gorgeous, with every detail taken care of, including a wonderful yard, finished basement (YES I have basement envy), remodeled kitchen, and all the rest. And it looks like Mira & David's house has been listed, as well - I haven't been in past their living room, but it's got charm, too. Won't you be my neighbor?! If you're thinking of moving, I can promise you that this is a great neighborhood.

Okay, Tessa just threw up (thankfully in the toilet)....and there goes the day.....arghhhhhhhhhh.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Frugality is in"

..."Extravagence is out." It says so here!

Read on...

Up and down

I had a tea party with Tessa. (up)

I had a cry fest with my therapist (I hate cancer yada yada yada). (down)

I got a lot of laundry done and changed all the sheets. (up)

To do that laundry took an extraordinary amount of will. (down)

I smiled and laughed with Tessa. (up)

I didn't feel happy, I was faking it. (down)

I still love the new light fixture. (up)

I'm dissatisfied in general. (down)

I didn't have energy to make dinner. (down)

But I made - heated, really - some Trader Joe's stuff and cut up some fruit and my family liked it anyway. (They were probably thinking "hurrah no vegetables for once!") (up)

When I'm being all grateful, I can find an up for every down.

But I'm not "okay." I am grouchy and out of sorts and really not processing this upcoming surgery very well. I don't want to do it! And I hate cancer. And I'm sick of it ruling my life. And I'm tired of giving 12 billion percent of myself and feeling like it's not enough. And now I'm not giving much of myself at all, and I'm capable of more, and I feel guilty for that, too.

Apparently I have boundary and balance issues. Well, duh. ;-) But what do I DO about it?

Rhetorical questions. No easy answers. I'm trying.

(And in the meantime I'm gaining weight. Because I'm eating like a fool. Nooooooo! I need to get that figured out asap because gaining weight is NOT contributing to my happiness.)

Phone not working

We recently signed up for Vonage phone service, and it appears that it's switched over...but it's not working. Our home number does not currently ring and goes into a voicemail that we don't have access to. We're fine, so don't panic! You can still reach us on cell numbers.

Yes, we'll get this fixed asap as soon as we can figure out what's up.

Moving forward

I didn't take anti-anxiety drugs yesterday, and I didn't fall apart. There's progress.

Today Tessa is not healthy but not sick either. She's feeling MUCH better than in the past few days, and for this I'm grateful. She's going to stay home from preschool, but I'm hopeful that she'll get better by next preschool (Thursday).

I have my therapist appointment today. For those of you who have never undergone therapy, let me tell you, it's not what I'd deem fun. It's really, really hard work. I need to face my demons, calling them up one by one, in order to fight them and overcome them. I need to face my failings and figure out how to deal with them. I need to acknowledge those things that I have no desire to face (prefering to sweep them under the carpet, as it were). It's not fun. Sometimes I cry.

But I know it's worthwhile. I know that this hard work will lead me to a better place. My therapist is wonderful - I think her wise beyond her years. She doesn't give me advice, she just asks questions. But her questions are often brilliant, getting to the heart of the matter. She somehow knows how to acknowledge and validate my feelings without judging me, and still lead me on a path to something better. (I need to change, this much is clear: without change, I'd be stuck where I am, which is unacceptable.)

So, later today while Jenny (who also has a sick kid) watches Tessa, I will go work on these things. I'd rather be at the spa.

Monday, March 17, 2008

$12 worth of massive satisfaction

(First...I don't know why I can't orient these properly. On my computer, they orient correctly, but when I upload, they reorient themselves. My advice? Tip your head. Yes, I'm very technical, I know.)

Okay, here's the deal.

I love our house. It is truly home. I love the covered front porch, the hardwood floors, the woodwork, the front door, the yard, the light, the colors...lots of things.

But there are some other things, too. One of those things has been the light fixture in our upstairs bathroom. When I saw it the first time, I said, "Well, if we buy this place, that THING is lasting about 30 seconds before we replace it!" Ha. Six and a half years later, I hated it no less.

(For those of you who haven't seen it, or who forgot what it looks like, allow me to refresh your memory. One of those oak boards from the 70s or 80s that has three fat, round lightbulbs sticking out of brass "holders" resembling cut up tubes of toilet paper. Only ours was worse, because somebody along the way got the brilliant idea to paint it. They used some king of primer, got primer halfway up the brass in a haphazard way, and then obviously tired of the project, and left it like that. UGLY doesn't even come close to describing it. Hideous is a slightly better word, but still fails to capture my feelings about it. I posted a picture of it here, but it doesn't do any justice at all to the hideousness of the old fixture.)

But it is no more - HURRAHHHHHHHH!

At the rummage sale Tessa and I attended last week, we were on the way out the door, and there was The Perfect Light Fixture. It was labeled "$12 - works" and I scooped it up. It was missing mounting hardware (which lead to not one, but two, trips to the hardware store) but at last, it's up and it does, indeed, work. I posted two pictures of it. To you, it may look like standard issue. To me, it looks like the character of our house, the same finish as the other stuff in the bathroom, the same alabaster finish on the shades as on the rest of the house, and a style that's appealing to me.
It's the little things in life.

If $12 can buy this much satisfaction, well, the possibilities are endless. I'm even more smug that I supported a local organization, kept something out of a landfill, reduced packaging, and kept out of the cycle of production that has so many chemical by-products by buying something already in use. The fact that it was so cheap only makes me more smug than all that could hope to.

(Now you may be asking why we haven't replaced the light before, since it was such a source of dissatisfaction. To you, I can only say, "You must not live in an old house." There are lots of "odd" little things in our house that I'd like to change, and time and money and energy being what they are, some have waited a long time.)

I'm going to have a bubble bath tonight, and instead of staring up at that hideous old thing, I'll see the shiny new one. Ironically, I prefer to have my bubble baths by candle-light, but that's not the point - the fixture is right in my line of vision when I bathe.

(PS All of this is a very good distraction from my other, less pleasant thoughts. I have a therapist appointment tomorrow and discussing my surgery is my number one issue. It takes more than a bubble bath to get me down from that problem.)

Watch me on TV today

KOMO 4 is doing a live interview with me for their 4pm newscast today. I'm told my interview will be at about 4:20pm. I've been asked to wear my Breast Cancer 3-Day survivor shirt - not the wardrobe I'd pick, necessarily, but I'll go with it!

I was asked to send in photos of my breast cancer journey, and photos of the 3-Day, so I think they'll be showing a little montage of that.

The website has a "watch live" feature, so if you're out of their broadcast range, you can tune in if you're so inclined.

Wish me luck with this. My face is breaking out and I've put on 10 pounds and I'm not feeling comfortable in my own skin - but I'm going to try to wow them. :-)


"Tell me why I don't like Mondays..."

Tessa is still sleeping. It is 11am. She is sick. I will call the doctor when she wakes up.

She says the back of her neck hurts, as well as the back of her knee. I'm imagining the worst possible scenerios. I feel frozen with fear when I think of her being "really" sick and can't even write what I think that might be.

It's probably nothing. Just one of those kid things. Right?

We're supposed to be at Zoe's birthday in a half hour. Zoe is at the doctor with her brother right now, who is also sick.

I got a lovely call from Carolyn this morning. I love you, Carolyn....

Tonight is my KOMO interview. I hope I'm up to this - put on my inspirational face....

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Today's accomplishments:


I haven't gardened. Cleaned. Done laundry. Done fun stuff. Read. I'm not really SURE what I've done, besides look at free stuff on Craigslist and Freecycle.

I guess it's okay? It is what it is, anyway.

Another Day

Today is another day. My problems aren't gone. My mood is not excellent. But I'm in a better place than I was yesterday, adn that is something.

We ordered take-out last night at my insistance, and I ate unhealthy food in unhealthy quantities. It broke the frugal budget and my desire to lose 10 pounds (sigh), but it is what it is. A little comfort when I wanted it.

Today I read this:
...and thought others might appreciate it, too. Good reminders.

Tessa is sick. She aches, feels awful. I slept with her last night and this did not make me feel better, although I'm glad I was there to comfort her. I'm not sick, but I feel achy and awful, too.

I'm going outside now to garden. Maybe that will help.