I fell apart today

I hear a lot of people telling me that I’m strong and so focused and so determined. Maybe. But it comes at a high cost. Today I fell apart in therapy, grateful that for some reason it was the only day ever that my therapist and I were the only ones in the rehab room.

I’ve been pretty seriously depressed for months, and in denial of the toll it was taking on me to be strong and focused and determined. I didn’t feel that I had a choice. No one is here to do things for or with me, things like self-care and home-tending and figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B. Oh, I had help from home health and out patient therapy, and I hired someone to help me early on with showers and laundry, etc. But when roadblocks popped up, I found I could do more than I thought I could do. And it’s important to me to be as independent as possible for as long and for as much as I can do.

But the reality is that I’m in a wheelchair with feet that don’t work right. My right ankle hasn’t improved in ten months and may never get better. I can walk 300 feet or so but that’s not all that much – though it’s certainly better than Day One when I was unable to stand up. Yes, there’s been improvement. But it still sucks.

When I’m depressed, I eat, and over the past 10 months have managed to regain all the weight that I worked so hard to lose to get me qualified to have spine surgery. At first I wasn’t sure if my physical discomfort was just because I was in a chair and not moving as much as I had before. That’s certainly part of it. But I’m eating too much of the wrong things. I know how to do this. I’ve done it over and over and over in the past. Let’s face it – I’m not feeling joy in a whole lot of things right now, and food brings comfort even when it causes discomfort.

And I’m lonely and terribly isolated. I love my apartment and have NO regrets about moving here, but I’im one of the younger residents and I really miss being with people my own age. I had some friends over last week for a lunch and visit, and I loved seeing them so much that it really drove home that those visits were few and far between in the last months.

At my request, my doctor put me on an anti-depressant about a month ago and I’ve asked the therapy people for recommendations of people I could talk to about the huge life changes I’m dealing with. Of course, getting to them won’t be easy but not much is these days.

I know, whine whine whine, poor me, you can do it. Yes, I can. I can deal with all of this. But not today. Today I want to cuddle a kitty and eat cookies and cry a little. I’m allowed. Because tomorrow I have to get up and keep going.

Good Sleep? Not exactly

I’m running on fumes these days from lack of really good sleep. I have two apps on the phone, one for FitBit and one for SleepNumber, that give me reports on how much time I spend awake or in REM, light, or deep sleep. We need good amounts of REM sleep to really wake up without feeling as though we’ve been slugged, and that’s been sadly missing this last month or so.

Getting into bed is difficult, requiring coordination and the leg lifter to haul the legs up onto the bed. Sometimes it works; other times I end up crooked with one leg dangling off the edge while my head points in the other direction and I scramble to get back in position. Then I have to get the feet actually under the covers, which is a separate problem. Because my hip flexors don’t work right, I can’t scoot over in bed and am very close to the outside of the bed on my left side. With work, I can scramble to get on my right side, but that hurts my hip and shoulder after a while and I end up on my back again. My knees can bend but not usually when I want them to, especially in bed, and then there are spasms and waves of sensation from the big toe up to the knee that happen at random times.

Getting OUT of bed is also difficult, tho marginally less so than getting in. My right foot, especially, just sort of dangles out there and doesn’t provide much support when getting from the bed into the wheelchair. And when I wake up and think I need to pee, I don’t really have the luxury of snuggling back into the covers for another few minutes while I ponder if I really DO need to get up or just THINK I do because I woke up. I can’t take the chance because I don’t want any accidents, so I bring the bed level back to 100, raise the head of the bed so I can sit up, and find the leg lifter to get the legs out of the covers. Then I bring the wheelchair closer to the bed so I can “pivot, step, step, turn” and get in without needing to use the walker, too.

But after all of that, the idea of going BACK into bed has zero appeal. So I end up sleeping in the lift chair, covered with a fuzzy blanket and hoping I don’t slide out of the thing. I use the flashlight on my phone to light my way from bedroom to living room, trying to keep things as dim as possible so I can get back to sleep with minimal trouble. It doesn’t always work, but that’s the goal. On any given night, I can spend 2-6 hours in the chair after starting in the bed.

Deep sleep and REM sleep are what’s missing most of the time, or at least at low levels. Yes, I take something to help me sleep and have for almost 20 years, prescribed by my sleep doctors. I’m afraid to nap because I don’t want it to mess up my night sleep even more than it already is. I’m trying to see if doing the NuStep in the afternoon instead of (or in addition to) the morning will boost my metabolism so it thinks I was more active than I actually am most of the time.

So if I yawn when we talk, it’s not you – it’s me just kind of operating on fumes.

Today was hard

I ate 8 cookies today. I’ve hardly seen 8 cookies in 8 months, but today they just kept going into my mouth as I ate in a fog. I know cookies are not the best choice but I ate them anyway. Now I feel sick to my stomach and so very sad that I sabotaged myself this way.

I’ve been faithfully following Noom since January 1, and lost 55 lbs, though those last 4 have been bouncing on and off. But I don’t want them to bounce back, I want them to stay gone and move below that. So I started thinking about what else was going on with me.

I hurt. My back feels like someone is stabbing me with a hot poker in the middle of my butt due to severe spinal stenosis. Basically, nasty arthritis has closed in on the spinal column and restricted the space so the pressure causes pain. Plus there is a weirdo horn-like bone spur growth that isn’t helping. I’ve been dealing with this for months and am actually scheduled for two neurotomies in the next 2 weeks, one for each side, which will give me some serious relief. But for now, driving two miles down the road to the grocery store hurts.

My right knee has also been giving me trouble for almost 2 months. I had knee replacements 7 years ago and they’ve been good as gold, but now I’m feeling those stabbing pains on both sides of the front of the knee. I’m limping and walking hurts, but then, doing nothing hurts too. I’ve been trying to get in as many steps as I can but the idea of hopping on a treadmill makes me cringe.

This strange coronavirus time is wearing on me. I’m tired of just going to work and coming home, doing little else to avoid being around people who aren’t wearing masks. Many of the rewards I had set up for myself at the beginning of Noom dont’ work now – I would kill for a full body massage and have a gift certificate for one on the fridge – but I don’t think it’s safe to go. I used to enjoy eating out, especially ethnic food, but cooking for one doesn’t make that interesting. I want to GO somewhere and DO something. I want to get in the car and drive (which hurts at 2 miles so just go figure how a longer trip would work) to see something different.

I want a vacation from work but can’t figure out what I would do with the time if I had it. I’m sick of salads and have discovered wonderful Evol frozen dinners that are comfort food but have too many calories for me to be enjoying as often as I’m fitting them in. I’m tired of reading little articles, though I still plow through daily weighing, food logging, and drinking water.

But I’m really scared that I can’t do this. I have a great history of losing big amounts of weight when I concentrate and then it seems that if I blink, the success disappears and I’m back where I started. I can’t do that this time. I won’t do that.

I need a hug.

Critter Contained

I almost hit someone on the way home from work today. He came running down the sidewalk out of nowhere, glaring at me as I got to the intersection, and raced on by. I admit that my heart skipped some beats because I can’t swear that he really did just appear; maybe he was there and I just didn’t see him because he was wearing the same colors as the van in front of me. Or my eyes are just tired and weren’t looking. But I was shook, nonetheless, all the way home.

Inquisitive mouseI opened the apartment door to hear a little squeak from under the kitchen sink. There is not supposed to be a squeak there and it is Not A Good Thing from my wimpette perspective. We have mice at the office and they sound like that when they are stuck in glue traps. I don’t have any traps under the sink, mind you, and maybe it’s a squirrel, not a mouse. But something is definitely making little squeaky chirpy noises. It’s annoying and irritating. I want to open up the cabinets to confront it but what if it runs out and over my feet or turns out to be rapid squirrel that attacks me or runs loose in the apartment? I’d rather leave it under the sink and hope it can find its way out the same way it came in.

So I called My Brother the Construction Lawyer who is my expert in these things. In addition to actually owning a home instead of renting an apartment, he has a ranch (a fancy name for a house in the middle of nowhere that needs a lot of work). And on this ranch he has dealt with all manner of critters. Besides, he lives in Texas and is a guy and likes this stuff. I do not. He thinks I’m funny and told me if I didn’t want to open the doors to see what actually was under the sink, to put rubberbands around the door handles to keep the doors from opening and wait for the thing to go away or die. Oh boy.

His alternative was to take a big can of tomatoes and put it in front of the cabinet, but I was sure I’d trip over it. Mostly I thought I was supposed to take the can of tomatoes and hit a crazy-running mouse or squirrel with it as it squeaked by. He thought that was hysterical but I was serious. I would never manage very well in the country.

So for tonight the cabinet doors are rubberbanded shut and I’m hoping the little squeakbox goes outside to play with its friends and leaves me alone. I don’t want to have to call in someone who actually can face them.