Friday, December 29, 2017

It's Almost the New Year

I love the surge of changes that start showing up around this time. Resolutions. Goals. Whatever they are or you want to call them; now is the time.  It may be timing but some friends who have also struggled with weight loss are ready to try new things. I don't think that these are necessarily resolutions, but they're popping up around the same time which is what prompted me to think about the fact that the new year is upon us. This is the time of year that I am thrilled that I (mostly) workout at home or outside. I do think it's great that so many people start doing new, good things for themselves. Whether they're there for a month, three months, a year,or longer, they're making progress.  Sometimes people fall off the resolution train and don't go back for a long time. That's okay. It's their life. It's their health. And  maybe someday the changes will be permanent. We all struggle sometimes (exactly why I'm here, working to lose weight again). I don't care if it's January, July, or November, if you're there and you're working -- you are awesome.

 I haven't been to spin and yoga in a few months and need to get my schedule organized so that I can get back to class. With the holidays and how busy work as been, it's been hard. I need to just sit down and get it figured out and be strict with my scheduling. I'm honestly not looking forward to the influx of resolutioners but hey, even if it's crowded for a bit, I'll be glad to be back at it.  I cannot express how much I've missed class; especially yoga. Yoga at home (home-ga?) is not the same. It just isn't. It's more like a "workout" than an experience. I like the experience of the class. It's more peaceful. Savasana is SO much better with an instructor (and essential oils!) than it is listening to someone through something recorded - whether it be an app or DVD. Some are good, but it's not the same.  I've been out of yoga and spin since - AUGUST!! I injured my arm in one of the most non-athletic ways possible. I grabbed  a case of water with one and and flung it into the back of the car before a road trip. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.  A case of 16.9 ounce water bottles is heavy; too heavy to be lifting and flinging with one hand. Anyway, the best I can come up with is that I pulled a muscle or something. My symptoms were consistent with a pulled muscle. I mentioned it at my last doctor appointment but it was feeling better/starting to resolve by then so I didn't request anything for it. I've also had some chiropractic adjustments that have helped.  It can get a little sore when I'm lifting heavy but it's not bad. That's usually my sign to back off. I can do down dog and some other yoga poses without pain so I think I'm ready to go back.  It's super hard to do yoga when you can't put pressure on an arm without it screaming in pain.  So, yes, I miss it and need to get back.  I guess I will just flow in with the resolutioners.

My changes tend to come before the new year. I've noticed that December seems to be the time of year that I change. Sometimes November. When I first started losing weight and changing my lifestyle- it was December. I've bumped up my fitness around this time of year in the past too. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I'm not a winter fan and it's too dang cold and nasty to go anywhere. It's a lot easier to workout if you're home more often! And here I am this year... Doing the same thing. I started keto in November and got off track a little between Thanksgiving and my birthday. I'm sure I could have lost a little more weight than I have, but I'm happy with my 7 (I think 8 by now) pounds in the last month; despite the ups and downs. I like to say that I've been "loosely" following keto, with one day as a "free" day. Some people call them cheat days but I don't like that phrase. I feel like just the word "cheat" makes it seem like I'm doing something I "shouldn't" which gives it negative meaning for me. That's just me though... Everything is different for everyone. This is a largely mental game which is why there really isn't a "one size fits all" plan for weight loss. Our bodies are differently, including our brains.

In thinking about it, I realized that I'm actually following more of a carb cycling plan, with keto being the plan on my low carb days. I know that eating keto-style only on certain days doesn't actually qualify as keto because the whole point of the keto way of eating is to get into ketosis. Basically, I'm not giving a name to what I'm doing, but it definitely more on track with a carb cycling plan. I've been reading more about that and I like that there is a little more flexibility in it, and that I can change it up based on my workouts for the day. I guess I'm in the middle at this point... I like keto and obviously reducing my carb intake has been beneficial and resulted in some weight loss (after gaining and then stalling!). I plan to sit down and review what I've been doing and see about a new plan. I will likely make my low carb/keto days more frequent - maybe three, with one moderate, two more low, and then one high.....And repeat. This gives me a free day (which I'd most likely work into my schedule on Saturdays). With run club, I have dinner out. I stick to "lower" carb foods, however some of them are not that low and I like to have a Mich Ultra or two on those nights. For me, Tuesday would be the day that makes the most sense for my moderate day.  Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday seem like they'd be the easiest days to stick with low carb/keto.  If for some reason I go out on a Friday maybe that will be my high carb day and I'll stick to low carb on Saturday. We haven't been eating out on the weekend, but have ordered in sometimes. Those are definitely good days for the high carb day. I can vary the plan so that it works best for me and can vary it a little weekly, in case I need or want to change my days around. Sometimes "all keto all the time" can be hard. If I'm going to dinner with people who are eating whatever they want and having drinks.... I'm probably going to want to do the same. Depriving myself doesn't work. In fact I feel annoyed and irritable when I deprive myself of too much.  This can also lead to a binge. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and sometimes have the "all or nothing" attitude. I'm working on letting go of that thinking and just being okay with things. A more flexible plan would help with positive thinking.

I would like to be down ten pounds before my next doctor appointment, which is about a month from today. It's roughly four-and-a-half weeks. Ten pounds is very do-able and safe, however knowing my body I will be totally fine with eight. So I guess the goal is eight to ten, with ten being an awesome bonus.  If  I lose less, I'll evaluate and see if there's anything I can change or if that's just the way my body is progressing. Any loss is a good thing and honestly if I'm down five or six I'll be okay. I don't know that I can say that I'd be satisfied or happy, but I can be okay with that. I'm aiming for ten though and for me I have to focus on that.  If I say "eh five or six is okay" I might be a little more lenient on myself.  I'm a little complex in that I need structure but I also need a little flexibility within that structure.

 See? The experience is varied and personal to each of us. And? The brain; it's important. Learning about and knowing yourself is important to success.  I also know that I need to plan (anxiously awaiting my new planner, which I only just ordered!) ahead. I feel more at ease and happier when I am able to plan ahead.  I don't like chaos or disorganization when it comes to living my life.  My tendency to allow clutter to enter my small house (not enough space, I tell ya!) doesn't always reflect that. But, inside, it drives me crazy. A room in my house may feel disorganized now and then, which is an easy fix. When my life seems disorganized; I don't feel so great and it's harder to stay (or get back) on track. 

With that, before I close...

My 2018 goals:

1. Run 3 half marathons (minimum)
2. Continue to lose weight and reach my goal
3. Declutter and better organization
4. Actually follow that cool money saving plan that everyone shares this time of year. I always think it looks neat and think "oooooh I'm going to do that." I never do it. Remembering to plan it and do it... Good (and fun!) goal.
5. Improve my running pace. Yes, fartleks will have to happen.
6. Work more on self-care.  I don't do this enough. Step one - getting back to yoga.

See you in the new year!!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

How Does Time Go By So Darn Fast?!

It's been almost two weeks since my last post! How does that even happen? I guess I've been so busy I just haven't taken the time! The holiday season will do that, I guess.

So....What's new? I'm down seven pounds. I have been "loosely" following the Keto way of life. I say loosely because I'm not perfect. At this point though, just a reduction in carbs has obviously helped. I was a little off but not de-railed during Christmas. I had some carbs but I didn't over-indulge.  Of the four Christmases I went two, only two had typical holiday meals.  One was sandwich and snacks and the other was similar with hors d'oeuvre style food. No desserts at two of four.  I had two small brownie bites at one of the dinners.  I made a lot of gifts this year so I didn't make my typical mountain of various sweets for gifts so those weren't around to tempt me. I got a few little candy things in with gifts but nothing extreme.  No boxes of candy canes to deal with. 

Having two puppies, I decided that a Christmas tree and my typical decor were a big "NO" this year.  They get into everything. Rocky likes to find absolutely everything he should not have. He's almost four months. Wrigley started settling down around that time so I'm hoping Rocky will too. He's a Boxer though, and I know how those little stinkers are! They can be puppy-like into their senior years! He's adorable and hilarious and even though he's a little mischievous now, I wouldn't trade him for the World. He will get, at least, a little better as he gets older. Wrigley still likes to steal socks and random objects but isn't into as much as Rocky is. However, Wrigley just turned six months and is maturing.... He's starting to pee on everything that's not familiar to him.  He even tried to pee on some Christmas gifts.  I think he succeeded in doing so on one present. Thank goodness it's for my favorite little girl.... And it's a doll so it's in a box. I really hope that in another month or two his marking behavior will be drastically reduced (post-neutering).  So, wild puppies helped me to stay on track with eating.  Workouts were way off track....

I haven't worked out much in, ohhhh the last week!! Rare for me! I was so busy with pre-Christmas crafts, shopping, wrapping, and work, that I was packing too much in and workouts are what suffered. Over the Christmas weekend I didn't do much of anything has far as working out. If only running around like a crazy woman burned calories! I think worked out last Friday morning and that was it until Tuesday. Yesterday was insanely busy soooo my workout was non-existent then too. I just didn't manage my time well enough and was exhausted after work last night. Today has a much better outlook and I anticipate being back on track now. Tuesday's workout left me feeling pretty great which made not working out yesterday even more of a let down. 

I recently started participating in a local running group. I did a run a few weeks ago with them and then Tuesday was my second. I honestly thought that I probably wouldn't do much with the group because... WINTER.  Let me tell ya 'bout me and winter. We are not friends.  It's no secret that my winter running is on the treadmill.  I've trained for half marathons throughout the winter on that dang thing. Let's remember, I am slow... That, at times, equals hours (up to three!) on the treadmill. Do you have any idea how boring that is? Sometimes being on the treadmill actually gives me anxiety; the kind where your skin feels crawly and you're just like "omg I can't!!" and have to take a break. So... Tuesday. I did a thing. Correction - I did a CRAZY thing.  I ran with run club. OUTSIDE. IN. THE. WINTER. IT. WAS. SEVEN. DEGREES (F). If not for my friend Angela going, I'm sure I wouldn't have gone. Given that 30 (sometimes warmer!) is my cut-off, I wasn't quite prepared. I've read tons of things about Winter running and what to wear but I didn't really pay attention to what to wear below 20 because... That's not my thing. So, after talking to my friend to figure out what I needed, buying it, and putting it on. I went to run club. I was at least a minute slower than my already slow pace - getting used to all of the gear was a challenge in itself. However, I did a decent three miles; did not free (um, Smartwool Socks, you're the stuff of life!) and actually my head was so warm I was sweating. A lot. Most importantly; didn't die. It was an accomplishment and despite my slow pace - I'm pleased; just in the fact that I ran in seven degree weather. I also realize this gives me zero excuse to miss out on other Winter runs. It will, undoubtedly, take someone else motivating me because I am not a fan of the cold... However, I know now that it can be done, so at this point, I have no reason to miss run club.

I suppose that's about it as far as my fitness and health update.....Not much else is new. Oh!  I love bulletproof (well sort of) coffee now. I've been having that for breakfast and love the flavor the MCT oil gives the coffee. I haven't gone totally bulletproof yet because I haven't added the butter that it calls for. Maybe I'll find "grass-fed" butter at the store. Does anyone else find that term odd? I know it's the beef that's grass-fed, however the way it's written makes it sounds like the butter itself has eaten grass.  I know, I know... Who thinks of this? My brain... Welcome to it. I also haven't bought the actual Bulletproof brand of coffee yet. Guidelines say a "good" or "upgraded" coffee - whatever that is. That stuff is expensive and really, who's to know what constitutes "good" coffee. If someone would like to send me a bag of nearly $20 (per 12 ounce bag!) coffee, I'll me happy to try it. I'll even admit it if I'm proven wrong and the coffee does something that my preferred brand does not. I'll blog about the miracle that is the Bulletproof brand and how my measly grocery store brand doesn't come close to comparing. I buy pricey coffee as it is, however I don't think it's nearly that expensive! I'd have to do the math as far as the per k-cup price and ounces to see how it adds up, but I will do so if someone forces me to eat crow. Again, though; on your dime. I'm not at the point that I went to spend that much money on that little coffee - all magic and/or super powers aside.

Okay, NOW, that's it for the update on health and fitness. Life in general is going well. The holidays were a little rough bump, but got through the stress (remember both good and bad stress exists!) without much difficulty. Life as usual has resumed.

Now, to get back on track with H&C (Hammer and Chisel) and some cardio! My Dad replaced my treadmill motor so that's back up and running. Perhaps a little run is in order.  Today is not a regularly scheduled H&C day (it's actually my "off" day according to the plan), but I need to re-work my plan so I think I'm good for today. Plus my muscles haven't felt sore since Saturday, which I miss. Sometimes I crave it.  I mean, I feel like a marshmallow or some other such type of lumpy substance when  I'm not active. Not an enjoyable feeling.

Hope your holiday season has been amazing!!


Friday, December 15, 2017

I HAD a Really Good Topic for a Post....HAD.

I was going to post a few days ago and honestly just didn't pick up my laptop to write. I was just kind of like "yeahhhh I don't feel like it."  I've been like that a lot lately. I think it could be stress building up. I'm also having trouble sleeping so then when I get home from work in the evening my motivation to do much of anything is super low.  It'd cold and dark and by the time I make and eat dinner, it's getting late. At that point, after a busy day, I just want to relax.  I've also been getting frequent headaches the last month or so. Those have been less than fun and I feel like doing absolutely nothing when I get one. Staring at my phone is awful because it's just too bright. 

So, anyway... I thought "oooooh I should post about that" and didn't. Now? I cannot for the life of me remember what I was going to post about. I suppose I'll just share an update until it strikes me. 

I am continuing to workout at least five days a week but I am for six.  I have been taking a weekend day off but sometimes I do seven days. Last week I only did five because I ended up being busy Saturday and Sunday was my Birthday and I wanted a day of complete relaxation. This week I'm on day four so tomorrow will be five; possibly six with Sunday included.  I should be working out those days because my Hammer and Chisel plan has me working out every day but Thursday. I usually do something different on Thursdays because I get involved in these Fitbit work week step challenges so I really want to get my steps. If I don't workout, I fall short. And if possible, I really want to win. There are some days that get super busy and when I'm busy at work... I'm on my butt most of the time.  There's not much time with back-to-back clients to get up and walk around for a bit.  Doing anything like squats or even walking in place would be far too distracting in a therapy setting.  If I were sleeping better, I could probably get up earlier and workout. However, there's the not getting enough sleep issue.  I've also never been a big morning person, but if I can sleep, I can get up and workout, even on days I may have to force myself.  It might be lighter cardio than normal but I can at least do something.

I've started taking Melatonin at bed time and the last couple nights that has seemed to help. Of course last night I had the headache so in addition to the Melatonin, I had Excedrine and Ibuprofen in my system.  The night before, though, I just took the Melatonin and slept well.  I even got up early to get my H&C workout done. Of course, I didn't have to be in to work quite as early as other days,  but I could've easily stayed in bed longer.  Now I'll have time to at least do some cardio at lunch so that I can get more steps in. I have a higher goal than normal today because I took yesterday off.  There were a few times this week that I had a "oh who cares" attitude but I did manage to reach my goal every day (except yesterday). I feel better today and am ready to tackle it so I get at least my 50,000 for the week (M-F). I won't win either of the groups I'm in and I'm okay with that. Honesty this week I've been struggling just to get motivated to do my regular, scheduled workout. I have noticed that if I don't get it in during the day time, I won't in the evening because I'm so tired.

I don't think that I'm a particularly depressed person, but I go through ups and downs like anyone.  I've noticed I'm having more trouble lately and I'm not quite sure why.  I wouldn't say I'm in a depression, but I'm a bit more emotional.  I have had some stressful things happen like anyone.  I wonder if a large part is that Buddy died this year, and now Belle is struggling with what appears to be similar to what he had happening.  I'm clearly struggling with the knowledge that she is going to decline.  I thought that the day had come last week when she fell and apparently could not get back up.  When my Dad stopped to pick up the boys and let her out, she was just laying on the kitchen floor.  She's still here and doing okay; she has her harder moments but so far she's managing.  I suppose that all of that stress can add up without realizing it.  I suppose it's just typical stress. 

I do wonder about a couple things that I may check into at my next doctor appointment. I have had some changes - with the head aches, not sleeping, not being at all motivated in the evening.... These mimic depression symptoms. Depression is, basically, chemicals in the brain... I was reading about my symptoms (started with motion sickness and migraines being linked) and what seems to be going on sounds like it could be that my serotonin levels are low.  Some other criteria fit and it can impact on weight.  I've lost a little, but got off track with my Birthday and really just got back on track the last couple days.  I guess I had an extended Birthday celebration! I wasn't horrible, but had some leftover treats and such - more than what I typically do. 

The other possibility is all stress. Stress is sometimes there and we don't even know it. And it can be good stress too.  I'm not running around a big ball of anxious, depressed awful stress. There are good things. There are sad things. There are average every day things that can be stressful that aren't either good or bad.  I wonder what my hormone levels are like, particularly cortisol. That's been linked to stress and stress-related issues, including weight.  I haven't gained recently but haven't lost much either. I am down a couple pounds this week, so I guess I'm moving in the right direction.  Now that I'm back on the right track, we'll see what the next week brings.

I'm out of time for now. I'll write again soon - hopefully something of more substance than just an update.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It's All About the Choices We Make

I woke up this morning, still in a less than fantastic mood. I definitely did not want to get out of my warm bed. Cuddling with my three little creatures would've been the better choice (in my mind).  I didn't have to get up so I decided we would just lay around.  Then I heard the familiar roar of the garbage truck rolling by. It took a moment before it really sunk in that I needed to get the garbage out, like now, if I wanted it to be picked up. I jumped out of bed, picked up both puppies and put them outside, and then went and helped Belle outside.  The poor little pups were probably half asleep when I sent them out to go potty.  I grabbed the bathroom trash and the kitchen trash, threw on a coat and some boots and ran out the back door.  I combated the puppies, who really wanted to slip out the gate to go off on some unsupervised adventure.  I got the garbage can to the curb just as the truck came rolling down my side of the street.  I grabbed yesterday's mail out of the mailbox and ran back to the house.  I was just convincing the dogs to stop jumping on the gate and move to let me into the yard when the truck rolled up in front of my house.  That is, most definitely, the closest I've come to nearly missing the garbage truck.  I've forgotten it before but today was close.  However, it was out in time and I got to cuddle with my three little loves.  And I needed that this morning.

I was up late last night; just couldn't fall asleep. Then when I did get to sleep, I didn't sleep well. In the little time I was asleep, I woke up at least three times.

**Apologize in advance for any typos I may not catch.  Apparently Rocky does not like me typing. Or he thinks that my fingers hitting the keys on this strange (and old) contraption is entertaining.  Anything to play! He keeps trying to jump on my lap and nip at them.**

Anyway, last night I didn't sleep well.  I think I was a bit overwhelmed with stress; what seemed like one thousand thoughts swirling around in my mind.  I was like the creeper dog Mom and just started at them, with an occasional little pat on their little rumps.  Belle probably got a bit more of the attentions and petting than the boys, but they were cuddle up snoring so I'm sure they had no idea; nor would they have cared. When I got up this morning, I was a bit agitated at having to get up so quickly.  Wednesday is always garbage day so I really don't know why I was so annoyed with the fact that it was happening. It was probably just my lingering not-so-good mood.

When I fired this ancient piece of equipment up last night, I discovered that I had left some pictures on it.  Most of what I found were from around 2011 or 2012.  I was freaking skinny.  I can honestly say that I didn't realize how good I looked. I looked healthy, but skinny (for me - not like a size zero or anything); especially compared to other points in my life. Present moment? Included. For sure. When I saw those pictures I could've fallen into a really bad mood.  Was I bummed? Yes. Am I still? Yes.  I think I was really able to look at those pictures as what they were though... Me, at least five years ago. Do I think I looked better then than now? Obviously. If not, I wouldn't be fighting in this continued battle.  I have been highly disappointed in myself. Highly. Like, super highly. SO much so that I've been kind of an ass to myself sometimes.  Negative self-talk never did anyone any good. I know this. I teach this. Positive self-talk (not in some inflated way) is essential.

This morning I didn't hate myself. I didn't beat myself up over how disappointed that I am that I gained some weight back. Do you know what I did notice though? It was about my body. It was just a neutral, random thought, which lead into more positive thoughts.  It actually helped set me up to be in a pretty good mood for the morning. In all honesty, that's worn off by this point in the evening. I'm a little crabby. I'm a little down but trying not to be down on myself.  I'm tired - that's the problem.

"Oh my gosh, my back is so sore!!"

That was the thought.  The completely average thought that helped me to change my mood from ("ugh I don't wanna get up!!" to "today's not going to be so bad." I realize that soreness is not something that typically puts people in a good mood. Depending on the situation and type of soreness (a little headache; chronic pain), it can put people in a really bad mood. Not me; not today.  What I realized is that my soreness is because I've been doing strength training again.  I'm hitting those muscles in different ways and I'm working them.  My first thought was "I must be doing something right!" The soreness reminded me of the fact that I'm working out and giving my body what it needs. This lead me to thinking about feeling good and feeling healthy.  As much as I groan about it, or curse the trainer in the midst of it, strength training is necessary and good for everyone!  My thoughts developed into positive self-talk/thoughts about myself; my progress; my strength.  They reminded me of good things about myself.

We all have choices.  We have choices every day. There are those that are easy and routine. There are those that are harder.  There are those that are a struggle. And there are those that are an absolute nightmare to have to make - especially when you know in your heart that they're the right choices, even if you don't want to make them. It's what we do with these choices and our thoughts surrounding them that matters.

This morning I could have very easily chosen to stay in my grumpy mood and not have acknowledged my (good) soreness.  I could've taken it in a bad way and felt like I'm not doing enough, training hard enough, or it could've helped me walk right back into that negative place. I could have compared what I looked like in the mirror this morning to pictures of me from five or six years ago. I could have allowed disappointment to set in, and I could've been in a terrible mood all day. I didn't though. I chose to look at all I've done and continue to do. I chose to love myself in spite of my own shortcomings. It's okay to have shortcomings. It's okay to feel down about them.  It can be a very fine line between  that and kids who are getting into things like that as a means to cope.

Thinking traps.  Google them. They're where we get stuck with our automatic thoughts.  They're not positive. They're not happy. They're negative thoughts about ourselves; about our abilities - or our perceived shortcomings. They can hold us back.  They can change us.  They can make us feel down and keep us down. We have the power to change our thoughts.  Sometimes it takes work. It can be hard. It's also worth it.

I could've had those pictures in mind, had an automatic thought, and got stuck in feeling badly because of those thoughts.  Instead of changing them; I'd have allowed them to grow. I'd have felt pretty horrible about myself.  As much as things in life can be hard or stressful, I shouldn't allow them to make me feel horrible or determine my happiness. It's up to me to make the choice to change these thought patterns and be kind to myself.

Nope. I am not looking at this as how much "better" I was back then.  I chose to accept it and focus on the positive about myself.  I was sore because my muscles are growing. I'm being kind to myself.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Do you ever feel like a failure?

Most of us do, at least once in our lives. I've felt like I've failed at things before. I've failed at losing weight. I've failed at keeping weight off. Hmmm.... Although; I can say I've never failed to gain weight. I'm pretty sure I've failed a test. Math was always my nemesis. I'm sure I had to have failed a test at some point. Never a class. But a test? I can't say for certain, but I must have.  I've tried new things and I've felt like I've failed. Last night I followed a new recipe (although it wasn't really a recipe or all that new...) and I failed that, which really bothered me because I'm a really good cook. Usually.  Apparently the recipe I read that said 30 minutes at 425 degrees was meant for other stoves.  Not mine.  My lovely creation burnt.  Some might be salvageable if I eat around the burnt part, but that really takes away from the enjoyment of the meal. And I'm really trying to do that with things... Just be more mindful.  Apparently that helps with how much people eat. I'm pretty sure one veggie in my mouth and I'd have been super mindful of he fact that it tasted like a charred nightmare.  Seriously... WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY STOVE? All those colorful, gorgeous, healthy veggies.... Burned -- almost beyond recognition.

I don't feel like a failure at blogging which is interesting since I used to blog just about every damn day and my last blog post was roughly five months ago. But, nope, not feeling like a failure over that.  I think I've said more than once that I when my weight gain started, I got away from blogging. It's fun to blog when you are successful and feel great. It's harder when you're not. I mean, just look at Facebook. A lot of posts are bragging. Social media has made us (as a whole) more self-centered than ever. I honestly fear for our future... And it's not the fault of kids. They only know what they learn. Who's teaching them? Just think about that before you blame the younger generations.

ANYWAY... I have felt the pull to post a couple times but I haven't. I think I needed a big break and time for self-reflection. I needed to do some self-evaluation and self-discovery. I've had moments along the way, but honestly, I haven't done much of that until now. That's probably why I'm writing this. I've hidden the more vaulnerable things; the ugly truths. I realized, a few years ago now, that people were reading what I wrote and using it against me. I've posted about that and at that time I was angry about it. I am pretty sure I said I didn't care, but I think I did. Now, I can honestly say... I don't freaking care. I suppose that enough time has passed that I feel like if any of those people are still concerned with me, they've got bigger problems in life than I do. I'm past it. And you know what? There's always going to be someone who has something to say. I guess it was the using it to hurt me part that really bothered me. And hurt. Clearly.  I suppose they accomplished their mission. I suppose they must have had a really good laugh at my expense, and hopefully that laughter and negativity gave them the release they needed and made them feel better.  Oh my gosh -- I gained weight!! HILARIOUS!!

I guess?

The last year and (almost) four months has been hard. My Papa died August 19, 2016. That was hard. I've lost Grandparents before but this experience was different. I was younger when each of my Dad's parents died.  I hadn't had years of experience working with older people. When they died, hadn't yet been there with people, telling them that it's okay to let go.  Fast-forward several years, to a living room, with a family gathered around a hospital bed.  My Mom and Dad, Grandma, Uncle and Aunt, and me... Actually my Aunt and I were outside when my boyfriend came out and said "they need you to get in there; they think he's dying."  My Aunt and I moved so fast we nearly flew to his bedside.  He seemed to be choking.  He was awake and alert.  He struggled to breathe. Out of my mouth came words that I'd said, more than once, during my career; "it's okay to go." This time it was more personal. I remember saying "We love you Papa. It's okay to go. We'll take care of Nonie." It wasn't said so much as it was sobbed through tears.

For a while I had some guilt.  Guilt over my sweet Grandpa, who had been declining, dying.  It's a natural process. It absolutely sucks. I'm not good at death. That has been clear to me.  Shoot, that was clear to me last Christmas when I opened a gift and burst into tears. It was a sweet gift from the heart. It was a decorative pillow with a photo of my Grandparents and I on it. Honestly my reaction surprised even me. I was definitely bummed about Christmas but I didn't think I'd have that reaction.

But.  Back to my guilt.  Why did I feel guilty over something that was happening in front of me? Something that I didn't have anything to do with? At the time, I thought I did. Even though I knew what was happening, I thought it was my fault that he died when he did. I don't think I've shared that with anyone. And now, it sounds kind of silly.  Papa was restless and we (my Mom and I) were talking about his Ativan.  I said "just give him the Ativan; that's what it's there for."  This was a sublingual medication, meaning it just goes under the tongue and dissolves. It doesn't require chewing or swallowing.  I think he must've tried swallowing it and my Mom gave him a little water.  It was during that time that he started to choke. I felt like it was my fault because I said to give him the Ativan.  I thought that had I not said that, maybe that wouldn't have been the time he died.  Looking back in a rational frame of mind, I realize that it was not my fault.  I also remembered that when he did take his last breath he wasn't choking.  He wasn't restless.  He was alert. I looked him in the eye when I told him he could go.  One thing I'll never forget is that just before he closed his eyes, I saw a tear roll down his cheek. And then he closed his eyes and left this life behind.

I believe a lot in signs and symbols; whether they're just a comfort or the stories behind them are true. I believe in them. Maybe they're just stories to make us feel better. Maybe I've just noticed since he died, but I've seen a lot of cardinals in the last year and four months.  I'm pretty sure the same one, sometimes two (I'm pretty sure that's his buddy Father Toolis with him). Every time I see him, I call him Papa.  We never "get over" people. We get through death; as time goes on we begin to adjust to our new normal (and that can be a long process that some never truly adjust to).

And then came February and the scary experience with Buddy when I was in Florida for the Princess Half.  I briefly mentioned that in my previous post, but didn't go into much detail.  After an unexpected medical emergency (a tumor on the spleen which then ruptured - and more than one surgery due to complications), Buddy was on the mend. He was full of life and he was even running around playing like a young man again. Then May happened and I lost him. Quickly.

It was a Wednesday that it started. He was having trouble getting around; was falling a little and just seemed a little weak.  This was pretty standard for him after his arthritis diagnosis the summer prior. I did what I usually did and gave him a pill, thinking that he'd feel better.  He didn't. In fact as the day went on he seemed to have a little more trouble.  I may have even given him a second pill later that day. I can't quite remember.   In he evening, I noticed him falling more. He laid on the ground with his front legs stiff, straight out in front of him.

When we got up in the morning, he needed some help getting up. He would walk a couple feet and then take a header into the ground. His little legs just did not want to work. The front legs were stiff and seemed paralyzed; he didn't seem to have that connection between his brain and legs.  He fell another time and just couldn't do it; he couldn't get up and couldn't walk. I picked him up.  I carried him in and out of the house and car that day.  I called the vet as soon as they opened and said that his arthritis seemed to be really bad even though he had medication.  I took the first opening they had and cancelled my clients at work.  My Mom came over and helped me get him into the car and take him to the vet.  My Dad was leaving a dentist appointment as we were on our way there, and pulled out right behind us.  He followed us to the vet and carried Buddy in for me. There are two vets in the office we go to and we see both of them.  The doctor who cared for him throughout the surgery in February saw him and asked, "what's wrong with Buddy?" and he genuinely looked concerned.  My Dad later told us that he'd seen him at the store a week before and he asked about Buddy. My Dad told him how well he was doing. We were asked to leave him for a couple hours for some testing. So we did.  Talk about nerve-wracking. Also, Buddy has never enjoyed being left at the vet so I apologize to anyone who's ever encountered his crying.  He was so bad as a puppy that after he was neutered, I was called and asked to pick him up early because he wouldn't stop crying no matter what they tried.  That was always him - really good at crying when he wanted something.

I got a call that afternoon that we could come
pick him up. The doctor said that they did x-rays and nothing showed like it did when he had the arthritis flare up (which also effected his back legs not his front). He was given a med there and I was given two more tabs to take home. This medication was strong enough that by the time he had three doses progress would be evident. If there was no change, it would be time to make a decision on his care.  One was that we could’ve taken him for an MRI. A brain or spine tumor was suspected since he had already had the episode with the tumor in the spleen. 

The next day came and there was no change. I spent all day on the floor with him. I got him his favorite treats; a donut, a Happy Meal. He could no longer hold himself up so I held his bowl up to him. I tried to do the same with water but also used a medicine dropper to give him water. Most of this started the night before. We all spent the night in the living room. I had a garbage bag over his bed, a blanket over there, and puppy pads over the blanket. He cried to go out but I encouraged him to go potty where he was. And he did. I had warm soapy water and warm water in bowls. I gave him sponge baths after he peed.

He was alert and pain free. But he was paralyzed. Had I chosen the MRI, I’d have had to continue the same method of care at least until then. He didn’t have a good quality of life. I had to let my baby go. With no change, we went to the vet knowing that we would have to say goodbye. Looking into his eyes, telling him I loved him (through sobs), and saying good bye was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

I’ve questioned myself since then. What if I had done the MRI? What if it wasn’t a tumor? What if it could’ve been treated? Had I made the wrong decision? Had I failed as a dog Mom? 

I still struggle with that. 

Belle has been showing those same signs. Several months ago she started a med and the vet said it’s something neurological. I don’t know if the med does a lot of good but until recently it seemed to help. She fell and couldn’t get up yesterday. It took her about 10-15 minutes to recover. My Dad was watching her and called me. I called the vet. He said that it could be a slipped disc. It could be something in the brain or spine. She falls and needs help getting up. She stumbles and trips. The young boys knock her down (crazy puppies, I tell ya!). 

I don’t have a lot of hope. I’ve read up on it and it sounds like what Buddy had. If it is, the only confirmation is via autopsy. Here I am six months later, watching her decline. I’ve not fully worked through my grief from Buddy. I can’t handle this. My Birthday is coming up and I pray that’s not the day. Or Christmas.

I’m stressed (some other things too but that’s the main one which I think makes everything else seem worse). And I’m depressed. I’ve been depressed since I lost Buddy. It was 9 months to the day since we had lost Papa. 

My weight loss slowed.  Then stalled. Then I gained a little back. I’ve been losing again and have been working harder. Well until yesterday happened. I haven’t binged but I’ve done some emotional eating. And I do not care. Zero. I
Just want to stay home with my girl. All the time. I don’t but inside I want to. Work is good. It’s an escape. 

I’m scared. I know what’s coming and I want to enjoy every moment I can with her. Or sit on the couch and cry. I cry every time she falls. I want to enjoy her but my God it’s hard. It is SO damn hard. All I feel at this moment is sadness and fear. Maybe a little agitation. I actually yelled at the puppies (Wrigley and Rocky) for accidentally knocking her down. And then I cried about that. 

I’m still deep in my grief from Buddy and now I’m (prematurely) grieving her. She’s right beside me now but I can’t stop being sad about what’s coming. Then come the questions. Have I done enough for her? Could I be doing more? Did I see the signs early enough? Did I act fast enough? Did I get her to the vet when I should have? What do I do know? Should I try the MRI with her? Have I failed her? Have I failed as a dog Mom? Again? 

Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning. I can see signs of depression, obviously related to grief. Then I think of people with other things happening. A Father lost a son last night. A little girl lost her Daddy last week. Are my stressors really that bad? I feel guilty for hurting when others are hurting too; maybe more. It’s all different hurt but it’s also very similar. While situations are different, each heart is hurting; maybe broken. Some
people view dogs as “just a dog.” I see souls
of the sweetest living beings. I see unconditional love in their eyes. I see innocent creatures who need to be cared for. I feel love; real, true love. I couldn’t love them more. 

These dogs are my babies. My heart hurts.