I used to run regularly. Wasn’t particularly good at it but I did it. That was before depression it me again; before my dad moved to a retirement home; before the pandemic.
Since March of 2020 I struggled with false starts. In April I ran on and off for a few months. Then the summer hit and I’m not sure what happened. I started walking more I think. Started walking 10k to my downtown job and then signed up for a virtual race in the fall and walked a marathon.
I won’t lie. My body felt broken after that and I stopped everything again until January 2021. With the new year ahead of me I had another false start with running and did well for a few months. Then I stopped.
I’ll blame work. I started doing extra shifts at covid assessment clinics and vaccination clinics. I started working more Saturdays. Anything and everything to avoid having time to exercise, I think.
But then the fatigue set in. And the flab. Well, to be honest the flab has been around for a while. I started intermittent fasting in February but after 12 weeks there was no movement on the scale. So was I tired because of the fasting? Was I iron deficient? Was it my thyroid?
Doctors really do make the worst patients. How many patients have I seen with the same complaints? Their blood work is always normal and my advice to them is to start exercising.
So finally at the beginning of June that’s exactly what I did.
It’s been 11 days and I have gone for 5 runs.
They aren’t fast runs. They aren’t even steady runs. I had to go back start with 2:1 run/ walk intervals. My pace is slow. But the change in my energy level is remarkable. I might even have noticed a subtle change in my waistline.
We’ve lived in our current home for almost 14 years now. Aside from my childhood home, it’s the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place in my adult life.
Our neighborhood is wonderful. We really lucked out with a fine group of people. Their children were all young when we moved in. We were the new kids in the block. Young with no children. Now their kids have grown up and moved out, while our kids are taking over the neighborhood.
A few years ago a family moved in to the house next door to us. It had been for sale for a while, then it was leased. It’s always a little scary when you’ve lived in a neighborhood for a long time, have gotten used to your neighbors only to have some “new people” move in.
Well we kind of hit the jackpot with these folks. It was like looking in a mirror. They had 6 year old twins and a baby on the way. Mom is a doctor and scientist, dad works from home. I mean really, how crazy is that?
I’ll never forget the text I got from my husband. “Neighbors moved in. Kids already know each other from school. Moms a doctor. Dad works from home. Wtf??? 😃”
The twins were in my backyard later that afternoon playing with my kids when I got home. We met dad a little while later and I think it was a month before we actually met his wife – a busy clinician scientist finishing her fellowship in Oncology.
Fast-forward 2.5 years, we lived through a pandemic together, “bubbling” our families during the initial lockdown to keep ourselves sane. The kids were inseparable most of the time. Our daughter got her first job walking their dog every morning. The dads developed a relationship that centered around politics, the love of music and vinyl. A bromance if you will.
A kinship developed between two working moms struggling to be the best at both their jobs. And in the thick of it all, 6 children who kept the neighborhood alive with laughter, especially so during a pandemic.
But nothing lasts forever.
This weekend they moved back to their home province. It’s been only a day and we can all feel their absence. The kids will miss them of course, but they will likely adapt far quicker than their parents will.
I spent most of the morning … okay, who am I kidding? I spent the entire morning in bed watching Once Upon A Time in Hollywood with my husband. And then we watched a bunch of random YouTube videos. The kids were happily in the basement eating Eggos and watching a Marvel movie.
You see I usually work Saturdays at my other job. But I had the day off today. And boy did I need it. I haven’t really had a vacation since, well, March. We did go to a cottage in July but I was still checking labs and having to be in touch with the office. None of my colleagues wanted to cover for me and frankly, I didn’t want to cover for them. We are all exhausted.
Burnt out in fact.
I don’t feel like I have much more to give anyone right now. My patients take up so much of my daily energy that I don’t feel like I have a lot left for anyone else. Not myself. Not my kids nor my husband. I know this feeling well. It sneaks up on me every 3-4 months in a good year but during a pandemic?
Everyone I talk to, and I mean everyone is feeling pandemic fatigue. Either they are working from home with their kids in online school; or they are caring for elderly parents while working from home; or they are laid off and trying to find money for their medications; or they are lonely and their depression is worsening.
So this morning I didn’t talk to anyone. I lay in bed and watched a movie while sipping coffee.
I started running back in 2012. It was really out of necessity. I was two kids in and could not run after them at the park when they took off on me. It was pathetic. It was also the cheapest thing I could do to get in shape and didn’t take a lot of time out of my already busy day.
Fast forward 8 years. I’ve run three half marathons, a handful of 10ks and many 5ks. And then the pandemic hit and I stopped running. (Okay, so I shouldn’t really blame the pandemic – several other things happened like a major depressive episode, my dad moving into a retirement home and a busy life with three kids). But suffice it to say, I got lazy. And soft.
One afternoon while sitting on my front lawn with my neighbors for a “physically distanced drink” my girlfriend texted me about having to walk her London marathon virtually and asked me to join her for a portion of it. I was a glass or three in when I wrote “I’ll do it all with you!”
So I started going for more walks to train. I started walking 10 km once a week to work and it felt good. About once a week I force myself out for a run, which is really mostly walking with some running. Every October where I live there is a big race and this year it went virtual, of course. The race organizers offered a deal where you can sign up for all four distances (5 km, 10 km, 21.1 km and 42.2 km) with the stipulation that you have to complete them during the month of October. Participants can run or walk the distances.
So, I signed up for all four races. I mean, it’s just walking, right? Can’t be that hard, and I figured I would run a little too. It was the motivation I needed to get my ass off the couch and exercise
The 5 km and 10 km races were easy. Not my best times to be sure, but that was to be expected given how lazy I’ve been all year.
I set out for the half marathon two weekends ago. By 12 km I started flirting with the idea of just doing the marathon. It had been weighing on my mind a lot. I was rightly scared of the distance and as I imagined finishing the half marathon I realized that I might not want to start over again another day to do the full. So after some back and forth texting with my husband who was at home with our 3 kids, I decided to seriously consider doing the marathon.
And I did!!!
The second half was grueling. My brother and his wife met me around 30 km and walked 4 km with me. The distraction was exactly what I needed because by then my hips started to hurt, the blisters on my heels were burning and I was feeling defeated. At 40 km I started texting my husband to meet me. I tried running a little because that didn’t hurt nearly as much as walking did.
And then I looked at my watch and saw it.
I became a marathoner.
And I’m pretty sure I will do it again. But maybe in a year.
Pandemic fatigue has set in as I’m sure it has for all of my medical colleagues. Telephone medicine is getting harder. Patients are worried, fed up and demanding more and more with every phone call. Everyone is stressed out and there seems to be no end in sight.
We are well into the second wave now where I live. Only this time is seems very different. Back in March the government declared a state of emergency, everything shut down to “flatten the curve” yet many of our elderly in long term care died, some in horrible conditions. The kids were pulled out of school so they didn’t get sick and spread it to their parents and we all hunkered down and tried to adapt.
There were conflicting messages about wearing masks. Don’t wear a mask it won’t protect you. Oh no, actually yes, wear a mask. Keep a physical distance of 6 feet if you can’t wear a mask. Don’t have people in your home who aren’t in your bubble. Now it’s okay to increase your bubble. Now it’s not.
It’s no wonder people are confused and tired of this. Did the initial lockdown actually prevent widespread death and illness or did it just delay it? Should we just go about our business as usual and see how it plays out? I wish I knew.
My province has now shut down all indoor dining and gyms for 28 days. To what end I wonder? What happens when they open again? This virus is not going to disappear. It won’t burn out. It will lie in wait to spread again when restrictions ease.
Our kids need to stay in school. People need to work. Hospitals need to keep operating rooms open. The backlog of elective surgeries from the initial lockdown is rumored to take years to get through. We can’t afford another large scale lockdown.
On the other hand, if we do nothing to curb the spread and our hospital ERs start overflowing with sick patients and ICU beds aren’t available – what then? Who decides who lives and who dies?
About a month ago we saw a good friend and his son for a socially distanced meet-up at the local park. Our friend brought some tennis rackets and we hit the ball against a handball wall.
I loved it.
Hubby has always liked playing tennis. I liked watching it. Never thought much about actually playing it. But after this one particular morning, I found it exhilarating. I insisted we go out to get some rackets. (Really any excuse not to run in this heat.)
Now, trying to find free courts to play on in the city is a little tough. Mind you, we were pretty lazy about making any effort to actually find one, that is, until my child’s camp counselor noticed our rackets and gave us an amazing tip.
The local high school has tennis courts. Open courts. Free courts. No one uses them kind of courts.
Nah. Plenty of other people are doing that. I won’t belabour that point.
Hi folks! Been a while, I know. Frankly, haven’t really had the time to sit and write. I’ve wanted to, a lot, but didn’t think I had anything to say that would interest anyone. And to be honest, I still think that. But here I am anyway.
I’m home a lot more now, like most people. Working from home 4 days a week, for a long time from a make-shift ironing board-turned desk in my bedroom. That was fun. (Not really). The ergonomics were terrible, I suffered with brutal upper back spasms for almost 2 months. Should have gone to see a doctor! 😉
But then, after months of lock-down, my husband masked up and went to a furniture store and got me a desk. It’s great! Far more functional than the ironing board, and far sturdier too. Even the cats agree!
As much as they can get in the way, the cats really have been wonderful company for me as I sit for hours every day doing telemedicine. Occasionally they’ve knocked over my phone, spilled my water and licked my snacks, fought with each other, you know typical feline behavior.
But they seem to have a knack of knowing when a particular phone call gets tedious and exhausting, because they’ll do something funny to distract me.
I suspect this new normal will be with us for a while. I have gotten used to my cats being with me, so used to it in fact, that I actually miss them when I physically go in to work to see patients 1 day a week. It’s amazing to me how fast we can adapt to change. I’m not sure I want things to ever go back to the “old” normal.
I need to start writing again. I need the outlet. Running has sucked badly for the past year. I just can’t get the mojo back. I’ve gained 10 lbs, I feel sluggish and gross. Running doesn’t feel good when I do it. I feel slow, out of breath and everything below the waist hurts at some point or another. I am too hard on myself. It’s okay if I walk a minute or two for every 3 minutes of walking, it’s better than nothing, right? Right. I know. Sure.
My brother is going through a health issue. It could be a lot worse than it is and I know that, but I’m still freaked out for him. He needs surgery and a reconstruction and I wish he didn’t have to go through any of it. We went through a tough time last year when my dad moved into the Retirement home and I was in the height of my depression. I couldn’t help my brother the way I was supposed to. He spent weeks packing up my parent’s condo pretty much all by himself while I sat paralyzed with depression and tried to make excuses as to why I couldn’t help. I still carry that guilt. I’ll live with it for the rest of my life. He says he’s gotten over it but I worry he harbors resentment. So now that he is going through his own health issues, I am trying to make up for it. I’ll support his wife through his surgery and recovery. I’m checking in on both of them daily. I guess it’s the least I can do.
Emotionally I’m okay. I’m not depressed anymore. But I’m worried for what the future holds for my brother. I feel overwhelmed with life … again. I know this is what happens with age. I don’t think I like it very much. I just get no relief from it. It’s happening to my family now, to my patients. It’s everywhere.
I know I need to take care of myself first. I need to run. I need to write. I need to be okay.