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 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.
It was a difficult year, to say the least. A few days into January, my father had his first fall and we realized that my mom probably wouldn’t be able to care for him at home for much longer. Over the span of a few months, there were more falls, more calls to 911 for assistance to get him up off the floor, and my brother and I convinced our mother that a retirement home was the next step.
I thought I was handling things well but by June the writing was on the wall for him. Darkness, the black hole of depression, started to consume me and I was failing everyone.
The year ended better than it started. I worked my ass off at two jobs and kept very busy mostly to avoid thinking about it all. I know that doesn’t sound like a good thing, but really, it was. The only downside was that I basically stopped running.
But 2018 is done now, and so is the extra work and on new years’ day, I went for a goddamn run. It was glorious. The sun was shining and despite the chill in the air from the cold wind, I think I was smiling inside the whole time.
Hello, 2019. It’s nice to see you.
Recently I’ve had several new followers and I feel compelled to start writing again to earn that follow-ship. Yes, I clearly just made up that word.
I have no excuse for not writing other than the fact that I work two jobs, have 3 kids and elderly parents and am currently having the life sucked out of me by all of that. But really, I shouldn’t complain. My immediate circle – my kids and my husband – are healthy and generally pretty happy, I like to think. My daughter is thrilled to be making slime to share and trade with her friends. My almost-7 year old has learned how to ride his bike with no training wheels and has started swimming lessons. And the 4.5 year old is just … well, he’s happy tumbling around and being himself.
I, however, am overwhelmed. 950 patients in my family practice, a second job at a private health care clinic which is more demanding that I thought it would be, and an elderly declining father who has be move into a retirement facility because he is “too healthy” for a government long-term-care facility but not safe enough to continue to stay at home. The decision to move him comes right before his 83rd birthday and 50th (FIFTY YEARS!) wedding anniversary. It is not how I thought we’d be celebrating.
And to top it all off, I feel like I am not present for my kids enough and when I am I am often tired, frustrated and giving them shit for being kids.
It’s that time of year for resolutions, those things you decide you want to change or improve about yourself over the coming year.
1. Run more and farther.
I ran a good amount in 2017, about 750 km (give or take) over the year. I had a few minor over-use injuries which isn’t new to me. I ran a half marathon and had a 10km PB (personal best) race. I joined a running team (more about that in a future post) and met a lot of extraordinary people, many of whom are survivors in one way or another and who run to stay mentally strong. They are an incredibly inclusive group of people from all walks of life who all love to run. I feel lucky to have found them.
2. Yell less at my kids.
Being a parent is hard. Being a parent who doesn’t raise her voice is exhausting. I found myself in a cycle of yelling and saw its impact on my kids, my eldest in particular. Over the past 6 weeks both my husband and I have made a huge effort to lower our voices and I know with myself in particular, not yelling is hard to do. After asking my child to do something 3 times and not having it done, the only recourse I had, it seemed, was to raise my voice. It got their attention, but in a negative way. When I started hearing how they related to each other I realized they were emulating my behavior. We sat down with all the kids one day and acknowledged the tension in the house and told them that their mommy and daddy were going to do better. We asked them for help and it seems to be working. Oh, I still find myself yelling – I’m not a saint – but it is less than it was before. I’m a work in progress.
So, my husband was finally able to get back to the Christmas shopping now that all the kids are back in school and not sick anymore.
After multiple texts back and forth about what stuffies to get the kids, being unable to locate the one we know they all wanted at the Disney store, my brilliant receptionist spent all of 10 seconds on Google and located what we needed at the Showcase store.
Every year, without fail, my kids get sick around the holidays. Last year was the worst, at least for me. I ended up with what was probably a Norwalk virus on New Year’s Eve. We were with friends, without kids and I ended up in the guest bedroom for the rest of the night while my friends rang in the New Year.
This year, the little one (4 years old), developed a high fever (39.5C or 104.5F) that lasted the better part of 6 days. Eventually we took him to his doctor for a throat swab but it was negative for strep. Husband got a small dose of it for 2 days and I got a head cold that lasted 3 days. After a week, the boy’s fever broke and he went back to school, none the worse for wear.
Then his older brother (6.5 years old) came down with a fever. For another 6 days, my husband (the stay-at-home parent) had to deal with a sick kid who was home from school for a week.
Meanwhile, the eldest, was beside herself.
“How come the boys got to stay home from school?”
“It’s not fair!”
“When will I get sick? I want to stay home for a week too!”
Well, my dear; be careful what you wish for.
The same day the 6.5 year old’s fever broke, his older sister started shivering and complained of a headache. Honestly, I thought she was faking it. But then I felt her forehead.
Here we go again.
On the bright side, she should be just fine for Christmas. However, I have no idea how husband is going to finish our Christmas shopping with another sick kid at home.
The mental break is needed. I know it won’t be a particularly restful vacation – how is it possible with 3 children, the youngest of whom enjoys waking up at the crack of dawn? But it will be a break from the daily grindhouse, of that I am sure.
It also means a small break from my half-marathon training. Yes, that is going quite well, but the long runs will take a small backseat over the next two weeks or so. I will aim to run 3-4 times a week regardless, they just won’t be more than 10k. I worry about losing momentum but I think I have developed a good base which should carry me through.
I hope to return from the lake with a rested mind. My patients need it. I need it.
My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer on his 82nd birthday. I expected it when his PSA test started increasing. He had a biopsy. I couldn’t attend the appointment for the results but asked my mom to make sure she found out his Gleason score. When she called me on his birthday, I heard it in her voice before she said the words.
It’s considered an intermediate- risk tumor. There is no metastasis. But given his advanced age and other co-morbidities, namely the Alzheimer’s, surgery is not recommended.
At his age, hormone therapy and radiation is recommended. Without treatment, he has perhaps 10 years. But that means the tumor will get larger, he’ll have more lower urinary tract symptoms of obstruction and likely bone pain from metastasis. Radiation is not easy. It involves daily trips to the hospital for weeks; 20-39 radiation visits. That’s 20-39 days that my mother has to drive him to and from hospital and pay exhorbitant fees in parking. My mom went through radiation treatment for her own breast cancer 15 years ago. She still remembers how hard that was on her. How difficult now will this be on my dad? He asks her several times a day what the next doctor’s appointment is for. Because he forgets. How difficult will this be for my mom to take him to the hospital day in and day out, in his already semi-frail and de-conditioned state? Is it cruel to put him through treatment? Is it cruel not to?
After meeting with his radiation oncologist and learning about a new treatment protocol involving only 5 weekly visits for radiation therapy, it looks like we will be embarking on treatment for my dad. He seems to understand the side effects of treatment and that it means weekly visits to the hospital. Of course, he’ll ask many times why he’s going but that is okay for now. Five weekly visits is going to be much easier for my mom. If and when it gets to be too much, we’ll make a decision to stop. But for now, he/we are going to fight this.