Nothing Lasts Forever

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.

Gone, but never forgotten.

Four years ago today a beautiful woman went missing.

An accomplished physician.

A daughter.

A sister.

A wife.

A mother.

She was found a few days later, discarded in a ravine, in a suitcase. Murdered by her husband.

Two years later he finally admitted his guilt and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Not long enough, if you ask me.

The anniversary of her death haunts many of us who knew her as a brilliant, funny, beautiful woman. I can’t imagine what today is like for her children, her sister and her parents.

You are fiercely missed, Elana.

Saturday

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?

Oy.

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.

And I’ll probably do it again tomorrow.

The Marathon

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.

Thoughts In A Pandemic

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?

An Apocalyptic Oasis

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.

So we high-tail it over and found this:

Right!?

Now we really are living The Walking Dead.

Oh my god, we love it.

It’s totally us.

Pet Therapy

We adopted kittens on the weekend.  They are sisters, 3 months old and completely adorable.  George Carlin said that when you walk out of pet store with a dog or a cat that you are purchasing a small tragedy.  Having gone through the deaths of 3 cats in my lifetime, I know he’s right.

Yet here we are again.

These little creatures have brought a joy to my life that I didn’t know was missing.

 

Inevitable.

Tonight, somewhere, someone is dying with family by their bedside.

A cool cloth is placed on his forehead.

A mouth is wiped dry.

A hand is held.

A tear is shed.

A story is told.

Someone laughs.

I left you surrounded by your family. I was honored to have seen you one last time.

Death is an inevitable journey for us all.

I hope yours is peaceful.

Third 21.1 km

This weekend I ran my 3rd half marathon race. Grossly undertrained, I might add. My longest run had been 17k a few weeks prior and I would be lucky if I got one training run in during the week. I considered switching my bib to the 10k but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Finished another half just sounds better, right?!

I had no time goal other than to finish but if I’m honest with myself I knew I wanted to finish under 3 hours and certainly under 2:50. By some miracle or more likely sheer force of stubborn will, I crossed the finish line in 2:46:58. A minute slower than my previous effort last October and almost 10 minutes slower than my debut race in 2015.

About 10km into the race the outer aspect of my left knee started talking to me.

ITB. I haven’t experience ITB pain in several years. Uh oh. Not a good sign. A sign of undertraining in my opinion and poor post run stretch and foam roller etiquette.

But really, should I have expected anything different?

Oh and I probably needed new running shoes 6 months ago.

Now, on a training run I would pause my Garmin and stretch out my hip flexors but there was no way I was stopping on course. I knew that if I stopped moving to stretch I may not get started again. So, I just took extra walk breaks after 15 km or so.  Before that I was sticking pretty well to my 1 km run and 100 meter walk intervals. After 15 km it was more like run 400 m, walk 200 m and repeat.

Looking around me, though, I saw other runners struggling too. I asked if they were okay. One runner had his hamstring seize up. For another it was her ankle. Others were just walking. Eventually I found the power walker I had been chasing unconsciously for most of the race and passed her. Yes! Not gonna lie. That was pretty awesome. All told when I crossed the finish line and before they gave me my medal, I burst into emotional, cathartic tears.

 

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