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.
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.
After a wonderful evening with my best friend and her partner, after eating prime rib and Yorkshire pudding and 3.5 bottles of wine among us, I woke up Sunday morning with a slight hangover and a tummy that was not happy about all the food. I hate to get graphic but I had a very upset tummy that morning, well actually, more like in the middle of the night, reminiscent of the stomach flu but thankfully no vomiting.
Remember, hubby and I have been on a healthy eating kick. We have small dinners of protein and veggies, no dessert and no booze. My system clearly didn’t appreciate the high fat and alcohol all at the same time. So Sunday morning came and I was like, “Long run? Not a chance.”
Instead we took the kids out and ended up at an aquarium store. A couple of hours later, we came home with a companion for our mama crayfish, a new aquarium for the two and a fire eel!!!!
Mama crayfish is the red/orange one. Royal blue crayfish is her new companion. The rainbow pebbles were chosen by our daughter.
We found the eel hiding under this rock a few hours after putting him in the tank. He is a bottom dweller and likes to hide. I think his little snout sticking out is super cute.
So it was around 5:30pm when we were done setting up the homes of our new family members and I decided it was now or never to run. So I suited up and forced myself to go out. I’m so glad I did. Though it was super slow, it felt great to be back out there pounding the pavement. I didn’t increase the distance too much, I had planned 6.7 km (10% increase from last week), but finished at 6.5 km due to general fatigue. Still, it’s in the books and I feel good about it overall.
Hard to believe it’s almost the end of June. There’s been a lot going on in my world, most of it pretty good.
My dad is on the mend from his kidney stone issues and has remained pretty stable with respect to his memory and the Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Two rounds of infection, two general anesthetics, mild delerium and his memory testing was the same! Unbelievable really. The thing with AD is that the patient kind of remains oblivious to the reality around him. He recognizes that his memory has declined but he doesn’t understand anymore the impact it has on everyone else, his wife especially. If there is any blessing with AD it is that the patient loses their higher executive, frontal lobe functioning early. It is quite the opposite for the family. My mom is a strong woman though and she is managing pretty well; she goes to her weekly support group, my brother works from their place once a week and she visits the kids when it gets too much. I wish there was more I could do for her and for my dad.
As for me, I’ve done two races this month with decent results, given how awful the winter was with my running. I have another 10K race this weekend and I am not expecting to do any better than 1:15 but that’s okay. It’s an opportunity to have some fun, run on the highway and get a cool T-shirt and medal!
I’m starting a new part-time job next month in addition to my family practice. It is an opportunity I sought out and I am excited about. It is an opportunity to grow as a physician, learn about a different model of care and will be a great change of scenery for me. I’ll be a lot busier, working 5 days a week (instead of 4) but I think I’m up for the challenge. The future of primary care in my province is looking hazy right now and I am a little worried. We have been without a contract with our Government for over two years and they are planning on implementing change to how primary care is delivered without consulting the front line workers, ie me! I felt it was time to start looking at other opportunities where my work is actually appreciated.
What does a wife and mother to 3 children do when her husband (who stays home to look after the kids) is suddenly offered the opportunity of a lifetime but it means 2 years away from home while he tours Canada, the U.S., and Japan?
So many scenarios run through my head…
Of course we could make it work.
I can parent three children on my own and still work 30 hours a week.
My job is relatively flexbile, I could change my hours to accommodate school pick up and drop offs.
I can’t let him pass up this amazing opportunity.
What if he resents me in 10 years because he didn’t go? What if he resents me in 10 years because he did go?
I used to watch this television show called Fringe. The main premise of the show was parallel universes. I often wonder if there were a parallel universe or ten, what would it show me? How would my husband leaving to go on tour for 2 years affect my children’s development? How would it affect them if he didn’t go? Would it make me a more capable mother or would it make me worse?
I don’t think he’s going to go, but the exercise of thinking about it and wondering if I could handle running a household on my own really makes me realize how much I depend on him and need him. Sometimes I think I might take that for granted.
There has been so much I wanted to write about but getting my thoughts down has been hard. It’s been very busy at work and by the time I get home and see my kids, eat dinner and relax, it is time for bed. I’ve been running about once a week which isn’t nearly enough and that has been hard to deal with as well. I just haven’t been motivated to run lately and it hasn’t helped that I’ve been on-again off-again having issues with my calf. Coming home late from work also means there’s no time to run. The kids barely see me during the week as it is, so it’s not like I can arrive home and immediately turn around and leave for a run. Needless to say, mommy guilt is at an all-time high.
I have also been preoccupied lately with being an assessor for medical school admissions. After doing a file review of 30 applicants, I also took part in the in-person interview. I’m not sure who was more nervous, me or the applicant! Thinking back to my own medical school interview, it was an hour long while I sat across from four very important looking people. Daunting indeed. It was interesting being on the other side of the table. It was more a privilege than anything else. I felt like I was a member of a very important club and it felt good to be able to play a small role in choosing our future physicians.
Husband and I have been watching a lot of Netflix recently. We just watched a documentary called “Cooked” and it was a fascinating look at how we as humans approach food. One of the episodes was called “Air” and it was a look at the art (and science) behind bread. Did you know that if you mixed water and flour and left it to the air that something magical would happen? You can make your own yeast sourdough starter! You don’t need anything else but time and patience. There are yeast spores in the flour and in the air, all ready to start doing their thing. Ever the scientist, I decided to give it a try.
Day 1. A boring paste of flour and water.
Day 2. Something is happening. Those bubbles are CO2 being formed by yeast. After adding more flour and water to feed the fledgling yeast
Day 3. More feeding of flour and water. More magic. Now it’s starting to smell a bit funky, which I hear is a good thing.
Day 4 – today. Sour and pungent smell. It is almost ready.
When I got home tonight I decided it was time to try out some bread making. Now the dough is rising for the next 12 hours (sourdough) and for the record had I known this would take this long to make one loaf of bread I would have just gone out to the bakery and bought one.