Running On All Cylinders

Today has been a good day. After J left for work this morning I ran the dishwasher, then went downstairs and listened to a couple of records, did my exercises, and worked on my “worry hour”. The medication I’m taking still leaves me a little groggy until about 10AM so I wasn’t moving very fast, but I was moving.

I got a text from my mom and decided to give my folks a call and we had a really good (from my viewpoint, at least) conversation. I am very lucky to have parents who are as supportive and helpful as mine are. They’ve saved my bacon many times.

After that I did some research for a post I’m working on and ran a load through the washing machine at the same time. The sky looked like it wanted to rain all day but held off so I opened a bunch of windows and enjoyed the fresh breeze and the sounds of birds as they went about their business. I went outside to put the rear panels and seat back on the motorcycle but – since it’s been a year and a half – I couldn’t remember where I’d put them.

I really wanted to accomplish something outside, so I pulled out the mower and mowed the back yard. I’ve never seen so many dandelions out there and I’ve never seen them so healthy, with huge green leaves and fat yellow flowers atop four to six inch stems. Sometimes I wonder why we don’t just give up and say that dandelions or clover or whatever is growing in the dirt around a house works fine as a “lawn”.

When I finished mowing I looked around for the motorcycle panels again and, with no luck, decided to go back inside and play around with one of my Raspberry Pis. I ordered a camera for one of them a little while ago and it was badly out of focus. I spent some time today changing the focus with a pair of needle-nose pliers and finally got it to where I was happy with it. I then erased one of the oldest Pis I have and set it up again from scratch (the old kernel was from 2014). Some things are a little different in the newer versions of the operating system so I spent some time looking things up to make sure I was doing it right.

I was expecting J to be home around 5PM but she came home earlier than I expected and caught me while I was cooking supper. She’d had a good day too and was happy that it was the weekend. We talked for a little bit and then I finished cooking supper and she fired off a job application. We had a good chat over supper and went over what we’re going to do this evening. The only thing we got figured out is that we’re going to play a game of cribbage at some point.

Today has been a good day.

Stay safe!

Out Of The Hospital!

Today has been a good day. J took me back to the hospital and I signed back into the ward and met with Dr W. Our meeting went very well and as a result, I’ve been discharged. It feels good to be able to type that. Now I just have to stand on my own two legs and keep getting better. I have a Dr C appointment on Monday and I am looking forward to getting things back to whatever passes for normal around here.

When I was leaving the ward, I thanked as many of the staff as I could, but I always feel kind of silly just saying “Thank you very much”. I wish I could think of a better way of conveying just how grateful I am for everything that everyone did for me. After my first session in the psych ward, I sent a card thanking the staff for everything but I was stuck using the same words. I don’t even have the right words for J, even though we’ve been married for quite a few years. She shifted her hours around or took time off to get me to all of my appointments and to make sure I was doing alright. How do you thank someone for that? Anything I can think of just seems so… glib.

So, to everyone who treated me, supported me, or just wanted me to get well – THANK YOU. I’m sorry I don’t have better words, but I’m alive and in one piece because of all of you. Thank you so very, very much!

Stay safe!

What’s Going To Happen?

In just a little while, J and I are heading back to the hospital after what I think has been a successful two day pass. My only concern is that I’m feeling a little sad, but just a little. On the upside, I didn’t even need any rescue medications and didn’t need to do any grounding or breathing exercises. Other than my back bugging me, I slept pretty well, and it was nice to have something to eat that actually had salt in it.

So J will drop me off at the ward and then I’ll wait to see Dr W. If he gives the OK then I’ll be out this afternoon. If he doesn’t, it’ll be for a good reason.

I’m quite excited. I have a huge list of things that I want to do and an even huger list of things that I need to do. The dandelions have finished their colonization of the back lawn and are just swapping up the last pockets of resistance in the front. I also really want to do some welding, I’ve got a new welding jacket that I’m really looking forward to trying out. I also want to plant a garden and try to take my motorcycle for a ride. So many things – I should really write them down so I don’t forget.

Stay safe!

In The Hospital, Days 9 and 10

I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday, there was a lot of stuff going on. Most notably, I’m at home on a two-day pass! Yes, it’s true – I got to sleep in my own bed, eat supper and hang out with J, watch some TV, do some laundry, mow the lawn, and listen to some records!

The pass has been great so far. Two days ago, I suggested to Dr W that I was feeling well enough to get out of the hospital but he recommended trying a pass first. The last time I was in the hospital, he suggested the same thing and he was right – I wasn’t ready to be at home by myself. This time feels different, though. I think I might be okay.

It was so nice to just be able to hang out and chat with J. We had pizza for supper and spent a lot of time catching up. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m a very lucky guy. J is a fantastic person and a wonderful wife. I don’t know anyone who got more visits from family than I did during all of my hospital stays. She just shrugs it off, saying that it’s something she wants to do, but it really makes a huge difference in how I feel and how my recovery is going.

I didn’t sleep really well last night but it’s just because when I closed my eyes I would see my hospital room and when I opened them it would take a second to remember where I was. That will go away soon enough. When I slept, I think I slept pretty hard. My back was sore when I woke up – that’s usually a sign that I slept in one position for too long.

So far today I’ve listened to some more records, done some exercises, and given a lot of thought about who I want to be and what I want (and need) to do. I’m still finding it really difficult to come up with answers about that sort of stuff. It’s frustrating – I want to be able to help people, but at the same time I’m afraid that I will screw up and end up hurting someone. I can’t do IM/IT stuff anymore but I have no training in anything else. Many of the trades interest me, but I don’t know many companies that would hire a 40+ year old apprentice when there are tons of people half my age who are looking for the same jobs. I want to work, but I’m still not at a point where I can volunteer somewhere once a week, nevermind working full time. It’s a bit of a conundrum.

I’m really hoping that things will continue to go well on this pass and I’ll be discharged from the hospital on Thursday. Fingers crossed!

Stay safe!

In The Hospital, Day 8

Today has been a good day. I slept well again last night and enjoyed a couple of good naps today. Even the food was really quite good today – hot turkey sandwiches for lunch and BBQ ribs for supper. Good stuff.

The big news today is that during my Dr W appointment, the subject of me being discharged came up. I feel I’m ready and Dr W thinks so too. All I need to do is try going home for a two-day pass and seeing how that goes. So, if everything goes well, I’ll be home from tomorrow morning until Thursday afternoon on a pass, and then once I get back to the hospital and talk to Dr W, I’ll be discharged!

It will be nice to be home. I have no idea what I’m going to do first, but it will be at home!

J came by for a visit this evening and we had a great time. After a small snack, we moved out into the comfy chairs near the front of the hospital and just sat there and held hands. It’s so nice to be so comfortable with a person. We talked quite a bit, but even the times when we were quiet were wonderful. I really am a very lucky fellow.

I can’t wait until tomorrow morning. I think I’m going to go to bed early to make tomorrow come faster!

Stay safe!

In The Hospital, Day 7

Before bed last night I had a little breakdown where I was hit with a huge wave of sadness. I don’t know where it came from, but it was brutal. I had a good cry, then went and talked to my nurse for a while. The simplest thing for me to do was get to sleep and wake up to a new day.

I slept pretty well and woke up feeling much better than I had the previous evening. I was also excited – J was coming to visit today! It felt like forever since I saw her last and I really miss her.

I did some laundry today, the first batch since I’ve been here and my clothes came out with soap residue and other peoples’ hair on them. Just like I remember.

I went to the gym today and walked around the track for a while. It didn’t take long to find out that I’m in way worse shape than I thought.

J arrived this evening for a visit and I tell you, was it ever good to see her! She brought along some of the things that my folks picked up while they were in Mexico and we talked for almost two hours. J picked up milkshakes on her way into town and got me a strawberry one. It was really good. I now understand why my mother-in-law stops at that place when she comes into the city.

I had such a good time hanging out with J. I can’t wait until I’m discharged so I can go home and the two of us can watch a movie or hold hands or whatever. I miss her an awful lot while I’m in here. I hope she knows how much I appreciate her and all of the unconditional support she gives me. She is a very special person. Everyone should have a very special person in their lives!

Stay safe!

In The Hospital, Day 6

As far as weekends on the ward go, this one has started out not too badly. Even though I slept well last night, I’ve been feeling pretty groggy all day today – I took what I thought was going to be a short nap but ended up sleeping right through lunch. Fortunately, they saved my tray so I still got to eat. After lunch, I took another two hour nap. I’m not sure why I’m so tired but I wonder if it has to do with the new dosages for the sertraline and venlaflaxine.

It’s the weekend so there are no groups so other than napping I really didn’t do or accomplish much today. I was thinking of doing some laundry but the washing machine has been running full tilt all day.

In addition to being tired, I’m feeling a little “off”. A little nervous but I can’t figure out exactly why. I tried clearing my head and doing mindfulness exercises but they didn’t help much so I’m going to assume it’s related to the medication changes. I don’t feel terrible, just a little anxious.

There are so many things that I want to do when I get out of the hospital this time. I’ve felt this way before but my motivation has dissipated pretty quickly; I really hope this time is different. I’ve got a motorcycle that’s 99% ready to ride, steel that’s ready to be welded, stuff to write, music to listen to, and things to look at under the microscope. I just need to keep focused.

Another thing I need to do something about is my weight and fitness. I have put on approximately 50 lbs since this time last year and I really need to lose them. I know some of it is likely because of the medication but some of it is certainly due to me eating too much of everything. Making things a little more interesting is that I still have no appetite and need to eat by the clock. On the other hand, I have no off switch – once food is put in front of me I will eat until everything’s gone. My hips and back are noticing the extra weight so I really need to get things under control. I’ll be sure to post what works for me and what doesn’t.

Stay safe!

In The Hospital, Day 5

Things are continuing to look up. I slept well again last night, my mind isn’t playing any tricks on me, and today has gone quite well.

The novelty of being in the hospital has worn off, though. I’d really rather be home at this point. I don’t feel like I’d do anything bad, and I’d enjoy a few hours in front of the record player right now.

Groups today were good. Morning group was about spirituality and the afternoon was about Canada since Canada’s 150th birthday is approaching.

I had a telephone meeting with Dr C at noon today. We mostly focused on what led me to this particular stint in the hospital. When I think back on it, I find it difficult to accept how badly I felt at the time even though it was less than a week ago. So many things have changed; so many other things have stayed the same.

Am I “better”? No, not by a long shot… but I’m definitely headed in the right direction. When I spoke with Dr W today, he predicted that I wouldn’t be in the hospital for very much longer. That would make this stay the shortest by far. J is fond of saying that I need to shake things around and see what falls out next and I think she’s got something there. Each time I’ve been here it’s been because of a different trigger, which then gets worked on until I can handle it for the most part by myself. That leaves one less thing that can creep up on me and kick me when I’m down.

Tomorrow we’re changing the sertraline and venlafaxine dosages again. I’m really hoping that I experience few or no side effects from either withdrawing from the sertraline or adding the venlafaxine. I’ve been extremely lucky so far and haven’t run into any show-stopping side effects.

This afternoon, FA stopped by and we visited for about an hour and a half. We went outside and sat in the hospital garden area and had a really good talk. I really appreciate the time she takes out of her schedule to come and visit. The hospital is pretty much on the other side of the city from her house so it’s not a trivial amount of time and effort for her to get here. I know I’ve said it before, but she’s a really good friend!

This evening, J and I had another video chat. A phone call is good but a video chat is so much better. I miss her an awful lot and any way to feel closer to her helps. It’s because of her that I’ve made it to the hospital instead of ending up someplace worse. I’m really looking forward to her next visit!

This weekend is a long weekend, so here on the ward it’s going to be a LONG weekend. I got my gym pass today and I am allowed off the ward for an hour at a time so I think I’ll be spending some time walking the track and listening to music.

Stay safe!

In The Hospital, Day 4

I slept pretty well again last night. Woke up once from a nightmare but it didn’t keep me awake for very long. What finally woke me up for the day was someone tapping my shoulder and saying my name. I woke up, startled, and flipped over to see a lab tech standing there with her case of blood drawing equipment.

When she was done taking blood, I looked at the time and realized I’d almost slept through breakfast. I wandered over to the dining area, grabbed my tray, and sat down to eat. My nurse this morning was K and she brought me my morning medication. We’re on day 2 of the sertraline to venlafaxine migration and I haven’t noticed any side effects – negative or positive – at all, which makes me pretty happy.

This morning’s group was about healthy eating and how many foods out there claim to be “healthy” when they are actually full of salt, sugar, fat, or a combination of the three. We looked up a bunch of different foods and it was pretty shocking what was in some of the stuff. Another thing that caught most of us by surprise was that the serving size for a lot of things was really tiny.

Group this afternoon was about gratitude, a topic that I could write a ton of posts on. We spent quite a while discussing gratitude journals and how to express gratitude in particular situations.

My meeting with Dr W went well. I feel okay today – not as good as yesterday, but certainly not bad. I can now leave the ward for half an hour by myself as long as I stay on hospital property.

Oh, and speaking of hospital property, FA is coming to visit me tomorrow! I’m really looking forward to hanging out with her for a bit, she always has interesting stuff going on. She should be here around 4PM or so and we’re going to hang out until about 5:30.

I spoke to my parents today for the first time since they got home from their vacation. They had a really good time (which is excellent – they deserve it) but were happy to finally get home and sleep in their own bed. It was also the first opportunity I’d had to talk to them about why I was in the hospital. I am very lucky to have parents as supportive as they are.

This evening, J and I had a video chat. It was really good to talk to her again, I miss her very much. We talked about our days and plans for about half an hour. I’m really glad we have the video chat option – it’s still not the same as being there in person, but it feels a lot closer to real than a regular phone call.

This evening I think I’m going to do some writing (assuming my laptop battery holds out) and get to bed a little early.

Stay safe!

In The Hospital, Day 3

I slept better last night than I have in weeks. It wasn’t just a good sleep – it was one of those woke-up-in-the-same-position-I-went-to-bed kind of sleeps. I had a bunch of weird dreams, though – the weirdest one was where I was a journalist, covering a roller derby event but the players would stop playing and form a chorus line and start singing every time I tried to take a picture. They say dreams mean something but I have no idea what that one could possibly mean in the real world.

Weird dreams aside, I feel good today, too. My mood is good, I don’t feel down… everything seems like it’s turned around and is headed upwards. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop, but for the most part, I’m just glad I feel okay.

Dr W and I discussed depression yesterday and we agreed to migrate me from the sertraline over to venlafaxine. I had my first dose this morning, and… nothing. I didn’t notice a thing. Hopefully that’s a good omen for how the entire migration will go.

My appointment with Dr W today went well. He was surprised at the difference in how I was compared to 24 hours earlier. He told me to be optimistic but remember that there may be downs with the ups. Since my head is clearer and I’m not thinking of bad stuff, he gave me privileges so I can go off the ward by myself for 20 minutes as long as I stay on the hospital grounds. He also gave me a two hour pass that I can take with family or close friends.

This morning in group we made cookies and two types of oatmeal cups. Everything turned out really well and I got the recipe for the cookies to use when I get home.

By the time the afternoon rolled around, I was feeling a little groggy so I took a bit of a nap. I missed the afternoon group but woke up in time for supper. I have to say that the food here is really not too shabby. Sometimes it looks like it’s been in the warmer for too long but considering how many people they’re feeding, I think it’s pretty good.

J came to visit after supper! Since I’d been given a two hour pass, J and I could go down to the cafeteria on the main floor, talk, and hang out. It sure was good to see her again, I really miss her when we’re apart. J had some exciting work news too so that was great to hear. We talked the entire time and it was wonderful. I used my two hour pass right to the minute. The hospital is not overly convenient to get to so I really appreciate her showing up and bringing supplies along.

This evening I’m just taking it easy and enjoying how I feel. I really hope things keep on getting better but if there’s a down, that’s okay. I’m definitely in the right place to have it.

Stay safe!