Lifetime Piling Up

Since my last blog post on furrs.org, life has been … frustrating, to say the least.

My father’s doing MUCH better, thank you — that’s not one of the frustrating things. He has recuperated very well from his emergency hip surgery in mid-February. He got over the delusions that he was plagued by post-surgery and he’s gotten to the point that he can walk without a walker.

I’ve been struggling with severe depression, absolutely unrelated to Dad. There have been days that I sat at my desk in my office for four hours after quitting time, just aimlessly web-browsing and thinking “I should go to the gym and run” and then, once finally in the car, just heading for home and crawling into bed. I’m taking citalopram and trazodone every day and seeing a therapist a couple of times a month. I know that the trazodone has been not so good to a lot of my friends because of the drowsiness factor, but that’s actually why I’m on it. I gave up coffee a couple of years ago (and try to avoid caffeine in general) and that really improved my sleep, but there have been too many nights when I lie awake, fretful and restless. The trazodone helps with that… much more so than the Ambien they had me on a couple of years ago.

My depression is biochemical in nature. It’s (probably) not due to life stress, although there’s certainly been plenty of that. The depression waxes and wanes even when life conditions stay constant. I’m aware that my body is fighting my brain and saying “DO DUMB THINGS. OVEREAT. DON’T EXERCISE. SIT HERE IN YOUR OFFICE AND FEEL SORRY FOR YOURSELF.” It’s one thing to know that and another to actually be able to fight the urge.

On another front, I was going great guns on running at the start of the winter. My speed was increasing and I had gotten to the point that I no longer had to walk at all during a 5K session on our local indoor track. I ran in the Shelburne Spring Fling 5K on the first day of spring and did amazingly well — I finished in 28:27, by far the fastest time I’d ever had at that point in an actual road race.

Then metoprolol happened. I’ve been concerned about my high blood pressure for the last year. Prior to last May, my blood pressure was pretty amazing. Then ugly personal events happened in May (which I may never blog about, but they were pretty bad), and my blood pressure went straight through the roof. We tried lisinopril, which gave me a bad cough, then switched to losartan, which helped somewhat, but not a huge amount, then added hydrochlorothiazide (a diuretic), which also helped a bit, and then there came a day when I absent-mindedly checked my blood pressure at work and got a reading of 190 over 120 or something. And I freaked. And next thing you know I was on metoprolol, which lowers your blood pressure by turning you into a heavily sedated zombie of some kind. I liked what it did for my blood pressure, but when I tried to run after about a week of metoprolol, I found myself running 5K in thirty seven minutes. I could barely run at all. Most of the distance was spent walking. I felt like I was on heavy anesthesia.

I had a choice — I could punt on any thought of running, or I could opt out of the metoprolol. I decided that I didn’t want to have healthy blood pressure at the cost of feeling winded when I climbed a flight of steps, and simply stopped taking it. It took a few weeks to get entirely out of my system, but I seem to finally be “back”. I’m back to the point where I can run 5K on an indoor track without stopping to walk at all, and I’ve run several sub-30 minute 5K distances in a row in the last week. Today I had my personal best time ever at that distance: 27 minutes, 50 seconds. First time I ever got below 28 minutes.

Now I need to start working on distance… upping the distance run to 10K and beyond. Fortunately, spring is finally coming to Vermont and that should be possible.

But with every step forward, there’ve been multiple steps back. Our dear little cat, Thursday (it’s short for ‘The Cat Who Was Thursday’, a reference to a work by G.K. Chesterton) has been very very sick lately. She started avoiding food and showing no energy whatsoever last week, and I insisted on taking her in to the vet (Carole initially though that she was just being finicky). Turns out that she’s essentially suffering from chronic renal failure and her BUN and creatine levels were unbelievably unhealthy. They kept her for about 48 hours on an IV and got her back to the point where she had an appetite and would take solid food. But we’ve been giving her subcutaneous fluids and potassium and an antacid and an anti-nausea drug, and that’s helped a bit, but today she’s been back to refusing food. We think it’s because of mouth ulcers — she’s got bloody ulcers in her mouth and occasionally drools blood… and I suspect that it just hurts too much to eat. We’re going to beg the vets tomorrow for something to help with that.

We know that she may get to the point that she’s “better” and can live for a year or two more. Friends with cats in this sort of condition have gotten their pets past the hump and to a stable condition. But on the other hand, if Thursday’s quality of life doesn’t improve (case in point: she’s not cleaning herself and her fur is matted if we don’t wash her ourselves) and she just lies around feeling too sick and ill to move, we may have to make a very hard decision. I know many of you have faced that same decision in the past and some of you may be thinking “it’s cruel to keep her alive and in pain”, but again, lots of cats have faced this and mostly recovered. We don’t want to give up hope yet. Thursday has been with us 15 years and we love her very much.

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