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I haven’t posted in forever and I can’t imagine that anyone is still reading this…but I’m going to start writing again for me, which is the original reason I started the blog to begin with.  I’ve got to get back on track, and this blog has always been a major tool in staying accountable and focused.

The big move is over with.  We’re still settling in and probably will be for months, but we’re here and most of the critical things are unpacked.  The house is starting to look like a home; we’ve got all the kids’ pictures up and that’s a benchmark for homeyness, I think.  The major stresses of the four-month separation and the cross-country move are over with, and now reality begins to set in.  This is our new life, this is our new home, and we have to make it what we want it to be.

I’ve always believed that you should begin as you mean to go on, so that’s what I’m trying to do.  I’m dealing with some emotional stuff that I won’t go into because that’s not what this is for, but in a nutshell it boils down to missing people and being homesick.  Nothing that anyone else in my position wouldn’t be dealing with; nothing that the rest of my family aren’t dealing with.  I’ll deal with it.  But at this point, I’ve been given a golden ticket to a chance to change myself and my life, so I need to grasp that.  If I don’t, then I’ve done myself and my family a grave disservice and really cheated myself badly. 

We’re living in a bona-fide subdivision this time around, something we haven’t done in about 15 years.  It’s quiet, it’s well-laid-out, and above all, it’s flat.  A more perfect opportunity for outdoor exercise could not exist in any form that would have meaning to me.  So I’ve been taking it – we have taken after-dinner walks a couple of times, and I’ve been biking in the mornings.  I haven’t yet this morning, and probably won’t because we’ve got some critical errands that need to be run early – so as soon as this post is done, I’m going to wake up the woman-child and the teenling (I like those terms better than ED and YD, and I think I’ll stick with them) and go do those things.  But I am committing firmly to some significant form of exercise every single day…well, I will probably allow myself rest days when I feel that I need them, because I know how important that is, particularly when you have an autoimmune condition.  But nearly every day, and every single day that I’m physically capable.  Feeling a little tired or not being in the mood will not be acceptable excuses.  Neither will being too busy – I really can’t claim that one any more.  I’m not working right now, so if I could make time for exercise when I was working full-time and taking care of a home and family, I can damn sure do it now.  I also have the WiiFit for indoor exercise, and I am planning to do yoga at least three times a week, and hopefully more.

I’m shaping up the nutrition aspect of our lives again, too.  Things had gotten so crazy that I had let us lapse back into old, bad habits almost entirely.  I’m eradicating that now, as I am again able to plan and shop and prepare with some sort of order and routine.  I did make the mistake of bringing ice cream into the house, and I’ll have to watch that, as my very favorite ice cream/burger chain is in this area and that will be a temptation.  [It's funny, because I'm not normally an ice-cream junkie...but this place is off-the-charts amazing.  It's a local chain that produces and brings in all their products - meats, produce, dairy, everything - from their farms to their stores daily.  As a result, they have the best cheeseburgers, fries and ice cream in the free world...]  I am going to have to figure out a system of planned treats, so that I can enjoy that without being indulgent.  I don’t plan to spend the rest of my life being strictly regimented, but I also don’t plan to spend it unhealthy and overweight. 

So I have the exercise and food aspects…well, not quite in hand, maybe, but I’m getting there.  That just leaves the mental aspect, and that’s the function of this blog.  I don’t have a support network locally yet – that part has always been the hard part for me, bringing people into my life – and I know how much I need that reinforcement, so for the time being this will be my mental reinforcement.  Whether anyone reads or not, it will be my way of keeping my head in the game, and reminding myself daily (I hope) how important this is to me.  I have used the arthritis as an excuse to go easy on myself for a while now, and before that there were other excuses.  Excuses don’t get the job done; they just make you old, tired and unhealthy, and that’s how I’ve been feeling.  I think it’s past time to take my life, my body and my health back.

Well, I haven’t blogged in forever…I’m having a hard time sticking with “new” habits (actually old habits revisited) lately.  There’s just so much going on and I’m struggling with my “deer in the headlights” method of stress-coping.  You know, just freeze and wait for the half-ton of metal to smash you into a smear of ook on the pavement.  And it would almost be okay except that the actual impact never comes.

I have had some good results.  I got the insurance fiasco straightened out, finally.  I’m still tempted to sue the mail-order people out of general principle; I know that anyone who wasn’t willing (or didn’t know how) to fight as long and rabidly as I did would have been completely screwed out of the coverage they should have had, and that makes me angry.  Yes, it’s fixed for me – and I’m deliriously happy over that – but how many people have had to go without medication they need because of this tactic?  It’s really not okay, and someone needs to do something about it.  Unfortunately, the way our system works, a lawsuit is about the only thing you can do, and even that never really fixes anything.  However, you can’t sue on general principle – you need to have some form of damages, and (fortunately for me) I don’t have anything quantifiable.  So probably no lawsuit, much as they deserve one.

Regardless.  That’s a soap box for which I simply don’t have the energy tonight.  I am tired and depressed…I should be asleep, I could be asleep, but I can’t go to bed until the acid-reflux medication kicks in.  Yet another health issue from days gone by that is rearing its ugly head lately.  I have simply got to start really taking care of myself…I just can’t seem to find the energy or the enthusiasm for anything right now.

DH leaves in a week and a half.   That makes me very sad.  I think about how many people have to say goodbye to their spouses on a regular basis – military spouses are the obvious example, but there are plenty of people whose spouses work in other states regularly, and I’m just not sure how they manage it.  It might not be so bad if we weren’t also trying to sell both the house and the cabin, which is going to require a lot of attention and upkeep from me.  It would be a chore even with him here.  Without him…I keep reminding myself that I can do it, and I will do it.  I do know this.  I just have a hard time believing it sometimes.

Here’s the thing.  He’s my anchor.  He’s my safety net.  He’s my foundation and my GPS.  He doesn’t solve my problems – he expects me to, and I do.  But I know he’s there, if I come across one I just can’t solve.  He would do it, or at the very least he would help me find a way.  He doesn’t take care of me – he expects me to take care of myself, and I do.  But if I honestly couldn’t, I know he would.   He doesn’t coddle me or pamper me or hold my hand or treat me like a princess.  He loves me and trusts me and believes in me enough to expect me to be a strong, independent partner – and I try to do exactly that.  Most of the time I do okay.  So do I need him here to take care of me?  No.  But I just feel so much safer and stronger and more confident knowing that he is here, and I could fall back on him if I absolutely needed to.   In the end, it will be good for me to be self-sufficient for a few months, because I will admit I have begun to look to him for answers sometimes when I already know, or should know, the answer.  Maybe this will remind me how to think for myself and expect more from myself than the bare minimum.

But all that’s really secondary and isn’t even really the issue.  I am just going to miss him so much.  I hate the thought of him being alone.  I hate the thought of being here, in this house where we have shared so much and grown so much and made so many memories, without him.  I hate the thought of opening the closet every morning and seeing how my clothes now have the space to completely take over – because his are gone.  I hate the fact that when we sit down to dinner at night, I won’t hear “so, what were the big happenings at the (censored) Law Firm today?”  That’s his litany, his invitation for me to share my daily life with him, and I’m going to miss it.  Even when my answer is just “not much,” the simple ritual of it is just…priceless.  Irreplaceable.  The endless “good night” ritual that we have (engineered by our daughters over the years, it has grown from a simple “good night” to “good night; sweet dreams; I love you; see you in the morning; be safe” and each line has to be echoed by the receiving party, so it takes forEVER) – it somehow helps me fall asleep knowing that it’ll be okay, we’ll all still be here in the morning and life will go on.  That sounds simplistic but let’s face it; I have anxiety disorder, OCD and am a constant victim of magical thinking, so little things like that can mean a lot.

It all comes down to the fact that I’ll miss him.  I’m not angry, I’m not resentful, I’m not feeling sorry for myself or wishing it were different.  This is a decision we made together, and I don’t regret it for a minute.  It will be difficult and I am dreading it, but it is unquestionably the right decision for our family and the best thing we can do at this juncture in our lives.  But I am scared, and I am unsure, and I am sad.   I’m okay with that, because those are all appropriate emotions for me to be feeling right now – and one of the biggest aspects of the personal journey I’ve been making over the past few years is allowing myself to feel the appropriate emotions, rather than bottling them up, suppressing them, or trying to turn them into other emotions (like anger, for example).  So I’m okay with feeling these things – and I know that he’s feeling them too, to some extent, whether he expresses them or not.  And that makes me sad for him, because I so do not want him to feel that way.  So…you know, I’m just a little sad, and apprehensive.

I’m terribly stressed about the whole real estate issue, because I cannot abide the unknown.  I do not like not having control, not being able to plan, not knowing what to expect.  I can’t stand endless variables…and my life right now is nothing but a series of endless variables.  I can’t plan.  Well, I can make several contingency plans – “if this happens, then we do that”, but I can’t rest easy in the certain knowledge of a timeline and an agenda.  When things happen, I will have to react quickly, and knowing that always makes me panicky.  I’ve coped with anxiety disorder by making sure my life is planned out as much as possible, so there are very few situations where I have the opportunity to panic.  Right now…well, the Xanax prescription is getting a workout, is all I can say.

It’s hard on the kids, too.  Not just knowing their Dad will be half the country away – though that is difficult – but also just the daily, chronic, low-level stress of the whole situation.  Everyone’s tense, everyone’s uncertain, and we’re all acting out because of it.  It’s going to be critical for me to really get my own emotions under control so I can be calm and give the girls something of an anchor in their own shifting currents.  ED has a ton of stuff going on with senior year stuff, graduation and college prep, on top of it all.  YD is a massive Daddy’s girl, so when DH leaves it will be a huge strain on her.  She’s also understandably very anxious about being the “new kid” and starting over in a whole new place, when she has lived in this house all her life.  Add in the beginnings of puberty, and she’s having a hard time.  So I need to be there for them, and to do that I really have got to get a grip on myself first.

I miss spending time with my friends, too.  For a lot of very, very good reasons there hasn’t been much friend time lately, and I miss it.  I need it.  There was a time when I didn’t, when I had taught myself not to, but I’ve let myself become dependent upon that over the past year or so, and now I’m sort of lost without it.  It’s just so hard to make time for anything when there are always more things to do than hours in the day, and my energy levels are frankly nonexistent.

Staying up half the night writing isn’t going to help, either, except in terms of venting a little of the weepiness.  But I’ve done that now, so I think it’s bedtime.  Hopefully in the morning, I’ll have a little brighter outlook.  I’m such a wet blanket at the moment…

Someone I admire and respect immensely recently commented to me that the hormone calm that follows a good cry is worth the effort.  I think she was right.  Unfortunately it was about a four-day “good cry”…but I’m riding the calm at the eye of the storm at the moment, and it feels rather blissfully numb.

It’s been a rough few days.  I am not, as a rule, someone who cries a lot.  I do not normally cry in front of anyone – no matter how much I love or trust them – and when I cry by myself, it’s about a thirty- second to two-minute sobfest and then it’s over…leaving behind a stuffy nose, headache, and all the other crap.  But over the past few days, I’ve been a soppy, sloppy, whimpering mess.  I cry at the drop of a hat, for any reason at all, and for no reason at all, and it lasts forever – I can’t seem to stop.  I’m a little sick of crying, to be honest.

Today, though, I seem to be functioning at a near-normal level, which is nice.  I guess I just ran out of angry/sad/scared/frustrated and ended up with numb.  Which is good.  I need a little numb.

I’m embroiled in a heated, senseless, circular war with my insurance company and pharmacy benefit (non)provider.  Due to a convenient (and, I am convinced, fraudulent) loophole that said (non)provider has created for itself, the medication that was helping me function almost normally despite my autoimmune issues is not being paid for, and quite frankly I don’t have an extra thousand dollars or so a month to pay for it myself.   So I am unmedicated and engaging in a daily round of non-productive phone calls with all three participants (moronic insurance company, intransigent nonprovider, and bewildered nonprovider’s scapegoat)…and I am exhausted.  I’m sure most people would just throw up their hands and give up – which, I am sure, is what they count on.  Unfortunately (for them) I am at heart a viciously stubborn, contrary, bloody-minded bitch…so the war will continue and it’s going to get progressively less pleasant for those unlucky enough to be receiving my endless telephone calls. [Note:  I do not normally advocate, or even tolerate, rudeness to people who are honestly just trying to do their jobs.  I recognize that I am not speaking to the decision-makers, but rather the unfortunate flunkies who get to take my irate calls and deliver the message they’ve been tasked with delivering.  However, I have reached a  point at which my careful Southern upbringing has ceased to restrain my inner snarling bitch, and I’m becoming less gracious and ladylike every day.  If this doesn’t get resolved soon, I’m going to end up as Ann Coulter…or possibly Rosie O’Donnell…)  Oh, and the icing on the cake?  In two weeks, when DH makes the jump, I’ll be uninsured for thirty days.  So there’s a good chance the insurance issue will be resolved just in time for the coverage to no longer be in effect.  So I’m probably looking at being unmedicated for at least another sixty days, assuming the new insurance lacks the general f**kwittage of my current insurance…and I’m not entirely willing to make that assumption.

So there’s that.  Also, my husband is going to be moving to Oklahoma in three weeks, while the girls and I stay behind until June.  I miss him already.  So that’s making me emotional.  Then there’s the stress of trying to sell the house and our lake cabin, as well as trying to find a new home (which is difficult because it’s hard to know if anything that’s on the market now will still be on the market whenever our place finally sells).  Also, ED is turning eighteen, getting ready to graduate, and preparing for college…and YD is clearly beginning the long, soul-shredding segue into puberty.  So I know that the next five months or so are going to be among the most trying of my entire life.

I’m up for it.  I really am.  I just seem to have moments when I forget that fact.  My BFF is going through a similarly difficult time and unfortunately both our difficult times are of a type that conspire to keep us from spending any time together or even being able to talk regularly, so we can’t even offer the kind of support for each other that we’d like to.  2010 is not starting off quite the way I’d like for it to have done.

I am eating much better, and that’s something of a victory in the face of the emotional excesses in which I’ve been indulging.  I haven’t been tempted much to drown my sorrows in crappy food, though I have had a glass or two of wine.  So I’ve been eating awesomely clean, I’ve lost four pounds since Day One, and over the past week have mostly just maintained, which I’m very happy with.  Maintenance, in the face of stress, is a huge victory for me.  It’s not how I normally roll, frankly.

Workouts have not been so successful.  I can honestly plead lack of time and too many other things I have to get done, though that doesn’t make me feel better.  The real problem is that I just don’t want to work out.  I want to sleep, and that’s all I want to do – which is a huge red flag right there.  I am depressed and I recognize that; I know the signs and I’m familiar with the process.  I’m irritated with everybody and I just don’t care about much of anything…I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere, I just want to crawl into bed and sleep till everything’s better.  I know that’s not going to happen, but there it is – that’s how I feel.  I know I can’t give into it – who has time? – and I do know all the things I need to do to drag my sorry ass out of the hole I’m in.  I just have to decide it’s worth doing.  I’ll get there.  It may take a few days, but I’ll get there.

So on the whole, life is somewhat tense at the moment…but evidently I’m getting better at taking care of myself during the stressful times.  Everything else aside, I’m pretty pleased about that.  I’ll never make it to perfect, but if I’m making progress, then I guess that’s what counts.

I’m kind of having a bit of luck with getting back into the habit of blogging regularly, because I’ve been stuck at home for two days now.  Consequently, I have lots more time to write since I’m not, you know, working.  On the down side, however – I’VE BEEN STUCK AT HOME FOR TWO DAYS NOW!

Let me be clear:  I love being at home.  I’d love nothing more than  to be at home full time every day.  However, I do not like being stuck at home.  I’d like to be able to leave at will – but of course, if I could, then I’d be at work.  But it just keeps snowing and snowing, the roads are crap, and of course schools are closed.  So here I am.

It’s not so bad, really.  I’ve had time to do my WiiFit body test and yoga (of course, I was up at 5 a.m. again, so I had that out of the way before it was even time to get up, but still) and to read some blogs, and to do a little cleaning.  One problem I have re-discovered, though, is food.

When I’m at home all day, structure tends to go right out the window.  I suppose it’s because I’m out of my normal routine, so it feels like a free day, as though I don’t have to worry about what or when I eat.  Normally, that throws me way off schedule and off-plan, but I’m fighting really hard to stay on both today.  I’m just getting back into good habits and it’s critical that I not sabotage them now, especially as I am feeling really good about how I’ve been doing.  Also, my arbitrary six-month goal deadline helps me to feel a sense of urgency that keeps me a little more focused.  So I’m really trying hard – but I’d forgotten how difficult it is.  It doesn’t help that there’s more “bad food” in the house than usual right now, because E.D. is still recovering from wisdom-teeth removal and I stocked up on stuff she can and will eat.  Mostly, that equals crap, unfortunately.  So far I’m doing all right at leaving it all alone, but again, I’d forgotten how hard it was.

So I know that I’ll need to really plan carefully and be prepared for this, when I’m at home full-time.  I’ll need to be prepared for the difficulty and the temptation; be very mindful and aware that a change in routine does not cancel out the need for healthy habits.

Yesterday went really well, and I was extremely pleased.  I stayed on plan with food.  I did a treadmill workout during the Biggest Loser.  I stayed at low speed – 3.0 for most of it – and almost zero incline, and I only did 30 minutes.  It isn’t much, compared to what I used to do, but right now I’m trying to establish my limitations.  I didn’t have any joint pain at that level – I did have some back pain, but it was minor.  I was careful to stretch and took a hot bath afterward, both of which have been critical in the past for avoiding excessive soreness and inflammation.  And today I felt fine.  Now, the last time I had a real problem was at 3.5, with a little more incline, and I think I went for about 45 minutes.  So I’m going to work my way up and see where the cutoff is.  I did notice that at 3.0, I noticed some stiffness in my hip joints, so I suspect my upper limit for speed is going to be fairly close – at least, until I’m back on the medication.  I am also hoping that regular yoga is going to give me a better range of motion in my hips, so maybe I won’t have that problem.

It’s going to be a long process and I’ll probably be constantly making adjustments for the rest of my life.  But at least I’m working toward it.  I feel good about having done both the WiiFit yoga and the treadmill, and I feel great about my nutrition.  I did great with water as well, so all in all, it was pretty much a perfect gold star day.  I’m hoping today will be another; it’s gotten off to a good start.

One of my dilemmas has always been whether or not to get up early to exercise.  On the one hand, I need the exercise time and love starting off my day already having worked out.  On the other hand, I am so chronically sleep-deprived that I eventually end up doing more damage to my health through sleep loss than I make up through the exercise.  So my plan is this:  if I’m up anyway, as I was yesterday and today, then I’ll go down and work out.  If I’m not, then I don’t worry about it, I’ll do my evening workout as planned.  At the rate I’ve been going lately, that will mean I’m doing a morning workout at least two weekdays if not more, which is not a bad percentage, but I won’t lose any more sleep than I already am.

So that’s the plan, and so far, so good.  And now it’s time for lunch, which I need to carefully orchestrate.  Peace…out.

Oh, and as an afterthought – the Biggest Loser?  Not many thoughts on it; too early to really tell much about it.  Except that I was disgusted by the total lack of class in the opening sequence, particularly the part where they superimposed the words “Have you got the guts?” over a picture of one contestant’s belly.  I was actually offended, and that’s not that easy to do.  I’m not sure why; it just seemed crass, insensitive, sensationalist, and without any legitimate purpose.  I know a lot of people believe that pretty much sums up the show in general, but I do believe in what they’re doing.  I just wish they wouldn’t lapse into such idiocy at times while they’re doing it.  Oh, and I love the little Orange team mama from Ardmore, Oklahoma (been there, and have family there, BTW).  She’s a firecracker!   Can’t wait to watch her in action.  She and Jillian make a great team, I think.

Well, today is actually Day Two…but it’s just begun, and I’m actually going to be talking about Day One (yesterday).

I’m sitting in my kitchen, snowed in with a couple of kids who’ve been paroled from school for the day due to the same snow that’s preventing me from getting out of my driveway to go to work.  There are two of your three strikes…the third is a crushing headache that’s keeping me from functioning at a normal level.  One part migraine, one part sinus infection, and about a million parts sleep loss and stress…it’s been brewing for a while but didn’t really hit me full-strength until yesterday.  So, while I wait for my medication to kick in, I thought I’d write a quick summary of my week so far.

I’m not much of a believer in New Year’s Resolutions, but I can’t deny that the beginning of a year is a pretty decent time to re-evaluate where you are, where you’re headed, and how you plan to get there.  For me, it’s been an opportunity to take stock and realize, with nauseating dismay, just how far I’ve strayed from the healthy lifestyle I had been living.  Last year brought a lot of changes and stresses that I won’t go into right now, and I pretty much let myself be totally derailed.  I kept telling myself I’d do better once I wasn’t so stressed – but that’s a complete cop-out and a massive self-sabotage to boot.  Stress never goes away, it only changes form, ebbs, and flows.  If you use stress as a reason not to succeed, you guarantee failure, and that’s what I’ve been doing.

I have a host of reasons to be healthy.  The usual suspects – my family, whom I adore; my own self-respect and self-value, etc.  I also have a few that are a mite less common – an autoimmune condition that is only going to be worse if I ply my body with sugar and other simple carbs and the chemical-laden crap we know as processed food.  Excess weight will make the pain and reduced functional capacity worse.  I’m also perimenopausal – which I attribute in large part to the erratic quality of my nutrition and activity levels over the past couple of years.  So…it’s only going to get more important, every day, to take proper care of myself.

So I’m renewing my focus on the great trinity of healthy living:  proper nutrition, healthy levels of activity, and sufficient, good-quality sleep.

Yesterday was Day One.  It was…interesting, as Day One of any new habit-building process always is.  I did really well for the majority of the day in terms of nutrition.  I did have a lapse mid-morning when I mindlessly plucked a mini-Reese’s cup from a co-worker’s candy dish and ate it, not even thinking about what I was doing.  The fact that I could do that without it even occurring to me that it was a problem is a good indicator of how far I’ve gotten, mentally, from where I once was.  Still, it was only one, and I realized eventually that I shouldn’t have done it and made a note to be more alert and conscious of what I was doing – which is totally the point.  One mini-Reese’s isn’t going to hurt anyone – but mindlessly eating anything is a huge, giant, blood-red flag of danger…or should be.

After that, I did beautifully, up to a point.  My water intake, although forced, was adequate.  I ate according to plan…during the day.  Unfortunately, the headache that had set in early yesterday morning only got worse and worse, and by mid-afternoon I was having a hard time staying upright.  My wonderful husband took pity on me yesterday evening and went to get dinner from KFC.  This was good, because cooking would have been excruciating, but also bad, because naturally I ate KFC for dinner.  Not on the plan.  Not even in the same universe as the plan.  So that was a deviation, but I’m not beating myself up too much for a couple of reasons – I wasn’t capable of doing much else, and (shockingly)  when I put all the information into the food tracker, I wasn’t as far over my limits as I’d expected.  I was about 300 calories over – not great, but not as bad as I’d expected – and well within limits on fat, carbs and protein.  So all in all, not a total train wreck, just a minor fender-bender.

Now, I am well aware that nutritionally speaking, KFC is not okay regardless of what my number totals were for the day.  Nutrition honestly can’t be reduced to numbers in a column, no matter how much we’d like to try.  Dinner was a wash, nutritionally, and I acknowledge that.  But under the circumstances, it could have been worse, and I’m not wasting time or energy on feeling guilty.  Guilt is the most worthless emotion there is, in my opinion.

Activity yesterday sucked, though.  Mostly because of the headache, partly because I was extremely stiff and achy.  I’ve noticed a distinct connection between the arthritis flares and my hormone levels, and right now things are bad.  I’m also off the Enbrel, pending resolution of an insurance issue that I have been assured is only a miscommunication and will be cleared up – but meanwhile, I’m unmedicated and definitely feeling the effects.  So I didn’t feel well, and I didn’t move much.  That is something that I have to get a handle on – I am going to have more days when I don’t feel well than when I do, and I have to get into the mindset of exercise as a panacea to those issues, rather than something that will exacerbate them.  I’m working on that.

Today, I’ve tried to start the day off right.  I woke up at 4 a.m. unable to go back to sleep because of sinus problems.  I got up, did some heat/ice therapy, and then went downstairs to hit the WiiFit.  The body test came out great, way better than I’d have expected – I was 28 today, which was sort of awesome – and I did about 20 minutes of yoga.  Not a lot, but all I could manage before the headache started to get worse and I figured I should lay off.  I’m hoping to be able to do a lot more by tonight, when hopefully the headache will have abated.  If not, well, 20 minutes is a start.  I need to remember to log that on Sparkpeople.

I did discover that some of the nutrional information is waaayyy wrong on the nutrition tracker at Sparkpeople, so I’m trying to input my own information wherever I can, when I know it.  That’s going to be a long process but it’ll be worth it.

Tracking is something sort of new.  I haven’t done it much in the past, because I’ve used meal plans where I know exactly what the values of the foods are.  I think, though, that since I’ve drifted so far from the right mindset, tracking will help me to stay focused and be really regimented until I get back into proper habits.  It’s not so much that I need the information as just that I need the focus that will come from spending significant time each day inputting that information.  It’ll keep my head where it needs to be.

Today, I’m going to devote to the third facet of the trinity – sleep.  I’ve been horribly sleep-deprived for weeks now, from the stresses of holidays and putting the house on the market and getting college arrangments made for ED and various other things.  Today’s 4 a.m. wake-up was an example of another reason – my sinuses tend to get really bad in the early morning, and once they wake me up, my mind kicks in and I can’t get back to sleep.  I plan to get back to progressive relaxation techniques and meditation to try to combat that hamster-brain effect.  Today, though, the medication is definitely going to take care of any wakefulness…so maybe I can at least get my body some rest.

In fact, I can feel the medication kicking in right now.  Combined with the snow that just…keeps…falling, it’s making me very sleepy, so I think this is it for this post.  Hopefully, Day Two is going to go much better than Day One.

I find myself unaccountably unable to write the “end-of-the-year summation post” I was planning.  It bores me to tears.  Yes, lots has happened this year.  A lot of it was huge.  But if it was that huge, I probably already wrote about it and I just don’t feel like doing it again.

I haven’t written about paying off my debts.  I made the final payment this past weekend and am now officially debt-free.  It’s been a long, grueling process and honestly, I don’t think I could be happier or more relieved.  It’s a huge thing for me, but strangely, it’s not even something I feel like exploring.  I’m just sort of…blase.

I got a call on Christmas Eve from the specialty pharmacy which is handling my Enbrel prescription.  The insurance company isn’t paying for it.  It’s an interesting way they do it – they don’t actually deny it, because that might leave open the possibility of appeal.  No, they just tell you what your part of the bill is – and it’s the whole thing.  So it’s covered, but the copay is 100%.  Does that seem like utter bullshit to anyone but me?  Just curious.

But while my insurance company is completely putrid, I am impressed with the pharmacy.  I don’t normally like mail-order pharmacies or the necessity of using them – and that’s putting it mildly; the truth is I want to chew someone’s face off at the notion that I can be barred from using my local pharmacy by an insurance company mandate – but the case manager has called me twice to update me on the status of the order, even though nothing has actually changed because the insurance rep won’t call her back.  She’s been solicitous and has given me information on copay-assistance programs that might be able to help me, and is exploring some different alternative-dosage options that might manage to get coverage.  She’s been friendly and has not hesitated to at least try to answer my questions and at no time during my low-key rant about the insurance company’s abuse of power did she become defensive or upset.  In short, she was very professional and nice and I liked her.  Even if we never manage to get the medication covered, I feel that she’s done a great job, and that surprises me.  It’s not something I’ve encountered a lot of in my dealing with insurance issues.

I did experience a minor meltdown after that call.  Although I knew there was a good chance it wouldn’t be covered, I did think that the reason would be that they wanted me to try methotrexate first.  But they didn’t even give a reason, which leaves little hope that after a trial of methotrexate they might go ahead and cover the Enbrel.  The thing is, I’ve had life-changing results from the Enbrel, and going back to what I was experiencing without it is harder than I expected.  The doctor was right.  There might not be any physical harm from using it briefly and then stopping, but the psychological effects were profound.

DH was a rock star through it all, though.  Over our seventeen years together, I know that I’ve changed and grown a lot, but somehow it always still surprises me and takes my breath away when I realize how much he has grown and deepened as a person.  His love and support and encouragement – and through it all, his solid faith that I am a stronger, wiser, better person than I used to be and can get through this – are proving to be a huge anchor and life preserver for me.  Most of all, it soothes and strengthens me that he never diminishes the difficulty of the situation – but firmly believes and expresses that it’s not something that can beat me, if I choose not to let it.

It’s not in the good times – the easy, fun times when everything is beautiful and going well – that you learn the power and strength and value of a person, or of a love.  It’s when everything goes south and the whole world seems to be drowning in despair that things really have a chance to shine.  I’m a very lucky woman and times like this serve as a reminder of that fact.

So I’m still a little depressed and angry about it, but I’m reminded that I’m not that person anymore – the person who would have wallowed in that and used it as an excuse to be listless and hopeless and self-destructive.  Instead, I’m renewing my resolve to be as healthy as possible and start the new year off the right way.  I’ve gone back to my strict meal-planning – planning all five daily meals in advance for the entire month, with the balance of foods that I know keep me at optimum health and will help me take off some weight.  I’m restarting my workouts (which I have, I am sad to admit, entirely abandoned) slowly, with the WiiFit Plus that I got for Christmas.  It’s fun, it’s simple, and I can start slowly and work my way up to harder things until I can determine what my new limits are.  I’m being accountable.  I’m steeling myself and re-focusing my energy into being the strong, healthy person I know I can be, no matter what my diagnosis is.  It does not have to define me, and I will not let it.

I’m also making a promise to myself to ration my energy and time wisely.  I’m not being terribly structured with that, because I know that once the house is on the market things will get unpredictable very quickly, but let’s just say there will be a significant decrease in the number of Facebook games I’ll be playing, and a sharp decline in the time spent doing so.  Down time is for working out, for writing, and for spending time with my children who are growing up too quickly.  The farm and the mafia can wait; they’re not going anywhere.  :-)  In fact, I suspect that game-playing time will come to be one of my self-rewards for goals met and routines adhered to.

In short, this year I need to get my shit together, if you’ll pardon the crudity of the expression.  2009 was a year of lost focus, drifting and letting things slide.  2010 needs to be a year of focus, productivity and self-care, just so we can all survive it intact.  It’s going to be a year of huge change and only careful navigation will make it easier for me and for all of us.

I’m also going to put a lot of time and energy into making sure the people I’ll be leaving behind know just how much they mean to me and how much I will miss them.  More on that later.  Time to go spend an hour with a couple of them.  :-)

I’m feeling a little sad tonight…part fatigue, part hurt feelings, and a large part anticipatory grief over impending separations. Oh, and part pain, but that part is something I’m sort of getting used to, at least physically.  Mentally is a different matter, of course, but I’m working on that.  On a happy note, I started the Enbrel tonight, so at least I know there’s hope that the pain may improve, and probably take some of the fatigue with it.

The sadness, though, is something I’m just going to have to work through.  We are definitely moving back to Oklahoma; DH got a job offer this past week that meets all our needs and is even a little better than we were hoping for.  He will be moving probably in mid-February, and the girls and I will follow in June, when school is out.  This is a great thing for us, for a lot of reasons.  My mother and most of my family are in Oklahoma, so I will be close to them for the first time in about 13 years.  ED is planning to attend Oklahoma State – pending acceptance, which we should know about this coming week – so we will be close to her, which is huge.  It’s a great job offer with a great company, and DH will be about a million and one times happier at work than he is right now.  It will be a financial improvement, which speaks for itself.  I will be able to explore different employment options myself – which is great, as I am terminally burned out in my current field, which I’ve been in for about 18 years now, and a change will be just what the doctor ordered.

So it’s a great thing, and I am actually very happy about it.  I’m relieved to have the waiting at an end, to know what’s going to happen, and to be able to plan and organize and feel a little more in control of my own destiny.  I’m excited about what the future holds.  I’m more thrilled than I can possibly express for my husband, because he’s been so unhappy and has been so stoic and strong about it, and it’s hard to watch someone you love so much feeling that way.  And there’s also the fact that, in a time when so many are struggling and having trouble even finding a job, we are blessed with an improvement in circumstances.  That’s rare and precious, and I fully recognize and cherish that.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s mixed with sorrow and loss.  Because, of course, we’ll all be leaving things behind.  YD, when we told her, burst into tears at the dinner table (at a restaurant, no less – great planning, Mom!) because she would be leaving all her friends and her school and everything she’s ever known.  Of course we comforted her and told her about all the positive aspects – but honestly, at times I share her pain and would love to be able to just break down and cry myself.

I’ll be leaving a job that I don’t love anymore, but that I know I’m good at and in which I have a great deal of respect and assurance, with a company that I’ve been with for almost 11 years.  A few people at that firm are my very dear, close friends, and we’ve been through more shit together than I can even explain.   The idea of not seeing them every day – possibly not ever seeing them again – is a shock and a wrench and…just hard.  And ugly.

I’ll be leaving a home I adore, where I feel comfortable and happy and as though I belong.  We have worked so hard for the past eight years or so to make this exactly the home we want, and I’m going to miss it.  I guess it’s a minor aspect of the loss, but it’s there.  I do love my home – not because it’s fancy or impressive or anything except mine, in every sense.  I walk into it in the evening and cannot help but smile, because it makes me happy.  I will miss that, and I am anxious that whomever buys it won’t love it the way I do or may even – gasp – change it.   In Facebook parlance, major dislike.

I will be leaving a particular friend who has become more of a sister to me than my own sisters have been, who has brought out things in me that I didn’t even know how to unlock, who gets me in ways I’ve never been gotten.  She is the first friend I have ever had who lived close by and whom I could see on a daily basis at times.  If that sounds strange, please be aware that I have generally lived, by choice, in more rural areas and didn’t really have any close neighbors, let alone ones I liked.  Also, I’m a hermit by nature.  It’s incredibly difficult for me to reach out to people.  I try to force myself – more now than in the past – but it doesn’t come naturally or easily.  I cherish this friend more than I ever thought possible, and leaving her is going to be like leaving one of my children, in intensity of pain if not in similarity of sentiment.

I have really grown up here, to be truthful.  Most of my adult life has been spent here in Charleston, and while there are a lot of things about the area that frustrate me – the air quality or lack thereof, the generally economically depressed status of the area, and a host of other things – the fact is that it is my home, and I love it.  Love it, deeply and truly and intensely.  I have become a real person here, gone from a fledgling and largely unformed young woman who thought she knew it all but actually had less than half a clue about anything, to something of a seeker after truth who still doesn’t know all that much but at least knows enough to know she doesn’t know anything.  (And a passionate lover of the random incoherent run-on sentence, apparently!)  Here, I have learned to breathe, to meditate, to open myself to the beauties and wonders and joys of life.  Here, I have faced my deepest fears and my most intense pain, and have come out the other side stronger, wiser and filled with self-love and a passion for life and truth that still amaze and humble me.  Here, I have gone from a girl to a woman, and every winding road, every tree-covered mountain, every rambling stream hold memories so powerful and affecting that they are almost painful to carry away.

I will miss the people who have become a part of me, who have been with me through the fire, who have walked beside me and held my hand when it got really hard, who have laughed with me and behaved like silly, senseless idiots when the circumstances called for it.  I have learned and grown so much through being blessed with these people’s presence in my life, and walking away from them will tear out a little piece of my heart that has put down roots so strong they simply will not let go.

I will miss the land – the mountains, the forests, the streams, the sudden and unexpected waterfalls that appear around every bend, the blazing glory of the trees in autumn, the lush verdancy of those same trees in the sultry summer.  I will miss the rare blanketing snowfalls that outline every tree and hillside and leave the whole world looking like nothing so much as a Currier & Ives postcard.  I will miss the occasional perfect spring days when the breeze clears away the ever-present miasma of humidity to leave the whole world sparkling and so perfectly beautiful it is painful to see.

I will miss this time of my life, when I have learned and grown and survived and triumphed…the days when I have been happier than ever before, happier than I ever thought I could be, or deserved to be…the days when I finally realized that I did deserve that happiness, and learned to reach out and grasp it and draw it to myself.  It has been a beautiful time, no matter how painful some of it has been – but we all know that there is no growth without pain, and if we don’t experience that pain, then we can’t experience the joy that follows in equal intensity.

It is going to be so hard, and while I want to acknowledge and celebrate the wonderfulness that I know is coming, I also know from personal experience that I have got to acknowledge the sadness and the loss.  That’s difficult, because part of me will always believe that stoicism is simply the only option.  I can’t bear the thought of DH thinking that I don’t want this, that I’m not happy about it, and I’m not sure he would understand that the sadness doesn’t cancel out or in any way invalidate the happiness.  Because I am happy, deliriously so.  I miss my family and I have been longing to be able to be close to them and to rediscover the place where I was a child.  I want to be close to my mother, to help take care of her.  I want to be close enough for my daughter to come home from college for weekends when she wants to.  I want this.  I have pushed for this.  But it’s possible to be deliriously happy about it and still be overwhelmingly sad about leaving.  I’m just not sure if I could explain that to him in a way that wouldn’t hurt him or make him feel guilty or cause him stress and unhappiness.  The whole thing is going to be stressful enough without me making it harder for him.  The girls also need to see me happy about the move, because their own loss and uncertainty demands that; I need to reassure them and help them to focus on the positive, and I can hardly do that if I’m exuding negative emotion.  So I sort of have to keep this to myself…but I know that if I don’t express it and acknowledge it and deal with it, it will eat me alive.  I just have to do it quietly, when no one’s looking.

ED will be giving a senior voice recital in April, at the end of her last year with her voice coach, who I would pack and take with me if I thought her family would allow it.   While I cannot wait for this, for the opportunity for friends and – well, friends, because we don’t have any family here anymore – to hear her sing, I know that I’ll have to pack the tissues.  One of the songs she will be singing will be “Time to Say Goodbye” and on so many levels, that is exactly the time it will be.  Time to say goodbye to her childhood, to her high-school years, to her friends here and so much that she has known.  And it will be that time for me, as well – time to say goodbye to our home here, to the friends I love, to a wonderful time and place…and time to say goodbye to the years when my oldest child was still a child and nestled under my wing.

In many ways, this is the end of a chapter of our lives.  It’s been a good one, and I will miss it.

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