Because of that even though 2015 was my second holiday season without Tim it really felt like my first. I've learned over the past year that the best approach for me is to just treat "special" days as just another day and live through it. Maybe someday I'll want to celebrate events and holidays again but I considered putting up a tree this year as a success (even though I spent hours trying to get the center section to light up only to find I hadn't plugged it in as I pulled it down). Being surrounded by family and especially the kids makes it better but although the only place I want to be at the end of those days is at home and in my own bed it's incredibly lonely.
January has been a really busy month, I'm finally starting to somewhat get my feet under me at work (although I still feel completely unsure most days) and I've had a packed schedule. Through work I'm meeting all kinds of amazing people who likely have no idea of what a blessing they are in my life. I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to work and interact with so many kind people. I've also finally gotten a little bit of my OCD back and am getting better organized which helps me to focus more.
I also decided that this year I was going to work on all of the little nagging things here at the house that need to be done but I've put off for one reason or another. So far I'm making pretty good headway and have only slightly electrocuted myself twice. I'm kidding, kind of.
I dont know if it's the continued therapy I go to on a weekly basis, the new focus I'm forcing upon myself this year or a combination of those along with time but midway through this month I've felt slightly less of the sensation of constantly being in a fog.
That small slice of clarity brought me to a pretty sobering realization. Although I've done fun things that I've enjoyed this past year and been with people I care deeply about I haven't felt happy or joy since prior to losing Tim. I was placed on an anti-depressant during the middle of last year to combat the constant anxiety I was having along with the PTSD I was diagnosed with. It's hard to comprehend looking back but although I guess somewhere deep inside I knew he was dying and it's clear to me now in hindsight but until we were told there was nothing else that could be done I was sure he would get better. An hour after we got the news he was in a coma and an hour past that he was gone. I was basically in shock for so long that when reality finally started to hit me it was more than I could handle. The medicines have helped tremendously along with my amazing therapist but the physical effects of the last year have finally piled up to the point I can no longer ignore them.
I've been doing the bare minimum to care for myself for awhile but towards the end of last year I decided to start cleaning up my act (I.e. no more brownies for breakfast...). I started watching my calorie intake, being more active and working out a little. All the things I've done before to lose weight and become healthier. This time it did the opposite, I gained weight even while eating pretty clean. To the tune of an additional 50lbs since July. My doctor did bloodwork and everything was great except my cholesterol which jumped way up. He instructed me to become really restrictive with my caloric intake and see what happens so I started that at the beginning of January along with continuing to be even more active. At this point my body should be dropping the weight fairly quickly but is not wanting to play along so I believe the next step will be some additional testing to see what's going on. I've been warned already that all of this could be the result of the extremes my body was put through over the past year and a half and the "cure" may just be time as it finds its way back to some sort of balance. In the meantime I've had a range of lovely issues from my friend insomnia who has decided it wants to pop up every now and again to being absolutely dead tired by late afternoon no matter how much sleep I've gotten. I won't bog this down with the whole list of my ailments but let's just say that my list may beat that of my 87yo Grandma.
All of this has finally pushed me over the edge. I'm tired of feeling like crap all of the time, tired of my body's rebellion and have come to the realization that as boring & tough to stick to at times as the strict diet I kept myself and Tim on was the best I felt. It was the most stress either of had ever dealt with between a mortgage, around $20-25,000 of medical bills yearly, being at the beginning of both of our careers and Tim having limited abilities to work while still trying to enjoy being "normal" with our friends but yet both of us were rarely sick (even with LOTS of chemo for him) and we weren't exactly by the book on protecting ourselves from contact with sick people.
With that I booked myself back to acupuncture, she got me off of my anxiety medication before and I have no doubt she can't help me again. I've been seeing a physical therapist to finally get my wrist back in order after the surgery on it last year (let's just say I used playing Candy Crush as a way to calm my mind in the hospital and I overplayed it to the point I injured my wrist, it has since been deleted), he thinks I'm about 5 weeks away from be cleared and back to normal. My friend Liz dragged me to a workout class tonight with promises of Biofreeze after (it's like a suped up IcyHot). The class was great, the instructor incredibly kind but the hollow Biofreeze promise was ditched by some excuse to pick up her kid (who has won all the brownie points by telling his Grandma that his "mom & Mrs. Jenny were going to the bar" vs. Barre gym). ;) I'm going to continue the exercising I've been doing but going to add in that as well moving forward. Next steps are to start addressing and determining what's happening with my body to find out if we're moving in the right direction to help it find its balance or the wrong, to slowly start weaning off of my medications (or at least some) & to start enforcing the same rules upon myself that Tim & I lived with so its back to local, non-processed, no additives I go. I'm really going to miss the low grocery bills of 2015.
So essentially 2016 is about slowly starting to fix myself through being a better employee, a better friend, a better person and actually taking care of myself again. I'm hoping by doing those things that maybe someday I can truly feel happy again.
In other news my debit card was stolen a few weeks ago and apparently they also decided to better themself for the new year as they racked up purchases from McDonalds, Walmart, Cicis pizza, a shoe store and clothing store to the tune of over $1,500. My bank was great about it and caught it early enough that the money wasn't sent to the stores and there is a detective pulling various surveillance tapes and believes there is actually a possibility of catching this guy so that's good news.
There was a man named Chandler Beacham that has a few years on Tim in the chemo department and helped us as we began that world. He and his wife Becky became great friends but unfortunately he passed away just a few short months before Tim. A girl named Lindsey Motley and her husband Jay came after Tim was an old regular, she was diagnosed with colon cancer while pregnant and I remember the fear they both wore on their faces as they sat across from Tim & I their first time in infusions as she was still pregnant. Before they had come back Lynn had mentioned there was a new couple and asked Tim to give Lindsey some hints and insight in a similar manner to which Chan did for him. Who knows what that crazy guy said as I don't remember but I hope it helped calm them a little as Chan did for us Tim's first day. Regardless she's recently received news of additional mets and they are hoping to find a trial for her to enter, it's unsaid by them but I'm sure they are not only hopeful for a qualifying trial but for THE trial. The one that is the key to whatever her cancer needs to be defeated.
I've been asked multiple times as to what to say in bad or tough situations as though somehow I may know after living through it. I know now more of what not to say then what actually to say. I know what little terms or phrases used defeated me but I also know that each person's journey is different and what they need to hear/can't stand to hear varies. In that I just ask that you pray for Lindsey & Jay's friends & family to be able to know what it is they need to hear even if they can't necessarily pinpoint what it is themselves. Pray for Lindsey & Jay as they face the scary decisions as they look for where to go next. Sometimes you can use all the logic in the world to look at treatment options and each still feels like you're choosing blindly. Pray for them to get a strong gut feeling about what direction to take and confidence in their decisions. Pray for strength for both of them that the energy of so many others can help buoy them during this process. Lindsey (& ergo Jay) haven't had a moment of stability recently to give them time to regain strength so most of all pray for them to regain that strength and have that stability bc in the world of cancer stability is such a precious commodity.