I didn’t have the words: “I’m feeling anxious” out of my mouth fast enough for the receptionist to put her hand up (well, what I imagine was her hand up, given we were on the phone), and stop me. “Yes, we need to help you,” she said. “What do you need?”
I’m on the phone with my family doctor’s office. I’m apprehensive, as my doctor has recently retired and I’m trusting this new person to step into her very large (albeit very physically small) metaphorical shoes. My family doctor has been with me since my Grandfather passed. In fact, she had been fresh out of her residency when she was brought to his apartment to declare him. That’s a lot of history.
She’d also been there for the birth of each of my kids. When I became pregnant at 18. She was there through my domestic violence attacks. And diagnosed me with PTSD. She was the woman who helped fill out my medical forms for my school bus licence. Saw me through my weight loss difficulties. Referred me to an ENT for my snoring, and subsequent sleep apnea diagnosis. Helped me limp through pre-cervical cancer. And was there for every break, fall, sprain, food allergy, lactation problem, health scares and much, much more. You could say I was feeling nervous.
The new doctor, whom I’ll be meeting in a couple of weeks, has a new task with me. But from the sounds of the intonation of the receptionist’s voice, I am absolutely not the only person seeking help during a time where the world makes literally zero sense.
I hit a wall this week. I have shrunk out of my CPAP mask. For more than a year, I’ve been relying on my sleep machine to help keep me breathing through the night. For the better part of the first while I had it, my snoring was minimal and I was finally feeling fully rested. So was Jan, for that matter. But since losing the weight (in effort to ditch the machine entirely), I’ve seemingly shrunk out of this mask. And now it leaks air through the night, causing – well, let’s just save the ramifications of drooling into a mask all night and chalk it up to “I’m not getting much rest anymore”.
Here’s the deal. Now that I’m no longer sleeping, now that I’m no longer radio’ing (something I didn’t work in, but rather identified by), now that I’m trying to build a relationship with a man whom I’ve known less than two years and we’re stuck in the throes of a lockdown together, now that I’m trying to navigate financial challenges, now that I’m trying to raise two teenagers who are missing out on some of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of childhood (like, Prom), and now that I’m being forced to stay away from non-essential travel which means not seeing my family back home in Kitchener – I am, for lack of a better phrase, fucked up.
Part of moving to Kingston was the innate promise that I would continue heading home on biweekly weekends to spend with my sisters, parents, grandmother and cluster of nieces and nephews. It’s been over a hundred days since I’ve seen any of them. And now with my oldest having moved to the area a year ago next week, she, too, has been lumped into a group of people I’m no longer privy to seeing in person. I can’t tell you what that does to a person. While my heart belongs to Jan, and growing our family, and building a life together, I have had to qualify if he’s why I’m not going home. Oh sure. I could say – the pandemic is too much and has taught me that life is short, and family is precious. I’m moving myself and my teens back to Kitchener and staying put for a long time. Or I could remember that there is a man here with two daughters who have been building a new foundation with me, and will I leave them here? Behind?
The world makes no sense right now. While I can work alongside two, three, four, five people and greet the public, I cannot go home and see my mother. While my kid can sit in class alongside 30 other students whilst wearing a mask, there’s no talk about a potential convocation for him when he graduates in June. The discrepancies are screwing with me.
I’m reminded that my going home – to a red zone – gives more than ample opportunity for the virus to follow me home. It will be that one asymptomatic gas clerk at that one idle station, just bordering the Region that I’ll bring it home from and pass it to the nice lady I see at the grocery store. That’s what I’m preventing by being vigilant and not going home until the “coast is clear”. But being someone who’s sacrificing, by splitting herself between her home in Kitchener and her heart in Kingston is a life I wish for no one.
So I hit a wall.
“It’s just,” I sniffle, into the phone to the receptionist, “It’s just,” I try again.
“It’s okay,” she says, “I had one of these last weekend.”
Part of knowing when to seek help hasn’t strictly been about being sad. What sadness can masquerade around as is more like agitation, aggravation. Quickly snapping, or feeling anxious. Jumping to quick conclusion, dissolving into tears. Unable to “take a joke”, or even instruction that become misconstrued as “lecturing”. Before you know it, you’re sitting in the front seat of the cab of your truck, bawling your brains out to your husband in a parking lot – unable to tear yourself away from the outpouring of grief, shouting – I just want someone to care!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And everyone does. From Jan, to my kids, to my boss, to my wonderfully supportive family who miss me in spades back home. To my family doctor, who is ready to talk with me next week. And my office receptionist who reminded me that if the symptoms worsen (and even a third grader could have read between those lines) I could call back anytime because they have 24/7 help.
What’s a good reminder for me, and for anyone experiencing the sort of anxiety the pandemic has cooked up for them in their own way, is to keep the successes small, the goals within reach, and the courage to accept when nothing is going right. My bag of Advil in purse today spilled out, leaving little capsules everywhere. I was reduced to tears. Jan just reminded me to deal with it when I can. They aren’t going anywhere.
Let’s get to Jan. We have worked cohesively on getting our footing in this relationship. And trust me, it’s been a process. We have had to learn each other’s triggers, and watch buzzwords. We have had to give and compromise and forgive. He’s stood in front of me while I wailed from my grief. I have stood in front of him while he delivered his fears and stressors. On Monday night, he said: I’m a fixer. A doer. I am a protector. I don’t know how to protect you from this! And his vulnerability shattered me. So I replied: I remember being sick. And you brought Advil and Tylenol, and Pepto and Gatorade and a glass of water. And you tucked me and put on my favourite show. If you need to imagine I have the flu, then let’s do that. And suddenly, he was taking me by the hand to our room and changing me into my jammies. Putting on Dawson’s Creek. Placing the kitten in the crook of my arm. And tucking me in like a child who misses her mother. Which is what I was on Monday. A child, homesick for her Mom.
That’s how I knew I’d be okay for another night.
So reprioritizing. Getting to the blog. Fashioning it to a podcast. Because I miss radio, and this is what I’ve wanted to do for months and months. This will be today’s victory. Leave tomorrow in the hands of the future. What I’ve got is right now.
This will be today’s victory. Leave tomorrow in the hands of the future. What I’ve got is right now.
And right now, concentrating on my health has been – literally a life saver. The air medical supply company is looking into a better fitting mask, the doctor’s office will be calling next week, I’ve lost some more inches as I continue my “dirty keto diet” while giving up common carbs for Lent. That’s a whole lotta well dones in a very short time. It’s cool to give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve to recognize your own victories.
This week’s jam:
I miss Jennifer Campbell so much. Today would have been her 44th birthday. I listen to this, and I hope somewhere out there she knows how much I loved her.
Add your favourite songs to my collaborative Spotify playlist!
Don’t forget! I’m posting my Recipes! I finally conquered spaghetti squash. Omg.
We had a fantastic conversation this week on the Care page. If you’re interested in the link to my progress photos (me in my knickers), send me a message.
While I won’t promote the “healthiness” of a hot dog, I will say that this primarily protein diet has sorta been a riot.
How did I make out?
Given I’m coming up on Shark Week, and letting the steam off a little on intense workouts (I skipped one day when I was working a massive shift, and settled for walking my treadmill instead of running two days), I still managed to linger around the low 170s, and took nearly an inch off everywhere. What’s been my biggest takeaway is my Eczema calming down since releasing common carbs. While my allergist and I were confident I didn’t have Celiac disease, it was obvious I was developing a gluten intolerance. Without any pastas, breads, etc., I have not any Eczema flare ups since last week. I might be onto something.
Wishing you all the love and respect in the world. If you would like to join my Health Care group on Facebook, you’ll meet other likeminded, wonderful supportive folks ready to inspire you on your journey.
You can if you want to.