Thursday, April 30, 2020

April Recap

Guess my post yesterday resonated---the most comments I've gotten in about a year! Sorry you guys are all struggling with this too, but good to know I'm not alone.

I had a pretty unsatisfying book club meeting last night (I had to start late and end early because of kid nonsense and didn't realize I was on mute for a while) and then stayed up way too late since I'd already opened the wine, and was annoyed at everything, and then started feeling snack-y, and blah. I woke up at 5:45 for my run and I'm just tired & not feeling the paper-writing mojo this morning.

I did make some goals in April, here's a report:

1) Run 60 miles: After this morning, the total came to 63 miles this month. And to highlight how non-linear my progress has been, this was THE SLOWEST run of the month (it was unexpectedly hot & humid and I'd dressed for 35 and windy like it usually is).

2) Read 4 books: I finished 6 books.

  • Catch & Kill: Fantastic though obviously depressing, I think everyone should read this
  • The Woman in the Window:  quick, creepy, mysterious with an homage to classic films, I liked it OK
  • The Clockmaker's Daughter: long, like all of Kate Morton's books, but enjoyable enough
  • I Owe You One: Sophie Kinsella brain candy, she's my fave junkfood writer
  • Mrs. Everything: I REALLY liked this, reminded me a lot of Meg Wolitzer in the following women throughout their lives and examining their choices and their take on feminism kind of way. Its by Jennifer Weiner who I've never read before but assumed was cheesy---I may have to read more
  • Oona Out of Order---I listened to the audiobook for this one. LOVED, still thinking about this a few days later, very creative and thought-provoking 

3) Dye my hair: done (Garnier Nutrisse, deep burgundy, I leave it on 1.5 the recommended time to get my grays AND add tint to my black)

4) Plant seeds for backyard garden: nope, it was raining last Sunday when I had time to do this. Will do this weekend since it'll be warm and sunny. 

5) Figure out way for kids to stay in touch with grandparents without my involvement: not yet, working on this. I've just been calling them and telling them to call the kids on the iPad, which they take to their room so I don't have to be constantly involved, but I do have to remember to call.

6) Daily habits: yes! exercise 30/30, Meditation 28/30, outside 30/30

May Goals tomorrow

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

All the Hats

I realized that one of the things I'm finding really hard about the current situation is the expectation that I fulfill ALL my roles---mother, clinician, researcher, wife, friend etc...---all at the same time. I am used to have compartmentalization to my days. I go to work and its a clinic day or a research day (or at the very least, half-day). Then I come home and can mom & wife.  Or I go out and get to be a friend. On the days I worked from home I was ALONE---G was at work, the kids were in school, the dog walker still came. 

Its hard switching between things all day long, sometimes with no warning. 10 minutes ago, I was composing a patient portal reply and my children barreled up here complaining that their work was boring. 10 minutes later, G will probably pop up and want to chat after his meetings are over. I only have one patient scheduled today---right in the middle---for some reason so that'll happen in the middle of working on the manuscript draft. And at some point probably soon, I have to make lunches and then take the kids to the park. (G did it the past 2 days and I volunteered for today since I don't have many patients or scheduled meetings)

Tonight we have book club, and instead of walking running out the house towards friends and food and wine and getting to TURN OFF the "mom" part for a couple of hours, I'll be here, with interruptions and noise and expectations. Oh and the grandparents have decided that since the kids are home, why can't they face time more often? I've already disappointed everyone on that front which does lead to guild (they are old! and all alone! and miss their grandchildren!) And the kids want to talk to THEIR friends, and since they don't have their own devices I have to organize and manage all of that too. Not to mention the constantly updating text/messenger threads from friends, immediate & extended family that I try to ignore (and yes, everything is on silent so I don't get alerts) but break into my day nonetheless.

I know some people do perfectly fine and even excel working this way, and can easily switch back and forth, and enjoy the flexibility and "work-life integration", but I just haven't figured it out yet. I also know that part of making this work is carving out concrete interruption-free hours for deep work, kids are also struggling to figure stuff out, as is my work staff (hence the random telehealth patients on writing days) and even when I THINK I have the time, surprises pop up. And its hard enough for me to focus, what with the roiling anxiety and now the medication side effects (nausea! fun!) from upping the dose, and my more frequent (stress-induced?) migraines.

Just venting. Off to put on my "writing" hat for (hopefully) a good focused hour.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Baby Steps

Thanks for the kind comments and commiseration. I AM feeling a bit better. I upped the P$xil last week and also took some A&*ien to get a few really good nights of sleep. I've been journaling & meditating & exercising, I took some time to myself this weekend and read a light & fluffy book, and my MIL left. And the beginning of the week is always much better than the end for some reason these days. I'm not quite out of the hole, but its like I see some light somewhere...the hope.

This week is much lighter for me clinic-wise, but I have a LOT of writing to do. I am not sure where to find the focus and motivation to do this but I promised a draft to co-authors by Thursday so I better pull it out of somewhere. I am basically calling the last 6 weeks a wash in terms of getting ANYTHING done research-related, and trying to let go of the guilt. (My inner voice keeps whispering...lazy, lazy, worthless, fraud, even when I keep telling her to STFU).

Our department and divisional leadership is sending heavy hints about ramping up in-person visits soon. I would feel much better about this if I wasn't 100% sure it was driven by financial reasons rather than scientific evidence. And yes, that's basically the response the entire country is taking. Its like we've decided we are OK with a certain percentage of death as long as we can make our $$$. Oh god, I fear for our future.

Oh and the school is planning a major ramp up of online education beginning next week. Thankfully both kids' teachers stressed to us that they understand families have lots of stuff going on and not all kids are responding well to online learning so we can try to be flexible. But seriously, why do they have to have scheduled PE and Art and Music in the afternoons? That's when we try to take the kids to the park or on a post-lunch walk.

Anyways. Back to work.

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Hole

I've had a really rough week and haven't been able to get out of my head to write here. I'm seeing my patients and feeding my kids and attending meetings I need to attend, and that's about all I have the emotional capacity to handle. Everything extra is just falling by the wayside right now, including research/writing, helping with the kids school, connecting with friends/family, hobbies. Even fun things just feel TOO MUCH right now and I cannot find the bright spots. 

Its like I've fallen into the hole and I can't seem to climb out. The hole is familiar. This is basically where I was 4 years ago before I initially started medication for my anxiety/depression. I'd almost forgotten what it felt like, its untenable. I had decreased the dose last fall and was doing fantastic until literally last week when life just started to feel unbearable (Remember? I was baking bread and making goals for the month?). Suddenly everything was awful to begin with and some terrifying new fresh hell awaits around the corner.

I've reached out to my doctor (NP actually, the doctor I was seeing for 4 years left the practice location so they transitioned me to someone new that I saw for the first time by telehealth 2 weeks ago---when I was feeling great!) but I think I'm going to just go back up to my old dose while I'm waiting. Because trying to claw myself slowly out of this hole is no way to live.

Monday, April 20, 2020


I have been employing ALL my coping mechanisms lately. The healthy (exercise! meditation! setting small goals and meeting them!) and the decidedly less so (wine, junk food, endless social media). Its a very predictable slide from having the best intentions every morning to "f it" by 5 pm. And then waking up again roiling in anxiety and regret.

I am very very anxious right now. There is so much uncertainty. And my MIL (who ramps up my anxiety 100-fold at the best of times) is here. And I'm being pulled in so many directions and failing at many of them. I have NO IDEA what is going on with the kids distance learning today, because I started tele-health at 9 AM this morning and haven't left my bedroom (and won't, until the last patient is done at 3:30). I haven't written a SINGLE WORD of the paper I'm supposed to be working on. I am seriously afraid to check how many bottles of wine we've consumed in the past 3 weeks.

And thats besides the very real underlying fear about how this is going to play out with a lack of competent leadership and no real strategy for mitigating illness and death. Every time I look at the news (which I am limiting to once/day), I feel sick to my stomach at some new atrocity or idiocy.

Taking it day by day helps. Just doing the next thing I have in my planner. Work out. Meditate. See patient 1. Patient 2. Patient 3. Walk dog. Make dinner. Put kids to bed. Accidentally stay up too late watching Ozark, drinking and demolishing cheese puffs. Go to bed. Wake up and do it again.

If I think too far in advance it all falls apart. What is the rest of the year going to look like---if you asked me 2 months ago, I'd have given you a very detailed play by play of our family's entire plan. Literally everything is up in the air right now and I feel completely unmoored.

They are talking as if we will be back in the office seeing patients as usual in June. I registered for a course in June that they still haven't cancelled and I need to get my money back. I don't want to do it virtually, I want to be immersed in it and paying full attention, not half-listening to talks while I break up fights, serve snacks, and fold the laundry which I am 100% sure will happen if I try to do it from home. I was also supposed to take two weeks off in June for a local-fun staycation and then vacation with my family. I had been waiting for this beach trip for 2 years (since our last one). I'm over being sad about missed vacations, but, still. I'm sure all camps will be closed. What about our August camping trip that we've also been planning for 2 years? Will school open in September? Child care?

So yeah. I "to-do-list" my way through the day and numb myself through the night. And the calendar marches on slowly.

Friday, April 17, 2020

(a little over) Halfway Through the Month

Dates are hard to keep track of these days.

So we're more than half way through April and I wanted to revisit my goals and make some new ones. I'm not quite ambitious enough for a "19 for COVID-19" list, but there are a few things I've considered that I'd like to write down (to make it more official!)

I have done 100% of daily workouts, 15/17 meditation, 100% going outside every day and meh re: limiting social media. I have also run 32.5 of the 60 miles I have planned for the month and read 1 of 4 books. I better get running...and reading if I want to make it!

New goals:
1) Bake sourdough again by the end of the month (2nd batch better than 1st, but still not amazing...need to keep working out the kinks in my process)
2) Dye my hair...roots are getting bad and so distracting doing telemed
3) Figure out a way for kids to stay in touch with family regularly that does NOT require my involvement so they can talk to grandparents while I work. Grandparents get connection and I don't get annoyed at anyone.
4) Plant seeds for herb garden. I have the seeds. I just need to do it.
5) Set up happy hour with 2 different groups of friends to reconnect

I think that's enough for 13 days.

And, for a little pat on the back. This week I: saw 18 patients (and completed charts!), navigated the announcement of my new leadership position and began setting up meetings ahead of the July 1st start, combed through my entire schedule in next few months to identify tele-med possibilities, and planned out my clinical time for next academic year (less clinic! hooray!). On the home front: all are healthy, exercised, bathed, and fed. And I registered to vote by mail in the primary (for whatever that's worth at this point).

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Positive Notes

1. G bought the hardware for the desk at the local store (instead of waiting on a replacement set from Ikea) and is building it now!

2. Still enjoying working with G. We struggled today, but got 21 day fix total body cardio done!

3. Catch and Kill! Still so good (but slow going---so much is happening, I'm having to go back and re-read parts, especially if I read them when sleepy at night or after wine haha)

4. Did some nice telehealth visits today. When it all clicks (the technology and the comfort/engagement of the patient), its awesome, and can feel even more personal then talking in the office. When it doesn't work, its awkward as hell and feels like a waste of time.

Ummm. That's all I got. I was going for 5 but I couldn't get there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Worst of both worlds

Working at home with kids grumbling and fighting and refusing to do their school assignments.

Hopping of a conference call to help set up kid's Google classroom meet and completely failing. Kid missed seeing teacher and friends, sad and mopey.

Back aching because of terrible desk set up---new desk came today! Its missing all the hardware to put it together. whomp whomp

Hiding in closet doing therapy session so no one can interrupt. Realize what a mess it is, I need to dust and vacuum in there. Ick. Will I ever where those dresses again?

Writing this with laundry in my line of sight. Should I put it away now? I know its "work time" but at least I'll have accomplished SOMETHING.

The dog is exhausted from all the (masked and distanced) walks I am taking her on anytime I need a break. Sorry dog, you may need to get up again soon!

These jeans are tight. Too much snacking. Gotta get back on track.

I guess I'll call it screen time now so we can have some peace and quiet.

Monday, April 13, 2020


I have this nagging headache today. Its raining like crazy and I haven't left the house at all. Doing tele health and then have to make some dinner. The kids did NOT do well with their school work today, oh well. The laptops are new and enticing (they were playing some kind of "math game" that seemed marginally educational for hours) and G and I were both tied up much of the day.

Weekend was...OK. We watched "Mrs Doubtfire"---it did NOT hold up, don't recommend. The next day tried "Air Force One"---I fell asleep about 30 minutes in and just went straight up to bed when I woke up again. We did order thai food and pizza, which were both awesome. We tried to get outside some, did a zoom meeting with extended family, finished a REALLY hard puzzle. All of those things were...OK.

OK, patient showed up for visit, back tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2020

To look forward

Its Friday. Whoo hoo? I'm trying to find ONE thing to look forward to but I'm having trouble. Watching movies with the kids is getting old (and the want to watch stupid shit and we can only half the time talk them out of it), as is playing scrabble or apples to apples. I'm going for a run tomorrow, but ugh running solo (because we are trying to stay single file and my friend just zooms off way ahead of me because I'm slow if I'm not trying to keep up to talk to someone) is not really fun. And its going to be weirdly cold tomorrow AM. I wanted to bake something but we can't find flour anywhere this week. And since the kids stay up so late  on the weekend, G and I can't even watch Ozark after they get to bed (its SO GOOD, guys!)

This is definitely around the time (after a few weekends mostly at home), that I'd have planned an adventure or two. And a date night. Something to shake up the routine and keep my mind off dreading next week.

I am REALLY enjoying Catch and Kill. I can look forward to reading more of it, hopefully (if I can find somewhere to hide away from everyone else). And we will get pizza. I love pizza.

Thursday, April 9, 2020


This week, so far, has felt much more "normal". The fear/stress is abating (probably because I am greatly limiting my social media and news time!). The kids are on spring break so we aren't supervising any educational activities---which has made the day MUCH more peaceful. Trying to encourage (i.e. nag) the kids to do their writing assignments nearly did me in. And the weather has been SO LOVELY, it was literally exuding peacefulness into my soul with the sunshine and warmth. On the work front, I've had light clinical work---5-7 patients on M/W/F which leaves some time to catch up on some writing/admin tasks. 

Today it is rainy and we have a cold front coming in---which is going to last for at least a week. And I'll be standing in the rain/wind for at least an hour to pick up the laptops from the school so we can start "online instruction" next week. And I have VERY FULL telehealth days pretty much every day next week (TWELVE scheduled on Wednesday, OMG). So I'm fully prepared for next week to be much more challenging on every front. 

But what is life other than continuous ups and downs. All we can do is enjoy the ups and try to stay sane through the downs, right? 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


One thing I'm really liking these days---staying up later and getting up later. There is a big difference between getting up at 5-5:30 and getting up at 6:30-7! I am NOT exhausted when the kids go to bed at 9, and G and I can stay up and hang out or watch TV. I really missed that, but I really couldn't stay up past 9:30-ish on my usual schedule.

I still get up at 6 AM twice/week to run before things get too busy on the streets on weekdays. But even on patient days, I haven't had anyone scheduled before 9 AM all week. I guess patients don't want to wake up early either?  I actually did a telehealth visit with my psychiatrist at 8 AM (but I could join with wet hair directly out of shower).

One thing I'm NOT liking is the telehealth itself. Its still awkward, doesn't work well with certain diagnoses, and the no-shows are SOOOO annoying. I'm trying to give people the benefit of the doubt---who even knows what day or time it is anymore, and I certainly don't know what kind of chaos people are dealing with in their homes. BUT, they scheduled the appointment! Just a couple of days ago! Maybe make a note in your calendar or something? Set a phone alarm? Sigh.

Enough ranting, time to make the lamest "other support" document ever (I have none. Other support, that is).

Monday, April 6, 2020


Why do people no show for video visits when they scheduled them 3-4 days ago? I'm on my THIRD no show today (of 7 patients today, so not a great ratio!). I figure they could've forgotten so I call them all after 10 minutes. One said "can't do it at this time" and 2 didn't answer.  WHERE ARE PEOPLE?

The rest of the weekend went so much better! Things I did this weekend: Watch 2 movies as a family (Onward, and the original Parent Trap), watched 2 episodes of Ozark and the first episode of Tiger King with G, baked sourdough, baked chocolate chip cookies, made peanut stew, did a beach body workout with G, ran 6 miles, family bike ride across town to the river and back, had Korean food and pizza delivered.

I also: ate and drank too damn much. "Airport rules" when any moment is a great time for a beer or a snack need to be revoked and we are back to regularly scheduled HEALTHY meals and no-booze-on weeknights.

I made some very small goals for the month: 1) Run 60 miles (which will necessitate slowly increasing mileage, since I'm currently only doing 12-13 miles/week)
2) Read 4 books (I haven't been reading much lately. I got "Catch and Kill" from the library which is hopefully engrossing enough to get through in a week). I'm hoping this will keep me off the news/social media.

Yeah, that's it (in addition to the daily exercise, meditation, outside time). I may build upon it, we shall see!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Saturday Sadder-day

I'm very glad I wrote that positive post yesterday because today I've been blah. Maybe its the gray skies and the fact that my children don't want to do anything except screen time? 

Also my MIL is coming this evening (I know. It was a tough decision but we thought it through and decided not to cancel her planned trip and I won't go into why I think its OK, but I do think its safe for all parties. Trust me, I was trying to avoid it as much as anyone). Longtime readers know that she is a...difficult personality, to put it nicely. So, yeah, the idea of being stuck at home with her around is making me a smidge anxious. 

But the kids are SO excited. And she will be our childcare so that we can actually finally do some real work. And I do need to walk more--I'm hardly getting any steps in on non-running days without my usual walking commute, so I'll have an excuse to escape. If all else fails, I can hide in my room and read? 

We did a beach body work out this morning, I am building my sourdough bread to bake tomorrow morning, G sewed some masks for us and cleaned the bathrooms (hero!) and is at the store. Now to force the children to accompany me outside for some fresh air and exercise dammit! 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Good Stuff

Inspired by Lag Liv and OMDG I'm going to take a break from complaining and focus on the positive aspects of quarantine life.

1) Family time. As much as I complain about the kids, they are wonderful humans, and I love spending time with them. We are settling into a better rhythm overall and its so nice to have those moments of connection throughout the day, and especially to have our evenings open for "family fun" including board games, video games, walks. I also love seeing what they are learning (and HOW they learn), and how they interact on Zoom meetings with their teachers/classmates---a whole different side of their personalities I never had access to! There is some yelling and nagging, but there is also snuggling and laughing. They can't get enough of us, they really seem to be thriving on the attention.

2) Couple time:  G and I are actually finding more time to spend with each other (when the kids are on their screens or asleep we can talk or watch a show ourselves, since I don't have to wake up at 5:30 and thus have been staying up past 9:30 PM most nights). We've been working out in the basement together. He brings me tea (I generally work in the basement) when he makes some. And again, moments to connect and share a brief hug or vent in the middle of the work day.

3)Cooking.  Its like a flip switched and I am inspired  to make more interesting things out of whatever we happen to have available. I'm actually ENJOYING it, and I haven't enjoyed being in the kitchen in YEARS. I know many many people work all day and then come home and joyfully cook a meal for their family but I absolutely HATED cooking after work and it was definitely a chore. Yesterday I made cauliflower from this recipe, served over rice with sour cream and veggies on top for G & I and it was SO GOOD (the kids ate tacos with chicken & beans, leftover).

3) Leisure. There isn't a LOT of time for extra stuff, but especially on the weekends we've had time to do puzzles, bake (I actually made sourdough bread, I'm such a cliche), play long games, talk to family and friends. We try to keep our schedules light anyways, but it often did feel like weekends were spent running from one thing to the next with sports, play dates, errands, outings. Those things were fun, and I do miss them, but this is fun too!

4) Creative time. Mostly for the kids of course. Yes there are WAY more screens than I usually prefer, but they are also building legos, drawing, writing stories, and doing advanced math OF THEIR OWN VOLITION. They are also spending loads of time playing/fighting and building their brotherly relationship. But I have more time to write here, and G has been designing things to build (when he can source some wood) and we are also tentatively planning some future home renovations (as we spend more time here, we are noticing what does & does not work).

It was surprisingly easy to come up with these, and made me truly happy to think and write about. Honestly, the change that is the hardest is work. Telehealth is just...not the same as face to face contact with patients. I'm sure it'll get less awkward over time but I find it way more draining (and I find clinical work draining on the best of days). I hate seeing my face on the screen, I can't help noticing "my nose is red" "my hair looks terrible" "what WAS that face I just made?"

Even worse, its impossible for me to concentrate on research (writing/planning/thinking) with everyone around all the time. I just haven't figured it out yet. Our house is small and there is no where to go that is truly quiet and distraction free (I am in the basement right now and G and the kids are having breakfast and WILL NOT STOP TALKING). So yeah.  Good and bad, just like everything else in life.

Thursday, April 2, 2020


My list was a bit...too ambitious. I got half of the paper outline done and didn't really come up with an abstract idea, so those are back on the list for today. Aim EVEN LOWER Ana. On the plus side, yesterday was overall a good day in terms of my mood/attitude. Felt good about my progress on the work & home front, and stuck with most of my good habits. off to a VERY late start. G and I both woke up around 7:30 and had to walk the dog, work out (we did Cardio Fix Extreme together in the basement), shower, feed kids breakfast & make lunches (we have them ready so they can grab and eat whenever without interrupting us if we are working), and get the kids set up with learning. So I sat down to work at the unthinkably late hour of 10 AM.

I need something good and absorbing to read. I just finished a pretty meh book ("Evvie Drake Starts Over"---pretty predictable romance and not what I was in the mood for, it took me SO LONG to finish because I kept forgetting about it). I need something with a bit more drama I think. None of my ebook holds are currently available at the library.

OK the kids are throwing a ball around upstairs instead of working on writing so I gotta go intervene.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

New Month Energy

I took a day to wallow. G and I cut off work early and watched 1917 and had a beer and snacks while the boys played on the switch upstairs. It was what I needed and I'm feeling much better today. Also the sun is out. Woke up at 6:30, did a quick beach body workout (Upper Fix) and got ready for tele-visits. Apparently 3 canceled yesterday since I last checked so I have a break before my next one today.

I am taking some time to actually plan the rest of the week---I've just been reactively doing whatever urgently came up for the past couple of weeks, which meant nothing long term (new papers, planning for my new leadership position beginning in July) was happening. With this being our life for the foreseeable future, its time to get back into regular (ish) work mode. I'm setting the bar fairly low to start---a few achievable tasks per day.

I thought about making goals for the month but then decided I better take it a couple of days at a time for now. I know what tomorrow holds but not 2 weeks from now. I am going to continue daily workouts and mediation, writing in my 3-good-thing journal every night, getting outside daily (dogs help with this!) and writing here more often.

Todays work plan (other than the clinic visits/charting, a conference and a group call): completing a manuscript outline, submitting my scheduling requests for the second half of the year (VERY tentative, ha!), and brainstorming ideas for an abstract due next month.

I am also: doing my laundry (I don't have enough sports bras for these daily workouts and re-wearing them is icky) and roasting a boatload of veggies that have been lingering in the fridge. Oh and some kid supervision while I do the non-work tasks. Mid-day dog walks will be my outside time.

Off we go!