Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

It's Been A Minute- Catching Up and Migration

I'm not sure if anyone is still out there, it's been about three years since I posted to this blog and I had it disabled for a while trying to decide if I wanted to keep it. 

Anyone who looks back over the posts will see a lot of non-running related posts, looks like it was the middle of the COVID pandemic when I last wrote.

Things have REALLY changed. In the world, in my life, and in my focus and priorities.

I don't know if I can possibly include them all in one post but I'll try. I have been writing on Substack for a little over a year now, with a different theme. I would love it if you'd join me over there, I'm at Couch to Artist in 365. It's not about running, though I do talk about the runs I do these days, which are much tamer and shorter than they used to be, though they are still fun and adventurous. 

The thing that motivated me to re-blog here today is a runner I met a while back who works at a local art supply store, I hope she's reading this right now and comments! She ran the Leadville Trail 100 for her first time and finished, and I told her a little about my running and this blog, but forgot to tell her I had temporarily disabled it. I saw her again today and I realized I should probably re-enable the blog and let people know where I've been. 

As far as where I've been, I'll try to sum it up first in brief, then I'll go into a little more detail. 

I changed jobs during the pandemic, it wiped out my already struggling cancer coaching business, so I took a job working for a company in New York looking at data quality in abstraction work for oncology research projects by academic institutions and pharmaceutical research, almost entirely on emerging cancer drugs. 

My dad passed in October 2020, which I think I posted about. In 2021 I did fairly well, or so I thought, dealing with grief, but toward the end of 2021 I started to have a hard time with depression. My boss, who was the best boss I ever had, left at the end of 2021. In early 2022 I took a month leave of absence from work to try to de-stress and figure things out. It didn't work, and things got even worse after I came back from leave. I couldn't focus on work, I felt terrible, had no motivation, and in April 2022 I was out on a trail run and broke my ankle. That was an adventure in itself- a story for another day.

I healed from the fracture and started running again. Meanwhile, all this time, one of my best running buddies ever, Dale Perry (aka Sasquatch) who had been dealing with multiple myeloma- a type of blood cancer- for several years, was getting sicker. He went through a novel treatment protocol which actually put him in remission from the myeloma, but he contracted COVID in the summer of 2022 and ended up in ICU, then Hospice, then a last ditch effort was made to intubate him to give his lungs "a chance to heal"- don't even ask- but he did not make it off the ventilator and he died in early September 2022. 

That hit me like a freight train, ton of bricks, baseball bat to the skull, you name the cliche, it fits. I talked to him on the phone (he couldn't talk, of course) right before they extubated him and let him go. I was on the phone with his sister in law who was keeping me updated in real time. It was awful. 

The next day we had planned to go on vacation to Oregon, and we did, but I was in a daze. After we came back from vacation, I started to feel worse, unable to focus again at work, my performance was getting worse, and I realized just how depressed I was around Thanksgiving of 2022, on a hike near Laramie Wyoming with my friend Katy. Nothing felt real, it felt like I was watching myself as an observer and not really in my body. 

I had lived with depression all my life but was able to keep it at bay with a simple daily antidepressant medication for many years. This was something entirely different. I *wanted to die*. I didn't actively plan a suicide attempt, but definitely had suicidal ideation. I would sit up late at night crying, with Dennis talking to me, trying to keep me from going off the edge. 

Finally I decided to ask for another leave of absence from work- this time I took three months off and went through intensive therapy in the form of art therapy with my longtime therapist, and 8 sessions of ketamine treatment with a psychiatric nurse practitioner. 

It changed my life. Really, I'm not kidding. From the first ketamine treatment I was already realizing that I missed colors. I wanted to paint. I wanted to do my art again. I was at the point where I was done with cancer nursing and everything cancer that I could possibly avoid. I simply could not bring myself to look at another cancer patient's chart. 

I knew I had to get out of my job. At first I decided to go part-time when I came back from leave, but after a few weeks, I realized I WAS DONE.

At first I was very freaked out about financial matters since I was only 59 and had planned to work until full retirement age for social security at 67. But I needed to preserve my own mental health. We made a plan and we're teetering on the edge financially now, like most Americans, but damn it is so worth it. 

I started my art business, Dissolve Art, in late March of 2023 and I haven't looked back since. 

Also in 2023, I started having knee problems on the left side, which was weird because my ankle fracture was on the right side. I couldn't run at all without pain by spring, and I ended up having arthroscopic surgery in July 2023, in which the surgeon found a meniscus tear-took about about 25% of my meniscus- and I had a Hoffa's resection- which is removal of the fat pad under my patella- which was being impinged upon by something in there and was causing all the pain. 

I did physical therapy and returned to activity fairly quickly, and by late October 2023 I went to Mexico City and climbed Nevado de Toluca, a 15,340 foot volcano outside the city near the town of Toluca. I didn't run a lot or consistently for several years, but since last fall I have been more consistent, just very low mileage, but I do a lot of trail runs and get out to actually run about 3 or 4 days a week. The rest of the time I walk or hike. 

In Mexico City I stayed with my friend Marci and we toured as many art museums and other interesting places as we could fit in during my 11 day stay. It was a great trip and I have missed Mexico so much. I need to go back as soon as possible. 

The other news is that on March 10th, yes, 3 days ago, I turned 60. 

I've spent the past year working on my art, finding places to display and sell it locally and have had more success than I ever imagined I would at first. As of tomorrow I embark on a 12 week intensive workshop and I am hoping tis will be transformative for me. If you care to see what I've been painting, go to my website or better yet, check out my Substack. Both links are above in this post.

The Substack is a nearly daily account of how I've gotten through the past 16 months, experiencing, getting treatment for, and emerging from, depression, but it is mostly about art, and my journey from starting out after a 20 year break from painting (I used to paint in pastels before I went to nursing school, from about 2000-2003), to my daily process now as I evolve into a professional artist. 

Like I said, it's not so much about running, but it still is about running, in a way. It's about how I see running so differently now. It's still a part of my life, but I'm no longer using it to run from who I really am. The Substack details that process of discovery and the daily adventures of that process. 

I hope to see you over at Substack soon. Feel free to browse the old running posts here, along with my stormy rants about healthcare, if you desire. I'm so glad to be out of that mess. It literally makes you crazy. 


On Substack: Couch to Artist in 365

My art website: Dissolve Art

Thanks for coming back!