Catching Up Again

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It’s been a busy couple weeks since I last wrote.

Most notably, our cat has been sick. One of the outdoor cats apparently caught a respiratory infection somewhere, and then passed it to our cat through the open, screened window. (Our cat’s a strictly indoor kitty.) She was in bad shape at the beginning, at one point sitting on my feet, head raised up as though she were looking at me, eyes half lidded, and breathing through her mouth, absolutely motionless for close to a half hour. We got her to the vet (we call it the kitty mechanic just in case she ever learns the word) and was prescribed four different medications to give her – two pills twice a day, an oral liquid once daily, and eye drops three times a day – along with questions about whether we were sure about giving her all this medication. We said we’d give it a try and took her home. During the next 24 hours, we got the eye drops in her twice, and one of the pills down once before realizing that if she was fighting us that much while feeling that bad, she’d be impossible to deal with once she got some strength back. So we crated her back up and boarded her at the vet for a couple days before picking her up again, with the instructions to give her the eye drops only.

I am happy to report that our cat is back to normal – in turns feisty and affectionate, eating and drinking normally again.

As far as my own situation goes, since we last spoke I’ve started doing something that I haven’t done in close to a year – driving the car with my wife in the passenger’s seat. I would drive myself to appointments if necessary, but pretty much didn’t go anywhere else on my own. Now I’ve started driving again in low-traffic conditions and doing fairly well with it.

There were also a couple instances where I managed to use the tools I’ve been given to combat negative and irrational self-talk. On Monday of this week, I went to go find my psych medication manager’s new offices so the appointment I had on Tuesday wouldn’t be tied up with me trying to find the place. My wife drove, and we went late at night, after her work, so there weren’t many lights in the area. I fought down panic about not finding the place on Monday night and continued to fight it down while we drove to the appointment itself on Tuesday. Turns out we found the place just fine, and in fact drove through the building’s parking lot, but the lighting was so bad I couldn’t see the street number and name of the building on the side of it in 12 inch high lettering, despite driving right past it. Then again on Wednesday, I panicked about dinner. I pulled the chicken out of the fridge (it had been thawing there for a couple days) in enough time to prep it and cook it before my wife came home on her mid-shift break, and discovered that it was still partially frozen. I spent a few minutes panicking and then realized that if I gave the chicken a tepid – not cold – water bath it would speed up the thawing without cooking the chicken. Dinner was a few minutes late, but well within her window of being home to eat. Panic once again averted.

Yesterday at my therapist’s we started setting goals for my therapy for the next quarter. I’m to continue driving and getting out of the house and around people, as well as putting more emphasis on my own self-care. We’ve implemented rewards for this. For instance, my daily checklist is organized more or less chronologically throughout the day, so I can’t do anything leisurely until I get everything done that should be done before a certain time on the checklist. The overall reward for sticking to this plan for the first quarter of the year, or what’s left of it, actually, is both a reward and exposure therapy – tickets to go see They Might Be Giants in concert at the end of March.

We’re also planning a bit of exposure therapy a week from Sunday, when we’re going to our favorite restaurant/bar to watch the Super Bowl. We’re going to have a plan B in mind that’s a little quieter, just in case, because for the first time in 12 years, my team’s in the Super Bowl! I’m excited for that, but Denver is going to be a dangerous, dangerous opponent.

Anyway, I’ve blathered on about a lot of things that are on my mind; apologies for the ramble through my thoughts.

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NaBloPoMo Day 22: Apologies, Reaffirmations, and Cautious Optimism

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Yesterday’s post was a bit of an anomaly, in that I griped and groused about my situation. I try to relate my struggles matter-of-factly, and not make them personal, but yesterday I just had to vent. I apologize for doing so and for forgetting this blog is intended to improve my life, not give me an outlet to complain. My wife and I talked after my blog post last night, and this morning we made our menu for the week and did our grocery shopping. We decided that mental health was as important as physical health, so we cut corners wherever we could with meals so there would be some left over for me to go do something with this week. I’m going to check around and see if anyone could come out and meet me for coffee at some point one evening.

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I’m not doing so good on my checklists these days. There are four items that I’m regularly skipping, and I’d like to get back in the habit of getting them done, especially since one of them relates to an ongoing project that needs to be completed in order to start a follow-up project. Tomorrow I think I’m going to make completing the checklist an actual goal instead of something I hope I get around to if I feel like it.

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I’ve been watching videos online of craftsmen and craftswomen creating just incredible pieces of art lately, and that makes me wish I had some artistic skill. The only thing that I’m remotely good at is thrown pottery, and I’ve only had one beginning course. There is an opportunity for me to practice and become better, but it’ll cost a day’s worth of time and the better part of a tank of gas every time I want some time on a wheel. When things aren’t quite so tight with the budget, maybe we can swing it on occasion. I really miss working with clay.

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My pro football team is 10-0 and it still seems so surreal. This is my team’s 21st season. In that time, we have never put together back-to-back winning seasons. The closest we’ve come is 2005-2006 when we followed an 11-5 campaign with an 8-8 record. But this season is just unprecedented in our history. I’m cautiously excited to see how the rest of the season unfolds, but right now I’m not looking any further ahead than our game on Thursday.

NaBloPoMo Day 3: An Imperfect Perfection

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Today is the day that I alienate a lot of my readers. I won’t be talking about my feelings or my health or any of that, oh no.

Today I’m going to talk about football.

It is important to note that, despite living in Houston for nearly 10 years and Austin for nearly three, I was born and raised in North Carolina, living in the state until I was almost 26. As a result, my sports allegiances are first and foremost to the teams in North Carolina – the Hornets, the Panthers, and the Hurricanes. I have my favorite teams here in Texas – the Texans, the Astros, the Rockets and Spurs – but my loyalty will always be with my Carolina teams first.

Last night the Panthers hosted the Colts in Charlotte. At one point in the fourth quarter it was 23-6 Panthers, and I figured it would be safe for me to tune in through the NFL Mobile app. (This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite perks of being a Verizon customer. It allows me to tune into almost any game I want for the teams I declare allegiance to.) Note the word “safe” there. I have a bit of a superstition that if I watch the game, my team will lose, so I tend not to watch a lot of football. (I watched most of the game last week against the Eagles as an experiment of the NFL Mobile app, and was pleased with it, not to mention my team won fairly handily.)

Then the score went to 23-13.

Then it was 23-20.

And then, with time expiring on the clock, it was 23-23. To overtime we went.

I was very tempted to turn off the game, convinced that the Colts pulled themselves back into the game because I was watching. But I persevered, despite my nerves.

The new rules state that if the team with first possession in overtime does not score a touchdown, their opponent gets the ball and the chance to tie or win. If, after one possession each, the game is still tied, the next score wins the game.

Indianapolis got the ball first in overtime and I was very worried.

They scored on their first possession, but it was a field goal, not a touchdown, so with the score now 26-23 Colts the ball went back to the Panthers. I was more than scared that my team would lose.

The Panthers had a good drive but couldn’t end it with a touchdown, settling instead for a field goal. The score was now tied 26-26 with the next score on either side becoming the game winner.

Indianapolis got the ball back and started driving down the field. And then a Colts pass was tipped by a Panthers defender, and then intercepted by another Panthers player.

The Panthers had the ball again, in good field position.

They fought and struggled to get the ball down to the point that their placekicker could make the game-winning field goal, and finally managed to get within range for a 52-yard attempt.

The snap was made, the ball positioned, the kick was up …

… and veering to the side …

… closer and closer to the goalpost …

… and then it sailed through, just inside the goalpost, for the field goal and the win. 29-26 Panthers.

My heart finally started beating again.

My Panthers played a lot of sloppy ball, missing opportunities to put the game away in regulation, but still managed to squeak it out in the end. Just like they’ve done all season.

One analyst predicted the Panthers would finish dead last in their division. Instead, the Panthers stand alone among NFC teams as the only undefeated team in the conference at 7-0. Once considered a fluke, they’re now among the NFL’s elite teams this season. With the win last night, they’ve already tied last year’s win total with more than half the season left to go.

Next Sunday, we host the Packers, who lost this week to drop from the ranks of the undefeated teams. They will be a dangerous, dangerous opponent, by far the best competition we’ve had all season. Just as I’ve done multiple times before, I predict the Panthers will finally lose a game.

But I’ve been wrong in the past, and the Packers are having problems on offense lately. It just might be possible for the Panthers to win this Sunday.

But just to be safe, I’m not going to watch that one. I’m not sure my heart can take another game like the one last night.