Item: Philips Sonicare 2 electric toothbrush
Purchased: January 26, 2018
Brushing my teeth has always been an activity that I didn’t particularly enjoy. It was something I was obligated to do when I was groggy first thing in the morning, and then again at night when all I wanted to do was crawl into bed. Fortunately, my dentist has always told me that my teeth look great, but I’ve never really taken my daily dental care very seriously until recently. While I was feeling so terrible back in January I spent a lot of time reading inane Buzzfeed articles, and one of them was titled something like, “Amazon Products People Swear By.” One of the items on that list was the Philips Sonicare 2 electric toothbrush. I’ve been debating an electric toothbrush for many years now, but never did much research, much less pull the trigger on actually purchasing one. But in my somewhat compromised and easily influenced state last month the toothbrush caught my attention. So I did some comparisons on Amazon and ended up ordering the Philips Sonicare 2. The good news was that it cost less than $40 so I wasn’t making a huge commitment if I ended up hating it. I figured it was going to be one of those impulse buys that you kinda regret, but use anyway because you spent money on it. Much to my surprise, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I love this thing. For the first time brushing my teeth is fun! That sounds silly, but it’s true. There’s been a bit of a learning curve since I’ve never used an electric toothbrush before, but my teeth have never felt so clean. Hopefully my dentist agrees when I see him in May. So if you’re still waffling about purchasing an electric toothbrush, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. You’ll thank me later!
In an effort to give my healthy, homemade lunches more variety I’ve been looking for different carbs/starches to substitute for my usual roasted potatoes. I’ve never been much of a potato enthusiast, but I love simple diced and roasted white potatoes and sweet potatoes. I ate a lot of them when I was doing my Whole30-ish diet in October. But as much as I enjoy them, I need other options for my weekday lunches so that I don’t get completely burned out on potatoes. While I was in Tallahassee for Christmas I tried out a recipe for mashed butternut squash and it was only semi-successful, mostly due to the fact that I was too lazy to use a food processor. (Note: Mashing roasted butternut squash with a fork doesn’t really work, nor does blitzing it with an electric mixer.) But in spite of its weird texture, the flavor of the partially mashed butternut squash was outstanding, so I saw some potential for a tasty and less complicated version. I basically just used the same ingredients, olive oils and minimal seasonings, but didn’t do anything else after the roasting step. What could be simpler? I make this every couple of weeks and it’s the perfect side dish for just about any meal.
12 oz diced butternut squash
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
Put the diced butternut squash in a large bowl. (I buy pre-diced butternut squash for convenience. My time is valuable-ish and this helps make my healthy lunches more achievable.) Add the olive oil, salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper and stir to combine. Bake at 375 deg F for about 30 minutes, stirring once about halfway through, or until tender and slightly browned. The duration required will depend on how large the pieces of squash are. The Green Giant variety that I usually buy is a small dice, less than 1 inch per piece, so it took less time than the recipes I researched. Enjoy!
Based on Momtastic’s Roasted Butternut Squash.
My actual thirty-ninth birthday was a mess. I was supposed to be spending it at Walt Disney World, but obviously that didn’t happen. The best laid plans, and all. First of all, a rain storm woke me up at 6 AM so I decided to go back to sleep rather than getting up and getting drenched going to work that early. It was going to be my first day back at work after the holidays, but I was still tired after battling the flu and its aftermath for over a week. Under the circumstances, the pouring rain was more than I thought I was capable of dealing with. Work was stressful considering that I had to catch up on all of the emails that had been piling up in my inbox since December 21st. Also, there were more than the usual number of meetings which made the day even more frantic. I was pretty worn out when the workday was over, but I decided to go to a boot camp class at 7 PM since I wasn’t keen on spending the rest of my birthday simply sprawled out on my couch. It was my first time at the gym for at least a month so it was very challenging. I was sore for a week afterwards, and it turns out I wasn’t healthy enough to be exercising yet anyway. I felt pretty sick the next day. But at the time I was glad to get out of the house for an hour. On the way home from boot camp I stopped by Panera and picked up a bowl of tomato soup for dinner. Not exactly the birthday dinner I planned, which was a steak dinner at Le Cellier in EPCOT, but at least the soup tasted good.
To make up for the disaster that was January 9th, I celebrated my honorary thirty-ninth birthday last Sunday. Unfortunately I had to get up at 4:30 AM to get ready for the Pasadena 5K. It was a cold morning by Southern Californian standards and I carpooled to the Rose Bowl with one of my running buddies who doesn’t have a functional heater in her car. Not the best decision when it’s 39 degrees outside and you didn’t think to dress warmly enough. I should have driven instead. But even without heat we still stayed in the relative warmth of the car until 10 minutes before the race started. The 5K itself was pretty good, and the finish line was on the Rose Bowl field, which I enjoyed. My plan for the afternoon was to meet my good friend Natalie and her family at Disneyland, but I was tired after I got home from the race. Luckily a short nap re-energized me and I made it to Anaheim just in time to join them for lunch at Carthay Circle. A meal of tri-tip and cheesy mashed potatoes definitely made up for eating boring tomato soup for dinner on my actual birthday. It was absolutely delicious. After that we made our way to Guardians of the Galaxy where my 5 year-old goddaughter surprised everyone by agreeing to ride it. What a perfect birthday present. She’s a real trooper. We also went on It’s A Small World Holiday (the last day before they removed the Christmas decor) and Peter Pan’s Flight before we decided it was time to go to our respective homes. I was hoping to check out the new scenes on Star Tours, but the line was long and I knew I needed to rest rather than push myself to stay at Disneyland longer. Luckily it will still be there on my next visit, which I hope is too far in the future. It was a lovely belated birthday celebration, even it if wasn’t the one I originally planned.
Remember how last year my Christmas decorations didn’t get put away until nearly five months after December 25th? The tree was no longer trimmed that whole time, and all of my holidays trinkets had been consolidated on my kitchen table, but they didn’t get put into their usual storage space until May 19th. (I think I took the wreath off my front door around Valentine’s Day.) It was a very belated end of the season. In the spring I figured if I crossed the six-month mark post-Christmas that I might as well just leave the tree up until the holidays rolled around again. Luckily I didn’t quite reach that threshold. On May 19th I finally put my nativity, figurines, lights, ornaments, and tree back in the closet where they could wait until they were seasonally appropriate again.
Christmas 2017 was a little less festive. I did manage to put my Christmas tree up shortly after Thanksgiving, but December was such a mess that I didn’t really get any farther. As my trip to Florida quickly approached I came to the realization that my tree just wasn’t going to get decorated this year. I still got to enjoy the lights (thanks to a pre-lit tree) in my living room every day, but with a busy schedule and some health problems I didn’t have the time or energy to trim it. The photo above shows the single solitary ornament that make it onto my 2017 Christmas tree. It was a perfect gift from one of my running buddies so I hung it up immediately. It had the benefit of not having to get unpacked first. Except for pulling out my wreath, I only cracked open my holiday storage closet to retrieve the Christmas cards bought on sale last year for future use. I ended up sending out a grand total of 62 cards this year, but that’s another story. After getting the flu on New Year’s Eve I spent a lot of time at home recovering, and during that time I managed to gather enough strength to take down my tree and put it back into storage by January 12th. I certainly didn’t break any speed records, but at least it got done while the weather is still cold (at least by LA standards). I missed out on a lot of traditions this holiday season and I’m very sorry to leave my favorite time of year behind. But all I can do right now is move forward. I know that eventually I will be healthy again, and that the 2018 holidays will probably be here before I know it. It just won’t be quite soon enough for me.
November ended on a low note with the death of my friend Tiki. Due to my grief, I never got around to writing a couple of webpage posts that I had planned for the beginning of December. In one of those I wanted to share this silly exchange I had with my co-worker Dave on November 28th, shortly before I learned that my friend had died. I’ve stated on many occasions how much I love my colleagues, and this is just the latest in a long line of examples of how much fun we have together. They keep me sane when work gets too busy or stressful. You might think that engineers spend eight very uninteresting hours at their jobs Monday through Friday, which sometimes does happen, but just about every day my co-workers make me laugh with some crazy situation or observation. (Like today when my boss blamed me on the fact that our group has to give up our cubicles and move to another area soon. Apparently when I unpacked my office belongings this time, unlike the last several moves, I inevitably doomed us to another relocation.) It makes the daily grind a little more bearable, and for that I am very thankful.
11/28/17 @ 8:38 AM
L: I tried to type “buffer management.” Instead I wrote “butter management.” I guess it’s time for breakfast?
D: When eating toast, butter management is very important. If we have improper butter management it’s definitely a high priority issue.
L: There’s nothing funny about improperly managed butter.
D: It could get messy really quickly.
L: Or that rock hard butter you get at restaurants sometimes. That poor bread.
D: Mauled senselessly by that frozen butter.
L: We should write a PSA. Everyone should know about the tragedies caused by improperly managed butter.
D: Whimsy level = epic.
2018 has been teaching me a humbling lesson. We’re nearly two weeks in and I’m still not healthy. I’ve only been able to work two days so far (one of those being my birthday, but more on that in another post), and those were tough. I’ve only exercised once (I went to a boot camp class on my birthday) and that turned out to be a terrible idea because I experienced a relapse of my lingering illness the next morning. I’ve barely gone out my front door since New Year’s, and I haven’t had enough energy to do much of anything around the house either, so I’m slowly losing my mind. Suffice to say, things aren’t going well for me at the moment. If I think about everyone who’s out there living their lives to the fullest right now it makes me angry, jealous, and sad. And then there’s Facebook and Instagram showing me multitudes of pictures of smiling faces and all of their exciting experiences. It’s gut-wrenching for me. Especially seeing photos from my friends who successfully completed the Dopey Challenge last week. That was supposed to be me. I planned for it, I worked for it, and I deserved to cross the finish line with everyone else. But I’m starting to realize that I can’t live in the past anymore. I can’t compare my journey with anyone else’s. My best-laid plans didn’t come to fruition this time and I have to accept that. This wasn’t a failure, but an unavoidable obstacle that I had to navigate. The only thing I can do now is move forward. It certainly won’t be easy, but I think that once I’m healthy (whenever that is) and back to my normal routine that I can start preparing for the rest of the year. I cannot wait for that to happen.
Right now I’m sitting in a hotel room in Carlsbad. Back in October I registered for the Carlsbad Half Marathon without considering that a flu virus could knock me down so hard that I wouldn’t be in any shape to run 13.1 miles on January 14th. So last week I called the race company to ask whether it would be possible for me to switch to the 5K instead due to my extremely poor health. Luckily that wasn’t a problem at all. So tomorrow morning I’ll be attempting to complete a measly 3.1 miles and finally, finally start my 2018 running journey. Hopefully that journey will culminate in training for neat year’s Dopey Challenge (January 10-13, 2019), but I have a long road to navigate before I get there. This first step is infuriatingly small, but I have to start somewhere. I wish I wasn’t so incredibly out of shape, but there’s really no other possible outcome after three weeks of near inactivity. These next few weeks are going to be painful. So many miles, so many races, and so many more obstacles waiting for me, I’m sure. Let’s hope I’m up for it.
My progression through the stages of grief has been uneven, and also potentially nonlinear. I didn’t spend a lot of time in denial (first stage), but I think I more than made up for it with the intensity of my anger (second stage). Knowing myself, I’m probably going to be incensed about this unfortunate turn of events until I get my next shot at the Dopey Challenge, hopefully next January. But as of today I find myself buried in the fourth stage of grief – depression. I seemed to have skipped bargaining (third stage), but I’ll get back to that later. Even though the last time I updated my webpage I said I was going to try to go back to work, that actually hasn’t happened yet. On Wednesday night I made all of the necessary preparations to go to work, but then I woke up on Thursday morning with a severe sore throat and painful congestion. It was so agonizing that I reached for the prescription ibuprofen that I got from the urgent care doctor on New Year’s Day. The lymph node of the left side of my throat was swollen too so my body was obviously still fighting off some sort of virus. After a couple of days of these new and terrible developments I considered another visit to urgent care, but since I didn’t have a fever or other worrying symptoms I figured it wouldn’t be helpful. I already know that I had the flu and my body is more than likely just struggling to fight off the remaining strains. Luckily I felt marginally better when I woke up this morning so I think I’m finally on the road to recovery. I still slept all afternoon on my couch, though. I’m certainly not 100% well yet.
The Walt Disney World Marathon is taking place tomorrow morning and there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to be there running with all of the other participants, including several friends. I haven’t run since December 26th and I know that I’ll basically be starting from square one with my fitness once I’m able to lace up my sneakers again. I’m not looking forward to that one bit. But in the depths of my despair today I’ll admit that I did a little research to see if I could determine when the Disney World marathon weekend will be held in 2019 so that can make some preliminary plans for that trip. Maybe this is the bargaining stage of grief intermingling with the depression? Actually, since bargaining is supposed to come before depression, maybe it’s more like acceptance (fifth and last stage), which would mean that I’m on the road to emotional recovery as well as physical. One can only hope. My body has been an absolute wreck since before Christmas, and I’ve been in a foul mood since I cancelled my Orlando vacation on Monday. So my favorite holiday was less than perfect, and the entirety of 2018 so far has been a disaster. Fantastic. In order to avoid making this year any worse than it already is I’ve been successfully maintaining my social media blackout for the past four days. I’ve spent the last week sick at home, staring at one screen or another almost the whole time, but actively avoiding the websites I most frequently visit. I’ve still been using Facebook Messenger on my phone to keep in touch with a few friends, and I sometimes check Twitter out of sheer boredom, but Facebook and Instagram are strictly off-limits for the time being. And it’s been refreshing. I definitely need to limit social media in my daily internet diet going forward. Maybe I’ll even make it one of my 2018 resolutions. But that will have to wait until I feel better, which will hopefully be very soon.
As of this morning I found myself solidly entrenched in the second stage of grief – anger. I thought I was upset yesterday due to the cancellation of the vacation I’ve been planning for a year, but it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg. I spent most of today completely enraged. Not only am I mad that this stupid flu caused me to miss the Dopey Challenge and my birthday vacation at Disney World, but I woke up to texts from my dad that it was snowing in Tallahassee. A once in a lifetime experience in North Florida. I feel like am missing EVERYTHING this week. I’ve been sick at home for the last five days and it feels like the world is rubbing salt in my open wound. What else can I be jealous/resentful/bitter about? Like people who are successfully working on their New Year’s fitness resolutions while I don’t have enough energy to leave my house for more than an hour at a time. And folks thriving on their new healthy diets while I’m eating leftover pizza because nothing else is palatable right now. I’ve reached my limit. So before even getting out of bed this morning I instituted a social media blackout until at least Monday. Maybe longer. There’s no use letting myself get even more bothered by my friends’ pictures from Disney World or playing in the snow in Tallahassee. I can’t be with them enjoying those experiences and there’s no use being reminded of that fact every time I’m online. The only option that isn’t detrimental to my already bruised mental state is logging off and focusing on myself for a while. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m healthy enough to resume my normal routine. I look forward to that. I’ll probably go back to work tomorrow so that will keep me from despondently moping around the house all day. Life is pretty gloomy right now, but I know it will get better. It just can’t happen soon enough for me.
Today was marginally better than yesterday. (Let’s ignore the fact that I was supposed to be on a plan to Orlando this morning. If I dwell on that too long I’ll get really annoyed.) First of all, I successfully picked up the Tamiflu at Walgreens this morning. The downside? Apparently my prescription drug insurance doesn’t have a contract with Walgreens so the medication cost me over $100. And that was for the generic version! Ridiculous. The only reason I had to fill the prescription there is because no CVS in the area has Tamiflu in stock. Apparently it’s been a rough flu season already. So I reluctant paid the exorbitant price because Walgreens had somehow cornered the market on flu drugs and my insurance is woefully inadequate. Also, I was feeling very light headed standing at the pharmacy counter so simply giving them my credit card was the fastest way for me to get back to my car where I could sit down. So not only did I lose a lot of money cancelling my Disney World vacation due to this stupid illness, but it also cost me an arm and a leg for drugs to combat it! Even though I’m recovering, this whole situation seems to be getting worse every day.
On a positive note, I managed to gather enough energy to go to the grocery store tonight. My refrigerator was relatively bare because I was planning to be on vacation starting today, and I’ve been too sick to go anywhere before now, so I’ve been living off Domino’s pizza delivery for the last two days. Not that I’ve had much of an appetite, but I’m still sick of eating food with no nutritional value. So this evening I filled up my shopping cart with mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce department of the grocery store was pretty picked over, probably from all of the folks who are trying to fulfill their New Year’s resolution to eat healthier. I had to really search for a bag of broccoli florets (my preferred green vegetable for weekday lunches), and I couldn’t find the steam-in-bag green beans that I was looking for (so that I’ll have some much-needed green vegetable variety). Otherwise I had a very successful shopping trip. Even though I’m planning to stay home from work again tomorrow, I’m going to try and do a little cooking and food prep. I might only be able to scramble some eggs for breakfast and chop up some vegetables for future salads, but that will be a major improvement over most everything I’ve eaten since I got back from Florida last week. In order to establish more permanent healthy eating habits (and, let’s face it, lose some weight too) I want to adopt a new meal plan as soon as I am completely over this flu. I’ll detail that in a future post. But for now I’m going to continue focusing on healing. I can’t wait to feel like myself again.
Happy New Year! First of all, I have a lot of explaining to do regarding why I didn’t blog at all during the month of December, but that will have to wait for another day. There are a multitude of reasons/excuses that I didn’t write a single word since the end of November. In the simplest sense, life has been complicated, which made the end of 2017 less than satisfactory. But now 2018 is here, and with a new year comes a chance for a fresh start. And how did this one begin? With the flu. I could regale you with the entire sequence of New Year’s Eve events that led to my really awful January 1st, but that is not my intended goal for this post. In short, I had what I thought was a bad head cold which quickly morphed into the flu yesterday afternoon. It was miserable. What I want to share on the first day of 2018 is the aftermath of this very untimely illness. By the time I was attempting to go to sleep last night (long before midnight as I was too sick to care about ringing in the new year with any fanfare) I realized that my trip to Orlando on January 2nd was in serious jeopardy. Then when I woke up this morning, after a very fitful and feverish night, I put on some clean clothes (i.e., not the pajamas I had been wearing for over 24 hours) and drove to urgent care to consult with a doctor. I didn’t think had a fever anymore, probably thanks to the Aleve I took at 4 AM to combat a wicked headache, but I still felt horrible. When I arrived at urgent care at 8 AM to discover that it was closed I nearly cried. No where on their website or on their voicemail message did they indicate that the office was closed for the holidays. Don’t they think that’s information that should be readily available for desperate patients such as myself? I was extremely frustrated and I figured I wasn’t going to be able to see a medical professional at all today. Instead I headed to CVS to buy a thermometer because I thought I might still have a fever. In spite of it being 50 deg outside I was sweating like crazy. To my surprise, the pharmacist told me that their Minute Clinic was going to be open at 10 AM so I would be able to see a doctor today after all. About two hours later I walked out of the Minute Clinic with a prescription for Tamiflu. Then came my attempts to fill it. Once again, I’ll refrain from going into extreme detail, but the bottom line is that I drove to three different pharmacies and was unable to get my prescribed medication at any of them. I will have to try again tomorrow. So that brings us to the worst part of January 1st. While standing in line at the third pharmacy I felt so weak that I thought I was going to pass out. That’s when I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to participate in the Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World this weekend. When I got home and wearily crawled back into bed I made all of the necessary phone calls and mouse clicks (no pun intended, Mickey) to cancel my trip. This was the very outcome I was trying to avoid, but I knew that even if my health improves significantly over the next few days that I still wouldn’t be in any shape to run 48.6 miles between Thursday and Sunday. Heck, I can barely run a marathon on my best days! It would be an understatement to say that I’m disappointed that I won’t be on a plane to Orlando in the morning, but I know staying home was the right choice. I worked so hard to prepare for the race challenge so admitting that I was defeated by a simple virus is making me crazy. I guarantee that over the next week I will feel many moments of anger, sadness, and generally regret. I am going to second guess my decision a million times. It’s going to be awful. Even so, I had to put my health first. As I was reminded by one of my running buddies, there will be other races. It’s hard to see that right now, but she is absolutely right. Not everything in life is going to work out according to plan and you have to figure out how to make the best of unfortunate circumstances. If possible I will attempt the Dopey Challenge next year, but for now I am going to focus on healing and recuperating. I will live to run another day!