Hiking Recap: Pink Beds Loop Trail

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We were looking for a fairly easy hike to do because I have a 5K tomorrow (!!) and I didn’t want to wear my legs out and render myself too sore to train for that.  This was the PERFECT hike for just that situation.  The Pink Beds Loop Trail is located in the Pisgah National Forest, not too far from Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock near Brevard, NC.

I’d read the synopsis on HikeWNC.info, so I had a good idea of the environment(s) we’d be traversing.  Their site describes taking the loop in a counter-clockwise direction, so we’d originally planned to do that, but we happened upon a very nice man in the parking lot (who, coincidentally, went to Wingate University, where Joey and I went and where Joey currently teaches!) who’d done the hike many times and told us that we’d want to take it clockwise to have a less strenuous trip.  I was all about that since I was worried about my legs.

We began the path (which was fairly well-blazed with orange rectangles), and walked for a short stretch through several fantastic open meadows:
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until we reached the fork that actually began the loop.  We took off to the left to begin our clockwise trip, which was clearly a good decision as a fair portion of the trail was uphill at that point (although only gently), so it was nice to get that out of the way up front.  Thick trees formed a canopy over us, and I honestly felt like I was in some kind of fairytale…just waiting to glimpse a unicorn around the next corner or something.
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We reached the Barrett Branch trail relatively quickly; it’s a shortcut that cuts across the loop in the event that you don’t want to do the entire five plus miles.  However, if you turn off to the left, you’ll have a great payoff after about a mile when you reach a beautiful waterfall.  Unfortunately, I read the online synopsis wrong and thought the waterfall was only 0.3 miles in, so we got frustrated and turned around before we reached it.  We’re going to do this one again in two weeks, so we’ll follow it all the way next time.  One complaint, though; the signage indicated that there would be blue blazes along the Barrett Branch trail, and we didn’t see ANY blazes at all; the path was well-established, so we weren’t concerned that we were getting off the trail, but it was a little irritating not to have it confirmed periodically that we were on the right track.

Back on the Pink Beds Loop, we crossed the South Fork Mills River and its tributaries many times.  One crossing required a rock hop (which was an adventure for our dog, and to our surprise, she did a great job).  The rocks were large, flat, and sturdy, so I wasn’t too concerned about making it across.
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We also had to traverse this log bridge, which thankfully had a handrail.  It was also wide and sturdy, but I was rather nervous (because of the Lupron clumsiness), so I took small steps to avoid pitching myself face-first into the stream.
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I was amazed at how clear the water was; I wish I’d dipped my hand in to see how cold it was too.  We saw several minnows and one larger fish that we thought may have been a trout.  Thankfully, Indy was more interested in drinking the water than chasing any of the fish.
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We passed through several boggy areas (but none that made the path muddy), and the trail was EXTREMELY rooty for much of the second half.  I never tripped, but I found myself having to look down a lot to make sure I wouldn’t, and that took away from getting to pay attention to the scenery.

The last mile or so was done over impressive foot bridges, which the website says were built in 2013; it almost felt like we were walking on a greenway in Charlotte with how well-made they were.  They passed over large swathes of grass and more bogs and streams, and eventually we made our way back to the fork where we began.
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Our entire hike was exactly 6.2 miles; I imagine we added another .6 or .7 by going down the Barrett Branch trail a ways, so I’d say the loop is probably 5 and a half miles or so (rather than the 5.1 that the website indicates).

I think this is the most beautiful hike we’ve ever done, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a long, yet undemanding hike.  My legs weren’t very sore the next day, and I was able to get out and train for my 5K this week without a problem.

I cannot wait to get out there and do this one again!
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The Lupron Diaries: Reflections on Mother’s Day

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Another Mother’s Day has come and gone.  It’s funny…there’s only been a couple of Mother’s Days that weren’t awkward for me since Joey and I got married.  I feel like we got a pass for the first couple of years since we were just married (and one of those we spent in Texas, so we didn’t have the added baggage of everyone we knew asking us when we were going to start a family).  By the time we moved back, though, the expectation was already there (from church folks, not our parents), that we’d be starting a family.

I had a colossal chip on my shoulder about it for most of those years; we didn’t know if we even wanted kids, and here I was having to field questions every Mother’s Day…or gently correct folks who wished me a Happy Mother’s Day because they just assumed that all women of childbearing age are mothers.  I fiercely defended my “motherhood” of my kitty, Shelli (and still do to some degree since she struggles so badly with anxiety, which requires a lot of care).  I’d answer women who asked me when we were going to have kids with, “I don’t know if we even want them!” (mentally adding, “so THERE!” afterward), watching their utter confusion at a Christian woman who may not want to “be fruitful and multiply.”

Two years ago was the first time in a long time that Mother’s Day wasn’t awkward for me; we’d just started trying, and while I wasn’t a mom yet, I felt like it was going to happen any time.  I remember sitting in the choir, not being able to stand up with the women who were already moms, but thinking to myself that surely I would be able to next year.

And then came a year of unsuccessful trying and a failed round of fertility meds.  Last year was just too raw.  I skipped church and we had a lazy day around the house.  I didn’t want to deal with the sadness and embarrassment.  Sure, this was my thirteenth childless Mother’s Day, but this was only the second one where I really wanted to be a mother, and the first one where I had to deal with the fact that my body was failing me.  We celebrated our own mothers, but stayed away from other folks who might ask me uncomfortable questions otherwise.

We skipped church again this year.  I don’t blame them for the big deal that they make on Mother’s Day.  Moms should be celebrated and fussed over; motherhood is a noble calling, and women who must make sacrifices every day for their children’s sake deserve a day where they are publicly honored.  But it’s awkward for me at church, especially now that our journey is public.  I don’t want the pity from people who know.  I don’t want to have to sit down while just about every other woman my age stands.  So I didn’t.  We celebrated our mothers on Friday and Saturday, and on Mother’s Day, we headed out to Brevard, NC, for a six mile hike in the mountains.

And it was glorious.  We did the Pink Beds Loop Trail; although it’s listed as “moderate,” I’d definitely call it an easy hike, save for the sheer distance of it.  I mis-read the commentary on HikeWNC’s website, so we didn’t make it all the way out the Barrett Branch Trail to the waterfall, but we will definitely add that in the next time we go.

I’ll post a separate review of the hike in the event that anyone wants to see the pics and read about that without wading through my infertility ramblings:)

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The Lupron Diaries: Dealing with Negative Emotions

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I’ve definitely felt like the Lupron is beating me these past few days.  I didn’t stop to think that perhaps the side effects would compound as the shots went on, but that seems to be what’s happening.  It feels like I’m constantly surrounded by the crappy version of Snow White’s seven dwarfs…”weepy,” “grumpy,” “overwhelmed,” “frustrated,” “stressed,” “bitchy,” and “anxious.”  For the most part, I’m able to keep perspective and remind myself that it’s the Lupron messing with my head, but there are plenty of times that these terrible emotions surface, and I’m left curled up in the recliner crying over some stupid viral story I read on the internet or griping all over Joey for no apparent reason.

However, I’ve figured out some ways to deal with this side effect; hopefully my coping mechanisms will help you as well (also, I’m not a doctor, just a grumpy layperson.  Don’t take my advice to the detriment of your health…if you’ve got problems, consult a professional).

  • Pray.  If you’re not a person of faith, you’ll have to humor me here, but I am a Christian, and I am constantly having to remind myself that God is in control of all of this and He will get me through it.  And I’m not just talking about “pious, churchy” prayers, either.  I gripe at God. Sometimes I yell at Him.  Most of the time I’m contrite and pitiful, but honestly, He knows what you’re thinking anyway, so you may as well be honest and tell Him.  I think God appreciates honesty, even when it’s ugly.  And sometimes, that’s exactly what I need to talk my way through a piss-poor mood.
  • Establish and maintain routinesimageI know this sounds both elementary and
    boring, but it’s true. Routines are comforting, and when you’re struggling with a barrage of uncertainty and stress, you need comfort and stability in every way possible.  I have set times to wake up every day, and I try not to vary from them.  I have set days to run (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday), and a set day for a long walk or other activity (Sunday).  We have set activities on Wednesday night, Thursday night, and Sunday morning.  Open space (on your schedule) can be overwhelming, so having an established routine can keep you from freaking out.
  • Exercise.  imageSorry…you’re not going to get around this.  There’s a reason it’s suggested in almost any article about mental wellness.  Studies have shown time and time again that exercise boosts endorphins in the brain and is a highly effective remedy against depression and anxiety.  Additionally, since weight gain is another side effect of the Lupron,exercising will help keep that one at bay, too.  I run/walk three days a week, do a long walk (or hike) on
    Sundays, and I’m working on getting strength routines together for Monday and/or Friday.  It also helps to have something to train for.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been caught in negative thoughts and I’ve gotten out and run or hiked, envisioning myself crossing the finish line at a 5K or summiting Mt. Mitchell, and I’ve finished that workout feeling like I kicked ass and was ready to take on the world.  You don’t have to run.  Find an activity that you like to do and push yourself.  Sweat therapy is a real thing.
  • Find a stress-relieving hobby (and do it as often as you can).
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    Mandalas are my favorite things to color for their balance and symmetry.  I love the methodical nature of the process…selecting a few colors and setting their pattern, finishing with each color one at a time.  And the finished projects are so gratifying!  Find something that you can focus on that’ll take your mind off negative emotions; reading, scrapbooking, drawing, crossword puzzles…whatever works for you.
  • Give yourself a break.  I’ve had to lower my expectations of myself since I’m overwhelmed more easily and get frustrated much more quickly.  I can’t handle doing something every Saturday or having more than one or two commitments during a week.  I can’t agree to many last-minute or spontaneous requests.  I can’t do as many “favors” for people.  Being realistic about your limits and operating within them will lessen the sense of being overwhelmed by having added yet another thing to your list of responsibilities.
  • Avoid your triggers.  I don’t watch tv shows about obese people.  I don’t read stories about animals (unless I can tell from the headline that it’s silly and cute).  I avoid movies that I know will make me cry.  For a normal person, a good cry can be cathartic, but for someone dealing with Lupron weepiness, it may start a flood that won’t stop easily.  If it looks like it might throw you off and you can avoid it, by all means, steer yourself the other way.
  • Be honest with your family, friends, and partner.  If I’m “Lupron grumpy,” I tell them.  If I don’t want to go out because I need to curl up in the recliner and cry, I tell them.  They need to know if you’re going to be snippy for no reason so they don’t think they’ve hurt you. And they need to know when to try to pull you out of a bad place.
  • Sometimes, just eat the damn ice cream.  You’re not going to win every battle. Sometimes, you’re going to want to pile up on the couch and eat cheetos and watch six hours of Deadliest Catch.  And sometimes, it’s okay to do that.  Don’t do it often, but sometimes, it’ll just have to do.  Pick yourself up tomorrow and move on.

Remember, what you’re going through is tough.  Lupron treatment ain’t for sissies. You are an EndoWarrior, and you can beat the negative emotions (most of the time)!

Infertility Awareness Week: Things Your Infertile Friend is too Nice to Tell You

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This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. I’m glad about that.  With 1 in every 8 couples of reproductive age dealing with this issue, it’s certainly something that needs to be brought to the forefront.  Chances are, someone you know well is struggling with conceiving, and there are a few things you need to know…things they may be too nice to tell you.

  1. We don’t want your pity.  Yes, for whatever reason, there is a part of my body that’s not working the way it should.  However, I’m still a successful human being with plenty of other great qualities and abilities.  We’re not pathetic; we’ve just got something that’s not working quite right.
  2. We don’t want your judgement.  I actually had a friend tell me, in essence, “that’s what happens when you wait so long to have kids.”  I already know that.  I know that fertility decreases as you age.  We waited for a reason.  For us, life hasn’t been stable enough to provide for a kid until these last couple of years.  There’s truth in oft-repeated statement, “if you wait until you’re ‘ready,’ you’ll never be ready.”  However, it’s also a good idea to try to wait until you’re in a position to be able to provide for that child, and sometimes that doesn’t happen until you’re thirty.  Your judgement alienates and hurts us.
  3. We don’t want your suggestions.  Yes, I’ve tried essential oils.  Yes, I’ve tried castor oil wraps.  Yes, I’ve tried apple cider vinegar.  Yes, I’ve tried supplements.  Yes, I’ve tried a gluten free diet.  Yes, I’ve tried a ketogenic diet.  Yes, I’ve tried lemon water in the morning.  Yes, I’ve heard of fertility massage.  Yes, I’ve heard of acupuncture.  No, I’m not interested in any of it anymore.  Your infertile friend has probably done her research already, and may have already tried most of these “natural remedies.”  Your suggestions aren’t helpful; they’re actually a little annoying.
  4. We’re a little pissed that you’re pregnant.  Do I still love you?  Yes.  Am I happy for you?  Absolutely.  Will I love your baby?  No doubt.  But please be understanding; there’s still going to be a tiny part of me that’s sad that it’s not me.  It’s still going to sting a little when you tell us how excited you are that the baby’s kicking, or even when you complain about your swollen feet and insomnia.  Because it’s not us, and we’d give anything to experience the things you’re complaining about.  Your baby shower is going to be awkward for us, especially if we end up having to field the “why haven’t you guys had kids yet?” question from unthinking acquaintances.  It doesn’t mean we hate you; it means we’re human.  And that’s going to have to be okay.
  5. We still need YOU.  It’s easy to withdraw when you’re struggling with such a personal problem.  Plus, the hormone treatments we have to go through (Clomid, Lupron, the variety of drugs involved in IVF) wreak havoc on our emotions and make us anxious, depressed, and grumpy sometimes.  We need you to be there to watch a movie with us, go shopping with us, run a mile with us, or just sit with us while we cry.  Sometimes we need you to take our mind off this terrible journey, and sometimes we need you to listen to us while we agonize over it.  Mostly, though, we just need you to be there.

So, there you have it. We’re struggling with a private and often embarrassing problem.  Love us in spite of it.

– this post by Melanie Weaver first appeared on Inner Monologue of a Madwoman –

The Lupron Diaries: Running Update

Today was the first of many 5k races we have planned for 2016.  We picked the Sunshine 5K for its proximity to our house.

Here we are, pre-race (you can tell because I’m still the same shade of white as my visor).

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I always get SO nervous on race days.  We’d planned to get up at 6 am so we’d have a chance to have some coffee and let Indy roam around in the yard before we had to put her back up to leave.  What ended up happening instead, though, was my waking up and noticing that it was already light outside, checking my phone, and seeing that it was actually 6:47 and we’d grossly overslept.  It was a good thing that the race was only five minutes from the house, so we did still have time to have a cup of coffee, and it was nice not to have to drive into downtown Charlotte to get to the venue.

I was more nervous this time than I have ever been before; I knew I was going to try to run as much of the race as I could, and we didn’t have the excuse of having Indy with us this time, so I was going to have to quit punking out and just run the damn thing.  I also hadn’t been able to work out Thursday because of some respiratory congestion (which I still had), so I was afraid that I’d end up coughing up a lung during the race and have to be carted away (by ambulance, of course) to the minute clinic.

Thankfully, my girls were already there when we arrived; we chatted a bit–or tried to, at least, over the deafening music.

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They’re both much faster than I am, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them, but I also knew they’d be waiting for me at the finish line.  I’d previously told Joey to go ahead and do his own pace, but I got nervous right before it started and asked him to stay with me instead.  He didn’t think twice about it.

We ran most of the first mile, and I made it through my entire first song without walking, which was heartening, since we’ve been doing the Mayo Clinic 5k program, which is comprised primarily of short run/walk intervals.  I had no idea how long I’d be able to sustain a run.  Our first mile was about 13:30.

The course was two loops through a neighborhood in Wesley Chapel; it was excellent weather and the houses were pretty.  However, they looped us through a nature trail that was quite narrow and had some slippery foot bridges, which made things rather precarious for someone who’s Lupron clumsy.  I’m also a little curious as to how the lady with the triple stroller managed, and how those around her felt when they were inevitably bottle-necked behind her for that entire section of the course.

My chest congestion was catching up with me by Mile 2 and I had to walk a good portion of that one and the third.  I almost started crying at 2.8 because I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal pace and it wasn’t fair that I got sick three days before the race and I hadn’t lost any weight and I felt like a loser and my house is a wreck and I’m barely even a functional adult anyway (and it just spiraled down further from there).  I told Joey I felt like crying and he said, “that’s going to make it hard to keep pace, and we’re almost done.”   And I saw the main road and heard the music at the finish line.  And we were at 43:30, so Joey said, “let’s run…I think we can make it!”

And we ran.  And then found out that you had to circle around the back of the parking lot at the venue and pass through a gauntlet of portapotties and dumpsters before crossing the finish line.  So we didn’t make it.  We came close, though!

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My girls were there at the end, cheering for me, and then we stayed and cheered for the last finishers.  I did get a race PR, even if it wasn’t quite as fast as I wanted.  And I got to enjoy the best part of friendship and marriage; having people who know what I’m going through pushing me to be successful and waiting at the finish line for me.  It’s hard to beat that.

Incidentally, here’s my playlist for whoever may be interested.  It served me pretty well.

  1. (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone -The Monkees
  2. All the Small Things -Blink 182
  3. American Woman -Lenny Kravitz
  4. Breathe -Prodigy
  5. Bye Bye Bye -*NSYNC
  6. Can You Dig It? -The Monkees
  7. Cocky -Kid Rock
  8. Without Me -Eminem
  9. White & Nerdy -Weird Al Yankovic
  10. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap -AC/DC
  11. Fergalicious -Fergie
  12. Flagpole Sitta -Harvey Danger
  13. What I Got -Sublime

My official time was 46:02, so one minute over my goal of 45:00.  All things considered, though, I’ll take it.

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The Lupron Diaries: Shot #3 and Weekend Happenings

I won’t bore you with the details from Shot #2, as it was pretty much the same story as Shot #1…quick and painless.

Shot #3, however, hurt like HELL.  Ginger felt terrible about it, but it wasn’t her fault.  I think it was a combination of my laying the wrong way and my tensing up (maybe because I wasn’t positioned right), but I felt every second of it, including the gross sensation of thick liquid going into my muscle.  I even got lightheaded for a couple of seconds, but it wasn’t unbearable.  She laughed and said, “it’ll probably hurt more taking the band-aid off than the shot did.”  I chuckled, but thought she was out of her mind; after a quick hug, we were on the way out.

She was RIGHT, though.  I don’t know what kind of industrial-strength band-aids they use, but I thought I was going to find all of my skin on it when I took it off the next morning.

On another unpleasant note, I think I’m shedding more hair than normal.  It could just be my imagination, but it seems like I’m throwing away more loose hair than I usually do.  We’ll see how that plays out.  Hair loss is a possible Lupron side-effect, albeit an uncommon one, so perhaps I’m just shedding my winter coat like the pets are.

We went to South Carolina this weekend to visit my grandmothers (we go once a month).  I snapped this pic of a derelict house on the way down; they’d cleared out some trees over the last couple of months, which left it exposed, and my mom wanted a picture of it, so I took one for the team and hung out the window at 70 mph to get her a picture.  You’re welcome, Mom;).

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One of my grandmothers is suffering from dementia.  Usually, it only seems to affect her short-term memory (although I’m sure that those who see her on a regular basis notice it in other ways), but this time, she didn’t remember that I’d come to spend a week with them during the summer a few times when I was a kid.  That hurt; she usually regales me with the tale of her and Papa walking in on me calling my parents because I was homesick and picks on me about it. This time, however, I regaled her with the tale of the only fish I ever caught (that couldn’t have been more than three inches long) and how I made Papa take it off the hook because I didn’t want to touch it.  She asked me if I ever got homesick, and I told her I did and we moved on to other things.  Dementia really sucks.

Sundays are always a bit stressful for me; although I love church, it involves a lot of interpersonal activity (and sometimes singing in front of a big crowd), which wears out this introvert.  Joey and I have enjoyed the last two weeks of going and doing something active on Sundays, so we continued that by heading out to Morrow Mountain to hike.

We did the Fall Mountain trail, which is listed at four miles, but after the re-routes they had to do for some fallen trees, ended up being about 4.2.  It’s listed as a moderate hike, and I’d agree with that assessment.  However, it required some log-hopping and balancing to cross a couple of streams, which was pretty harrowing for someone struggling with Lupron clumsiness.

Joey and Indy on the trail:

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We stopped at a rock outcropping about halfway through and something intrigued Indy greatly.  I couldn’t tell what, but snapped a pic of her.

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I didn’t wash off my makeup before heading out to the trail, so I was ultra-fabulous for the hike.

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I think we’re going to keep up this trend of doing a long walk/hike on Sundays.  It’s a great way to decompress and a fantastic way to rack up some miles right at the beginning of the week.   Mitchell will be 12 miles, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.  It’s also nice not to be sitting in front of the tv, which traditionally has been the way we’ve spent our Sunday afternoons/evenings.

We’re also toying with the idea of a day-trip to the mountains to hike on Mother’s Day.  The last couple of years, I’ve skipped church because it sucks too much not to be able to stand up with the rest of the moms.  We’ll see.

The Lupron Diaries: Side Effects that Suck

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Today is my third shot; halfway there! And while this hasn’t been nearly the horror story that I’d read about, I don’t want to give you the impression that the entire experience is sunshine and rainbows, because it’s certainly not.  Here’s the rundown of the side effects I’ve dealt with  over the last two months.  I’ll focus in on each one in future posts to discuss how I’m dealing with them.

  1. Joint Pain: for the first few days after the shot, my hips and knees hurt pretty badly.  I first noticed it when I was in the bed and Shelli (my kitty) hopped up on my hip to curl up and sleep.  She does this every night (which makes sleeping an adventure since she’s balanced so precariously…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve inadvertently launched her across the room), so it’s not all that unusual, but I saw STARS the first night.  It typically goes away after about three days, so I just make use of the ibuprofen for those days and wait it out.
  2. HOT FLASHES:  man, that first flash was ROUGH.  I was on a conference call that was particularly aggravating, and I felt myself go nuclear.  I got so hot that I started to feel cold, which actually wasn’t all that unpleasant, so I felt pretty successful for having made it through.  This side effect was one of my greater anxieties, because I’m already hot-natured.  I will say, though, that the add-back medication has helped immensely.  I think I’ve only had a handful of genuine “flashes” over the last two months, and they’ve been bearable.
  3. Weepiness:  I won’t call this “depression.”  I’ve been depressed before, and this is nowhere near that bad.  I’d liken it to typical PMS-type sadness; news stories make me want to cry (especially ones about animals) and I’ve found myself reading too many sad stories for the catharsis of “crying it out.”  While it sucks, it’s definitely not that soul-crushing type of hopelessness that comes along with clinical depression.
  4. Irritability/Grumpiness: I’m already a pretty grumpy person, so I’m not sure how much different I am, but I can definitely feel myself get frustrated more easily and there’s been a time or two where I’ve said something snippy that I may not have said if I hadn’t been on Lupron.  Thankfully, for the most part my friends have found my grumpiness to be entertaining, so I don’t think anyone is ready to cut me out of their life just yet.   I’ve not experienced the “Lupron Rage” that I read about; I’ll take some minor irritability over rage any day.
  5. Hungriness:  Holy crap this has sucked.  I went from not wanting to eat anything for two months after surgery to wanting to eat ALL. THE. DAMN.TIME.  I can see how people gain excessive amounts of weight if they’re not paying attention to what’s going on with their body.  I’ve had to make a concerted effort not to eat everything I see and to offset the overeating I do with a healthy amount of exercise.  I’ve lost about four pounds over the last two months; I’d like it to be more, but I’m not going to beat myself up too much about it.
  6. Clumsiness/Lightheadedness: I put these together since most of my clumsiness is a result of feeling a bit lightheaded when I stand up.  There was one incident at work where I barely made it into the bathroom stall before falling down and I ended up cracking my head against the side of the stall when I sat down.  That was a little frightening.  In fact, this one has probably been the most frightening of the side effects, since the possibility of my falling down in front of people is high, and making a spectacle of myself is one of my phobias.  Joey has mentioned a couple of times that he’s a little nervous about my falling off Mt. Mitchell. I just told him that I’d tie myself to him so we’d both go together if I fall.  On a positive note, though, this side effect has improved over the last two months; I haven’t had it nearly as bad the second month as I did the first.

That’s it, guys.  While this clearly isn’t a walk in the park (more like a “stagger through the park while it’s 100 degrees”), it absolutely hasn’t been the horrific experience I read about online.  I know that there are women out there who’ve had a genuinely terrible time with Lupron; I’m not trying to diminish that.  However, if you’re out there and your doctor recommends it as a treatment for your endometriosis/infertility, I don’t want you to feel hopeless and terrified.  It’s possible not only to survive, but THRIVE while you’re on this drug.