"How are we on time?" I asked, gulping water with an imploring look toward the meeting leader. I nodded when he said we were fine, not feeling fine at all, but placed my water bottle on the podium and began to speak again.
After 80 minutes, not even sheer determination could keep me talking. I apologized to the group that had gathered, claimed a headache 10 minutes before we were due to adjourn. I gritted my teeth when people gathered to ask questions and make comments. I took 2 steps back when I felt they were too close, staring longingly at the doors on the far wall before returning my attention to them and willing my brain to function well enough to answer questions.
"I have," I paused, unable to think of an excuse, "something," I finally finished my sentence. "I need to go." I forced myself to slow when they followed me, scrawling notes in my book and telling everyone I'd get back to them. I hurried to my office in full-scale retreat and hid behind my desk, barely keeping myself from crawling underneath.
I made it through meetings in the desert, feeling the oppressive heat and desolate scenery somehow soothing as it matched my mood.
We landed just after midnight and I nearly shoved people aside as I tried to reach my car. I cursed through a detour as all the ramps were closed and finally made it home to cuddle with Chienne before drugging myself to sleep once again.
I went to work, mostly to print, sign and send documents as that's hard to do outside the office. Then I returned home, stopping to get lunch, and greeted my family. We ate pizza and Smallest One held my hand as we walked upstairs and settled in to watch SpongeBob and nap. They continued to wake me - to ask for things (this is apparently the land of lip gloss for Smallest One) or show me something. I finally slipped into a nap and, when awakened, was grumpy.
"I know," I finally replied when Mom said it was time to go, sounding less mature than Smallest One, who is almost 3. But we went and after a brief wait (during which I took a conference call), we were ushered into an exam room.
"So," my doctor said, a young, pretty woman who despite being patient and lovely, always makes me feel like a mess, "you're having some problems." She propped her laptop on her knees and asked me to start from the beginning.
So I started with the sadness - no real trigger, just a gradual feeling that life was harder than it should be. Then there was the cold - I paused to cough - and took her through the sore throat, runny nose, coughing stage to where I am now - stuck with this constant, slow draining and aches in my chest.
"I don't remember when the aches in my back started," I said. "Perhaps after Stockholm since I don't remember struggling there. It starts on the left most of the time, generally when I'm walking around, and it's getting so that it's hard for me to stand straight after I've been sitting for a long time."
So we chatted about other anti-depressants - or rather, she explained and I listened. I nodded as she laid out options and looked back at her for a moment.
"I don't know," I finally said. "I don't care. I think I want something different so just tell me what to try."
She nodded, keeping her sympathetic gaze on mine until I looked away. The nurse returned with my urine results and I winced when I saw a ++ on one of the lines.
"I thought it was an infection," Mom said when the doctor noted the markers were up and there was some blood. "We get those." The doctor smiled at her as she typed something in and asked if there was also a family history of depression. My heart hurt when I saw Mom's face fall and I quietly said that my maternal grandma had suffered from a very severe form.
"I don't," Mom offered. "And my sister doesn't either. But our daughters all do."
"Maybe it skips a generation for us," I offered hopefully, thinking of my sensitive, dramatic nieces waiting at home.
"And another respiratory infection," the doctor noted a few minutes later, closing her eyes as she thought through which antibiotics might solve my upper and lower infections.
I pick up pills tomorrow before heading back to Europe on a trip that should leave me breathless with excitement rather than a dull feeling of exhausted dread. But the travel season is nearly over for me - this is the last big trip I'm doing - and I dearly hope a return to routine will get me feeling less messy and broken here shortly.