For work our team had a conference call at the very end of business day on Friday. Quotas have gone up for our group by more than 30%. We will not be getting another person to share the load. Mathematically, our division of time isn’t even possible for what’s being ordered from executive management. With all that being the case, there’s no way my employer can accommodate a schedule that has me home more regularly. In fact, this will inevitably mean more travel.

I spent several hours this weekend looking for work that would be interesting and challenging. I did find one specific job listed at Apple that sounds like a great fit, but there was a concerning line about the schedule. I decided to apply. My cover letter and resume made it past the automatic filter and I received an email stating that I would be contacted by a recruiter.

This week I’ll be casting a wider net. I’ve been looking at jobs within my current income range, but need to consider other opportunities that could really pay off in the long run. We’ll see what happens.

On another note, I’ve decided to get Ketamine injections for dealing with my depression. Logistically it will be tricky, but a friend in that area said she’s willing to help out if my wife isn’t able to join me for the two three-day sessions.

I also started a beta blocker yesterday and overall it already seems to help with the physical reaction to anxiety. I’m glad my doctors were on board with trying this as opposed to a number of other less desirable alternatives.


My wife’s ultrasound for checking to see how many follicles had been produced via the hormones taken for fertility was Friday of last week. I was on yet another mandatory work trip. There was only one follicle. The doctor took a blood sample to test if she had enough of a specific hormone. If she did, though not ideal, the IUI would take place the following day. She was sent home to await the results. We spoke briefly before my meetings for the day started and as you’d expect, she was really upset. It hit me much harder than expected, too. I ended up ducking into a nearby room that was empty and lost it. I’m not someone who cries. This wasn’t the case last Friday, and I couldn’t even get it under control. I asked my wife if she wanted me to come home and she said yes.

I sent a text to my manager and told him I had to go home to my wife. I’d be taking the next flight out of Chicago to be with her. He was really concerned and came over and found me still extremely shaken and not really able to speak for being so choked up. He ushered me to his office so I could have some privacy. After about 1/2 hour and a couple of klonopin later, I was at least somewhat sorted. I went back into the room I had been working in before the call, quickly grabbed my things and left.

Tuesday of last week my wife informed me that she had had enough with my work schedule. She wants me to find another job. I may have already posted this, but I’m tired and stressed and not going to go back and look. So, that conversation was had with my manager on Thursday night. I leveled with him and he said to always put my family first; which I always have, but in recent months my saying no to unplanned trips has been overridden several times, and not from management in my group. He said my best option would be to find work closer to home. I appreciate his honesty and already knew that would have to be the most likely scenario.

I reached out to one of my very few work friends and explained the situation to her. She said the company would be f’ing stupid to let me go because two of the ten offices I support can’t honor preset schedules. I agree, but here we are. She called a couple of managers in another division of the company and explained my situation and told them about me and the types of things I work on. They asked for a resume, so that was sent off this morning. We’ll see what, if anything, comes of that.

This morning I had a conversation with my manager and senior director asking what would be necessary for me to have the right work/life balance as they don’t want to lose me. I laid out the specifics, the most important thing right now being present with my wife for all fertility visits and procedures. It’s no longer even something to discuss. Those days are blacklisted for work and travel. They had me contact HR to try to get FMLA paperwork started. That way, no matter who in the company demands my time, they can’t do anything to force me. As we’re having this conversation, I’m choking back tears. I’ve been a wreck since Friday. I went in to see my GP and asked to be put on a beta blocker. I do have medical reasons that would warrant it, but mainly I just want the physiological affects of stress or panic to be minimized until things settle down a bit. I can’t function like this. The GP said to clear the idea with the psychiatrist, which I did tonight. Hopefully the script can be sent in and picked up Wednesday before I leave for Pittsburgh.

I’m at a loss. I feel defeated. I’m tired. Exhausted, even. The depression has been extremely bad for the last few days. I’m laying in bed typing this out on my phone because I need to get some of it out of my system. I had to fight back telling my wife that she deserves better than this. Than me. Someone who can be present and not depressed more often than not. I know that’s the depression talking, but I feel this way on such a deep and visceral level.

I don’t know where I was going with this post.. I guess I’ll just end it and try to get some sleep. My wife’s birthday is tomorrow. I hope I wake in better spirits than I did this morning.


I won’t go into a long diatribe about it, but my work/life balance hasn’t been balanced for some time. My wife and I agreed that if the amount of travel required for this job were ever to become too much, the other would say and that would be the end of it; I’d find something near home. After many, many tries to make things work with my job and management, the cycle repeats consistently.

It plays out like this: I say something, they cut the travel back for 4-5 weeks by shuffling in others in my role who are equally always trying to just stay above water. A month or two goes by and the travel schedule is stuck to. After that, it’s almost always one of the 10 offices I cover that makes unreasonable demands for me to drop everything and go there for one thing which takes an hour or two, I say no, they go to my manager and he says no, then the senior director of my group who also says no. Then the office goes above everyone’s head, bitches that they don’t have support when they need it, so the mandate comes from on high and my ass is on a plane or I’m driving several hours.

Funny thing about traveling to other areas over a couple of hundred miles away – you’re required to stay overnight. I’m guessing they don’t want to risk someone being up 20+ hours and getting into an accident on the clock. $350-$1,200 for a couple hours. So far, out of the many times this has happened, one visit materialized into an actual sale. Short or no notice flights are expensive. So are hotels in some areas. Aside from the monetary cost, there’s the stress it causes at home.

So.. I guess the serious job hunt begins.

Just for fun, my flight to Chicago that should be leaving right now has no crew. There is no ETA on a crew. It’s 7:40pm. Driving to where I need to be in Chicago would take 4 1/2 hours. Now I have to decide if I just say fuck it to the flight, grab a rental car and just go.

I really needed this right now.

SF pics

In no particular order

Golden Gate Bridge. Beautiful morning with no fog. Analog Efex Pro for color. Just seemed to fit the mood. Not sure who the observer in the foreground is, but it really set the mood for the majesty of this scene.

Japanese Garden. A must see very much worth the trip. I have so many photos of this truly peaceful and tranquil place.

Random street from a trolley car through the city. There were so many wonderful scenes. This is kind of a crap shot, but I’ve a whole set I need to edit.

The redwoods were difficult to shoot. Had I brought more gear and had a couple of days I could have produced some truly stunning photos, but lugging around 40lb of gear, a tripod, necessary filter changes and multiple exposures for high dynamic range to truly do the scenes justice just wasn’t something we had time for on such a short trip. I really need three days there with slightly overcast skies or mild rainfall to get the exposures to capture a more dynamic range. The redwoods are so large that they cast deep shadows in the forest and along the trails. The only way to balance the extremely high contrast where sun shows through is to try to get just enough under exposure of the tree trunks to hold some detail to recover in post production, then try to do single-frame HDR to pull in the extremes of the exposure. Ideally I’d shoot 3-7 exposures to capture the full range with a tripod, but again, time constraints just didn’t allow. The black and white was to hide some of the severe noise amplification from the b&w conversation with tone recovery. These look ok small, but prints over 8×10 would look like grainy 3200 ISO captures which has their merits, but if I go that route, I’ll go back with a twin lens medium format and do it right using Ansel Adam’s exposure techniques from back in the day in medium format. So, yeah, I need to go back with a stocked backpack with food, plenty of water and about 8-10 hours/day. I fear this land may lose its protected status in my lifetime and I want pictures to share with our future child. I fear that so much that we enjoy now will be taken over and forever destroyed by industrialists and removal of regulations for fossil fuel extraction to never be seen again for at least a millennia. This deeply saddens me. I need to get to the waters near Alaska while there’s still wildlife left and capture the landscapes before oil rigging destroys some of the most beautiful parts of nature untouched since the industrial revolution. Again, to see it and appreciate it with my own eyes and to document it for my children and hopefully grandchildren.

Apologies for the long rant about environmental policy, but I’m passionate about preserving what little natural beauty while it still exists since I’m powerless to stop “progress.” Energy lobbyists have unlimited funds and all I have are hippie arguments that fall on deaf ears, and though my financial means are pretty good, I can’t compete with the energy lobby. Natural beauty and stunning/surreally beautiful places are some of the only things that give me peace in the raging storms of my mind. Losing these places affects me on a level that strikes me at my very core.

What little color I was able to take away from this place. I still have photo editing to do, but these are a few kind of crap/mediocre shots. The lady in this set may not be able to be read, but it shows the age of these living organisms.

I wish I had more to show. My wife used my point and shoot that I sometimes travel with for work and she took some really great shots. She’s not into photography, but she put her 96 photo take from the trip and posted it to her Facebook. Really great shots in there. She sparked interest on this trip, so a coastal photo trip for a week or two along to southern coast of California up to Oregon and then Washington state camping along the way may be back in future plans after all.

I mentioned taking this trip alone or with a photo buddy, but she seemed hurt that I’d not include her knowing that the photo trip would be boring for her. I’ll wait for hours for the right cloud formation over a scene if necessary if I know I may never be able to come back. Photographers get this, but those without the same passion often get frustrated.

We’ll find a compromise, but I fear if I don’t do this soon, I may never have the chance. It’s an experience that almost borders on need for me to have. There’s so much I want to see first hand.

Maybe the depression is getting better. I’m feeling a spark of interest in this again that I’ve not felt in years. I’ve felt mostly dead inside for so long, it’s nice to feel excitement about things again.. A future.. A family that I never thought possible. The possibility of retirement that doesn’t involve poverty. My best friend who I happen to be married to to spend the rest of my natural days with. I still get the daily suicidal thoughts/urges/*need*, but it’s in the background. It’s a gnat buzzing around my head, but not actively taking over my mind.

I’ve lost about 30lb so far. I still have about 25-30 to go. I was able to do a few pull-ups over each of the last few days. I couldn’t prior to losing the weight, but at 210lb, I have enough strength to do several and to build on it. After 10 years, I may actually get back to 180lb again. My resolve is strong with this and I’m steadily losing 2-3lb/week. It’s work and self discipline, but I’ve stuck with it. I can do this. I can get healthy again.

It’s official – this Saturday will be attempt two of the IUI procedure. I’m going to call this week to see about more aggressive sperm acquisition. The reversal was successful, which after18 years is a bit of a medical wonder, but the narrowing of the vas with the scarring necessary to make the bridge is harming motility. It’s not hopeless, but what was observed during the operation were completely healthy and motile sperm. They can extract via syringe which is as painful as it sounds, but if it increases our chances, I’m willing to suffer a week or two of pain.

The procedure is Saturday of this week. My biggest concern is not passing out when the procedure is performed on my wife. I can handle other people being in pain or a crisis situation if it involves my wife, but just being present for this will have me light headed, which is the last thing either of us needs. It really causes a visceral reaction with me when it comes to her.

So, that’s my late-night update. I hope everyone is doing well. Need to be up in 5 hours. I suppose now would be a good time to sleep.

Quick update. Vacation in San Francisco was overall nice, but there were some hiccups that kind of put a downer on the whole trip. Sparing long details, I had another complex migraine that ate up one of our three days of vacation, and the pregnancy test was negative, so we have to do another round of IUI.

I found out today that my counterpart that handles all of the southern central region had a heart attack two days after our training in Boca Raton a couple of weeks ago. Nobody knows his status and all my manager knows is that he’ll be out for an undetermined amount of time. An extra mandatory work trip is scheduled for next Thursday and Friday – a week I wasn’t to travel on, then I have to travel again for work the following week after that. Luckily, the next IUI procedure takes place on a Saturday morning, so I’ll at least be able to be there for that which greatly improves our chances of it working.

One cool thing about the San Francisco trip was getting to see the Redwoods at Muir Woods. Going there was a life-long dream and getting to spend time there was really, really peaceful. I may write another post about that specifically with some photos, but not tonight. I’m going to try to get some sleep.

Back from the dead, sort of

I’ve been really bad about updating here, or journaling in general for that matter. So, this will likely be a disorganized mess of thoughts and such, but I do need to get some of it out in one form or another, so here goes. Please pardon the long depressing post. I’ve put TL;DR’s on there for anyone curious, but doesn’t feel like reading a damn mini-novel.

Baby-making stuff:

TL;DR: We’ve been trying to have a baby for a year. Both of us are healthy and physically should be able to produce a child. It’s not happening. I’m also gone half the time that she’s ovulating because of work. We’ve finally gone to a fertility clinic and we’re trying IUI twice, then we’ll do IVF if that doesn’t work. My wife hates my job. I looked at what’s available locally and I’d take a $30-40k pay cut.

Just shy of a year ago I had a vasectomy reversal. Obviously that was with the intention of having a child. Three months after the surgery my sperm count was zero, but that’s not totally out of the ordinary. At six months things were normal, though motility was slightly low. Overall though, mechanically, things were working as they should. So, the trying to make a baby process started. There’s a bit of a hiccup in this whole process though – my job. I travel a lot. I don’t always get to set my schedule. Sometimes something comes up and I need to have my butt on a plane within a day or two to go deal with something. As luck would have it, some of my normal and/or unplanned trips happened on ovulation days. So, we didn’t get to try every month like any couple who’s trying would normally have.

A month ago my wife seemed upset. Sometimes she’s upset, but she’s not one to talk about what’s bothering her and she usually goes about her business and whatever it is seems to pass. This time though, she looked sad. In the 7 1/2 years we’ve been married, I’ve only seen her cry a handful of times. She’s just not someone who cries about much unless she’s truly in distress. After a little coaxing I was able to get the main thing that was bothering her out into the open which had to do with her frustration with not getting pregnant, and my being gone half the time which made things even more frustrating. After talking, we decided that technically it had been almost a year, so it would be reasonable to go to a fertility clinic at this point. When the surgeon did my reversal, that was his suggestion; give it a year, and if that doesn’t work, look at other options.

The appointment was made and my wife talked with the doctor that originally examined her to make sure she was healthy and wouldn’t have any real issues with carrying to term. We explained the situation and the doctor suggested we try IUI first. For those not familiar with the process, they basically take a sperm sample, separate the healthy sperm from the not so healthy, then put the healthy ones in a syringe and push the syringe through the cervix and deposit the sperm directly into the uterus. Leading up to this, medications are taken to cause more than one egg to be produced during the normal cycle to increase the potential for pregnancy to occur. That’s all fine and good, right? Here’s the problem. For this to work, my wife needed to have an ultrasound a day before ovulation to see if there were indeed eggs. If there were, then 24 hours later, this procedure needs to take place. The problem is that I’m writing this from Florida where I’ve been in mandatory training all week and this all needed to happen Monday and Tuesday of this week. Though it’s not optimal, I went in Friday of last week and produced a sample for the procedure which was cryogenically frozen for a whopping 4 days before unthawing an using. That kills healthy swimmers. It’s also expensive to have them frozen, regardless of how short or long. Either way, in a couple of weeks we’ll be able to see if this worked or not. If two tries of IUI don’t work, then it’s IVF.

So, that’s having a baby stress. I’m 40, and certainly am not getting any younger. She’s 31 and is concerned about egg quality. So there’s that pressure, too. If this didn’t work this month, we try again next month, and regardless of what’s going on with work, I’m calling out on the days for the test and procedure. In my wife’s tears in telling me how frustrated she was, she said “you need another fucking job.” She doesn’t say things just to say them, or in the heat of the moment. My travel for work has been a strain on both of us for awhile, and we agreed that if it became too much that we’d say something. Now something’s been said. So, there’s that stress taken to another level now, too. I’ve been looking to see what’s out there, and in the area I live, I’d have to take a $30-40k pay cut to work locally.

Work stuff/stress:

TL;DR: The usual. We need another person and management won’t approve hiring one. Because of this I’m gone too much. For the aggravation and my wanting to max out my annual 401k contribution I asked for a $7k raise which now has management shitting their pants thinking I’m going to leave. They are getting whatever approval is necessary for the raise. Also, work travel is incredibly lonely and isolating. I have no social life at all and basically no friends that want to spend any time with me anymore.

Work stress.. I’ll not belabor this one. We need another person. Desperately. Executive management won’t approve the hiring of another person for our region, so there’s no chance in my territory reducing any. Reduction in territory would mean less travel. Problem solved. I cover 5 states and 11 offices, all of which support up to a 50-100 mile radius. Because of the frustration and aggravation, I asked for a $7k raise this week. That’s getting pushed up the chain for approval. Management is now terrified that I’m talking with other companies or that there’s an offer on the table. Who knows – maybe that will change something. Maybe not. Why $7k? That will let me max out my pre-tax 401k contribution per year so that I might have a chance at a decent retirement someday. Also, from what I have heard from absolutely everyone with a kid, kids are expensive, so there’s that, too.

Somewhat work-related stress.. I have no social life. I know sometimes people say that, but no, I mean I literally have no social life. I’ve tried reconnecting with old friends, but unless I’m the one calling them, there’s never any desire to spend any time together, be it dinner, a movie or whatever. Work travel is lonely. It’s so, so incredibly lonely. I’m not an extrovert. It’s hard for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger to begin with. Adding to that, I couldn’t possibly care less about sports, which in the midwest, is the ritualistic male meeting/bonding ritual. If you can’t talk sports, you’re not part of the tribe. I generally get along with women fairly well, but I’ve reservations about approaching random women at the hotel bar and starting a conversation. So, that’s out. When I’m traveling for work, things wrap up after dark, so I eat dinner and go to my hotel room. I get up, work, eat, go back to the hotel room. At some point, it’s dark and I go home, where I’ll sit at home. I love my wife and cherish the time we spend together, but it’d be nice to have a friend or two, too.

One of the most terrifying days of my life:

TL;DR: Had many symptoms of a stroke that were getting worse over several days. In the middle of that, one of our dogs (the stupid one) ate something that got stuck in his stomach which ended up having us spend many hours at an animal ER. I went to the ER for myself because of stroke-like symptoms and a ton of doctors were unable to figure out what was wrong with me until they brought a Neurology professor down and he told me I was having an atypical migraine. Up until he came in and gave this diagnosis/answer, I was terrified that something was really, really wrong.

Also potentially work-related stress.. The Friday before last I was working from home and I was replying to many emails that had come in throughout the week and as I was proofreading them, I was noticing that I was dropping words from my sentences. Sometimes so much so that it was almost gibberish. I’d correct, finish proofreading, then proofread again. I’d notice more words missing, or where I’d repeated myself in the email. This is unlike me. After noticing this, I had a conference call that I had to be a part of. I was having trouble remembering common words and terminology. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. I felt pretty nauseous as well, so I ducked out of the call, set my out of office and went to sleep. Saturday I woke up feeling really nauseous and I noticed I was having trouble with my balance and coordination. Also, one of the dogs had puked literally 18 times overnight all over the house, and not little bits, either. So, off we go to the animal ER. I felt like I was going to pass out on the way there. After a couple of hours at the animal ER we found that the dog had something lodged in the bottom of his stomach. They gave him some medications to help whatever it was to hopefully pass and sent us on our way. They wanted us to come back 12 hours later for another x-ray to see if whatever it was had moved down his digestive tract. Luckily, it did and he eventually passed it. In that 12 hour gap, I couldn’t eat or even drink water. Nothing would stay down. I slept. Sunday I just felt tired, my balance was still bad and I had no appetite. I slept pretty much all day. Monday morning rolls around and I feel somewhat ok, so I go to my psychiatrist appointment and she noticed within minutes that I was having aphasia. I didn’t, but she did. She gave me the quick neuro test for stroke and had me call my primary care doc from her office. They instructed me to go to the ER. So, off to the ER I go. By the time I get there, I’m barely able to communicate what’s going on. They take me straight back, strip me down and send me for a CT scan. No stroke. No brain bleeds. Basically, it’s not something wrong with my brain. I’m fucking terrified at this point. Making matters worse, I’m seeing many, many doctors come in to examine me, all of which are at a loss. Blood tests are normal. Urine test is normal. Tox screen is normal. O2 is normal. EKG is clear. Finally, after being there a few hours, they have one of the Neuro professors come down with his flock of students to examine me. I’m told this is an atypical migraine, and it’s far enough along that I have to “wait it out.” I wasn’t back to normal until Thursday.

Current state of things:

I don’t know what to do. Obviously stress is affecting me in really negative ways. Lexapro helps with this and I’d be coping fine with it, but I can’t take it while we’re trying to conceive. The sexual side effects are too unpredictable. Starting last week I’ve been waking up more nights than not at around 3:00am in the middle of an anxiety attack. Not mild anxiety attacks, mind you, but the type that feels like you’re having a heart attack. I have klonopin, but it doesn’t seem to touch them when they are like this. I’ve also started having them during the day at work. I truly, honestly don’t know what to do at this point. I’ll call the psychiatrist and see if she can give me a stronger dose of the klonopin or something, but that’s just a bandaid for a much larger set of problems. Next Wednesday night we fly out for San Francisco for a short 4 day vacation. Honestly, that’s just more time on a jet and in a hotel, which is the last thing I want right now. I just want to lay in my own bed for a few days and vedge out on Netflix. I’m hoping for the best with the vacation, but I expect to return more tired than when I left. Oh, and as soon as I get back, I pack and leave for a week on the road for work.

I don’t know what it is about me, but I can’t seem to keep a friendship where I actually see said friend unless I initiate. I’ve pretty much given up at this point. I know I’m a little socially off, but not that much. I take responsibility for my flaws, but I can’t think of any that would justify not calling or even a text now and then. I try not to let it get to me, but it does. I’m not going to maintain one sided relationships anymore. It hurts too much.

40-something guy suffering from Bipolar II. This is my journal.