altarflame: (deluge)
I love it when I have lots of leftovers available. I got up this morning and ate cold pumpkin oatmeal right out of the fridge with some seeds sprinkled on top (steel cut oats store pretty well), and now I'm having some cream of mushroom soup I cooked last night. I heated the soup, because I am not a barbarian.

I got the practicum agency placement I wanted, for Spring, so that's exciting. It's hospice work, and my program's rule is that 75% of intern time must be spent directly with clients (we're actually supposed to "inform" them we aren't allowed to do "administrative tasks" if we get assigned things like document shredding or getting a boss's coffee - which doesn't sound awkward at all :p) There was only one on the list of local hospices that was open to students at my level who aren't fluent in spanish, and they were only taking ONE student, so I was afraid I'd be stuck with my backup choices. Which would have been cool in a different way, but, this is better!

My practicum interview, a couple of weeks ago, was interesting - I walked away feeling the faculty member who had interviewed me knew an awful lot about me for us having just met. But that's sort of how it goes in this field of study... I had to lay out that I'm too personally impacted by work with children and REALLY don't want to do that, but am interested in death and passionate about funeral industry reform, for instance. She was obviously seeing it as par for the course.

I also had a big, unidentifiable black smudge on my forehead the whole time and didn't realize until I went to the bathroom on my way out. Of all the nonsense.

Hard to believe there's only about a month left of this semester. I'm getting used to absurd grad school demands, like "15 minutes late counts as absent, and two or more absences means you fail the class," and "bring 6 copies of your paper next week for peer review" - 6 copies of a 14 page paper! Also, professional dress as part of the grading rubric for class presentations.

I have SO MANY REBELLIOUS THOUGHTS about professional dress for social work IN GENERAL, let alone during class time - if you get to the bottom of these standards of what is and is not "appropriate," to wear, isn't it all a lot of classism and bs? Who actually decides these arbitrary standards of what constitutes "appropriate?" And, if we're supposed to be working with the disenfranchised, is it really the best way to build rapport, to always immediately class off from them through appearance? I understand the arguments FOR professional dress - I really do. I just also think there are some legitimate counterarguments that are not being explored.

Tangential, perhaps... the Switchboard is closing. After 45 years. I went through 40 hours of training in January to be a volunteer crisis counselor there, and had a huge array of experiences on the phone in just my short time being a part of it. The good news is that callers' experiences won't really change - the Jewish Community Center is taking over and many of the same people will be working. Calling the National Suicide Lifeline, the Veteran's Crisis Hotline, etc will still (hopefully) be the same experience. Just...wow. That Switchboard awning downtown is such an institution. *I* called the Switchboard when I was 14 and wanted to run away from home, and talked for an hour with someone in the middle of the night. It's hard to believe. But, the JCC has a really stellar financial reputation, and the Switchboard has at least been rumored to be a big mess in that one regard, for some time...




Grant and I are butting heads about stupid little things a lot lately. Not wanting to go the same places, for instance, and having different budgeting priorities, garbage like that. I feel like he's always trying to hug me AS I try to pull on a shirt, which is something that actually happened today and is a little too representative. We're basically NEVER ready for sex at the same time. Sometimes I think we just have too much time together, with him working from home so much while I'm here homeschooling Jake and Elise during the weekdays. And/or, that I'm too isolated and don't have enough local friends. As previously stated, I have lots of people I text with and fb message daily, and now I also have some pretty cool "school friends," but many of them are travelling south to get to the school that is 45 minutes north of me, and we're all trying to work grad school into pre-existing schedules, so. Not a ton of socializing there (outside of the 12+ hours per week we spend together whether we like it or not).

With Grant, I dunno... we still hug a lot, and mean it. We cuddle as we fall asleep most nights. He makes me (DAMN GOOD) coffee every day, left behind in a thermos if he goes to the office. We're like really supportive and affectionate friends who encourage each other, and get on each others' nerves too often, and are both scared shitless at times by how divergent our interests are getting.

Part of the problem may be that he's just gradually coming out of a long, dark depression. He thinks that's most/all of the problem. I dunno. I do think I get more irritated now than I did while he was in a worse place, because I feel like I can. It's not a conscious decision like, "oh if you're not REALLY MISERABLE I can be grumpy with you," but it kinda naturally happens sort of like that as my acute concern recedes. And I have leftover anger I was repressing from when it was worse, and I didn't even realize that until it was "safe" to deal with.

Bleh. In a way I'm bitching about absolutely nothing, since we still work together as well as we do and can be as honest as we are. I mean he came to my Research Methods class with me a couple of weeks ago, and charmed everyone raising his hand to participate and talking with me the whole way home about gaps in literature and motivations for new experiments. I have moments of deep gratitude that we have what we do, that can make me cry with happiness.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯




Random Bits:

I've texted and talked way more than normal lately, with my mom. Which is still not a ton, but for us... There's a small blinking "Danger" light in the back of my mind about it. "We'll see," as she herself would say.

I got plants in the mail, for my birthday, from my friend Jess!! It was epic. I love her so much. And she sent me really great things, after researching my hardiness zone and everything. Beyond adorable <3

I realized there is such a thing as The Society of Professional Obituary Writers, and I will be adding a membership in that organization to my collection of obscure memberships (Medicinal Plant Savers, Florida Native Plant Society, etc) post haste. I wrote my grandfather's obituary for the Key West newspaper and was really happy with how I managed to be totally honest about someone I did not like, and still make the people who loved him very happy with the end result. I also think about writing the story of my other grandparents' lives regularly, a la Speaker for the Dead (Orson Scott Card... you know...)

I also realized that I'm not WRITING-writing because I'm AFRAID TO, which is horrible and also motivating. Anytime I've written things I'm really proud of in the past, I've written them for my own eyes only, often in secret, and with the intention that nobody else will ever see them. Then I'm like, oh, but holy shit - I love this! I have to share it, even if it's excruciating! Now I'm thinking of writing in that deep down, no holds barred way, WITH THE INTENT of sharing, and it's got me at a standstill such that I keep endlessly procrastinating even when I get excited about my ideas. Now that I know I've gotta just fucking do it because art > fear etc etc.

My friend Kathy, who I've had since high school and truly love, and is nearby, is spending a LONG time in-patient for potentially dangerous pregnancy complications. They're hoping to get her to 34 weeks gestation before inducing or doing a c/s, which would make SIX WEEKS in the hospital! I did some research and sent her some links, but man. I am tormented by how terrible I am for not visiting her regularly, and super aware of how triggering it will be for me to do so. She's also aware of that and going out of her way to tell me she doesn't expect me to come. I get mad at myself, I don't WANT to be freaked out by this shit, I don't feel it SHOULD continue to have power over me, it feels so pathetic and even silly, etc etc... It's a merry go round in my head like, oh come on, I do great taking Isaac to the psychiatrist, that's in a children's hospital and it only bothers me if I'm already a mess - but man, I was tense and almost in tears by the time I left MARSHALL'S the other night, because this motherfucker was walking around near me in OR scrubs the whole time I shopped. And she's in the maternity ward, having frustrating arguments with obstetricians (a word I say like a cat hissing), no doubt losing her shit from this long stay WHICH IS WHY I AM UNIQUELY POISED TO RELATE AND HELP!

On the one hand, I might just be able to go in anticipating it being hard for me, and come away journaling about it and processing, and be ok by the end of the night. It's usually only when I really repress that something is triggering me that it becomes an ongoing issue in my day to day life. I keep running into her family around town and talking with them, and her coworkers, about how she's dealing and the latest conflicts and the juggling of her other kids. Argh.




Ananda is doing way better than she was awhile back - general mental health and academic upswing. Which is enormously relieving for me and makes everything else in my life seem easier, like I can at least breathe through it.

Aaron is doing pretty well for quite awhile, too - and I took him out to DRIVE this past weekend. WTF. He goes out skating miles and miles regularly, and then ends up stranded in the rain or hopelessly lost, and sends me a google pin to come pick him up. He's so weird and wonderful. He's always wearing my clothes and lately my jewelry - almost as much as Annie does... he choreographed a dance for some people at school that involved a flowy thin cardigan of mine. He has a YouTube following, making intros for people, and is always on about some contest he's won or placed in...

Isaac is great. He's obsessed with annoying middle schooler shit like dabbing and water bottle flipping. He's always got a long and convoluted story to tell about the latest rounds of gossip in his friend group. He has a ridiculous and unintentionally hilarious Instagram account that absolutely kills me.

Jake is following along in his wake, and half of what comes out of his mouth is "suh dude" and "nah fam I'm good." PRETEENS, OMFG. Give me a teenager any day over this eye rolling, unenthusiastic, painfully awkward phase!

Elise continues to be a ray of sunshine. She is OBSESSED with Uno and we must all play often. She would live on caprese salad if I let her (although she's currently begging me to heat her up some onion soup, so I guess I have to wrap this up soon).

We managed to finish The Order of the Phoenix and go see it in theaters! She was so crazily pumped. She's just so much fun.

Frequent: her and I chasing each other around trying to smack each other's butts, while Ananda says, "Mom, you can't release her into the wild with this value system."
altarflame: (deluge)
feel free to click here for a weeks old entry I forgot about )

(and/)Or, find out how not long after that entry I felt pretty triggered (haha, how ironic).
That led to some serious two steps forward, one step back personal struggles (challenges? INSURMOUNTABLE BARRIERS I'VE SINCE BEEN CHINKING AWAY AT ONE CRUMB AT A TIME?!) with polyamory, as polyamory in general - even in it's infancy - has a way of highlighting every single thing you didn't know you were avoiding dealing with at once. I'm very fortunate to be so deep in a bond that allows for sharing everything patiently, even when that involves stop and starts, and backtracking... Even if we never acted on any of this we know each other so much better, now, and I feel so much closer to him. Paradoxical, I guess, but getting to the "why" underneath every scared and sad feeling is something that's taking us places we might never have gone otherwise. I feel like I'm going to understand life differently and have a different attitude as I get older, because I'm tackling this deep shit inside of me that I've never looked straight at or felt so directly and consciously, before...
I am also pleased to report I can once again take an IQ test without any sense of personal tragedy.

Here are some pics of me and Elise around our neighborhood one weeknight, and some others from a tour G and I took of R.F. Orchids last weekend.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

TL;DR - I am on a general broad upswing that involves some hard times and is not a simple curve. I travel this path with a bunch of other people who are also all on varying and irregular (usually) upward slopes. I feel good about life, and also get tired.

I will probably make a way shorter update soon, about apps I'm using and things I've recently cooked. Take heart, if this is just too damned long and convoluted and TMI.
altarflame: (deluge)
This has been a really, really hard month or so.

1.) I am triggered all to hell and back.

So many doctor's appointments, so many tests, so many tense, anticipatory waiting periods. I can't go to bed, can't sleep when I get there, feel tense and on edge most of the time for what appears to be absolutely no reason. It's isolating and I keep pushing people away even though I feel so lonely. Ignoring texts, postponing vists. Normal efforts feel like huge efforts, though school, kids' schedules, kids' needs, and so forth keep marching on as I metaphorically drown in life. I have horrible intrusive thoughts when dealing with scissors and knives.

I'm still in counseling, it's better than it was, and it's been a year since I really felt triggered, so... I'll be ok. But this is coloring everything else.

2.) Grant's been depressed for a long time. He's gained weight, he's eating like shit, hates his commute, etc (those are his reasons/contributors, not mine). This, in addition to periodically worrying me and generally making things feel a bit glum, results in things like less fun, less interaction, less sex, etc, within our marriage. I've been in a "make my own happiness, be responsible for my own day" paradigm for years now, but it gets a lot harder to maintain when I feel like a shaky crazy person and just really want affection and distraction from my own BS. Also, his subtle and not so subtle rejections really underlie how few real life friends I have locally. I think I'd turn to him a lot less if he wasn't the Fount of All Adult Interaction, these days. But so long as I'm in this transitional period of being completely bogged down with my (mostly online) schoolwork and homeschooling a couple of kids, I don't exactly have a ton of resources for a social life. I fantasize constantly about being in a communal living situation with other adults, such that they would just be readily available for a sit-down breakfast, or a late night talk, or whatever.

Spoiler: "whatever"=sex.

3.) My sister and I keep having these knock-down drag out mega dramatic messaging sessions that just sap me of all strength and happiness. She's working out a lot of old pent up issues, we're both trying to bridge a communication gap we've always had, and it's the most tedious, long winded, emotionally exhausting thing. I don't even know how to explain it. We're so similar that our differences always seem glaring and cause us to clash. New issues tend to feel like historic patterns, which magnifies them...

There was the evening I spent crying on a sidewalk, and in a public bathroom, and on a dock, weeping and sending fucking novellas back and forth by the dozen. The immediate following weekend filled with more of the same. I turned off facebook messenger notifications because of how stressful the sound of receiving a new message became, but just checked it obsessively anyway.

We ended up having a "date" that went really well and seemed to settle a lot in a positive way, but I feel all the old stuff edging back in again and then today feels right back where we started a month ago. I think we mean too much to each other to drive each other this fucking crazy. I also think we both have too much on our plates to devote nearly as much to the other, as we'd each like... GAH.

I don't have any other relationship that's like this (and neither does she). Neither of us are dramatic in our friendships or even put up with this shit with other relatives. It's this migraine of a paradox that "us" can be important enough to us both that we'll wade through the muck and "do the work," buuuut...that still doesn't fix the muck. Both of us feel like we bend over backwards for the other one in a way we never would for anybody else.

With my sister and with Grant, I don't know to what degree my PTSD kicking into high gear is affecting things. I know it makes me more sensitive, at times, and more loathe to deal with conflict at all. What's less clear is how it alters my perception of the relationship issues themselves. Basically, I have trouble trusting my own judgement on subjective interpersonal things at all, when I'm in this state.

Those are the main three things. ISIS is also getting me down, and taking up all my NPR airtime, and Boko Haram and antibiotic resistance just make me want to never look at the news again. I've spent an awful lot of heavy time talking to my children lately, about terrible current event stories they're confused about.

They're great, though. Shining stars every one :) Isaac has had some resurgence of anxiety for the first time since he went on Zoloft and that's been a struggle, for him and for me, but he seems to be back on the upswing and all told it was nothing on how he used to just always be.

I'm reading him Stephen King's Eye of the Dragon (which is not at all like other Stephen King books), and it's SO DIFFERENT than it was to read the same book to A&A, years ago. Isaac is so complicated and brilliant and...worried? He also interrupts constantly, but that is another story.

Elise is SO WONDERFUL. She's had a massive cognitive leap in the past couple of months, I'm so proud of her. All of a sudden she can listen to more complex chapter books (and be really into it), play Minecraft on her own, speak with far less hesitating and searching for words - her drawings have went from stick figures and suns (exclusively, for years) to varied and detailed. And, she also maintains her bubbly, high energy, chipper self a solid 90% of her waking moments. She makes me laugh and we snuggle and take walks and she's constantly got something to show me.

We finally found a couple of good homeschool resources, too, so she and Jake are able to get out around more people and do more things regularly and I'm relieved about that, even though I sometimes feel as though I'm walking uphill with cinderblocks as I initiate these activities and get us out the door for them.

They are the bees knees, those two, and my school days with just the two of them are sweet even when I'm dragging a bit, and preoccupied. They're both really into TERRIBLE MUSIC, I don't know which is worse - Jake wants to listen to things like "It's Raining Tacos" and "Best KittyCat Song" and Minecraft music from YouTube all day, and she wants a steady stream of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. That I still enjoy our time so much speaks volumes ;)

They're still very innocent, our interactions are so simple and focused on them in an easy way, and I'm keenly aware of how fleeting that is. I adore taking Ananda for an afternoon at a tea shop or staying up watching Montage of Heck with her, and I love to slip off with Aaron for Chipotle or lie around talking about his school issues/girlfriend, but...I don't know. Jake and Elise are still with me in the moment, for now, in a really different way. And not just because they don't have smart phones yet.

There's some adolescent complexity that tints everything with self-consciousness, once it comes on, and something about the lack of it in Jake and Elise seems really vibrant, and temporary.


I'm still doing well in my classes, and am so ready for them to be over. I have less energy for obsessing over grad school options and am taking it one day at a time until a few upcoming events that may clarify things for me.

Very pleased with how spring seems to be shaping up for me, re: part time internships and other professional opportunities, as well as my determination to use it to write. Hopefully this triggery bs will be long past by then, but if not writing is about the best purge there is. Just sitting down to write this nonsense has lifted me up significantly since I sat down to start it.
altarflame: (deluge)
It's become glaringly obvious, following things like going to counseling and talking to my husband, that... ok this is really stupid, the best way to finish this sentence is, "that I still have PTSD." Like yeah, NO SHIT, but...

I guess I've gotten so much better that I don't think about PTSD that much anymore.

The truth is that "having PTSD" has, to a pretty large degree, meant continuously having to admit I have PTSD. Then feeling ok and going back into denial, until it gets bad again, wash-rinse-repeat. Let's start this entry over!

It's become glaringly obvious, following things like going to counseling and talking to my husband, that I have been having such a hard time functioning as a student and have been feeling so fragile and seeking escapism and comforts, because I have been to many many doctors appointments, gotten medical tests, and reacted to medicines, in the past couple of months. All of which has been triggering as all get out.

I almost never consciously realize I'm being triggered in the moment. I get tense or fight tears or pull back and dissociate or feel nauseous or whatever, but I don't actually think, "this is triggering me." I also don't generally make a connection over the following days that the constant overwhelming anxiety I'm experiencing is "being triggered." Rather, I feel really really stupid when that's suggested as being the case by someone else, and I realize it's true. First because I didn't already know that's what was happening. And second, because I get triggered at all.

I don't think anyone else is stupid for being triggered. I don't even know why I feel stupid for it. I just do. It's a flaw, a weakness, a complication (in me and in my life).

And to be fair, I don't get triggered nearly as often or as easily as I did in previous years. This is basically the first significant episode that's impacted my daily life since I was visiting a bajillion specialists to figure out pernicious anemia (last winter). So I actually went almost a year this time, my longest stretch since this all started. Which is great! ...Right?

It doesn't feel great. It feels silly and hysterical and dramatic. It feels unnecessary and frustrating.

When I went to Student Health Services last month, and had to explain my surgery-and-hernia history in detail to several new people in a row over a couple of hours, it was a little bit sucky, mostly because of how worried they acted about my hernia needing to be fixed asap. In retrospect that was the beginning. It might have ended there, if I'd just went home and the cough went away. I think that visit put me on thinner ice and made me vulnerable to additional triggery type things.

Reacting so badly and emotionally to being on albuterol and flonase, along with the yeast infection from the amoxicillin, and still coughing no matter what, all made me feel pretty out of control of my health. Very reactive rather than proactive, very along for the ride whether I like it or not. For context, things like B-12 shots fixing all my pernicious anemia symptoms, Weight Watchers actually working, and moving through the C25K program have made me feel a lot more in control of my health over the past 10 months. Which is a really wonderful feeling, and a serious, uh, game changer, for lack of better phrasing, for me. So, a return to everything feeling very random and involuntary is bigger than just, you know...coughing. It's this whole emotional deal.

It makes me catastrophize symptoms mentally, and imagine worst case scenarios, and generalize things like my mom's health struggles and my mother in law's recent hospitalization to, "everyone is falling apart, we're all going to die, I might already have Stage 4 Lung Cancer like Robert D did last fall when they thought it was just pneumonia, he's dead now, even Brett Michaels is in and out of the hospital, we're all getting old, even my children are so old already."

Brett Michaels, really. Feel free to roll your eyes along with me.

Then at the Urgent Care place, 3 weeks ago I think it was, I was fighting the urge to cry by reading and pretending to be fine the whole afternoon I spent there. There were a lot of little individual shitty things, like the doctor seeming very suspicious about whether I actually react to steroids, not wanting to hear my concerns about further antibiotics, and people talking about me like I wasn't even there. It just felt/smelled/seemed bad, "bad" in this case meaning, "2007-esque." Near-death-esque, "I am in danger"esque.

That evening, I was back in the all-too-familiar situation of having to try to hash out with a (very nice, helpful) pharmacist whether or not I should take some prescribed meds. Too familiar, the ol' try to keep my voice steady, try to walk around in public as though I'm not struggling to not throw up...

When I got my tattoo a couple of weekends ago, I was actually sitting there feeling really grateful that there was some expected pain, because it made it seem more reasonable and rational that I might act a little upset, since I didn't WANT to be as upset as I was... about the alcohol swab on my arm at the beginning. Something about that smell hitting me in the face just turns my stomach upside down. I know to keep my head turned the other way when they wipe the little spot for my weekly shots and I'm good, but this guy was going to town on my whole forearm and I didn't expect it. Maybe because it's such a non-medical setting so I was off my guard? It was the worst part of the whole experience (by a landslide). Rubbing alcohol, aka Eau de GETREADYTERRIBLETHINGSAREABOUTTOHAPPEN.

I hate that little silly garbage like that can be terrible for me. The whole idea makes me feel weak, and pathetic, and unstable. Elise slammed the car door on my hand day before yesterday and the bruise and soreness is so irrationally upsetting, like my body is this breakable thing made up of systems that can fail, and the whole thing is falling apart. People and objects can just break it in myriad ways and there's nothing I can do to protect myself.

I don't really believe exactly that, but something awfully close to that is the objective truth, and so my emotional response can be pretty close to that sentiment even if I'm also telling myself something more reassuring.

Having my PCP go up my nose and down my sinuses to get a throat culture two weeks ago was really not cool, either. Tres NG tube and all (cue image of being woken by the sensation of tubes going down my throat, memories of trying to beat a nurse off of me while someone holds me down).

These PTSD responses are generally very internalized for me, I "get weird," but only in the sense that I might not respond as quickly as I would otherwise, and I'm tense. I get vague, I suppose. I don't break down in these triggery situations, I don't even cry quietly in hospitals or with actual scary shit unless Grant is there acting sympathetic and keeping me from retreating into my own head. So long as I can do that, and I'm there by myself, I'm the courteous patient who goes to pace and peptalk myself in the bathroom periodically.

Why do hospitals and urgent care facilities have such enormous single patient bathrooms? Good lord. I guess they're for caregivers and wheelchairs and such? You can pace in circles in an ER bathroom.

So I've been in this all day every day state of having my stomach in knots and my jaw somewhat locked up, putting serious effort into being nurturing and patient with children, carting them to and from everything, and feeding them good stuff, and feeling like I just can't keep up that act when they aren't around. Like I'm totally maxed out as it is. Ugh.

I have a good friend I've been trying to call every day and a good friend I've been trying to visit and an email I've been trying to respond to, and every time I attempt any of it's like, for the last two weeks, it's kinda like, "ooooor I could just read in a fetal position. Yeah that!" Actually calling, visiting and emailing would be good for me, but doing them has felt so heavy that I retreat. Hopefully now that I have deciphered this shit for myself I can hurl myself over that hurdle and make those simple, rewarding things happen.

On Thursday I called my PCP and I was like, hey, I need my test results guys. You said I'd have them by a week ago, I'm still coughing. Nurse was like, "Ooooh... they're on her desk, she's going to have to sign off on them and decide if she needs to call you or one of us can explain your results to you on the phone. We'll get back to you by the end of the day."

WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT.

It's probably funny from the outside, the way I react to that by being uber casual and focusing intense amounts of energy on how much I really just don't even care at all. Smh.

Fwiw the test results showed no bacteria, that's what that slow simmering stroke was all for: clear results. They recommend I follow up with an ENT and/or pulmonologist, since it's obvious I've got inflamed bronchial tubes and an irritated trachea and those things can be allergy or asthma related. I think I'm just gonna try not letting cats sleep in my bed and not eating any dairy for the next week and see how I feel at the end of it.

I can't sit still, I can't STOP distracting myself with my phone or a book, I hate it. Knowing is more than half the battle so hopefully I will pull myself out of this shit post haste. With some help from EMDR'ing my way through my whole session next Wednesday, and (a girl can dream) ceasing to view my actions through the lens of "how can you suck so much? Why are you failing at everything?"

I suck because of PTSD. I'm only failing at many things, not all of them.

...

I'm trying to have some perspective. I basically felt like this - this bad or worse, really, because at least I can sleep now - all of 2008, and then anytime I drove past a hospital or saw an OR on TV a year and a half ago. Where I'm at now is way more manageable, it's two steps forward one step back... My most persistent and upsetting physical symptom is pretty much completely gone, even now, which is amazing. Even if I'm still nervous that it could return.

I really loathe the whole idea of "having a mental illness." I loathe the MRI pictures of brains of people with PTSD, I hate the literature about altered brain structures. I hate anything about it being concrete or ongoing. Hate.

I hate turning off an interesting NPR story about improving hospital conditions in poor West African nations because I can tell it's gonna fuck me up to let it play and I've got things to do.

I hate weighing whether or not I can handle searching for an old entry of mine to find a picture I'd like to share, because I'm in no state to see flashes of mean things people say about me on gossip sites as I scroll through the google results.

I hate putting my own considerations of Annie's upcoming oral surgery completely on the backburner until I'm through this, because I know that as I am, I can't even consider it rationally. It's not for months, anyway, so it's ok for me to backburner my own processing of it. I am just bothered by the whole principle of the thing, the idea that I can't think about it rationally right now seems very not ok even though it doesn't exactly change anything. Ugh.




There are things I try to give myself credit for, though they really just form a desperate mantra - this week alone, in addition to normal stuff, Annie had an Orthodontist appointment, Aaron had an optical specialist appt and his spider needed more crickets, Jake's kitten got neutered and his rabies shot, and Elise and I got all her homework done EARLY.

There are a couple of things I can actually feel impressed with myself about, since I know how much harder they are than those mantra kinds of things, for me. I mean, I get selfish pleasure out of most mothering tasks. BUT! 1.) I've stepped up counseling rather than dropping out, despite edging around tempted to drop out, and feeling a panicky need to drop out. Absolutely nothing about being really triggered makes you want to go "work through it" in therapy... I dropped out of EMDR in 2008 when it got to the really hard parts. And, honestly, I almost burned some bridges with my counselor last month. I'm really glad I stuck with it, now.

And, 2.) I have not resorted to binge eating as a coping mechanism. The week of my birthday I gave myself basically free reign to eat whatever I wanted, and I gained a few pounds back, but I didn't binge. I've also re-lost those pounds since then.
altarflame: (deluge)
I am really at a loss as to how I can slow down, be happier, relax, and still give all of my kids everything that they need. Stretching helps. Meditating helps. Drinking enough water and making sure I step outside often enough is nice. Lots of things help for anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes.

It's WONDERFUL to be able to go and go and go, again, now that my shots have taken effect and I'm no longer sick, exhausted, and in pain. But I don't know how to relax, now. Part of that is that there is so much to do, part is that I was pushing myself through much worse conditions than "plain old" mental exhaustion and tension, and so my cues for when to scale back are totally screwed up now.

There is also a combination of real backed up work (at school, with our house, mostly with each kid) that snowballed while I was napping, weeping, and/or sitting in waiting rooms, and my own terrible self conscious guilt about how much of that all backed up. I think on some emotional level I feel like however much it hurt, however hard it was to cope with, however terrible living at doctor's offices can be, I focused on me a whole lot for a long time. And it worked! I'm better now! But it seems selfish to focus on me anymore, at all, as a result.

And I'm...frenetic. There may be an element of my body and brain readjusting to having ENOUGH B-12 again? Because I feel almost jittery at times, like a constant caffeine buzz. I can't stop moving my feet around when I'm sitting there. I was really in a fog for months, so, it's got it's benefits as I DO ALL THE THINGS, but O_O

I have also turned a significant corner, in therapy, as of about 2 months ago, and I feel radically less triggery and ptsd'd out ever since. It's there, but it's so much less a hindrance than it's been in years past that I feel...free? Normal? It's big. And, again, that's great. But, again, without having terrible depression or internal freakouts when I don't take care of myself...I just kinda don't take care of myself. I'm realizing things randomly, like, wow, I haven't spoken to a friend, any friend, even online or in text, in a WEEK. Or, I haven't went and exercised in...TWO WEEKS?!

All my resources are just going to this deficit I've built up, since I can attend to that deficit now.

After teaching my kids all Friday morning; taking all 5 of my kids to the dentist Friday afternoon; blitz-cleaning with them for a frantic hour; and then hosting Laura and her kids and Shaun and his girlfriend, plus baking and frosting a big cake that night (Grant cooked dinner) - then I woke up super early Saturday morning and took A&A with all their supplies up to audition at the arts charter. It's far, it took many hours. When we were back home I tried to chill out and just water and prune all my plants, talk to Elise, enjoy Grant making soup, but it's like I can't kick the manic anxiety of having already pushed myself too hard. Because this is just a close-up example of how ALL THE DAYS, strung together, with no rest days, have been for weeks. Last night at the "end" of obligations, he and I got in a stressful conversation about his work stress, his self esteem issues, his generalized fears and things that do and don't effect our relationship. I cleaned our entire (gross) bathroom to take a bath and relax, and then laid awake in bed until 3 am. This morning, I had to be up by 8 making a huge breakfast for everyone before taking Annie up to her end-of-the-year mentoring showcase performance, where the rest of the family eventually met us.

I don't even wanna list it all, everything we've done today. Or Thursday, before I arbitrarily started the last paragraph. Every day lately is too much, never stopping. It makes my head hurt to even start with the listing. Last Wednesday, which was overwhelming, Grant wanted to budget and then plan the logistics of how today would go, and by the time we were almost done I felt like I was going to cry. "Normally," historically, things might SOUND overwhelming on paper but in each moment I was chill and ok and so things really did just SOUND that way. I don't know why that seems so challenging now. It's like the last piece of the puzzle I'm just not getting - how to be present and enjoy stuff as it's happening. How to ride the wave. I've been riding the wave by coping with things that are NOT getting done, for too long :/

I'm not yelling or angry. I do probably seem hyper or irritable at times, though often I keep that together, too, and it's just an internalized pressure buildup as I stretch further and further.

I go in these circles, that are comprised partially of these things:

-what can I let go of?
-part of the problem is definitely all the driving
-we can't afford to live closer to things
-I'm not willing to let things go
-I feel like it's totally unacceptable to punish any one of our kids for how many kids we have. Like that is not even an option. Whatever they need individually is irrelevant to our family size, in my mind.
-is it fair, right, natural or ok, for parents to sacrifice SO MUCH of their entire adult lives for their kids? For how many years? It wasn't expected or common until very recently; kids fit into existing adult lives. Not the other way around. I don't want to be that parent. They need to see a model of a wholly realized person who is happy in their own life...don't they?
-but, yeah, that is on me, that I had 5 of them, of course that will be massive and often take over my life completely for long periods.
-and they each have a LOT of unattended, unstructured time. There are just a lot of them, so it adds up quickly when the attention and structure is so often coming from me. I don't have even one overbooked kid who doesn't get hours to do whatever they want at home, every single day. It is truly just cumulative effort because of the number of kids.
-this is going to get harder before it gets easier, I just know it is.
-can we afford a housekeeper?


I don't know how much it plays in, but Grant thinks it's HUGE and not something I'm giving myself enough credit for, that I've been strictly on weight watchers for over a month. I normally (my entire life...) do a lot more food-for-coping. He's probably right. I chew absurd amounts of gum.

I have a couple of hours here alone right now. Before opening this, I was using them to read health psych (heart disease and diabetes chapter). But I am so keyed up, sore, unrested, I don't know HOW to relax.

I don't know HOW to be happy. Like I know all the reasons why I should be happy and I'm not sad, exactly, just frustrated with... I don't even know what :/ "Just" frustrated. Random frustration.

I mean I'm playing Enya, naked, drinking hibiscus tea. Attempting to very leisurely read my chapter's slide show. And I'm a kinked-muscle mess (eventually giving up and composing this entry).


I suppose that, taken as a whole, the problems I have are about getting better in huge ways and transitioning to improvements. I just have to zoom out and see it that way intentionally, at times.

*deep breaths*

One thing I really, really need is more breaks AWAY from my children. ALL of them. Grant's talking about giving me a couple of hours each Tuesday evening. I sometimes have Sunday afternoons, though they are (supposed to be) for studying and cleaning.

I can't do what I did when they were much younger and just stay up half the night by myself every night, any more, and without that break in between the sort of days we have I start to crack up. Maybe I'll use those Tuesday night hours to host a "book" (wine) club, or something that is easy but would actually gain me some adult interaction. I really, really need adult interaction.

Ok, so...

Nov. 19th, 2013 09:57 am
altarflame: (deluge)
Last night's entry feels so stilted to me this morning. I worked my way through some terrible hours to get to a point where I could write it honestly, but I spent most of the day...really unhappy. Like I commented on someone who linked to a supposedly comforting song about how "It Will Be Over Soon," by saying that the song seemed to just be saying life is a never ending series of miserable shit and it goes before we know it, leaving us dead. Some vague part of me understood that to be intolerably emo, but, only sort of. My mother in law commented on my doctor's visit, saying she hopes I feel better soon, and I had to restrain myself from saying, "I'm never going to feel better. This is degenerative and I will probably never feel ONLY THIS CRAPPY ever again."

*deep breathing*

Enough time in the hammock, enough chugging of water and minutes after everyone is in bed, enough Grant being home and being ridiculously nice to me (I always think of Lestat saying, "Pamper the madman" in these circumstances) and I at least felt like the stress headache was fading and my shoulders were unlocking.

Basically I spent 4 hours waiting at my doctor - my MD since childhood, as my rheumatologist closed her office very suddenly - with OR dramas playing on Lifetime for most of it. Then we got to go through this whole pain and inflammation thing, and she is great, she spent 45 minutes with me - which is why I wait. We drew blood and prescribed meds and ordered more x-rays and she's referring me out to a different rheumatologist and wrote me a note for my professors.

I am a total academic slacker, normally - I do everything that needs to be done, and I usually get really good grades, but I do the least I need to do for the A (or just settle for a B if I'd rather do something else), and I do it all at the laaaast possible minute.

This doesn't work anymore. I have to somehow adapt my procrastination and slacking to life with arthritis. The night the paper is due, my hands might be swollen or hurting. The school day after the one when I elected to stay home with the kids instead of going in, I might be so tired I literally can't keep my eyes open standing up. And, apparently, the "now it HAS to be done" urgency that usually kicks in when I'm under real pressure...doesn't, necessarily, if I'm depressed and/or dissociating because I don't want to think about this RA shit at all. When it gets that bad, the only thing that doesn't fall by the wayside as a priority is the kids.

So I have to find my new Overly Busy + procrastinating + fast reader and writer + RA Student Formula. Along with just adapting to things like, no no you can't not go in because it hurts to get up and down or walk, that's not going anywhere, NEW NORMAL OK?

Whatever, I mean...flares end and all that. I know.

Anyway. My whole 5pm-10pm after the doctor was spent dragging all 5 kids around to a bunch of stores for things they variously need (new sports bras for Annie, new hip hop sneakers for Aaron, blah blah blah), and to the pharmacy, and to get food for dinner - and then eating, and cuddling with Elise, and reading to Isaac. It all felt so much more short tempered and complicated than it normally would. I think I have a terrible tendency to displace my dissatisfaction with my health and react to situations as though I'm dissatisfied with my life as a whole. At least I think I generally catch that, and work it back around to where it needs to be?


I just can't stand how complex and multi-faceted the "shit that's wrong with me" list is getting. I've been dealing with this "ever-larger hernia, having a hard time losing weight, back pain, I need more surgery, I have surgery related PTSD so I don't want to lose weight and get it fixed" loop for a LONG TIME (it's actually helping me get past it, to realize just how long it's been and be sort of aghast at that). It feels really crappy and I hate seeing myself in those terms, so much so that I just refuse to and focus on the parts of me I'm very happy with as much as possible (outside of working at progress on The Loop, like exercising and delving into the worst triggers in counseling). But piling an autoimmune disease on top of it? Is...a lot to take in. And I would really just rather fucking not.

"Silver lining" (?)...counseling really HAS been working with the PTSD stuff, and I feel more ok about it all than I ever have. By a long shot. Also, or perhaps as a result, something about this whole RA thing makes me feel much more motivated and capable about taking care of all that Loop stuff. Like I just cannot live with both sets of issues simultaneously, and refuse to do it for long. Of course there is also the bonus that inflamed joints do better without extra weight.

I also have no appetite, which is definitely not something I've ever had as an edge before. I realize I've had NOTHING all day at 3-5pm fairly regularly, and frequently just make the smoothie I talked about a couple of entries down with a feeling of annoyance.


Part of what made me super emotional about my pain issues - aside from, you know...hurting constantly - was seeing Super Cool things I am currently incapable of, over the weekend. First I went and saw this play with Annie, for school, and it involved (of all things) a dude kneeling under a table, with his head up through a hole in it, inexplicably. It was funny when he periodically interjected in the scenes unfolding around him, shouting at people sitting normally around the table. I was watching this and thinking, I just could NOT play that part. And it shouldn't matter, because why would I want to wear a table as a necklace on stage, anyway - but I was watching him as an hour unfolded, thinking, my God, I would be in tears. I would not be able to deliver any lines or even remember them by 20 minutes into kneeling on a hard surface.

Then, the next night, Annie's derby team had their first home bout, followed by an adult bout. The adult players are amazing, and role models of Annie's at this point (some to the point of hero worship), and they keep trying to pull me in and get me on the team. I know a couple of them as friends of friends, who have made this a real mission... There are all different physiques and skill levels represented in derby, btw. And chicks in their 40s, alongside the 19 year olds. Over the summer when I was feeling awesome and doing C25K and hiking up and down hills in Maryland with Grant, I was thinking of getting some skates and at least practicing with them sometimes, and being one of the helpers or refs is nothing else who take less hits and falls but are out there and participating. And that just seems...unfathomable, now, but also like I'm not sure roller derby could even be something worth thinking about or prioritizing if I have to like count spoons all the time.

The bout was still awesome. We had Gloria and LJ, Shaun and his girlfriend, an old high school friend, and some of Annie's friends there. She did great and had a blast. We brought a lot of food to share. There is just, also, this sad sense of loss and anger as an undercurrent, and an aftermath.

I hate having to tell anyone about it. I feel embarrassed and ashamed to talk about any part of my health issues with, say, other FIU students or even my teachers. I don't explain it to the derby players because my flare could end at any point and then I could be having 6 months doing that, and I wouldn't want them asking me about it or wondering during that time. And I don't exactly know why that is. I hate writing about it here, I hate the idea of being seen as disabled even though I don't see disabled people - or just people with health complications - as "less than" in any way. If anything some of my favorite people to read about or interact with have some major challenges. I just haven't figured out how to reconcile all that into a positive acceptance of myself, yet.
altarflame: (GothMaryPoppins)
C25K almost killed me yesterday. It was suddenly hard like it was before I could do day 1, again. I'm not sure why W2D2 was so unexpectedly vicious, though I was going a little faster than normal and my stomach felt slightly off.

Grant's doing it with me! Which neither of us expected. It's cool, though.




It's 9/11 today, so my whole facebook wall is awash in semi-transparent eagles superimposed over skyscrapers. There are really awful shots of wreckage, and inspiring shots of search and rescue dogs being flown in via helicopter-towed-scaffolding, and paragraphs from super sincere people that I love - all entreating me to "never forget." It reminds me of how devastated Aaron was to learn about the whole tragedy for the first time, a couple of years ago. Profile pics have been changed to memorial spaces. The ads on my sidebar are for various patriotic charities.

In the midst of all that, an old friend of mine posted a set of plush towers with stuffed planes sticking out of them, and anthropomorphic felt tongues sticking out, and Xs over their eyes. He said LOOK HOW ADORABLE THEY ARE.

I laughed. With relief. Awhile later, after I read the casualty statistics again, and then the "I lived in NYC that day" first person horror story, and then told Ananda about how scary that day was for us personally (because she's on facebook now, so she asked), the same friend posted a link to "Why I'm really sad today." Apparently, a Nickelback album came out on 9/11/01.

This is helpful! I don't want to be held hostage to the obligatory misery of 9/11 every year. I don't want any part of it. I went doing some research, you know, and almost 3,000 people died that day, and that really fucking sucks. But then a few years later in New Orleans, almost 2,000 people died in Hurricane Katrina. And then much more recently, somewhere between 19,000 and 25,000 people died in Japan, in a series of disasters that is STILL SPEWING RADIATION EVERYWHERE. Right now, in Syria, God Knows What is happening to children on playgrounds, just like it has every day for the last however many months. There's a lot of REALLY BAD SHIT out there, a whole lot. Most of it isn't here, so we like to pretend it's not as important as the things that happen here are, just. *sigh*

If I had died that day, it would make me happy to know my kids managed to laugh at jokes about the event that caught them off guard, after being bombarded for twelve years.

I was thinking about the whole concept of laughing about things you are Not Supposed To Laugh At, and the old "Healing Through Tragicrafting" Regretsy posts that used to happen every year on this day. Then Pandora busted out with Amanda Palmer's song, "Oasis."

If you don't know, "Oasis" is about a girl who gets date raped, ends up having an abortion that is heavily picketed by Christian protesters, and has her friends turn on her as though she's a whore after someone gossips about the whole thing. The song character is a teenager and the silver lining that allows her to be happy in spite of it all is that she's writing to her favorite band (Oasis, hence title), they actually write back, and she's got tickets to see them play live.

The clincher is that the whole song is set to a Beach Boys type melody - it's a poppy, happy, upbeat tune, with a goofy, intentionally parody-style video.

It really pisses a lot of people off. Other people just roll their eyes and talk about Amanda Palmer trying to shock people for attention.

But Amanda Palmer talks about how old it gets, being miserable about having these things happen to you. How terrible it feels to always have to talk about these topics as very heavy, very hard things, when they're your life. She's been date raped, she's had an abortion, blah blah blah. She's definitely been the writing-back "band" that made victimized young people happy, too. I imagine that as a performer who gets interviewed all the time, and talks to fans a lot, heavy issues get especially repetitive and heavy. My inference is, how freeing and awesome is it to throw that weight off?!

Positive YouTube commenters on the video have opinions like:

Its how she has chosen to belittle her own attacker and show how although her rape was horrible she didn't let it ruin her whole life.

and

shes not joking about rape :) shes showing how normal people think it is through a happy song and silly video

Anyway. I did some recon and am gonna embed some junk here now. Original video:



Here's her live on stage, talking about it, and then playing the song slowly like it's sad, as well as the normal way. She says some really great stuff at the beginning. Like, "when you cease to have a sense of humor about the darkness in life, that's when the darkness takes over..." and more.






I'm starting to crack up again, feelin all...mentally ill.

What I mean is the kids seem more irritating, and things I have to do seem more undoable, and I'm just wasting huge amounts of time in semi-sadness. There is this slow cascade of factors that has contributed -

1.) A surgeon contacted me online, not as a surgeon, but as a person who is also interested in neuroplasticity - but then he found out I have a hernia, and wanted details, and I saw pictures of him in scrubs, and the whole thing just got a little, uh, icky? For lack of better phrasing? It wasn't a huge deal, EXCEPT...

2.) That it happened the same day (last Friday) that our well-meaning dentist did what everyone does when they learn a little about our family medical history...she launched into OR horror stories as the two of us stood across the hall from where Annie and Isaac were being handled by oral hygienists. I haven't really developed the ability to put my finger to another person's lips and say, "Stop right there. You are about to fuck me up for days, so just hush." Instead, I now know about the hospital wing that was closed down after a woman who was there to donate a kidney to her brother got the wrong artery nicked, bled out, died on the table, and then her brother got very bad news and died, without kidneys (since hers were ruined). It's hard for me to even focus on that shit long enough to type the words out. I just start dissociating like a motherfucker. But I really think this is worse when I don't directly deal. It's like I give triggers power by avoiding them at all costs and sometimes I just have to try to plow through, stiff and weird as it might make me...

I spent the weekend far too tense, trying to not be aware of the lumps on my abdomen that start to feel very "ticking time bomb." Then, I had a couple of the recurring nightmares it had been a long time since I'd seen around, and subsequently spent way too many hours lying awake in bed. I did a third of the homework I should have and spazzed on Grant Sunday night (meaning, lost all interest in sex after stellar foreplay and suddenly just wanted to go to sleep).

Barf. I hate this shit.

I go back to counseling Monday. It's been a few weeks, because of some scheduling issues. I have a standing appointment at the same time every week, now.

I'm also trying to reach out to people, because I've definitely been isolated, and that definitely makes me vulnerable to PTSD, as stated 700 million times...Gloria was here all afternoon and evening Monday, I hemmed 5 pairs of her pants and fed her dinner and plied her with wine :) Been facebookin' people, and textin/callin people... My sister is unavailable because her kids are sick with some terrible thing I don't want making it's way over here.




My editor messaged me yesterday - there is some YouTube channel devoted to authors reading their own erotic stories every week, that is switching to horror for Halloween, and Editor thinks my horror story - Which is in this little 2.99 e-trilogy of horror my publisher put out last year - would be perfect. So I may be reading it and being featured on her site and linking that here, which is cool :) I'm proud of that story, because it's the first time I've written something in a formulaic way meant to elicit a particular reader response (aside from essays being meant to elicit As). And it works. It does what it's supposed to do - creeps people the fuck out :)
altarflame: (deluge)
I do not even know where to begin. I've let this thing go for too long.

It's wild, just nuts, how different I feel when I'm really engaged with people and the world (as opposed to spending all my time alone with my kids in our house, with very minimal adult interaction). It is truly the difference between feeling mentally ill, as opposed to being like, "Wait what? I have PTSD? I guess technically I do." Sometimes I feel sad about this, because I used to be so (relatively) content to be home alone with my children. Other times - like now - I feel really happy that such a simple thing can make such a huge difference. Things get complicated because I can be very picky about who I really want to spend time with...

Many things have changed over the years on my Myers Briggs test results, but the most significant and startling was definitely watching my stubborn, moderate "i" turn to a just-over-the-line "e," last year.


I'm sitting here tonight, agitated and stressed with everyone else asleep, wondering what the hell my problem is - and it occurs to me that this is the first day in weeks that I haven't seen anyone that doesn't live in my house. There were other reasons to be stressed: a bank error I had to spend awhile on the phone about, some tedious crafting time with Elise that really took a tremendous amount of patience, realizing at the last minute during cooking that I was missing a crucial dinner ingredient... But all that is just life, it's the kind of shit that happens every day and hasn't been tying my shoulders in knots until today. Maybe it's isolation. Maybe it's not. There was a lot of arguing with Aaron about cleaning his room, and a lot of moodiness out of Jake, and a lot of Annie eye rolling and Isaac homework procrastination.

Still and all, I could list three times as many positive things about each of them. So. *shrug*




Previous non-isolation:
G and I had an awesome trip to Maryland ♥ Grant had enough flyer miles and hotel points stored up from business trips that we could fly and stay for free, and his mom was here in town with a friend for a couple of weeks, and spent those days with our kids. So, all we had to pay for was food! Totally awesome, and he has a ridiculous amount of paid time off accrued since he rarely uses it. We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday exploring Maryland together, which was just fucking great. It was all awesome sex and sweet cuddling and a picnic in the park and a picnic on our hotel room floor. We walked all over and found great farmer's markets and a cool Thai restaurant and an interesting Ethopian place. The weather was lovely, we laughed a ton - it was really cool to be on foot and transit for a few days with no car whatsoever attached to me. Talk about a paradigm shift.

Then he left, Sunday night, to come home, and I stayed at my friend Kristin's house Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday. She works in the evenings, so I was free for those hours. One evening I took Jenne/[livejournal.com profile] the_waker to that Thai place I mentioned, which was awesome. I hadn't seen her since she came by Dama/[livejournal.com profile] mommydama's place while we were there with newborn Elise in 2007. I think we could be really close friends if we just lived closer together. Totally easy and natural to hang out with her and talk about ANYTHING.

Another evening I met Amy/tumblr user Bohemianelitist, with her kids and Kristin's kids (who I love, and have known for a decade...they're like family and only moved up there 6 months ago). We had great food and then moved over to a playground. The time went too fast.

I was going to meet Ruth/former lj'er "meileki," but she got too booked up at the last minute by a high needs kid and study demands, which was disappointing but I totally understand (obviously).

Staying up til 4am laughing with Kristin after she got off was great, as it always is. And her brunch spreads were fantastic. And her kids are pretty much what I would call friends, 8 and 11 though they may be :)

The week+ since we've been back from Maryland has also been a connected, networking sort of week. I didn't really experience the coming down of a vacation being over, because:

-My mother in law was still down and visiting and wonderful until a couple of days ago. She is really great. I got so lucky in the mother in law department.
-I spent a half hour at our evaluator's house talking when I picked up all our forms. We have enough in common that this can be an actual good time.
-Cybele and I caught up for at least that long, when I dropped Aaron off to hang out with Adrian. They've been gone all summer.
-The most recent weekend at home Grant and I had was riding high on the utopic chemistry of the previous weekend away (we barely see each other during the work week, it's mostly texting honestly).
-Laura brought the kids over one afternoon and we all sat around the bar eating and the library floor talking.
-Shaun came to dinner last night, with his new girlfriend. We pulled out all the stops (my husband actually made two different meals) and it was a pretty cool time.
-Aaaaaand a bunch of little things - needing to run errands and interact in small ways, meeting Isaac's new teacher, bringing the snack for Annie's derby team this last practice, all that sort of stuff that I don't even think I care about, but, what do I know. It probably makes a difference.

Tomorrow, my Fall semester begins. We had a big family meeting tonight before bed about the kids' meals and activities (Grant is working from home when I'm in school, so though here we need to have enough stuff set up in advance that they aren't constantly interrupting him).

I'm sure I was going to say more. Sure I gotta go to bed.

I'll leave this with a bunch of pics that will be outdated, if I don't hurry...

I had to take a picture one day when I realized that I was treading water in the deep end, with all five of my kids nearby - not a flotation device in sight - and we were all just hanging out, casually having a conversation.

It really hit me like, "Whoa." I kept counting them, unable to process that they were all there and everything was so simple and easy.



Diner (breakfast for) dinner.



Yes, that diner is actually in a pharmacy O_o

This is Elise before GMYS camp one morning, Isaac the day they were going to perform, and the three of them after the performance...


My "little kids," at 7, 9 and 6...

This is Elise after she went around and found all the pieces of that table, reassembled it, and started doing her art outside, and Jake doing a trick he learned at camp with water and vinegar (making tones sound by running his finger along the tope of the glass...pitch changes based on water level).


Ananda and Aaron, after breakfast one morning and waiting for me in the FIU library while I took a makeup exam.


Ananda came home from Mia's house with this lovely hair...we were at a coffee shop in the Gables that afternoon :)


We kinda look alike.


More than 5 years, we've had Aaron's cat, Peter...and finally he's starting to almost, sort of trust me.

I honestly think it's because I quit acting like it's preposterous and just accepted that he understands English, and speaking to him like I do people. Now, I can put him at ease. He is the weirdest and most complicated animal I've ever known, and the 11 year old cat I had who died, before we moved into this house - was a pretty developed personality.

Three thirsty chickens.


There are a lot of pictures of everything from Elise's doodles and her and Jake's cross stitching, to Maryland trip pics galore, on my tumblr in the personal tag. On the second page there's also a montage of my trip to Fairchild Tropical Gardens, with the big kids and our friends Gloria and LJ, a screencap of my grades and some degree planning, and many other random things :)
altarflame: (deluge)
Last Wednesday night, Aaron didn't get home from dance until 9, when Jamaii's mom dropped him off here. He had to be back at 8, the next morning. At around 10pm, tired and irritable from our AC being broken for part of the day, I was sweating and reading The Prisoner of Azkaban to Isaac when Aaron came into Isaac's room in a panic. "Mom, I NEED a Disney costume by tomorrow!" he interrupted. "She assigned me to Peter Pan since I didn't come with one ready today!"

The day before had been the first time I'd ever heard this costume thing mentioned. I had told him then to dig through the dress up chest and put something together, and instead he ran around confused and then seemed to forget all about it. Now it was an emergency.

"No way, Aaron."
"Moooom I'm out of the opening on Friday if I don't have a costume!"
"How does she expect you to get a costume? You left the studio at 8:30 tonight and have to be back at 8 in the morning. When are you supposed to get a costume?"
"She doesn't care!"
"She can bite me, it isn't going to happen."

And then do you know what he said? DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID? The one freakin' thing in the whole world that could move me at that uncomfortably warm, sleepy, late point, knowing I had to be up before 7 Thursday.

He said, "Tomorrow is my birthday!"

Dammit.

So off I went, to Walmart that I try to boycott altogether, searching every section for all these components (big men's dark green polo, bright green tights, felt and yarn...) Just after midnight, I was crocheting a belt and sewing a hat.

When I did get up, far too early, he was thrilled and told me I was awesome. I'd made him a (bleary eyed) birthday breakfast and gotten him spicy sweet chili doritos to take in his lunch (all time favorite).

Off we went, to pick up Jamaii and go to dance. Then, Ananda, Elise and I had an hour to kill before Girl Scout camp started, and I'd promised Ananda's guitar teacher - who I very nearly sued for harrassment, and I'm only half kidding - that Annie would complete her last assignment last week and be done with the course. Of course Annie's crushing social/phone anxiety kicked in and I had to pep talk and then ultimatum her before she consented to use the guitar we'd brought in the trunk, and the laptop I had in the backseat. Finally she sat, logged in to wifi, while Elise and I watched her from inside Panera so nobody else could HEAR HER (God Forbid). Then she came in and I congratulated her with a chai tea latte and a fruit tart, while she was in the bizarrely hyper, almost manic high that always follows overcoming anxiety, for her.

I skipped my classes that day in favor of shopping for Aaron's birthday dinner, baking his cake and making his frosting, being home (along with Grant, who wasn't leaving) when he arrived rather than hours later, and taking a damned nap. He ended up having tomato tart and sushi. I thought it could be related to how long it had been since I'd had gluten, but others agreed that the carrot cake was the best cake I've made in years. It was...insanely awesome. Just perfect. And enormous. I mean, 9 eggs and a dozen carrots sort of enormous. I went up to 1.5 times the recipe I generally use to bake us 4 dozen cupcakes, for a single round layer cake in my widest spring form pans.

His presents (all requested):
-quad skates, to skate with Annie and possibly ref derby
-a hot pink morph suit
-a 14" beach ball, for a paper mache project
-more stupid overpriced Iniji or whatever toe socks to go under his Vibrams
-light up disco glasses

Anyway. Aaron is 12 :p I am very proud of him, and think he had a good day.

This week, nobody has anything to go to, and I am glad. I had classes and counseling today, and we're hosting a 4th of July party on Thursday evening, but that's it. It's glorious.




In counseling, this evening, I was doing emdr about my mother. EMDR is chronological and believe you me I was irritated as all hell to have this man, after our initial interviews and my first homework assignment, say that we had to start with my mom. I've been talking about my mom in counseling since I was 16. Gah. It is not what I was going to him for. And he's right, blah blah blah.

So I'm there holding these alternately buzzy things in my hands with my eyes shut, thinking about my mom, and then he'd turn them off and I'd talk about what I'd thought and then we'd start over, again and again. That's basically the gist of how EMDR sessions go, although they require some set up info for prompts and minor guidance here and there, and you do some assessments before and after each session.

Twice, today, while I was holding these things, I got SO DIZZY. Room spinning vertigo like I was drunk or...I don't even know. I could even make it reverse direction to make it feel like my brain fluid was all spinning the other way. No nausea or anything, but very distracting and intense like my skull was just slipping by continuously. I would open my eyes to anchor myself here and there, but then it would start again as soon as I shut my eyes. It felt like some kind of crap related to the alternately buzzing hand things, and/or the alternately stimulated halves of my brain.

The session was ok overall, he told me something challenging I probably really needed to hear. As I was paying my deductible, I mentioned the dizziness off handedly and told him that had happened twice before during EMDR in 2008.

He immediately said people have phantom symptoms all the time based on unconscious triggering of memories that involved feeling those symptoms. Stomach aches during a tv show, whatever.

Well. I definitely spent months using every afternoon as "spinning time," following my parents' divorce. I ended up at an ENT at one point who told my mother it seemed I'd destroyed my equilibrium by fucking up my vestibular system permanently. <---Note, that ENT was a quack who later tried to cauterize the insides of my nostrils for bleeding from the sinus cavity. Just sayin'.

But I spun and spun and spun, that year. Retrospectively, as a parent, I do not understand why my mother or one of my grandparents didn't come out of the house and say, "Tina, you've been spinning for THREE HOURS, what is going on? Let's talk." This is very similar to how it baffles me, now, that nobody ever KNOCKED ON MY BEDROOM DOOR and pulled me out, in later years. Just.

The point is, yeah, I spun, and yeah, we were talking about that same time period today, although I never consciously thought of the spinning. I'm also about 98% sure that when that dizziness happened in 2008 EMDR, it was when we were talking about my parents splitting up.

I have two thought processes about this that kinda run in tandem:

1.) I do wish my body didn't feel the need to hold onto every fucking thing, along with my brain. I wonder if I can let it all go, or only the mental part, or what.

2.) I am more skeptical than I have ever been in my life, but also more eager to be shown real magic than I have probably ever been. It felt like my therapist had tricks up his sleeve, today. Illusions to pull out and impress me.

Another one: Francine Shapiro, the (somewhat controversial) inventor of EMDR, had a book come out in the last year, that he has in his office partially because she thanks him in her Acknowledgements, since he allowed her to use a bunch of his work in the early chapters. Including some of his success cases involving victims of 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina.

It made him seem like a very accomplished magician, and reminded me of the Wizard of Oz.




I have a lot of pictures to upload, and I may even do it soon, but I'd like to note that this website makes uploading pictures a phenomenal pain in the ass - they have to be resized in PSP or something and then uploaded to a separate host site of your own, and then linked - and so I end up doing it on tumblr, where I can just use my phone to basically copy and paste from my gallery, way more often. My tumblr does have a "personal posts only" link that is easily clicked if you ever want to see original content of mine without the reblogged tumblr stuff all mixed in - it's here: http://altarflame.tumblr.com/tagged/personal I don't usually do a lot of long text posts there like I do here (and I am somewhat more likely to be uncensored/controversial, there, although it's not more or less honest...) It's not taking the place of my lj. It is just easier sometimes to do short things on the fly, on tumblr.

Since I've done a lot more "personal" tumblr-ing recently than I generally do, I thought I would link some of it individually for the interested. There is:

-This one about my obsession with, and endless parade of, white flowers at all stages of life.

-A little story about ordering chickens, and me talking about how I loved our buff orpington, Belina.

-A video about an overgrown section of our yard that we have sacrificed to dozens of butterflies as well as a a picture of how it looks from in our tv room window, where we watch the caterpillars building and hatching from chrysalises.

-Something short about our ridiculous Florida weather.

-Gardening with Elise (our lettuce has gone mad, and the chickens keep eating our chard)

-Some pictures of Annie's new hair, as modeled over the weekend from another city, where she skated in her first derby bouts.

-A couple of different posts about the joy of having new books to read for the first time.

-And one ridiculous shot of Aaron in one of his many get-ups.




I've been really enjoying the downtime of laying low and staying home much more than I have in awhile. Washing massive piles of dishes and putting away mountains of laundry like it isn't torture, even. It's one of those very homey times when our bathrooms are stocked with folded stacks of rags by the sinks, and everyone has their own socks sorted into their bedrooms, rather than just having "the sock basket" available to dig through (our usual system). I hot glued a fairy's wing back on, sewed a stuffed animal that was losing it's spikes and scotch taped several books, over the weekend. They had all waited for me to repair them for a long time. I've hosted Laura and her kids for dinner, greeted everyone with oatmeal and coffee as they woke up, and read to people in the afternoons AND at night. One day, I had an entire to-do list of plant related tasks (prunings, repottings, watering, etc) and relished it every minute.

There has been more Summer Oldies Pandora station and less Dresden Dolls, playing.

I remember when this feeling was just how I felt about life staying home as a mother and sometimes I even toy with the idea that it can last forever without any sort of supervision or maintenance, now. But I know the truth is that this is not then, and I need to leave and come back to enjoy it, these days. I need to do pre-emptive things like go to counseling, classes and my writing time BEFORE I find myself struggling to not just go in my room and lock the door. I am one of the people I have to take care of.

It is what it is, and I'm grateful for a whole lot.
altarflame: (After the kiss)
Awhile before I went out of town this past weekend, I read a lot of stuff abouthow contraindicated isolation is for PTSD. I'd already been thinking about it a lot - as a stay at home mom and a writer, there's an inherent amount of isolation, you know? I talked about it with Grant, though, because we can both look back and see clear patterns that correlate - I was doing very well, being productive and fairly happy, when I was in school - even though I was WAY busier, and had MORE to do that could have been overwhelming. Productivity/happiness then took a clear nose dive after I got my AA, my friend Kristin (who I normally saw a LOT) moved away, and he started travelling constantly. It didn't feel like it was related, because I don't necessarily have a problem with being alone, in the moment. At all. I crave time alone and will purposely isolate myself, which is this whole danger sign of PTSD that you're supposed to watch out for, *sigh* I mean I am normally kind of on the line between intro- and extroverted, throughout my life, and get tired of almost any company eventually and need a break to recharge.

Except PTSD does this thing wherein being around others starts to seem harder and harder - NOT something that's ever been natural to me before - and it creates this downward spiral effect that leaves me burrowing deeper and deeper into solitude as days and then weeks pass, and I'm dissociating way too much. I wrote about this in January/February a bit - first complaining about being lonely and then, later, talking about how I had to admit to my sister and to Nancy that I'd been avoiding them on purpose and MAKE myself go see people again because I was becoming a miserable slug. To be fair, constant pain issues and lumps in my hands were not helping.

Back to more recent history - this past weekend, I was CONSTANTLY around people (and getting a great break from the kind of tedious drudgery that housekeeping can get to be, too). Lots of people. I had long good conversations with Tawanna and Terri from Dance Empire, but also with acquaintances from the studio, and waiters, and with total strangers. I spent a whole day with my mother (and she's trying hard...it wasn't nearly so sucky as it might normally have been), a few hours with Bobby, and briefly caught up with my brother and his girlfriend (Bob actually has a job and drives and shit, can you imagine?). I sat in crowds to watch performances and sat in small groups to rehash things and sat one on one with people. I texted a ton, with Grant and some others.

You would think there would be some inherent stress here - my mother normally weirds me out, Bobby and I have some historic animosity that can pop up, I haven't talked to my brother in months. I didn't get a fraction the sleep I usually would have, and spent way too much time driving. My mom's house was tiny, cramped and generally uncomfortable. Aaron was an over-stimulated SID flibbertigibbit half the time.

And YET...

I felt so good driving and getting home, Sunday night. Our freakin' van AC stopped working and Aaron slept the whole way and I was still happy as a clam the whole way. So sweet and lovely to just hug everyone and be back at my house, once we arrived. So awesome to get back to Grant, and our cats, and my bed. At first I thought this was just about the cramped sleeplessness I'd been dealing with, but the next day I felt SO CLEAR HEADED, so sure of myself and so able to do things that needed to be done. It was a really big deal, not compared to the weekend but compared to the four months prior. Big chunks of the last few YEARS prior. I was actually confused about it. I wanted my husband a whole lot, exactly as he is, and was so grateful for him, and generally had this comparative sort of ease, after Orlando and Lakeland (both of which I hate in different ways), like I love our house. I love our life. I love what we've built here - I chose all of this. Chose! Whereas I've spent so much of the past few months feeling TRAPPED as all hell.

I walked around wondering - am I bipolar? Am I crazy? WAS I crazy? Will this just pass soon? I felt like I used to feel with Jake or Elise on my back, cooking big breakfasts and lunches with kids on counters - you know, before PTSD when I was good at life and stay at home motherhood was in no way contraindicated... Grant was home Monday and I got a lot of texts from the Dance Studio and all week I've had a ton to do, with transferring to university. Still, I've been cooking and cleaning and guiding schoolwork and writing scholarship letters and getting up early like it's not even hard, hopping on my bike to take Isaac to school with a smile and, for emphasis here, I'm even on my period, and now that I'm not taking anti inflammatories that is sort of the seventh circle of hell, except not hellish at all while I'm snuggling with my beasty (Elise) and having crazy hot awesome sex every day <---O_o

I mean, WHAT? How is this happening?

I'm still talking to counselors (in the search for someone who takes our insurance and is right for us, I mean). I'm thinking, ok...am I in the biggest checkout from reality I've ever experienced? I am so not. Is this really just the result of me spending a couple of days around deeply depressed folks (mom and brother) and a lot of stage moms (there was some horrific critical scolding going on). Now I appreciate my easy peasy kids and like minded husband more? Do you really need a break to make you appreciate things, sometimes? When I got back from New York I was like, ugh, I don't want to be back in this pit of laundry and dishes and constant demands. Which is very similar to how I've felt after weekends away with Grant; ugh, no, let the break last longer!! I am not generally happy to get home, whether after an outing or a day or what have you :/ I deal with it, and there are good parts, but I never feel "ready to be home" these past years, when I'm back home.

I gradually worked my way around to thinking of how muddled and messed up I've been, though, PTSD-wise. I have been so ridiculously triggered for the past few months....so many doctors' appointments and ER visits and outpatient tests and even the ultrasound to get my IUD checked annually (my strings are really short and undetectable, so this happens when I go in for a pap). My nightmares and dread of sleeping were back full on, and my general uselessness in the day to day was getting ridiculous. I was on some kind of tense eggshells all the time, ready to burst into tears over any and everything and totally shutting out those closest to me - and that part, is new for me to recognize as part of this. So yeah..."engaging with the world" is generally one of the most important parts of PTSD treatment. And I don't normally do a whole lot of that. And maybe I really, really need to do a whole lot of that.

The point of this whole entry is that I went googling yesterday, for the first time, about PTSD and relationships, specifically. And it made me cry. During a week I am not crying or on any sort of hair trigger ;) During a really happy week, the first one I've had since probably New Years. I sent Grant a bunch of screencaps I'll post here, because, well. *sigh again* Yeah.









PTSD divorce rates are INSANE. It seems that almost nobody with PTSD manages to stay married :/ It makes me think back to how I was feeling just a week and a half ago, like I couldn't deal with not only Grant but anybody and just wanted to live alone, by myself, like man I can't wait for my kids to grow up so I can live totally alone...

I don't want to be totally alone. I don't want to have some fucked up mental illness that makes it impossible for me to maintain relationships.

I keep doing this thing, recently, where I go to people I know pretty well and just rant and ramble nonstop about Grant and our relationship and don't want to hear anything they tell me (and what they tell me varies wildly). I'm thinking back on those conversations now, remembering my own words, and just going, "Geez. GEEZ! So desperate to get away from this shit that is INSIDE OF YOU and you can't escape from."

There is this desperation to avoid triggers and the feelings they cause that can extend in all kinds of weird directions, like, the desire to avoid people who remind you of these things or push you to get help, just as an example. More than one person has recently asked me why I haven't been in counseling and it's like, um. Because I'm terrified of being back in counseling. I dropped out of emdr right as we got to the worst parts, in 2008. And it helped a lot, all the work we did do! But I don't want to go back there.

I'm going to. But I sure as hell don't want to. And so days can pass without me making calls and I'm relieved when I realize it's too late, again.

G always gets the worst of this kind of stuff because I'm not willing to do it to the kids. I get distant from the kids, sometimes, though I try to force it when it doesn't come naturally; but I vent my shit in other directions.

Every night I'm falling asleep in his arms...which I have also done over the past four months, in a more platonic and tensely confused sort of way...I'm thinking, wow, I am really fucking glad this man is not just done with me after all the shit I've put him through, all the complicated bs my brain is, all the ways I've hurt him to avoid hurting myself.

It's not just that simple - there are some real issues Grant and I have had that I can see objectively. It's really amazingly better and different when he can manage to not be super codependent and/or super workaholic, and of course he slips into old/natural patterns with that stuff in ways that can suck for me, at times. He's also been wildly improved since figuring out some dietary stuff a couple of years ago - that shit is like night and day. And our sex life started out kinda wack and we had to figure out how to make it better (although there is something really cool about sex that gets better and better rather than tapering away like the cliche goes). But I don't want my stupid fucking PTSD to make me blind to what is or is not good about us and ruin everything regardless! It makes it so much harder to deal with the normal levels or hurt and vulnerability that are just part of being in a relationship at all. It makes things he's gotten past seem so much more glaring and current, in my mind. I feel as though a huge part of what a successful marriage is, is a refusal to give up on one another, and I feel a little ashamed of how ready to duck out and just end it all I've been, at times, this past year...

I just wanted to archive and get out...this revelation. This relief that is also a whole new set of fears (HOW DO I KEEP THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN, FROM BEING CYCLICAL, HOW DO I SEPARATE IT FROM REAL ISSUES THE TWO OF US HAVE WHEN I AM TRIGGERED, BECAUSE I WILL BE?!). I'm putting a lot of energy into strategizing ways to "engage with the world," which is a huge part of PTSD treatment. I'll be back in school soon (summer semester even, I set it up at the last minute to not wait for fall), and counseling. And I'm fighting this new thing, now, this hesitance to say anything positive or nice to him? It's about vulnerability, but it's not how or who I typically am in this relationship and I'm trying to cut through it and beat it...

And that is big, because I do have to see this as a thing. I have PTSD. It's hard to even type it, even though I type about it all the time :/ But I do, and I'm not on any meds, and I have to at least DO THINGS - like counseling and "engaging with the world" - if I don't want it to ruin my whole life. Which, you know, I definitely don't. I like to think in my upswings that triggers are behind me, when that isn't really how this works :/


Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary, I realized yesterday. Seven years married, how time does fly... Ananda and Elise watched the very silly video Shaun was sweet enough to make, after our reception, and I thought about the parts I would do differently now, and the parts I love just the way they happened, and I thought, well. Maybe we can do a really badass vow renewal thing at 10 years that stamps approval on the past and starts everything fresh, at the same time.

I would really like that.

For now, I've got a babysitter lined up and I'm taking a shower before he gets home. It's the little things ;)
altarflame: (deluge)
1.) People who are vehemently against EMDR therapy for PTSD, and insist it is quackery, really frustrate me. Yes, I understand the controversies, the relative newness, and the problems with existing data. Here is some info, though, taken from sources cited by naysayers:

-EMDR has been proven through well controlled, academically sound research to be more effective for PTSD than no treatment, or supportive counseling (regular "talk therapy").

-Well controlled, respectable research has also shown it to be as effective - which skeptics like to call "no more effective than" - cognitive behavioral therapy with anxiety provoking stimuli (the standard, APA endorsed PTSD treatment).

-Case studies of EMDR, which are less reliable as a data source, are consistently overwhelmingly positive.

-And, individuals who have had it often say it was life changing, hugely helpful, etc, which basically nobody cares about, because anecdata. Articles seeking to "debunk" EMDR have enormous comment threads filled with PTSD sufferers swearing by it and practitioners who go on and on about how it's helped their clients like nothing they've ever seen.

-The main problem areas surrounding EMDR are that some of the success may be a placebo effect, and nobody can conclusively prove the eye movement part specifically is actually doing anything. Thus; pseudoscience!

-EMDR is recognized by the APA as a type of therapy, but they neither approve nor disapprove of it...although they do also offer a certification in it O_o

Ok! So, PTSD is something that is generally understood as a "chronic and debilitating condition that tends to respond poorly to most interventions" (Scott O. Lilienfeld, Ph.D.) and the only non-EMDR treatment on the table has traditionally been 20 or more 2 hour sessions of extremely heightened anxiety as you re-experience your traumas until your triggers hopefully, eventually trigger you less. Even that is acknowledged as not always working; some experts have thought at times that it could actually make things worse.

OR! EMDR works as well ("no better than") that torture... WITHOUT HAVING TO GO THROUGH THE TORTURE. I'm not sure people without PTSD can understand what dealing with triggers is really like for people who have it, but if the data is actually telling me that there's an option that does not involve 40 hours of adrenaline and sobbing...yeah. Bring it. I don't give one fuck if the eye movement part hasn't been proven. I don't care if it's silly as hell and done by someone with a crystal ball who's wearing a kercheif and lots of dangly jewelry - we have clinical proof of benefits!

Skeptics say that EMDR might just be effective since it also (like cognitive behavioral therapy) involves some re-imagining of traumas - which it does, you can't process anything without going there, and I remember EMDR sessions as being emotionally gruelling - but EMDR is not FORTY INTENSE HOURS OF PURPOSEFUL TRIGGERING. I can imagine plenty of people, particularly combat veterans, avoiding treatment altogether if it's the anxiety provoking stimuli but going in to give EMDR a chance. And if they do, and it works better than nothing or talk therapy, and as good as much more arduous options...what the hell is the problem with that?

If people with PTSD are somehow managing to "placebo" the process of EMDR into fixing them, LET THEM DO THAT. Because PTSD sucks, and the alternative to the placebo is often horrible. NO research has ever shown that EMDR wasn't at least somewhat helpful, let alone that it could hurt. Many people who have had it, swear by it - I personally have never read a single account anywhere of a person who went through EMDR and had bad things to say (although I'm sure there are some out there somewhere, and it depends on your practicioner, and your own willingness, like any counseling). My own experience of EMDR in 2008 took me from being a barely functioning wreck to being someone who lives a basically normal life, but has some triggers. It was huge for me.

It's not like we have a ton of really awesome options that are always effective for treating PTSD, that are being ignored in favor of something that does nothing! But that is kinda how skeptics of EMDR treat it - like people are just insisting on choosing snake oil over chemotherapy. More studies? Open access to information? Proposed experiments with tweaking the therapy itself based on results? Sure! But what is up with the people who shoot it down angrily anytime it's mentioned anywhere as having helped someone?

I've talked about this before.




2.) I dislike our cultural aversion to acknowledging the risks of accepted practices, or the way that we blow up and then fixate on the risks of activities outside the norm. The first example that pops into my mind is veganism: when someone hears that a person has gone vegan they immediately start in asking questions like, "But what about protein? How will you get enough B vitamins? ANEMIA!!" Nobody asks people who eat fast food every day whether they have any nutrient deficiencies. I've had moms who do hot dogs, ramen and kool-aid all the time ask me how I can keep Ananda healthy, if she's a vegetarian. There is also an automatic suspicion involved with finding out someone has made any dietary change - "Who TOLD YOU you have a corn problem? What do you think is actually wrong with refined sugar?" People go off about self-diagnosing sensitivities, as though it's somehow harmful to eat differently and see if it changes the way you feel. Like it's a major personal threat to them, if you get results. I don't see this level of stigma when people decide to keep their desks stocked with candy or when they live on microwaved frozen meals. Why? Because that doesn't go against the grain (haha, grain...gluten....not funny). End tangent.

Back to assessing risk - I've been asked how I can know I'm teaching my kids everything they need to know, as a homeschooler, dozens of times. The answer is: I can't! Do you think schools are teaching kids everything they need to know? There are flaws in every diet, holes in every educational system, but somehow rather than honestly evaluating choices we overlook the risks we're used to and worry over the ones we're unfamiliar with.

Birth choices are a huge relevant area. People really jump straight to "endangering the baby's life" when a mother says, "homebirth." But you are treated like an alarmist weirdo if you tell people TRUE RISKS, actual facts, about birthing in a hospital! Or cite studies about the great (low risk pregnancy) outcomes in homebirths, here and abroad. I'm treated like what I'm saying is "true, but..." when I talk about my own actual, personal experiences with hospital birthing risks - that I had a healthy infant who caught a superbug from the hospital and ended up in quarantine on vancomycin, that I had a spinal hematoma from anesthesia and a retained surgical instrument that almost killed me. None of that would have been possible, in a homebirth - they're risks of birthing in a hospital, along with many others. That isn't me saying hospitals are killers and home is always safe; both have risks and benefits that vary by case. They're worth evaluating. I just don't understand the unwillingness to honestly evaluate risk, apart from familiarity. Over and over, I hear midwives I know talk about the hell they catch if they have to transfer from a homebirth and the baby ends up in the NICU. Hospital staff act as though their NICUs aren't comprised of 99% babies whose mothers labored and birthed right down the hall, yet still had complications. Comfort levels =/= actual safety.

This thought process started because a friend tagged me in a facebook post about homemade infant formula that's vastly superior to standard, manufactured formula (better nutrition and gut protection, no corn syrup, less allergens, etc). I immediately said, "Yeah, that's probably better, but just wait til that baby gets any normal sickness and the mother tries to explain to a pediatrician or nurse that she makes her own formula in the blender out of ingredients they've never even heard of." It's a fast track to a CPS case worker and mandatory nutrition classes where they'll tell her all sorts of mainstream, untrue things from the old food pyramid - like that we all need 6-11 servings per day from the "bread, cereals, rice and pasta group" to live.

I think a lot of this stems from the assumption that most people are stupid, and thus we need protocols and systems for everything to save us from ourselves. Doctors, news anchors, governments and busybodies so forth do not trust people to do things like take necessary supplements while vegan, do their homework to make a complete baby formula carefully - I doubt many doctors believe midwives can recognize problems during labor or that women can truly cope with the pain at home. We lay people don't trust each other with these sorts of decisions, either. Everyone wants to know if your doctor will "let" you do this or that. I've been asked many times about things like homeschooling and co-sleeping, "Is that even legal?"

I saw someone on tv years ago saying that 100% fruit juice is pretty good for you (debatable, go with it), but when they tell parents that, parents buy "juice," meaning dyed corn syrup and water, and so since they can't trust anyone to actually read labels they just put a blanket AAP no-no on all juice. Like how they do the vaccinations in big clumps of 10 at once or something, and cram them all into a few months, because otherwise nobody comes back to finish the sets and get everything they need. There has to be some kind of societal taboo on doing things in a "weird" way to keep parents from piercing their children's ears with rusty nails and staple guns - thus, people act like anyone ordering safe, sterile home piercing kits for ears that are far superior to a mall gun must be a CRAZY PSYCHO.

The problems with this model are that, 1. people do not address problems with existing protocols and systems because they don't even understand that there are alternatives out there, and 2. people who do dig deeper and go for alternative lifestyles - even objectively superior ones - are marginalized for it.

There is probably also a fear of blame at work here; it's hard and scary to step out on a limb and do things differently, especially against the advice of "experts." The risk is all on YOU, then, if/when you screw up somehow. Nobody faults parents whose kids are shortchanged in schools; everyone looks for things to fault homeschooling parents for. I don't understand this mentality at all. Isaac's school sends home hand-outs with wonky layouts and typos all the time, but when I make grammar mistakes on the internet people immediately jump to "and she HOMESCHOOLS her CHILDREN? :(" A preschool teacher I was in college with last year didn't know what several words I wanted to use in our group essay meant, but she still questioned how I could be qualified to homeschool my own kids.

For me, the personal liability aspect of going out on a limb is neither here nor there, and that could just be because I, for whatever reason, feel the same sense of guilt and responsibility for trusting to norms when I shouldn't as I do for stepping out on a limb when I shouldn't. Meaning: it was really fucked up of me to listen to my OB and go for an early c/s with Isaac. I was so sick to death of that ultra hard pregnancy that I swept my own judgement and research under the rug and went along with medical advice based on my platelets and this and that, and then it turned out they weren't right about my dates or the level of platelet urgency. Next stop: newborn intubation and transport. By contrast, with Jake, I took a supplement for my platelets and carried him safely to 42 weeks (and later ended up writing about that for Midwifery Today). Right vs wrong can be subjective or even on a gradient, but whatever "wrong" is, it's "wrong" regardless of whether you are wrong with the rest of society or wrong out there on your own. I was wrong assuming everything was fine during the first hours of my labor with Elise, and maybe would have avoided all the problems she had if we'd had the damn repeat c/s weeks earlier like doctors told me I should. Or maybe some other thing would have went wrong! The point is, everyone tries to tell me I was totally justified listening to the doctor, with Isaac, and many (mostly anonymous) people have told me I was dead wrong NOT listening to doctors, with Elise... and that doesn't make any sense. I was actually doing the best I had with available information, with Elise, who suffered a rare anomaly nobody could have predicted; with Isaac, I was being selfish. Understandably selfish in some ways, but it is what it is.

Thus concludes my rambling for today; this dinner ain't gonna cook itself. I really forgot how spaced out and choppy trying to write an entry during the daytime can be.
altarflame: (deluge)
Conversation at my breakfast table goes something like...

Aaron: This ain't no dramallama!
Ananda: This is an alpacalypse!

And my late night computer time is them behind me, bickering....

Ananda: Aaron, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY, how many times do I have to say "Excuse me," move -
Aaron: *giggling uncontrollably*
Ananda: I will crack all your knuckles and put salt in your bed.
Aaron: *dead serious* Annie don't say things like that.
Ananda: So move.
Aaron: She put salt in my bed once, Mom.
Ananda: I did not! When?
Aaron: That time you said, don't poke me one more time or I'll put salt in your bed, and then I poked you again!
Me: Seriously guys?
Ananda: JUST MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!

Just below is our current favorite video clip, which we found while looking at JAWS scenes after I told them how JAWS TERRIFIED ME as a 5 year old that spent every weekend out on boats in (periodically) shark infested waters. None of this crap where kids can be comforted, "werewolves aren't real honey." My Dad was like, "Well yes there are really terrifying great white sharks and their entire jaws really do come out of their mouths like that as they kill and eat and they really are around here sometimes, but quit worrying." <---paraphrased

Anyway, cinematic gold, particularly from :43 on:


I'm not sure if that's better or worse than the scene where the JAWS shark pulls the helicopter down out of the sky and eats it...

Aaaaanyway. I think Aaron has a shadow on his upper lip, where a mustache will soon appear O_o

He is devastated about this, hates everything about puberty (he views it as this terrible thing that ruined his relationship with Annie so now they can't share a room anymore and she thinks she needs "privacy"), and goes out of his way to make sure nobody ever sees the 3 hairs per armpit that he is now sporting.

He's also starting to get the hang of word problems, and is irritated that I keep telling him he's using too much filler in his essays. And, he's in extra rehearsals for his hip hop class because Tawanna's signed them up for a competition next month that one or more of us will be travelling with him for (just to Orlando). This one requires knee pads.

Because of my own reading about gluten and autoimmune disorders, and the GAPS diet, and how it's naturally led me to all the kids who are on gluten free diets to help manage their sensory issues - I've been thinking a lot about how he eats. He would live on honey bread and french toast if I facilitated that. As it is, he wants 90% carbs all day long. He sees me making huge dietary changes and going to too many doctors' appointments, so I explained all the research on leaky guts, bacterial imbalances, problems with the modern American diet, the genetic engineering of wheat, etc. Including how it's controversial, most doctors either don't know about or don't agree with this stuff for the most part, anecdata vs studies and eastern and western medicine blah blah blah. The upshot is he's on a "low gluten" transitional diet right now; he can have one gluten thing a day. This is what I did for a couple of weeks before I went gluten free and he seems pretty on board; he really wants to be have less of some of the challenges that seem to be getting worse, rather than better, lately (being confused too often, no short term memory, frustration that leads to depression....his blood work last year basically led us to the doc asking me, "do you think he's just depressed and it's manifesting physically", which is part of why he's dancing again...)

I keep contemplating the idea of whether or not he needs to be tested for ADHD and/or on some kind of meds, for his own peace and happiness. It's tricky because he's not in school and we find ways to work around his problems as a homeschooler. Parents who he spends weekends with for sleepovers and his dance teacher (or flute teachers over last summer, acting teacher last fall) always act surprised and disbelieving if I mention he has SID/SPD - even though they are also often obviously accommodating it in various ways (like how one PATH Mom realized after I pointed it out that she would call out goodbyes to other kids in a group but for Aaron she'd put her hands on his shoulders and look in his eyes because he didn't hear her otherwise). Our end-of-school-year evaluator and our pediatrician just look at me for all the answers about how he's doing and trust whatever I say. It's kind of a lot to try to assess and do right on my own! But Aaron loathes the idea of counseling and has a really hard time opening up to most adults, and I am not at all sure counseling would be helpful or effective in the way it was with, say, Isaac, who was super eager and enthusiastic to go and loved every minute. It has definitely NOT been helpful when our pediatrician (who we all love and Aaron has known for many years...) asks him questions directly about how he feels...Aaron basically goes into "give the right answer" mode, weirdly stiff and with nothing to do with how he truly feels or what he might actually think. When I ask him WHY later he says he doesn't know and he realizes it's "weird" - he did the same thing with his virtual school teachers, he'd basically put on this formal voice and go, "Oh yes...ok...mmhmm...absolutely," during their phone conversations, and then have no idea what he was supposed to do when he hung up O_O

There will be days or weeks where it seems nothing is unusual about him and I need to just relax - then he almost steps out in front of a speeding truck and Elise grabs his hand and tells him he has to look both ways and wait to cross. I still won't let him ride his bike anywhere but our street, our block by himself because I honestly think he'd get hit by a car in no time otherwise. He'll run into a trash can if he sees a butterfly or spots a spiderweb. Sometimes I think of how he's turning 12 in a couple of months and feel downright disturbed about how completely impossible it seems that he could be ready for independent living in 6 years.

He's so addicted to minecraft. Sometimes I think it's a good thing - if a kid is going to be addicted to a video game, that is probably the best one to choose - but other times I cannot deal with how he thinks his whole life should be a default state of playing with just special breaks to do other things (like eat, go to the bathroom, sleep). We have log in screens on his laptop and make him earn an hour at a time here and there and it's like his entire universe orbits around those times.




Ananda has finally landed herself on a roller derby team; the South Florida Junior Roller Derby (ages 8-16).


If you haven't been following, this started when she saw the movie Whip It the same week that we met a roller derby team at the Florence and the Machine concert last fall. I happened to find her some fitting, high quality derby-style skates at a yard sale cheap, a couple of months back, and she was using them just around the neighborhood. Then our friend Gloria had her birthday party at a local match, and I took a bunch of pics and video for Annie and got details about their junior league which she was awesomely, over the top excited about.





Her first practice was 2 hours of sweaty, red-faced, challenging demands (stopping completely and momentarily on one and on both knees; "T-stops;" attempting to block other players; trying to "jam" for the first time by lapping and getting around girls who want to stop her) - all among total strangers with people watching on the bleachers. With a mouth guard in. I figured she would either love it or tell me we were never, EVER going back, when it was over...and she loved it. And has been raving about it ever since :) The other girls on the team are SO nice, and outgoing, and did this "Circle of Awesome" thing after the practice where three of them went on and on about how well she did for it being her first day. She is really, really excited about this.

Such the renaissance girl, going from cello sectionals to derby practice :p

Still and all, those things both happen on Sundays and for a lot of the rest of the week (barring TLC and PATH on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and times when the little kids are in bed and she wants to try to stay up late with me) it's this constant ridiculous battle to get her out of her room. I know she's "approaching that age," but good grief. I thought I spent all my time behind a closed door because of extenuating, dysfunctional and unsafe circumstances; I didn't know it can just unfold this way because someone is getting older O_o She doesn't lock the door and Elise is coming in and out all the time since it's her room, too, so her stuff is all in there - and a lot of the time she's just reading a book or cleaning the whole place top to bottom, or drawing or doing her schoolwork. But...come on! Then I feel sort of pointless and self conscious when I drag her out and there's no obvious benefit to her being out at all. I often have to make it a thing - "let's cook something," or "come see this video I found" but like as soon as we're done...she goes back in her room. And then there are the 45 minute locked bathroom door times constantly happening (which was also so me).

I don't want to write too much more about Annie, particularly any concerns I have, because she's got friends who know I blog at this point and it becomes infringement on her life or something.

Ananda approved sharing: She went on a sleepover with her friend/our babysitter Izzy a couple of weekends ago, and it was interesting that I felt significantly more nervous about her being alone with another girl than I do about the normal giant coed TLC sleepovers - because those have constant guaranteed multiple adult presences, with someone calling me about any and every thing for an ok, whereas Izzy has freedom to basically do whatever she wants. She's a really good kid and I love her mother, but she's older (just turned 15) and I knew there would be a lot of judgement calls falling to Annie. It was kind of awesome - she wanted to recount every minute of the weekend to me when she got back. "We looked up a butter beer recipe and walked to Publix to get the stuff - that's only a couple of blocks and it's a great neighborhood in the afternoon, so I figured it would be ok. It was DELICIOUS, we NEED to make butter beer. And she wanted to watch this show Merlin together so we looked up info and it's just a BBC show - with HORRIBLE effects, it's hilarious - and it is AWESOME, we watched the whole first season and part of the second and now I want to show it to you so much. Angela made falafel for dinner and it was really good, and I kept thinking, 'why is Neil Gaiman in my falafel', so I had to show them that episode of Arthur that he appears in..." and on and on.




So. I had some pretty messed up first time experiences last week. Basically, I went to get my blood drawn at Quest, which was fine, and a non-event, last Tuesday. Then late that night, I started pulling off that ridiculous perma-glue medical spellotape... you know, the medical heplock/IV type tape that leaves residue for WEEKS sometimes no matter how you scrub? I don't know why I couldn't just have a band-aid, but I had the tape, so I was wincing and ripping it off and yeah, glue-y stuff all over me. And my inner elbow sticking together from it was so fucking triggering, I just...freaked out. I had the first real panic attack of my whole life. I was scrubbing the living hell out of my skin with desperation to get the shit off of me, which is of course IMPOSSIBLE. Instead I just look like this a week later:

It only lasted a minute and I was like, ok, get yourself together, take a deep breath, and I went and put on a tight long sleeved shirt so I just wouldn't be able to feel that or stick to myself or whatever...but at this point I was having chest pains. I've never had chest pains before, but I figured, whatever, I got all stupid-crazy-upset, they aren't CHEST PAINS chest pains (whatever that means). Grant went to bed, I tried to stretch and breathe and got on the computer to just veg out and distract myself...more chest pains.

I researched "PTSD and chest pains"...they kept happening.

Finally 20 or 30 minutes had passed and they kept coming in contraction-like waves, and my left arm started going numb and tingly and I was like...seriously? Seriously. I mean. WTH.
SO. Off I went with G to the ER feeling like an idiot. Chest pains the whole way there. Whole hand going numb. I was trying to reason with myself like, can you please just get a grip so we don't have to go to the hospital? I mean you realize you have PTSD FROM THE HOSPITAL?!

But they kept up. And of course the first thing they do when you go in with chest pains, is an ekg, which requires them to put little STICKY THINGS ALL OVER YOU. I felt emotionally calmed down at this point - I had ever since I put the shirt on - it was just irritating and a little worrying that the pains weren't stopping and at the point of the little sticky things, I started laughing a lot, because. Good grief, the irony.

So that night they were like, "the blood we just drew shows you have inflammation", and I was like "yeah I'm being seen about that", but my white count was also high that night - which is interesting, since I now know it WASN'T on the Quest blood work just hours before...I've since been told you can actually have an immune response to stress that bad.

They made me do a chest x-ray and then said I had costochondritis, which is basically visible and painful inflammation of the connective tissue of the chest wall. Something that can be caused by arthritis, and amplified by stress, in other words. They ordered me Ativan and Percoset and I was so tensed into a tight rock ball and tired of the pains in my chest and convinced I'd never sleep again when I went home that I actually took them both. Which was kind of awesome, except then when I was reading about Ativan the next day I was like Um, NOPE (anterograde amnesia? cognitive impairment that NEVER GOES AWAY??). They wanted to prescribe me a ton of them and have me start taking anti-anxiety meds - based on a single first time incident? I mean I would consider that if this sort of thing started being a regular deal, but I can't help but feel an ongoing prescription is jumping the gun a bit at this point? I was totally chill with them in the ER, just recounting high stress and complaining of lingering after effects... Also, since I've been back to the regular doctor and explained this incident she can't believe they would give me percoset (narcotics with tylenol) and not an anti-inflammatory (which would actually fix the problem and not just make me too stoned to notice it).

Anyway. This whole thing has caused me to do a lot of thinking about my own preconceived notions about mental illness (I don't want to have it), psychiatric medication (I've never thought I'd need it even in a one time situation sort of way), and the surrounding taboos (because in the week since, prior to writing this, I have really not told almost anyone about this). It's sobering (perhaps that's the wrong word choice...) to feel really out of control of yourself, or like meds would be awfully helpful in a given situation. It makes me realize that I can think/act as though I'm fine with other people in my life actually having events related to their diagnoses, and their prescriptions, but I still hold on to something faintly superior about not participating in any of that. Which is obviously shitty of me. So this is my silver lining moment: I now know what it feels like to have a panic attack and to welcome a pill to make the anxiety go away, and thus I will...hopefully...be a better friend/psych down the road as a result.

I'm also looking at my poor Isaac with his anxiety disorder and just wanting so much to help him NOT FEEL LIKE THAT. Gah. He is doing great overall, better than ever in life, but he still gets super anxious multiple times per day, and works himself into a panic a couple of times a week.

I have so much more to say about all of this, but it's just too late tonight.




I was thinking of how I read so much science and world news most days, and watch educational stuff with the kids and on my own, and hash out and debate things with Grant, and just...have no urge to blog about any of it. I like consuming and pondering issues, events, discoveries, theories...it's almost all I talk about a lot of days, in my real outside-the-computer life. But it feels really irrelevant to archive in a personal history, and like less of a priority to share since it's obviously already out there, and also I just don't have the energy for internet debates or even anything approaching debate-like-interactions. I hate that shit, when it's with anonymous strangers. But...I'd like more adults to talk to about adult things! As if I even have time for that...
altarflame: (hospital)
I definitely unraveled a bit over the course of yesterday, being a mostly useless lump desperately wanting to go to sleep or at least hide under a blanket while Grant and all the children put shutters up, brought things inside, cleaned off the deck and porch and so on...until, late last night with the kids in bed, I was crying and being irritable with Grant and it all sort of clicked into place. Like, "OOooooooh......fuck."

Because, you know, I'd been up all day from 5am and then all night (til dawn), with Jake at the hospital in a freakin' mini surgery session that featured arguing with a guy in scrubs, and then we came home to hurricane prep, and it did some kind of time warp horseshit to me that made it feel just like when Jake was born - severe sleep deprivation, hospital, hurricane after hurricane. Walking through my house with my internal time clock all messed up, with shutters blocking the sun and the grill and benches and big plants on stands and discharge papers all cluttering the place up.

In case you don't know, what PTSD is, on a neurological level, is (bad) long term memories stuck in the short term memory part of your brain. When "triggers" set you off, and you call upon those memories, your brain and body act as though you're still stuck in the actual situation, often resulting in a fight or flight adrenaline rush - but it can be all kinds of different responsive feelings... I was walking around with phantom smells of Grant Sr's house and the crampy-sharp displaced shoulder pain I always get after surgery, hating everything, with this huge heavy irrational sadness crushing down on my chest as it did with Jake in the NICU miles away while storms raged outside. Jerking and twitching when anything touched my back where the hematoma was. Ugh.

In case it has ever not been clear, it is Jake's birth (October '05) that I have PTSD from. It was compounded and complicated in many ways, by the things that happened in 2007. But what actually gave me some kind of fucked up mental disorder that makes me feel crazy, was that whole 3-days-straight-of-hard-labor that ended with this awful hospital I've had dozens of caricature nightmares about. I think my brain - my whole self - was especially vulnerable to long term trauma because of the intense sleep deprivation and prolonged high pain levels, before I even arrived at Jackson. So being accused of terrible things at a yell by the staff, separated from Grant, threatened with everything from mortality to legality as people tried to physically force me to do things - having it be DIRTY with cops and CPS officers everywhere in a dangerous neighborhood, my baby catching penicillin-resistant staph from their facility and my previously 4 inch wide pencil line scar being this long, crooked, unrolling thing with my muscles hanging askew in front of my pelvis - the hematoma and talk of re-opening my back, the major hurricanes passing through that I had to be separate from my newborn for...even the half-dark hospital in that surreal dark Miami, with no working elevators after Katrina (or Rita or Wilma) with just 5 flights of stairs to get to my baby when it was hard to even lift my leg...

And... I'm fucking crying, sitting here all but 7 years later.

I continue to be vaguely ashamed of having PTSD, as I've always felt I have a higher mental/emotional constitution than PTSD tends to imply. I mean I've been through a lot of shit, and I haven't gotten PTSD from most of it...whatever. It is what it is, and perhaps I'll go get more emdr therapy sometime.

I'm leading up to something, here. I talked recently about how different I am, pre- and post-sepsis, you know? That's all a blur in some ways to me, "back there", between Jake being born and Elise being born - I have a lot of clear and distinct memories, and some of it was really good, but getting pregnant before Jake was a year old threw me for a fucking loop, and it's this trauma situation with his birth that made me PANIC when I got pregnant with Elise, you know? PTSD drove me to Boston to avoid anything similar as much as anything else, I just could not repeat that situation. In some weird ways Elise's birth was healing because although it was HORRIBLE in totally different ways, the staff of the hospital we were at were so respectful and caring, and that whole place was so clean and good, and I felt all along that they were truly helping us -

Although yeah obviously they also left a sponge in me. Life is complex, right?

I promise I am gradually circling my way back around to the point of this entry.

Last night I was in the bathroom, all wigging out, and I caught a scent - maybe real from packaging in my bathroom or maybe phantom, I have no idea, it could have been from the trash can I opened - of LUSH bath bombs. And it was SO GOOD, like, not just "wow LUSH smells good," it was this comforting thing to cling to like it could save me from my shuttered up bathroom where I couldn't lean back against the toilet seat or else it would push on my spine.

Because LUSH came so far after all of that, for me, and has NO ties to any of it. It's part of a whole different phase of my life where I don't get pregnant or have babies anymore.

That started me on this huge landslide of realizations. One really good friend of mine who read that entry I recently wrote, about being a different person before and after a trauma, was not cool with it, because her husband tried to tell her the same thing - that he was not the same person anymore after his Iraq war traumas. It's part of what broke up their family, and part of his justification for having affairs. And I remember her telling me how he listened to totally different music and went out with friends to bars for the first time in his life and I was like... yes. This makes perfect sense!

If you can be triggered into remembering things that completely fuck up your day, physically and emotionally - maybe your week or your months - by anything from a certain time period, you are going to try to find new shit to surround yourself with. You are going to naturally gravitate towards things you have no previous experiences with.

I was sitting on my bed, indian style, explaining this to Grant - walking around South Beach. Falling asleep on the beach. Rum. Florence and the Machine, LUSH, going to Key West alone just the two of us, preschool, Izzy babysitting - it's all like YES. Get me as far away from that shit as possible. I am a totally different person. Think about my nose ring and my publisher and tumblr, I have an IUD, ok.

Earlier in the evening, when he'd wanted to be all affectionate, I was just...grossed out. I don't even know how to explain this. It fucking felt like when we were having this close/intense awesome sex when Jake was in the NICU, this sex where foreplay was crying and we were really too tired, but, we needed something. So I was thinking, no. I'm not even jealous anymore, I like it when he goes on roadtrips now because I need some space and he wants to travel. He was in Maryland and we were skyping and it's NOTHING like when we were teenagers at his father's house, think about texting pictures back and forth and walking through the sex store browsing toys and watching True Blood together and Ok, there, now I'm turned on. THis can work, we bought this bed at Rooms to Go, this song wasn't even out back then, this is a whole other part of my life.

I think it's fairly common knowledge that PTSD can make marriages and family life difficult a lot of the time - especially with war vets - but (I think?) people are usually connecting that with violent or hostile behaviors, an inability to really connect or be intimate, just general "PTSD symptoms" that add up to something along the lines of extreme moodiness. But this is not just that - what I'm talking about is this very urgent need to distance yourself from things that take you back and, thus, will make you hurt badly. I'm 100% sure this factors into how trapped I felt in my marriage a year and a half ago, and how overwhelmed with motherhood I get sometimes in the past couple of years.

It's like these people that I love are tying me down to this traumatic response, and I can't dig myself completely out of it and be safe, as long as my life is intimately wrapped up with theirs and they keep unwittingly sending me back, mentally.

In that vein, I found myself thinking, "Oh yes we should DEFINITELY move to Maryland, I do not ever want to prepare for another hurricane again, I mean NEVER."

I get so pissed, about being sad about this shit AGAIN. Like, wtf, really? This? AGAIN? I hate the work of unravelling that it is in fact this, again, that I have to do before I even realize it, and that I need to realize before I can move on and stop acting like a crackhead. I think this is the second big PTSD "episode" I've had this year, both having been brought on after multiple trips to the hospital as well as various repetitive environmental factors (unexpected ER/OR scenes on shows, people forwarding me news stories about traumatic birth and birth intervention statistics, pregnant friends planning their births online and IRL, etc). Enough of it piles up and it buries me, until I have to dig myself back out again. The other time...I feel like it was around March. I get little trigger-y uncomfortable stuff here or there more regularly but it doesn't impact my life or relationships.

I like that it's been almost 7 years in a certain potentially therapeutic way. Maybe I can sit around meditating on how every 7 years we are completely new organisms, as far as cell regeneration goes, and how credit/debts are forgiven on that time line. Or maybe that's all ridiculous. But I need to get down to some kind of new age, affirmations-on-the-mirror business because I am so over this and don't want to fall down this hole over and over for the rest of my life.

On that note, I am going to clean the hell out of this messy bedroom until it is one part of my house that is not cluttered or hurricane-y.

Did I mention it isn't even RAINING?!
altarflame: (Default)
My last week was characterized in many ways by our fridge being broken. It's kind of unreal what an upset to life it was. Financially, ugh, it was awful tossing hundreds of dollars in food in the trash (after a day of bizarre hodge podge "don't let things go to waste!!" eating) - and then buying by the meal for a family of 7 is so crazily expensive. I spent what I usually would on three weeks worth of groceries. Finally, going shopping today with it fixed, I was starting from scratch and had to spend way more than normal to replenish. My sister was absolutely wonderful despite having an (attachment parented) infant, an (intense) toddler and a (high needs) preschooler; she came over with everything necessary and helped cook us dinner one night, brought me $40 out of the blue another day because she unexpectedly won money from a scratch-off, and then today when we were talking about shopping on the phone she had me run by her house for her surplus carrots, celery, butter and olive oil...apparently shopping in bulk for a smaller, younger family yields "extra," a concept I'm unfamiliar with.

I still spent $705 at BJ's today...despite $50 worth of coupons...but we'll come to that later.

Logistically, I was going to the store 1-3 times per day, starting first thing in the morning before kids were up, as well as dealing with lovely side effects like the cooler I filled with ice leaking all over our dining room, and scrubbing out our fridge and freezer which STANK once they'd been sealed up room temperature for 2 days. There was also the 2 hour google-a-thon researching what we could do to fix it...because we really could not afford to call someone out, at all -

Which is partially because of things like how we had to have the van and the car at Goodyear TWICE EACH last month, and still the car has NO AC O_O - and we got a letter on the front door one day, saying the city had detected a huge spike in our water consumption due to a 3 gallon per minute leak on our side that we were responsible for both fixing, and paying for the inflated use bill they'd be sending us...that one was enough to send a cold chill down my spine. THREE GALLONS PER MINUTE? Luckily we have a plumber neighbor who helped us out...and luckily they know us at Goodyear and the biggest car repair bill...was able to be put on a payment plan. Suffice to say it is not a happy money time.

Grant is also working extreme hours, with his extreme commute, so for the most part I'm on my own with the kids. And, this week, the fridge.

Which is why I feel like some kind of awesome fucking ninja because I was able to diagnose our problem (pull-out bottom freezer was off track, leading to an insufficient seal when closed, causing the compressor to go crazy and freeze through all the pipes and tubes), do the initial experimental cure (get the fridge unplugged and then watch as, sure enough, copious amounts of gross water pooled under it over the next 24 hours), and then put the freezer back together properly so that it wouldn't happen again.

I do not normally stop to appreciate refrigeration unless we've just had a hurricane. And there is a possible one on the way - that would hit while my husband is out of the state for his job - and so I'm familiarizing myself with our shutters and lining up a mental list of people to call if I need help.

Anyway, I really appreciate my fridge right now. It seems especially luxurious, being sparkling clean on the inside and only filled with brand new things we really wanted in there.




I've been devoting a lot of mental energy, research, conversation, paperwork and calls/emails to the kids' educations for the coming year, too. I'm outsourcing more than I ever have before, but I feel really good about each of them getting stuff that's really tailored to their best interests. I also feel some level of relief that I'm not solely responsible for all of it, especially since the coming school year features my surgery.

Ananda - Staying homeschooled, but now with Marine Science, U.S. Government, Latin and guitar online via Florida Virtual Schools K-12 program, which is a pretty cool resource. She'll have teachers she's emailing and talking to on the phone and be responsible for turning in a certain amount of work per week, which for guitar will include audio and video recording. The science course has a lot of multimedia content, library reading and a field trip. She's using Grant's guitar for this. We're sticking with Kumon math, since she loves it, and will be focusing most of language arts on book reports and analyses, since she reads constantly. She was able to audition into GMYS's Young Mozarts during camp this summer, so I'm trying to figure out some wild way to get a freakin' cello of her own now (they're only provided by GMYS during the preparatory classes and beginner camps). There are some rent to own programs in the area that might work...sort of...since I'm gonna make them. I'm also making her take long walks and bike rides with me often because she can get really, reeeeally sedentary if I let her. I'm on the lookout for a PE program for her, actually, much to her dismay.

Aaron - Staying homeschooled, but doing Earth Science, U.S. Government, latin and (standard 6th grade) math online via Virtual School. I've been stocking him up throughout the summer with reading he likes, so he can do more writing for me based off of it - Aaron hates fiction but loves poetry, comics and general nonfiction. Right now he has a lot of new Shel Silverstein and Calvin and Hobbes, a thick stack of National Geographic back issues, and a few other odd things (like the Book of Useful Information). He's been promised science experiments and will be auditioning for Young Sousas and Concert Band with GMYS later this month, on flute. He also wants to take their new percussion prep class, and we're still up in the air about him dancing. I'm planning to make him utilize his camera and YouTube account, as well, in several different ways.

Isaac is going to third grade at a local charter school. He's extremely happy to have been placed in a combined 2nd and 3rd grade class with his friend Naja (Kristin's daughter), and one of their two teachers comes very well recommended (don't know the other one). He's going to keep playing violin with GMYS, and is supposed to start counseling again in October (grant funding/rotating sessions and breaks thing...).

Jake is doing 1st grade at home. He's very academically advanced and really creative with his time, and so at 6 I don't plan on doing a ton of structured stuff with him. We have some new BrainQuest and Kumon books we'll work through together, and we'll talk and go out places and all the things we always do. I am trying to get him into martial arts; he does NOT want to do music anymore, and is really eager to do that instead. I've found a place funded by the Children's Trust, which kind of blows my mind - they fund GMYS, and the Institute where Isaac's been evaluated and gotten counseling, AND this? If my books ever get big and I am rolling in cash, they're gonna get a whole lot of it. These martial arts classes still cost money, but it's extremely reasonable.

Elise is attending Kindergarten at the same school as Isaac (and our friends Darrien and Naja, and some of our neighbors, and some of her preschool class...) - it's until 2 instead of 3 like normal school. I wish they offered a half day option, but as it is they do have a lot of early release days throughout the year that are half days (I think I counted 16 on the calendar?). She's also going to start ballet through - GET THIS - a free local outreach of the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, i.e. the MIAMI CONSERVATORY, like, how is this free and local? The Miami Conservatory is extremely prestigious! And, up in Miami! Anyway, Kristin found out about this and Naj has been going and loving it. Elise has been talking whimsically about ballet for 6 months now, mostly just because it's pretty, and I'm sure she'll have fun. She's also sticking with violin and will be going to those weekly prep classes with Isaac now that she's 5 (she's in beginner GMYS camp with Isaac and Jake right now and doing really well, though she's been home sick mostly cuddling with me and Annie, nursing and reading books for the past two days due to some feverish illness she caught there).

I'm doing my last semester at Miami Dade College this fall, graduating in December. And, we're gonna be continuing with TLC and PATH. We are probably starting the ball rolling to move sometime soon, but it's gonna be a slow rolling ball that involves decisions about selling the house, actually selling a house in this market, finding a new place, etc...I don't expect this to be upon us before New Years at the very earliest, if then. Surgery in the Spring, and I'm applying to UM and FIU to start in the fall of 2013.




Ananda and Aaron and I sat around the dining table for an hour or so the other night, talking about personality. How so much of it is innate - I was cracking them up with examples of how each of the kids in this family is still so much like they were as an infant, and they were filling me on an episode of Radiolab they listened to with Grant on dna in pregnancy and personality formation - how they think it's really interesting, how exposure to radiation changes your dna and can, thus, change your personality.

I was telling them how after I got out of the hospital last, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was "different." That I thought and felt differently about many things than I had before, far beyond PTSD symptoms. It's harder for me to concentrate now, and yet I have to concentrate much more to accomplish things that didn't use to require focus. My belief systems are different, partially because the whole experience left me questioning everything, down to my identity and the purpose of my life.

There came a point when I started researching sepsis and brain damage, and found tons and tons of information because that is a real thing - an infection travelling through your blood stream means there are a bunch of dangerous bacterium flowing through your brain and trying to take over, just like every other part of your body. Apparently many people have much worse trouble than I do with this; I mean I can still wonder about it, research it, understand what's going on and then make a relevant blog post.

These things are hard to quantify, obviously - we're all getting older and growing and changing as people all the time. But life - not aspects of it, LIFE - feels different to me, now. Since then.

I was telling the kids how I remember very clearly how satisfied and fulfilled I was by cooking big breakfasts and lunches, baking for tea and changing and washing diapers, reading to everyone and sitting by the bathtub while kids played. But I don't feel satisfied and fulfilled that way, anymore. I feel bored out of my mind in the house a lot of the time, restless and angsty, or I get really frustrated with my inability to create structure from thin air without accountability and just waste hours and hours for weeks unless I force myself into some kind of outside-the-house thing. It isn't depression; I'm very happy out of the house doing things and sometimes I'm having a good time, here, too - sometimes a really great time, but...my joy comes from different places, now.

Sepsis brain damage, that's a big thing to consider or take on, I mean...ok...maybe being forced to stop having kids, or maybe my existing kids getting bigger, or maybe so much time doing the same things until it was wearisome, or even having a lot of my autonomy as a mother threatened and taken away (through enforced separation, the inability to lift, etc) have altered my perceptions. Maybe it's all these things!

But Ananda and Aaron knew exactly what I was talking about and thought it made an awful lot of sense. Which is a little sad, and makes me stop and ponder how TERRIBLY TRAGIC and awful it would seem to "old me," that new me is...different. But new me, being different, is pretty ok with the change.

Grant nodded like it wasn't even a surprise as we talked about this, saying "Yeah you're a totally different person," as though that's just very obvious.


Sometimes, here on Livejournal, I worry that I'm going to be disappointing or at least disillusioning to my long term readers - I feel like an imposter in certain ways. But, it is what it is.


I have tons more to say, but my eyes are nearly crossing from tiredness AND my sister has completely distracted me via facebook chat :p
altarflame: (Default)
It's just after noon. Today I've:

-gotten Elise and I ready and fed breakfast, filled out more financial aid crap online for college
-taken her to preschool...her new preferred mode of getting there is for me to bike so she can run the entire way. I'm kind of amazed at how fast she is, I don't ever stop pedaling.
-went to my spanish class, took final exam, consulted with teacher about remaining assignments
-biked home enjoying good weather, and spent some good time with Jakey - he's building cool things with K'Nex every day and we've started taking pictures of all of them to build a K'Nex album
-"morning hug"ed and medicated Aaron, and had a stupid (<---to me, so over the repetition) talk with him about his chores for the day getting done
-been completely confused by Isaac having an insane meltdown about my not making oatmeal today...it was totally irrational and involved things like him going back to bed, screaming at people to get out of his room. I was sitting there rubbing his back trying to get some info out of him and the best he could do is that sometimes he knows things aren't that sad but he can't stop being really sad anyway, which is something I guess.
-consulted with Grant by phone about how crazy he was acting, and left a message with the psychologist about when we get the evaluation results
-baked up 3 dozen strawberry chocolate chip muffins for us to have for tea a couple of days in a row and send with Grant to work, and fried a bunch of eggs, sauteed mushrooms, sliced tomatoes and toasted bread, for lunch - had all the kids make Get Well cards for Pa from the kitchen
-went on the bike, with Ananda on the longboard, and picked Elise up

I keep wanting to do a real update because I have a lot to say. But there is just not a lot of time. I have a MOUNTAIN of online coursework to do today, that is due today, because I've left it for the last minute....I mean damn, this last weekend I spent 4 hours studying and 2.5 hours actually IN algebra, and did a take home spanish test, and watched a play and wrote an essay about it for humanities. The end of the semester is hitting hard I guess. I mostly feel good about it. But I have two local friends I'm blowing off constantly, a publisher that just warned me to prepare for a blitz of calls and emails and we've really been getting good homeschool time in.

Rest of today:
-making a big pitcher of tea, and have Elise make a card too, and demanding that everyone do various schoolwork while Elise lays down for a nap
-package, address and mail the cards
-"Reading Hour" with Isaac, where we read to each other, because he is really having a hard time and very behind in reading and I can't figure out what's going on with that (his vocabulary is advanced, his math is way ahead, he's motivated because he needs things read to him constantly...)
-tea, outside
-By this time it'll be 3 or 3:30...Isaac and everyone else doing some other schoolwork while I start doing my school crap, right up until I need to start making dinner (which really isn't until like 7 for us, so we can eat at 8ish when Grant gets home)

And undoubtedly I'll be doing more of it in a panic after we're done eating (it's usually all due by either 11 or midnight).




In my last entry, in the thread of ridiculously tl;dr comments, I realized that what's been going on with me is OBVIOUSLY that I went to the hospital and have been all messed up ever since...once I realized it was "just" (haha) triggered PTSD - after the HELLO *headdesk* hour - I had some initial adjusting that involved about a dozen bouts of crying, telling Grant a bunch of stuff he already knew, and some insomnia. But since then, I feel so much better...scared as hell sometimes, but also PRESENT and myself. I was dissociating really really bad to not let the ER trips and surgical consults bother me at all, and to try to plan my needed surgery asap, like dissociating to the point that I was basically a zombie. I was also doing this crazy russian roulette style "blame everything" thing, like just ready to pin the misery on ANYTHING (diet, Grant, thyroid, anything) rather than actually process having had tests done and going back into the OR sometime soon. I was seriously more ready to cope with the idea that I might be bipolar, than start facing Real Medical Shit.

The more you know, I guess.

I am so ready to just have this shit DONE. I don't know if it's possible to imagine the degree to which that sounds like heaven to me - to just be like 6 weeks out and healed up and have it be fucking over. If you go to the dentist, or know you have to, the worst part is always the anticipation, right? Well, this is like YEAR FIVE of anticipating O_O. Over it.
altarflame: (Default)
UGH, I am such a MESS right now!

My mother just called me, my grandfather (Pa of Nana and Pa) had his heart surgery today and there were touch and go complications, and now they're in "wait and see" mode, and dude:

1. She just described surgery and the ICU setup and procedures and complications in depth to me, which is not something I really enjoy, and she is obviously needing me to make it better, tell her what to do next, and so on, which is something I try hard to avoid these days.

2. I'm really not ready for Pa to die :/

3. Nana is on pins and needles in a nursing home and can basically never go home if he's gone

4. I'm not sure I can fucking handle it if someone's else's planned surgery goes radically awry. Keeping in mind that my Nana only had strokes because they screwed up hers. And I still need more. Because someone screwed up some of mine in the past.

This really sucks.
altarflame: (Default)
Man. I am really glad for a lot of things but sometimes I feel like I'm smothering/drowning/suffocating/desperate under the triple whammy that is marital strife, doubting my faith and having this major surgery/medical issues hanging over my head. Any one of those things is really an awful lot to deal with and sometimes I feel the ball of tense hard coiled muscle where my shoulders meet my neck, or I am sitting up in bed unable to sleep again, or I am dragging and without energy during the day, and it's like...I don't know if I can do this. UGH!

If you want to read this part feel free:
I don't talk about it a lot here, my medical stuff (severe intestinal hernia, major abdominal diastastis) )

I've started this whole metabolic/thyroid/anti-yeast support regimen to try to jump start my energy levels and weight losing...it involves B vitamins, probiotics and coconut oil every day, way more low/no mercury seafood, eating more early in the day, and excercising a ton. I'm always doing these things that I feel I can do to control some part of my life and in a way they help - in another they just seem pathetic. Like I'm using whitestrips on my teeth because all that Starbucks was starting to stain them yellowy. Great, you know, I can't actually afford a dentist right now and think I need a couple of fillings and I have this massive squared lumpy jutting belly but hey, my smile will be white! I've got some great LUSH conditioner (R&B) that I think is really helping my hair too. And it smells great.

I only think like that in my more cynical moments. That I have every day ;)

Kids are doing great, and making me happy. A couple of days ago I had an unnanounced emotional meltdown/nap. When I came out of my bedroom and hour and a half later, Ananda, Aaron and Isaac were playing monopoly in the library and Jake and Elise were playing Candy Land in the tv room. Jake and Elise voluntarily cleaned up their game and then it started raining. They asked to play in the rain and when I said, "Yeah, sure" they ran for the BACK OF THE HOUSE FOR TOWELS AND A CHANGE OF CLOTHES before they went outside. I am amazed by them everyday.

There have been many epic Jenga throwdowns. It gets pretty hilarious.


Lesson on primary colors today. She really REALLY likes making orange, purple and green.


Aaron's new tomato hornworm caterpillar. This thing is a beast, and apparently it's also eating potato and pooping all over my dining table. He has to have a few inches of dirt ready for it in it's (huge) jar because they burrow down and bury the crysalis they make. But first they turn a yellowy peach tinted color.




She's gonna be spending the weekend at the Seaquarium with her Girl Scout troop. She's got her whole packing list packed and ready. They made tshirts for the event at the meeting on Monday evening.


You can't really see the pencil drawing he's interspersing paint with, but the two little boys learned about "mixed media".





I feel like I live in a montessori school :p I can see astronomy cards, sequencing cards, a pencil, a workbook on a piano and wooden blocks in this shot...I didn't realize the dragon could hold math gnomes.


I keep thinking about new things from Sucker Punch night before last. My mind is blown that that was Violet Baudelaire a la Series of Unfortunate Events playing the lead role, and also that she was actually the one singing on many of the crazy awesome remade tracks (like the Eurythmic's "Sweet Dreams" and the Pixies' "Where is my Mind?") The whole soundtrack to that movie is BAD.ASS. and all I've been listening to today (via YouTube). After a brief re-cap of the plotline and some comparative photo viewing (since they've seen Violet in SOUE many a time) A and A are DYING to see the damn movie, and I am like. No. No way. I do let them hear the mind-blowing songs though, like this cah-razy Armageddon and Queen "I Want it All/We Will Rock You" mashup:


They recognize most of those songs from original versions, like all the ones mentioned here, and the Bjork one. They didn't know "White Rabbit" but do know Emiliana Torrini (who covers it), and the fact that it references Alice in Wonderland is good enough for them.

I totally think Sucker Punch has got cult classic all over it, though. It's got so much room for analysis and so many critics arguing over whether it's garbage or great. And would probably be great fun for my oldest two to see when they're like...12 and 13 or something. I think it was actually only rated PG-13?


Random: I'm really glad that Ananda seems to be past the worst of her place value troubles, FINALLY. Geeeeeeez that was one of the last big dyslexia struggles we were dealing with but it has been a math issue in all kinds of ways for years. Now she really seems cool with it, up into the millions, and it is awesome to see her doing assignments that involve rounding and estimates to the ten thousands or whatever with no trouble at all. We just started doing a math review period as a break from division - which she is super good at, no troubles at all - and I was pleasantly surprised to find this just...isn't hard anymore. Like when I suddenly noticed last year that she never wrote numerals backwards anymore.
altarflame: (Default)
I'm looking for contributors who have been traumatized by medical procedures, particularly surgeries, and would like to share their stories through the book that I'm writing. This can be as anonymous as you need it to be. I do NOT mean birth-centric or solely female stories; those are fine, but everyone's experiences of all traumatic surgery are welcome. I will of course contact you to negotiate how I would and whether I will include your experiences before simply using them. You reserve the right to approve my presentation and will be notified before the book is published.

If you are a (pediatric or standard) nurse, doctor, therapist or simply have a loved one who you have watched suffer through surgery related trauma, your input would also be highly valued!

So far I have Nancy Wainer on board to write the forward and am cooresponding with an artist who's considering allowing me to use her images.

Email me at altarflame@yahoo.com
altarflame: (Default)
Elise may be the only person in this house with a firm grasp on reality :p

Earlier today she was talking to me about families. She said, "Me and you, Daddy, Annie, Aaron, I-yaac, Akey family, right?" "Yep," I replied. "Uncle Bob no family" she added, in a tone that implied this was obvious and silly to even state. "Uncle Bob is our family!" I said, and I tried to explain the difference between an "immediate" or "close" family and an extended family, and relatives, with examples of other aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. She said, as though it was in her favor, "But Uncle Bob no love me." She was not sad about it, it was like if she said, "The van is blue". I told her he does and she acted like I was an idiot and as we talked it out it was obvious that as Bob does not hug, kiss, tickle, or otherwise physically interact with her...OR get excited about her in real or faked ways...OR smile back at her, etc...she feels that he is not (verb) "love"ing her, and is ok with that, and I wondered how much I should really argue about the point. BUT THEN she said, "Cuz we found Uncle Bob, buy him, he here." "Uh, come again? You think we bought Uncle Bob?" "Find him where he was before, and pay money, get him our home".

Basically she sees my brother as our indentured servant. I am probably a bad person for finding this HILARIOUS BEYOND ALL RECKONING and laughing until I cried. To my credit, I did then try to explain to her that Bob grew up with me, and we were both Grandma's kids, and he's just living with us for awhile so he can go to JobCorps, etc. She wasn't having it though (he looks totally different than Laura and I and acts polar opposite from either of us...sigh).


Later tonight she saw my Yahoo! avatar when I was checking my email and asked, "Who that is?" I told her it's supposed to be like a cartoon version of me but that I know it doesn't really look like me at all. She said, "No, cuz you - wait no say that cuz mean!" She stopped herself from finishing because she didn't want to be mean. I told her you shouldn't tell people things just to be mean but that she can be honest with me and I'm ok with it. "Well...you more fat." Ha! I swear.

It blows my mind, the dichotomy between her simplistic speech and her complex ideas.




I have been having a variety of problems adding up to a sort of malaise I'm struggling with. Including but possibly not limited to:

-Questioning my faith and persuing but hesitating over Catholicism
-my unrequited nymphomania
-a resurgence of weird PTSD things that are mostly manifesting as bizarre and innapropriate emotional responses to situations that should not be bugging me
-small but persistent struggles in my marriage
-my "restless energy", which is all tied up with realizing how little I've done in the last couple of years and the changes I'm trying to make in my life, which require seeing how far I have to go...

Really all these things overlap and intertwine and I'm not saying the half of it, but. I have been moody, and as I talk things out with friends and go round and round with Grant and search myself and try to take it one day at a time, I keep finding myself more and more open to all kinds of ideas and concepts I didn't use to be - from drinking and getting tattoos to questioning previously fundamental stuff and putting my kids in school. Quarter life crisis, I don't know...I get really, really deeply and profoundly overwhelmed at times, or feel sure I'm failing in big ways. It can get pretty dark.

I am taking steps to try to "get better", all kinds of steps LIKE

-just got a YMCA membership so I can start swimming/excercising away some of this angst
-trying to find more writing and agent stalking time as that helps tremendously
-dragging myself to church every week and praying at least sometimes whether I want to or not
-doing Eat to Live every other month this year to hopefully improve my weight and health
-just got back in touch with an old counselor looking for free/cheap resources so I can talk to somebody
-trying to do whatever I can "for me" that works within our family - like, my friend Jess came down and stayed at our house for a couple of days during which I was out with her a lot, and we went and got my nose repierced and I LOVE it. Last night I went to a "Healing From Traumatic Birth" workshop Nancy was holding (she's having her yearly month in Fl)

But I still suck to be around sometimes, and when questioned I still have a lot of tired and repetetive answers, and I am not really sure it's getting any better or even not getting worse, as things stand.

The point of this whole section of this entry is that Grant updated his facebook saying for people to pray for his wife as she needs healing. And I love him. And I understand he meant it in the most sincere and honest way. And I am really not even mad at him for it.

BUT, I have already had five different (in some cases very awkward) people im'ing me wondering what is wrong and my mother calling on the phone in a tizzy. I haven't been writing about this on the internet that much - and certainly not on facebook - because I don't want to write about it on the internet, and certainly not on facebook. This is an ongoing source of tension between us, because he wants to be able to be freely honest online just like I am, but his honesty frequently crosses my comfort zones, and then I feel like it's not fair to control him when it's not like I go asking permission to talk about our family here (to a much broader audience). I hated his formspring, and sometimes I hate his lj, which I know is not fair, but I can't exactly help it. People inevitably go to him from here hoping for info I would not release but that he might let slip and it's irritating as shit.

Blah.




My day today went:
-get up at 7, bleary eyed from only 3 hours of sleep, and drive Grant to work (Bob still home at this hour)
-come home, wake up all the kids one by one, feed them breakfast (this is still really hard as we are still midway through pushing our family schedule back about 4+ hours earlier than it used to be)
-assign chores, get them set up with some activities, warn them about what's happening, grab the phone, and lay down for a nap that is basically impossible to even consider without my brain screaming SEX SEX SEX just because I have a quiet moment alone
-wake up SHOCKED AND FREAKED that like 5 hours had passed O_o
-go to the gas station, and the bank drive thru, with all of them, and then swing back by the house for forgotten paperwork I could not find without calling Grant at work (which is not really a big deal, but took many tries as he was not in his office)...call the IRS on the cell en route to deliver paperwork, about our tax return and some snafu. Take everyone to Target and get some much needed new clothes for Jake and Isaac, and let Isaac spend some of his birthday money.
-Everyone picking up Grant from work...when he got in the van (after I got out to hug him), Jake and Elise were asleep with their heads flopped forward in the middle row and Ananda, Aaron and Isaac were passing a cannister of nuts back and forth and reading "Beekeeping for Dummies" together.
-Sit around wasting time while he took Jake for Daddy and Jake time bike riding at the Villages
-Get frustrated with G about how neither of us wanted to do anything for like 45 minutes, then we went together (Bob was back home by this point) and took more laundry to Grant Sr's to do, ordered our new washer at Lowe's, got trash bags from WD, and talked about how miserable I am until he was truly worried
-I made a great dinner and was irritated that he played video games instead of eating it, then got over it and just enjoyed eating with the kids, then snuggled with and nursed Elise until Grant came in and Jake and Annie came in and we had a massive family bed pile that was really nice...
-enforced tooth brushing and bed going and did some reading to them as G drifted off
-putzed around on the internet and phone fielding questions about G's status update and eating strawberries with nutella

We also have to interact with my sil everytime we go do laundry, and she is OUT. OF. IT. to a degree I have never previously seen (which is saying something...) Nobody can tell if it's the methadone she's claiming to be going to get everyday or some other thing she's sneaking with the methadone money or if she had a second stroke or...what...but...whoa. There is a new insane story everytime I go over there, too, that is not really right to share.


Next up: pictures...
altarflame: (hospital)
Two things happened today that got me thinking.

First, Elise was looking at our photo collages, and despite my strategic cropping of infant pictures she still started to pick up on the fact that some of them were obviously taken in hospitals. She immediately got very worried looking and asked, "Hosp-tal? WHY? Happened?"

I realized in that moment, as I considered my answer, that Elise has no basis whatsoever for even knowing that babies would ever be born in a hospital. She knows Aaron went to the hospital when he broke his arm, and when he stepped on a nail, and she knows Nana was in the hospital when she had something bad happen to her brain (a stroke), and that's it.

Moreover, she actually has a really awesome, positive view of birth that suddenly made me SO HAPPY - because she knows Aunt Laura pushed her baby cousin Elizabeth out in her own bed at home with a midwife. And she watched Chrysanthemum push out seven kittens in my bed.

So when she saw pictures of newborn babies in hospitals she assumed something horrible must have befallen them.

AND SHE WAS RIGHT.

(whether speaking of Isaac, born premature after a misdated pregnancy and scheduled repeat cesarean and rushed to a NICU; or Jake, born big and healthy before catching penicillin-resistant staph from the hospital nursery and being put in quarantine as they flew in meds; or herself, as she had true legitimate problems that originated outside of the hospital).

Can I just say, I look at that picture of me holding her, that first small real smile that reaches my eyes because she's not hooked up to anything and she's coming home with us soon, she's AWAKE and she's nursing and won't need a g-tube and she looks at me with recognition, and smiles, and I think at past-me, "You don't even know you have a big ol' laparatomy sponge inside of you. You don't even know what you should be praying about, yet". And let me tell you: she wouldn't have even cared, at that point. It would not have even registered.

*sigh*




Way worse, far more important:

This is one of several articles out there right now by or about individual medical students who are speaking out about the practice of it being routine for med students to practice doing (vaginal) pelvic exams on unconscious women while they're down for other surgeries. This is done without consent or knowledge, often by big groups who crowd into the room.

http://www.theunnecesarean.com/blog/2010/8/30/medical-student-wont-perform-pelvic-exams-on-anesthetized-pa.html

The last time I saw something like this, it was from Canada, and reported by Americans who said that would just never happen here in the US. This article says something very different, as well as talking about how this is a worldwide problem but that public outcry can and does change it - this has been eradicated in New Zealand and is being fought against in England.

Highlight from the article:

So, how can a woman prevent non-consensual pelvic exams happening to her?

All you can do is ask and hope that your doctor will honor your request. Once you’re asleep, however, you have no power. And what a powerless thing for women to know this goes on and think, “Well, I’m just going to have to trust my doctor.”

What if you don’t trust your doctor?

Women can write on their bikini line, “I do not give consent for medical students to practice pelvic exams on me” in marker. Then as soon as the clothes come off or the robe is lifted and all the medical students are getting on their latex gloves they can see that message. And that will stop them.

I was inspired to think up this tip because of patient advocates like Bernie Siegel, M.D., who recommend that patients use a magic marker to write “Wrong leg” or “Wrong arm” on their healthy body parts to prevent them their doctor from performing surgery on the wrong limb - a common mistake.


There is also quite a lot of interesting info in there about how first and second year med students are almost universally horrified by the idea of doing a pelvic exam on an unconscious patient without their consent or knowledge, but 3rd and 4th years are usually fine with it, and most doctors require it. Even though it's deemed unethical by the AMA and has been made illegal in Massachusetts (where the guy in that article claims it also still happens "all the time").

What is this process by which people become so unfeeling and lacking in basic empathy that they can no longer see someone laid out unconscious as a real person? Is there a way to circumvent that while allowing them to be able to do their jobs well and leave it there when they go home?

I think it's important for people to know about this, and tell everyone they're not ok with it when they have occasion to go in for sugery, and for med students to ban together in groups to refuse to do it. I understand there is so much on the line for any one med student and it probably feels almost impossible to say "no" (though I'm cheering for those who do).




You might guess that a story like that has the ability to really bother someone who's had tons of surgery and needs more in the future. If so, YOU'RE RIGHT.

Just thinking about it makes me go very, very still - in mind and body - and become aware of my breathing. A way to hold back the flood of fury, and fear.

I believe that having people cut you open and put their hands and instruments inside of you has tremendous potential for mental, emotional and spiritual damage - often justified or outweighed by serious medical issues, but still real. Quantifiable, tangible damage to peoples' psyches, that we don't know how to quantify yet. These pelvic exams are just another layer and level of the depression nurses know to expect following peoples' surgeries, but not how to explain.

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