Monday, October 27, 2008

Honey, I ate my doctor!

I ripped the flesh off his arms. My tiger jaws crushed his head and his brains squirted out like a popped zit. I felt good. Then, something shifted.

It was my second trauma therapy session with the new therapist. First, we went through all kinds of "resourcing", where you think of the support you had in your life, or something else positive in your life. For me, one of the big supports in my life was my little ol' Italian grandmother, who my friend Eurydice at Geeks in Rome duly nicknamed "Grandma Cookie". As the name infers, she was a wonderful cook, and she was always making Eurydice and I cookies as kids. At the time of my session, I wasn't sure this was going to be a good resource for me, because all I could think of was how depressed I was that she was no longer around.

At some point in the session, we focused in on the feeling in my body. I was angry, but frustrated that I could do nothing about what happened. I was told to focus in on the energy of that, and guided to tune into my animal instincts. I wanted to rip my doctor to shreds. My therapist handed me a scarf and told me to go for it, to bite into the scarf like I would my doctor. If I hadn't already read some of Peter Levine's book "Waking the Tiger", a pivotal book on trauma therapy, I would have thought she was nuttier than a fruitcake. Levine writes about how animals are not traumatized like human beings are. They learn to shake it off. Humans have the same animal brain, as well as our "human" part, the neo-cortex. Levine says that we get traumatized when the energy that a traumatic event evokes gets stuck. This might be an event where one could not escape harm, like surgery or a car accident. Levine's therapy, called Somatic Experiencing, works, I think, by touching into those same animal instinctual responses. When I read about it in his book, I wondered, "how is this going to work for me and my particular situation?" I couldn't really see the connection.

Now I know, it is an experiential thing. I declined the scarf, but took my jacket to bite into, figuring it would be more polite to slobber on my own clothes than someone else's. My therapist told me to get into the biting. I bit and shook my jacket, envisioning my RE's lifeless body being crushed in my powerful jaws. I did not feel like the powerless patient with no control any longer. I felt powerful and strong. I went home feeling quite good.

This was in contrast to the previous week's Traumarama, in which I spent about 24 hours being pretty wound up after my first trauma therapy session. My therapist told me that a day to a day and a half of being tweaked out after a session is good and showing I am integrating the material we are working on. Huh? Ok, I was a little more than tweaked out, I was borderline suicidal, and even took a Well.butrin to get through the day, though I've been completely free of it since early September. I didn't get it, but if my therapist was saying it was progress, then I'll take it!

I can tell things are shifting. I feel like working out again. I actually feel ready to try again, though I am daunted by the long list of things that need to be taken care of first, one of which is getting Magic on board again. He does not want to see me all freaked out again, for good reason!

Tomorrow is my six month anniversary of the loss. I had a feeling it would take at least six months to heal from this. I wonder how I will feel about this unhappy milestone? Right now, I feel there is no need to wallow in what happened, but to focus on the present healing and work towards the future. One change I have noted is a genuine feeling of my internal support, something that I was so lacking back when I was depressed and anxious. I hope this feeling will continue to grow and carry me through the difficult times I'm sure that have yet to come.

And now I can think of Grandma Cookie with a smile and all that she did for me when I was a kid.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Show & Tell: Puttin' Up Pesto

Two weeks ago, I was questioning my decision earlier in the summer to plant more basil plants. Cold weather was moving in and frost was imminent. I had a daunting amount of basil to put up, so I played hookie from work on a Friday to beat the frost. I had already spent four hours the week before putting up two and a half large basil plants. I had seven and a half plants left to go. I thought maybe I had over done basil-mania this year. Luckily, some of the plants hadn't grown to bush size. Still, it took me another seven hours to put up all my basil. I was so sick of basil after that, I didn't think I would want to eat it for months, but I am appreciating it now.

I freeze all my basil. Dried basil just does not do justice to it's wonderful flavor. Either I make pesto or I grind up basil in just olive oil. I like to do the latter in ice cube trays, so if a recipe calls for basil, I pop a cube in from the freezer and get the same wonderful fresh summer basil taste in the middle of winter.

To do this is pretty easy. Fill a food processor with fresh basil leaves that do not have any moisture on them. Grind them up. Then add olive oil and finish blending. Sometimes I will add salt and garlic to the basil cubes.

Basil in ice cube trays prior to freezing

After the basil cubes have frozen, I like to add a little more olive oil on the top to seal the basil in. After the top layer of olive oil has frozen, take the ice cube trays out, run a little bit of hot water on the bottom to release the cubes, taking care not to get water on your basil cubes, and pop them out. If you wait for them to thaw, they do not come out of the ice cube trays as neatly, so use the hot water method while everything is frozen. Bag them up quickly to put back in the freezer, as the olive oil melts fast.

Final result. Note yellow on top of cubes is frozen olive oil.

I made a total of four ice cube trays worth of basil and pesto, plus three pint sized containers of pesto. Last year, I ran out of basil in January. I'm hoping to go a little longer this year.

If you want some instruction on how to cook pasta to go with that pesto, the Italian way, my buddy over at Geeks in Rome will give you the low-down in her post "You can call me Al...Dente". Look for future posts from me on homemade gluten-free pasta!

Join the rest of the class at Mel's Show & Tell

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cabin in the Hills

Here I sit on the porch of the small cabin I spent the weekend in solitary retreat. Small is the operative word here. Join me on a tour of my 250 square footish cabin. The name of the cabin is fitting for me. Can you read it?

This is where I spent most of my day meditating. I also had a wonderful private circular path for walking meditation in the pinyon juniper forest surrounding my cabin. You'll see the table on the right in the next picture. Again, think small.

My bed overlooked the meditation room. You can see the wood stove to the left of the bed in the kitchen area.

The kitchen had a propane stove. There was no running water, but a pump with delicious spring water was just outside the cabin. I did have a sink that went nowhere. A five gallon bucket is underneath the sink, that I periodically had to manually dump out. It was a bit annoying having to deal with that detail. I've spared you pictures of the outhouse. The cabin had solar lighting for the evenings, which was a really nice feature.

For not being able to watch TV, talk to others, or pet my cat, I was really quite busy the whole time. The practice and prayer I had been given to do for nine hours one of the days was challenging. I can't say I did it perfectly, but that wasn't really the point. It's amazing how busy your mind can be when your life is really simple. The gift of simplicity is appreciated more now that I am back to the craziness of work. As challenging as the simplicity was, I miss it.

I did take the opportunity to do some meditating on a future child. I followed the meditations out of the book "Spirit Babies", by Walter Makichen. That is the book I refer to in a previous post. I had some interesting revelations from those meditations. I was not ready to meditate on a future child until I dealt with the ones who had passed. I thought I had already done that, but I discovered there was some unfinished business to take care of first.

Forgiveness is a theme that came up over the weekend. I have a hard time forgiving myself. That could mean a lot of things. For one, I distract myself from my true spirit a lot. As painful as that is, I really like doing it. I got in touch with the simplicity of my true self this past weekend. My ego had a revolt at the same time, saying, what a waste of time, but I didn't listen to her. My true self knew better. I think I'll be doing a solitary retreat again.

Friday, October 17, 2008


At our last enlightenment training, we were given an assignment: 24 hour solitary retreat with nothing but fruits and nuts to eat. Actually, cheese, milk, and yogurt were on the menu too, but since I can't eat that stuff, lest it feed my potential fibroids, I invested in jerky. When we first were given the assignment, I was excited. I felt like we had graduated from enlightenment training grade school to college. Now, I'm just wondering how the heck I'm going to do it, especially since my daily meditation practice is more hypothetical than actual.

I reserved our meditation cabins in the boonies within a couple of days of being given our assignment. The other piece of the assignment is no reading, no iPod, no pets, no partners, no people, no phone, no journaling (certainly no bloggin'), no Magic, no nuthin' for 24 hours. I knew there was no way Magic or I could pull this off without retreating to a cabin where there is nothing to do, but meditate. The cabins, which have no electricity or running water, have a three night minimum, so we will be there longer than we need to, but what the heck. I could use more mental roto-rooter to clear out all the backed up crap I accumulated in the last six months!

I'm kinda looking forward to introspection and getting in touch with my life force again. It's so easy to lose my ground in our crazy, stressed out world. We'll be back on Monday, if we don't implode in the process.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

RESOLVE's Resolve on Amendment 48

If y'all don't live in Colorado, then you might not be aware of this potentially historic making amendment that Colorado voters will have to grapple with, along with a long list of other issues to mull over. Amendment 48 would define "personhood" at the point of fertilization. This is one scary piece of legislation that has only one agenda, to outlaw abortion. In that process, it would likely take away fertility treatments and IVF.

That fact that I have to vote on this crap makes me sick. It leaves a lot of gray room for what is legal and what isn't. We had another well intentioned but vaguely worded amendment pass in Colorado a couple of years ago. Amendment 41 prohibits government workers and their beneficiaries from accepting gifts. This amendment was intended on preventing lobbyist from giving gifts to lawmakers. However, when it first was passed, it was unclear if a child of a government employee could accept a college scholarship. As a government employee myself, it was even unclear if I could accept gifts of value over $50 from my husband!! It took two years for an independent ethics committee to deem that this was ok. That's the mess that can be caused by vague and broadly worded amendments.

I asked Magic if we would have to get social security numbers for our frozen embryos, and he said yes. We would probably also have to get birth certificates for them. This makes my brain go *tilt*. What a mind game it plays with all infertility patients. If all of our fertilized eggs instantly became children, then we could all breath a lot easier, eh? When one of our embryos doesn't take, do we have to get a death certificate too?! In short, this amendment would be a nightmare if passed.

RESOLVE put out their statement on the amendment a couple of months ago. It's worth reading, because the same type of legislation may be coming to a state near you soon! One statement in particular got my attention:

"Would women with fibroids or other uterine abnormalities be forbidden to try to have babies because the problems with their uteruses reduce the chances that an embryo will successfully implant after IVF or an insemination?"


And other gotcha:

"If a Colorado woman travels to another state for IVF, would her eggs still be defined by Colorado law such that doctors in no other states would offer her treatment? Would she be forbidden to move any currently frozen embryos to another state to continue her treatment?"

This one got me worried. I never thought that Amendment 48 might prevent me from transferring my frozen embryos.

Amendment 48 was initiated by a 21 year old woman Kristi Burton who was homeschooled. She isn't old enough to know if she even has fertility issues. I'm sure she isn't aware of all the other sticky issues that this amendment would create. For example, what if a woman has an etopic pregnancy? Who do you save then?

All those of you who think CCRM, the #1 fertility clinic in the US, is your last chance for success with IVF, forget it with this amendment. So, if you are thinking of cycling at CCRM in the near future, you better call all your friends and relatives in Colorado and tell them to vote No on this one.

As much as I think this one is a no-brainer, you never know in Colorado how people are going to vote. After all, it got 130,000 signatures to get on the ballot. In the case that it does pass, it might push the issue of when I do my FET. I think I would have until January 1 before the law went into effect. I couldn't wait for the years it's going to take to untangle the legal mess this amendment will create to get pregnant. I hope I'm not pushed to make that decision!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The Traumarama continues. Yesterday was my first trauma therapy session with a second therapist. I'm taking the shotgun approach. I felt good after the session, which I took as a positive sign. However, I had my usual agitation in the evening before going to bed. After listening to my Brainspotting CDs for 45 minutes, I finally got calm enough to sleep. Unfortunately, Magic wasn't sleeping well either, and he ended up waking me up about three hours after I fell asleep. I've been up ever since.

While I feel I made some progress in my session, I'm back stuck in my reactive state again. I swear, sometimes I feel like the Universe is after me. I walked out of my session feeling pretty good, and there is a dead squirrel right outside the driveway that wasn't there when I went in. I try not to let things like that bother me, but then I got upset when one of my favorite characters in the TV show "Heroes" got killed last night. The littlest things just build into a giant mushroom cloud.

Sometimes I feel like I'll never get beyond this, that I'm too damaged. I feel completely hopeless. I feel that this trauma will keep me from ever being a mother, and of course, there is the piece related back to my mother, so it feels like a vicious cycle. When I get like this, I feel that I'm to blame for everything, which of course isn't true. There is no reasoning in a state like this. You just wait for it to pass. You just hope that it will eventually pass, sooner rather than later. The blame takes the place of the not knowing. I want to know that everything that happened was ok and that everything will be ok. I either come up with answers I can not feel settled with or no answers at all. I'm not sure which is worse.

All I wanted was to get pregnant, be happy, and have a family. It was the story book ending that wasn't. Kinda like my childhood. I thought I was ready to be over it, but apparently I opened the Pandora's box without even knowing I was doing so.

I've always wanted to be a mom, and even after all that's happened, that hasn't gone away. I'm just a bit more wary of what I ask for.

If I didn't have so much to do at work, I would have taken another sick day and tried to get some sleep. I'm sure the sleep deprivation isn't helping either.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I hope I don't sound too "woe is me" on some of my ramblings about depression and trauma. The intent here is to educate, while some of you may possibly be here for the entertainment factor. I actually view crisises such as depression and trauma as catalysts for change, usually big change. I think such was the case last week. The Traumarama caused me to go out and get a book I've been thinking about for some time. I'll do a review of that book later. After reading that book, I think something shifted, if ever so slightly, in my consciousness. It's not what happened over the weekend, it's what didn't happen that delighted me.

Did anyone see the birth announcement of Lisa Marie Presley's twins? I typically see these tidbits of earth shattering news when I log into my ya.hoo account. The amazing part about it was that (pause for emphasis)...I was not fazed at all!! No reaction what so ever.

Ok, when you don't have a reaction, there's really not much to say about it.

I think I've made some progress here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Show & Tell: We Are The Ones


Because I like it.
Because I want change.
Because I'm insired.

Because I don't want to be Sarah Palin for Halloween for the next four years. Yes, I'm plannin' on being Sarah Palin this year for Halloween. I'm practicing droppin' my Gs at the end of words, gosh darn it.

Zoe Kravit sings on this video, "We Are The Ones"

Mel's Show & Tell

Friday, October 10, 2008

Trigger Un-Happy

It was an exciting week in Trauma land this week. I had not one but TWO trauma triggers.

The week started off with more enlightenment training landmines. We do this thing in my enlightenment training that's kinda like group therapy. I was working on some particularly lovely issue about my mother, when in the middle of being all vulnerable and open, one of my group member's phone beeped. That's not what bothered me. What bothered me was that he said; "sorry about that, my wife is in labor". All eyes turned to him, with a couple of female group members making ooh-aah eyes at him. It didn't help that I had already been obsessing that I was supposed to be delivering about this time. As I felt my whole nervous system beginning to go haywire, I managed to hold it together enough to say, "I'm done". I thought I had dodged a bullet, but the trauma reaction came around and got me the next morning with a full blown panic attack upon waking, much like the ones I experienced when I was pregnant. I called in work sick and moped around much of the day.

I recovered from that when just two days later, I get a phone call from the local multiples group I joined back in April calling to see how I was doing. Apparently this woman didn't talk with the women I broke the news to in July. I said something like, "I don't think you got the message..." Then, the uncomfortable reply of, "well that doesn't mean you can't be part of our club. We have people that work on that kind of thing." My jaw dropped, as in a Katie-Couric-interviewing-Sarah-Palin type of jaw dropping.

"...if you don't want to talk about it, I totally understand..."

"I don't want to talk about it."

Talk about ruining your day.

Before, I used to talk about how I was traumatized. Now, I get to experience what trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder means. Trauma is something that happens in the lower brain center, the limbic brain, and your nervous system. Trauma is also experienced physiologically, such as in panic attacks or dissociation. Triggers are anything that remind you of the trauma and set you off emotionally. In my enlightenment training, you are encouraged to feel your feelings. During an enlightenment training exercise a few weeks ago, a woman in a group of three next to my group of three decides to let out an ear-piercing scream. My group was exploring the openness of love when this scream happened. I was immediately reminded of my mother being crazy and screaming. All my good feelings vanished, my nervous system started going haywire, and I started shutting down. This is an example of what a trigger can do to you if you have not worked out all your trauma.

In hindsight, I realize the trauma began last year. I think each loss the fertility treatments brought was a new trauma. Then, my pregnancy opened up memories of trauma that were deeply hidden. One of them, I think, was my birth trauma. I'm not sure about this, seeing as I didn't have language back then to remember the trauma, but I had this recurring nightmare as a kid about being suffocated. The dream was so confusing because it had very abstract images, but with a crippling sensation of being crushed. The feeling of being suffocated come up again when I was pregnant. I think it might have something to do with being born breech with the umbilicord wrapped around my neck and being blue when I was born.

Next week, I will start back up with the trauma therapy, so I'm hoping that will help.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Beautiful Mind

"Michi's on the front page of the Sunday paper," declared Magic the other day.

"You're kidding." I say. She's been dead for two years, I'm thinking.

Michi was a brilliant colleague of Magic's who tragically committed suicide two years ago, almost to the day. However, her suicide was no ordinary one. She committed suicide while on 24 suicide watch in a hospital. Never leave a brilliant suicidal person alone in a room with her glasses. Michi really wanted to die, so she found a way to do it. She broke her glasses and cut herself to use her blood to leave a message to her loved ones. She figured out when she was being watched, which was about every 15 minutes. When she wasn't being watched, she set up something to make it look like she had her head down on the desk in the room that was in view of the camera. Then, she used the broken glass to shred her gown and hang herself off-view of the camera. I normally wouldn't talk about something so personal to someone else's life, but all of this was in the newspaper article. Michi made the news because her parents are suing the hospital that majorly screwed up. The hospital is going to lose this one, but who wins?

I remember being upset by Michi's suicide. We all knew Michi, Magic the kids and I. We liked her, but we knew she was a troubled soul. I'm always impacted when someone I know commits suicide. I know that it could have been me. I hate seeing how suicide affects those who are left behind as they grapple with the questions of "why?", the anger, and the grief. I've been on the receiving end of the fallout as a good friend of mine from high school committed suicide at age 20. I take it upon myself to tell the spouses, parents, sisters, and friends left behind how mental illness took their life, not the person they loved. I can say this as someone who has been to the edge of the abyss, but backed away. I don't enjoy being able to speak from experience, but I think it does help those left behind to know that it was mental illness. When you feel that depressed, you are not aware of the love others have for you. It's like being in the hell of a black hole that you can't get out of. So you might as well be dead.

Michi's boss, a prominent professor at our local university said in the newspaper article that he did not notice any outward signs of depression. Michi apparently hid it pretty well. I also know how this works. I wondered while I was pregnant if I fooled people by appearing functional, when in reality, I was falling apart inside. I have a long list of health care practitioners who dropped the ball on me while I was pregnant. All of them either didn't notice that I was depressed, or didn't care. Their apathy took the form of assuming someone else was taking care of me, or assuming I would "be alright". One doctor boldly wrote me off in her notes of my visit with her. I was so angry about that. It's not like I didn't tell them, I did. I don't know if they just didn't take me seriously because they were so used to seeing me be so competent and functional, or they didn't have the time to deal with me. I asked Magic if he thought I was fooling people, and he said, no, I was not in my right mind when I was pregnant.

No wonder I had no trust of doctors to help me when I was pregnant and depressed. The system had failed Michi. People are so clueless about mental illness, even health care professionals. It wasn't only doctors who failed me. It was doulas and acupuncturists as well. I'm glad her parents are suing. If it saves another life in the future, I guess it's worth it.

The photo at the top is a picture of Michi's art that she won an award for. Michi had a flair for photographing liquid crystals under a microscope. Don't they look like colorful snowflakes?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The One that Got Away

And Various Political Commentary...

Within a 24 hour period, I had a contract on my house, and then I lost it. The prospective buyer couldn't get a loan. I was not surprised, but I did have fantasies of getting rid of this black cloud and actually being able to afford trauma therapy and maybe an FET. The lame economy is affecting regular people like me. I bought my house in the beginning of the Bush administration when the housing market was still high. Six months after I bought my house, 911 happened. Now I'm trying to sell my house at the end of the Bush administration when the economy and real estate market is at an all time low. I dropped the price on my house to lower than what I bought it for seven years ago so I could sell it. If lending wasn't so tight, I'd be selling my house in two weeks. I'm not in favor of a 700 billion federal bail out that does not get to the people that need it, like me, and increasing our national debt even more, but something needs to change.

Yes, I need to get rid of my house and all the emotional baggage that is attached with it, even if it means losing thousands of dollars in equity. I am not freaking out. I lived in the house two years before I moved in with Magic, and I've been renting it for five years. I did have a Rent-to-Own buyer, but they bailed on their commitment and trashed my house in the meanwhile. I really don't want to rent longer, dealing with who knows what kind of renters I will get, and have to fix up my house again to put it on the market.

Did anyone see the Saturday Night Live skit with Tina Fey as a dead ringer for Sarah (aw-shucks) Palin being interviewed by "Katie Couric"? I love the part where Palin says, "I'd like to use a life line," and Couric saying, "you don't have life lines". Do we really expect this bailout to be a life line? I don't know, but if you want to have a chuckle, The Muser has set up the SNL clip next to the actual Palin/Couric interview. I also like the video she has included on her post "Time for Some Campaignin'!", which I have included below. I hope this cheers you up from your economic gloom and doom. I'm voting for the unicorn that shoots rainbows out it's ass!