Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An update from vacation

Ahhhh, praise the computer powers-that-be, I was able to find a local guy to fix my laptop. This is the first time I've connected to the internet since we got here on Friday. Withdrawal!! Withdrawal!!! It's been a fantastic week so far. Even though the weather has been crap, super rainy. Still it's not dampened our spirits! We went to a fair in the rain, rode the rides, DD got her face painted. We took a train ride and spent some time at the arcade. Went to on old-time town center where they are having a Scarecrow festival, did some shopping and wandering. Today, we went to a farm/zoo. DD got to go on a pony ride and we took a hay ride around the whole farm. And then we did a little shopping & now back at the house. Tomorrow I'd planned to stay in for the day which turns out to be a good plan since it's supposed to rain and thunderstorm all day. Thursday will be the Children's Museum and then Friday we leave (boo-hoo!) It's been so relaxing and a wonderful bonding time for me and DD. Mornings are my favorite time. We sleep in and as soon as I wake up, I open the double doors from the bedroom to the deck. I look at the trees which are approaching peak foliage, see the lake, hear the wind rustling the leaves and the birds chirping. I make a pot of Pumpkin Spice coffee, pour some raw sunflower seeds in a cup and DD & I head outside in our PJ's. I sit in the adirondack chair while she spreads the seeds for the chipmunk who lives in the front walkway. Then we sit together and watch him gather up the seeds. We snuggle in the chilly morning air, hug and chit chat. I love her observations and her comments on the little things we see. It's so fun to see the world through her eyes. I cherish this time together and I feel so thankful that in the midst of this time of such financial turmoil in the country, I'm fortunate to have enough to make these special trips with my baby.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Going on Vacation!

I'm leaving in the morning for another glorious week at the lake house I rent in New Hampshire. Can't wait!!!
Lots to do at work and home before we go and I have to come to a meeting at the office in the morning. Blech! But then we're off. I hope that my laptop will work while I'm there so I can actually have time to catch up on everyone else's blogs!!

Monday, September 22, 2008


I'm a singer. Have I mentioned that before? I've been singing most of my life. I used to be fearless with it. I auditioned for select choir in school. I participated in regionals and allstate musical competitions. I was the singer in a band (an 80's cover rock band....a story for another day, lol!). I even auditioned at a local theater for a part in their production of "Annie". I've been in countless choirs and have taken years of voice training.
Somewhere around the time I started dealing with all my repressed crap, I stopped singing. When I finally started again, I was very much a follower and not the leader that I used to be. I've been in a small independent, accapella choir now for about 5 years. It took me a solid 2 years to really find my voice again and begin to sing with any amount of confidence. Still, a single wrong note could throw me into a tailspin. In the past year, I've really felt and seen my ability and my confidence shoot through the roof with singing. It's back to the way I used to feel. I feel fortunate that I have a gift that can be used to touch other people. I really enjoy performing. It is one of the few things in my life that I believe I do really well. It's calming for me because it requires that I relax and take deep breaths. It's the only time I feel any connection with God; when I sing hymns.
Yesterday, my group was performing at a church. There is a hymn called "Seek Ye First" which has an optional descant in it. There is another girl in the choir who generally sings this but she's been sick so they gave it to me. I've never sung it before rehearsal last week. On Sunday, the opening notes were played except they forgot to play mine so I was unsure of my starting note and I was afraid to just guess it out of thin air. I figured I'd sing the first verse with the rest of the choir and find my note on the second verse for the descant. Except I started to panic and I felt like all eyes were on me. I felt like I was ruining the song. And I started to cry. And cry, and cry, and cry. You know when you're not really crying but the tears just won't stop spilling from your eyes? It was like that.
We got through a few more songs and I was desperately trying to stop the tears and pull myself together because I knew I had a quartet coming up in which I was to sing the lead as a solo. As the opening notes are being played, another member of the choir leans into me and says "I'm going to sing the lead with you." And I just lost it. I didn't get 2 lines into the song and I had to walk away from the choir and let him sing it. Fortunately, there is a little alcove not far from where we stand to sing and I was able to go in there and have some privacy while I absolutely broke down.
I know I was upset about the way things went down that morning but my reaction was out of proportion to the events. I took some time to think it through and I realized that it triggered so many feelings of inadequacy and failure in me. And also feelings of taking the weight of the world on my shoulders. I felt completely responsible for "ruining" the first song. Well, it wasn't really "ruined"....the descant is optional. Nevermind the pianist forgot to play my note.....nevermind that I couldn't regain my footing in part because the women on each side of me were both off key....one of them flat and one of them sharp, to boot! Still, I was able to easily accept responsibility for the comedy of errors and believe that it was all my fault.
(A quick side note of interest here.....as I type this, I'm feeling very off balance. I feel like I'm tipped steeply downward and to the left. It's very difficult to keep focus on what I'm writing asn my desk and keyboard seem off kilter to me even though I can tell that everything is perfectly aligned. This is usually some sort of disruption in the flow of body energy, perhaps being triggered by what I'm talking about?)
Anyway, I felt like I had the chance to "redeem" myself with the next song and when my choir-mate ever told me he was going to sing it with me, I felt like they no longer trusted me to carry the part by myself. A part, mind you, I've sung before and have been commended as "angelic". I was angry, humiliated, ashamed. A whole cacophony of negative emotions, all triggering me as a "FAILURE! FAILURE! FAILURE!!"
The success story of the day, though, is that I was able to almost immediately recognize that the reaction was out of line with the events. I was able to think it through and piece together what was triggered. And then I went out to lunch (and some retail therapy) with my BFF, J. I was able to discuss it with her. And I called my choir-mates when I got home to discuss it with them and tell them how I felt about what happened. So a happy ending.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The High Cost of Stress

Apparently, I forgot to change my address with my health insurance carrier when I moved almost a year and a half ago. Oops. My poor therapist has not been getting paid!! They send the checks to me and I sign them over to her. When I stopped getting them, I just figured they were going to her directly. So, she hasn't been paid in over a year. I signed into their website to look at my account and update the address. At the same time, I wanted to be sure that her services were being paid (even though the checks were returned to the health insurance company).

As I scrolled down the list of payments made for my various medical treatments, I have been stunned by the huge financial ramifications of my stress related issues. All of this since late 2006.

GP Doctor visits: $1,622
Anxiety Meds: $3,720
Specialist Dr visits: $2,264
Counseling: $7,740
Lab/Blood Work: $604
ER Visits: $1,970
Tests (U/S, CT Scans, MRI, Stress test, etc): $7,834

If we're to call my PCOS abuse/stress related, then you can add another $2400 to all of that. And that's a whopping total of $28,154. Spent on, and by, me as a result of abuse and stress related issues. In a period of not even two years. That is unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.

The non-financial costs? What has the anxiety and stress of my past cost me physically? I'll start from the top of my head and work my way down. Migraines, cluster headaches. Ocular migraines which are visual auras, light streaks and disturbances. Migrainous vertigo. Jaw clenching, teeth grinding. Panic attacks. Chronic neck and shoulder pain. Chest pains, pounding heart. Feelings of having a heart attack. Numbness in arms. Arthritis in hands. Difficulty breathing. Abdominal/intestinal pain so severe it doubled me over and rendered me unable to walk. PCOS with ovarian cysts Arthritis in knees and ankles.
Funny when I put it on paper it looks like less than it feels like. Maybe because I've had repetitive bouts of so many of these things or seen numerous doctors for most symptoms in an attempt to figure out what was happening. And of course, the price my sanity, security and self worth have paid....it's immeasurable.

While searching for an image for this post, I came across this and it was too funny not to include:

Just a morning funny.....

DD says to me last night in the grocery store:
"Mama, why does the butter girl have popsicles on her head?"
I swear you just can't make this stuff up. :o)

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's MY Body

I am so thrilled that DD's daycare decided to have a presentation for the older Pre-K children about Safe and Unsafe Touch. I know some parents were not comfortable with the topic and chose to have thier kids not participate. For me, although depressing to think about, I think it's ideal timing (age 3-4). Her daycare is very parent friendly and always makes activities open to parents if they choose to attend. This was too weighty a topic for me to not attend.
They brought in a woman from a childrens advocacy group. She told the kids she was there to talk to them about safety and asked them to give her some examples of ways to be safe. Of course, they answered with things like wearing your helmet on your bike, not jumping off the top of the jungle gym, etc. And then she expanded that she was going to talk in particular about BODY safety and asked them about ways their body gets hurt. And naturally they all wanted to show off their boo-boos at this point. What is it about kids being fascinated with cuts and scrapes?!? And then she talked about how important CHOICE is in being sure you stay safe.
She showed them a little video that highlighted different kinds of touch. It was a little triggering for me but I managed to breathe through it. Part of the video was real people acting and part was cartoon. The real part intimated an uncle who was molesting a young girl and rewarding her for keeping their secret. I'm sure the nuances were too much for the kids to pick up on but there were other parts that showed happy, good touch and even parts where good touch was too much...ie: her father was tickling her so hard she couldn't breathe so she was laughing "stop! stop!"
So the cartoon part of the video talks about good secrets vs bad secrets and things that are supposed to be private as well as other things that are not. For instance: using the potty. You close the door and keep it private because it's no one elses business. It's nothing bad, just something you keep to yourself. Or presents....you might hide a present until you're ready to give it on a special occassion. That's a good secret. Or writing in a diary; something all your own that's special to you and you don't have to share. It stressed how you would feel happy or excited inside for keeping a good secret. Then it talked about the way a bad secret would make you feel sad, scared or uncomfortable. (the bad secret in the cartoon part was a little pig who was being hit by it's father....I felt like I had a siren flashing over my head! Whoooo-whooooo.....Happened To Her! Happened To Her!.....Whoooo-whoooo) And that if you are feeling that way, the only thing you can do is to tell someone your secret even if it's scary. This is where the choice part came in....choosing to continue feeling uncomfortable or choosing to seek help. We talked about people who are "safe" who you can share your secret with....parents, grandparents, teachers, school nurse or guidance counselor, doctor, priest, scout leader, coach....and that you should keep telling all your safe people the bad secret until one of them helps you. It even touched on the fact that sometimes your safe people might not believe you, or might not know what to do, so you should just keep telling other safe people.
She then read this little book (in the picture above) which was more age appropriate than the video. Not that the video was bad but I think it would be better for slightly older kids, like 7-8ish. This book was very simple and talked about your body belonging to you and only you. It's yours to share in ways that are comfortable to you. It had cute little drawings of holding hands with friends, hugging a parent, sitting in a grandma's lap, etc. And then drawings of ways you might not want to share your body like being tickled or held too hard, being licked by a dog and then kind of an ambiguous sad-faced uncomfortable touch reference. And it ended with reminding kids that their body is their own and to say something like "Stop that, I don't want to be touched that way" if someone makes you feel uncomfortable. It was well done and I'd recommend the book as a way of broaching the subject with younger kids.
It just so happened that during the presentation, DD's friend was sitting behind her and kicking her in the back so I was able to immediately give DD an example she could relate to! I'm very glad I went. Even though I'm still feeling edgy and triggered. Just trying to breathe through it. Of course, not helping is the fact that I forgot to take my Effexor last night, dammit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A check in

First I'd just like to take a moment to recognize the anniversary of 9/11. To pay tribute to all those who lost their lives, lost loved ones or lost some part of themselves, be it physically or emotionally, as a result of that day.
And then I just wanted to check in.....nothing particularly noteworthy has been happening on my end so I've not been here much. I had T last weekend and we talked about the dream I'd had. T was 100% in agreement with my interpretation of it. She always takes it one step further and she asked me how the meaning of the dream made me feel. ?? I dunno..... I don't really feel one way or the other about it. I guess it's just a reminder to keep striving to let my emotions out. She and I talked alot about my stress over everything that needs to get done in life and at work. She reminded me that my high anxiety is just the way I react; it's the reaction I "choose". I could choose to recognize that there is an impossible amount to get done and just know that I am but one person. I will do what I can and I can't let the rest of it eat away at me because it does nothing productive. In fact it's absolutely unproductive because giving my energy to stressing over what is not done only drains my energy away from what I am doing. So I'm working on trying to focus on the task at hand instead of stressing about everything at once. As I sit here in my office looking at stacks and piles, piles and stacks.....well, it's not the easiest to put it out of mind. In fact, I think I will go organize my desk so that it doesn't look so overwhelming!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Get OUT!!! & a General Update

Well, it's been a very busy few days! I think I left off at DD's Birthday....it was perfect! The kids loved the ice cream party. DD was in 4 year old, girly-girl utopia at the nail salon!! She grinned and giggled for a solid hour while they gave her the full princess treatment. Pretty pink little nails and the woman even painted 4 little daisies on her nails. I'll post a pic later in the week when I have a spare minute to upload them! We went out to dinner, just me and DD. It was such fun. And, as a treat for me too, I had a spa manicure including neck/shoulder massage while DD had hers done. That was NICE.

Friday, I took DD to her 4 year physical. She's actually "back on the charts" (the child growth percentage charts). Her height has been off the charts since her last physical. She's 97% for height now, LOL. Tall girl. Her Donor is quite tall, 6'5", so she gets that from him. She had to get four vaccinations....that's alot for a little kid. She was quite a trooper. Her shots got me to thinking about my own reactions to needles.

Always have hated them but I got very used to them through all the health ups & downs I've had. One thing I have not ever gotten accustomed to is IV's. When I was in the hospital in preterm labor, they had me on IV's at various times for various reasons. It's always "fun" when medical staff look at you quizzically and say "Hmmm, never seen THAT happen before....." Such is the case with my IV reaction. Everything around the IV goes into spasm and I've seen it actually stand straight up out of my skin because my body tenses so badly. The Dr's deemed it some sort of odd partial latex allergy (even though I'm not allergic to latex) because they could not otherwise explain it. My T believes it to me yet another manifestation of the mind/body connection. Because I self-protect so militantly, she believes the IV is perceived as an "intruder". My body attacks it and tries to push it back out. As if to say Get OUT!!! Leave me alone!!! I don't want you inside of me!!!! Just another interesting example of the power the mind can wield within the body.

Anyway...........the rest of the weekend was run-run-run. It was nice, for sure, but a little too busy for my liking. Highlights: a wedding on Saturday which was the best wedding I think I've ever been to. As I watched the happy couple, listened to them exchange their own written vows, I had a brief rush of wanting a relationship again in my future. And then during the dinner, as I observed the 3 already married couples at my table, I remembered why I'm in no hurry to get into a relationship again!! I went alone and I felt fine with that which is progress over the last wedding I went to only a year ago. I desperately wanted someone to go to that past wedding with me. I felt branded as a loser going by myself. This time, it wasn't even a thought. At one point, I was sitting alone in a corner watching everyone dance and party. I thought to myself that I was perfectly content watching others have a good time. And I realized that's part of my problem....I'm too damn comfortable being the wallflower. So I made myself get up and join the party....step out of the comfort zone! All in all, a really fun time.

Sunday we had a day full of plans and didn't get home til about 7:30. I'd forgotten to bring my Effexor so I was almost a full 24 hours overdue by the time I took it. Man, that's some nasty, nasty stuff when you forget to take it. I was a wreck. Barely could walk a straight line or speak a coherent sentence without whimpering. Felt like I was being shocked. Nearly had a panic attack when faced with saying goodbye to a crowd of people. Luckily my friend was there and she took care of the goodbyes for me.

Yesterday was a rough morning. DD was being really difficult. I had a bit of a meltdown. I think we were both really tired and irritable. I took DD to get her 4 year photos done. They came out cute. Not the best batch we've had but all I need is a couple good ones. In fact, I prefer only a couple good ones....when they are ALL good, it's too hard for me to decide which ones to get! As we were waiting for them to upload the pics to their computers, we took a walk. DD wanted to go on the escalator. So we went up and went to come back down. I don't know what happened exactly. DD jumped on and I just couldn't focus on the steps and I didn't want to step on. I tried to let go of DD's hand so that she could keep going down but I think she panicked and grabbed onto my arm so she fell and I ended up pulling her back up the 3 or 4 steps onto the landing. Poor kid. She got really scraped up. :o( I felt awful.

It was also my father's birthday yesterday for which I felt nothing. Complete ambivalence. I think that's progress, too.

Had a very odd dream this morning. Not sure where I was going but I was bringing a horse with me. I was on a cliff, on a very narrow, windy road making my way to my destination. As soon as I got onto this road, my horse jumped off. I was horrified and thought he'd be killed. I looked down over this steep cliff and could see only water until I leaned out farther and realized there was also a strip of sandy beach and my horse was safe on the sand, running along and we'd presumably meet up again on the other side of this mountain/cliff...whatever it was. I kept watching my horse to be sure we were keeping pace with one another. There was a large fallen tree or something in the horses path and as he tried to climb over it, he was attacked by 2 mountain lions and killed. I remember feeling such intense anguish that I couldn't even walk and the only way I could continue on was to block out the fact that it happened at all.
I know that animals in your dreams often represent an aspect of yourself. The way I felt connected to this horse, concerned for it's well-being and how distraught I was at its death tells me it was indeed part of me. The symbolism of a horse is a strong physical energy or even a wildness or the unknown. The symbolism of a dead horse is an indication that something in your life that used to provide strength is now gone. Standing at the edge of a cliff is somewhat evident...."on the brink", a new experience, new awareness. A critical point that, while exciting, also induces the fear of "falling" (losing control).
I had to look up the meaning of the beach and of mountain lions.
To see the beach in your dream, symbolizes the meeting between your two states of mind. The sand is symbolic of the rational and mental processes while the water signifies the irrational, unsteady, and emotional aspects of yourself. It is a place of transition.
To see a mountain lion in your dream, represents lurking danger, aggression and raw emotions. You need to keep your attitude and emotions in check.
I think the dream was about my self-protection, my Xena armor. I think it was about letting that defense, which has provided me strength, fall away and die. It's also about the fear I feel in facing the world without it, in feeling emotions, in letting myself participate in life with all of the hurts and disappointments that may come along. I've noticed the past 2 days in particular, alot of chest pains. Anxiety. It sucks.