I hate you so much, Insomnia.

February 22, 2012

I can’t recall a time when I didn’t have insomnia.
There are flashbulb memories of it for sure.
I remember bits and pieces of Mom yelling at me for sleeping the days away as a teen.  Just not much else.

Insomnia does that.
It robs you of your ability to think and to remember.
It takes those most precious memories that you have and smears them, twists them, sometimes even erases them completely.

I’m sitting here awake in the middle of the night because my brain will not stop.
Medicine doesn’t help.
Sleep therapists won’t include me in sleep studies because I have OCD and mild depression that is currently treated with Zoloft.  I’m breastfeeding still so melatonin is out and the medicines aren’t a good idea until Molly is completely weaned.
I drink approximately one caffeinated beverage a week and am completely convinced that I will never have a normal night’s rest again.

I have chronic onset insomnia.
Whether my depression is active at the time, whether my OCD is managed.
Happy, sad.  Fat, skinny.  With a book, without one.  With meds, without meds.  Diet changes or junk food.  Behavior changes or laughing in the face of all of the “tips” designed to help.
I can comfortably stay awake for about 30 hours before crashing, with meds I fall asleep about 4:00 every morning.  I’d sleep until 2 or 3 without interruption if I could and would wake up exhausted 98% of the time.

It is what it is.
But I’m tired of what it is.
I’m a great mom.
But think about how fantastic I could be with a rested brain.
I’m a great wife.
But think.


So it’s been a few days.
One of the things that you’ll learn about me and/or my varying levels of mental illness/anxiety/OCD/depression is that everything waxes and wanes in my life.
On the days when the meds are working great, I’m motivated to interact with the world.
On the days when the meds are lacking, I accomplish only that which I have to during the day until I can surround myself entirely with my house and family.

During this pregnancy, because I’ve lowered my meds enough to help me “get by” and not really thrive in the hopes of lessening their effects on the baby girl, well… there aren’t really DOWNS, per say, so much as there are days where I find myself staring blankly ahead of me, out of the window, at my feet – wherever my attention caught and failed. These days are almost a pleasure because I can reach the introspective side of me that so rarely emerges on the full doses of medicine. I’m more creative, more emotional, more dramatic – and such a pain in the ass. But I recognize this side of me much more easily than I do the energetic, more motivated side that appears once dosed up. You see, it’s this side of me that takes blame for everything, that carries around a load of guilt that couldn’t possibly be attributed to only her and that finds an unrealistic negativity in everything that she does.
She’s masochistic and though sometimes it IS a pleasure to sink into that dark abyss, I’ll be so glad when she’s gone again.

She’s been whispering her seductive tales of failure and circumstance today, after we were both diagnosed with gestational diabetes this morning. She tells me that it’s my fault, that I’m overweight, that I’m eating wrong, that I’m a genetic hopeless case. The doctor disagrees but she’s the conceited one, knowing more than the doctor, more than anyone else could possibly know – after all, it’s her body too!


I’m scared.
I know it’s a common diagnosis.
I know that diet and exercise can help make this a non-issue in the long run, but still there’s that little whisper in my head telling me that MY case is worse than the others – apparently the masochistic side of me is a little egocentric as well.

I guess only backbone will tell.
Backbone and green vegetables, that is.

People take things for granted.
They really do.
We all know someone with cancer, we almost take a diagnosis for granted – not that it’s less horrible, but we’re inoculated from that immediate bone-deep fear for that person that used to accompany a diagnosis because of the knowledge that there are tons of medicines available to help treat and prolong life for an individual with cancer.
That’s not to say we aren’t afraid, sometimes VERY afraid, but being a layman on the outside of the medical field, we assume, many times incorrectly, that there exists some sort of magic drug that will help cure this person that we love.
The most misunderstood cancer?
Skin cancer.

So common. So overlooked.
We ignore warnings heralding the use of sunblocks for years, tanning in the tanning beds to make ourselves look skinnier or prettier – just better overall.
We basically thumb our noses up at biology, assuming, as we young folks do, that everyone is exaggerating about the risks.
Sure, there’s a harsh story every now and again – some young mother with 2.5 children that contracts melanoma and dies at an early age because she just didn’t know. Didn’t understand.
But that’s not about US. That’s about HER.
We use sunblock for a week or two after hearing her tale and immediately forget in the months following.

How fucking arrogant we can be.
Texting while driving.
Junk food for every meal.
Tanning bed worship.
All sort of a ‘Fuck you!’ for the gifts that we’ve been given in a body that truly is a miracle. Fat, thin, old, young – our body gets us through the day to day bits that we demand of it, with few complaints considering.

My mom recently did a full body scan at her dermatologist’s office. She’d thought about doing one earlier in the year but hadn’t liked her doctor and had shopped around. Months later she jumps into this VERY invasive search of her body and ends up with a few biopsies to show for it.
The diagnosis?
Early stage melanoma, just on top of a lymph node.
Stage 0, requiring ONLY surgical removal and follow-up scans every 3 months for 2 years.
The prognosis? Excellent. 100% survival rate – not really a big deal in the world of cancer, but the truth is, she found this insidious little monster only by accident.

She’s a freckled woman – moles and freckles cover her entire body. One looks pretty much the same as another and more than anything, she was just curious about the scan. Being in her fifties means she has age spots starting and the concern was more a flitting thought than a real worry.
A few times she thought of cancelling the scan – who wants to have their… gasp!… girlie areas poked and prodded when they never see the sun anyway?
Most of the spots biopsied were harmless – we’d never noticed them before and other than the icky shape biopsies leave in your skin, we’d never notice them now.

But the melanoma was a surprise. A spot on her neck – not raised, not really eye-catching when you consider the ABCDE’s of skin cancer, turned out to be the main culprit. Just under her ear, we’d noticed it, but hadn’t thought much of it.

As it turns out, timing was everything.
Had she had the scan done earlier in the year, the spot wouldn’t have been there – it showed up over the summer.
Had she chickened out, it would have deepened and become a much more serious problem, especially considering the location.

How many people put these things off indefinitely?
How many people, like me, never think of doing something like this in the first place?

Wake up.
It’s no joke.
Common or not, curable or not, cancer’s a hellish dance partner.
My mom’s going to be absolutely fine – a bit scarred, but none the worse for wear.
And I personally don’t want to be the next idiot who took my health for granted and found out later that I’d pay for my ignorance with a much more serious fight.

Play it smart, folks.

A small victory.

August 17, 2010

I’m five months pregnant.
I’m carrying low.
My boobs are ginormous and heavy.
My belly sags a bit with the weight of it all.
And today, for the first time EVER, it was okay that my stomach pokes out.

That may not sound like such a big deal to those that don’t struggle with the daily body issues that I have been dealing with for the past few years.
But for a woman that has felt that the way she looks means that she has no right to take care of herself, no right to stand up for herself, no right to look straight into the mirror, this tiny bit of acceptance amidst a hormonal time of feeling as though my body no longer belongs to me…
It’s a very big deal.

Stop trying to make me feel inferior.
I won’t consent to that.
Stop telling me about my flaws.
They exist well enough without you pointing them out.
It’s a hard job to like yourself and an even harder job to love yourself.
And I’m busy working on that right now.  Really Busy.
So I’m not here to convince you to love me as I am.
You do or you don’t.

But I’m biologically made this way.
And though eating habits and exercise habits help make me a healthier woman, I exist in this body THIS way right now.
And that’s perfectly fine.
I don’t need your acceptance of that.

Where I am in my life may be short of where I want to be.
And especially short of where other people think I ought to be.
That really isn’t for you to say.
And I’ve noticed that many people who judge my shortcomings spend way too much time focused on where I’m not.
And too little time thinking about where they are in their own lives.
Wouldn’t you be happier without the negativity?
I know I would.
It’s weighing me down.
I don’t consent to that either.


“I have spent so long being ashamed of my cellulite, so long feeling like a mutant for getting five-o-clock shadow on my legs, so long convinced that my decidedly non-flat abs were an embarrassment. I have spent so much time and energy trying to measure up to the unattainable standard, tearing myself down for being different, consumed with the shame of being … well, a human woman.

And it dawned on me recently that a lot of the messages that cause women to internalize body hatred are shame-based. Shame is a slow-growing, timed-release kind of emotion that can linger in your system for ages. It’s a fantastic tool for lording undeserved power over people, or manipulating them into uncomfortable or unnatural action. Shame works on us like a virus, and can be just as hard to eradicate. Especially when it comes to messages about how bodies “should” be shaped, sized, and configured. Shame is what we feel about our bodies when someone else decides that they’re not good enough. And damn it, they’re ALWAYS good enough.

Bodies are natural, living, changing creatures and no two are alike. The differences in our bodies enable us to procreate and thrive as a species. The differences in our bodies define our life paths, our abilities, our choices and tastes. The differences in our bodies shape and mold us in infinite and untold ways. The differences in our bodies should never cause shame. They should be celebrated daily.

I can’t say I’m quite prepared to jiggle my cellulite in public or wear head-to-toe spandex, but I AM prepared to begin fighting my own feelings of shame. I’m a work in progress, and I’m working hard. When that sick feeling starts rising up, I remind myself that nothing my body does is shameful, nothing about how my body is formed is shameful, and nothing that my body will become will ever be shameful. And the more I pound out that message, the more I feel it, right down to my shame-free bones. So maybe someday, I will be prepared for a nice public cellulite jiggle …

Next time you feel that sick feeling rising up, fight it.
Never let anyone make you feel ashamed of your body for any reason.

I almost cried reading that post.
I needed this more than I need oxygen today.
When I move to Minneapolis – IF I ever see this woman, I’m going to hug her for this post alone – though she deserves it for so many others.

And I really hope she doesn’t mind me posting all of this – I couldn’t post just part.  I couldn’t.
What if one of you didn’t go to her site and read the whole thing?  Every single woman I know needs this as much as I do.

When I grow up I’m going to be a mountain.
And not just any mountain.
I’m going to stand tall and strong.
I’m going to provide shelter from the sun.
An anchor for homes, for land, for animals, for people.
I’m going to be unmoveable.
Wind and rain, sweat and tears will shape me slowly.
But they will not change what I am.
Only mold me into something more meaningful than I was alone.

How many times do we wish to be more than what we are?  To have more, to be able to do more?
I wish it.  Wish for strengths I wasn’t born with.
Energy for marathons, motivation for mountain climbing, heart to give and give and give, the ability to forgive and forget more quickly, the knowledge to plan for the future so that no obstacle stumbles in front of me at the last minute.
I don’t have those things.
I am what I am.  Human.  But good in many ways.
I can express myself in words and actions.  I know myself – who I am and what I stand for.  I love openly and willingly with the ability to forgive completely – even if it sometimes takes a little time.  I’m a good mom, a good daughter.  I’m crazy in specific ways, insightful in too many others.  I try walking in other people’s shoes so as not to put a fit onto someone else that is only suited for me.  I work hard, with a good work ethic.  I’m patient with very little temper to spice up an argument.  I can grocery shop with the best of them.  I’m a good and loyal friend.  I’m accepting of the qualities of others.  I’ll protect my loved ones with my life.  I can bake a mean pan of brownies.  I can sing without hurting ears.  I can make people laugh when they don’t mean to.  I’m full of surprises in the most dependable kind of way.  And always, what you see is what you get.

That’s part of who I am.
The good in who I am.
Maybe I’m not a mountain quite yet.
But I’ll get there.
I only hope you’re around to see it.
To see how wrong you are about me.

And. Hopefully.

June 17, 2010

I want to say things are getting better.
And they are.
But when things have been as bad as they have been, better is subjective.
I’m afraid to hope that it’s real.

This hyperemesis isn’t anything to play around with.
After three hospital visits and one admittance, I know that I am only in the small potatoes level of this illness and I have NO idea how any of the women who make it through the worse scenarios do so.

I feel more human today… but who knows how long this will last?

I’ve got the Zofran pump – which is a ton of fun – I love stabbing myself with injections every day.
(And people with diabetes everywhere are rolling their eyes at me).
I’m on Reglan, Zantac, Zoloft, B6 and a variety of other smaller things to help me cope and not go insane with vomitatious glee.

And sometimes it even works.
Dear God, Please let it be working.
Let this be a turning point – let this pregnancy start proceeding normally.
Let me feel human again.

A few thoughts

June 1, 2010

1.  I will not be sick.  I will not be sick again.  I will not be sick all of the time.  Oh wait, yes I will.  But not right this second.  Or this one.  Or this one.  Or this one.
2.  I miss my daughter.  My life is a bit of a nothing when she’s gone for the summer.  Not that I can’t have fun, but it’s a bit purposeless if you don’t count the activities from #1.
3.  It’s hard to be excited about a baby that makes you throw up your toenails.  Not that I’ve eaten them, just that this pregnancy is a force of nature. 
4.  My mom is down helping clean up the oil spill.  I think the oil spill is horseshit.  I’m glad their stock is going down.  Someone ought to punch someone else in the nose.  A bar fight doesn’t count.  I don’t like my mom being gone.
5.  The power going out for no good reason in the middle of the night apparently still makes me convinced we’re being assaulted by a massive burglary ring right at that moment.
6.  I’ve already lost 10 pounds with this pregnancy.  A fact that brings me the only small amount of happiness I’ve had so far since the hyperemesis kicked in.  I know that this method of thought is sick and twisted.
7.  I don’t like anyone that’s healthier than I am right now.
8.  I am a world class vomiter. 
9.  If I ever get pregnant again, it will be because the sperm is housing some DNA for a future superhero that can swim past any and all barricades.
10.  I have nothing interesting to say for #10 because I am once again concentrating hard on not throwing up.
11.  Oh!  Why is it that I NEVER want to talk about bathroom poops and whatnot, but have no trouble describing anything and everything to do with my so-called vomiting life?  weird.

I don’t really know what to say or how to talk about what is going on.
It’s nothing horribly bad.
No one is dying, no one has cancer that didn’t already have it… that I know of.
I’m just struggling.
Struggling to eat, struggling to drink, struggling to breathe, struggling to sleep, struggling to work.

I’ve been diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum.
My luck, I suppose.  I’ve developed something less than 2% of pregnant woman get.
I can’t win the lottery but I can vomit up my baby.  And it’s frustrating.  People assume you just have bad morning sickness.  You’re overreacting.  “Just eat a cracker.”

Just eat a cracker?
I haven’t eaten anything in days that I’ve been able to keep down remotely… don’t you think I’d give ANYTHING to be able to eat a fucking cracker?

The HER foundation put up this handy dandy little chart – dunno if I’m going to be able to get it big enough to read, but click on it if it’s not.

Tuesday I got IV fluids at the hospital, next Tuesday I have another appointment at the doctor’s office – a place that I fear I will NEVER LEAVE at some point.

I feel like I’ve got some sort of wasting disease – I’ve never been so miserable in all of my life.