Out into the big, scary world

This morning, for the first time in months, I rode my bike. The Husband made me do it - for my own health, mental and physical. I freaked out at the thought of having to go out of our house and encounter whatever was out there, so he let me ride it around the back yard. Sounds pathetic, I know. I’m glad I did it, but I’m sad to see where I’ve ended up: a year ago I was enjoying much longer rides to places I had never ridden, along paths I had never taken, and now I’m afraid to even go where I’ve already been.

Then this afternoon, for the first time in weeks, I forced myself to go somewhere away from my home, having agreed to play the organ for my choir at a funeral. It was a “job”, but it was also saying goodbye to one of our own. I couldn’t really say no. The Husband took the day off to help me. We were on time, but not as early as I had wanted, and parking was impossible, so he dropped me off and kept The Baby with him. The funeral went a lot longer than I expected, and by the time The Baby decided she needed me back, I couldn’t do anything about it. A couple of phone check-ins resulted in the knowledge that The Baby had screamed until she fell asleep. Fortunately, The Baby is very forgiving, and she has allowed me to make up for it since we arrived home.

Because we were in a hurry, I didn’t eat anything before we left home, and that left a long time between eats. Part of the UltraMind plan is to eat the right things at regular intervals to maintain blood sugar levels. I’m pretty sure my levels would have dropped during the afternoon, another way to self-sabotage and get the brain panicking. Need to work on that for the rest of the week, before the serious six weeks kick in. Always a challenge with a babe-in-arms.

I don’t intend to explain every single one of my obsessive thoughts here, but basically, the big fear out in the big, scary world is fear of injury, contamination or infection from whatever might be on the ground, or pretty much anywhere else. I have great difficulty walking on a footpath without looking at every step I take. If I see a leaf, a blade of grass, a spot (especially if it’s red), a piece of rubbish or something shiny, I have to look more closely to see if it could be something harmful, and to worry about whether or not I actually touched it in any way. Bandaids and syringes are particularly anxious thoughts. Of course, the fact that I go closer to it to find out makes me worry more. It’s a terribly painful, vicious cycle. It’s not much fun for The Husband, either, who gets frustrated at how slowly I make progress on a walk anywhere (when he can convince me to actually go anywhere), stopping continually to check and re-check, and often asking him to check too. I used to be the one who walked quickly and made him keep up.

Permalink Tuesday, 25 January, 2011 7:13 pm, by Mamma Email , 536 words, Categories: Anxiety & stress, Bike, OCD, UltraMind ,

New game plan

I’ve posted about my OCD before. I thought I was doing OK, but recently it’s gone the other way again. Remembering my experience after my previous birth, I thought I had to worry about postnatal depression (PND)/postpartum depression (PPD), but this time it’s definitely OCD - and apparently, there is such a thing as postpartum OCD. Mine is like normal OCD - on steroids (well, not literally, but you know, it’s bad). It’s almost as bad as when I totally gave up years ago, dropped out of university and ran home to get medicated. This time a can’t give up and run home. I could get medicated, but last time I did that, yes, it numbed the OCD (and pretty much everything), but there were some side effects that worried me. So I weaned myself off the meds and tried to use techniques from a self-help book to try to stay on track. Brain Lock, by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D., is still on my shelf, but I’m having trouble getting into it. I’m having trouble getting into any book.

I’ve been reading plenty of things online about OCD - seems to fit my concentration ability better than a book. However, collating it all is a nightmare for me. So, I bought another book. It neatly sums up a lot of the things I was already reading, adds some more, and gives me a plan that doesn’t require me to turn on the computer. Plus, it aligns with my own ideas about what dis-ease really is - i.e. that all those neat labels I just listed off don’t really mean anything anyway. This book explains how brain “disorders” are not psychological/mental, but biological, and remedying dietary deficiencies can cure all sorts of “mental” issues.

So now I’m placing my hope in The UltraMind Solution by Mark Hyman, M.D. and more than a few prayers. I know it sounds gimmicky, but it feels like it makes sense. I’m currently on day two of the “preparation week”, during which I’m supposed to give up a whole bunch of dietary stuff, including caffeine, processed and refined carbs, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated/trans fats, processed/packaged foods and alcohol. Fortunately, most of those things are already off my menu, or at least, already minimal. This week will also be spent trying to read as much as I can of the book, as well as figuring out which supplements and foods to include for the six weeks of the program. I’m already off gluten, dairy and a few other things - originally eliminated them for baby, but looks like it’s for me, too. Gluten and dairy elimination are also part of the program.

I’m turning to my neglected blog as an attampt to journal my progress. We’ll see how I do with that.

Permalink Monday, 24 January, 2011 9:36 am, by Mamma Email , 472 words, Categories: Anxiety & stress, Health, Caffeine/coffee, OCD, UltraMind ,

One year can change everything

Around this time last year, I was having my worst bout of OCD in a long time. It was even worse than what I’ve been experiencing lately. We had just settled in to a beachside hotel for a few days, as The Man was attending a conference, and The Boys and I were supposedly going to have a little family holiday, sharing what we could of it with The Man in between conference obligations.

I ruined it. Or, my body did.

What began as a “period” turned into something else. I still wonder if I was actually experiencing an early miscarriage. Suffice it to say, I was miserable, I spent way too much time in the shower, or crying, or both, and I was horrible company. I couldn’t even complain about it online, since the exorbitantly expensive hotel WiFi didn’t even work in our room.

I tried. I really, truly wanted The Boys to have a fun time. And I think, for the most part, they did. They still look back fondly on that holiday and ask once in a while about going back. I even considered doing just that, even for one night, this year - a little family holiday before this baby comes.

One year ago, I was praying that I would wake up and find myself “normal” and enjoying the break with my family. I alternated that prayer with the one that asked that the haemorrhaging would be so bad that I would have to go to the nearby hospital for a hysterectomy.

Yes, I was praying for a reason for my uterus to be removed. The very same uterus that is now growing a new baby. The uterus that I had started wondering if it were still capable of growing a new baby. It hadn’t done so in years, and seemed to be malfunctioning.

The one thing that spared my sanity during that “holiday” was the little organic grocery store across the road. Each day, I made myself get out of that room for meals, to take the kids outside and give them some of the “holiday” they were trying to have, and to take them for a walk across the road to that store. They had organic fruit and veg, other organic products and freshly made organic juice. That juice was the highlight of my day. I didn’t tell the people working there how I was feeling or what was happening, but somehow just their presence was comforting.

Once we were home again, and things started to settle down, I committed to a green smoothie challenge, desperately hoping to get my hormones and body into some decent kind of state.

I did get serious, and I managed to lose a decent amount of weight, feel healthier and start to feel better about myself. And suddenly, I was pregnant. I have regained that weight, but I’m pretty sure most of it is baby (and, you know, other baby stuff) and while I’ve slacked off on the high plant-content diet, I think I’m doing OK. Most importantly, I feel like I can get back on track more quickly after the birth.

I have to. My poor bike is gathering dust, and looking terribly lonely.

Permalink Friday, 1 October, 2010 12:03 am, by Mamma Email , 537 words, Categories: Health, Food, Pregnancy, Bike, OCD ,

Pumping iron

Mostly a boring, technical post today. Apart from a few things that are still causing stress, the OCD and anxiety have marginally improved this week, but I’m just really, really tired. And a bit achy in places, which is to be expected at this stage.

Yesterday, I went to the GP to discuss my 36 week blood test results, to get a recommendation for a counsellor (should we decide I need to talk to somebody professionally) and to get The Man the medical note he needs to submit with his parental leave application at work.

During the week, my GP rang me to briefly tell me about the results, because she was concerned about the iron, and suggested I come in for an (IM) injection. I had already scheduled an appointment for yesterday, so I said I would prefer to discuss it then. She told me my “iron” was 11, which sounded good, because I thought she was talking about the haemoglobin (thinking in 10s, not 100s, even though the tests always show the results in 100s - g/L), and that would have been an improvement on the previous results. On the basis of that, and the searching I did on iron injections, I was ready to decline.

Yesterday, at the appointment, she showed me the actual results. The “iron” was 11 (reasonable) while haemoglobin has slipped only just barely under 100 (99 - so, in the other way of thinking, 9.9 - so we had miscommunicated on that 11). The GP is more concerned about the ferritin, which has dropped slightly from already-low. Of course, now I’m doubting myself, but I’m pretty sure it’s the Hb we’re trying to keep at 100 (10) or higher, for the purposes of low intervention in this birth. So Hb has gone from 108 in May, to 102 in July, to 99 in September. Not hugely dramatic, but disconcerting and discouraging. Of course, it doesn’t reflect the fact that, for the past week, I’ve made an extra-concerted effort to keep up the iron intake and get more rest, since I started that the day of the blood draw. Anyway, upon seeing that number, I decided that maybe I should accept the injection. Which I did.

So I came home with a copy of the results, a medical note for The Man, a counsellor referral and a slightly tender patch on my rump (nice bruise today, too). I also have another blood draw request, and I need to figure out whether I should bother with that before the birth to see if the extra iron has made a difference, or just wait until after the birth, as my GP suggested. That’s a question for my next antenatal appointment (I may actually make contact for that particular question before the appointment), and keeping my fingers crossed that 99 is just squeakingly close enough to 100, especially considering the iron injection, and how close we are to meeting baby.

One aside: my zinc/copper test took an interesting turn. My zinc has improved, to just within the lower limits we want, but my copper has increased even further, which we didn’t want. We’ve increased the dose of the supplements to see if that will help.

For a little dose of irony (ooh, look, that’s kind of punny): one of the boys, while we were returning home in the car from some appointment this week (there have been several), saw an ad for blood donation requests. He said he wanted to donate. I explained that, whether he or I were happy for him to do it, he wasn’t allowed, since a donor has to be at least 16 years old (and he isn’t). Then I had to explain that, even though I am old enough, they wouldn’t accept my blood, because my iron is too low. Plus, I’m pregnant. Then, yesterday, The Man told me about a colleague who has recently found out that he has haemochromatosis, which essentially has the exact opposite results I would get (iron deficiency) from iron studies in a blood test. Apparently, as part of his treatment, he actually has to donate blood more often than normally allowed. But no, I’m not actually envious. I think that problem would be just as bad, probably even worse, than mine.

Permalink Saturday, 25 September, 2010 3:34 pm, by Mamma Email , 702 words, Categories: Medical tests, Anxiety & stress, Health, Pregnancy, OCD ,

Game plan

36 week appointment was today. The Man had a day off and attended with me. He told the midwife about my OCD being worse. I cried, and tried to explain what it was like. Not a good combination, and probably lucky I couldn’t see a mirror. It’s not usually pretty.

So instead of launching forth into the main part of the appointment, we started with twenty minutes of discussing my mental health. Now I’m supposed to seek out a counsellor. Even if not for now, but so that I’ll have somebody to talk with should PND rear its ugly head after the birth.

Funnily enough, the plan for today was to discuss “what ifs” and things that can go less-than-smoothly during the birth. The midwife was a bit worried about upsetting me with that discussion, but I found it comforting and reassuring. Yes, I’m weird like that. Besides, I’ve heard and read a lot of reassuring stories of midwives who are capable in situations that can arise. And I’m confident that if it’s beyond the scope of the midwife, she will defer to those whose job it is to intervene in a true emergency, and she will continue to support me if that happens. So far, we’ve been lucky and have had wonderful midwives in our pregnancy/birth journeys. This pregnancy has been no different in that respect.

Anyway, today I also had blood drawn for the 36 week tests (full blood count and iron studies) and a follow-up on the zinc/copper balance. I’ve decided to try to increase (or at least be more vigilant with) my dietary zinc and iron, just in case, and hope the results aren’t too bad. But I suspect that maybe the zinc is still not great. I’m hoping it’s just a matter of increasing it, as at this stage baby is probably taking all it can get, and I, of course, am getting the leftovers. The iron needs to stay reasonable at this late stage, to minimise the possibility of birth complications, but the zinc is not really a pregnancy/birth issue. However, it’s quite possible that it’s affecting my mental state as well as my skin flare-ups.

So, game plan. Most of it is my own.

More:

- sleep (at better hours)
- dietary zinc and iron
- water (to drink)
- offline support (even if it means making The Man ask on my behalf)
- chasing up last loose ends
- preparation for, and avoidance of, OCD triggers
- preparation of baby things, even if just to focus more on baby than other things
- positive stories (not just birth)
- knitting (it seems to help a little)

Less/fewer:

- negative stories (not just birth)
- reliance on online support (but not necessarily cutting off completely)
- exposure to places/situations that trigger anxiety (now’s not the time for behavioural therapy)

I’ve told myself I would cut back on coffee, even decaf (mainly for the dairy, which I find hard to avoid when I’m enjoying a coffee), and I’m not indulging in a lot, but it’s still there.

I really want to get back to a more plant-based diet too. But at this point, I’ve reverted to the old reliable things that have got me through other times of mineral neediness, and I’m not confident experimenting with less familiar things while I’m growing a baby and watching my iron. I know that experienced vegetarians would not be concerned, but I still don’t completely know what I’m doing. I dabbled in it last year, and I think did pretty well, but that was while my body was the only one relying on it. I have craved animal protein during the pregnancy, and while that probably just means I’m responding to my body’s cues and needs in my old way, I feel that it’s safer for now.

So that’s it for the moment. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but I’m tired. And stressed.

Oh, yeah. One last thing. Eleven years ago, The Man asked me to marry him. I wanted to celebrate it alone with him, since I’m not sure we’ll get to do that on our wedding anniversary, but I didn’t organise anybody to mind kids. In the end, we decided to get takeaway Thai, and the kids got to enjoy our “anniversary” too, as simple and unadorned as it was.

Permalink Friday, 17 September, 2010 7:23 pm, by Mamma Email , 728 words, Categories: Medical tests, Anxiety & stress, Marriage, Health, Caffeine/coffee, Pregnancy, OCD ,

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