Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Adventures In Indexing: Pacifists & Studebakers & "Mormons" Oh my!

My Dad

 NOTE: All names of persons in indexed records will remain anonymous in these posts.

 Going through old vital and government records doesn't sound all that enticing to you? They are often hard to read and repetitive. Sometimes you get stuck and wonder if it's worth your time. Maybe it should be left in the hands of a professional archivist, librarian or historian? Maybe you think it would be really nice to have some formal training on this. What good does tramping around in the past do? Maybe the past should stay in the past? To that I can say, from experience, that people- dead or alive, past or present- like to be heard. And sometimes it's the trace records of their lives that do the first talking. They say "I was here. And I hope that my life mattered." It reminds me of one of my favorite shows I like to watch when folding laundry, The Story Trek. Does randomly picking towns and knocking on doors and asking strangers to tell their "stories" and getting a variety of strange looks and closed doors make for riveting tv? When somebody opens their mouth it does, as Todd Hansen from BYUtv's THE STORY TREK and fans know. Something about opening up your ears, eyes and hearts to the universe and saying "Here I am. What do you have for me?!" and cool things come forth. That happens to me all the time when I engage in the simple tasks that God has asked me to do.

 Sunday I was challenged by Tim to do a batch of WW1 draft records in FamilySearch's volunteer indexing program. I've been indexing for about 6 years now (by the way, the way that time flies really makes me feel like a time traveler. And old.) (USA)WW1 draft records are great to do for beginners because there are about 5 records in a batch and you can get used to how different clerks write the alphabet, whether in cursive or print. They come in all different states and counties, often show birthdate and place, current residence, marital status, whether they had kids and often the name of their nearest relative. They often list basic physical characteristics and whether they desire to claim exemption. Honing in on this last question for this one batch took me on a cool journey that actually intersected with my life. In elementary school they call this a "text to self" or even a "text to world" connection. I love when stuff I learned while reading with my kids feels relevant in the grown-up world! It's like everything I ever really needed to know I learned in kindergarten...or while my kids were in kindergarten. Motherhood has been good for me.

 Three records in a row, all with the same surname, listed being members of The Church of The Brethren as a reason for exemption from military service. This sounded like a cult or commune of some sort that I'd not heard of. What was it? I knew that Quakers and Mennonites were a few groups that because of their particular view of Christianity did not wish to use or support violence. What I found when I Googled that church was that it had roots in early 18th century Schwarzenau Germany and was an offshoot of the Protestantism of the time. Due to growing hardships and persecution, many emigrated to the American colonies and formed their first congregation in Germantown, PA in 1723. From that time, if there were wars and conflicts, the Brethren held pacifist leanings and resisted fighting and thus I saw these WW1 draft registrants claiming exemption for religious reasons.

 Looking a little more, I noticed that The Church of The Brethren (earlier known as German Baptists & called “Dunkers”) currently have a historical library and while perusing through some of their online articles I found the Studebaker logo!  My dad, who passed away almost exactly a year from now (see his pic above), loved cars and restoring them. His favorite ones were made by Studebaker (my personal favorite model was his gold Avanti.) The company was started by 2 brothers when their family had moved to South Bend, Indiana in the 1800s. These brothers were part of a large family who had been raised in The Church of the Brethren in Germantown, PA.  I also have family ties in that town. Brethren aim to follow the example of Jesus Christ as shown in the New Testament and interpret that in action by their baptism by immersion, daily service to others and non-violent submission. The Studebaker brothers made their living after the manner of their forefathers – in blacksmithing and wagon building before building automobiles. In 1857 they contracted with the U.S. government to supply them with wagons for their latest venture, The “Mormon Rebellion”, which required a long trip out west to the Utah Territory. This venture did not sit well with one brother, Henry, and his pacifist feelings. Opportunistically another brother, John, who had just returned from earning a fortune supplying wheelbarrows to California gold miners, decided to buy Henry out and invest $8,000 in the company. Henry and his father would live out the rest of their days in their faith. The other brothers did not.

Today some members of The Church of The Brethren do choose to serve in the military.  I wondered if my dad knew of this interesting connection to his favorite car company? I think he would have found it entertaining as he had joined the Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) faith as a young husband and father. I also live in a city that shares the same valley that United States Army camped (Camp Floyd) in during the “Utah War”. I never knew much about that until we moved here 19 years ago. Thus are the text-to-self and text-to-world gems  (maybe I should call them "index-to-self or "index-to-world" connections) that can be found when digging a little deeper and shining a light on history…through indexing.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

"Such a Man!"

Fighting Back Harder: A PMDD Case Study from A Husband's Point of View

Updated: Mar 29

INTRO: A friend of mine sent this very personal narrative to me almost 5 months ago (on my birthday I might add). A few years earlier he had read an older post of mine about my own experience trying to make sense of my PMDD and promptly messaged me "SUSIE WE HAVE TO TALK!". We did. It was the first time I realized that sharing my experience could actually help another feel "NOT ALONE". It was so obvious that this guy loved and adored his wife. He had wooed and married her and had felt he'd gotten the far better end of the deal. He was ecstatic to be getting closer to the true character of his wife's mood disorder and saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully he is very expressive, and could barely contain himself to ask me if I could publish this for him, with the agreement that he remain anonymous to protect his wife's privacy. THIS IS NOT EVERY WOMAN OR PARTNER's EXPERIENCE WITH PMDD OR WITH GETTING A PROPER DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT PLAN. I hesitated to go forward because light is still being shed on this disorder and every case is different in what can agitate it to the point of dysfunction and dispruption in one's life. There is definitely something going on with the woman's personal sensitivity to even NORMAL hormonal changes let alone when you add synthetic birth control or any hormone supplement or replacement. It could be the metaphorical difference between blowing gently on a flame and throwing kerosine on it. In any case, it is extremely rare to get the partner's point of view and experience. Most partners of women desperately trying to hold onto some semblance of normal, are being tossed in a sea of confusion alongside their partner. I admire how this friend "went to bat" for his wife, demanding that she and he be heard. To that I say: "What a man." Here are his words.
"Let me begin with the conclusion. PMDD(pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder) is a significantly underdiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and misunderstood medical condition that impacts far more women in the world than reported and it can be SEVERE. Here is the story.
My wife suffered from painful and long periods. They were just awful. On top of it she would have bouts of depression. As our marriage continued her depression only increased. Her gynecologist put her on birth control pills and told her to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist told her she had major depression and gave her lots of pills. Her depression went from mild to severe. During the severe cases she was hospitalized. She never tried to kill herself but she absolutely couldn’t handle her state of being and sometimes she would hurt herself just to feel something- ANYTHING. Some mental health programs were outpatient and some were inpatient. I absolutely did not accept the diagnosis of major depression. I explained that this is not who my wife is. I was looked upon as someone who simply didn’t want his wife this way; like I was trying to change her into something she is not. I explained that I know who she is and this is not her- something is causing it. Multiple doctors explained that the issue was psychological. None of the doctors could point to a reason or cause. Their diagnosis was based on symptoms. I was determined to find the cause. It was a broad search at first.
Her depression started to come on in her teenage years and it just grew from there. By the time we were married it started to get bad. A year or so into our marriage it increased to severe: inability to go out, to see people, to even shower. (This went on for years- and I refer to this part of our lives as "the dark ages"). I remember bringing her to the store one night and she had a breakdown in the ice cream isle because she couldn’t figure out which ice cream to get. That started off a very bad episode of “depression”. Depression is like a dark storm where you can’t see anything clearly and you are pelted with winds of self-hate, your future seems bleak and hopeless, and your past takes on the beauty of a mud puddle. I realized this was getting severe. She had many many many therapists; therapist in person, therapists over the phone, so many ways we tried to work with her but there was something inside of her fighting back harder.
Her periods were rough from the start but they also grew in severity. When her period started surpassing 30 days more than once a year I realized this was getting really bad. By the time she had her 3rd D&C I realized this was a severe problem.

The third time she was in the mental health hospital I was on my way to visit her and she called me and told me to pick up tampons. I didn’t even have to ask what flavor- purple, max, overnight with wings. I also got a small bag of gummy worms and started taking some of the tampons out of the box and filling them up with gummy worms- since she loves gummy worms and can’t have candy in the hospital- they literally check everything- so I thought it was fun to sneak contraband in there. As I am stuffing the gummy worms in the tampon box I realize I have been to this pharmacy 3 times now. Each time she was hospitalized I had to go buy her tampons. This is a pattern.

I started my research with 2 truths: 1. her depression is not who she is, it is caused by something. And 2: her lady plumbing is messed up. I spent years researching this. Many nights were spent with Doctor Google. I found a website that let me buy time to communicate with a doctor overseas. We chatted back and forth for a while one night, discussing hormones. Finally, after my wife had had her second dilation and curettage (D&C) and started bleeding again her doctor suggested a drug called Lupron. Lupron is administered through an injection and it puts a woman’s body into menopause for 6 months. You stop ovulating- no periods for 6 months. It is usually administered back-to-back with a compliment dose giving you a total of 12 months of no periods. Sounds like paradise, right? …lets see…

So she got the shot of Lupron. Within a few days she went nuts. As the days went on she went CRAZY. Crazy doesn’t even begin to describe her as the days continued. See if you can figure out what I am saying if I give you the words Batman, poop, and crazy (editor's note: I still haven't figured this out. Someone please enlighten me!) That’s the kind of crazy I am talking about and just a few weeks after the dose she had to be admitted to the mental health facility again. And she had art therapy and group discussion and psychology appointments and psychiatry appointments and she was getting “better” and then BETTER and then BETTER! And this time the facility really helped her! And she was doing GREAT! And she came home feeling great! And she just needed to get in touch with her feelings. And she was far more capable now. She was happier and brighter and more down-to-earth. And she got her second shot of Lupron and she was still fine and then a few months later she started to bleed. And it wasn’t just a little blood. It was a monsoon of blood that didn’t let up for over a month. Her body declared war on her for going so long without bleeding. Those friggin' ovaries, those “mean girls,” decided they were going to teach my wife a lesson once and for all. I really hate those bitches, I really do! And so this opened up a tidal wave of blood and pain that just wouldn’t end.
About this time my research came up with a very RARE diagnosis called PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). As I researched PMDD I came to a blog written by a very brave woman who explained her bouts with depression and her decision to have her ovaries removed to help her mental condition (https://msjekyllhyde.wordpress.com) And it worked. This was intriguing. And so now I had evidence of a patient who got rid of their ovaries and it greatly reduced their depression. This is something counter to what doctors had explained! My wife fit ALL of the symptoms for PMDD. And so I started running with the theory that my wife had PMDD. I started doing more research.
The research into estrogen was the big eye-opener. Estrogen is talked about a lot but understands a little. The FDA would never allow a doctor to prescribe the amount or estrogen a woman can get in a day. It's also so hard to measure hormone levels because they change so much over the course of a day. But estrogen is an interesting little hormone. You see it DIRECTLY impacts the serotonin in your head. Now serotonin is something I had read a lot about. Many of my wife’s pills for her depression were aimed at impacting her serotonin levels. When people take drugs and self medicate they are usually trying to alter the serotonin levels in their head. This is what changes how we feel. Let that sink in. And so I discover that serotonin is directly impacted by estrogen. So now lets run with the theory that my wife does not get a steady flow of estrogen. A more traditional cycle sends estrogen into the serotonin river like a hose pouring water. My wife’s estrogen is released like a firehose and then trickle and then a firehose and a trickle or anything but a consistent flow. This makes her feel awful. And then came the Lupron. It made her crazy…and then she was fine.
I discussed this with her gynecologist- he is a wonderful man who was fellowship trained but he had no idea what PMDD was. He dismissed it and suggested she try more birth control pills- "let's go ahead and double it- I dare your uterus to bleed through that!" (by the way- don’t taunt your uterus…ever) Birth control pills are frequently prescribed when not needed or prescribed for convenience and frequently they are OVERPRESCRIBED because they are very misunderstood. I finally begged my wife to see a professional who specialized in PMDD and she reluctantly agreed. I called UCLA in an attempt to get someone top-notch in the field. I screened them all to find a gynecologist who had a lot of experience with PMDD and bonus- the doctor was a woman! So we met with her and she was so kind and sympathetic and she prescribed my wife 3 birth control pills a day and insisted that would teach your cycle who is boss! And about 2 months later my wife's bleeding was so bad and her pain was so severe we returned to see that doctor and the doctor said my wife should not be bleeding. I volunteered that my wife had a hormone problem and it needs to be fixed. I stated the estrogen was making her bleed. The doctor lost it and she yelled out something like this- “Such a man! SUCH A MAN TO SAY IT'S ALL HORMONES! SHE ISN’T GETTING ESTROGEN SO IT'S NOT CAUSING HER TO BLEED!” I calmly explained that it was all hormones and that the only way a woman can bleed is through hormones and the mere fact that she was bleeding was proof that she was getting estrogen and that her body's ovaries are just on overdrive and they are spitting out hormones that are messing with her lady parts and her brain. I was now more convinced than ever that the ovaries were the main culprit for my wife’s gynecological issues and her mental issues. I begged my wife to get her ovaries removed. She would not. I respected her decision since they are her ovaries and I would not take kindly to someone telling me to lose my balls.
A few years went by and she started to have a lot of abdominal pain. Turns out she had a cyst on one of her ovaries. The pathology was a bit fuzzy and he recommended a hysterectomy. So she did it. A few days later, as she was recovering, she started to spiral out of control. It was horrible. Secretly I was so excited and happy about it! You see what was happening here? It was the same thing that happened with the Lupron. The Lupron shut her ovaries down- the hysterectomy takes her ovaries out! She was having the same reaction to the hysterectomy as she did to the Lupron. And then a few weeks later it was like the dark clouds of depression cleared and revealed a beautiful blue sky! My wife is completely different now. She is able. She drives places. She wrangles our kid LIKE A BOSS. She runs to Costco like a champ! She owns Target! She does the school drop off, pick up, handles appointments, and bathes daily! She still deals with depression but not a tenth of what she used to deal with. I have my wife back! And as for her ovaries….wherever her ovaries are, I hope they are rotting in hell.
The point of me writing this is to let you know that many women have this problem. There is a reason why so many more women deal with major depression than men. It’s because of the estrogen. Women who have painful periods and bleed heavily and have severe depression please take note. It’s not your fault. Your ovaries hate you. The way you test and see if you have PMDD is you ask for Lupron from your gynecologist. They will likely give it to you to see if it helps you stop bleeding. If you go crazy for the first month and then feel a LOT BETTER for 5 months then chances are your ovaries and you are not on good terms and it's either you or them in a cage match of death. Many women have committed suicide because of PMDD. It is a killer. Their ovaries drove them to do it. Their ovaries were pumping such massive and inconsistent quantities of estrogen into their serotonin stream that there was no recovery from the free-fall. There was no anti-depressant strong enough to counterbalance it.
Anyway, that’s my story. My wife has gotten so much better I now stick out as the crazy depressed one in our family and she helps me. A lot. I love her to pieces. I’ve always loved her, just not all of her. In truth, I never loved her ovaries. I’m glad she won that cage match. I wish the doctor could have given me her ovaries so I could throw them off the roof of the hospital, run over them with my car, stomp my foot on them, feed them to a colony of dung-beetles, and then burn everything with a blowtorch. That would have felt goooooood."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Joy Joy!: Why I Am Skeptical of Happiness OR Welcome to My PMDD

I once got mad at an ex for using exclamation marks after every sentence in his letter to me.  It's sad but true that I am leery of overly enthusiastic sorts.

But today?  Today I am going to bask in the feeling that tiny little effervescent bubbles of quiet joy are rising to the surface :-).  The last 5 days or so I have felt unusually peaceful and not as high strung as I tend to be during this time of the month.  YES- THAT TIME; the week preceding my period where I usually want nothing more than to be left alone and if you know what's good for you, you would be more than obliging.  It's NOT typical.  It's NOT PMS.  It's much more debilitating than being a little more moody than usual.  It's an ultra sensitivity that some women have to their own hormonal fluctuations which manifests itself physiologically by way of overcompensating for the imbalances their bodies perceive are threatening their homeostasis.  It's called PMDD which is short for "pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder."   Less than 10% (numbers vary between 3-10%) of menstruating women have it which is probably supposed to make me feel special, but it doesn't.  Especially since I have never been a "typical" enough case to actually be diagnosed as such.  Without going into too much of the diagnostic aspect of it (go here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004461/ if you'd like to), I can have depression and irritability on days other than the typical week before your period.  But that being said (and it even acknowledges it in that link), there is definitely someone pumping up the volume dial of my symptoms those 7-8 days (anytime after ovulation really, i.e. second half of the cycle) before the relief that comes with my period.  Yes, the relief.  So if you're miserable when you start your period, you probably don't have PMDD.  Other unpleasantries and disruptions to your life?  YES. But PMDD? NOT SO MUCH.

OH MY GOSH!  I really wanted to talk about how good I feel right now!  But I always feel the need to give background information so you (really I'm writing for my own clarity but if this helps you that's awesome) can get the BIG PICTURE.   And there's a lot going on in this picture (maybe even enough to create my own IMAX movie).  Make no mistake, this is really personal stuff and not something I usually bring up in many conversations.  And it's taken me YEARS (I'm 44) to give voice to it.  This is me being almost as vulnerable as I can possibly imagine.   I finally have some time, with all my kids in school and working part-time at home, to work through this and allow God to bring everything together so that I can really begin to heal.  I wish it hadn't taken this long.  I have been trying to do the right things for myself, my body and my family all along but, alas, I am so very mortal- so flawed- and I need help and I need the faith and hope to understand that help IS available.  I have felt trapped by some of my life situations and I have felt extremely liberated by others.    What is this opposition that continually besets me? Why must my earth life be so RICH with this experience?  Well, there are a few scriptures that answer this for me: 2 Nephi Chapter 2 (The Book of Mormon) and The Doctrine & Covenants section 122.  You can Google them if you like.  But here is my favorite part where Jacob's father, Lehi, sounds a LOT like our Heavenly Father in addressing his children:
 I have none other object save it be the everlasting awelfare of your souls. 
I read a book this past week which may also have a LOT to do with why I feel lighter.  Now I've read MANY a near-death experience book before and I enjoy them much and they also create a feeling of lightness, love and eternal perspective for me that I crave.  This one left me feeling those things too but a little more earthbound.  It was not an NDE.  At least not in the near death of the physical body sense.  The woman was alive but so spiritually and physically exhausted that she thought she'd be better off dead.  She was a very prayerful mother of 4 kids going through some health struggles, financial stresses with their businesses and the stress of parenting.  She actually decided to get on her knees in her extreme distress and offer one last prayer to explain to God why she couldn't go on and why her family was better off without her.  According to her, an angel came and invited her to come with him.   In so doing her spirit did separate from her physical body and she had an experience witnessing the time before her birth when she was in an educational facility where we all prepared for our earth lives.  She met with Heavenly Father and felt of His confidence in and love for her as he extended an invitation to her to receive a special assignment should she so choose to accept it.  Her memories of her pre-earth life and how much she had already grown and become at that point amazed her.  Everyone there amazed her.  We were ALL amazing and on earth, with a more metaphorical STEEL than GUAZE like veil placed in our brains, only understand tiny glitches of how amazing we were -and are- in this life.   And she was amazed by how perfect Heavenly Father is and how he loved and deeply cared for each of us and how much we trusted and wanted to become just like Him.   It's called A Glimpse of Heaven: One Woman's Life-Altering Visit with God.  The rest of the book is about how she goes about fulfilling this "mission" despite many setbacks and some of the unromantic outcomes.

One of the interesting things that struck me about this experience was that, like many others who've had NDEs, the circumstances leading to and following such encounters were not always neatly resolved.   Like it or not, life has a natural form of resistance built into it so that we don't become complacent or negligent to character building experiences, even if we've seen God and know some of the switches and levers behind the Great Oz's curtain.    After reading so many different beyond the veil accounts I see how presumptuous it is to only know more of the plan through more of our senses.  We must experience it.  We must experience it IN a mortal body.  It is only through this very personal struggle that we come to truly know God and what we are made of and by whom we can be made whole again.  And WHY.  Why?  Here's another scripture from 2 Nephi 2.  Verse 25
tells us:
aAdam bfell that men might be; and men care, that they might have djoy.
I believe that JOY is the ultimate appreciation for and true understanding of real LOVE.   This kind of love can only be experienced between Creator and Creation.  We felt a portion of that before we came to earth.  Then we feel the distress that comes through separation at birth from all that we knew and loved (even though we forget everything, our spirit matter remembers and grieves) but we get to experience new connections here in families, friendships and communities; people we may have even known and been connected to before.  But our Creator is unseen; He who first created us and loved us. We can see evidence of Him everywhere in the other works of His creation (Nature, Space, others) but we miss Him and the Light and Love that emanate from his physical and spiritual presence.   There are limitations placed on us because of what Christians call the Fall.  We are now working our way back up-- the RISE I guess you could call it.  But, don't be fooled,  it looks more like a roller coaster than an escalator and there was a huge piece of track missing that only Jesus Christ could rebuild and has through a thing called the ATONEMENT: a sacrificial offering of love and Priesthood power.  I think my personal trials in life have done everything to illustrate and bring this concept home for me.  Being a woman and mother is no cake walk but I have come to learn something of the love my heavenly parents must have for me when I share tender moments with my kids.  My mental and physical health struggles challenge me to reach up and out for insight and the strength to forge new habits and solutions that will bless me.  Mostly I struggle with the patience it takes to serve imperfectly, realizing that God's grace is enough to make up for what I lack.  And I get discouraged and feel like God is ignoring my needs.

But He's not. That's why I wanted to write today.  I want to thank my Heavenly Father for inspiring me in all the little ways that seem to finally be making a big difference.  Those, I suppose, will be topics for future blog posts because I really need to get off this computer.  But know that I know He is helping me!  (yes, that is an exclamation point!!!)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Into the Red

As usual, the original reason I began creating this post in my head, has become many more reasons.

(**sigh**)My cup overfloweth.

NOTE: if you are squeemish about blood and medical processes (this is for people like my twin daughters), please skip this post.  It is not gory by any means....but let this be a -pardon the pun- RED FLAG.

Suddenly I feel at a loss for words.  Into the red.  In the red. Operating at a loss.  Deficient.  Indebted. In debt.  Debt.  Loss.  Deficit.  Anemia.  Anemic.

Yes, Anemia!  That is what started this whole thing, actually.  I went into my primary care physician's office last September to get the GREEN FLAG on an 8-week team fitness challenge that I had entered a week before.  I actually did have some concerns that I wanted to discuss with her.  I had been biking quite a bit in preparation for the challenge and found that while I would feel pretty good on the ride, 1-2 hours after the ride I would need to shut down and sleep.  I also would feel out of breath after going upstairs.  And I had been experiencing a chronic cough for a while that I attributed mostly to our yucky inversion systems here that create a huge pocket of polluted air to rest over our mountain surrounded valleys.  I could feel fine but then after I'd be outside biking or walking, the cough would begin and I'd feel like a tuberculosis victim for the next few weeks.

I had a hard time spitting all this out for her, feeling like a hypochondriac, but also just real foggy and slow and...yawn, TIRED.  She decided

she'd like to get a CBC (complete blood count) on me.  It's a pretty standard test that measures the different amount, size and type of blood cells and components floating through your veins.

Now mind you, many of these symptoms are things I'm pretty used to.  I'm prone to being ultra-sensitive to the waxing and waning of female hormones that occurs in a dramatic cyclical fashion in my life.  It is no coincidence that when ANY hormone of the body is out of balance, an equal and opposite reaction of the body is to create homeostasis (functional balance). This happens via  a lovely dance of pushing and pulling, reception and inhibition, protection and annihilation.  Our bodies do this dance daily, hourly, CONSTANTLY.  Building up, tearing down, replacing, recycling, inhaling, exhaling....you get the picture, right?  Most of us do this without noticing all the side-effects of this "wax on wax off" dance and process homeostasis effortlessly. My experience of fatigue and energy, mental confusion and clarity and exhilaration and depression (sometimes apathy) makes for a precarious existence which I like to call interesting or multifaceted.  Many don't notice my struggle.  I often lack the desire or energy to explain it and focus on something more enjoyable that catches my attention.  Sometimes the cycle is exciting but mostly, at the end of the day, it is exhausting. Finding humor in the journey and hope in the plan of salvation of my Creator is how I survive.  I am so blessed to have a husband who understands, even when he doesn't always LIKE and who can laugh with me rather than have me admitted somewhere.  (Happy Valentines Day Tim, I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH).  He most always sees the good and amazing in me and reminds me it's very much there when all I see is LACK and inconsistency.  My struggles are mostly internal until I get to the point of implosion or explosion:).  Iron-deficiency anemia (just one of my imbalances manifesting as a nutritional deficiency) has been an implosion which I'd like to keep from exploding.  Wait, who am I kidding? It kind of explodes every month.  I menstruate on the heavy side every month and my hematologist believes that to be the main leak of iron (which leads to low hemoglobin, which leads to wimpy red blood cells, which leads to the organ systems of my body being deprived of fresh oxygen, which leads to all the fun symptoms and if left unchecked, death). Yipee!  

So I backed off a lot on the intensity of my exercise regimen.

When the results of the CBC came back low AND the follow-up Ferritin (a protein that stores and releases iron) test were also low, I was referred to a blood specialist (hematologist) and an OBGYN to see how to stop the "leak."  I've been low on my hemoglobin and iron before.  They typically test it when you're pregnant and I had to supplement for a while with all my kids.  I kind of wish they had tested ferritin back then.   How long have I been operating on a mostly depleted store of iron?  Could it have affected my children's development as the pregnancy progressed and iron was assumed to be operating at normal levels?  So many questions.  Which of my other "imbalances" may have been exacerbated or even primarily caused by this condition?  Did my years of vegetarianism (about 5) contribute to a borderline iron deficiency that eventually led to severe iron-deficiency anemia?  

I went through a 6 week stint of receiving iron sucrose IVs and improvements are being made, but it is slow.  The doctor says it could take a year to built up my iron levels and reserves to a safe and healthy level.  I enjoy (always have unless I was being a vegetarian) red meat, spinach, nuts, seeds and don't drink or eat dairy which has been known to interfere with iron absorption.

There is so much conflicting information out there about health, nutrition and wellness.  I have adopted many different healthy eating programs in my life in an effort to optimize my health. Again, consistency is what I struggle with when it comes to implementing and creating realistic routines in my life.  And I have seen how the philosophies and incomplete science of man can offer hope but also not really have the entire picture or the customized version optimal for each individual.  Our knowledge and implementation of that which is good for us needs to be constantly updated, revised and tweaked to meet the needs of each person and stage of life.  It is easy to fall into the trap of "oh I know what works for me right now, it will work in the future and it will most certainly work for you too."  Just as Moses looked to God for constant direction in liberating the Israelites from Egyptian bondage (and not soley relying on earlier revelations of former prophets) and in leading his people through the wilderness for 40 years (would not have been that long had the people trusted and heeded Moses' counsel) before making their home in Canaan, we need to look for relevant information for our problems both physical and spiritual.  There are concepts and principles that will ALWAYS be true, but there are also things happening in an ever changing world (and body) that will require updates, revisions and tweaking. 

My life has been a tutorial in the notion of "more information needed".   I have a family and with that, 5 people besides myself for whom I feel a responsibility.  5 other individuals with their own make-ups, talents and challenges who are growing and changing daily though I sometimes wish they would not!   I need insight from professionals of all disciplines and I very much appreciate scholars and researches and authors who educate us on these things.   I am skeptical but hopeful about much that comes to light because of their hard, and what I hope is thorough, work.  I'm also coming to appreciate the intuitive arts and the order and harmony that exists even while chaos ensues.  Yogis, good astrologers, healers and artists of all kinds also see the patterns of chaos and harmony in all things.  I learn much from them and the fruits of their labors also.  

But I really need my Father. The father of my eternal spirit and the father of my loved ones' eternal spirits.  I work on trusting Him implicitly with the deficits, the loss and "the red" of this life.  His son, my elder brother and Savior, has overcome ALL THINGS.  He desires us all to succeed and rise to our full eternal potential; a potential that is only partially realized here in this earthly state.   This Savior can bring abundance into our lives even when we feel destitute and deficient.  He promises His spirit and His peace -"not as the world giveth" mind you- and he promises the power to overcome all obstacles and corruptions of nature, even death.  I am so grateful for His promises, blessings and special covenants: all that will bring me out of the red and into the white.

Friday, December 27, 2013

I Sing The Body Electric


It is a rare thing for me to experience insomnia - to have something entrain itself into my mind so powerfully that I cannot sleep.  But last night, I definitely awoke singing the body electric.  And it was kinda enjoyable for a bit.  Imagine THIS on replay in the darkness of night!

I sing the body electric
I celebrate the me yet to come
I toast to my own reunion
When I become one with the sun

And I'll look back on Venus
I'll look back on Mars
And I'll burn with the fire
of ten million stars

And in time 
And in time
We will all be stars

And that's just the first verse.  Luckily my mind hadn't recalled the rest of the song.  So I decided I needed to blog about it.
Like ta hear it?  
Here it goes...
Oh!  First I need to get you in the proper mood (cue You Tube):

I had a friend call me "the hippiest Mormon" he ever knew.  And I don't even wear hemp jewelry.  My wardrobe is pretty blasé, except for maybe the rainbow-colored chevron maxi dress I don on occasions (yes. EVEN to church.). But perhaps he was more making reference to my love of astrological metaphor ("As above, so below") and philosophical speculation in regards to the time, place and day/year one is born?  Yes, I think so.  And now that I watch that video again and think on the lyrics, I realize that my connection to planets MUST HAVE begun when Mrs. Sauerland handed us our very own copy of the choral arrangement of this song in choir class my senior year.

Mrs. Sauerland.  The ever optimistic music lover who, despite sporting a very manicured and boring grey short helmet do and polyester shirt dress with nude hose, could've, now that I think about it, could've even been HERSELF a hippie- at one time.  

I'm pretty sure we all thought she was nuts as we perused the purple title cover and unnerving lyrical suggestions inside.  Pubescent teens talking about a "body electric"?  Oh and we're singing this for senior graduation in front of the whole student body???  My choir class was not quite the artsy, fartsy crew you see in this totally awesome FAME circa 1980 video from the hit movie.  This was 8 years later and many of us were just getting up the courage to let boys and girls know we "liked" them.  Choir class was our "safe zone".  Though we did try our hand at neon pinks, blues and yellows in clothing, singing with wild, confident abandon about our "bodies electric" was another thing entirely.  

"Um, Mrs. Sauerland?  What happened to that 'My Fair Lady' medley we all knew and loved?" 

Yeah there were a few nervous giggles as we went through "I Sing the Body Electric" for the first time.  But the cool thing was that by the time graduation rolled around most of us were on board with our bodies being electric.  It was a special thing to witness the evolution, charged by a song of confidence and hope, (and hey, a full drum set!), of a choir of self-conscious kids as they blossomed on an outdoor stage.  

Senior year was for me a year of near wonders.  I was driven to overcome some of my fears that kept me more isolated and shy and try new things.  I had talents and felt an urge to reach out to more of my peers, showing them who I was and hoping to get to know and care about more of those around me.  

The phrase "body electric" is the mind child of Walt Whitman in his poem from Leaves of Grass  and inspired Michael Gore who used it for the final song in the movie Fame as a way of celebrating and showcasing the students' talents.  Whitman added this phrase to a later 1867 edition of the poem.  I marvel that one could conjure up such a phrase in the 1800s.  How I love poetic originality!

Whitman's use of the term "body electric"  is both plural and singular.  Looking at his first stanza you can see that he is directly referring to a body of loved ones. 

I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

For the rest of the poem he explores other marvels of the body, both male and female, and concludes, that yes, it is not needful or wise to separate the body from the soul.  The body is soul.
O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!
I sing the body electric.
Do you?
(Comment below.  Make me blush.)

PART 2 (coming soon): How the body electric is connected to Mars, Venus and stars according to moi.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PART 2: "I Sing the Body Electric": we are all stars

(written December 4, 2013, 9pmish)

I have learned that I must REALLY be literally inspired in order to actually blog.  So what literally inspires me?

The moon and Venus together in a cloudless twilight blue sky.

 Look up.

 En route to picking up my daughter from  what will be a routine Tuesday 5:30pm ritual...I...looked...up.  Did you guys see it?  I feel like I need to publish this immediately just so you can go outside and experience the electric body of the Universe.  Your Universe.

Made by God.  For you.

Venus, aka the Evening Star because it is the first and brightest star to appear at night (when visible in your hemisphere/season), and the moon were the only lights up there and in the same section of sky.  In my neck of the North American world they appear in the western sky.

DISCLAIMER:  I did not do as well as I would have liked in a high school astronomy class (sorry to disappoint you Mr. Ransavage) and I am also not a very detail-oriented hobby astrologist.  I consider myself an intuitive student of the astrological arts (with only a meager minor in it's scientific aspects).  So don't go throwing Ophyiucus at me (see I spelled it wrong didn't I?).  I don't give a rat's hinney about it.  It seems to have no  psychological bearing on my Sagittarius & Capricorn friends.  Most will say "oh I bet THAT's my sign!" because they don't realize that we are all much more than our 1 sun sign.  There are 10 major heavenly bodies and many other minor ones (asteroids) whose positions astrologers calculate at the exact time, place and latitude/longitude of your birth.

Sorry that was the world's longest disclaimer.  It resembles some of my more wordy voice messages:).  I am going to end this now with a simple link that may jog your curiosity of our connection to stars and other heavenly bodies electric.  I definitely felt something when I looked up at those bodies in that twilight sky.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Motherhood: The Unexpected Journey

Guess what I did for Mother's Day?!
Yeah you're right!
I watched The Hobbit.
"The Hobbit? Not a typical Mother's Day selection," says a Facebook friend who is also an expert on Mother's Day viewing options.

Well apparently she was thinking of something more along the lines of The Gilmore Girls Series 1-3 or maybe even my personal favorite "Little Women" (with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale, sigh, a true classic for a mother of 4 girls).

But, no, I assure you, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was EXACTLY what I needed even though I didn't know I needed it because I was merely watching it before it needed to be returned to Redbox.  I had rented it to entertain the girls while Tim and I went out to see Iron Man 3 at the theater Friday night.  They were not too thrilled with my selection but there was reallly nothing else decent.  No way in H-E-double hockey sticks I was going to get Kung Fu Rabbit again.  Been there.  Lost brain cells.

The Hobbit is the perfect allegory for my journey into motherhood!  I sat captivated by the bucolic Bilbo Baggins, who sat quite content in the cozy hole of his gorgeously handcrafted home in the hillside of The Shire, ready to enjoy his evening meal, when a knock is heard at the door. 
                                                            (by Aroha-Photography)

The minute Gandolph says to Bilbo of his proposed adventure, "It'll be very good for you.  And most amusing to me,"  I KNEW I was indeed watching the MOST appropriate film in the world for me to see for the first time on Mother's Day.  Ok I get it.  Gandolph is God and I'm Bilbo Baggins, only equipped to bear children.  Hahaha - very funny.  The look on Bilbo's face as the wizard mentions the word 'adventure' was what I imagine my face looked like when the ultrasound technician glided over what was obviously, not 1, but 2 bodies in my 18-week womb.  Even Tim had the Gandolph smug mug when I turned towards him for confirmation of what was being seen.  What on Middle-Earth was going on in there?!!  And all while I was way too sick to nourish one child let alone 2.  I was barely convex at the time.  Was I really expected to "show up" for this assignment?  Seriously TWO children at once?  As my induction into motherhood?  As I woke up the next morning, much like Bilbo after being shown THE CONTRACT and witnessing Dwarf mayhem in his home, surely I thought it was all a dream?

And then, like Bilbo, I did get a little excited at the prospect.  Fancy me, being a mom and a mom of twins at that?  A surge of creative power and potential waved over me very similar to when I saw that magic stick turn double blue on the 7th floor of the Crandall Building's restroom in downtown Salt Lake City where I worked.

"I'm going on an adventure!"

Awe, reverence and excitement all rolled into one.  Or make that two :).  And then the voice in the background,

"My dear fellow (let's make that 'daughter') - I never doubted you for a minute."

May I interject here to remind the reader that, even though these words and feelings were really experienced and believed to have come from a higher power, I would have many moments of mortal doubt.  And the hormones.  Oh THE HORMONES!  They were relentless, especially in the beginning.

So here comes Bilbo Baggins all brave and ready for adventure when they slap him on a pony and he begins to sneeze.  (hee hee snicker) I love this scene too. Like me, freaking out over my hormones and whether I can really do this, Bilbo gets uncomfortable.  He says to himself, "I'm having a reaction."

"Wait! STOP.  We have to turn around."  He is without a handkerchief.  Oh my dears.  I was without my mind.  And here is the reaction from Gandolph to Bilbo's anxiety:

"You'll have to manage without pocket handkerchiefs (read 'mind') and a good many other things, Bilbo Baggins, before our journey ends....You were born to the rolling hills and the little rivers of the Shire, but home is now behind you.  The world is ahead."

Goosebumps!  Yeah Gandolph is pretty awesome.  As are most great lines spoken with a British accent. 

If the first 30 minutes of the film were a pretty epic metaphor to my impending motherhood, then the last 2 hours were allegorically my life as a mother complete with sleep deprivation (I will liken that to climbing the mountain where they realized it was moving and at war with another mountain complete with boulders flying and the earth literally moving under their feet) and messy opponents (toddlers or trolls? You be the judge.)  Does this sound very doom-ish and negative?  I guess it does if you're afraid of a little character building.  I had already survived a great many things before embarking on motherhood.  Quiet moments in the Shire have never been long-lived for me.  What has been different is the cumulative effect of life experience versus the fitness of my body and brain.  I will always need magic. I will always look for relief and assistance from my divine parentage, from my Savior Jesus Christ, from friends and family, from strangers even, and from the developing resources of faith and talent from within myself. And that will be enough to get us back home.