Monday, February 15, 2016

St Joseph Hospital Has Blood On Its Hands

Literally speaking, all hospitals do. But this is how my hospital almost killed me, and then ended up killing a young transgender man. I've been scared to write this, scared to admit what I almost did, scared to talk about what almost happened, and scared that ...I don't know, just scared. It needs to be told, and it needs to be shared with my state, and the hospital, and leaders. We are failing, and making things worse.

I walked into my emergency room a few months ago because I was going to kill myself and at the last minute I drove to my hospital instead. They made it worse, and the only reason I am still alive right now is because my husband showed up after I walked out.

A while later, a young transgender man named Mac Ohana walked in for the same reasons, and was absolutely humiliated. When he left, he didn't have support to go home to. Shortly afterwards, he took his life.

My hospital owes us a fucking explanation.

Last year in the month of October, I walked out of my house, made sure my rope (for dog training) was in the back of my SUV, and started towards the mountains. I couldn't really think outside of wanting all the pain to just stop. You have to understand that when you tell a suicidal person to think about who they will hurt or what they are leaving behind, you are asking the impossible. You can't ask someone dying of cancer to think about how it will affect their children. A broken brain doesn't understand reason.

I saw the sign for the hospital, and since I had practiced telling myself that I should go to a hospital if I try to actually go through with a plan, my body automatically turned in that direction. People always say this, don't they? Seek help. Know you are not alone. Reach out. They always say this. Don't give up, get help.

I walked into the ER and told them I wanted to kill myself and everything started off perfectly. The receptionist smiled warmly, gave me a tracker so that they would know if I left the hospital, and got me into a room with a bed within ten minutes.I was given a medical exam, including a urine test and blood test since they supposedly wanted to check my blood sugar (I have type 2 diabetes) and other things. What they didn't tell me was that they were drug testing me. It came out negative, FYI. My blood pressure was through the roof. My blood sugar was not that bad.

Then I slept for a few hours. Which was magical.

Next, they sent in a counselor? Therapist? I'm not even sure. They asked me how I was feeling and then asked me if I wanted to get checked in or go home. I said I didn't know and the first problem of the evening presented itself - she told me they were not allowed to make any recommendations. I had to decide if I was well enough to go home.

I told them since I wasn't certain, I should be checked in.

She came back and told me there was no room for me.

She left and came back again and told me there was NO ROOM FOR ME ANYWHERE WITHIN A 200 MILE RADIUS. The closest psychiatric ward/clinic/space with an open bed was down in Vancouver, 4 hours away, and I would have to go by ambulance.

She then asked me if I thought maybe I would be safe enough just going home and having a crisis counselor check on me later.

Now I want you to grasp what just happened. Someone who wants to die was just told that no one would take them. Then that person who wants to die was told they could just go home if they said the word.

I told them I could go home. What I was really going to do was just follow through with my plan, because now it was official - I was not enough of an emergency to save.

The counselor called Bryan to come get me, even though I had the car. This is key - this is the only thing they did right.

I was then given my clothes and asked, with a sweet smile, if I could hurry up because other people need the bed more than I do. She literally said this to me.

Instead of going to the waiting room, I walked right out the door. No one said anything. No one stopped me.

I texted Bryan and told him I could drive myself home, and he said the only thing that save my life: "We're almost there." He had the kids with him. Instead of getting into my car, I stood on a corner in the parking lot. This is why I'm still alive. My kids were with him and I didn't want them to be out looking for me with him.

The next day, my period started, and I felt 100% better. That's a blog post for another time - why no doctors ever think to look at hormones in women as a cause for severe depression. I am now taking doTerra's phytoestrogens and I don't get depressed before my period anymore. That's for another blog post.

I was so embarrassed because I know people think suicide is cowardly, that it's selfish and you should have some control over it. I was ashamed. I'm still ashamed even though I know better, intellectually.

The following month, Mac Ohana checked himself into the same hospital, and he was told he had an identity disorder, among other completely inexcusable actions. He took his own life a week later, at only 18 years old. This solidified in my mind that it wasn't just me - St Joseph Hospital in Bellingham has a SERIOUS and indefensible problem with their treatment for people in crisis, especially transgender people if this is their response.

If you have actually attempted to kill yourself, you are a priority, and that's fair, but they aren't just lacking in adequate treatment for those of us trying to not get there, they are literally exacerbating the problem. They drove the last nail in the coffin for Mac. They almost succeeded in doing it for me. I walked out and went home, but I still have that voice going on in my head, there's no room for you. Other people need this bed more than you. There's no room.

A counselor did call me the next morning, but I just told him I was fine. My regular doctor set me up with a therapist, but when she wrote me a letter of introduction, she told me I could only have limited visits.

I am very very scared that if I ever reach a point of crisis, I will just go through with it. I am scared of my own brain now. I am scared for my own life because I know that I am not important unless I actually try to go through with it, but since I fear pain, I know if I attempt it, I will make sure I immediately succeed. I have to come up with an alternative plan that includes largely relying on myself because when I'm in crisis I am too blinded to actually call someone or tell someone. It's a really fucked up process.

Everyone says, get help, but help is just a crowded, limited organization. My doctor told me it doesn't get enough attention, it's not adequate. They all know it isn't adequate.

My sister confided in our sister-in-law about it, because our SIL is an ER nurse down in California. Our SIL said it's terrible, because they get teenagers in who are in crisis, but there's no room for them, but they can't send them home either, so these teens are stuck in the ER, listening to people die around them, with no where to go.

America, you are fucking up. You are seriously fucking up. Jails don't have adequate mental health care. Our homeless populations don't have adequate mental health care. Our veterans don't have adequate mental health care. Our government pays for jet planes no one wants but won't pay for universal single payer health care, but even if they did, would the mental health aspects be sufficient? We can preserve a fucking endangered owl but we can't preserve human beings?

I almost want to tell people, don't go to the ER if you're in crisis, because it will make it worse. But where else can we go? Where is there room for us?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Is Your iPhone Data Skyrocketing? Turn Off Wifi Assist!!

Warning for iPhone users! Go to your settings > cellular and TURN OFF Wifi Assist. This feature is defaulted to ON and will switch to data usage if your wifi signal is weak. We ended up with 7 extra gigs used last month and 16 extra this month. After trying to figure out what the problem was, we finally contact AT&T today. Neither customer service nor tech support was helpful, and they won't give us a credit because they said since we knew about the excessive usage we should have brought it up earlier.

The credit department employee brought up the Wifi Assist. This is a problem they know about, and that they know is not our fault. Apple is even being sued over it. They still won't credit us, and won't let us spread out the payments over more than a month. 
Learn form our mistake. If you have iOS9 and don't have unlimited data, turn off Wifi Assist!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Aromatherapy for Extreme Loss and Grief

Two days ago, I had a miscarriage.

I have had an IUD for several years, and I'm not against having an abortion, but the plan was that if the IUD failed, I would know and then terminate the pregnancy very early while it was still just tiny, non-viable, and unrecognizable. I did not want to be confronted with and was not prepared for something coming out of my body that looked like...what I saw.

It was a moment of such extreme sadness and despair that it felt like someone had turned on a vacuum inside my gut that was sucking down my words and my breath. I felt absolute rage at my body. HOW. COULD. YOU??

The problem is that, as a mother, I wasn't in a position to deal with it. My kids kept talking to me and wanting my time and all I could think about was why the world was such a huge asshole that it couldn't pause for an hour and give me short break before I had to do things, like find some misplaced toy, or prepare some kind of food, or make words come out of my mouth that were in a language that the listener can understand.

I looked online for some support but everything seemed so useless and stupid. Talk to someone? I can barely shape words with my mouth without screaming. I tried to write it out on Facebook because that's where I usually go for support but for the first time in years I had something I didn't feel like sharing.

Of the people I did try to talk to, almost all of them came back with "Are you sure? How do you know?" and I understand they were trying to be supportive, or help me be certain I wasn't just overreacting or drawing conclusions, but what I really wanted to do was grab something sharp and stab them in the eye. For one thing, that is incredibly dismissive and made me so scared to bring it up to anyone else that I shut down and didn't say anything to anyone or reach out when I probably should have. More importantly, though, you are asking me to describe how I know that I lost a dead baby. DON'T. FUCKING. ASK THAT. I understand the impulse but I need you to know now, if you were one of the people who asked that, don't ask that of anyone else. Know now that it's not a good question. It's a bad question. A very bad question. I know what I saw. I will take that to my grave.

So why am I bringing it up now?

A pregnant friend of mine is hemorrhaging and at high risk for a miscarriage. She's on bed rest and it was very scary. I felt like, for her ad my friends like her, I should say something.

Many women eventually bring it up because they feel alone and they hate everyone and they need someone who has been through a similar experience to say "I did it and I also hate every fucking person right now and that's okay."

So this is my note to anyone out there who has miscarried, either within a few days, which I used to do a lot before I took progesterone to finally have my first born, a few weeks, a few months, even if you didn't want to be pregnant at all, even if it's just an alien looking blob and doesn't look like a human at all, it can still be a shock, still overwhelming, still pound some Hellraiser-style nails into your head one by one and rip your body open with hooks and leave your heart exposed to the elements.

I am a wreck. I am fine one minute and then suddenly, at my daughter's preschool, at the grocery store, or just in bed, I cry so hard I can't breathe.

So where does the aromatherapy come in?

That depends on you. Smell might not be your thing when you are upset. Maybe you need to run out and get some super fleecy pajamas and wrap yourself up in a warm blanket and hole up in some soft protective textures. Maybe you play certain kinds of music when you are distressed. My sense of smell is a huge part of how I approach the world, right down to whether I feel comfortable in a home or next to a person or even want someone as a lover. Smell is critical to me.

To help with the painful cramping, and to help me get through the crying, I drew up a bath with vetiver, cedarwood, and a citrus blend of essential oils.

You should understand that our sense of smell connects directly to the lymbic system, the emotional part of our brain, and the part that is in charge of the instinctual and automatic things, like breathing and heartbeat. When you smell something, a part of it is literally connecting to sensors in your nose. Think about that the next time you smell a fart. It's pretty horrifying.

Aromatherapy isn't just some woo woo stuff. Smell helped your ancestors sense danger, pick food that is safe to eat, select partners, and identify children and family members. Plants take advantage of this with pollinators by sending out pleasant scents that communicate ripeness and tasty nectar. A plant's scent comes from the essential oils produced. We also find those oil scents pleasing and comforting.

Vetiver has helped me through many panic attacks, and while this is beyond the normal panic attack, it still helped bring the heaving sobs under control. Citrus oils can increase GABA levels in the brain and help with anger, frustration, and depression. True cedarwood, Cedrus atlantica not Juniperus virginia, has a slightly sweet woodsy scent (I like it better than the Juniperus Virginia, and it is superior for skin/scalp uses). It blends beautifully with citrus oils. It helps when you feel chaotic and need to feel stable. While Juniperus virginia is calming and can help with insomnia, Cedrus atlantica is energizing. It helps with depression and exhaustion. It helps with hopelessness.

Smells might not do anything for you. There were quite a few recommendations for coping online that made me want to throw something hard at my computer screen.

I feel ridiculous for fretting over what was a messy organism incapable of survival and probably released from my body for good reason. My uterus was doing the right thing. It happens in 1 out of 4 pregnancies. Problems are common and the womb lets go. I never felt it move, didn't even know it was there. Imagine the grief of mothers who lose one they've felt move, that saw them on ultrasounds and heard their heartbeats. Imagine the grief of the ones who lose babies full term. I'm science driven, why distress over something I was trying to prevent in the first place?

And yet....I gave her a name and buried her. My heart feels like she was absolutely mine and that I lost someone instead of something. My heart doesn't feel like I lost a pregnancy. It feels like I lost my daughter. No amount of begging and reasoning with myself has convinced me otherwise.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Gettin' Real Tired of Your Sh*t, Pinterest

Pinterest is my most favorite place on the entire intertubes.

I love it more than Facebook, and I visit Facebook every day.

I love it more than email. In fact I check my email about once a week, sometimes less.

I love it more than YouTube, and my kids use YouTube meditation and guided imagery to fall asleep, and I LOVE IT when they fall asleep.

Don't get your panties in a wad, I also love it when they are awake.

I joined Pinterest early on because it was something I was already doing. I loved looking for pictures that inspired me or calmed me or appealed to me intellectually or emotionally, and then putting them into groups on my computer.

Pinterest sped up the process tremendously, and helped me connect with people who have similar tastes and interests. I have met people through Pinterest who are now valuable friends.

I go to Pinterest when I panic, when I'm stressed, when I need ideas. I even started curating an account for my sister's fandoms and fantasy art store.

I have over 8000 followers by doing nothing whatsoever besides pinning things. I don't do anything special to get followers (though I did notice followers grew exponentially when I change my account name from my mere human name to The Blasphemous Homemaker). I break pin etiquette rules all the damn time. Don't like me power pinning 100 of your pins? Too fucking bad because I JUST DID so if you block me it's ALREADY TOO LATE. Sad that I won't follow you back? It's nothing personal, it's just that when I do that, I end up seeing a lot of my own pins again in my home feed. Don't like my pro-choice pins? I WILL NOW POST MORE PRO-CHOICE PINS.
I will fucking increase the fucking thing

If I lost all 8000 followers tomorrow I would STILL BE ON PINTEREST because Pinterest is my thing. MY THING.

And now Pinterest is fucking it all up.

It was annoying when they started showing the occasional promoted pin, but I accepted it because eventually all major websites realize they actually need money in order to live. Fine, you need monies. I can deal with that.

But NOW they are trying to recommend things to me. THINGS. And sometimes those things are wrong. Remember Lego Jesus in a bra riding on a unicorn? And sometimes those things are things I have already pinned, for G*d's sake. And tonight those things TOOK OVER MY ENTIRE FUCKING HOME FEED.

Those yellow highlights represent pins picked for me. They also recommend frustration and sadness.

I don't want to see the pins they picked for me. Sometimes I don't even want to see the pins from the boards I picked myself, but I can then go unfollow them and blame no one but myself.

I found a place on Pinterest where I could leave my feedback. This is the text:

Just now, the entire top three rows of my home feed were pins picked for me. Please stop this.

I have been on Pinterest for several years now and have over 8000 followers, and every board I choose to follow has been selected by me after reviewing the value of the pins on those boards. If a board only has one or two pins that appeal to me, I don't follow that board. If the person has values that offend me, I don't follow that person or their boards. If a board is not updated often, I don't care to follow it.

Pinterest is my favorite website, even more than my email or Facebook. It is my favorite because it is mine. Pins that are picked for me without me choosing them are not mine. I DO follow people, not just ideas, and this is starting to stress me out. I LITERALLY HAVE OCD AND ANXIETY, and instead of being the first place I go when I need to take a break or calm down, Pinterest is now becoming a SOURCE of anxiety.

PLEASE. I understand that you need advertisers so I understand there are going to be occasional promoted pins. However, I need you to stop picking pins for me and putting the boards I follow in some kind of hierarchy. I want the ones I chose, in chronological order.

Do you think it will make a difference? I admit it's a little weak and whiny but I'm tired and I just want to look at pins I like before going to bed, but instead I'm angrily typing out a blog post about how Pinterest is moving my cheese.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Do You And Your Partner Share a Brain TARDIS?

In Doctor Who, The Doctor's T.A.R.D.I.S. (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) not only takes him anywhere in time and space, it also translates languages for him so that everything sounds like his language when he hears it or says it. This includes animals and babies.

In two days, on December 4, Bryan and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. one of the hallmarks of our marriage is our ability to just make words up and have the other person completely understand what we just said.

Sometimes there are hand gestures involved to make the context more clear, but in general, over half of everything we say to one another is either a quote from The Simpsons or Futurama, or something we just babbled out of our mouths like a baby spitting up milk. This is even more true when we text each other.

What about you? Do you and your partner have your own language? Do you sometimes just throw your hands around and say gibberish, and just relax knowing your partner is going to totally get that you just meant "Please get me some ice water when you get yourself some" or "there's no time for foreplay the kids might walk in at any moment?"