Battle Scars and Old Wounds: My soul’s tattoo.

When I meet new people, they usually appear one of two ways to me.

The first is the green, wide-eyed, and optimistic type. They have all of the warmth and energy of one who has never felt a soul-crushing pain before, and the world is their oyster. I absolutely love these people, because they show me things that I normally would overlook, whether that’s the simple funny shaped cloud in the sky, or it’s how to laugh when the rain starts pouring right after you took an hour and a half to style your hair. (I still cannot laugh when this happens. My hair is a constant source of frustration.)

Then, there’s the ones that I gravitate towards. The broken ones. The ones who, when you talk to them for the first time, really listen to your words, but might take awhile to crack themselves. They look for more than what you’re saying, because they know what it feels like to hurt and not be able to talk about it. Their hurt might as well be tattooed on their soul, because even if it’s not affecting them at that moment, you just *know* that their burden was heavy at one time, and that they’d understand your burden if you ever needed  someone to talk to about it.

These two types of souls are both so beautiful in their own way.

I’ve been reading “Eat Pray Love” over the last few months, just as the literary equivalent of “Easy Listening” as I go to bed. Last night, I came across a phrase in Italian that was so beautiful, I couldn’t help but stop and reread the whole passage it was in.

The phrase is “L’ho provato sulla mia pelle“, which is sort of like the American “I’ve been there”. A direct translation is “I have experienced this on my own skin”, referencing the battle wounds and scars we have from past experiences.

I wish that, in a way, we could all have visible battle scars. I wish that I could see the women who are struggling with PCOS, so that we could nod to each other in support. I wish that I could see people with a tattoo of a broken heart, and know that they’ve experienced loss, and that I could touch their hand, and let them know that they’re not alone. I wish I could reach out to hurting people, and give them a hug, a kind word, or whatever they need in their stage of healing.

In a nutshell: I wish I could bake cupcakes for the world.

I am scarred and wounded, but that’s what makes me who I am. My soul grows more warm, empathetic, and understanding with each trial, and if I can give comfort to someone else while they have open wounds, maybe their wounds will heal more cleanly. More than that, I have a beautiful group of friends and family who are one, both, or a mixture of the two types of people I described above that awaken my soul and rescue me when I feel like I’m treading water.

Oh, and even though I can’t feasibly make cupcakes for the ENTIRE world, I can make them for the people who are very dear to me when they’re hurting or to show them I love them. The people I love the most are, in no particular order:

Sweet Tea
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Crock Pot Enchiladas
Cheesecake
M&M Cookies
Chocolate Pie

—————–

As an awesome follow-up to my last post, I got a call from my MD’s office with my referral. This guy is a teacher at Vanderbilt Medical School, and a dual-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and OB/GYN. I have an appointment next month…. And I’m hoping for the best.

 

 

Expletive: Why today, my blog title is relevant.

Here on GreatMinus8, I try to post both about the great days and the minus 8 days. Conquering the fear of needles, trying a new diet, and seeing that I have viewers from at least 7 different countries makes me feel a little better on those crappy days.

Unfortunately, today, it’s a *EXPLETIVE* minus eight day.

I had the most amazing dream last night about giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was everything I could’ve imagined, and I was so sad when I woke up, realizing it was all a dream.

As the day went on, I realized that it was a week since my last progesterone test, and I hadn’t received a call back with the results. When I checked in with my doctor’s office, they had some news.

I hadn’t ovulated.

While normally that’s no news at all (I almost never do), they said that, because I’d been on the highest dose of the ovulation-inducing hormone Clomid, and I hadn’t ovulated, that they weren’t comfortable treating me anymore, and it was time to send me on to someone else.

Expletive.

My reasoning for hating this plan? I get charged a mere $10 copay for going to my current MD, as she’s also my primary care provider. They are very careful to bill me properly to ensure I don’t pay sky-high rates for “infertility”, and I only get charged if it’s unrelated to previous visits, which is essentially never.

Now, the “specialist” I’ll have to see is an hour away, and costs $50 per visit. I’ll also most likely be taking costly medications that may/may not work, and be getting injections several times in my cycle.

What fun.

Maybe, though, I can see this as a positive move. Maybe this new doctor will be able to help me where the other MD couldn’t, and maybe they can offer me some hope where the other wasn’t sure about much at all. Hoping for better days, and an awesome referral.

Needles: Fear, Loathing, and how I probably look like a Heroin Addict.

This past week, I had to have my Day 21 progesterone blood test.

For any of you out there trying to get pregnant with PCOS, this is standard procedure.

However, for someone who has always lived in abject HORROR of coming into contact with a needle, this was something with which I had to come to terms.

Getting blood drawn was always my worst nightmare as a child, and seemed to become worse as I got older. I had hospital visits for an appendectomy and again when I had Mono, and both times, the nurses “couldn’t find a vein”, accused me of having “shallow veins”, and once they poked me, they’d dig around under my skin to find something.

(After typing that, I gagged.)

Also, once, when I had an IV removed, blood started spurting everywhere. This was made worse by the fact that I was on pain medication, so I was trippin’ balls at this point, and it was one of the most horrifying things in my recent memory.

(After typing THAT, I felt a chill run through my entire body.)

It’s not the needle itself that bothers me. I can get a shot, and it ain’t no thang! It’s the combination of the needle and the vein that really get me. That, and the fact that I have been told by a veteran nurse that I have small AND deep veins, which are really hard to access. I also hate when they have to push around with their fingers to make it pop up out of your arm, since it’s “hiding”…. makes me want to vomit.

So imagine my displeasure when I found out after being diagnosed with PCOS that I’d basically be a human pin cushion until AFTER I had a baby. Tests throughout my cycle, more once I got pregnant, and continuing every month or so during the pregnancy.

“Wait, maybe I could do this the old-fashioned way? Like, with midwives and stuff? No needles necessary!”

False.

Most midwives won’t touch a pregnant woman with PCOS with a 10-foot pole. They have it hard enough as it is, since they are barely legal in some states, and illegal in others. (As far as the old-school home births are concerned, that is.) Since we tend to have WAY more interventions during pregnancy, they tend to stick with the less complicated patients, and push us towards our inevitable Cesarean section births by doctors who don’t want to hear about any alternative birth plans. (Don’t get me started on that.)

So I found out pretty quickly that I was “doomed” to standard care, needles and all.

Luckily for me, the phlebotomist at my office is PHENOMENAL. Usually, it takes her one prick, and she’s done. She knows me by name, knows of my loathing for needles, and gets it done as quickly as possible.

As nice as that is, it’s still a pain to have bruising in the crook of my elbow for the majority of each month. I have so many permanent needle pricks in my arms from reuse that I wonder what people who don’t know me might think.

I am so thankful for the above phlebo, because she really helped me to conquer my crippling fear of needles and having my blood taken. I am not a child…. I don’t need to cry and work myself into a frenzy over a needle. (Yes, I passed out when attempting to give blood once. It was embarrassing.) And after mental exercises depicting me sitting down, getting my blood taken, and getting through it, I had no more real problems with tears or fear.

Conquering any fear is a sign of growth. It’s a sign that we’re transcending our individual associations with a particular catalyst, and can see a bigger picture. I never let the fact that I got in an automobile accident in high school stop me from getting in the car, despite the fact that it was a scary experience; why would I let the fact that nurses in the past suck at taking my blood prevent me from potentially getting the medical care I need and deserve?

I learned a very valuable lesson with something that I thought would always just haunt me, and I’m pretty proud of that. And it just reinforces what I’ve always hoped; that this experience, with its ups and downs, would make me a better person…. whether I ended up getting pregnant or not.

My Heart Songs: Moments that make me sigh.

I’m an extremely lucky woman. My life has been a roller coaster ride of people, places, and experiences that helped to form me into the woman I am.

Sometimes, when I am having a down day, I try to remember memories from those who have affected me in a lasting way, and a lot of times, these moments are associated in my mind with a particular song.

This post is a “playlist” of sorts; a mix tape to help me remember those blessed moments that keep my heart buoyant in otherwise frustrating and sad times.

10. “Go To Extremes” by Billy Joel.

This song has SERIOUS cheese factor. It is as goofy as your 80’s power ballad can get, and the Piano Man himself can’t make it more than what it is. But every time I listen to this song, I think of my Dad, singing it at the top of his lungs, and me, just sitting in the passenger seat of his car, watching him.

When my Dad sings in the car, he does the “White Man’s Overbite”, bangs on the steering wheel, and doesn’t care who’s watching. We had a rough patch for pretty much my entire childhood…. didn’t get along well, and couldn’t seem to find a way to agree on anything at all, except our common love of the Detroit Red Wings. Putting it mildly, we had our serious ups and downs.

But as I grow older, I value his input, and those moments in the car, where I felt like I connected with him, even without saying much. I think part of my love of performing came from watching him perform in the car for me, and knowing how much joy that brought me, even if it was just for a moment.

9. “Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional 

This song…. has too many memories attached to it. I remember zipping along in my best friend Lauren’s car on the back roads, on the way to church on Sunday mornings, singing this song at the top of my lungs. I remember having one of the best nights I ever had, just laying in the arms of my first love and talking all night, and listening to this song the next morning. And I remember listening to this song again, after meeting my husband, and realizing that he was “the one”.

I know Chris Carrabba tends to be a little on the whiny, sad side for most of you, and that’s okay. I was still a little in love with him in high school, and his music will always make me long for one of my bestie’s phenomenal harmonies and long road trips.

8. “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty

I will always associate this song with freedom. After breaking up with my first love, I had a spiral of sadness that one can only associate with the first realization that when you risk loving something, you also risk losing it, and the pain of that epiphany is something that can’t necessarily be put into words. You’re scared to love and lose again, and wonder what life will be like if/when it happens again. Is it something worth risking, if this is the potential outcome?

But when I realized that things weren’t all as they seemed with that relationship, I started to recount the “me” that I’d lost. The pieces of him that I’d collected and incorporated into myself over the years started to fall away, and I realized that I didn’t even recognize myself anymore!

As I backed away, I remember hearing this song, and a heavy burden was lifted from my shoulders, as Tom Petty sang to me,

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Far away from your trouble and worry 
You belong somewhere you feel free

And then I was. I was free. I could be whoever I decided to be! I could make my own life decisions, become who I wanted, and love who I wanted, risk or no risk. And I was changed.

7. “Konstantine” by Something Corporate

This will always be attributed to me learning about theater. I used to work for my high school’s auditorium, and I learned about lights, sound, the curtain, and general maintenance from a dude who loved music. I may also *vaguely* recall said dude bringing a group of us into the auditorium to play the XBOX on the ginormous projector screen.

This, of course, makes me think of all the other shenanigans that took place there. The light saber battles I watched take place, the rehearsals that went to all hours of the morning, the extra credit projects that got filmed, and the audition tapes I recorded there that I had to submit to Indiana University before being accepted there. Oh, and the rock history concert that took place there once a year.

I truly believe that this is where my love of nerds came from. If a guy picks up a controller, talks to me about RPG’s, Harry Potter, LOTR, and Weird Al, I’m pretty guaranteed to love him. See above account of the light saber battles.
6. “Turtle Blues” by Janis Joplin

This is my song. I sing it to myself in the car when I’m pissed, upset, angry, or recovering from something incredibly frustrating. I dream of singing karaoke someday when this song is actually available.

It makes me feel strong. Janis reminds every woman, I think, of the true strength she has inside her, and about the influence she has on men. She wasn’t a “beauty” by popular standards, but that woman EXUDED strong sexuality.

Whenever I see the memes out there with random animal photos, saying, “And zero flips were given today” (you and I both know what it actually says), I think of Janis Joplin. Zero flips were given by her.

 5. “Transatlantacism” by Death Cab for Cutie

This song makes me sad. This song *sounds* like the ocean to me. But it’s sad beauty is something that touches my soul in a unique way that nothing else can.

It makes me want to call my Mom, my Sisters, and my besties that live far away from me, and tell them I love them. It makes me want to snuggle my dogs, and it makes me want to kiss my husband. It reminds me to give the ones I love the time and energy they deserve.

4. “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel

The first time I really remember hearing this song was at my Aunt and Uncle’s wedding. I remember that it was their first dance, and how beautiful and in love they looked with the spotlight on them. I was probably seven years old, but I’ll never forget this moment.

I was asked to sing for a couple’s wedding a couple years ago, and this was one of the songs I chose, because I’ll always think of it as a timeless love song. It went well, and it was one of those times where I was right where I wanted to be…. getting paid to perform!

Coincidentally, the first time I ever got to dance with my husband on a dance floor was when we danced to this song. It is a treasured memory, as is the first time I heard it. I will always attribute it to couples who are truly in love.

3. “Mexico” by James Taylor

The azure ocean, the warm breeze, the icy-cold drinks, and the vacation mentality. This is personified in my sweet sister, Amanda, and our various trips to the beach as we grew up. I will never take a trip where there is sand involved without thinking of her, as her friendship has grown more dear to me each day, and I think if she had a choice, she would live as close to a warm beach as possible.

We went to Mexico with my Dad one Thanksgiving, and it was a wonderful trip! We had a beautiful view of the ocean from our balcony, and we slept at night with the doors open, listening to the waves crash on the shore.

This song also makes me think of the other times I’d gone to the beach with my sister…. we grew up in Michigan, and our Grandparents each had cabins on Lake Huron. I remember us each playing mermaids in the water, wearing water shoes to make sure we didn’t cut our feet on the mussels, and I even remember the taste of the water in my mouth as I talk about it. Cool Michigan breeze, wrapped in a blanket in a hammock for a nice afternoon nap, and how if the breeze got too chilly, you could just dig your feet into the warm sand. There’s nothing I can find today that gives me the feeling I had when I was a child on the beach with my family.

2. “Soco Amaretto Lime” by Brand New

I hear this song, and I am 18 again. It’s the summer after I’ve graduated high school, and I’ve been accepted to Indiana University. I’m excited, scared, and feeling so free.

When I hear it today, I miss my childhood. I miss the opportunity it held, the potential for anything to happen, and my own naivety. It was an easier way to live.

1. “My Best Friend” by Weezer 

On the best day of my life, this triumphant song rang through my heart. I was married to the love of my life! Nothing could stop me, and we could conquer the world together!

As we recessed the aisle, I looked in the eyes of my husband, and felt like my heart could burst from happiness. As our attendants walked back, we all began to dance together to this song, and I was surrounded by the love and support of the ones most dear to me. There was never a happier moment in my life.

In case anyone would like a link to my psyche, feel free to listen to any of these awesome (or cheesy, in some cases) songs below.

My Heart Songs

Alright, your turn. I can’t wait to hear about YOUR heart songs!

 

 

Paleo: It’s the best/worst idea ever!

First of all, a quick update.

I am in complete control of any anxiety I’d been feeling. I think that, after a couple months off of the hormonal therapy, my nerves are recovering, and I’m SO much happier. Moral of the story? DON’T USE non-oral delivery methods of progesterone, and if you do, discuss *any* side effects with your doctor, particularly because the use of Progesterone suppositories is so experimental.

Anywho!

So the husband and I are making our first attempts at going Paleo/Primal. For a quick brush-up on what that is, see this neato info-graphic!

Still with me?

Cool.

So we went shopping at our local butcher, and to Kroger. I was SO enthusiastic about our trip to Kroger, because we found incredible amounts of grass-fed, organic meat, including bison, free-range chicken, and humanely raised pork. The Kroger close to our house has a GINORMOUS organic section, we went a little crazy.

This is what our shopping trip looked like:

The above includes three packs of free-range, organic chicken breasts, a humanely treated pork tenderloin, HUGE scallops and grass-fed steaks from our butcher, a grass-fed roast and grass-fed ground beef, cage-free omega-3 added eggs, and two whole free-range organic chickens.

Whew.

And that didn’t include our veggies!

*Quick thanks to the husband, for taking pictures and ‘stylizing’ the food beforehand. *

From the photos above, you see that we got a lot of food.

What you didn’t see was the fight to figure out what to eat, and when to eat it.

What sauces were we allowed to eat? How were we supposed to eat all of those greens without any salad dressing? And how do you cook squash?!

The first night was relatively easy…. we went with simple staples.

Mouth watering.

And it.was.delicious. These were the steaks we purchased from our local butcher, and they were succulent, juicy, and required little more than my kosher salt/pepper/garlic powder rub and some butter in a cast iron skillet to taste incredible. We are also allowed some grass-fed, organic butter, so I added some butter and pepper to my broccoli…. which was so tasty, I wanted to lick the plate.

If only meals stayed that easy.

The carb craze took over the next day…..

THIS is what I felt like.

Only instead of steak, think cupcakes, pasta, rice, toast, french bread, and gallons of fountain coke.

No amount of eggs, ground beef, dressing-less salad and broccoli could sate me OR my husband.

Sigh.

We are still working on it! But I think next week, we’ll completely empty our cupboards of the grains BEFOREHAND. Having these delicious fellers in the house gave me the carb sweats.

Oh's! Served with a side of scored mouth for weeks.

Wish us luck. We have a metric crapton of delicious, healthful Paleo/Primal food at home, and no desire whatsoever to eat it.

I know deep down that this could truly reverse my PCOS….. so there is *some* part of me that desperately wants to disconnect from the carbs. I just need some help finding that part of me now, instead of the part that loves baking so damn much.

My Li’l Idiots: How dogs became my children.

Oh dear.

These little girls are my “idiots”, Maeby and Bella.

And when I say “Idiots”, I say that in the most loving way possible, you must understand.

You see, these girls have been my replacement children during the “want babies and can’t have them” season of my life. They pee, poop, vomit, cry, and make trouble like babies, so they’re good practice for the main event, if and when it happens.

Shall I tell you more?

Let me introduce you to Bella!

Oh goodness. This one has been trouble since day one.

She’s a Daddy’s Girl. She is sad when he leaves, and elated when he comes home.

She’s a Nervous Nellie. She likes to observe life outside the window of our second-story apartment, making her hourly rounds with what we lovingly call her “neighborhood watch”

She loves to fetch. She loves to run. No, let me rephrase…. she likes to *outrun*. She WILL NOT be beat.

We picked her up from the back of a pickup truck of puppies in Smiths Grove. I just knew we had to have THAT one. We taught her to sit, lay, roll over, shake, speak, and “twirl”, where she twirls like a ballerina. She also catches ice cubes in the air.

She chews EVERYTHING. In fact, during our last round of storms, she managed to destroy two tennis balls in about 30 minutes. NOT awesome. (Also, this makes for interesting digestive issues.)

Oh my... my little fun ruiner has struck again.

And then there’s *MY* girl. (I love Bella just as much, but she’s a Daddy’s Girl.)

This is my Maeby girl.

She can be found sleeping, snoring, making a weird beeping noise while she’s dreaming, or making a weird clucking sound at the window when she sees dogs she doesn’t know.

She doesn’t do very many tricks…. She can sit on command. And she makes this whiny noise when I ask her to “tell me”.

But she’s the sweetest girl you’ll ever meet.

She never met a food that she knew how to properly chew…. just sort of licks it to death.

She never met a person she knew how to interact with…. again, just sort of licks it to death.

When she plays outside with Bella, and they’re both running, she can never keep up with her fitter, less portly sister. And when she can’t, she simply yips at whoever is in front of her, letting them know that she’s displeased.

We adopted Maeby from the local shelter. She had sad eyes, like she’d seen more in her lifetime than I could even imagine, and when we took her into a visiting area, she just plopped her head on my knee, all knowingly, and I knew that she would be not only a nice balance to our crazy Border Collie, but a great little companion for me.

—-

The role they play in my life is pretty significant. I know a lot of people get all up-in-arms about people having “fur babies”; they think people like ME are a little nuts. And maybe I am! But I have two hilarious dogs who are treated well, and can be almost therapeutic during these crazy, infertile times.

"See? I even *look* like a person when I sit, like this!"

No matter what ails you, a dog can at least make you laugh, and I’ve heard that’s the best medicine.