Archive for May, 2012

Time Does NOT Erase

Kudos to PBS for honoring Memorial Day by broadcasting wonderful programming regarding soldiers, service, and PTSD.  Catching only some of it, and making a mental note to watch all of it at a later date, I was pleasantly surprised at the accuracy in the portrayal of PTSD.

As I have stated before, PTSD is not only a “soldier” issue.  However, soldiers and anyone else suffering with PTSD are often misunderstood, stigmatized, and not immediately privy to the help that they need and deserve.  This is truly unfortunate, as anyone who has suffered with this illness understands that time is the enemy.  PTSD only gets worse with time, and, being a disease that REQUIRES treatment to get through, too often it is struggled through without treatment, to continue to resurface throughout one’s lifetime.

Too often, I hear the refrain, “just give it time, you’ll get through it,” in regards to PTSD.  This thought was especially prominent during my own early struggles with PTSD.  Time does not erase PTSD, nor does it lessen the severity of PTSD.  If anything, time, without treatment, makes PTSD stronger, as more triggers develop and avoidance behaviors strengthen.

I know this diagnosis sounds particularly ominous, however, this is when we need to remember that mental illness is just that, an illness.  An illness requires treatment.  I doubt that many of us would look at a physical wound, such as a severely infected cut, and maintain the hope that “it will get better with time.”  Time without treatment, whether physical or mental is often ineffective.

I think, in looking at soldiers’ struggles throughout the years with this debilitating mental illness, we all can take note that PTSD does not go away merely with the passage of time.  It is very apparent that some soldiers who served many, many, years ago still are severely affected by PTSD.  It is not any different for other people, no matter what their profession, who suffer from PTSD.  It does not matter how many days, months, years, decades, have passed.  If you do not seek professional treatment, you will not be able to make your mind better.  Time does not erase PTSD, only treatment.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

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I’m not a Doctor

Often, people will utilize my blog when searching for information about Interstim.  As I have stated in earlier posts, I am more than thrilled that people are finding me, my blog, and my story as a resource in an effort in getting the word out there about this life changing surgery.  However, it is important to note, I’m not a Doctor.  I have no authorization to give medical advice.  See my Disclaimer.  I can only speak to my own experiences and how the surgery has influenced my life personally.  I can also direct interested parties to the official Interstim Website to obtain a medically professional opinions.

That being said, I am obviously more than ready to share my personal story, trials, and tribulations surrounding the Interstim surgery.  Often, and understandably, people feel more comfortable privately writing to me about their questions and concerns.  I urge you to do this.  In future posts I hope to answer my most frequent questions publicly, but, rest assured, your name and other identifying information will never be revealed as I will only be compiling my answers to my most frequently asked questions in an effort to assist those who need those answers but are unwilling to ask.

So, keep asking those questions, you can e-mail me privately (peace4Lauren@gmail.com) and/or post a comment to the blog.  I promise, I will answer as truthfully as I can regarding my personal quest with the Interstim implant.  But remember, I’m not a Doctor.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

How To: Enema

*I’m adding a new category to my blog.  It’s “How To:”  Adding my personal insights into processes inherent in dealing with physical and emotional birth trauma may prove beneficial to my readers.

Since I have been diagnosed with fecal incontinence, I have become quite proficient in many areas related to the incontinence, from the practicalities of buying the right protective undergarments to the preparing for the invasive and uncomfortable testing that is often a necessity to check rectal function.

One thing I have become a “pro” at is giving myself an enema.  Something, quite frankly, I didn’t expect to do as much as I needed to do before I turned 30 years old.

Understandably, before undergoing medical tests and physical check-ups of your rectum, your rectal surgeon may request that you cleanse your colon in order to get an accurate read on your rectal function.  The following is a how to list  I created that I wish I had been able to peruse prior to giving myself my first enema, because, let’s face it, the scant directions on those enema bottles provide only the barest of directives.

-Giving Yourself an Enema-

compiled by Lauren at peaceoutofpieces.com 

It’s not pleasant, but almost always necessary, to give yourself an enema prior to any rectal exam or test. You’ll be advised of this request when setting up your appointment. Sometimes, two enemas are suggested. Here’s how to get through it—it’s a process that has worked for me:

  • Have someone else buy it if it is a trigger for you. They are cheap, and often come in two-packs.
  • Have someone else there that is available to watch your child while you are administering your enema. You need to be able to focus on you.
  • Find a quiet place—for me it’s my bed in my bedroom with the door closed.
  • Make sure that place is located by a bathroom.
  • Place a towel where you will be laying and have something to read close by.
  • Administer the enema according to the directions on the package.
  • While you are waiting, read whatever you have selected.
  • When you strongly feel the urge to defecate, use the towel to protect yourself from having an accident on the floor as you go to the bathroom.
  • Let it go in the toilet. It will come in waves so wait a while.
  • Put on some sort of protection because you will continue leaking while going to your appointment. If possible, have someone accompany you.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

My Daughter’s Trauma

One thing that people always ask when I tell my story is whether my daughter suffered any damages because of the traumatic nature of the birth.  At the tender age of 4, I can assure you that cognitively my daughter is just fine, however, the first few months, weeks, and years were fraught with endless worry from me, her mother, about lasting physical and emotional damages from the traumatic birth.

At birth, my daughter suffered complete facial bruising and lacerations on the cheeks and top of the skull.  Namely, extensive bruising and cuts were located where the forceps had clamped upon her to hasten her exit from my body.  While she was not able to tell me her pain from these lacerations, I have to believe that she was uncomfortable, to say the least, judging by the extent of her wounds.

In the hospital, my daughter was also unable to rest effectively on her back and would only sleep in someone’s arms.  My understanding of this now is twofold; 1.  she needed comfort that all was OK and 2.  she had bruising on the back of her skull that proved uncomfortable to sleep upon.

Upon returning home from the hospital (about 50 hours after her entrance into the world), my daughter would not sleep.  She cried, cried, cried, and was unable to be soothed.  In fact, the first night in our home we needed to phone the on-call physician for advice.  Repeating her performance the second night home, the on-call physician was once again called and we were advised to bring her to a pediatrician on a Sunday morning.

Citing bruising and colic as her points of discomfort by the doctor, we were sent home with our daughter.  Her endless crying ceased at about 3 months of age.  Although never verified by the doctors, it truly makes me wonder whether her crying out and inability to soothe was an emotional function of her early birth trauma.

When our daughter started eating foods, we began to notice a severe flush in her cheek where the laceration had been most prominent.  When we brought her to the allergist (thinking it to be allergy related) we were asked if she had been a forceps baby.  While answering in the affirmative, we found out that she had nerve damage in her cheek, caused by the pinching, pulling, and tearing from the forceps.  The impact of this damage was described to us by the doctor as an involuntary response, a blush, that would occur when our daughter ate novel foods, or other foods that caused extreme sensation in the mouth such as sweet or sour.  My daughter still experiences the impact of this damage on a daily basis while eating.

So, while cognitively my daughter is fine, physically she still bears a scar upon her cheek where the laceration ran deep. She also suffers from the nerve damage in her cheek, while not painful, may prove bothersome to her as she becomes older.  My point-my daughter’s birth trauma was not the worst, by far, that could have happened. However, I think we all wish as mothers that nothing terrible happens to our children.  Birth trauma is all-encompassing, and, in my case served to impact not just me.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Gift from my Daughter

For mother’s day this year, my daughter filled in a book titled “It’s all about my mom.”  By “filled in” I mean that she provided her answers and my husband scribed the words.

Besides being an awesome gift, the meaning of some of her candid responses struck me.

Some answers were definitely given from a 4 year old’s perspective.  For example:  “My Mom’s favorite flower-my daughter’s response: dandelion.”  “My mom likes to-my daughter’s response, get me a sucker at the bank!”

Other answers seemed wise beyond her years.  This answer caused me to pause, emotionally, for a very long time. “My favorite memory with my mom-my daughter’s response: when mom protected me from getting hurt.” 

After ascertaining that my husband had not fed her that response, I pondered her words. Why was this her response? Does she remember?  Does it matter if she was talking about then or now?  I’ve come to the conclusion that I will never know exactly what instance she was talking about.  I am overjoyed that my daughter knows I will protect her, knows I have protected her, and knows I will continue to protect her.  And that, my friends, is the gift that my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Happy Mother’s Day

Thank you grandmother, for having my mother.

Thank you mother, for making me.

Thank you, daughter, for making me a mother.

Mother’s everywhere are celebrating the day.  Families everywhere are singing mom’s praises.  However, with the recent question from Time Magazine, “Are you Mom enough?”, which expounds upon a mom’s ability to breastfeed well into the toddler years has cast a pall over the idea of motherhood for many moms and families.

During my time with PTSD, a question like the one above, are you mom enough?, a question that defined my ability to be “mom enough” would have torn me apart.  Even though my daughter was safe, happy, well cared for; if the media promoted a way to “be a better mom” and I was not it-the guilt and shame would crush me.

With a clearer head, and PTSD behind me, I’m here to tell you, if you are doing the best you can, and loving your child in a safe and secure environment, YOU ARE MOM ENOUGH.  Motherhood is about choices…if mom’s are making choices with the assistance of educated resources, no matter what the choice is, it should be respected.

Recently, I read an article by Dr. Amy on The Skeptical OB about the gift we can give each other for mother’s day.  I thought it so spot on, I wanted to re post it here.

Whatever your choices were that brought you to become a mother, and whatever choices you ascribe to that make you a mother, should not matter as long as they were made via education, situation, and with a loving heart.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s.  You are all mom enough.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Letter to My Daughter

So, I recently figured out that one day my daughter may read my blog.  And, I’m OK with that.  In fact, I’m more than OK with that.  However, I want her to read this blog when she is older, and I want her to read this post first.

Dear Daughter,

Please don’t ever feel guilty about what happened to Mom.  It’s not your fault.  I love you with all my heart and would gladly be torn apart again and again just to have your joyful face in our lives.  I cannot tell you how much I have worried that my mental illness and physical ailments could have impacted you in your formative years.  However, all my worry is for naught.  You have grown into a happy, productive, smart, and clever 4-year-old.  A 4-year-old unencumbered by Mommy’s trials and tribulations, but instead, supported by Mom and Dad’s strengths and unconditional love.

You are an amazing human being.  You intuitively recognize the times when Mom needs your help and you give me that extra support.  You provide me with the best reminder that something beautifully grand can come from a  devastating experience.  You fill my heart with joy and love each day.

I love you, sweet girl.

Love, Mommy

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Litigation

When reading my blog and hearing my story, interested parties often ask the question “Did you sue?”   The answer. Yes. and No.

We certainly met with the lawyers.  One.  Two.  Three Lawyers and law firms.  All of the lawyers had the same resounding sentiment about my case.  “A bad result does not always equal a lawsuit.”  All of the lawyers based their ability to build a case upon my shaky testimony (My PTSD impacted my ability to relay my side of the story).  All of the lawyers based their ability to build a case based on the hospital records (which were largely inaccurate and reflected good care by the doctor and hospital).  All of the lawyers based their ability to bring a case based on the time left in the statute of limitations (2 and 1/2 years)-we were approaching this time frame when we were deciding to bring forth the case).  All of the lawyers based their ability to build this case on the fact that there really was no “precedent” case available to judge their success with the case.  All of the lawyers based their ability to build this case against OBGYN’s medical malpractice insurance and the fact that it was rarely penetrable unless the case was totally clear-cut.

All of these lawyers were unwilling to take the risk on my case and convinced me not to take the risk because of the 100’s of thousands of dollars I would shell out, the stress it would put me under, and the stigma I would have attached to me in a very public light during trial.

Do I think it was the right decision to not pursue the case?  I guess it really does not matter what I think, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t speak the legal vernacular to understand if there was any way, shape, or form that my case may have been successful.

I do know that pursing a case in my condition (PTSD) would have been a brutal exercise in self-hatred as I would need to relay triggering events over and over in a very public venue.

I do know that when you need to sign that hospital records are accurate upon discharge-you really are in no condition to look over them with a fine tooth comb for inaccuracies (prior to signing) if you are in shock from a traumatic birth.

I do know that with a statute of limitations of 2 1/2 years, often mothers who suffer with PTSD are not able and willing to pursue a case in a timely manner, thus, often losing their chance.

I do know that there is STILL not a precedent case (that I know of in our area) that brings monetary relief for a women inflicted with emotional birth trauma.

I do know that it is extremely difficult to ever crack into OBGYN’s medical malpractice insurance.

Lastly, I do know that it was never about the money for me.  It was about my doctor saying that she messed up…It was about her saying sorry….It was about her admitting she failed me as a patient both during birth and postpartum…It was about making sure this didn’t happen to other patients.

I’m doing what I can on my end.  I’m trying to spread the word that there is help and hope for those suffering with birth trauma.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to understand how my “case” impacted my doctor and the medical community in which I delivered.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren