Posts Tagged ‘PTSD’

Spousal Support

Having the support of loved ones during a physical or mental ailment is paramount to one’s well being and eventual recovery.  It is imperative that the support that one receives from loved ones is unconditional and without judgement.  Recently, on SHINE by Yahoo, a beautiful article outlined just how important it is to “love a shattered soul.”  The article shows spouses and loved ones unending support of their military partners, who now are afflicted with PTSD.  As you well know, PTSD does not affect those only in the military, but anyone who meets the criteria for PTSD in the face of a life threatening, or perceived life threatening situation.   It’s important that we recognize all spouses, who, in the face of this horrible illness, take on a new roles of caregiver and advocate, and commend them for their support.  So, thank you, to my husband, for all of your support.  Thank you, to the military spouses in this article who show that no one should suffer in silence and without treatment.  Thank you to any and all spouses who maintain a healthy and productive relationship with their spouse who is suffering from mental illness by promoting wellness, treatment, unending support, and unconditional love. 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

 

Let Freedom Ring

On this 4th of July, we celebrate our freedoms. (At least in the United States we do)

I’m celebrating my freedom to:

1.  walk out of my house and know that my Interstim, years of physical therapy, and high fiber diet will keep my incontinence in check.

2.  enjoy the day free from PTSD triggers knowing that my EMDR therapy has processed all of them.

3.  recognize the fact that I am empowered because of my experiences and have the ability to advocate for myself and others.

I’m celebrating the freedom I have found in myself, with thanks and praise to those who founded our freedoms in years past and those who continue to protect our freedoms today.  Happy 4th of July!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

 

Warrior Mom

It is a universal truth that women have always given birth.  I often think about my actual birthing situation, and how I would have fared 50, 100, 500 years ago.    My conclusion is always the same; without the intervention that I had, I would have died…my daughter too.  There was just no way she was coming out on her own, forceps or c-section were needed.  There was just no way that without significant medical intervention, such as the right medication and careful monitoring postpartum, that the sustained blood loss I sustained during my postpartum hemorrhage would have been survivable in years past.

Obviously, I am truly glad that we both survived.  However, what people need to realize is that I truly believe, and believed then, was that I was, and my daughter was, in a life and death situation.  Today, there are still many “close calls” in the medical field during the birth of a child, but with the right interventions, it is a general belief that women fare a lot better than in years past.  It is important to note that although the “battle zone” in the birthing room may be one that has improved over the years, traumatic situations can still arise both in the moment and postpartum.  In reading recent message boards, comments, and blogs pertaining to PTSD following childbirth, I have found some very interesting pieces of information pertaining to the belief of the “warrior mom.”

For instance, the Aztecs, believed childbirth to be “a battle” and the mother to be “a warrior.”  It is interesting to see that this belief was part of their culture, and women were glorified in their efforts to bring a child into the world.  Today, Katherine Stone, creator of Postpartum Progress, has heralded the efforts of women as warriors in childbirth and postpartum.  She has a wide selection of postpartum “bling” in an effort to recognize women’s efforts and triumphs in seeking help and overcoming obstacles postpartum.  She is instrumental in perpetuating the belief that the Aztecs held dear so long ago, birthing women are warriors, and need to be glorified as such.
This is the personal “warrior mom” badge I chose to represent my own journey.

Photobucket

http://postpartumprogress.com/survival-badge-bling

 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Thanks, Old Man

Dear Old Man,

Thanks.  I’ve never met you before, but yet, you felt the need to pry into my personal business.  At the gym.  While I am walking with my child in the hallway.  Thanks Old Man for asking my daughter “do you have a younger brother?” “do you have a younger sister?”  Thanks for listening and ending the conversation when she politely  said “no.” Oh wait, you felt the need to get more personal?  Thanks for asking me, and my daughter, “why not?  don’t you want to baby?”

So, I truly am in a better place with my PTSD, but this question would have sent me into a full and complete panic attack.  No wonder I avoided novel situations, or uncontrollable situations like the plague while fully involved in PTSD.  Thanks Old Man, for reinforcing my reasons I avoided everyone and everything in the throes of PTSD.  Turns out that trigger was not irrational anticipatory anxiety because people like you exist.

PTSD aside, what if I had a physical reason I could no longer have kids easily.  Oh, wait, I do have that reason.  Thanks Old Man for making me more anxious about my current physical situation.

And not to mention, there are some people in this world who do not want more kids.  What if my financial situation was such that more kids were irresponsible?  What if, god forbid, I was no longer married or with a partner who wanted kids?  What if, what if, what if?

Thanks Old Man for being a nosy busy body.  And no, you don’t get a pass just because you’re old. 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

So, what do you do?

When meeting someone for the first time, often, the following question arises during the initial small talk, “so, what do you do?”  At times, I struggle to answer this question.  At this point in my recovery, I say “I’m happy to be a stay at home mom.”  However, my lips itch with the urge to spill my guts, to answer in a much more truer sense.  The answer I would love to give is the following, “I’m a stay at home mom.  And, I love it.  However, I am also a teacher. I went to school for many years to obtain this degree.  I achieved tenure because of my good reviews and practice in the classroom. I fought hard to find a job I loved, and I did find that job.  I went back to work when my daughter was 6 months old, and I was OK with that.  Physical and Emotional birth trauma eventually caused me to step out of work on a “medical” leave.  I loved being a teacher.  I still am a teacher.  And, I love being a mom.  The best thing for myself was to leave work to focus on getting myself and my family healed and better.  In fact, I am better now.  And, at this point I choose, not my mind, not my body, I choose to stay home with my daughter.  I will go back to work eventually. ”

Being that answer is often too much, too soon, for casual acquaintances, I often keep that to myself.  But, I do want people to know, people who read my blog, that leaving work was one of the hardest decisions of my life.  For my physical body, the answer was clearly that I should not and could not work.  My fecal incontinence caused numerous accidents throughout the teaching day in which I would need to change my undergarments, take frequent bathroom breaks, feel uneasy about sitting in meetings, and  need to remain in close proximity to a bathroom.  For my mental body, the toll was far worse in my work environment.  Being that pregnant women, the smell of cleaner, and assisting with special education student’s  toileting  needs (ex. cleaning up bowel movements) were triggers rampant in my work environment, anxiety attacks, extreme panic, and the inability to focus were parts of my daily routine in the classroom.

Leaving work was really the only way I could get better.  It took a lot to convince me of this.  It took being escorted to the hospital, from the school’s nurses office, when I thought I was having a heart attack.  (A severe panic attack).  It took being in therapy and realizing the only way I would get better was to stop putting myself in the midst of triggers.  It took me swallowing my pride, to leave a job I loved, and was good at, in an effort to reclaim myself.

And guess what, leaving work was an effective way to assist in my treatment for PTSD.  Removing myself from a constant triggering situation helped me focus on therapy, my family, and myself.  It really was the only way.

Of course, leaving work essentially cut our income in half, caused a change in our health insurance benefits, and manufactured the need for our family to live with and adhere to a budget.  A lot of people assume that going out on “medical leave” means you have some sort of disability payment assistance, especially when the medical leave is “prescribed” by the doctor.  Sadly, that is not always the case.  I still, (2 years later), am fighting to reclaim any disability payments I may have been allotted due to my condition(s).  Luckily, I have a lovely organization that can do this for me (for a small fee).  However, it is important to dispel the myth that “medical leave” automatically means that the person is being financially supported in one way or another during their recovery.  This simply is not true.  Hopefully, at some point I will obtain the disability payments retroactively to support my stretch of “medical leave”, but, that remains to be seen.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

 

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

 

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

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

Choosing Cesarean

Over my vacation I read the most amazing book, Choosing Cesarean, A Natural Birth Plan, written by Dr. Magnus Murphy and Pauline McDonagh Hull.  This book is a well written, informative, and research based text that allows women, their partners, and health care providers a fresh look at the possibility of elective c-section as a birth plan.  The book gives women the opposite perspective of most mainstream birthing literature and encourages women to make their own birth choices based on the information provided.

This book has been extremely timely and helpful in my own journey.  Eventually-I will have another child.  Eventually-I will have an elective c-section.  This book has made it much easier to explain my choice and educate others on the very real option of elective cesarean as a natural birth plan.

Check out Pauline’s blog, http://cesareandebate.blogspot.com/2012/03/choosing-cesarean-book-review-by.html, to understand her point of view more completely.

Well done Pauline and Dr. Murphy!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Spring Cleaning

I’d like to point out-I like to keep sentimental items.  Just so we all know.  I keep things that are nostalgic to me, and believe me, I can find nostalgia in a used napkin if the story behind it is good enough.  Luckily, I have a husband that helps me to clean out, tidy up, and keep the important things so our house does not become one that is profiled on the television show “Hoarders.”

My point-keeping nostalgic items is all well and good unless you have PTSD.  Then, these items often become painful triggers and reminders of trauma.  Until now, items from my daughter’s early years have been piled and shut away without regard to organization in various bins and dressers in our basement storage.  Until now, those items were triggering, awful, reminders of all the stuff I couldn’t do, didn’t do, because of the PTSD.  Until now, the outfit that I took her home from the hospital in was a direct adrenaline rush and full-out panic attack.

Until now.  Today-I organized bins with toys and clothes that have been haphazardly piled willy nilly in our basement.  And guess what-no triggers, no tears, no anxiety.  Only nostalgia.  Nostalgia about the good times, the precious times.  I found the outfit we brought my daughter home in.  Instead of remembering the pain, fear, panic-I recalled the joy of a true miracle.

It is amazing to me that I could do this today.  Ask me about doing this 2 years ago, I would have claimed it to be an impossible task.  Just goes to show what therapy can do for you.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Next entries » · « Previous entries