Saturday, April 12, 2014

The silence

I am still here and still reading you all. I am not sure if I have anything interesting to say any more, I think recording a new tooth, a first step or another flu may be relevant to me and perhaps the grandparents but I can see how this is of very little interest to the blogging community, so I'm not posting as much.

Anyhow, I am just back from a trip to Madrid, it was for work, but I brought Oliver with me and my parent met me there so it was lovely for all of us. I find it is really important for me to carve quality time with Oliver. he loves it of course and so do I. His vocabulary in both languages is excellent, we can have lovely conversations which can go off on a tangent at any moment. I love his curiosity and candidness.

Selfie in the breakfast room of the hotel which was really
a fab gluten free bakery!

He is having a "good boy" stint, so we don't have to deal with many tantrums thankfully and  travelling with him on my own is absolutely no problem. Hopefully this will last!

And as of me, I am well, therapy had helped a lot, I will go again next week, and possibly every two weeks. I have another physical symptom, not sure what it is, maybe my stomach/bowel and (most of the time) I don't panic. I will have it checked out if it continues, but I am amazingly just thinking it may be a bit of gastritis. Hopefully anyway!ù

Martina did very well at home with Mike but we are very happy to be all together again. Tomorrow we are going to an event organised by our fertility clinic, they are celebrating their 17th year in business and are having a get together with all the children and families who are going. As we have been so open about our journey, I'm really looking forward to it and curious to see if there's anyone else there I know!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Martina is 11 month old, Oliver is back to tantrums, and we are back from Italy

We had ten days in Italy, it was lovely as usual. We had lots to celebrate, our wedding anniversary (seven years!), my parents anniversary (forty!) and my niece first birthday.
But I have a couple of things to get off my chest, you are warned!

Oliver somewhat regressed to bold behaviour, really pushing buttons with us (you know...mocking us, saying "no!" to anything you tell him to do etc) travelling with him this time was an absolute pain... we had to drag him across the airports, he was shouting as if he was being skinned, we had to find a chair (or his suitcase) to give him timeout a few times. Awful. While in Italy, he took my bamboo stylus for the iPad, broke it and threw it in the bin without us realising anything at all,  only saw it was gone from my iPad. He was so so good for a long time and we are back to this's very very tiring...hopefully it'll pass soon.

My niece's father started getting under my skin too. He is ridiculously anxious about the child (I know I'm anxious, but he beats me hands down), everything is a huge deal (a bit of a teary eye, a sneeze, a little cry...) and he started giving out to Oliver if he thought he was misbehaving. This practice of educating other people's children is really annoying, specially when I'm there too. Just to give you an example; this child must be alone when she eats or, they say, won't touch food. So Oliver had to leave the kitchen (at my parents') and the door had to be closed.
He was also obviously reared with rude language on every day agenda for normal conversation and he would be quite freely talking in that way even when the children are around, oblivious to the fact that that is very rude. Thankfully he left for Paris and we had a few days without the drama.

And now for the nice bits.
I met my junior high school friends after 26 years...I was actually a bit nervous, we have not kept in touch so I was not sure what to expect. Also, our paths are very different which sometimes can make things awkward. But it was a fabulous evening! Lots of fun and laughter, we have now created a whatsapp group and we chat every day! We will meet again in May hopefully, I am so happy I reconnected! In May will also meet my senior high school friends...hopefully it'll be another pleasant event.

Martina is 11 month today which means we have a birthday to celebrate in a month! I don't think we'll do a party or anything, just probably a cake for the four of us. She is doing really well, her sleep has improved so so much I feel like I'm breathing again. She can still wake of course, but sure Oliver can do it too, it is very manageable. So I'm planning to go to the conference I went to two years ago in Boston, and it's no longer an impossible dream! I'm very happy!! Will look this week for flights, I will not be able to stay much longer than the conference and this is unfortunately not in the city but in a quite isolated campus, but do let me know if you are in that neighbourhood from the 6th to the 11th of July!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

I waited a bit to write about this as I wanted to have a couple of sessions done.

I like it a lot, Louise (the psychotherapist) is great, highly qualified and I feel our sessions have been really fruitful. She asks always very focussed questions and there is very little rambling which I appreciate a lot. The first session was pretty much an assessment and of course very quickly she was able to see what was going on with me. She literally said "Do you see what you are doing? You are catastrophising, you are making movies, and you have to learn to STOPP." And STOPP is actually an acronym for which now I have little stickers and cards dotted in various places.
I had some assignments to do, mostly observing, thinking about triggers of my anxiety ecc. She thinks that all this is linked to me being a perfectionist and of course a perfectionist must have everything under control and you cannot control the future, you cannot control what you don't know and there will always be things you don't know. On top of this of course there is the fact that I have a certain medical knowledge which is the final killer. I know a good bit but only enough to worry myself sick rather than reassuring me. She said with my way of being and my training as a scientist, I am a thinker, I need to research, it would be impossible for me not to think, not to make movies, so I have to change what I'm thinking, challenge my catastrophic views (which I want to point out are nearly exclusively self directed, I am the go to person for everyone I know who wants reassurance) with other thoughts, and if I really have to make movies, then they have to be good ones.

So today was my second session, I was all ready to try an work on all things health related that I blow out of proportion and she shifted the gear completely and started focussing on work, for which I have absolutely no anxiety, I feel fairly confident and appreciated. However a schema is a schema in all aspects of your life and we had an initial chat which I thought was nearly part of the greetings but then she suddenly said "I can see you are very practical, this is good, the way you can rationalise and be very matter of fact, we have to use this in your reset process". And so we went on describing how I probably make lists and plans, and there is always a new plan a new item to be added to the list. This is true for work too, the list of things to do is never over, I am efficient, I do get through items quickly I do not procrastinate much (only things I that don't need to be done so urgently) - though apparently perfectionists may feel very overwhelmed by tasks that they never feel ready to do them -  I get very frustrated when I have to deal with colleagues that are last minute types, never get things done and I can't do anything about it. She asked me how Mike would describe living with me. I had to think about it. I think he likes the fact I have things under control (90% of things that concern our family I have them planned) but surely I thinks I am a real pain when I constantly remind him about that 10% that is under his control and he's not doing it the way I would do it. I certainly keep my anxiety very much hidden and in check, I know he just simply does not understand and cannot help and when I feel so bad that I share is never a good conversation for me.
In work, while I have high standards, I have learnt to say things to people (students mostly) in a way that is always constructive rather than destructive, I think my students love I correct their assignments/papers/posters/abstracts almost in real time. I have great feedback from the students (undergrads and post grad) on my teaching and it's a self feeding thing, I love that they appreciate my efforts and I want to do even better the next time. I have to learn that maybe this is already good enough, I don't have to do more, work more, teach more, I can enjoy life, the children, the house, the holidays, because it's ok not to correct 215 home assignments in one week, nobody expects that (specially when that is not the only thing I have to do). I have to work on balance. It's not going to be an easy fix, this is the way I'm wired, since I was small I was brought up not wanting to disappoint when it came to performance (I did write a post a while back on this) and if someone does a job, I do expect it to be done as planned (specially if I'm paying for it!), but I have to work on lowering my expectation of about 25%. I'm really not too sure how to do it, but will try.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

10 month old update

Oh man, we were sick with the flu complicated by a strep throat infection. Both Mike and I are on antibiotics, that didn't make for a fun week let me tell you! But now we are all well, the children escaped it somehow so at least it's just us having to recover.
My periods seems to have settled on a 21-23 days in length which is a real pain, mostly for the pool. Thankfully this time it coincided with being sick so I would not have been able to go swimming anyway. I will start again tomorrow.

Martina is 10 months old today, she has been teething non stop since her first tooth not even a month ago, she has 4 through and a 5th one nearly there, the poor chicken can't get a bit of a break, but at least then they'll be out and we can move on.

Both herself and Oliver went for their developmental check 10 days ago, and all is well. She is crawling at speed now, with a straight leg in front of her (quite funny to watch) and gives the impression she is going to stand up an walk instead. I'd say it wont be long.
We finally moved her into her room on friday, two days shy of ten month as our room-mate, but what can I tell you, she is still waking once at least, it was just unthinkable to do it when she was up 3/4 times a night. She seems to love her room and for us it's nearly strange not to have to tip toe when we go to bed.

Oliver is my big boy, I have started changing a bit my way of relating to him (I was a bit short fused for a while and threats were my way of getting him to to things), we spend much more quality time together, including going to the pool just the two of us at weekends and it is really helping building trust and recognising boundaries. I am proud of myself and really really proud of him too.

I am also doing well, still haven't started with the new therapist (very difficult to match her schedule with mine and she is very busy), I'll see her in just over a week, very curious about it. The chiropractor has given me a new life for sure, I am so so happy, now I'm going to see him every 10 days or so and then it'll be once a month for maintenance. I'm stil keeping a diary for headaches and general feelings, it really helps to notice how long I now go without a headache. Long may it last!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How it is going

I am feeling so much better the difference is apparent to other people. I stuck to my plan of swimming every second day (a part from today that it was snowing! Will go tomorrow), and the energy I have now was unimaginable only last week. At the weekend I brought the children to the pool and Oliver loved it so much we had to come back on the sunday. He talks about it every day, so I guess it will be our destination for a while.
Dr.A is a fabulous physician and within days I could feel the difference in the tension in my neck. I sleep so much better (I also changed my pillow to an orthopedic one in memory foam), I wake up rested (Martina permitting) and ready to go for the day. I went today for my fourth session and he was really impressed with the progress, I told him I keep a diary of my headaches and since I saw him I can definitely say I had none. I know it's only ten days, but I would not have gone more than a week without one since December. Often I would have it twice a week. I am mindful of doing the exercises he suggested during the day and this together with swimming is working its magic.
I have had my last session with MissC, I am thankfully in a completely different place now and I hope to stay here for a while. Again, practicing mindfulness if only once a day for a few minutes just to reground myself is essential. I can feel I am getting back in control of my thoughts. I will go see her again maybe in a month time as a sort of follow up session, I really like her. As that is finished and my chiropractors visits are going to be once a week from next week, I thought of giving CBT a go (cognitive behavioural therapy). I was given a name of a very good psychotherapist which lives and practice on my side of the city and will start seeing her next week. I am not sure what to expect, now that I feel better, I suppose I hope to learn a method that will retrain my way of thinking. She is quite expensive and insurance does not cover, so this better be a love at first sight or I know I won't go back. Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The new me

After the shocking bout of anxiety I suffered in the past few weeks, I realised I have to take serious actions. And I did.
I will see weekly my psychotherapist which I'll call MissC, her approach is based on mindfulness and I can see the benefit already. I really should have kept up the mindfulness meditations but ah well, I didn't. Can't recriminate too much on the past and so I'm just starting again.

I have started also to go to a chiropractor, Dr.A, he is phenomenal. I went there on saturday (despite the fact that the MRI was totally reassuring, the headaches had not gone away and they really affected my life), and he got my history, checked me, noticed immediately the atlas (the first of the cervical vertebra, C1) was shifted to the left, possibly narrowing the channel where the trigeminal nerve stems. It makes perfect sense, all my aches are on the left side, and the tingling sensation also is on the left side. I can really describe my headaches as if they were on the surface of the skull rather than deep inside the head. Apparently these are the hallmarks for trigeminal issues. I thought that type of pain should have been unbearable (they say it can make people suicidal) but he explained that like everything there are various degrees of inflammation and mine is obviously not that severe, but still sufficient to give me headaches and associated issues. Of course being stressed and anxious is adding to the pile, tension in the shoulders and neck is a killer for this. After the first treatment I felt completely different, yes perhaps I'm easily fooled and it's all a big placebo effect, but I have not had the tingling in the face and only occasional very transient aches over my left ear. I keep a diary of the headaches so that we know if this is helping or not. I went today again and will go for another couple of treatments in a short time and then we'll maintain and do more gentle and minor adjustments. I am really positive this is the way to go for me.

Finally, true to my new year resolution, I joined the super fancy gym recently opened on campus yesterday. As a staff member I get a good discount and the annual membership can be freezed for up to 3 month so there is a bit of flexibility for holidays etc. It is two minutes walk from my office, has a 50m pool which is almost deserted during the day and I can fit at least three swims per week between lectures. My goal is to swim 2k (40 legs) once I'll be up for it hopefully in a few weeks and keep that as my exercise. Yesterday I swam 600m so I know I have a good bit to go, but I feel great and really motivated. There is also a spa corner and a children pool, as my two are less that 4 years old they have free access. We are going to try it out this weekend. So tomorrow is day 2 in the pool for me and the weather here is horrendous (floods, millions in damages to properties etc), somehow the fact that this doesn't discourage me the least and I have already prepared the bag for the gym, gives me great confidence I'll stick with the plan!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Life is good

Yesterday was the worst day i had in years. Did the MRI and the tech would not say absolutely anything not even under bribery. They do however give you a CD with all the images. The report is sent to your doctor within 24 hours. And my doctor on wednesday is open only in the morning.
So of course what do I do? But torturing myself by "reading" the images of course!
In fairness things are so crystal clear you could try and see if you can make an educated guess. And so I did. Most of the sequences looked totally normal, certainly I could not identify any mass anywhere, or areas that looked odd. Till I got to a couple of scans in which I could clearly see a little white spot which measured about 0.5cm x 0.2cm and it was definitely there, I could see it both in the axial and sagittal views. But only on one set of images with a particular contrast. I worked myself up into a state of pure anxiety, seriously, I was almost paralysed. I contacted all my doctor friends and asked for an opinion, non of them is a neuroradiologist unfortunately and of course I could see the images on my laptop with the programme embedded in the CD, but I could not save and email them (couldn't remember for the life of me how to take a screenshot). So it was all trough the phone, skype and whatsapp. They were all great, I found out today they had a mini session talking about me (and concluding it was probably nothing to worry about). But I did worry, a lot. I was thinking it could have been a small aneurysm or an area of demyelination. Somehow it sounded even worse than a brain tumour.
Mike looked after the children as I was in no state to do so, on the verge of tears and "deaf" to Oliver talking to me, I I just went to lie down a bit as I didn't want to scare them. Mike as always hadn't a worry in the world, you know those people that don't worry unless there is actually something to worry about? Until some tells them "now you worry", they are just eternal optimist. That's him. And just as well or we would have had to call a sitter to mind the children.

Anyway this morning I called the doctor first thing. The secretary told me she'll chase the results straight away and the GP would call me in minutes. Minutes turned into a couple of hours and I had a lecture in the meantime. When she did call the first thing she said was that the MRI was fine and why was I worrying so much. I told her what I found in the scan and she did say it was mentioned in the report as an aspecific area of higher contrast but nothing to be worried about at all, they didn't even think it needed a follow up, just one of those thing I may have had all along. Such a relief.

Suddenly I was so so tired I could have gone to bed on the spot. But I did go to see my psychotherapist and it felt good. We are exploring more what may have started all thins now that the crisis is averted. I truly hope I can get better, because I think I really hit rock bottom this time.

Thank you all for the support and love in the last few days, you were a life saver.