Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting back to normal...almost.

  It has been a month since the earthquake and things are starting to feel normal again.  I've been taking Ewan to soccer practice, taking my friends up on invitations for walks and lunches and walking through downtown occasionally without looking up at the buildings. I still walk toward the street side of the walkways, just in case but, I think I will do that for as long as we are in New Zealand.  After all, there have been hundreds of after shocks and dozens of mini quakes in the last month but this is "normal" for New Zealand. Something I didn't know before I came here.

  While I mentally feel fine, my body is still trying to deal with the over abundance of adrenaline in my system due the constant state of hyper vigilance I am in.  It has metastasized into a very large rash covering most of my body.  I can deal with this. I know it will eventually go away but it is a nuisance and very itchy.  Apparently this is common for folks who experience extreme stress.

  I volunteered at my sons school today in the snack shop, it is one of my favorite things to do. I get to see them running to class and at morning tea and lunch.  Sometimes I even get a cuddle from Ewan.  Morgan just comes for the food but it is still nice to see him.  I was also delighted to notice that my rash was receding today. It was mainly on my arms and legs and I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I attributed it to my sense of calm throughout the day. I was laughing with Clare, the shop manager, and the sun was shining beautifully.  I was feeling strong and happy. Then the school had a surprise earthquake drill.  Bummer, the rash is back full force. I can only laugh at my dumb luck.

Tomorrow I will start again.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"I'm on medication" - my new disclaimer

To make a long story short, and save myself from rambling like I sometimes do, I will start off by saying, "I was in an earthquake, got really freaked out, came home, had more earthquakes, got more freaked out, then a tsumami warning after Japan's earthquake" ....well, it sent me over the edge.

Mentally I thought I was doing fine, but my body was not having conversations with my mind so my fear manifested itself in the form of a very large stress rash over 1/3 of my body requiring large doses of prednisone. Prednisone makes you jumpy, racy (not in a sexy way), anxious and manic. Oh, and you gain 2 lbs a day. No joke. Since I have to be on it for 10 days, I have 20 lbs to look forward to.


Anyway, I have to remind myself that I am on it and need to "find a happy place" now and then to calm down so I don't freak out my children.

After a weird exchange with my son this morning about cereal, I started going a bit berserk and my husband noticed it. He's a good diffuser of tense situations. I felt bad even though the exchange was minor and really not worth noticing, but "I'm on medication" so I feel things differently right now. The real prize, though, is that I have an awesome husband who really does love me and is probably the number one reason I stay sane.

I was feeling ashamed of myself and really needy. I know he went through the same thing I did, but he was having to take care of me. When he got to work I sent him a sheepish email saying thanks and that I was sorry he got saddled with such a nut case wife. "You're not a nutcase", he wrote back. "You're the love of my life and a damn find find". Enough said.

He gets my hero award ......again. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What can you say?

What is there to say when so many people, an entire country is grieving? To say that the earthquake in Japan has affected New Zealand would be an understatement. Just when the Kiwis were starting to rally again, boom. Reality of what the earth is capable of has set in. Stay strong Japan, our hearts and thoughts are with you and your people.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The World does not stop when you do.

  I am feeling much better that I was even just a few days ago. Though the mini earthquakes have not stopped in NZ, we have learned not to freak out at the slightest rumble. What else can you do? I do still feel a little stupid for living on a fault line but hey, I'm still in New Zealand and it is gorgeous.

 There are no big reptiles or dangerous snakes, bugs or large cats so I can let the kids walk down to the park alone and all I have to worry about are the 2 places where they have to cross our suburb's streets. I can live with that. We won't be swimming in the bay just yet (Orcas) but we can go sit by the bay and enjoy it's loveliness.
  I do still mourn for Christchurch and probably will for a long time but my life was spared and it is busy. Today I have a house to clean, dinner party to prepare for, food to buy and a 6th grade open house thrown in the middle of it. No time to sit and weep. For that, I am thankful.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brave or Stupid?

I'm not usually a moper but last week I found myself hosting a few pity parties for myself. Good thing Ewan was away at camp. I don't think I could have managed his vegetarianism along with my self pity. It's not that I was looking for sympathy but when neither my mother nor brother called me after my day in Christchurch, I was a bit sad.

My husband is a good person to have around during these times. He is sympathetic to my need to hash it out, but also does not let me dwell on things that I cannot change. He does not enable me. He reminds me that life is imperfect, people don't change and there isn't a doggone thing you can do about Mother Nature. So, basically, you have to get over it. Your family needs you to function.

I am all for getting over it. I love being strong and independent. I am proud of the fact that I moved out at 17, went to college, paid my own tuition and landed my dream job the day after I graduated. I don't sit around. I get stuff done. When I decided to start my business, I simply did. No fuss. Sometimes I make mistakes but when I fail, I try again. I NEVER give up. It's in my blood. So, this misery I am experiencing is driving me crazy, mostly because I cannot make sense of it.  This is the seismic activity for one 24-hour period in NZ.
So, we have earthquakes, what are we going to do? Emergency kit is packed, phones are always charged, water stored. It is just exhausting being "on alert" all the time. We have had 4 shakes since the big one in Christchurch. There is no guarantee that the next one won't be the big one. It can come as I type this blog or it may never come. But, I will be as prepared as I can be. I now sleep fully clothed. I don't wear shoes to bed but they are right beside it. My keys are always accessible, since you need a key to unlock our house from the inside. No key, no getting out. I even take my cellphone to the bathroom with me.

What else can you do? I feel every vibration when we have an aftershock and even when the wind blows a bit too hard and rattles the windows. I suppose I will feel that for the next 18 months. When I spoke with the psychiatrist she said that I have to weigh the risks because everything we do has risk, whether it is driving in a car, walking across the street or living on a fault line that is currently moving. That makes no sense to me right now, but I will do the deep breathing exercises, meditate (with one eye open) and learn to live in my new environment.

If a giant volcano that was dormant for 200 years suddenly erupted and wiped out Auckland and then our dormant volcanoes started grumbling and letting off steam, would she tell me to hang tight and be strong? Meditate? I am not suggesting that everyone who lives in an earthquake prone zone should move, but, when you live in an area with high recent seismic activity, and the ground continues to shake every day, at what point do you  cross the line from being brave to being stupid?

I am not looking for sympathy, words of encouragement, statistics regarding earthquakes or asking for any special attention.  I am merely venting my frustration on my own personal blog.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Resisting the urge to duck & cover as Wellington Shakes

  After my embarrassing incident in the airport where I crouched on the ground with my hands out to keep balance (it was just a plane landing that shook the floor), I've tried to convince myself that the little tremors that I constantly feel are nothing more than a semi on the road or the wind or anything other than another earthquake.
  Last night shortly after 10pm, after Morgan had gone to bed Adrian looked at me, eyes wide. What was that? I had heard a loud noise but to be honest, I had 2 good glasses of wine and was working on my third when the newest earthquake hit us and I didn't feel a thing. I checked on Morgan (Ewan is away at camp) and packed a bag and put it by the front door. My dear sweet neighbor Sara called to check on us. I could hear her little ones crying in the background. (Near real-time shaking intensity from New Zealand's network of seismographs) I put this up at 7:34am New Zealand time. Crap, my son, Ewan is in the middle of the map right now where all of those little dots are.
  Sara's husband is Department of Defense and they live a block away so I am very comfortable knowing he will look after us.  As far as I know, there was no damage and nobody was hurt this time but it really was just too close for comfort, only 20 k from Wellington (4.5 on Richter), which means 13 k from us since we are a bit out of town.  My nerves are raw and no psychiatrist is going to help. What are they going to say? That my fears are irrational? It won't happen again? I'm not big into pharmaceuticals but seem to be reaching my limit on red wine and chocolate.