Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One year later - the 5th stage.

  I thought about doing a very in depth blog for the one year anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake but I am pretty sure my husband will have that covered in his blog Being a former journalist, he is into the details and facts. My blog is essentially written for my family and the 3 other people that read it and believe me, they know every detail of that day.

  I was sitting at home last night feeling a bit sorry for myself. My husband is back in Christchurch for the anniversary with our Ambassador. I was watching the interviews and reports of the quake and reliving the hours I was there. When I was running through those streets, I remember bricks and debris falling and I remember stepping over them or running away from them as they rolled toward me, but to be honest, I didn't realize how devastating it was in other areas of the city as well, I was just moving and dodging. It wasn't until I got back to Wellington  and saw the news footage that I realized just how devastating it was and how lucky my husband and I were. A lot has happened since then and though it still makes me sad to watch the footage, I am no longer anxious and depressed about the earthquake and I am beginning to feel differently about it.

So, today I will focus on the many positives in my life. I am clearly approaching the 5th stage of grief

  I am lucky. Not just because of that day but because I have a great life. I have a great marriage and I have unbelievable children. I have all of this because I am a very strong and capable woman. My husband and I enjoy one of the best marriages on the planet not because of luck but because we are both decent people and have the skills to respectfully communicate with each other and share this life together. Plus, he's really hot.

 I have two outgoing, respectful, smart and talented children who will still cuddle up to me and tell me about their day and how much they love me.

 I just bought a beautiful old house that I really love and hope to make into my forever dream home.

 I live a varied and interesting life with the opportunity to go anywhere in the world where there is an embassy.

 I have been able to collect a handful of really great friends, I know Jennifer would drop everything without hesitation or explanation if I needed her.

 I still have my two grandmothers! Peg brings me so much joy, all I have to do is hear her voice on the other end of the phone and I know I am going to smile today.

 My Dad and his wife are always there to listen. He knows better than to give me advice about emotional stuff but if I start talking about mechanics or fixing something, we can talk for hours. It calms me, I think he knows this.

 I have been lucky enough to have married into a unbelievable family. They couldn't be more different than me but they accept me. I think they even love me sometimes:) They are kind and smart and beautiful and best of all, fiercely loyal.

 So, yeah. I am not going to mourn today. I am happy to be alive and happy that I still get to wake up every morning to these beautiful people in my life and make them laugh, make them cry, make them shake their heads and sometimes just wonder ;)

 Naturally I have been questioning how the earthquake affected me personally and if it has made me stronger or has somehow made me weak. I don't know yet but what I do know is that many of the folks that were in Christchurch but don't live there are still a part of this. They seem to be the forgotten ones. Somehow they don't count and are not entitled to mourn or be depressed. They are told to get over it whenever there is a shake here and hide under their desks. One friend of mine was told she should seek counseling because surely she should be over it by now, it has been a year after all. Perhaps some of us cannot get over it becuase nobody aknowledges that we were there, and afraid and in danger.

 If you run into a survivor today that looks sad or scared or just a bit shell shocked, how about giving them a pat on the back or a hug and tell them how glad you are that they are still here and if they need to talk, you'd be happy to listen. Belittling them and minimizing their experience down there is incredibly damaging. Watch the footage on TV, it brings it into perspective. Remember, you weren't there and you have no idea the raw fear that many of us felt. It did matter, it still does and always will.

 Now, me and my girls are off to put flowers in traffic cones as and act of solidarity with the Cantabrians. I don't know who came up with the idea but if I had to bet money on it, I'd say Adrian had something to do with it. He is obsessed with cones.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Good house porn

I found this site by accident and now I am totally addicted. If you are decorating, planning to decorate or just dreaming about one day having a house to decorate...this is the site to go to.

Kitchen traditional kitchen

It appears that my new old house has some issues in the kitchen. Since we were planning on redoing it sometime in the future anyway we were not too upset to learn that "later" is now. This is perfect. I hope I can afford a scaled down version of it. The armoire on the right houses the refrigerator.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It takes a lot to piss me off.

  My husband and I joke that I am the Golden Retriever of the human race. I am usually happy, wake up with my tail wagging ready to face each new day optimistically. If I get cut off in traffic I give the offending driver the benefit of the doubt "he probably has a sick kid in his car and it on his way to the emergency room", I often tell my kids as way of explanation. If someone talks about me behind my back I tend to forgive thinking they must be having a bad day or just need to vent and don't mean anything by it. So, when I am actually mad about something, I feel totally justified in expressing my outrage.

  This week I had a meeting with my 3rd RMO since last year's devastating earthquake in Christchurch. It was bad, I got freaked out and sought help (I'd like to clarify that I was at the epicenter of the quake standing in the center of downtown staring at the Christchurch Cathedral as it fell on the cars parked in front of it). I was brushed off. When I had to go to my Dr. here in NZ to treat the all over body rash I developed shortly after due to my extreme anxiety caused by subsequent mini quakes here in Wellington he told me to take antihistamine and gave me prednisone. I asked for valium, he said no. Too addictive. Ok.  I get stuck in downtown Christchurch with buildings falling down around me and I get antihistamine. Do you know how prednisone interacts with an already freaked out woman? Ask my kids.

It always seems backward to me that doctors always want to treat the symptoms of an illness and not the actual cause. My rash was caused by the insane amount of adrenaline being pumped through my body and my body was trying to fix it by jacking my immune system into high gear. So, I understand the necessity of the prednisone and antihistamine but the underlying issue of the adrenaline being pumped through my body on an hourly basis went unchecked. I was still nervous and scared ALL THE TIME in the weeks after the quake.

This represents the latest 30 quakes in NZ from February 2, 2012 until today. They range from 2.3 to 5.7 on the Richter scale. Just so you don't think I'm exaggerating.

  So, I asked the regional RMO to help me out. She said I should be taking anti anxiety pills until the rash is under control and I stop freaking out whenever the neighbor takes his wheelie bin to the curb (sounds kind of like an earthquake). Great, I will just take my email from her to the local doc and surely he will write me a prescription. Nope. Too addictive, he told me to try drinking some wine before bedtime it will help you relax. I did take his advice and started drinking a wine. Lots and lots of wine. It helped in the moment but my liver was not happy.

  A few months went by and my rash finally started going away and things were getting back to normal when we had another quake in June. Back to square one. RMO number 2 came to the Embassy and told me I really should be on anti anxiety medicine and she would mail me a prescription. What? It's that easy? Why didn't the other RMO simply do that 6 months ago? Whatever, I was happy with that except the prescription never came. Apparently I was supposed to remind her that she was going to send me a prescription. Ok, 'cause that sounds logical when you are dealing with a stressed out patient. Now I've got to do her job too? The earthquakes continue in NZ and we have a nice new crack in our ceiling to prove it but I am over freaking out and just pack an emergency kit, leave the house and hope for the best.

  Then, the Embassy sent my husband back to Christchurch. This I did not like. Let's not even mention that they have had thousands of aftershocks since last February and a big one over Christmas that brought down more rubble. Nobody died so I guess they figured it was ok to send embassy staff back for another Codel. Adrian was totally ok with that, I wasn't. He's much braver than me. So, off I went to shoot an email to the original RMO again to let her know my rash is back and what does she recommend I do about it?  A month later I received a small vial filled with 10 pills for "emergencies". Whatever. My time of crisis is over and the pills remain sealed in the bottle. Let me emphasize that I am not interested in being medicated 24 hours a day. I like being silly and impulsive and having a clear head. I was simply looking for something to calm me down (instantly) in case another big one hit and I needed to calm down. In the days after February 22, 2011 I remember wishing that someone would just put me in an induced coma for a few days, just so I could get some peace. I was so upset and nervous that I would have rather been unconscious.
  Last week we had yet a new RMO come and I was ready this time. I prepared a power point presentation for her to let her know how I really felt so she could see exactly where I was coming from and how that day affected me. I was beginning to think that everyone thought I was just standing outside during the quake, felt the ground rumble and then was airlifted out. That was not how it went down. This is how the day went for me. I was beginning to think that all these doctors were looking at me like I was some out of control junkie that was using the earthquake to get some kind of fix. As if I didn't really deserve valium or xanax or some other calming medicine because that was reserved for people who were in really bad situations and deserved to be streesed out. It made me doubt myself. I always thought of myself as a strong person - everyone does. Now I was no longer sure. These are professional doctors denying me, it must be me right? So I showed her my presentation. The system is broken sister and here's why....I thought it was a very good presentation and I left with a new prescription for antihistamines! No wonder there are so many alcoholics in this business (or so I'm told, I haven't met any yet). Luckily I am not so fearful and even enjoy NZ most days though I'd never live here permanently and am looking forward to our new post in India. But I am thinking that to be a part of this business you have to look after yourself. Nobody is going to hold your hand and make sure you get the help you need. I didn't even know I was eligible for medivac back to the States just after the quake until 8 months after. A nice quake break would have been helpful. Someone really should have told me that was an option.

 So yeah, I took a power point presentation to my shrink after receiving help 352 days after my crisis. I'm such a drama queen.