Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to Groom Your Dog

Here's that light-hearted post I promised you. Last night I decided to give Oakley, our Gloden retriever/Samoyed mix, his summer haircut. Why? 1) it's expensive 2) he hates going to the groomer 3) I found a pair of pet clippers hanging around and figured, why the hell not?

Senior Fuzzybutt before the cutting
The clippers came with an 8-minute instructional DVD that taught me all about how to groom a poodle, a schnauzer, and a cocker spaniel. None of which, do I own. Dangit. I really think they should add a section for people who just want to shave their damned dog because he's big and hairy and it's hot out and he's shedding everywhere. It would take about 45 seconds, but I could have saved 7 minutes watching the other dogs being groomed.

So, the first thing you have to do is wash your dog. Damnit. I was really hoping to jump straight to the shaving because Oakley had diarrhea last week and it was dried to his very long, very matted butt hair. I didn't want to wash that! Apparently, I had to or the clippers wouldn't work. Fine. I put the dog in the tub and proceeded to wash him thoroughly. I had to wash his butt twice.

I can't find a picture that captures the fluffiness...
Now I needed a good spot to shave him. They say to put him on a table so it's comfortable, but I wasn't doing this in the dining room and he's a big dog. He's about 80 pounds. So I thought the picnic table would be good, but that's too far from an electrical outlet. Finally, I settled on the top step going into the laundry room from the back yard. Added bonus, there's a railing I could tie his leash to.

There's a definite drawback to grooming your dog outside. Distractions. People kept walking by, these two malicious cats parked out across the street, motorcycles drove down the alley. The dog was moving constantly. Thank heavens the clippers don't actually cut skin.

So, I went to work. I started with the 1" comb attachment, thinking perhaps I would just trim him and see if that was enough. It was a total pain, so I just went with the clippers and took him down to nearly nothing. Screw it, this way at least he'll be cool. Even if he does look like that shorn cat from Austin Powers.

The aftermath
On the whole, clipping him was fine and dandy, but getting his undercarriage sucked. There was one part of it that can best be described as "put your face under your dogs a-hole and pray." At one point I had to put my head under his legs and I was thinking "If you hump me you go straight to the pound." But he was a good dog, no pooping and no humping, and eventually I got used to moving his junk around to get the clippers between his legs. I am, however, very glad he is neutered. I don't know how I would have trimmed up his nuts. Seriously, manscaping my dog would have been too much for me.

Before I trimmed down the "mane"
Eventually I lost the light outdoors, so I let him off the lead for a little bit. He was so excited that he rolled in the dirt. Damnit, now I have to give him another bath before I can finish the job. I moved him inside, put him in the tub, and just finished the job right there. If you had asked me "what are your plans for Wednesday night?" I don't think I would have answered "I'm going to be shearing my dog in the bathtub at 11 pm." Oh well, he looks good. I even took his "mane" down a notch, although he hated it and wouldn't be still so it's very raggedy in that area. For someone who has never cut hair with clippers, I think I did a decent job of giving my dog a fade.

All done! Looking... errr... cool?
So there you have it, my dog is nice and cool and I didn't have to spend around $100 for it. I still wonder why we even have those clippers, though. They had never been used before - everything was still in the little plastic baggies, and my husband's previous dogs weren't long-haired or in need of a specialty cut. I'm glad we had it, though. Made my Wednesday night more interesting. Although Mera seemed very confused when she saw the dog this morning!

Developing Something Special

The first visit with our new daughter could be summed up in two words: flying high. Similarly, the rest of the visit could be summed up in two words: emotional rollercoaster.

I won't go into gory details about every single visit, because then I'd have to write six individual entries that would be very long. Every time we returned to the orphanage, we went back with that cautious optimism in tow. Every time we left, we talked for hours about how amazingly well it had gone, focusing on some moment or episode from the day that had given us great hope an encouragement. We also discussed the things that concerned us, of which there were a few.

We had acquainted ourselves beforehand with the signs of "institutionalization." The longer that these kids stay in an orphanage, the more closed off they become socially and emotionally. As this develops, certain habits are seen. Self-soothing behaviors are probably the most common habit, along with a resistance to eye contact and extreme sensitivity to physical contact or sensory issues. Self-soothing an take many forms, ranging from the not terribly alarming rocking to the mildly alarming violent head banging or hair pulling all the way to the rather disturbing (for most people) genital stimulation. Sensory issues can be anything from refusal to be touched to constantly seeking overstimulation of the senses. Sometimes a kid with sensory issues will run everywhere, crashing into everything, or stuff food into their mouth so fast they choke because they require extreme amounts of sensory input before anything registers. We expected to see some of these behaviors in our girl and we were correct and, I think, wise to be emotionally and mentally prepared.

She does rock. When she's hungry she does this thing with putting her fingers in her mouth, almost gagging herself, that is hard to explain. If she becomes extremely upset she will hit herself, although we only saw it once and she was VERY upset with VERY good reason. From time to time, hubby and I would exchange little glances that said "did you see that too?" Yet, nothing we saw scared us because we expected to see worse, honestly. Plus, we were very encouraged by what we saw around all of this.

Yes, she rocks, but we noticed early on that we can interrupt it by providing nurture. That's a fantastic sign! Her self-soothing behaviors are entirely non-violent towards others, and only in extreme cases violent towards herself. They concern us because they are an indication of the lack of nurturing care that she has received to this point, not due to neglect per se but because nurture takes extra time and effort and orphanages have too many kids to worry about. We, obviously, would rather she didn't have these behaviors because we wish her life had been different. We are sad that she ever felt so alone and afraid. Yet, we can see that these behaviors have not taken over. She can still be reached, she still responds.

On the second morning she fell asleep on my husband and slept in his arms for an hour and a half. It was amazing. Now, sometimes kids use passing out as a coping mechanism, but this was not the case. We actually saw her do that on the third day when she was extremely upset, but this was different. She drifted off slowly in my husband's arms. She shifted position at times, sucked her thumb, and seemed peaceful. She slept for a long time, shifting and moving around like a normal sleeping person would. When she passed out from being upset it was very quick, it was not peaceful, it only lasted about 20 minutes, and she seemed to be less sleeping and more unconscious. But that time that she fell asleep on him was incredible, because that demonstrated felt safety. She felt safe and secure in his arms, she knew there was nothing to be scared of. She trusted him a great deal to become that vulnerable. It was incredible.

During our last visit we sat in a rocking chair together, her and I, and I began to sing to her. She sat in my arms for a long while and I sang to her, song after song. She was awake the whole time and she relaxed visibly. She rocked only a little bit, here and there. She leaned against me, resting against me comfortably. She even began vocalizing with me, making pre-speech sounds that she had not made in our presence before. She was smiling the whole time. I sang lullabies, hymns, folk songs... everything I knew. I don't know exactly how long it lasted, but I think it may have been a whole hour that we just rocked in that chair, me singing and her smiling and vocalizing. It was beautiful.

There were plenty of times that I felt a bit at a loss. I don't really know her yet, so I don't always know how to read her. We both felt sort of like babysitters with a child we hadn't seen before. We weren't able to do everything for her, and the fact that I had to ask staff to change her for me reminded me that she is not yet truly mine. Sometimes I would feel very tired when we were with her, wondering how much longer we would be with her and feeling a bit overwhelmed. Then, invariably, Eti would tell us it was time to go and I would think "Already? But we just got here!" Time made little sense, but overall it was going way too fast.

Our days became incredibly routine. Get up, eat, visit her, eat, visit her, eat, go to bed. We didn't sight-see, except for what we saw walking through town to find a restaurant. We were terribly exhausted. Every night we would fall asleep quickly at 9 pm, then wake at 2 am totally alert. We'd lay around in bed, trying desperately to fall back asleep, until about 5 am and then wake up at 7 am. Some mornings I felt so tired I thought "I'm not going to be able to do this," but then it would be time to see her and all my tiredness would vanish. After seeing her I would be so excited and happy that I would feel wide awake. Every night, at dinner, I felt like we were celebrating. Every morning, at breakfast, I felt like a nervous wreck. Emotionally draining, absolutely. Worth it? Yes, yes, a million times yes!

Sometimes I sort of miss those days now. I never felt closer to my husband. Part of it was the whole experience of being overseas. You feel so much closer to anyone who speaks English. We felt like two people in a little bubble, the only ones who understood us. Eti's English was great, but there were still little disconnects here and there. We had a hilarious conversation over dinner where we exchanged words and phrases and she taught me some things in Bulgarian. My attempts to pronounce things on the menu had us all laughing, and hubby's tendency to learn the phrase and promptly forget it was hilarious. "I can't talk to you or I'll forget how to say fruit salad before the waiter gets here!"The environment was so foreign that it drove us together, clinging to each other as the only Americans around.

The other part of it was going on the emotional rollercoaster ride together. We were sharing a whole lot of emotion, a whole lot of anxiety, and a whole lot of encouragement. We leaned on each other, reasoned with each other, bounced ideas and made plans. We communicated constantly about things that really truly matter. We had deep talks about life, about society, about God and ourselves. We examined our hearts and our lives very closely during those few days. We shared a lot of joy and it brought us closer together. We felt amazing gratitude, every single day, for the path that we were on and for each other. And every single day we looked at each other and said "I can't possibly do this without you." That has an amazing effect on one's marriage. I know some people worry that adoption can tear a marriage apart, people have actually said that to us, but so far it is pushing us closer together. If the trend continues when she comes home then we owe her a huge debt of gratitude for becoming our daughter, and for doing it in this way.

Gah this is way too long. If you've hung on until now, thanks. I promise someday I'll write short, light-hearte entries again. Probably when all the kids move out. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Psalm 26: My Version

Forgive me, oh Lord,
   for I have led a sinful life.
I have wandered from the Lord
   and faltered
Don't test me, oh Lord, or try me
   for I would fail
   If you examine my heart and mind
   you will find a shameful wretch.

I sit among the deceitful
   and I am a hypocrite
I love the assembly of evildoers
   and refuse to sit with the righteous
I was my hands in blood
   and go about your world, oh Lord,
   proclaiming myself a god
   and bragging of my sinful deeds.

Lord, I love my house and my stuff
   and your glory is far from my heart.
My soul would be taken with the sinners,
   my life with bloodthirsty men,
   in whose hands are wicked schemes
   whose right hands are full of bribes.
 But you have led a blameless life and died a sinners death
   to deliver me and be merciful to me.

My feet stand on level ground
   in the great assembly I will praise the LORD.

*the original Psalm 26*

First Meeting

"When is she going to just tell us about meeting her daughter?!?! I wanna hear the sappy, happy, lovey stuff, dangit!!"

Right now! Get out the Kleenex.

Tuesday morning was the day we would finally be driving up to meet our little girl. We knew the drill, we would stay in a hotel near the orphanage. Every day we would be permitted two visits - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We also knew a bit more about our little girl. We had been told that she was very shy, that she cried in the presence of strangers.

Monday night, neither of us slept. It could have been the heat and humidity, or how loud Sofia is at all hours of the night, or maybe the jet lag, but on that particular night I figure it was the excitement. Tuesday morning we woke up barely awake and bursting with nervousness.

A new rep from the agency came to pick us up. It would be her job to drive us to the orphanage, get us settled in, bring us to and from our visits, and generally act as our interpreter and guide. By the end of the trip, we would also count her as a friend. Honestly, I will never forget Eti. She made an immediate impression on me when she came to pick us up. She told us right away that she was very excited because our little daughter was her favorite. She said she loved our little girl. I could have kissed her at that moment, honestly. I immediately told her that we truly love this child, that I promise we will take good care of her and give her everything in life that we can. She smiled and I saw her tearing up a bit. I loved her for loving my daughter.

The drive up was beautiful, but we weren't really paying attention. I was sitting up front and Nick was sitting behind me. (This was our M.O. for all car trips - put the Chatty Cathy in the front seat.) I kept thinking about falling asleep, even tried it, perhaps caught a few minutes of dozing but never fully fell asleep. I was too excited/nervous/worried/happy/numb with emotion. Nick told me that he was utterly terrified. He said, "I feel like I might throw up, I'm so scared. I was feeling this way on the plane out here, too."

We drove through some beautiful countryside, passed through a city that had potholes so big you could lose a truck in them. From now on, whenever anyone in the Springs complains about the potholes I will laugh at them. We saw some very run down places, some nicer places, some cows... looking out the window helped but it all seemed almost irrelevant. We talked with Eti a bit, mostly asking her questions about our daughter and the orphanage. There was really nothing new to add, she didn't have a lot of recent information. I realized at that point how many orphans and orphanages they must have to work with.

Finally, we were pulling into the hotel parking lot and getting out of the car. It was almost lunch time, so I figured we had missed out on meeting our daughter that morning. I asked and was happy and surprised to hear that we would still go to the orphanage as soon as we were settled in. We threw our bags upstairs, grabbed a musical rattle we had brought for our little girl, and walked to the orphanage.

It was hard not to run when we first saw the building. Towards it, not away. There was playground equipment outside, the building was nice looking, there was a fence with a white metal gate. We went inside and up the front steps onto a patio that ran the length of the building. We stopped to talk to the security guard and I looked to the right and there was a group of kids on the patio, hanging out in the fresh air outside their room. A nurse in a white uniform was sitting among the kids, leading them in a song. To her left, closest to us on the bench, was my daughter.

I squeezed Nick's arm and pointed and said "Isn't that her? I think that's her?" He said "I don't know. I can't tell." Eti said she wasn't sure either. I was certain of it. She was wearing pink shorts and a pink shirt. The nurse rubbed her shoulder and she smiled and then put her hands in her lap and rocked. I told Nick "That's her. I know it's her."

They led us inside and brought us into a common room to meet the director. She was a very nice woman, she wore a nurse's uniform but we were told that she is a doctor. We were given the opportunity to ask questions, but they said that our daughter would be brought in to have her lunch there and then she would go to nap with the other children. We started asking questions, but then I looked out the glass door and saw them walking our little girl down the hall towards us. She was wearing pink shorts and a pink shirt. It was her, I had known her when I saw her.

At first she was nervous about the room and ill at ease, but the nurse sat her on a couch across from us and began to give her lunch while the director continued to talk to us. I took video after video and several pictures. We talked about her diet, about her routine. I couldn't take my eyes off her. All this time waiting and there she was. She was so beautiful.

After she had eaten they told us that we could take her for a little walk. The nurse started to walk her down the hall and then gestured me over and made it clear that I should take our daughter's other hand and help walk her. At first she didn't want my hand, but after a minute it was just us. We had to turn around and walk back to the room because we had gotten ahead of Nick and the director and Eti, who were still talking. When we got back to the room she didn't want to go back out. I said "Can I pick her up?" I felt like I had never even seen a child before! They assented and I decided to give it a go, so I scooped her up into my arms bracing myself for screams and tears.

She smiled at me. I was so scared that she would be scared of me, but when I picked her up she just smiled. I talked to her and she giggled. She wasn't scared at all. Nick got a great video of that moment, of the utter shocked joy on my face. I carried her down the hallway to the outside doors so we could walk her around the playground a bit and she was fine. And she was mine.

The nurse and I walked her around the playground together a bit, and then she left and it was just me and Nick with her. She let me hold her a good portion of the time, and the rest of the time I just walked her around. I noticed quickly that she had several self-soothing behaviors, but I realized that I could interrupt them with nurturing. She was responding to me. She was accepting comfort and affection from me. I could sense an open-ness about her. We could still reach her. After being in an orphanage long enough kids just shut down. They turn off the outside world. Eventually, what is trapped inside begins to crumble. In the end, nothing is left. But I could feel that spirit still in this little girl. I could sense this light in her, something fragile but not yet lost.

In that first visit, she didn't really want much to do with poor Nick. She touched his hand a few times, but quickly withdrew. She seemed curious, but cautious and unsure. She was checking me out the whole time. Her vision is significantly impaired, but she has a way of tilting her head and looking at you out of the bottom of her eye that is one of the cutest things I've ever seen. Seriously.

The first visit passed way too quickly. Before we knew it, we were having to leave so she could take her nap. We would be back to see her in a couple of hours. She was very unhappy when we left, she cried saying "Ciao" to us, but everyone who spoke Bulgarian told her that we would be back. We told her in English, which really isn't worth much right now but it's all we've got. Leaving the orphanage that first time, I was suddenly very much awake and riding high.

We'd arrived with hearts full of fear, and we left full of joy and hope. We kept saying to each other "Wow, that went so well! I can't believe it went so well!" We tried to couch it in realism, to keep ourselves grounded, by saying "the afternoon could be different," but we knew that was crap. We had arrived expecting very little and been surprised with the best gift anyone could be given. We had thought we were there to meet a stranger who would, with time and patience and effort, become our daughter. We were so wrong.

We met a little girl who was already our daughter.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Longest Mile

My last blog post left off with us arriving in Bulgaria. Two days of whirlwind travel plopped us down in Sofia, the capitol city. Sofia also is NOT the city of our daughter's orphanage. Her location is about 2 hours north of Sofia. Oddly enough, it took us just as long to close that distance as it did to get from the US to Bulgaria in the first place. The old adage holds true about the last mile being the longest mile, I suppose.

We arrived in Sofia on Sunday, a day ahead of schedule. Unfortunately for us, being early did us no real favors. The orphanage was not expecting us until Tuesday, so until Tuesday we would have to wait. The schedule was: arrive Sunday afternoon, Monday do paperwork and be tourists in Sofia, Tuesday through Thursday visit our daughter, Friday be tourists in Sofia again, Saturday leave in the morning. Typically the paperwork waits until Friday, since most families don't make their final decision regarding a placement until they have met the child. We had already committed to this child, we didn't need to wait until Friday so we did the paperwork Monday.

It wasn't until we were prepping and signing this paperwork that I came to realize how unusual our commitment to this child was. Our agency rep told us that the children are normally not told on the first day that they are meeting mommy and daddy. They are told that these strange people are "special guests" so that they won't be disappointed if the prospective parents say no. If the new parents are inclined to say yes, the kids find out on the second day that this is mommy or daddy. What's more is that sometimes these parents will actually change their minds after the meeting is complete and everyone goes home.

Imagine that you are a small child, living in the equivalent of a nursing home, and someone shows up wanting to meet you. You are told that this is a "special guest", but if you're a bit older than you have seen this before and you know the drill. You figure these people might be the thing you've been wishing for all your life - mommy and daddy. After a day of visits you find out that your suspicion was right. You have parents! Your new mommy and daddy spend a lot of time hugging and playing with you, and you love it. They tell you they love you. You believe it. Then, they have to leave. Everyone is crying and sad, but the orphanage workers tell you that it's ok. Mommy and Daddy have to finish some paperwork and get your new room ready (your very own room!!) and then they'll be back. A couple of weeks later, though, you find out from the orphanage workers that your new parents changed their minds. They don't want you after all. Sorry, kid, them's the breaks.

You may have figured out by now that this is something that I have only the utmost contempt for. I can understand meeting a child and finding that the match won't work. That I get. I can understand if you meet the child, want to pursue the match, and then come home and your spouse dies in an accident or loses their job or leaves you or you lose your job or whatever and you decide you can't do it at all anymore. That I get, it sucks for everyone all around. What I don't understand, what I have a hard time forgiving, is telling this kid they have a family and then pulling the rug out from under them because you changed your mind. These kids have had enough trouble in their short lives. You owe it to them to be damned certain of what you decide. To mean what you say and say what you mean.

At any rate, we have been certain of our decision from jump. I can't be entirely sure why, there's no real logical reason for it. I think it's more a matter of seeing love as a decision rather than a feeling. We got a certain amount of information on our daughter when we were given her file. We reviewed that information carefully, we took it to a doctor for a second opinion, we showed her videos to a social worker. Then we prayed our butts off and made our decision. That decision was two-fold; 1) we would pursue an adoption of this child and 2) we were going to raise this child as our own, through thick or thin, no matter what. We were going to love this child, we were going to act loving towards this child, no matter how tough things became. It's the same commitment we made to our other children, the same commitment most parents make to their kids. It's the same reason parents will spend their lives doting on a child with Down's, or waiting next to the hospital bed of a little one with cancer. It's the reason you don't just walk out and forget your baby in the NICU.

Becoming someone's mommy or daddy is signing up for whatever may come. It's being there for high points and lows, and some of those lows are pretty danged deep. It's being willing to sacrifice for someone who needs you so very much, sometimes to the point that you wonder if there will be anything left of you when you're done. You give until you run out, then you give a bit more for good measure. You forget about getting it back and you learn to take your reward in the form of a simple smile or a giggle.

We traveled to meet our daughter before her medical file had been translated. The agency coordinator was nervous about that arrangement, but I told her point blank "There's nothing they could translate in that document that could make us give up on that girl. That's our daughter, as far as we are concerned. I don't care what that paperwork says, we're coming to get her."

I actually thought a while on this question - at what point could we have just walked away from this little girl? Before we saw her profile. Once we had seen her pictures, read her story, watched those videos, it was too late to go any other way. How could we have not thought about her for the rest of our lives? Worried about her health? Worried about her life? Once we knew of her, we couldn't walk away.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"THE" Call

For a while now it seems I've been writing about everything but our adoption, and with good reason. There really wasn't much to say. Waiting is hard, it's emotional, but from the outside I figure it's pretty boring. "We're waiting for the call" sounds pretty straightforward to most folks, and it's hard to communicate to anyone else how pregnant that phrase really is. 

So I'm pleased to be posting an actual blog about our adoption, because we have had some true movement. We have met our new daughter! Really, I can't put enough exclamation points after that statement. The level of joy that this moment holds is beyond my ability to convey. It's like when your baby is born, except without all that certainty that everyone is going to get along just fine. Meeting our little girl, and having it go well, is probably like the relief women must have felt giving birth to a healthy baby before there was such a thing as ultrasounds or prenatal care. (ed note: this is how a lot of women still feel in developing nations. I feel for them in a big way.)

Our waiting came to an end very abruptly. On Friday afternoon, three weeks ago, I got a phone call from the agency. "I really hate to do this to you, and I won't be the least bit upset with you if you say no, but they gave me this and I have to ask," began our coordinator. "Oh no," I thought. "They are trying to match us with two kids. Or with a different kid." She continued, "They have given us travel dates for you, but you would have to be in Bulgaria on Monday."

This only confirms that my agency coordinator doesn't know me that well. She's awesome, don't get me wrong, but anyone who truly knows me understands that I am not scared of surprises. Not at all. 

She went on to explain that she hadn't had to spring a trip on a family like this since the Guatemala program had shut down, how horrible she felt, how she hated to put us in a tight spot. I was trying not to laugh at her. She was so sincerely apologetic and contrite, I had no idea how to tell her that this was the best fricking news ever. I told her that I would figure out wether we could make it and call her back. I already knew my answer. 

Well, about five hours later my husband was driving me and our baby girl to the airport in Denver for the flight to MA, where I would meet up with my sister and spend the night at her house in an attempt to get baby girl acclimated before leaving her there for the week. Hubby had to stay behind to tie up loose ends and put the dogs in boarding, so he and I would meet the next day in MA. At the gate for our flight to Munich. Of the entire trip, I think the most anxiety-filled moments for me were the ones when I was sitting at that gate, waiting for him to appear. I was so scared he would get delayed and miss the flight. Only the knowledge that being arrested by TSA agents would definitely destroy our flight plans kept me from leaping on him as he cleared the security checkpoint. 

Arriving in Bulgaria was pretty surreal. Periodically we would look at each other and say "I can't believe we are here!" I sort of felt like an adoption rock star. The agency rep who met us at the airport kept saying how surprised she was that we made it, how they thought we would not be able to, how it really shows our dedication to this child. I felt like we were going to be awarded some Olympic medal for fastest globe traversing in an adoption proceeding. By the by, they asked us to be there on Monday. We arrived Sunday afternoon. BWAH!! Karate chop!!!

Honestly, I couldn't have done this any other way. My heart has been yearning for our new daughter for months. I have been falling in love with her in absentia this whole time, ever since the first time I read her profile. That first picture caught my heart and refused to let go. The wait had already been killing me, counting down the days until we were scheduled to meet her would have been special torture. 

More than that, though, my maternal instinct would never have given me rest. "Your child is waiting," it would have insisted. "What the hell are you doing HERE??" I'm all mom. When my kids call, I come. When my kids need me, I move everything to get there. That doesn't mean I hover. It doesn't mean I swoop on every whimper the moment it's heard. Sometimes, when I think it will provide them a chance to learn and grow, I leave them to figure something out on their own. I'll sit back and watch as my son and his friends settle playground grievances. I'll let our daughter figure out her own route from the coffee table to the cabinet. But when my kids need me, when they truly NEED me, there is no force in the 'verse that can keep me from coming to their aid that moment. So when they told me that my new daughter, who I know needs me very much right now, would be waiting for me on Monday in Bulgaria, what else could I do but be there? In Bulgaria. 

On Sunday. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guinea Pig part Deux

A while back I posted a blog about my attempts to control my menstrual migraines. I wanted to share what I was trying to maybe help someone else with the same condition. I haven't returned to the subject in a long while because I wanted to make sure that my little experiment had legs to stand on before pushing someone else in the direction I went, but now I am pretty sure I can report my finding with little fear of speaking too soon or out of turn.

Phyto Prolief by Arbonne (green bottle) works. t just plain works. I started taking it as soon as I got it in the mail, and I immediately noticed a difference. I was sleeping better at night. I stopped having bouts of chills in the evenings. I stopped feeling shaky and weak. I felt better rested and my head felt clearer than it had in weeks. So I stuck with it, taking it once a day in the evenings. When my period started, I applied it twice a day - morning and night - and I had NO migraine that month. About a day after my period I cautiously ratcheted back down to once daily application, feeling a bit scared of what may happen, and found that the transition was totally painless. Month one, total success.

Month two, I embarked on the same routine. (I will make a small caveat here... I am talking menstrual cycles when I use the term "month", but my cycle is very short so I sometimes am blessed with two periods in one month. Cool, no? uhhhh... no) When my period started, I used the cream twice a day. If I noticed a bit of a migraine feeling,  spot applied a small amount of the cream to by temples. And.... another month with no migraine.  I actually found another fringe benefit that month. I started being able to drink coffee again! Previously, I couldn't have any coffee, because even decaf made me feel jittery and out of it. Suddenly, I was able to have a cup of coffee like a normal person without my body going into shock! This is very good news to me.

I felt pretty convinced at this point, and I fully intended to blog about it, but life got in the way. And besides, that's really not the scientific method. I mean, I had established a link but to fully determine causality I needed to go OFF the cream, right? Yeah, I would be a total doofus to purposefully mess up my health in order to prove for the purposes of a blog that this stuff works. I'm not that dumb.

But I am dumb enough to accidentally forget to apply it a few times and then run out. So the experiment is complete, not due to my willingness to sacrifice my health for science but instead due to me being a dumbie. Your welcome.

During our recent run of breakneck world travels (more on that later) I forgot to apply the cream a few nights. No biggie, I actually felt pretty ok. I thought to myself "hey, maybe my hormones have leveled off now and I won't even NEED this stuff anymore?" Wow, I was wrong. We got home from our travels and I settled back into my routine of using the cream, immediately realizing that in the wake of all the craziness I had failed to notice the return of my night chills. Then, the unfathomable terror came. I started my period and promptly ran out of Phyto Prolief.

Within hours of missing my morning application, my head felt foggy again. I felt that terrible pre-migraine feeling. I rushed to the internet to order a bottle of cream from the Arbonne website and paid $30 for overnight shipping. I'm cheap. For me to be willing to pay that much for shipping, you know I'm in a bad way. I missed both applications yesterday, and survived the day by scraping some residual cream off the inside of the cap and applying to my temples.

Today I missed my morning application and I felt a tad crummy, so my darling husband managed to rip open the bottle for me so I could scrape the insides. I managed to get a partial application, but it was not enough. Today I got slammed by a migraine. I am actually typing this in bed while my husband has taken our daughter out for a while, because I'm so danged fatigued that I'm useless. Walking to the bathroom wipes me out. My body can't seem to regulate it's temperature, so I'm alternating between cold and hot. The pressure in my temples is bearable, but not fun. In short, I'm as miserable as I ever was. The good news is that my re-supply of cream arrived today. I also called my Arbonne rep and ordered a six month supply at half off, due to a timely promo for my birthday. Thanks Maria!

SO there you have it, the stuff works. When I have my Phyto Prolief and am taking it as normal I feel great and my period is only as inconvenient as anyone else's. When I accidentally went off it during my period, I fell apart. I would say that's proof enough for me.

If you suffer from menstrual migraines go out and buy this cream NOW. I can't recommend it strongly enough. At $34 a bottle, it's a bit pricey. Each bottle lasts about 1 1/2 months the way I use it. But honestly, it's totally worth it to not fall apart once or twice a month. Also, you can purchase "Consultant" status and buy your supply at a reduced cost and earn free product from the rest of the company's line. The Arbonne website has a Consultant directory so you can find someone to get you started, and they can give you really good deals periodically and maybe even get your consultant fee waived.