The Desert is the Country of Madness

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I tried my hand at WordPress. I hated it. I'm looking forward to being back here blogging again and keeping up with all my favorite blogs.  I took a little detour to finish my degree and thankfully I'm only a Shakespeare paper away from being finished.

It's been hot here. Too hot for me and too hot for Paloma.  We spend the afternoons indoors and wait for dusk before going outside. I go to school with her in the mornings.  I sit in the small trailer, trying to read, trying to ignore the 12 plus special needs preschoolers running around screaming, trying to forget the heat as I hear the swamp cooler above me struggle too.  More often than not I'm mistaken for a teacher or helper by one of the kids or like last week I intervene when the teacher is busy. I try to read but I'm always forced to put down my book mid sentence because my crazy inability to not focus on my kid's every move, apparently also happens with other people's kids. Just last week I picked up a non verbal little girl as she fell off the playground equipment, unable to cry or tell me what hurt, I held her for a bit until the teacher noticed.  I caught a kid behind the teacher's desk with scissors and a glare in his eye, scanning the room for just the right object to cut. I ran after a little girl who ran right out of the class while no one else was watching.

This is not to criticize the teachers. They are saints. Paloma's teacher works at Walmart after teaching all day to make ends meet. Walmart!  I feel like I need a drink every time I leave the class. These are crazy times we are living in.

I knew all along that New Mexico had it's issues. It's a poor state which always comes in the bottom for education.  Our Republican governor recently made several cuts to already stressed, underfunded system.

My older two kids go to my dream, hippy school.  They spend a good part of the day outside playing. They garden and do yoga as part of their curriculum.  They practice peaceful conflict resolution and no joke when DT was elected president they had a counselor go around to each classroom to comfort students because they were so upset.  The kids go on nature hikes every week and there are frequently family potlucks. The teachers seem to float across the campus, glowing and happy like they're fulfilling their dreams. It's dreamy and ideal. For my older two that is. I know Paloma will never be able to go there.  There's no money for an aide for her. She doesn't do well in heat or being outside for long periods.  Our only option is a chaotic, hot trailer hidden in  the back of the school with teachers who are over worked and underpaid and me going with her. Or I home-school.

So what are we to do?  I don't know the answer yet. We've talked about moving yet again. Maybe to Washington or Oregon, places where cannabis patients can bring their oil to school so I wouldn't have to go with her. The thought of leaving this place I love so dearly hurts but maybe it's not for the best.

I made a friend today at the UU church. She is a special needs mama too and she's the first friend I've made since we've been here. Maybe it's a sign to stay?


School

Friday, March 24, 2017


Paloma starts school next week.  I started the special needs preschool placement process in May while still in Utah. I had visions of dropping Paloma off at school while I went off to yoga or sat in my car and read a book uninterrupted. We've had to learn many lessons the hard way the past few years, and it seems like navigating the public school system with a disabled child will be no different.  I'm no stranger to IEP meetings, as my oldest has a brain injury, but her needs have always been very minimal and for the most part, schools have been happy to accommodate her. 

A long overdue update...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I'm on break from school this week so I thought I would do an actual Dravet Syndrome update for anyone that actually reads this thing still.  I vividly remember trying to find any glimmer of hope that first year of seizures and how much Charlotte's Figi's story inspired me. I've been taking a much needed social media break and it's been very peaceful.  I briefly look at Instagram in the morning and have my  Facebook deactivated unless I need to ask something in one of my groups.  I realized I haven't done an actual update on Paloma since we moved.  (Please excuse my poor writing skills today. I've been writing papers for three months straight. I'm exhausted.) 


This past summer



We moved from Utah to New Mexico in June for several reasons but mostly because we needed access to legalized medical cannabis.  We fought to have it passed there but we were no match for the corrupt Mormon church coming out against the bill.  I don't miss Mormon land much to say the least.  

I immediately got Paloma's cannabis card when we arrived in Albuquerque. The law here on paper looks really great. I figured we'd easily stroll into any of the local dispensaries and get what we needed and all would be well with the world.  Of course it never quite works out like that.  After visiting nearly every dispensary between here and Santa Fe I realized no one knew anything about pediatric dosing and I was pretty much on my own (again). Armed with an empty bottle of high thc oil I'd been using to stop seizures, I asked around if anyone had anything similar or if they could make it for me.  Almost every place in town turned me away telling me they didn't know where to begin making this specific oil.  This thc oil by the way works to stop seizures 75% of the time.  On the rare occasion I do have to give nasal versed, I have to give a small amount. Before we left Utah we were up to 20 mgs and having to call 911 at least every other month.  The paramedics knew us all very well.  So I found one dispensary who agreed to make this thc oil for me from a specific strain called Blue Dream.  They first refused but a mutual cannabis friend who knows way more than I do on the subject called them on my behalf to tell them what I needed and how to make it.  It would be ready a week later they said.  Well two months later I finally got my hands on it and it was still in the sticky form (they didn't bother mixing it in MCT oil like I'd requested and they couldn't even tell me how many mg of thc was in it or how it was extracted. No lab reports in sight.  I bought it knowing I wouldn't be able to give it to her.  

We've tried several strains of local cbd without success and I finally gave up on getting what we needed here.  Six months ago I decided to try Haleigh's Hope which ships legally out of Colorado.  Paloma has responded well to it.  Her seizures are still occurring about once a week and sometimes once every two weeks but they are normally small seizures that stop on their own now.  I still use thc for rescue by placing a few drops in her cheek.  I have to get very creative in order to obtain the thc oil (don't ask)  

In most areas she is still on track developmentally. She needs help in maintaining attention so she will be starting speech therapy soon.  Our biggest obstacle right now is school.  We bought a house walking distance to a good school with a special needs preschool program.  I knew cannabis would be an issue, but I hoped since we are close I could walk over and give her cannabis when she has a seizure.  The school is refusing to let me dose her at school. They cannot understand why I will not consent to just using versed at school.  I've tried to present them with her progress these last few months. I have no doubt that her seizures are stopping on their own now because she has not been getting the versed at the same dose as before.  Versed makes her breathing get dangerously low, but they are worried about me running over and putting a few drops of oil in her cheek to stop a seizure?  We have an IEP meeting scheduled next week and honestly I don't know what will happen. I'm tired of fighting so part of me wants to just keep her home.  But I feel cheated and defeated.  She would love school and with the right circumstances, mainly a one on one aid, I think she would thrive.  

I have no regrets moving.  It's been somewhat lonely having to start over all again.  We still don't know a lot of people but it always takes me about a year to feel fully settled in a place. Paloma has improved so much that we almost feel normal again.  I go to the store and the park without fearing the worst most days.  Maybe it's the peace that comes with time too. I don't fear big seizures in public anymore.  I know if she has one I can pull out my legal cannabis and give it to her.  It's such a relief knowing I can medicate her without fear of being thrown in jail (for now anyway. Who knows what will happen with cannabis in the next four years, God help us.)   

A recent selfie

Happy Valentine's Day...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sex Without Love by Sharon Olds
How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other's bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away. How do they come to the
come to the come to the God come to the
still waters, and not love
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin? These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the
priest instead of the God. They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health--just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.

I believe...I don't believe

Sunday, November 20, 2016

I write the following for anyone who has ever questioned their Christian faith...My faith started to crumble soon after it started.  I've written many times about my struggle with faith in the face of having a sick child.  Since we moved, I've visited several churches and have finally given up on finding one.  There is no shortage of liberal, progressive churches in the area. For the first time in my life, minus the year I lived in Austin, I'm surrounded by open minded thinking people.  I don't have to fear people flipping me off for my bumper stickers, or harassing me for believing the earth is in deep distress.

But back to my faith, nothing has felt right lately.  I'm big on feelings when deciding on a church.  I've always had a feeling that each church we've been a part of was the right one.  And we have been a part of many denominations, Presbyterian, non denominational, Pentecostal (that was fun.) Last week I went to Episcopalian church for no other reason than I wanted to sit with people who I knew would be equally as devastated by the election results as I was, and they were.  There was a community of heavy sighs as church began and the pastor spoke about how when so much hate has been let out of the bottle it's hard to be put back in.  But we in this faith community have to keep doing what we've always been called to do. Loving those who are in fear right now as well as those who we may not agree with.  The latter is much harder for me.  I don't get how someone who professes to be a follower of Christ could ever vote for such hate.  I get there was a lot of fear on their part, for the economy, for what they view as the declining Christian values in this country. This past year I just kept thinking, they won't fall for it. They'll see through it.



I think it's easier for me to say what I don't believe in than what I do at this point.  I don't believe the bible is meant to be taken literally or that it's infallible.  I don't believe that Muslims, Buddhist or my atheist parents are going to some place to burn for eternity. I don't for one second believe that I or any one else, even the most holy, have everything about God figured out. I picture God as a beautiful, glowing, big bosomed, black woman like Toni Morrison.  If Mormons can have their Kenny Loggins Jesus I can have mine too.  I believe in Jesus. This Jesus. I no longer feel comfortable calling myself a Christian and I think the average American Evangelical Christian would probably appreciate that.




At war with myself...

Monday, October 3, 2016


I've written about my drinking before. http://weavingthethreads.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-truth-is.html
 Many of my favorite writers are recovering alcoholics, so I'm no stranger to the struggle. They have great stories about how they knew it was time to get help.  For years I've read about Anne Lamont's journey with sobriety http://www.nytimes.com/1994/12/01/garden/at-home-with-anne-lamott-laughter-death-lollipops.html?pagewanted=all and just recently reread Mary Karr's Lit which details her divorce and recovery.

I had a close friend who was a recovering alcoholic and I asked her how she knew it was time to quit.  Her husband had caught her drinking in the bathroom out of a coffee mug before she was about to take the kids to school. I don't have a dramatic story but the truth is I've been drinking frequently for two years now.  In that time I've spent nearly every weekend drunk and the week after trying to recover only to do it again the following weekend.  This past Monday my husband was out and we had two beers left ( I know this because I hid them)  as soon as I got the kids to bed I downed the beers and then passed out. I woke up in the middle of the night so sick that the only thing that brought relief was to lay face down on the wood floor.  I knew right then I had to stop drinking.  I've never driven while drunk, I've never gotten so drunk I've thrown up or blacked out but I've been unable to stop the last year. I hide alcohol and I look forward to it all day long. I'm embarrassed to say I send the kids off to bed early so I can sink into my chair and pour glass after glass of wine.  I panic at the thought of being in social situations without drinking.

 I don't know whether I should use the term alcoholic but I know I'm walking a very fine line and I can't have a normal relationship with alcohol ever again. I tried telling my pastor last year I was worried about my drinking and she said she would be worried if I wasn't drinking, because how could anyone in my shoes handle everything I have to endure.  She meant well but I really wanted her to tell me she was worried too and that it's not healthy to want to be drunk all the time.


I made it all weekend without drinking.  I prayed, did yoga, drank soda (which I never do) and I tried to stay busy.  This is a small step I know but I'm looking forward to getting through the next few months clear headed and making peace with myself.

Goodbye summer...and a poem from Sharon Olds

Sunday, August 28, 2016

This summer has gotten away from me.  After sort of unexpectedly moving to another state, I feel like I've been to hell and back.  I've battled some serious depression and won (for now) I've battled alcoholism and lost (for now.) But fall, fall is now my favorite season and I look forward to the change.  I've been working on my finishing my degree in creative writing focusing on poetry. It's not the great school I hoped for, but it's better than nothing and I'm writing nearly everyday so I'm thankful for that.  Sharon Olds has become my poetry muse.  I found this poem recently. I've tried to write about seizures but it's still too raw for anything other than emotional gibberish to come out. But this pretty much sums it up.  





Prayer During A Time My Son Is Having Seizures

Finally I just leaned on the door-frame, a
woman without belief, praying
please don’t let anything happen to him.
Don’t let him stand there and his gold
jaw lock while he watches the burning
mountain falling slowly through his mind and
no word comes to him.
Don’t let him stand there like a tree with its
green branch lopped off and
falling slowly away, the tiny
amber cones already darkening,
don’t let him fall like the lip of a
cliff coming off, a heavy tuft
stuck with white berry blossoms
sliding down the raw bluff of his life,
don’t let him stand on the curb watching his
mind get hit by a blue car
over and over, there is nothing he can do about it.
Don’t hurt him, I cry out,
don’t take his thoughts away as a
kid will rip toys from another kids hands,
don’t go up to his small dazzling
brain in spangles on the high wire
and push it off. There is no net.
Don’t leave him in a wheelchair drooling into
cereal, not knowing the dark
holes are raisins. And yet if that’s the
only way I can have him, I want to
have him, to look deep into his face and
see just the avenues of light,
empy and spacious, to put on his bib
as I once did, and spoon brown sugar
into the river of his life.
I’ll change his dark radiant diapers, I’ll
scrape the blue molds that collects in the creases of his elbows,
I will sit with him in his room for the rest of my days,
I will have him on any terms.








Ode to the Hotel Near the Children's Hospital

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Related Poem Content Details

Praise the restless beds
Praise the beds that do not adjust
     that won't lift the head to feed
     or lower for shots
     or blood
     or raise to watch the tinny TV
Praise the hotel TV that won't quit
      its murmur & holler
Praise the room service
      that doesn't exist
      just the slow delivery to the front desk
      of cooling pizzas
      & brown bags leaky
      greasy & clear
Praise the vending machines
Praise the change
Praise the hot water
& the heat
       or the loud cool
       that helps the helpless sleep.

Praise the front desk
       who knows to wake
       Rm 120 when the hospital rings
Praise the silent phone
Praise the dark drawn
       by thick daytime curtains
       after long nights of waiting,
       awake.

Praise the waiting & then praise the nothing
       that's better than bad news
Praise the wakeup call
       at 6 am
Praise the sleeping in
Praise the card hung on the door
       like a whisper
       lips pressed silent
Praise the stranger's hands
       that change the sweat of sheets
Praise the checking out

Praise the going home
       to beds unmade
       for days
Beds that won't resurrect
       or rise
that lie there like a child should
        sleeping, tubeless

Praise this mess
         that can be left

Land of Enchantment...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

If you've known me for any length of time you're probably sick of hearing about my love of all things southwest. Long before I knew about the many artist connections and overall cool vibe of New Mexico I wanted to live there.  Maybe it was my parents obsession with all things Billy the Kid, maybe it was watching Raising Arizona a million times as a kid.  I just knew I wanted to live in the desert. There was something other worldly about the landscape. 

 My mother had a picture and quote of Georgia O'keeffe pinned on the wall of her beauty shop below the phone on the wall. I read it every day for years never giving much thought to who she was.  Once I found out of course like many I was mesmerized and knew New Mexico was the place for me. 

While in technical school in the Air Force we were allowed to pick which bases we would like to be stationed at.  My first three picks were all in New Mexico, even the dreaded assignment of Cannon, always voted one of the worst places to get. I didn't care as long as it was in New Mexico.  I ended up in Vegas and it worked out well but I never forgot about New Mexico. In fact I've tried every way possible to get us there but it just never worked out.  When my husband told me he wanted to get out of the military last year I never even thought New Mexico was possible because of the lack of his industry there.  

When it became clear recently that Paloma needed access to whole plant cannabis and Utah would likely never grant us that access, I knew we had to leave our home here in Utah for somewhere with better cannabis laws. We set our sights on the Pacific Northwest but the cost of living and distance from my family made me secretly hope it wouldn't work out.  As fate would have it, David got a call about a job in Albuquerque about a month ago. Nothing was for sure,  but we forged ahead and put our faith into this move hoping everything would work out.  We sold our house, rented a house in Albuquerque, signed the kids up for new schools all without knowing for sure if he had a job.  Some would say that's crazy and some of you did say that, but I had peace knowing things would work. Peace is not normally my go to emotion.  Maybe it's because I felt like the universe was starting to not hate me, maybe because I felt a little spark that God was still a possibility.  I don't know?

On our way to Utah a year and half ago we stopped off in Albuquerque for a quick lunch.  Sitting outside of Whole Foods eating lunch that day I wanted to cry.  I didn't want to leave.  I took a picture and thought, someday I'll be back. (The house we are renting is down the street from that WF!) 


There's something to be said for hanging on to dreams.  You just never know.  



A line from my 18 year old self's journal : New Mexico seemed like as good a place as any to start over. 


P.S. I know NM won't be perfect.  It looks like their governor is actually against medical marijuana. Weird! But its my dream so don't rain on my parade.  And David is also happy about it and I can get what I need for Paloma without having to look over my shoulder every second hoping I don't end up in jail.   






The Truth is...

Saturday, May 7, 2016

When the therapist asks me if I look forward to drinking, I slouch into her cliched over sized leather sofa and unapologetically say yes. Some days the highlight.  Some days I  think about the hour when I can  relax, take my first sip and wait for the slow burn to make its way down my throat.

I never cared much for drinking until a few years ago. Maybe on Thanksgiving, a glass of cheap champagne or after a day spent at my parents where the Keystone flowed freely, but there was always a careful approach to drinking.

After seeing your grown daddy piss in the corner because he was so wasted he thought it the toilet, after years of passing by the hole in the bathroom closet in the perfect shape of my mother where on some drunken rage he'd thrown her. For what I don't remember now. After staying with my grandmother in the summers watching her binge vodka in her closet, drinking rightly scared me so.

But now like most good addictions go I've given myself strict rules not to be broken. I tell myself I'll only drink on the weekends, soon Thursday is almost the weekend and before I know it the weekend has no real start or end.  I tell myself its ok, after all I have a disabled child. I'm under so much pressure, I have to do something to release it, the advice given by mother.

The truth is I'm probably on my way to becoming a real life alcoholic, the kind that has to go to A.A. to get help.  My therapist suggests I quit drinking now before it gets to that point. "Perhaps try meditation instead."  I nod my head to her suggestion knowing full well I will probably stop off at the liquor store on the way home.

I'm one of those all or nothing kind of people.  I don't know that I could ever have a normal relationship with drinking again. Like my parents and grandmother before me, I've let it fill me up too much in ways no physical thing should be allowed to.  

I have to breakup with my daughters neurologist...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Paloma is on her seventh neurologist in two years.  I chose our current one because she seemed open minded about not loading her up on pharmaceuticals.  She doesn't roll her eyes when I talk about using cannabis, essential oils or diet.  When I told her we were going to a naturopath in Portland she said to keep her posted on the details.

But, like them all she dismisses any concerns I have about the side effects of the meds and weaning.  When I asked her for a prescription for a pulse ox and oxygen recently she said we didn't need the pulse ox and oxygen was dangerous for at home use.  When I explained that often we end up calling 911 to check her breathing after using rescue meds and we feel we could easily do that home, she said if there are any concerns about breathing we should be calling 911.  Which I suppose I get where shes coming from, however we call so frequently and then end up in the ER for what feels like forever unnecessarily.

A month or so ago I asked her to sign off on my Make A Wish paperwork and she said, I don't know that I would call it life threatening. I was so shocked I just mumbled forget it.  She seems to have in her mind that Paloma is doing well for Dravet and therefor we are in the clear so to speak.  Meanwhile, several kids with Dravet have died recently, kids who were doing well.  She has refused to read any literature I try and give her about cannabis to educate her. She said when we began, we are on our own.  She looks the other way while we try and figure out how to do it.

I don't hate neurologist. But I don't trust them either.  After my oldest daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury and they told me she would never walk or talk again and she went on to have a complete recovery I lost faith in them.

After the first neuro we saw put Paloma on phenobarbital and looked me right in the eyes, told me it was safe and if I didn't put her on it she would have brain damage. After, the next neuro we saw told me time and again Paloma didn't have Dravet even thought I'd pointed out she had all the signs, he brushed me off for a paranoid mother.  He called me right after her first birthday and told me the news. I already knew.  After the neuro we saw in Richmond said after he found out she was on keppra, Oh I love keppra they sent my family to Disney one year, After the top neuro we saw here got angered because I refused to put her on Onfi as he suggested, because I told him many of my DS mom friends had warned me against it.  He said I shouldn't listen to them, He said it was safe.

I feel done.  What good are you to Paloma?  You write up more benzodiazepines, warn me the amount she needs now to stop a seizure could easily make her stop breathing.  Meanwhile, I research everything I can to try and not have to use them anymore. Cannabis has worked to stop them the past few times and hopefully continues. Today I used peppermint oil to stop a small one. So yeah, I'm done, I don't need you anymore.  So long...good riddance.