anxiety, therapy, Uncategorized

Rollercoasters are fun unless they’re emotional

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( Picture: https://pixabay.com/en/santamonicapier-santamonica-sunset-1768005/ )

These past two weeks have been full of ups and downs for me. Rich and I signed a lease on an apartment! Work has been difficult with big deadlines coming up. The weather is turning towards the better! I’ve had two tests, homework assignments, and projects. Just everything moving, moving, moving so fast; I feel dizzy.

I had another meeting with my counselor, Billy today, and I think it went really well, that it’s really helping me.

Among other things, Billy reminded me to take time for myself, something I’ve been missing out on lately because of deadlines and tests and everything.

So tonight, I took like five hours and tried something new, this paper marbling technique I found on Pinterest. It was fun and I really like how my pieces turned out! I put them on my Etsy shop, Hermit Hobby Shop, if you’d like to check them out!

Deadlines are looming, though, for school and work; projects, projects, projects. Easter is this weekend, and it will be my family’s first without my grandfather. Easter was the holiday he was most involved in, and my family has many fun and different traditions that go with it (e.g. we have a basketball shootout with a cash prize).

I’ve been reminding myself of positive things; that every low part of the ride comes in between the peaks in this rollercoaster I’ve been on lately.

I’ve been feeling on top of things at work; my team and I made a list of all the things that needed done and signed our names to the ones we’d each do. I’ve already finished mine and agreed to take on another that my coworker was unsure of! I’ve still got a while on the school project that’s due and plan to start earlier than I did on the last one (which led me to a bit of a breakdown after I put it off for too long). As for the holiday, I know that my family will be together and carry on my grandfather’s traditions; it’ll be hard, but at least we’ll be together.

Even with the ups and downs of the last couple weeks, I’m feeling more myself again though, like this rollercoaster ride is almost over.

burning questions, research, thoughts

What happens to amputated limbs and similar disturbing questions

(OBLIGATORY TRIGGER WARNING AND AN APOLOGY OR TWO: This blog entry contains content that may disturb some readers, including but not limited to surgery and some violent imagery. I apologize if this bothers you and implore you to stop reading now and look at these puppies and kittens instead, unless baby animals also offend you, in which case go bang your head against a wall until that part of your brain gets jumbled back into place. If you or a loved one is an amputee, I apologize for my utter ignorance and possible insensitivity, I tried to be as clinical and factual as possible, but this is also an opinion piece above all else since it’s posted on a blog, not a medical journal. I hope anyone who is still reading, enjoys what I wrote and finds it interesting and informative. Hugs and kisses -Rachel)

 

Okay, so sometimes a question plagues my brain, and I don’t know where it comes from, but once it’s up there, it won’t fucking leave. So that being said, the question I had was: what happens to amputated limbs?

I think it may have started with my recent addiction to audiobooks because I’ve listened to Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson like three times and in one chapter she described her experience with a fucked up gall bladder. She mentioned wanting to keep her gall stones to “make a necklace out of them,” but the doctor told her that regulations forbid it. But I seemed to remember William Shatner keeping and selling his kidney stone (which totally happened in 2006, when I was 11). He sold it for charity for $25,000, (who is in the market for celebrity kidney stones anyways?) but I’m getting ahead of myself. My base question before I started looking into it, was what happens to removed parts after surgery?

It had been bouncing around and around in my head, so I asked my best friend, Haleigh, who is studying pre med and works in a hospital as a scribe. According to her, things that are removed from the body are sent to pathology, then either incinerated or if the patient so desires, sent to their funeral home to be buried with them when they die.

So, that got me wondering, what if someone wanted to keep it? Like just keep it themselves, at their house, to do whatever with? Is that possible? Is that legal? What would they do with it? Taxidermy? Just a ton of new questions to plague my brain, so I did some research.

So, first, are you legally allowed to keep yours or any body parts? The answer is yes! According to this PBS article, “there is no U.S. federal law preventing the ownership of body parts, unless they’re Native American” (so then what if you’re an amputee Cherokee? Hmmm…). A few states, including Louisiana, Georgia, and Missouri, have some state laws restricting it, but in general it is not against the law in the United States.

Haleigh was completely correct, as usual, about what happens to removed body parts. Once something is removed from the body, it is sent to pathology for a number of reasons, one, to have samples taken for hospital records. Another reason is to verify the doctors were correct in their assessment of what was wrong and what was removed (if they are proven wrong what happens? Like “whoops, we accidentally removed the wrong organ, our bad, please don’t sue us?”) and another to test for pathogens. Removed body parts are then considered medical waste and usually incinerated. However, some people, because of religion or just preference, have their part sent to their funeral home so they can be buried as one whole person when they eventually bite the big one. For example, many Orthodox Jews believe they need to be buried wholly (Does that include foreskin? A question best left for another time.). There are also accounts in history of removed limbs being buried separately with their own little headstones and everything, the last half of this article documents some such cases.

Some hospitals though, have internal rules forbidding the return of body parts. Also, when pathology takes samples, the process can destroy whatever was removed. Even the surgery itself can damage it, especially with endoscopic surgery, where the organ or stone is removed in pieces without cutting open the patient (if you need more explanation, Google it or something, I’m not a doctor). Then, even if they aren’t damaged or destroyed, if they contain any dangerous pathogens or communicable diseases, they need to be destroyed or at the very least contained.

Haleigh asked a doctor while she was at work about it, and the answer she got corresponds with much of what I’ve read. Haleigh was told that a limb is too big to take home because you couldn’t preserve it in a jar or seal it off completely (implying that smaller remover body parts like a finger or an ear wouldn’t be a problem, right?) so it would get gross, decomposing or whatever. Also, breathing all the chemicals like formaldehyde would be unhealthy so that’s a moral no-no in the least for a hospital. It’s different than like a gallstone which would just be a gallstone regardless of where it was. Also, they are hesitant to give back organs so people can’t sell them on the black market. However, if you have a foreign body (like a screw or something) taken out that isn’t inherently “human tissue” you can get that back. Most of the time they say no to questions about keeping limbs unless it’s for religious or legal reasons (at least at the hospital where she works) because the paperwork is a pain in the ass, but not necessarily illegal.

But like I said, assuming someone could manage to take their bigger body part home with them, I got to wondering if some people just wanted to take their removed part home, just for fun or to use as a prosthetic or halloween decoration. I don’t know, would someone want to taxidermize their removed limb?

When I googled “amputated limb taxidermy” a result came up called “The 5 Most Disturbing Things Ever Done With Taxidermy” and even that list did not include anything human, which I know would surely be horrifying, but hey, I’m curious, and the question is stuck in my brain, man. Even if someone wanted to, say, taxidermize their leg, apparently it’s nigh impossible, since human skin, to put it gently, does not go through the process of tanning and all very well, according to Katie Innamorato, professionally trained, award-winning taxidermist in answer to this question on Hopes and Fears. There are a few examples like “El Negro” and English Philosopher Jeremy Bentham, which are the most famous cases of human taxidermy. Other than that, I didn’t find many examples of amputees wanting to do this exactly (though some did similar things, but we’ll get to that). I did find my same question on Yahoo Answers from 2010, which proves I’m not crazy (because people asking weird questions on Yahoo Answers are the epitome of very, very normal).

So, do people keep their amputated body parts? And what do they do with them? Fret not, I have done some research (Okay, so it’s nothing super academic, and I only have a few examples, but this isn’t a fucking term paper or something.).

I already mentioned, Shatner sold his kidney stone for charity. Jenny Lawson wanted to make gall stone jewelry. What about amputees? Who has been successful and how did they do it and what have they done with their limbs once they’ve brought them home?

One woman from Oklahoma was simply persistent and “told everyone involved in handling [her] leg to not throw it away.” After pathology studied her removed leg and took samples, they sent it back to her. She then sent it to Skulls Unlimited, a company that cleans skeletons, which defleshed it, whitened it, and attached all the bones together. So, now she has a part of her own skeleton, which I personally think is like the awesomest thing. You can read more about her here.

A man in the UK had his club foot removed and wanted simply to donate it to science, but was denied because it wasn’t “perfect.” After that, he decided to hold a charity fundraiser competition to have people guess the weight of it. Then, he had it cremated and spread the ashes himself. His story is in this article (the same one with all the foot graves).

A man from the Netherlands wanted to turn his amputated leg into a lamp a la A Christmas Story. He had trouble at first, but eventually got in contact with a pathologist who was willing to help safely preserve his leg in a large glass jar and return it to him. Then, a designer heard about his desire to make a lamp, and reached out to help. It’s very different from how he envisioned it, as the leg is in a jar surrounded by metal bars with the light atop it (think less A Christmas Story and more Frankenstein’s Laboratory). He planned to sell the lamp (for a whopping €100,000, ~$108,000) to pay for a prosthetic, but eBay took down his offer after just two days since they don’t allow the sale of body parts. As of this article in 2014, he kept the lamp in his home, waiting for the highest bidder to find him.

All this, somehow led me to another fucking question: if a person were to donate their body part or even their body after death to be eaten, could that be considered sort of vegan of sorts? I just mean because part of the moral dilemma of eating meat, for some people, I certainly can’t speak for all vegans or any really because I’m not one, but the moral dilemma as I see it is the fact that cows or chickens or whatever can’t consent to you eating them, we can’t communicate with them or anything (also, terrible living conditions, and chemicals, and a litany of other horrible things I’d rather not think about in the meat industry, perhaps another time). BUT, if I, having had my leg removed, said, “If you’d like to eat this, you can, I give you my consent,” then it’s free game (game? Get it?), right? As a note, I read somewhere that it is not illegal to eat human parts, namely your own, but in theory anyone’s so long as you have their permission, IF it is not medically/procedurally removed, e.g. in the hypothetical situation above, my leg was somehow accidentally taken off because I dropped a chainsaw on it or something (is that too graphic? Sorry). I seem to remember a news story of someone eating like their own big toe or something after it was accidentally removed, but when I started googling things like “person eats own body part after accidental removal,” the results got a little disturbing (yes more disturbing than this entire blog post, shut up).

Whew. You should know this is way more than I ever thought I’d write about this subject, and honestly I could probably go on, but I’ve been thinking about this and writing for about a month and a half and I should probably stop before one of my family members punches me for asking them for the fourth time what they would want to do with their limb if it had to be removed. So, I guess I’ll leave you with this, what would/did you want to happen to your removed body part (be it if you been shot or had your spleen removed or you arm or your toe or your leg)?

Linked Sources (in no particular order, ‘cause I’m lazy and most, if not all, of them are linked in my post anyway):

http://www.hopesandfears.com/hopes/now/question/215065-can-you-taxidermy-people

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negro_of_Banyoles

http://www.cultofweird.com/medical/jeremy-bentham-auto-icon/

http://www.amputeelawyer.com/2015/06/10/do-i-have-the-legal-right-to-keep-my-amputated-limb/

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110417205801AAS03sr

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2006/01/how_much_for_that_kidney_stone.html

http://www.hopesandfears.com/hopes/now/question/168921-can-you-keep-a-removed-organ-where-does-it-go

(Also, my original draft referenced an article called “Woman Has Husband’s Penis Stuffed By Taxidermist After Untimely Death” but then, looking at it again, I realized it’s from one of those literal fake news sites, like the Onion, that are “for entertainment purposes only.” I was disappointed. Still a fun read though)

anxiety, therapy

Thoughts during therapy

Yesterday was my second ever therapy session. The first one, which I wrote about beforehand, was last week and was an intake meeting, so it was a bunch of questions. My second one got more into things, so here’s a stream of consciousness from my session yesterday:

  • Billy (my counselor, name changed),  you’ve got a boss beard, bro
    • Am I allowed to talk to you as a person?
  • Your voice is really soft
    • Is that a prereq to becoming a shrink? Or do they teach you that
    • Is this your real voice? Like the one you talk to your friends and your cousins and your mom with?
  • Am I gonna cry right now?
    • Oh god, Billy can tell I feel like crying
    • He offered me tissues, that bastard
    • Am I supposed to cry during these things?
    • I don’t want to cry
    • I am not going to cry
  • I wonder if I’m an interesting case, or am I just run of the mill
  • Am I being too whiny?
  • I forgot my water bottle in my car
  • I don’t deserve to feel sad
    • I’m a white, straight, middle class person from the United States, I’m being dramatic
      • You’re allowed to feel however you feel, listen to Billy, your feelings are valid, besides no one deserves to be sad, no one wants it, calm down
  • Does Billy like me?
    • Would he like me if we like met in the food court and just started talking?
    • I care what people think about me, but I try not to, I just don’t want to be a pariah
  • They keep asking me if I want to kill myself, I don’t want that
    • Wait, do I? Do they know something I don’t know
      • No, I know I don’t want to die
  • Ask me more questions, Billy, I’m rambling
    • You’re in charge here, reign this crazy in.
    • I just want to put everything in perspective, you don’t know my life, I just remembered a minor detail that maybe means something?
  • Are you taking notes? I feel like I haven’t seen you take any notes
    • Oh shit, I forgot this was on camera
  • This is my second session ever, I’m basically an expert
  • I don’t think I’m making enough eye contact, but this isn’t like a normal conversation so
  • I feel like I keep justifying my feelings, saying like “I feel like everyone feels that way sometimes.”
  • I keep trying to show that I’m empathetic, saying “I’m sure they didn’t mean anything by it, they’re just stressed, too”
  • What do you want from me?
    • Am I saying the right things? Are there right answers?
  • I am so drained
  • This is helping me
real life, thoughts

Mac ‘n Grilled Cheese and Failure

So, I don’t think I’ve said anything about this before, but a big hobby of mine is cooking. And I mean, I don’t wanna brag, but I’m pretty good. In general, I have good instincts, especially with adding spices to recipes. I usually start with a base recipe of my grandmother’s or mom’s or one from Pinterest, and let my instincts guide me. Sometimes, though, I come up with original recipes on my own. Last week, I decided I wanted to try to make Mac ‘n Grilled Cheese (which is mac ‘n cheese inside a grilled cheese sandwich, genius, I know). I had a really good idea of how to it with this cheap, canned mac ‘n cheese that I really like.

I got all my ingredients together, and mixed, and cooked and just completely failed. Man, they tasted terrible.

But I didn’t mind. Yeah, my idea didn’t quite work out, but what’s the big deal? Richard and I just ordered pizza instead and moved on with our lives.

When it comes to food, I’m not opposed to trying new things. I mean what’s the harm in it? When Richard and I first started dating, I asked him how adventurous of a foodie he was. He said he was willing to try anything once, if we didn’t like a restaurant, we could just pick up burgers on the way home, right? If I hadn’t tried Dragon King’s Daughter, I wouldn’t have known how much I love sushi (oh my god, I love it so much). If I hadn’t tried Habana Blues, I wouldn’t have known anything about Cuban cuisine and tapas or how delicious it is. If I hadn’t tried baking chicken, I wouldn’t know that it is literally my super power. If I hadn’t failed at making pork roast and tried again I wouldn’t have made one of Rich and mine’s favorite crockpot meals. Literally all my favorite foods were completely new to me at one time, whether it was a restaurant or a recipe, so there’s literally no reason not to try everything! And if a place isn’t good, don’t go back. If you don’t like a recipe, try a different one. The world is literally your oyster (hmm, have I tried oysters before?)

In life, I try not to be afraid to try new things, but it doesn’t always come as easy. But the same rule applies. If I hadn’t taken the AP Computer Science class my school offered just to try it at my sister’s urgings, I would be in a completely different field, I don’t even know what. If I hadn’t applied for my job even though I thought I wouldn’t get it (I did), probably the same thing, I don’t know where I’d be. If I’d been too afraid to tell Richard I thought he was cool and wanted to hang out, and if he’d been too afraid to ask me on a date, where would we be? If I didn’t try bookbinding or makeup or writing, what would my creative outlet be?

I’ve messed up school assignments, and tests, and work deadlines, and signed up for clubs I’ve never gone to. But every time, I try to bounce back

Failure is not a bad thing if you can honestly say you gave it your all, enjoyed yourself, and kept on trying.

IMG_4270.JPG

(My sandwiches looked pretty good at least)

therapy

Today is the first day

Today, is my first counseling appointment. I’m a wreck, I’ve been having a really stressful week, not sleeping well, feeling singled out at work, and I worked out yesterday, so that sucked. I woke up feeling super woozy and unable to focus on anything; I feel like barfing and crying and sleeping.

I have one class where the professor is an associate professor, which to me means he’s new, trying to get all his info out at his class, and hasn’t gotten his teaching legs beneath him. And that’s exactly how he is. When I try to pay attention in class, I can tell he knows what he’s talking about, but he just straight lectures the whole time, usually without pause, and when he asks a question and no one knows the answer instead of asking us if we don’t understand and explaining it differently (read: better), he just says the answer and keeps right on lecturing. The assignments, while they are based on class usually, take a lot of work for me. I mean, it’s not just the fault of the teacher, I could pay more attention, but it would certainly be easier if he was more experienced.

I mention this because they way I feel doing his homework, like I have to put in more effort than I usually would or should, mirrors the way I’ve been feeling for a few months now.

My work is awesome, and we have super flexible hours. We’re allowed to get our hours in whenever we can, just as long as we get half of them during usual business hours. If we don’t, this can result in a strike on your record. I work 20 hours a week, so 10 of them need to be Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. I usually work from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays (among other hours). But the other day, my boss messaged me and told me he and the staff felt like I wasn’t around often enough. It wasn’t a reprimand or strike or anything, just a check in. But I do get more than half in during business hours, and I work really hard to do my best work and get things done on time despite the issues I’ve been battling. I explained my situation to him, when I worked, what I’ve been going through, etc. and my boss was nothing but kind and sympathetic and told me that my supervisor had even said he’d seen no decline in my work (in quality or quantity). He said if I needed to take a break from work for my mental health, that could be arranged.

But it just felt the same as the homework thing, but worse, because my job is really, really important to me. It gives me self-validation, that I’m not only in the right field for me (computer science), but that I’m good at it. Taking time off is the last thing I need to do. This just made me feel like I was doing everything right, getting my work done, getting my hours in, but it still wasn’t enough; that the staff, whom I love and look up to, were saying I was doing it, but not doing it enough.

I’m putting so much energy into school and work, that my social life has suffered. I have these two friends who I used to spend every Friday and Saturday night with. I used to go to club meetings with them and sometimes to a breakfast for dinner buffet on Thursdays. There are other factors as to why I haven’t spent as much time with them lately, nothing is black and white, but the biggest part of it is because I’m exhausted. I am so sorry that I haven’t been able to be there, but I just can’t right now. I’ve told them my situation and I hope they understand at least a little of what’s going on with me.

Now because of my mental state strain, I’m going to therapy for the first time ever today, and right now that stresses me out and scares me. I have no idea what to expect or say or do. Can I just have my therapist read this?

Hello, Therapist, how are you? Welcome to my blog, please fix me. I hope our session goes well.