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(Sarah’s update)

First I know this will be a long update. Sorry there is much to share and elaborate upon. So please bear with me, but be warned it’s a LONG update.

(physically)

Michelle is a tough gal. We all knew that of course. The doctors expected her to be wheeled out of here and need physical therapy to walk again after possibly a month in a wheel chair. They thought the pain would be to much and she’d need to be babied.

I told them they were wrong. She proved me right.

She is now sitting up in bed on her own power, standing and walking about for short distances. There is some pain she said but “It’s not as bad as they said it would be.” She walks to the bathroom and to the chair in the room. Yesterday she walked to the family visiting room.

Today she wants to walk to the cafeteria. She wants to “have lunch with us” even though she can’t eat solid things just yet. They might start letting her drink water and have jello and liquid foods like that soon.

What does all this mean? It means she is healing well physically and faster than expected.

(emotionally)

She’s in pretty good spirits. She was joking about how convenient having a hole directly to her stomach would be. She said she could eat twice as fast if they just left it open. She even told the doctors to be careful because she was so hungry of she might “Mike Tyson” them when they leaned close and listen to her heart.

It’s good to see her spirits returning so quickly. This psychiatrist here in Hawaii is hella good! She has a ways to go but that’s all coming along.

She’s been pleased to know June 20 she will get her hearing back. I’m sure this news has aided in her recovery emotionally as well. So tomorrow (Friday June 20th) they will turn on and tune her implants.

These are meant to be faster processing so less lag in “listening” to people and things which means less frustration on her part and a more natural communication than was possible before.

These are also hybrid implants which will utilize what they can of her inner ear. Meaning sound will be more natural and not all computer generated. The old implants ‘replaced” the ear pretty much where these will utilize what they can and “replace” only what they must.

When she was born the Vestibulocochlear nerve was damaged or incomplete. Sound couldn’t be processed along that nerve. This is also the cause of her deafness. The new implants enhance the nerve and replace damage for sending signals to the brain. By using the existing cochlea and working with the new implants she should experience a much richer sound than ever thought possible.

Ok enough about the implants before you all start drooling of boredom.

(mentally)

It has become apparent that Michelle may not have been in complete control of her faculties when she wrote Last Goodbye https://aghostdancer.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/last-goodbye/ and I bleed, I pray https://aghostdancer.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/i-bleed-i-pray/ .

Let me explain. Michelle’s Medication ran out while we were in Hawaii. Her medication stabilizes her mood and allows her to control her thoughts better. It controls something known as cycling where your mood changes from high to extremely low a.k.a. depression. Or as Michelle calls it her darkness.

The medication wards off her darkness and helps make it less dark. It helps to control the dark thoughts as well. This means fewer nightmares. What is believed at this time is her cutting while on the medication maybe directly linked to a night time low cycle. She would wake still darkened and feel hopeless and powerless.

Besides these two emotions it is likely she feels very little else during these lows. She has always used the pain of cutting as a means of control. She controls the powerless, feelingless and helplessness by cutting where she has power and can feel something that is real. Real in what she sees as a safe controlled environment. One she controls and measures.

Yes believe it or not pain is real.

Her slip up that she cut herself recently was most likely the result of one of these night time lows. The medication can’t stop the low but it helps regulate the frequency of the lows and helps her rebound at a more steady rate. Well that explains her cutting even while on the medication.

I now know that it can and may still happen in the future. I also now know it’s not entirely her fault. She reaches a point where she needs control to feel and this is her outlet.

We hope to manage the cutting in the future by being more in-tune with her lows. I can see them set in and as it gets nearer to bedtime can make some choices that may help.

(1) Not letting her sleep alone.

She often likes to sleep alone I know she feels safer alone but on the nights I am worried about her lows I could just not let her be alone. If she wakes with me there I could stop her in loving arms and perhaps minimize her low with thoughts of my love. She would know she is not alone, not powerless and love is a strong emotion.

Love could override some of the helplessness and emptiness. This is the perhaps the biggest thing I can do for her.

(2) Other medications.

There are secondary medications we could try as I see the lows setting in. I want to reserve this option for last.

(3) Strenuous but fun activity.

Get your minds out of the gutter. While I do agree that when done right the particular activity can be strenuous and fun and I won’t rule it out.

We were thinking more like a moonlight run on the beach, if it’s day time maybe swimming or surfing. Take her out dancing (the girl loves dancing). Take her for a weightlifting or intense cardio workout. These strenuous but fun activities release natural endorphin’s which are natural mood enhancers.

We believe releasing endorphin’s as she heads toward a low may help slow, stop or reverse entirely the low. Time will tell how effective this is and we maybe able to gauge more severe lows using this method.

The minor lows should be staved off using this method alone. But the more major crashes might only be slowed. Time will tell and this is our first and best option aside from not letting her be alone when she is low.

(4) When a major low seems all but inevitable despite other methods used.

During these times it maybe important to tweak her current medication upward and seek medical (mental health) treatment immediately. They are talking about getting her an extremely low dose supplement she could take to boost her medication for short periods of time. If all these don’t help trying to let her rest during happier moments may help as well.

This solution would be a second to last resort also. It would also be temporary. Increase slightly the medication for a few days to stop the low and then drop her back to her normal dose. We are only talking about a 10% increase for three or four days at a time. And only as needed.

The medication words so well normally that it helped her go almost two hundred days without cutting. So this bump in medication would be a rare event. I feel she should explore this option for extreme or severe lows. Perhaps even gauge herself a little better and keep a record of how she felt before, during and after using this method.

It may help the doctors and I determine other stressors by noting dates and times and important life events.

(5) Last remove some of her stressors.

Certain things like parole hearings are stressful for Michelle. We are going to make a video recording that we can make once and send to these hearings in her place. Her family has already agreed they will pick up the mantel of being present at these hearings to say a few words on her behalf.

Trust me you don’t want martin in your face telling you what an ass you are and how much he hates you for what you did. At over six and a half feet and two hundred and sixty plus pounds of metal working man. He can be intimidating.

Worse still is her father because he can pierce your heart with a look. They will know his hatred for them before he says a word. These men will know they have messed with the wrong family. Not just one little broken girl. The messed with a family and they will know the anger and pain they caused.

There are other stressors and we will minimize them as much as humanly possible. As a family we are discussing the known stressors and determining ways to help minimize or eliminate them where possible.

Of course this is a step we are taking before lows hit and things that can add to her feelings that may cause more extreme lows. This is am importan step and combined with #1 and #3 we hope to create a plan to manage her depression.

(Well that explains how we will manage her lows while on the medication going forward)

That deals with her cutting and how we intend to reduce it while on the medication. How we intend to control her moods better and reduce or manage her lows.

Ultimately Hawaii has been good for Michelle and these solutions and understanding the cutting even while on the medications has helped me and her family greatly. We’ve all gotten to tell her how proud we are of her for nearly two hundred days cut (lesson as she calls it) free.

We may never get her fully to stop cutting even with the medication but we now have a plan to help her when she feels low. I have a better sense of what’s going on with the woman I love. She isn’t always easy to read but I know how to help her manage her lows and some of the triggers that might begin a new low.

I have to be more vigilant to some signs. Withdrawal from the world among them. I have to be on top of triggers and help her manage them better. I have to help her reduce stressors where we can and manage the ones we can’t eliminate or reduce.

Is it work? Yup. But it’s work I gladly undertake and I’m not alone in it. All those who love her will be helping. She has an army of love being poured out for her and I am thankful for that.

That much love should be able to heal the world and it’s all directed at one person. Where one of more pray in my name there I shall be! God is certainly standing here with Michelle because many more than two pray in his name for her. But back to the update.

(So why did she try and kill herself)

Well I sort of covered that in my last update but I’ll explain more. When she came off her medication she probably believed. I’m in Hawaii and I’ll be surfing and that’s enough to keep me up. As her lows set in without the stabilizing affects of her medication she would push past it and hit a high and probably thought yeah I got this.

As the lows came quicker so did the highs. I saw the cycling as they call it. I even saw some pretty rapid cycling but I also thought she is fine. She’s in control this will pass. But as the cycling got faster Michelle probably had the illusion that she could get out of the lows quickly and that she was causing the highs. She more than likely felt like she had it under control because she seemed to be pushing the lows away quickly.

In reality she wasn’t pushing the lows away by herself. What she and I both should have seen was the lows even while surfing the best waves on the planet bar none (as she would say). The lows came even while her mood should have been very. very high.

Well I now have something new to look for; a key perhaps to a more stable Michelle.

She had also pushed TJ and I out of her head. She no longer shared her daily journal with either of us. Something she doesn’t do or hadn’t done in a very long time. Now she doesn’t and never has shared everyday or every entry, but from time to time she’d share pieces with us.

We both used it as a gauge how she is holding up. When you learn to read between her lines you pick up on so many little things going on in her head. She has a way of saying things in the space between what she said and what she meant or wanted to say.

We believe at this time an extreme low cycle happened while she was sleeping. The lack of the medication in her system which has helped regulate her moods combined with the stressors of being without sound right now, feeling she was in control, pushing TJ and I to arms length and an upcoming parole hearing combined with some other life challenges. Everything added up created the perfect storm if you will in Michelle’s head.

When the night time extreme low hit and without the stabilizing affects of her medication. Michelle wasn’t equipped to handle this on her own. Sometime while in a deep rem state her nightmares came in full force. The psychiatrists treating her believe when she woke from the nightmare that without the medication which her body had become accustomed to, combined with the outside stressors that the nightmare didn’t just end.

They believe it followed her into the conscious world. Something which has happened a time or two in the past. Reflecting on those times she was under extreme duress from outside stressors. I am Spartacus https://aghostdancer.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/i-am-spartacus/ was one such time but Reflections https://aghostdancer.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/reflection/ was by far worse.

During those times she cut. She cut deeply and with a purpose. We didn’t understand it then but I do now. She had too much on her plate and nightmares crept into a weakened conscious mind. She could no longer wake and shake them off and know she was safe.

It appears she’s been using pain to force herself back to the current reality and away from the nightmares that followed her to it. She’s been doing it a long time it seems.

They believe she under extreme duress and incapable without the medication to separate from the nightmare entirely. It follows her into consciousness and doesn’t stop. We now know the pain of cutting causes the nightmare to end. On this night when she tried to kill herself she probably felt alone and helpless like this will never end. She may have even been living the pain again in real time so to speak.

Seeing no way out and in desperation she may have tried to kill herself. We also believe at this time it had been happening for a few days. When looking back she had fallen asleep on the beach. She woke startled (which isn’t entirely unheard of for Michelle but rare she does this in day time dreams).

She didn’t seem to shake it off though she insisted to me it was nothing. She rushed to the ocean and had three runs and three wipeouts. Something that is very rare for her. To be so distracted while on the waves. When she got back in she just wanted to leave. Something I should have paid more attention to and next time I will.

That sudden change in her behavior was a marker. After days and nights of very real nightmares she probably couldn’t take it any longer and even writing about it ceased to help. Yes she’s written about dying before. It usually doesn’t last long but she has. The days of constant talk of death had I seen them in her journals or pre-read her blog. Well they would have told me she was in serious trouble.

So I have things to look for. I have an understanding of her desperation that lead to her attempt on her life. I know now she wasn’t in control mentally that fateful day. She didn’t do it to die, she did it to get peace. To stop the daymares that followed her into the conscious world.

And now you dear friends you know why Michelle tried to end her life. It wasn’t the act of quitting at all. She hadn’t given up at all. It was desperation, emptiness, helplessness that lead to that momentary decision. She was trying to die but only because she wanted peace. She felt there was no place she could run to escape the nightmare. Not the conscious world, the dream world or even in my arms.

(So why leave the comments on last Goodbye)

I think she needs to know how hurt we all were. How much we love her, prayed for her and how confused and lost we were. After all she lets us into her head maybe letting her into ours is important too.

I’d ask each of you with the new knowledge to respond to this entry armed with this new knowledge of the events of that day.

(I’ll start)

I stand by my words that you are not and have never been a burden. I shoulder the weight you allow and share because I love you. I’ve made a choice to be with you, to be here for you. That means sharing in your pain and not just your joy.

I stand by being thankful God saved you again. I can’t picture my life without you in it. You are my heart and to have yours removed from me would be the most horrible thing I can imagine. It’s my nightmare. It’s the worst thing I could imagine and it almost happened. I almost lost you.

I spent so much time cuddled up to you even as they kept you sleeping. I didn’t want to let you go. I didn’t want to miss a single heartbeat incase it was the last. When I knew you would live I didn’t want to miss a heartbeat because I celebrated each and every one of them. Each was a blessing and a reminded of our life together. Each told me I had more days with you. And I was thankful for each and every heartbeat.

I still believe God answered your pray. He said LIVE, live my daughter, live! I’m not killing the Goodbye post or the replies. They let you into our heads and our hearts. None of us quit on you and we all love you.

We were all scared, angry but not with you. We were scared and angry with ourselves. Each of us asked what did I do, what did I miss. None of us could believe it and none of us accepted it. Here lay the strongest person I know and the thought you just quit. Well it hurt, a lot. I was lost and confused and alone inside my head. I mean honestly if I didn’t have TJ I’d be fucking nuts by now!

This has been the hardest time of my life. I really thought I’d lost you and for a while it seemed as tough you’d given up. You shut me out and then tried to rob me of your touch. At least that is how it appeared.

I am thankful to know now you didn’t try to rob me of anything. I still wish you hadn’t shut me out and I won’t let you anymore. I am your partner, your wife and you are the heart in my chest. It hurts knowing you were in such trouble and pain and I could do nothing. I wasn’t allowed to help you.

Again you aren’t a burden. I willingly and joyfully shoulder any pain you share with me. It’s a sign of how much trust you have in me. Please never shut me out again. I am lost without you and that means all of you in my life. I mean fully in with both feet into the deep end of the pool. We will sink or swim together.

That is after all what you told me when you taught me to swim. Do you remember that day? I do.

I was six and standing by the pool you were swimming like a fish. I was in total awe of how well you swam. You swam to the twelve foot section and yelled to me “Come on, jump in.” I was scared and you said “Come on, I won’t let you drown.” I said “I can’t swim” and you said “I’ll teach you we can sink or swim together.”

Remember that? I do. We swam that day I learned to doggy paddle. We each got a few mouthfuls of pool water in the process. But I trusted you and I jumped.

My hands are out and I’m telling you jump in we’ll sink or swim together. This time we even have a life guard on duty it’s TJ. Jump in with both feet I got you.

I will finish this tape by editing what I have and narrating it. Your family will help ensure your words are heard at each and every parole hearing. You aren’t alone, you aren’t a burden. You never have been a burden. I want to be your shield against anything that would hurt you.

I am glad to be free of the burden of thinking your hands nearly robbed me of the shining star I feel in love with. The woman I’d go to war against the world for and the reason my heart beats every beat since I first feel in love with you so many years ago. From that first kiss to this very moment you are all the reason I need to know what loving another means.

When I need proof of God all I need to do is see his love reflected in your eyes. I imagine there is no more perfect love than that. I will close with the same words I closed my last comment with.

“I am so happy your heart still beats for me. My world would be lost without you.”

Sarah