The Mushroom Affair

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A couple of weeks ago, I was pulling into the driveway and noticed some new additions to the yard.

They’re big – the fully open ones were about 6-10 inches across. 

The mushrooms were so large, striking, and graceful that even one of our neighbors commented on them.  We all wondered if they were good to eat, but no one was going to try anything.  I’m no mushroom expert*, but my father does know mushrooms somewhat and he taught me all throughout childhood the cardinal rule of mushroom hunting: do not eat anything without being 100% certain of the identification.  I grew up in rural Virginia where wild mushrooms were fairly plentiful and remember clearly his warnings and stories about a single mushroom in a stew being able to poison an entire family.  Even if we weren’t planning to eat them, however, getting an ID was worthwhile.  The mushrooms were growing right next to the sidewalk, easy for picking or curious dogs to take a bite.

I called my dad and sent him photos.  We quickly eliminated the entire branch amanitas, responsible for some of the more deadly poisonous mushrooms as these lacked a volva at the bottom.

With some research and Dad’s guidance, I found an article on the false parasol, also known as the green-spored lepiota or chlorophyllum molybdites.  We both concurred that this was the most likely identification and there was a final test that could confirm it pretty strongly: a spore print that produced green/gray spores on paper.

Sure enough:

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The green-spored lepiota is poisonous, but not generally deadly.  It produces severe vomiting/diarrhea (that can cause dangerous dehydration) in humans and apparently can be fatal to dogs.  Living in a neighborhood full of small people and dogs, it was an easy call to carefully pull them up and dispose of them.  They’ve come back once already after a heavy rain and we’ll have to keep watching.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want to read more or participate, please head over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

*Disclaimer: I am not an expert whatsoever in mushroom identification and can’t be responsible for identification of whether or not something is poisonous.  This 100% is not a way of determining whether something you choose to eat is safe – make sure you know your stuff well and consult an expert in real life because correct ID can literally mean the difference between life and death.  

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Lost And Found

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I grew up traveling to Mexico City regularly as a child and teenager.  My paternal grandparents lived there (my grandmother was Mexican) and so every few years we’d go down and see them.  I played with the decorated stuffed burros and dolls we’d buy in the markets, would marvel at the painting of my great-great-great grandmother Hippolita (I was absolutely entranced by the lacy dress she wore in the portrait), eat cajeta, and we would get pastries at El Globo.

I have an enormous sweet tooth as well as a love for all things fancy, so the pastries were always a huge highlight.  I’d never seen anything like them – the eclairs, the tiramisu glasses, the pan dulce – all exotic to me and beautifully presented.  We’d walk into El Globo, grab the metal tray and tongs, and start selecting treats for both after the evening meal and breakfast in the morning.

While there are plenty of excellent panaderias these days in the US where I can and have found most of the more traditional Mexican sweets like conchas or orejas, one sweet that I’d only ever seen at the panaderias in Mexico City escaped me: the garibaldi.

Garibaldi are essentially muffin-sized pound cakes glazed in jam (traditionally apricot, though there are raspberry versions) and covered in small, white, nonpareils.  They’re well known as a breakfast treat, though I remember eating them after meals as well.  El Globo is credited with having originated the recipe, so they’re a uniquely Mexican creation.

I’d mostly relegated garibaldi to memory until I happened to find a recipe by an American married to a Mexico City native who managed to take a family pound cake recipe and made an incredibly good copy of El Globo’s garibaldi.  These even got the seal of authenticity and approval from my father, who knows these pastries well.

I’m pretty excited.  It’s amazing to go to the kitchen and make this taste of childhood I thought I’d lost.

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The garibaldi I made

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want more or to participate yourself, head on over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

I Had Forgotten The Rules of RE Office Phone Tag…

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Watched Pot Theorem: The more you stare at your cell phone after leaving a message, the less likely it is to ring.

Murphy’s Law of Returned Calls: The phone will ring once you have stopped watching/procrastinating and gotten into a project where you can’t reach the phone or a pen easily.

Public Places Corollary: The more public the space you are in when the return call comes, the more likely you are to have to discuss your menstrual cycle or reproductive organs in detail.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want more, head over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

Clear

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I went for my saline infusion sonogram (SIS) today.  Walking into the building, I could feel my anxiety almost immediately ratchet up.  I mean, I think my RE’s great, the staff at the office has always been fantastic, but it’s the site of more than a few Really Bad Days so my body/mind seems to have a fairly automatic response to walking through the doors.

I checked in, waited, and was ushered through to the ultrasound room.  Changed.  Dr. E came in and, seeing my reader, asked what I was reading.  “Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owen’s book Medical Bondage, about James Marion Sims, the origins of American gynecology, and the way the use of Black enslaved women and Irish immigrant women as test subjects has influenced pervasive myths about pain tolerance and such that are still coming up today,” I responded*.

Never let it be said that I am not honest (and exceptionally bad at making small talk).

Dr. E thankfully engaged the topic and so that’s a good bit of what we talked about while I had my SIS.

As far as results, things look fine.  My ovaries are mildly polycystic (the usual) and my uterus is clear.  Now I get to wait for September.

*It’s an excellent book so far – if a hard read – that absolutely deserves a serious discussion of its own.  I read about it on NPR’s Code Switch Book Club and picked it up because anything that talks about medical biases regarding race and sex, especially ones that effect perception of pain and treatment, is an extremely relevant read professionally and personally.  

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays – if you want to read more, head on over to Stirrup Queens.  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

“And”

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Content note: pregnancy, children, loss – none recent

This weekend, we tore up some of the scrotty grass that’s never grown well next to our patio in the back and put in hostas.  I pulled out the dead hydrangeas from the back bed and planted shade loving coral bells.  We went to visit college friends and as we sat, I had one of those moments that might be called transcendent or even holy, where for just a second, everything was right with the world and good.

The new life, both literal and figurative, was all around us.

I came home, checked my calendar, and realized that it’s not all that much longer until my saline infusion sonogram for this final transfer.  And before I knew it, this morning I was ugly crying, the one that isn’t a couple of crystal tears decorously sliding down the cheeks, but the red-faced, sobbing, snotty Kleenex filled kind.

That’s life, though, isn’t it?  At least after a certain point?  Where the most extraordinary exists among the prosaic of every day and the deepest, darkest muck that can be dragged up?

I am so incredibly, amazingly thankful for my girls.  And I am so terribly sad that I never got to meet the three that died and were miscarried early, long before they truly lived.

I honor the truly ordinary, uneventful pregnancy I got the immense privilege of experiencing.  And I grieve the long weeks of waiting, of fertility treatments and IVF, of hope mingled with sadness, of ultimately having three others over far too early.

I get the loveliness of watching my older daughter survive and now thrive.  And I mourn that she lost the last weeks in pregnancy that she should have had, that she went through so many painful procedures, that we were separated by plexiglass walls and nights apart at the beginning of her life.

I can’t even express how much gratitude I have to see the girls treasuring each other and also fighting – as siblings do.  And I can feel my heart breaking again and again and again that my sibling is gone, that a person I held as he came into the world left it long before me in such a terrible, senseless way.

I hold my dear ones close, their precious selves tangible and messy and wonderful and alive.  And I cry remembering the unnatural coldness of my brother’s still face, the benediction of viewing him in death, the slight smear of blood that transferred to my hand when I put it on his cheek.

I am fiercely glad for my marriage and the love my husband and I get to share every day.  And I mourn the things we have both broken over the years, some of which are still being repaired.

I am grateful for the chance to complete this final cycle, to close out this particular road, to know that no matter the outcome, I am truly fortunate and ready to live this good life I have.  And I am anxious, struggling with the months of waiting in the lead-up, dreading some painful procedures, and worried about the potential for more hurt.

For the last several months, I’ve been veering back and forth between the extremes, saying how I’m fine (true) and FINE – F*cked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Egotistical * – (also true).   It doesn’t sum up neatly, the pros and cons on the paper don’t cancel each other out.  They’re all true, all a part of what poet Mary Oliver termed “your one wild and precious life”.

I am, without a doubt, in today’s parlance, a hot mess these days.

And…it’s an absolutely beautiful mess as well.

*credit to Louise Penny

This post is a part of Microblog Monday.  If you want to read more or add your own, please head over to Stirrup Queens’ blog.  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.  

Responding to “Stuff People Say”

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Recently, I had the opportunity to go to a lecture by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a nationally known speaker and author on loss, grief, and mourning.  I picked up the ticket at my suicide loss survivor’s group and played around in my head with the idea of going for a bit, but I’m glad that in the end, I opted to go.

Wolfelt related the story of being at his own mother’s funeral, sobbing, and hearing someone say “well, he’s a nationally known expert on grief, but he’s not holding up so well”.  It can be hard to mourn in a culture that expects an almost immediate resolution of the outward expressions of grief.  A few decorous tears in the days following a loss, but after that, calm, stoic acceptance is far more acceptable.

One of the best parts of the talk was when Wolfelt tackled the topic of “stuff other people say” and got into what he called the “buck up” messages.  These would be statements like “well, you had him for 38 years of marriage” or “at least she lived to be 89 years old”.  I’m sure anyone who has been through infertility/loss can add a few more to that list: “at least you know you can get pregnant”, “hey, you can sleep in/go to a movie/travel since you don’t have kids”, or “you have a good marriage/job/life, focus on that”.

Because I am a bit cranky on the inside at times, particularly when on Lu.pron or other hormone injections, the response in my head to those sorts of statements often ran along the lines of a rude, anatomically improbable suggestion.  My outward response was usually to smile weakly and change the subject.

However, I appreciated Wolfelt’s suggested rejoinder to these sorts of statements: “True, but not helpful.”

It’s very possible to feel gratitude in times of loss or grief for the good things in life.  But having plenty to be grateful for doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no room to grieve a loss and feel/express the emotions associated with loss.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays – please go see Stirrup Queens for more or to participate!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

The Left Overs

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Last week I finally bit the bullet and made what I plan to be the first in the final series of appointments with my RE, hopefully culminating in a final embryo transfer around early-mid October 2019.  I mean, my RE is a good doctor and I like him, but I truly won’t be sorry to see the end of treatments and the clinic and all the attendant stuff.  I’m looking forward to moving on and coming to end of the infertility journey.

One part of infertility, however, isn’t going to be over anytime soon.  The reason I wound up at a fertility clinic in the first place, PCOS, still factors into my life, health, and daily living.

This is one of the parts of infertility that I really hadn’t considered much when I was in the trenches, mostly because in the trenches, it’s a day-to-day, minute-to-minute battle.  At this point, however, I’ve got a bit of breathing room to consider the future and that future continues to include PCOS.

And PCOS…sucks.

Mostly, it raises my risk of diabetes along with a number of other conditions, which means monitoring and care to ensure that I remain as healthy as possible.  For me, this means a daily dose of met.formin.  While it doesn’t work for all PCOS women, for me, it’s a miracle drug.  When my second RE put me on it prior to my second fresh IVF cycle because at that point, we were throwing everything reasonably possible at the infertility, I noticed my cycles regulated a bit and we got better egg retrieval and embryos.  After I gave birth to my first daughter, I went back on it to attempt to control the PCOS and boost my milk production, then continued on it and was surprised when, over several months, my acne abated and my cycles regulated.  Because PCOS is one of the big wild card conditions of infertility (some PCOS women have a terrible time conceiving while others, surprisingly, don’t have much issue at all), we were overjoyed when this led to our second daughter.

I managed without met.formin until I stopped nursing/pumping for my second daughter, but at that point, the PCOS symptoms returned with a vengeance – acne, wonky cycles, the whole nine yards.  I called my OB/GYN who was fine with putting me back on the met.formin and things have calmed down since.

I’m fortunate when it comes to PCOS because I have a fairly reliable external indicator about whether or not the PCOS is under control: acne.  If I’m breaking out massively, generally, I have cysts on my ovaries and the attendant issues.  I’m also fortunate that (so far) I’ve been able to find treatments that abate the symptoms considerably.

Despite the fact that my OB/GYN is good and I can somewhat see how well controlled my PCOS is, I know that I need a good primary care provider, especially since I’ll be able to stop seeing my RE (who has helped with managing my PCOS and been my back-up with that for years now).  At the moment, I’m starting to work on searching for the right doctor.  PCOS isn’t ending just because my infertility is resolving.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want more, head over to Stirrup Queens’ blog!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.