14 June 2007

the results are... (with addition)

As many of you know, I've been conducting an independent study on the effects of stress upon single, thirty-something women. To that end, I needed to induce a high-stress situation. I've chosen to delve into the world of Russian adoption. While I was told it would be "hard", I, like most pap's did not really believe it or fathom the how's and why's. I'm organized. I follow directions well. I a believer who knows that God's timing and plans for my life is better than, and often different from, the plans I make on my own. I didn't really think it would be THAT stressful. I thought I'd fill out my paperwork and then wait. Silly, Kate.

So, it seemed prudent, if my study was to succeed and yeild valid high-stress results, to up the stress level. I decided to live in Russia. Living outside your culture is stressful. Living in Russia provides it's own unique frustrations.

I increased the stress level further at work. My class this year included a child who is high-functioning autistic, another with undiagnosed but severe ADHD, three with learning disabilities, my esl contingent and a child with spina bifida who had a very difficult learning assistant. Really, she crossed the line from unpleasant and verged on crazy. I taught for a first-year principal whom I don't really...click with. She just let me know today that my classroom for next year will be subdivided (I knew that and was a bit sad, but understanding) AND that I would not get to choose my new room. (The other teacher is new and won't arrive until August. All the staff thought I'd get right of refusal since I'm actually here.) WRONG. That wouldn't be nearly stressful enough. So, now I'll be in the other, less desirable, darker, smaller classroom with fewer computers and more students. AND, I'll have an assistant next year whom I've only seen at the Christmas party. (She's been on maternity leave for the last two years. Russian leave beats US family leave, hands down.) I hope she was drunk then because otherwise we're in danger of exceeding the safety limits set at the beginning of the experiment.

And lastly, my sw (who is surely in on the experiment) hasn't answered e-mails or phone calls for the last two weeks about renewing/reprinting my homestudy.

So--the results?

This year I've gained weight despite a very healthy diet, giving up Coke, walking a minimum of two miles a day at least four times a week and teaching dance classes. It's really not fair. I'm at an all-time high weight-wise. Yeah. That makes me really want to take all those first-meeting photos. (See, it's a GOOD thing there will be a delay before I meet d2b. I've got time to fast.) Being this weight is stressful.

I'm losing hair. Really. Pregnant moms get thick, georgous hair. Adoptive moms lose theirs. No one tells you this, but it's true. Ask Lauren. I'm not balding, by any means, but there's a lot of hair in my brush.

Insomnia. (Sing along--Who needs sleep? Well, you're never gonna get it...) I often have bouts of insomnia, but this year has been really bad. My Russian teacher told me I must get rid of some of my stress. I told her school was almost over. ;>

How could I forget to mention the state of my neck and shoulders? You're right--they're just huge knots. I had a massage here once and was in so much pain that I haven't repeated the experience. I'm surviving on Flex-All. I'm investigating a day spa in Helsinki. How crazy is it to go to another country just to get a massage?

That's the case here. I'm wondering what stress-effects the rest of you are experiencing. I'll write us up and submit it to the AMA. Okay, I won't really. I'm totally making that up. But, don't let that stop you from sharing!

[p.s. No worries on my account. This summer I'm adding extra Ballet Boot Camp workouts, staying off Coke, conditioning my hair well and sleeping whenever I please. I'm also increasing my Russian lessons and planning some weekends away in an attempt to busy my mind.)


Tami said...

Nothing like throwing yourself into your experiment. You really know how to immerse yourself into your research. But the beautiful thing about your methodology is you're going to have some wonderful experiences to share with your d2b(s).
My stress mostly involves stomach issues. I'm a recovering stomach ulcer patient with a tendency to internalize a lot of my stress. Blogs have helped to a certain degree, but I still tend to live on my daily dose of Prilosec and Pepto tablets.
I've also recently started having bouts of insomnia. Not, the stay-up-all-night-and-count-the-ceiling-tiles kind. It's more like the it's-taking-four-hours-to-go-to-sleep kind. I've never had the problem before. I'm searching for ways to cope.

Deb said...

Let's see. I've gained 20lbs.
My shoulders bare the weight of my stress and I often look like a football player because they are so high.
Won't even mention what it does to a marriage.
And our dossier isn't even over there yet!

votemom said...

weight gain: yes
hair loss: no
insomnia: no (thanks to migraine medication that makes me sleep like a stone)

speaking of stones... that's what the muscles in my shoulders and back and neck feel like. if only i could afford to go to the chiropractor every week for an adjustment and a deep-tissue massage.

i'm sorry friend.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've said goodbye to beautifully manicured hands because I ate my nails, gained 25 pounds, watched my complexion go to hell and yell at everyone. Seems we're all in good shape these days...and things will change for you because they have to.

And the social worker is a twit.

Rachael said...

Don't you just secretly hate people who claim to LOSE weight due to stress?!

I can give you a great tip on some sleeping pills. I have terrible insomnia whenever I'm stressed and when I travel, and I barely slept at all on my first trip to Russia. I finally gave in and tried some sleeping pills, and found some that work like a charm. I'd hook you up, if it didn't seem so shady.

And I agree with Annmarie on your social worker.

Rhyne & Jake said...

Oh, Kate! I think you are just a champ for holding on and being so positive throughout this whole process!! Adoption is hard - those who haven't experienced do not even know half of the emotional roller coaster ride it is.

Weight gain - yes (fertility meds didn't help out either in this category!)

Bald - not yet, but my kids are really working on that one!

Insomnia - no, or let's say no - not after a Tylenol PM or prescription RX.

I've been trying to drink my water every morning with 2 tsp of organic vinegar (the kind with Mother - you'll have to look it up without making it sound gross) and 2 tsp of honey. It is supposed to be the cure-all to everything (including the symptoms above, but it does not help with the SW or other adoption officals :-).

Hope your Summer goes well and that things start moving again once everyone returns from vacation (don't they take around 2 months off over there?).

Debi said...

OH KATE...I am sorry that things have been so rough on you this year...that is a tough class and not having the support of the principal really sucks...

I want you to know that you are not alone...find some time for you and for sleeping when ever you damn well please because when d2b comes there will be no more sleeping!!!

and I am still jealous of you living in Russia!!!

Lisa said...

Yep, I'm with you. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but it's been LOTS harder than I ever imagined. It's so frustrating to do everything you're asked to do, and quite promptly too, and then to have to wait and wait and wait for no apparent reason.

Weight gain - no, but I haven't lost any either and I need to.

Insomnia - intermittent. And I've NEVER had trouble sleeping before in my whole life.

Tummy troubles - yep, occasionally.

Anxiety - YES.

But what can we do? We have to just keep hanging in there and waiting. There's only one road forward.

votemom said...

i prayed for you at 2 a.m. my time. right after posting that i never have trouble sleeping, guess who was wide awake until 3. oy.

Chris Goeppner said...

I'm incredibly stressed! Like you, I know I shouldn't be as I believe that God's plans are better than mine as well.
Weight gain: No but getting very flabby
Knots in my shoulders: Yes, for 2 years now!
Insomnia: No but more tossing and turning.
Hair loss: No, I have enough hair to share with all of you that are losing yours.
Diminished prayer and spiritual life: YES!! My fault I know but it's hard to get out of this funk I'm in.
Wanting to strangle every person that asks me "how's the adoption going?": YES!!!!!
Oh Lord, help me!

Holly said...

Weight gain...more pounds than I care to share, hair loss many more stands in the brush than before, sore neck and shoulders (to the point of not being able to sleep)...cost of chiropractor $ oodles. Walking through customs at LAX with my daughter in my arms...priceless.

It's worth it Kate, hang in there!

Jenni said...

Glad you have a plan to reduce stress during your summer break!

I gained weight during the adoption process too (about 10 lbs, which I still am trying to take off!). It's my paper pregnancy weight gain. :)

Take care of yourself, and enjoy your free time!

Esther said...

I went thru a stressful situation of losing a lot of hair. I finally went to my dr. who told me heavy stress can cause hair loss 6-9 mos. after the stressful situation.

The term for it begins w/ a T and the second word is effluvium. He told me to start taking a Good multi-vitamin; I did and it worked really well. Try it, please!

martha said...

kate, the combo between weight gain and hair loss COULD also indicate a thyroid problem. is there a way to get your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) checked (at least)? it could also be stress related, especially if the weight gain is around your middle. there is a name for that disorder (related to stress) and you have to eat differently to lose it. i have info on it somewhere if that is what it is. then you can probably look it up on the internet. you do sound stressed enough to have your edocrine system screaming for help. you don't want to do that long term. are your walks ones where you are able to focus your mind on positive things to think about or ruminate on all the stressful things.
i've been in your shoes...not to the extreme you are right now, but have had to learn to deal with muscles spasms in shoulders, and other health issues, some related to stress.
the one scripture that has been the most helpful over the years has been: come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. take MY yoke upon you and learn of me, for i am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. for MY yoke is easy and MY burden is light. (mt. 11:28-30)
don't know if any of this will be helpful, martha