I hear the whispering of the leaves
Mountain, calling me
Hear the wind, the poplar tree
Calling, calling in my dreams
Ma Crow and the Ladyslippers
“Memory of a Mountain”
4:12 a.m., the final morning of my retreat. I’ve slept since 8:30 last night, so am up. Thinking about my family again, worried and/or angry about a number of things.
But something good just happened: Finally I was able to remember a post I thought of another night, when again I had woken up in the middle of the night (but had fallen asleep again soon, without writing anything down). I thought for sure I would remember the two thoughts I’d had, but in the morning could only recall one.
Now the other thought has come back to me.
I had woken up thinking of my hikes in the woods around the monastery, and singing one of my favorite MUSE songs from our last concert.
Here’s an excerpt from “Memory of a Mountain,” written by Margie Drees and performed by Ma Crow and the Ladyslippers, at the end of this short NPR piece.
The Fall Concert from MUSE features Ma Crow and the Ladyslippers and Music from the Mountains
Reporting: Anne Arenstein
WVXU 91.7 FM radio, “Around Cincinnati”
MUSE and Missing My First Concerts
I didn’t perform this song at what would have been my first MUSE concert, due to unforseen family drama around my Dad’s divorce from my stepmom.
A very stressful event – something I felt I had to do for my Dad to protect him – made me sick with anxiety. It happened on a weekend, and I didn’t have any anxiety medication on hand and couldn’t get any from my doctor. Much to my surprise, I discovered that not even the doctor on call at the Lindner Center of HOPE (where I’m an outpatient) could prescribe an anxiety med without seeing me first.
Anxiety meds – the good ones, anyway – are now Class Something-or-Other substances. They’ve been declared potentially addictive, and are often sold on the street as downers for drugs like cocaine. So…when I – someone who’s never used hard drugs and thankfully never suffered from addiction to a pharmaceutical – needed a basic anxiety med that I’d taken in the past, I couldn’t get it.
Instead of sending in a prescription for a $10 bottle of Klonapin – or even just a few pills to tide me over until I could see my nurse practitioner on Monday – the Lindner Center doctor on call told me that if things got worse, I should go to a nearby Emergency Room.
So let’s see here: Can’t get $10 bottle of pills, must go spend $100 – and wait for hours, and cost our healthcare system several thousand dollars – to get that $10 bottle of pills in an Emergency Room? This makes no sense.
And I knew from having friends who have worked in ERs that as soon as I walked into an emergency room and asked for a restricted substance, everyone I spoke to would be wondering if I’m addicted to it and am using the ED to get high.
The Good Patient
That Saturday, I wasn’t incredibly anxious at first, but knew things might get worse so that’s why I called ahead of time for medication. Failing at that, I took a nap, then went to Whole Foods and spent $40 on Gaia Stress Response with kava root (which I had used once before and found calming). Then I took an epsom salt bath.
The next day, Sunday, I attended an extra MUSE rehearsal that would prepare us for our concerts that week. I really enjoyed being with my MUSE sisters, and everything seemed fine.
Well, I should have just gone to an ED on Saturday, when I first had an anxiety attack. Because on Monday morning – after calling to get an appointment with my nurse practitioner and having to leave a voicemail – I had an embarrassing panic attack (the first time that’s happened to me in public) and had to go to the ED anyway.
I was then admitted to the Lindner Center of HOPE, where my diagnosis was PTSD-induced anxiety. They put me on a different drug, an SSRI called Lexapro, which for me is amazing and works better than anything I’ve ever tried.
I knew they wouldn’t let me work while in the hospital, and that meant I risked losing one or more of my freelance clients.
While waiting to go to my room, I called my clients. When I told them I was in the hospital, they understood. After my release, I was able to pick up where I left off.
The lesson: Even when you’re trying to be a good patient, take good care of yourself and stay out of the hospital, the healthcare system can really screw you. Royally.
During this time, I was just so thankful to be in MUSE. Every morning in the hospital, I woke up singing a MUSE song and thinking of my MUSE sisters. The fact that I’d soon return to MUSE, my work and my home kept me going.
Thank you MUSE sisters, for welcoming me to your family.