Loose ends, tied up with tomato vines

By Mir
July 22, 2012

It was not actually my intention to wander away for most of a week, leaving you considering whether or not I had managed to get through that treatment planning meeting without vomiting. Whoops. Sorry! I suck.

In my defense, now that the Great Zucchini Invasion of 2012 is winding down, it’s gone all Attack of the Yummy Tomatoes ’round these parts. And although we all know I’ve been a little weird about my garden pretty much forever, the whole ZOMG-there-is-so-much-I-cannot-control-right-now-and-it-makes-my-tender-pink-middle-feel-uncomfy thing means that I am committed to my stupid garden in a way that borders on pathological. Because things GROW and DAMMIT, we are going to EAT THEM. I will not waste a single item! I will process tomatoes until the kitchen looks like a crime scene! If everything needs to get put on hold while I make tomato sauce, SO BE IT. Make the sauce, save the world. Or something.

I know. (It’s really, really good sauce, though!)

Anyway. Allow me to elucidate on various and sundry:

Because I know everyone has been on the edge of their seats, I feel obligated to let you know that the kamikaze melon was not, in fact, quite ripe. I waited several days to cut it open, and then I tried to feed it to Monkey and Mario, but it just wasn’t all that sweet. Oh, well. I have about half a dozen more still on the vines, so better luck next time, I suppose. I’m pretty sure the boys had fun spitting the seeds over the fence, at least.

What could be more important than a melon? Heh. I am pleased to report that contrary to what we were told, those of you who doubted the veracity of a girl on Chickie’s unit being both a mother and pregnant were correct. She made it up (the other girl, not Chickadee; she was pretty annoyed to have been lied to). While I am relieved that it’s not true—apparently they had a unit meeting about how this facility does not accept pregnant girls, because so many of them were claiming to be pregnant!—I still worry for all of these babies who think that having babies would somehow be a status symbol. Though I’m also a little pleased to see my kid realizing that this is maybe not the group she wants to be hanging out with permanently.

Also related to that post: The issues with stolen stuff have been resolved, at least for now. The retainer has been replaced (at the hospital’s expense). And early one morning I spent an hour with my friendly neighborhood Social Security representative down at the Second Most Depressing Office On Earth (DFCS still has a lock on first place) to reapply for SSI for Chickadee. It went well this time (last time we didn’t even finish the application because of the whole “she has too much money in her savings account” thing, and were immediately rejected), but did you know that the government can take up to 150 days to make a decision? That’s awesome, because it’s not like people who are applying for SSI and trying to get Medicaid need the help in a hurry or anything. Oh, wait….

[I recommend bringing donuts with you to Social Security, should you ever have occasion to spend some time there. I feel like it was money well spent.]

And finally, the treatment meeting went… okay. I did not puke, so there’s that. I did not feel that Chickadee’s team was particularly encouraging, necessarily, but everyone agreed more treatment time was necessary and so we kind of walked out of there not discussing the fact that after six weeks, we agreed to give them six more weeks, and what if nothing changes?

Basically it was a mixed bag of emotions. We don’t think she’s ready to come home, so it was good to know we weren’t crazy for thinking that. On the other hand, six more weeks away. And no guarantees. And and and and… you know. Had I written about the meeting right after it happened, I probably would’ve characterized my feeling as “mostly neutral, tinged with both faint relief and also mild panic.” The benefit of having been too busy with my stupid tomatoes until now is that NOW I can also tell you something else, and that something else is this: We believe she’s getting better.

When we had the meeting, Chickadee had been on a new medication for just a few days. It’s now been a week and she is definitely, absolutely, no-I-am-not-wishful-thinking-imagining-it improving. Now, let’s all celebrate gingerly, while knocking on available wooden surfaces, because 1) improvement in these things tends not to be linear and 2) the bitch of neuropsychiatric meds is that sometimes they stop working. Still, this is the first significant improvement we’ve seen in a very long time. And we had a great visit yesterday where she smiled and laughed and talked about what she wants to work towards and you can pry this little nugget of hope out of my cold dead hand, okay? Okay.

It’s been a very long seven months or so, and right now I’m okay with making lots and lots of tomato sauce and focusing on the fact that my girl seems to be finding her way back to us. I know there’s no guarantees, but still. (Well, I can probably guarantee more tomatoes. They are really going nuts this year.)


  1. Raquel

    Dearest Mir and family,

    I cannot tell you how relieved I am to know that there’s a tiny bit of light in this tunnel. I’ve worked with many families and children in your situation and I know the look of fear, panic, and relief that can register on a parent’s face. I am knocking on all wooden surfaces and crossing everything that can be crossed that this trend continues.

  2. Little Bird

    Yay! Good news!! On all fronts, vegetable AND family!! I hope it continues to get better. There can be some really surprising side effects to psych meds, you might want to watch for those. I know, because I’ve been prescribed them and had to discontinue them. (let’s just say when you can’t leave your home due to uncontrolable, random, in consistent dierheea, life is hard). But yay! Things are looking up!

  3. karen

    This is wonderful…. this real, happening, definite improvement. :-) Knocking on wood.

    Now tell me you’ve found a good gluten free pasta to go with the sauce you’ll be making with all those tomatoes… we’ve got the tomatoes and sauce too… but … GROSS, the gluten free pasta. Atleast the ones I’ve tried.

  4. ccr in MA

    As if we would try to pry the hope from your hands! Just keep making more tomato sauce, and freeze some for when she comes home again. Hooray for a ray of hope.

  5. deva at deva by definition

    Oh Mir, I am so relieved to hear about the light that seems to be appearing for you. So relieved. As someone who has been on and off antidepressants since I was 18, I admit to doing a little squeak of joy when I read that you found one that appears to be working so well. It took me four medications to find the one that worked best for me, and when we fount it, the difference was so huge. So, so, huge. i hope your wonderful girl is on her way back to you and your delicious-sounding tomato sauce.

  6. Karen

    Oh I was so thrilled to see an update! You hang on to that nugget of hope and kick the shins of anyone trying to take it away or tell you it’s fools gold.

    Keeping you all in my thoughts.

  7. Kate in Michigan

    ::knockknock:: (on wood)

    Enjoy all these long, deep breaths you are suddenly able to take. It’s nice to not be crushed by fear.

    May the crap-wagon pack itself up and leave your family the hell alone. May your breath remain fresh, and may your melons stay on the vines until fully ripe. (It’s a southern Michigan prayer. Or it is now.)

  8. Jodifur

    Hope is a really, really good thing. And tomato sauce.

  9. KarenP

    So happy to hear that the medicine is helping. Will knock on every wood surface if it helps.

    As for the social security and Medicaid…my sister is on disability. She has to wait two years for Medicaid to kick in. She was told that if she had never worked she would not have to wait two years. She currently will run out of the cobra benefits she is using a couple of months before she will be eligible for Medicare when she turns 65 next year. Wow, it sure doesn’t make any sense that someone who is disabled cannot get coverage for health care. Her diabetes medicine alone is over $1000 a month not to mention all the other medicine she takes.

    Health care in this country is broken.

  10. amy

    I will continue to send good thoughts out to you and yours.

  11. heather

    SO relieved to hear you have a tiny little nugget of hope clasped in your hand (and may it always be in your warm, alive hand, btw)!

    Glad to hear that your girl is smiling again, that she’s recognizing things that need work, and SO glad to hear about the pregnancy that was only made up.

    Hang in there, Mama Bear. Hopefully there will be more good ju-ju to bolster you through this raincloud toward the rainbow.

  12. Heather

    Yay for improvements. And doughnuts make almost everything better. Although if you ever want to freak out a Social Security office, pull out a laptop with a webcam and fire it up. Good gracious, I thought I was going to be arrested (I was attempting to pull up my Google calendar to verify a date — they were convinced it was an attempt to record/broadcast over the Internet the proceedings).

  13. Chuck

    Yay for improvement! And tomato sauce!

  14. Sharon

    I have heard of the mysterious power of donuts, though I have not had occasion to test the theory. Good to know it worked for you. Good to know that some other things are working for you, too. Holding a good thought for all of you ~

  15. Laura

    “We believe she’s getting better”

    Music to my freaking ears. It is a start, a fantastic start!

  16. Christine H.

    So happy to hear that things are better, because better is always better even if it is just a small step.

    Next year (I keep promising myself), I am going to try to grow tomatoes. If I can keep them away from the deer.

  17. HG

    Yay for little lights. Especially when they erupt into bigger lights.

  18. Mandy

    Yay! And it should be renamed “Hope Sauce” (at least for this year.) <3

  19. Ingrid

    So glad to hear some encouraging news. Still thinking about you guys all the time!

  20. Megan


    And that’s not a nugget of hope – it’s a seed. And just LOOK at how good you are at making things grow!

  21. Mom24@4evermom

    Definitely Yay!!! for improvement, but I so, so wish I had a magic wand for all of you. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  22. Crisanne

    So thankful for continued treatment and glimmers of hope. Keep hanging in there, Mir. We all love you!!

  23. TC

    I hope you told Bad Bedside Manner Doc just where to stick it, or how to suck it, or something equally offensive and celebratory!

    I also will not begrudge you the many tomatoes, because you’ve earned the right to celebrate growth. But dang. Makes the four won’t-turn-red tomatoes on my two not-quite-thriving plants even more annoying! ;-)

  24. elz

    This is great news all around. Spaghetti sauce for everyone!

  25. Angie

    Knocking wood and praying and thinking good thoughts and crossing fingers and everything else I can think of. Harvest hope and tomatoes. That will make the best sauce of all.

  26. Em

    Hope and tomatoes. Today is a good day. May tomorrow be even better!

  27. Kathy

    Knocking on wood up in Toronto here for you too. I’m so hoping that everything continues to improve. Also I bet your tomato sauce is awesome.

  28. Laura

    I knocked softly on the desk as I read this. I’m glad she’s making her way back to you, and that there’s headway on making things better for her while she does.

  29. RuthWells

    I’m so glad for good news — ANY good news — that I’m crying. Again.

    Hooray for tomatoes and for not puking and for meds that work.

  30. cheyenna

    Hugs! And enjoy those tomatoes…

  31. Rebecca

    Crossing my fingers that the upward trend continues. Many virtual hugs to you and yours.

  32. Leslie

    Such good news, so happy the new drugs are working. Hugs to all of you!

  33. laura

    Hope in any size, shape or form is such a beautiful thing.

  34. suburbancorrespondent

    Oh, that is a wonderful little nugget of hope! You darn well should hang on to it!

  35. EmmaC

    Three cheers! And I agree with what Laura says above: hope in any size, shape, or form is a beautiful thing. Hugs and tomatoes for all.

  36. Katherine

    So glad to hear that things are looking up! How are Chickie’s friends doing with her situation? I hope that they will stand by her when she comes home.

  37. liv

    so incredibly glad to hear that chickadee’s showing some improvement! hoping, hoping, hoping!

  38. Kim

    Oh Mir, tearing up for you. And your Chickadee.
    And oddly proud of you for bringing baked goods that you yourself did not bake. I have learned the baked good trick from you, but there is also the time when you say, screw it, I do not want to bake, and you buy the donuts.

  39. Sharon

    Knocking on wood here, Mir!

  40. Emily

    While I love reading all your updates, the good, the bad, and the garden-variety, I’m especially happy to hear Chickie is doing better. Thanks for the pick-me-up!

  41. Susan in SF

    So, so happy to hear things are moving in the right direction!!

  42. Leanner

    Yeah for even a small amount of improvement! 🎉I’ve been praying for all of you, but haven’t wants to be commenter #150. My two young sons both have mental health issues and I’ve learned you hang on to those nuggets. Put enough nuggets together and you can have something exquisitely beautiful.
    Maybe you can bring sauce to your next meeting. (-;

  43. Deanna

    Yay!!!!!! Good news! May the coming weeks be filled with good news and tomato sauce. Maybe even a spaghetti squash too if your feeling wild and crazy!

  44. Jessica

    Every shred of hope is hope well held onto! I also believe that you’d not let anyone ever pry it out of your hands, cold and dead or not. ;~)

    (I’m being short and sweet since I’m sitting in a fast food restaurant in the middle of the night since our internet “fix” lasted for a whole two days.)

  45. Varda (SquashedMom)

    Hoping the hope and Chickie’s progress grow like the tomatoes! (Thinking of you often.)

  46. Reb

    Delighted to hear she’s improving! That’s fantastic news.

    And I stand in awe of your gardening prowess, esp with everything else that’s going on.

  47. birchsprite

    I’m so very pleased to hear such positive news! Well done Mir and all the family for helping Chickie to find the right help. Fingers crossed for even more improvement.

  48. The Other Dawn

    Knocking gingerly… On every freakin’ bit of wood I can find! Fngers crossed the improvement continues. Go, Chickie!

  49. brigitte

    I knocked on this wood shelf here! Here’s hoping that the medication keeps working, and that she realizes the importance of keeping on taking it!

  50. stephanie

    darlin… anyone trying to pry ANY bit of hope from your cold dead hands is gonna have to go thru me first!! seriously… we have girls almost the same age (a couple weeks or so) and this has been so hard to be a willing witness to. i can’t tell you how its made me just that much more thankful for the ‘normal’ teenage angst that we currently experience… and knocking wood? consider it done! every available surface including my head. :) sending you hugs and peace for your hearts…

  51. Paige

    I am fixing in my mind, firmly, that Chickie’s medication will continue working and that she will continue improving, will come home, will finish school and undertake all her dreams and wishes and will generally be a happy, productive member of society.

    I’m putting her carefully next to the space in my mind I where I am fixed, firmly, on these things for my oldest son.

    Putting positive energy into the universe (call it prayer or good juju or whatever).

  52. lily

    Go Chickadee! Go Chickadee! You can do it!

  53. JennyA

    Hugs, hugs, hugs, and cheers! Hold onto that nugget and tuck it away to look at when you need it later, and pretty soon you’ll have a whole big pile of nuggets. More than tomatoes, even!

  54. elizabeth

    I’m so happy for your new found hope. here’s to more steps forward, fewer back.

    thank you for (previously) linking that sauce recipe, I’ve bookmarked it and am dieing to make it. no tomato gardening here so must pick up some good ones and just get on with it.

  55. Jenn

    Yay for your little ray of light. Hopefully it will burst into a full-fledged rainbow soon. I know I speak on behalf of the entire internet when I say that I’m so glad Chickie seems to be responding well to her new meds. We won’t stop sending good juju her way.

  56. Aimee

    “We believe she’s getting better.”

    Those are the best five words I’ve read in a long time. I am so glad.

  57. Jen

    So glad to hear of Chickie’s improvement. We went through something very similar with my younger brother as a teen, and while improvement takes time, and comes in fits and starts, I can happily say that as an adult, he is mostly fine (struggles with depression, but is not self-harming, attempting suicide or having psychotic breaks, and hasn’t since he was 16, even without meds for the past several years – yeah!). She’ll get there.

    Last year, I had no tomatoes. None. My plants were stunted, and didn’t even flower. Three of those plants survived through to this year, and are out of control. They have completely taken over gardening patches that were supposed to hold several other plants. I am to the point of trying to force tomatoes on neighbors, people passing on the street and unsuspecting coworkers. They are not really the kind of tomatoes to make sauce with, but I am going to try it anyway, because I have to find *something* to do with all of them. (Then I can pawn off pasta sauce onto unsuspecting passersby and coworkers instead!)

  58. erma

    I am so happy to hear that some meds are working…I know the feeling of relief must be huge…and I am so glad to also hear that she is able to stay longer at the facility to receive help…another huge sigh of relief. Until there is stabilization it is impossible to have her at home…This I know. HUGE hugs to you, Mir, and Otto and Monkey. More and more and MORE positive thoughts go out to Chickie. May things continue to progress…AND let’s hear it for tomatoes!!!

  59. Mary K. in Rockport

    We’ll join you in “celebrating gingerly” from afar and knocking on wood all over the place.

  60. StephLove

    Oh, hooray for getting better, no matter how tentative.

  61. Genevieve

    Knocking wood for you. So happy to hear of the beginnings of improvement!

  62. bj

    We’re celebrating holding on to that nugget with all your strength and wouldn’t imagine trying to pry it away from you.

    One of the reasons I’ve read your blog is that I like the chickadee you portray on these pages, the superhero socks, the science fair projects, the friendships, the girl who seems to want to find her own path. I’m sending all my best hopes for both of you finding those paths together.

  63. Likethewrap

    Sometimes getting lost in a mundane project (like a shit ton of tomatoes) is exactly what the soul needs to recoup and move forward. I am cautiously celebrating Chicadee’s progress and praying for continued celebrations for you all.

  64. Tracy B

    Good news ALL the way around. I’ll continue to say prayers for y’all…Head up!

  65. Carla Hinkle

    Hope, hugs, and delicious tomato sauce to you, Mir.

  66. dad

    Only you could write an entertaining parable utilizing the the divergent subjects of doughnuts, tomato sauce and hope.

    Continue to have trust your instincts.

  67. dad

    I’m losing it. What I meant to say was:

    Only you could write an entertaining parable utilizing the divergent subjects of doughnuts, tomato sauce and hope.

    Continue to have trust in your instincts.

  68. Sarahd


  69. Annette

    Praise God:) Prayers are still coming your way.

  70. c

    hope truly is a thing with feathers

  71. Meg

    So happy to read this and hoping this med is a long term answer. Hugs to you all.

  72. CuriousParty

    You hold onto that hope. You’ve earned it, as has Chickadee.

  73. Daisy

    Does she like salsa? Make salsa. Does she like marinara sauce? Can some or freeze it. How about Monkey? He probably needs reassuring, too. He could use some salsa and tortilla chips.

  74. Sarah

    Continuing to pray for Chickie, you, and healing. I have some experience with mental health issues with those I love most, and my heart is hurting for you. Hold onto hope.

  75. aem2

    Yay for the glimmer of light. You hold on to that, Mir. Love it and squeeze it and call it George, even.

    Fingers and toes are crossed, and I’m knocking on all the wood surfaces I can reach for you.

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