Vegetarian Uprising

At the end of last year I had my cholesterol checked and I was surprised to learn that it was kind of high. It had actually never been as high as it was then (240) and the only thing I could think is that I have been eating low-carb for awhile, which had been helpful in shaving off some weight, but obviously shot my cholesterol up. My doctor was not pleased considering she had told me not to do that. Eek. She said Keto and the like is not a good way to diet and that people are “just obsessed, but don’t understand.” Now listen, I was by no means doing “Keto.” Mainly because I don’t do any “diet” well. But I had backed off most carbs and was relying on protein from meat too much, I can openly admit to that. So I asked her what to do and she said, “Go vegetarian if you can” and then I laughed and laughed.

Then two months ago Jerimiah and decided to try it and well, it’s been really super easy and we don’t eat meat anymore and what the hell is happening in my life?!

Whew. Okay, deep breathes and I’m kind of lying because sometimes we still eat salmon. And by sometimes I mean we had salmon for dinner twice in two months, so sure, I guess call us pescatarian or mainly vegetarian or crazy or whatever you want but I feel so much freaking better that I am actually like why did I not do this decades ago?!

To be fair it was an easy transition now on account of all the meatless options out there. Options that just weren’t there two or three years ago, let alone decades ago. Options that also have Jackson going “mainly” vegetarian with us and so we are all benefitting. We also did it in stages. We didn’t just totally change the way we eat. Last year we started eating off our “small” plates, which are the “lunch” plates. We moved the dinner plates out of the cabinet. This was to work on portion control. Once we did that, we started filling more veggies, then cutting the amount of meat down and down and down, until now, well I had broccoli for lunch yesterday. Broccoli. That’s it. That’s all I had and I was full and I had plenty of protein.

I think being at home all day every day, not eating at a restaurant in over a year, and really being generally pissy about having to feed ourselves food all day everyday has helped tremendously. We’ve also cut way back on drinking alcohol, we have maybe a glass of wine a month now, and if we could somehow give up coffee, then we’d be all set but who are we even fucking kidding. That will never happen. But then, I guess we should never say never.

In fact, the hardest part has been trying to figure out how we will one day have to tell our family back in Kansas City that we don’t eat Burnt Ends anymore, thankyouverymuch, can I have the veggie plate. Hmpf. That might take some time. But for now we will work on kicking our salmon habit (have you watched Seaspiracy?!) and please, if you have any black bean burger recipes send them our way! Talk about yum!

M.

Rest

“Rest is a requirement, not a reward.” I read that sentence the other day on some random, encouraging Instagram account I follow and I realized that this is what I’ve been trying to convince myself of for several weeks now, but it’s actually a really hard thing to do. To convince yourself that you need to rest. That it isn’t you shutting down or not dealing with things, it’s actually a requirement for life. Why is it so tough? Especially for women. Probably because we tell ourselves if we are resting then we aren’t productive. And if we aren’t productive who will get all the things we’ve convinced ourselves that needs to get done, done?

I haven’t been sleeping. At first I thought it was because, you know, life, but when I mentioned this aggressive non-sleeping that’d I’d been having to my Rheumatologist she said, “Oh, it’s the medication.” Turns out some of my medication can cause this to happen. It’s considered an “adverse side effect,” as it’s not terribly common, but can happen to some patients. So she promptly took me off of it, and said it might take a couple of weeks to get back to normal. I felt immediate relief.

I don’t mean I started sleeping better, rather I felt relieved to know there was a reason. I found it easier to give myself a bit of grace when I felt sleepy in the afternoons and went to lay my head on the pillow because it wasn’t “my fault.”

Last week I was struggling with the idea that when I did this, when I relaxed, even if it was just to curl up on the couch with a book (a book I was assigned to read for school) I still felt like I was just being “lazy.” That’s what I told my therapist Patsy it felt like, laziness. But the truth is, it’s not laziness. I just have to work on shifting my mindset.

I don’t need a reason to not sleep, so why should I have a reason to sleep? To rest? To read a book? Why should I make myself fill bad for giving my body and mind something they need when it’s been working overtime lately. Between a global pandemic, an MFA program, a pre-teen, two rambunctious dogs, a partner, a house, a newly-diagnosed autoimmune disease, a shocking family realization, more grief to top it all off, and the pressures of you know, everydayfuckinglife, I can cut myself some slack sometimes. And you can too.

My friend dropped a book off to me the other day that one of her friends wrote. I haven’t dug into yet, mainly on account of all the required reading I’m doing, but I have skimmed it. It’s full of beautiful poetry, but more importantly it’s full of encouragement. Encouragement to give yourself permission to do the things that you need to do in order to keep going. And it sort of sings to me.

So go easy on yourself today, y’all. Let your mind and your body tell you what you need and listen, damn it. No hard feelings toward yourself.

I hope you have a lovely, love-filled weekend.

❤️

M.

I’ll Have a T&T

I’ll turn forty in nine months and while I’m excited about this (I reject the idea that your life fades away into nothingness at forty) there are some unavoidable things that displease me. Like how the eye doctor told me that I’d need readers soon. On top of my prescription. Or how any abrupt change to my medication, diet, or daily activity cause me gastrointestinal upset. Or my new favorite, my routine desire to have a “T&T” which used to mean that I wanted Tanqueray and Tonic. I would say to Jerimiah for example, “I’m making a T&T, do you want something?” Or I’d be at a bar with friends and I’d ask the bartender for a “T&T extra lime.” But as of late I’ve been walking upstairs while I yell, “I’m going for a T&T” which now means, I’m grabbing two Tylenol and some Tums; a T&T.

It was a slow burn from the T&T of my youth to this one. First I stopped being able to control my emotions with a T&T. Then I couldn’t hold the liquor. Soon, in the last couple of years, I’ve rejected liquor all together and now exclusively drink white wine and White Claws (in the summer only), and in fact rarely drink white wine at all anymore. But the new T&T, that’s a regular occurrence brought on by stress, new medication, and I suspect cheese. A rather large abundance of cheese.

I’d love to go in depth here. To really explain my “later in life” situation, but I’m afraid I can’t. I’m too busy at the moment. I’m headed to bed, right after my T&T.

M.

If My Fatness Offends You…

Now that the new year is upon us, I’ve noticed the “New year, New Me” self talk starting. I guess it’s not self talk if you are sharing it with social media but you know the deal, people (women mostly) sharing goals about how what they want to change about themselves in the new year. Most of it is weight or size related. Most of it is masked under this “I want to feel healthy” but what they are really saying is that they are unhappy with themselves and need to change. Here’s where I get my stomach into some knots. I’m fat, in case you don’t know me IRL. I am overweight. Medically obese. My BMI is too high. However you want to measure it, I am overweight and have been literally all of my life. Literally here is used literally, not figuratively. I wasn’t a skinny kid who put on weight in puberty. I was a chubby kid who put on weight during puberty, which was coincidently when I was put on my first diet too. But that’s not the story I am here to share with you today, the story I want to share with you came much later.

I worked for Ruby Tuesday. They are a family-style, casual dining restaurant throughout the country. You might know them from their extensive salad bar. I worked for a franchise in Southern Missouri owned by a man named John. Now John had some unchecked mental health issues, and can be best described as a “Mini Trump.” That is to say he was a big fish in a weird pond. Or at least he thought he was. People didn’t like to tell him no because he flipped the fuck out if he was told no. People didn’t like to tell him yes because then he’d abuse them in some way, you get my drift.

He owned several, maybe 10, Ruby Tuesday restaurants. Now owned is a stretch. You know how it is. He was a franchisee, but he rented most buildings, the company itself had control over most of his dealings, etc, etc. And he owned two of the restaurants in Branson, Missouri. First he owned a free-standing one that was open for a decade and did very well before he opened a second location in a strip mall sandwiched between Walmart and a grocery store. Why he decided to open a second one a half mile away from an already popular one is beyond me. Beyond any business class you might take. And as you can imagine it isn’t open anymore. It closed down less than a decade after opening considering it didn’t make enough money. That’s not hard to figure out, but I digress.

I started there as a server, then quickly became a bartender, then a shift leader. A shift leader is paid hourly ($13/hr back in 2005-ish) and is expected to do all the things a manager does, but obviously make a lot less doing it. I’m not sure what the hell that position was supposed to look like, but it seemed to be this thing where they said, “Oh we like you, and you are a great worker, we will give you keys and official sounding title and let you do all the dirty work for nothing for awhile so you feel important.” And I bought it. I was like 23 years old, that should be noted.

It was also a pipeline to management, obviously. You had to be a shift leader to be a manager and while I was there (about five years) I saw many a shift leader and managers come and go. There is high turnover in the restaurant business. It’s a shitty, thankless job and it gets even worse the higher up you go. Add to that the maniac I worked for, and well, there you have it.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were good things about the job, especially for a 20-something. I met a lot of great people, people who became my best friends and still are my best friends. I made it through some wack-a-doodle experiences, and I learned an enormous amount about people and myself. One does that when they tend bar, cook on the line, and watch employees smoke cigarettes in the cooler. It’s a smorgasbord of bad decisions, unruly employees, and fun. I could never, ever work in the restaurant business again, but I am glad for the experiences I had. Even the one I am here to talk about.

One day, around year three I sat down in the back room of the store with the District Manager. I was a shift leader, had been for about a year, and was doing really well. The employees liked me, the managers couldn’t function without me (there was one who routinely forgot where he parked his car), and the Spanish-speaking cooks respected me enough to allow me on the line with them. I was a good, nay great, employee and I was ready to be promoted and they were ready to promote, only one problem: I was fat.

Now I don’t need to remind you that I have always been fat. I had been the same size the day I was hired there as I was the day I was sat down and told that they would love to promote me, but they couldn’t on account of my fatness. That’s a thing that was said to me, while also being told that other shift leaders were also having this talk. There was Jodie who was missing several teeth and was so skinny people sometimes thought she was a drug addict. They didn’t like her image and they told her to work on it and then promoted her. Then there was Kyle, the owner’s nephew, who was also fat. He was told to work on his image (and he did by drinking Bud Light and taking Hyroxycut) and then he was promoted. Here’s the rub, I was told I was fat and then not promoted. Told that I had to show them I was working on losing weight before they would promote me.

Nola told me this. The DM. Now I liked Nola. She was nice and funny and she came around to our store a lot and she was very involved. And I think she liked me too. And I think she was very sad that day she had to have that conversation with me. It came from the top down, and to be fair John didn’t like me for a myriad of reasons, least of all that I was incredibly vocal about all the shortcomings at the store and the with the employees because I wanted the place to do well. But he did see that I was good at what I did, so he was stuck, I guess this little dig was just for him to have fun, maybe “put me in my place” or what not. It worked.

For the next several months I tried to lose weight. I did it blindly. I took what Nola said, which was basically “You’re too fat and we don’t want the customers to think that is on brand with us,” and I tried to get on brand. Now to be clear, I was about 195 pounds during this time. I stayed right around there. I am about 5’5″. I was fat, sure, but I didn’t have to have a wall in my house removed to walk outside or anything like that. And I was smaller and more fit than Kyle and I was actually healthy. I went to the doctor every year for an annual, I was active, but I was incredibly broken down mentally. I was depressed. I was small-minded. I was constantly berating myself. Then here was my job, a thing I was very good at, doing the same thing. Berating me, telling me I was fat, making me sad. But I went along with it.

The short of the story is that I lost about 15 pounds, nothing life changing (Kyle gained weight and was a dumbass, like truly he had a hard time with simple math and Jodie got her teeth fixed, but people hated her and I actually do think she was on drugs) and then they asked me to be a manager and I said no. Their jaws hit the floor of course, but it was the first time I felt like I did the right thing for me. The job was nuts, the hours were crazy, and if they were the kind of people who promoted the likes of Kyle and Jodie, while telling me I was fat, well obviously they were not of sound mind. I got married, got pregnant, and ended up quitting anyway about a year later, but it was nice to look them in the eye and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I should have added, “Y’all nuts,” but I didn’t. Also, the store itself was shut down about a year after that. And I did a little happy dance cause I am petty.

So why I am sharing this story today? It’s funny that I have never publicly shared it before. I think a lot of my close friends don’t even know the story, save Kasey and Mel and Jerimiah who were all there when it happened. I think it’s because I was ashamed it happened in the first place, right? I mean I don’t give a fuck that crazy John thought I was too fat (you should hear all the bad things I said about him, ha!) and I’m not even mad at Nola, who later said that conversation with me was the worst thing she ever had to do while she worked for him, which is hard to believe because he had to have sexually harassed her a lot. I’m not even made at Erica, the GM and one of my best friends at the time, who knew it was going to happen and didn’t warn me, instead she left.

The person I am most mad at is myself. I still can’t believe I allowed people to treat me that way. I still can’t believe that I took on others’ words and feelings and ideals of “being on brand” or their damn beauty standards or their distaste for “fat people” and I pushed it deep inside into my core and I tried to appease them. What the actual hell?! Obviously 39-year-old Missy is embarrassed and sad that 20-something Missy did that, but at the same time I didn’t know any better. I had spent my whole life being made fun of, even by people who loved me, being teased at school, being called names because I was chubby or overweight. I didn’t know I could say, “Shut up, you assholes. I’m fine the way I am.”

It was a hard lesson, but I learned it and I am glad that I did and I desperately wish that more fat girls would learn it. Maybe not in the way I did, but just figuring out that you are okay, you are good, you are perfect the way you are and you don’t need to make a change for anyone but yourself. If you are happy at your size, then shine on, girls (or guys). And if you are not happy with your size there is a whole community out there to offer support and help as you set goals and strive for them. But the point is, it is your choice, not anyone else’s. It is your decision how you live your life and don’t buy into this “Fat isn’t healthy” shit, because that’s not true. I was incredibly healthy at about 180 pounds, working out five days a week, busting my ass in the gym, all the while the doctor told me I was good to go, but “fat” according to the charts. They can shove those charts up thy ass, and so can anyone else who has an opinion about my body or my life, right up thy ass.

So, if my fatness offends you, if my fatness makes your life unhappy, if my fatness makes you sad for me, please stop and explore your inner demons, explore what makes you offended by fat people, what makes your life so unhappy, what problems you have to say horrible things to people who are just trying to get by in this life.

And for the love of all that is holy, stop talking about the weight you gained during a global pandemic! This has been a nightmare for a lot of people and you aren’t special, we all made bad decisions just to get by (I watched the entire “Tiger King” series for fuck’s sake) and gaining a little weight isn’t the end of the world and if you treat it as such, if you start to say, “Shut up” to the people who think it is, then life would be better for all of us.

M.

False Positive

Well it happened, it was bound to right? All these COVID tests we have been taking out of precaution when we go somewhere or have visitors here. We got a false positive. Let me first say that we absolutely trust science, we trust the process, we trust the testing, we also know that human error exists and we think that is what happened here, but I don’t want anyone to read this and think I’m spiraling into some kind of conspiracy theorist who believes that all the positive are false. Uh, no. It just happens occasionally, we all know this, the experts say it, and it happened to us. More specifically it happened to Jerimiah.

We went to Kansas to get my mom last week so obviously we were all tested before we left and she was tested in Kansas. My mom got a negative, I got a negative, Jackson got a negative, and Jerimiah got a positive. We were all, what now? See the thing is we don’t go anywhere. And when we do go, say to Target to get cozy winter socks or to Kroger to get milk, we wear a mask, we stay six-feet away from people, some of us say in a loud voice to people who aren’t wearing their masks correctly, “Excuse me, hi, it needs to cover your nose too!” We don’t eat in restaurants (we haven’t since March 10th, yes I remember the exact date because I am missing my favorite burrito from my favorite Mexican joint and I refuse to have it delivered), we don’t go to gyms and bars (we haven’t in like literal years), we all work from home (we have since March), and we don’t go bowling or get tattoos, which seems to be an important thing here in Atlanta. Having said all that we are relatively safe and cautious.

Now the week before Jerimiah got the positive he did give blood, which was out of the ordinary for his normal day. He was also antibody tested and it came back negative, so he knew at that point he had never had the virus. Fast-forward a few days and he gets the positive. So the only thing we could think was maybe he picked it up while he was giving blood, but he said it was so sterile and clean in there and everyone was in several masks and he was like, “Nah, shit nah dog.” So there we were. Wondering how one of us had this positive and worried that his symptoms would start for him soon.

The day he got his results he put a mask on and didn’t take it off for a few days. We pushed our timeline back to get my mom, and the next day he went to get another test at the same location. But let’s talk about the location.

The first day we all went to get tested the location we went to was a new location to us. It was a new testing location and the place was pretty hectic. In fact, it was so hectic that at one point a woman with a tablet came over and placed a testing bag on our car and said to Jerimiah, “You’re Henry, right?” And he started to roll his window down more to say no, when another woman walked over and said, they are fine, they are the Goodnight family, go, go.” And ushered us through the line. We weren’t really sure what happened, but when she said our last name we figured she knew what was up.

As we were waiting to get our swabs, we saw a lot of dysfunction, the most we have ever seen at a testing site. At one point a person working almost got hit by a car because they were talking to someone else and just blindly walking through the line of cars. Then a cooler with tests toppled over and lay there for a bit, until someone noticed and ran over and started picking them up. In short, we were like uhh, maybe we don’t go to this testing location again? But we never thought we would get a false positive.

So how do we know it was a false positive? Well, we followed false positive protocol. The day he got the positive the health department called him to make sure he knew. He said he did, but that he was headed back to get another test because he had no symptoms and he hasn’t been exposed by anyone. They asked why he got tested then and he told them about the planned trip. The woman on the phone said for him to get tested at the same location, which he had already done and if that was a negative, wait a few days to see if symptoms posed up, then proceed with caution. Basically to treat it as a positive since it was “inconclusive.” So he got the second test back and it was negative. Then he started using our shared bathroom again and he took the mask off, but you know me, I wasn’t satisfied.

So the next day he went to get a different test. The test we took at the testing site was an antigen test. This new test, the kind you overnight to some lab in California, was the other kind of test. Basically it looks for other things. I would explain it all here, but I don’t want to bore you. If you are interested in the different tests you can get more information here.

Then we waited. Four days later the test came back negative. Which means, by the Health Department standards, the first test was a false positive. We won’t know for sure of course, until he gets another antibody test, but the two negatives right after the positive, the two separate tests, and no symptoms leads up to believe something happened on the testing end that first time. Like maybe Henry is walking around thinking he is negative, but he’s actually positive. That’s in fact, the scariest part.

So there you have it, the false positive. We have a friend here in Georgia that also had one last week and I’m concerned that maybe the testing centers and labs are a little overwhelmed right now, but it will all shake out okay. I do believe.

Be safe, y’all! And please trust the science, everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

M.

Do You Look Foolish?

You know any of those people who are convinced that when the election is over Covid-19 will be gone? I know a few. Am related to a few. Conspiracy theorists who honest-to-God think Covid-19 is a political… what? Stunt? A political stunt? My mom called me this week to tell me that her friend from church, the one she hugged a couple weeks back, the one who got sent to the hospital for Covid-19, the one who infected her husband, then they were both intubated, that friend, that friend that was four years younger than my mom, she died alone in her hospital room. Wow. I don’t know what to say to people who call Covid-19 political, but they are wrong. In some cases, dead wrong.

Jerimiah and I were discussing mask-wearing. We live in a county that mandates it. Which is nice. It takes pressure off of us to even think twice about wearing one, as if we wouldn’t wear one. But when I talk to my family and friends back in the midwest I hear stories of people who do not wear masks, like the majority of people. And now Covid-19 is spreading like wildfire there and they are all shocked. Like legit surprised that people in (gasp) Kansas (gasp) could get sick.

So why don’t people want to wear masks? They say it infringes on their rights to be told to wear a mask. “It’s my right!” they say, and certainly it is their right to decide to wear a mask, but it isn’t their right to spread a lethal virus.

See the flaw in their logic there?

They wear seatbelts, these people. They don’t drink and drive, these people. (Well, actually most of the conspiracy theorists I know are the first ones to admit to having a couple DUIs on their record. They are heavy drinkers, these conspiracy theorists.) My point is that they have accepted other mandates to secure public safety. To make it harder for their choices, ill-advised at best, to hurt someone else. So why can’t they wear a piece of cloth on their face that could save lives? Because they look foolish?

There’s another theory out there, the old: “I’m gonna get it eventually” theory. This theory comes from the same people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. You know the type, nothing is ever their fault, the universe just hates them, bad juju and what not.

No, it isn’t likely you will get Covid-19, unless you actively take steps not to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. Unless you put yourself in situations that are hotbeds for Covid-19. I’ve heard people say, “Oh darn, I’m probably gonna get Covid,” as they head off to concerts, do bar crawls, and attend football parties with 50 people crammed into some dude’s basement. Uh, no shit you’re probably gonna get it. But it wasn’t the universe that dictated that, it was your dumb decisions.

Listen, we fucked up. As a country, we majorly missed the mark back in April when we started to open up again. It is 80% the fault of our current administration, the lack of leadership from the top down, and 20% because we are selfish sons-a- bitches who don’t want to be bothered, or have our lives changes in any significant way. But we did. And we do. And this is the new normal. People are getting sick. They are dying. And you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

It’s time to make a decision. Learn from your mistakes.

And for the love of all the cheeses in the world, stop with the conspiracy theories, you look like a lunatic and I assure you EVERYONE is talking shit on you behind your back. Talk about looking foolish…

Be better.

M.

Waxing Intellectual

I tried to wax my ‘stache this week and it didn’t go well. Listen, I have the kind of mustache that is always with me. Even right after a wax (of which I used to have done at a salon), it felt like two days later ‘ol Burt was back. I have named my mustache Burt Reynolds on account of, well, you can make that connection. Anyway, I tried these new waxing strips and they suck, but that isn’t the point of this post. The point of this post is to tell you that I had a shitty week so far, and is it over yet?

Sure the wax strips sucked. But then there was the news that I have family in Kansas who have developed Covid and they are very close to my mother and well, she 76 years old and probably shouldn’t be infected with motherfucking Covid.

I was texted the news while I was waiting to be called back to see my new rheumatologist, who by the way is very lovely and totally doesn’t think I have a bit to worry about, and I was like were you and Dr. Dickhead looking at the same results?! Turns out they were and she didn’t bat an eye at my results and said, probably, most likely, I have Fibryomiagia, but we still need to rule out some other stuff before we get there.

She put me on actual medication to help my Raynaud’s disease and she doesn’t think it is a symptom of something nefarious, she thinks it is the standalone kind that happens to women about my age. It will most likely never go away, but she said that we were would find something to help.

I’m officially never going to a male doctor again. Ever. I just won’t.

Anywho, the text came in that this family member has Covid, and has been working, going out, passing it most likely, all around (this I gather later from my mother). And that my mom was being tested and now we have to wait for those results and when I talked to Patsy yesterday she reminded me that I am in not control of other people’s lives when I yelled, “HOW ARE THEY GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE WHEN THEY DON’T KNOW IF THEY HAVE COVID OR NOT?!”

Turns out they are adults and have access to the same information from The CDC that I do and if they want to ignore sound medical advice, like self-isolating when you’ve been in close contact with someone who has it until you receive a negative result, it’s on them.

I’d just feel really shitty if I did it, if I thought I might have it and went somewhere. I’d be terrified of infecting others. I guess I just don’t get it.

There you have it. Light at the end of the tunnel? My first semester back at grad school is almost over. I have something like a week and a half on account of the shortened semester, and I’m down to a long form essay and an academic research paper. Ahhh, that’s sweet relief. Even if Burt is still around.

Please be safe, y’all. Please take Covid seriously. I can’t believe I have to say this to adults, but please don’t go out drinking at bars, don’t hop from friend’s house to friend’s house for fun, all without a mask. But if you do that, then at least don’t go around your elderly and immune-compromised relatives. You put an awful lot of people at risk and it just isn’t necessary. You actions have implications on others’ lives. I’m not sure how you’re old enough to be reading this and you don’t get that. I hope you get it now.

M.

Hot Mess Express

For those of you following along with my medical drama, I figured I’d let you know that I’m headed into see a new Rheumatologist at Emory today. This is a woman, thank God, and from what I can gather from her health grades story she’s an immigrant. Whew. I already feel better. I’m so over old, white men doctors telling me to just “suffer” so they can run more tests.

When I saw my doctor last week she was appalled by my treatment at Dr. Dickhead’s office and apologized on his behalf, which I asked her not to. He’s a grown-ass man. Meanwhile I’m still waiting on an apology from his office or at least a letter of resolution from Emory. If you have no idea what I’m talking abbot you can get up to speed here.

My doctor wasn’t happy with the test results from Dr. Dickhead, go figure, so when I asked what I should do she said to go to another Rheumatologist and a dermatologist, of which she wrote me a referral. I asked her if this was all stress related and she said that stress can do a number on our bodies, but that no, stress would not shoot her these wacko ANA and white blood cell results that she keeps getting from me. She thinks the underlying condition is certainly exasperated by stress though, which might explain why I’ve had more energy this week than I have in the last 12 weeks.

So there you have it. More doctors. No solid explanations yet. The only diagnosis so far is Raynaud’s which is still a real pain in the ass and the baby asprin isn’t working and it’s starting to get cold here and I’m antsy. Ugh.

Wish me luck.

And remember, there will be times you have to advocate not just for others, but for yourself too. Treat yourself fairly as well.

M.

Angry Today

I’m trying to stave off anger today. I’m so tired of seeing these Covid-19 outbreaks all over the country. I want to scream, “Did you learn nothing from us?!” Like, hello?! Did y’all learn nothing from Georgia, from Atlanta back in March and April when we exploded and our trash governor opened up too soon and it spread like wildfire? Do you even watch the news? We, the people, had to make changes. My county had to make a mask mandate, because our state leaders wouldn’t. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had to hold Atlantians accountable to stop the spread, and it worked but it was hard. Meanwhile my family and friends in the midwest and the west were like, “Well it won’t happen here.” And now it’s happened there and still, still like yesterday, I saw pics of family and friends celebrating in bars and restaurants. What gives you guys?

STOP IT!

PLEASE.

And yes, I know that was an aggressive please.

And yes I know that you are over “this Covid stuff,” but this “Covid stuff” isn’t done with us. It doesn’t how much you wish it away, it’s here. So start acting responsibly.

PLEASE.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

VOTE!

I Miss Eating Out

We haven’t been to eat at a restaurant since March 11th. That’s seven months of cleaning up after we cook (or occasionally order delivery). Seven months. What I wouldn’t give to walk into a small road-side diner and nibble on some fries, the big, fat, greasy ones that only a roadside diner has. With the ketchup bottle you squeeze, and the endless Coke from a fountain. Ho hum.

What I really wish is not to go out to eat, but for other people to stop it. That would be nice wouldn’t it? I’d also wish other people would stop hosting parties, promoting gatherings, going to sporting events, clubbing then going to see their grandparents the next day.

In short, I wish people cared about complete strangers a little more. I wish they had the willpower to not put others at risk. I wish they could say, hmm, sitting in a small, badly ventilated place with my mask off for several hours seems like a bad idea. I don’t want to risk it.

Maybe if more people hadn’t been to a restaurant to eat in the last seven months, we wouldn’t be so much worse than we were back in April. Maybe there wouldn’t be 215,000 dead people. Man. I hope your date night, or your football tailgate, or your 25th wedding anniversary was worth it. Because if you’re doing or have done those things, you’re only adding to the problem. And we are all adding to the problem in one way or another.

Stay safe and sane, y’all. Wear a mask. I’ll be dreaming of diners…

M.

Read news and wear a mask and stay home. It’s not that hard.

Raynaud’s Disease

If you’ll remember my Dr. Dickhead story from the other day, you’ll remember one of the diseases I was diagnosed with was Raynaud’s Disease. It’s sounds scary, but it’s really not, especially if I have the stand alone version of it. The stand alone version means that your small arteries contract sporadically and restrict blood flow to certain parts of your body. See, it sounds scary. But for now it’s only happening in my toes and fingers. But I can happen in other, more important parts, like your heart and your deep veins. Which is why answers are still needed.

So what does it mean when the vessels spasm? I get very, very cold. My toes will go numb, I’ll lost feeling in my fingers. In fact, I have slippers that you can microwave for two minutes then stick on your feet to help. Well, I had them. Winnie decided to chew one up this week, so I’m patiently waiting on new ones from Amazon.

The problem is, if I don’t warm my feet quickly, they will turn blue, then purple, then white. Then it’s bad. It can take an hour to regain feeling in my toes when it strikes. Keeping the symptoms at bay are most important. The problem is, it isn’t just a sudden gust of cold air that can make it happen. Stress is a factor.

Yeah, you guys know how great I am at handling my stress! Ha! So over the last year this has been happening to me several times a week, some weeks it happens every, single day. It’s more annoying than anything else, but now that my family is used to it, they act quickly to help out. Warming my slippers, or grabbing me gloves. Sometimes I read with gloves on, while I am sipping hot tea and it helps my hands. Sometimes all I can do is sit on my feet until I regain feeling.

So there you have it, Raynaud’s disease. It’s a thing. If this happens to you, you need to see a doctor quickly. Don’t wait two years like I did, assuming it was normal and you were just getting old. Bleh.

M.

Dr. Dickhead

I met this crazy rheumatologist, let’s call him Dr. Dickhead. I met Dr. Dickhead several months ago by a referral from my doctor over some scary test results. This is his story.

I moved to the Atlanta metro area last year, and had yet to go to an Emory facility. Then a couple of months ago I was referred by my PCP to Emory at Decatur Rheumatogy, that’s when I met Dr, Dickhead. I was referred based on a very high ANA test result along with debilitating joint pain, among other symptoms.

The first hurdle was simply getting an appointment with Dr. Dickhead. I called for a week to try to get an appointment, and kept being told (when someone answered the phone) that someone else would call me back. On the third call to a woman at the front desk, they told me that someone named “Kim” was who I needed to talk to. They confirmed that they had received my pre-appointment paperwork and said she would call me that day. I never heard from her. I chalked this office up to chaos and decided to call the Emory hotline to help me find a doctor. With the help of that hotline I secured another appointment with a different doctor, but they could not get me in until November.

My doctor believed I needed seen before that, so she took matters into her own hands and called Dr Dickhead’s office. I received a call the next day, wherein I was told that they called and left a voicemail (they had not) and basically told that I just have just missed it (I had not). Then “Kim” made the appointment with me.

The above situation was a small inconvenience compared to how I was actually treated by the doctor himself when I got to my first appointment. 

As soon as Dr. Dickhead walked into the room with me, he began to berate my doctor, a women it would appear he doesn’t know, and complain that it was like, “pulling teeth” to get my pre-appointment paperwork. I had already confirmed two weeks before that they had received it, not to mention the fact that the day my doctor’s office sent it over I called the office several times to talk to someone to confirm they received it. They had.

After he finished his tirade on my doctor’s office and how horrible “offices like that” are, he asked me to tell him about my symptoms. At this point I was shocked. I wasn’t sure what he meant by a doctor’s office “like that,” but was increasingly feeling like as a white male, he didn’t appreciate or understand my very female, very female originally from the Middle East, doctor. Ahem.

But I was stuck and thought he was the only one who could help me, so I proceeded to tell him my symptoms, but he immediately stopped me. He did this several times throughout the appointment, both stopping me to tell me he “didn’t care” about one symptom or another, or that he was “all done” listening to me.

I’m not sure if he’s had other women complain about him being rude, with a horrible bedside manner and slight bend toward masochism, sexism in the least, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he has. He had me so upset and flustered I started to forget all the things I needed to talk to him about and I transposed the dates of my first symptoms. He berated me for not remembering the exact dates, which added to the confusion, not to mention that was one of my symptoms, a brain fog that hasn’t lifted like the joint pain, no matter what I try.

But he didn’t seem go particularly want to hear about my symptoms, rather he wanted to tell me how I was feeling and should have felt. He kept mentioning that “as a man” he can only do one thing at a time, so when I would remember something that he wanted to know he would shush me if he was writing. Like, actually “shush” me. Then make that “I’m a man” joke like I was supposed to forgive him because his gender doesn’t know any better. I was starting to think I was on one of those shows where a person with a camera pops out and tells me I’ve been punked.

He all but told me he didn’t believe any of my symptoms, although he several times repeated, “I believe you, I believe you.” I’m not sure what that was about, but I didn’t care whether or not he believed me–I had already been diagnosed from the symptoms I was discussing with Raynaud’s Disease, by my doctor. Of course I’m sure he didn’t believe her capable of diagnosing me…

He eventually told me that there were over 100 auto-immune disease that he had to “cross off the list” and test for, but that we would find out what was wrong, though he told me more than once that my very high ANA test was probably a “false positive.” When I asked him why I could be in so much pain then, he said it was probably an overreaction of my immune system. Isn’t that why I had a high ANA then? I asked, confused at this point and he said, “doesn’t matter.” Kinda felt like it mattered to me though, seeing as I’ve been rendered almost completely immobile several times over the past three months.

Eventually we got to the current symptoms (I had to think back over the last several years) and I started to tell him about the joint pain, the swollen blood vessels that have appeared on my legs, the weird skin problems I have been having and then I said a word that apparently was like a knife to him, “steroids.” I explained that on my original visit to Urgent Care, and then to my subsequent visit to my doctor, both medical professionals had prescribed steroids to help ease the pain, and he went absolutely bananas. Like, he fucking lost it, y’all.

He stopped taking notes, he told me that anything I said “after that point” was not important and was just symptoms from the steroids. He ranted about how horrible they were and that that explained my test. When I informed him that I hadn’t taken them before that test, he flipped out again. Threw his pen down and made a big show of it, arms up, like a child. That’s when I assumed he was a Trump supporter.

I assured him that I had these symptoms before I took the steroids and he said simply, “No you didn’t.” The problem was, I did. I mean, I know I’m just a woman, Dr. Dickhead, but I’m not completely ignorant.

He then did a physical exam, wherein he told me I had no symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease (something to do with swollen arteries in my toes and fingers that he looked at with a small magnifying glass of some kind) while he told me that “Big Box Clinics” were horrible and asked why I even went to one. I tried to explain that I had experienced suddenly swollen joints with a fever and they were afraid I might have Covid-19, so my doctor wanted me to visit an Urgent Care first to be tested. But of course he didn’t hear any of that, as he was still saying that “steroids are bad” and any doctor who prescribes them are horrible.

At this point, as you might imagine, I shut down. He never even let me tell him other symptoms. He asked me to tell him more, but I was nervous about being berated more, and I didn’t know what he wanted to know as the main reason I was there, aside from the ANA test results, was for joint pain, which he told me I didn’t really have. He then told me he would run bloodwork and that bloodwork would “show him the truth,” which I took to mean that I was a liar.

The last thing I asked him was whether or not I should take the other steroids that had been prescribed to me. I had another pack to help ease the pain I was having and he laughed and said that it would skew tests (of which I would have no more) and that I should never take steroids “unless you have something that requires them.” I asked him if I should stay with the physical therapist and he said, “Do what you want.” I said it didn’t seem to be helping, so I would stop. The last thing I asked him before I was ushered to the lab for bloodwork, was how I was supposed to help ease the joint pain and Dr. Dickhead told me “to suffer.” And so I did.

That’s brings me to my follow-up last week, three weeks after my initial appointment which seemed long, considering the lab said he would have my results in 3-5 days. I was there for an hour before I saw him, meanwhile I overheard him talking to a male patient in the next room (where he seemed very nice and cordial). As an aside, that office has very thin walls. At first I thought it was because Dr. Dickhead has a shrill, loud voice, but then I heard the women at the front talking about all sorts of things (one woman, “Kim” was mad that they had let her teenage daughter participate in a mock election at school. “Why would I want my daughter to be involved in that?” She wondered to someone. The other person replied, “Isn’t she 14? Won’t she be voting in the next general election?” To which “Kim” replied, “I told her she didn’t have to vote, that’s her right.” So yeah, that’s the kind of people working at Dr. Dickhead’s office.)

When he finally got to my room, Dr. Dickhead told me that I did in fact have Raynaud’s Disease, this as I said, I already knew. He also told me that I was an “interesting” patient and that he could diagnose me with more, or run more tests (because I had some “interesting” finding) but that he wasn’t going to do that.

He told me I could have CREST Syndrome, or a couple of others, but that I probably didn’t. He didn’t schedule any more tests, he didn’t do as he promised (crossing more tests off the list to find out what is wrong with me) and he didn’t answer my questions. He basically said, “I’m telling your doctor you are fine.” Then wrote my paperwork and told me to take a baby aspirin every day.

When he asked if I had questions I had a few, like why was I still experiencing joint pain? He said, “I don’t know, I’m done.” Then when I asked if these auto-immune diseases, the ones he said I may or may not have, could impact other symptoms I am experiencing, including the aforementioned swollen blood vessels, the reddening skin, the ulcers, the gastrointestinal issues, etc. He said, “I’m not taking responsibility for any of that on.” Then he said goodbye.

My whole experience mad me so upset I wanted to scream. Instead I wrote a strongly-worded email to Emory (I won’t hold this one experience against Emory as a whole) and asked what I do now.

I have an appointment with my doctor in a few weeks, and I plan to tell her all the awful things he said about her and her office, but I still have the appointment with the other Rheumatogist in November, which I would like to see because I honestly have no idea what to do next. Do I need more tests to cross out more diseases? Do I need to watch for any other symptoms? Raynaud’s can stand alone, or be the first symptom in a string of other, bad diseases like CREST which can have negative impacts on your cardiovascular system.

I’m honestly still shocked and in awe of what I went through with a “medical professional” and one that represents a place like Emory. I had heard such great things about Emory, and I was disappointed, but most of all, I was shamed, made to feel like a liar, made to believe what I was feeling was not real, made to think I was sort of crazy. Not to mention the fact that I was repeatedly talked down to, from the receptionist to the doctor. My best experience throughout that whole ordeal with with the lab next door (LabCorp). The calmed me down that day, when I felt like crying. 

I’m sharing today because I learned a valuable lesson: I won’t be letting anyone treat me that way again, there are too many other nice people in this world. And please don’t let anyone treat you that way either.

Let’s stand up for ourselves, shall we?

M.

What the What?!

I feel like all I write about is going to the dentist. Probably because as a writer I write about my life and my life is just a series of times in between my next horrific dentist appointment. What gives, y’all? I went to another dentist visit yesterday, this one was with the Endodontist. What the heck is an endodontist, Missy? Great question, so glad you asked. Endodontists have additional training that allows them to focus on diagnosing tooth pain and performing root canal treatment and other procedures relating to the interior of the tooth. The experts say that in many cases, a diseased tooth can be saved with endodontic treatment. I’ll give you two guesses what I have?

If you didn’t know, like I didn’t know, some root canals can fail. The very first one I had when I was 20 years old has failed. Thanks Heartland Dental in Leavenworth, Kansas. Now sometimes it isn’t the dentist’s fault, things just happen. In my case though, well it would appear that the root canal was never actually finished correctly, and here I am two decades later paying for it, figuratively and literally (about $1,000). They didn’t actually pack both roots. Bitches.

Nevermind all that, have you or have you not ever had lidocaine accidentally shot into a nerve in your mouth?

If you have, you probably just grabbed the area in which it happened, involuntarily. When I asked Jerimiah this question he make a pucker face, tilted his head to the left, and tried to remember. No need. If you need time to think about it, the answer is a big no. You don’t forget pain like that. The pain that feels like you stuck your tongue into an electrical socket. Right after the first jolt yesterday the endodontsit asked me, “Does it feel like your were shocked?” Yes, yes it does. Then she told me that she must have struck the nerve. What she didn’t tell me was when the needle came out the shock came again. Fun times.

Turns out, are you ready for this, the diseased tooth was infected and had to be packed with penicillin and I had to be put on a course of amoxicillin and pain meds after she drilled down into the old root canal, dug around, and pulled out the stuff. Which by the way, smelled of rotting flesh and infection. Sort of like what you think a dead body that has been left in the sun and half eaten by lazy house cats might smell like.

Christ, that might be enough for today. I’m sorry you read this. Consider it a cautionary tale, per usual.

M.

Make-up

Make-up days. Make-up tests. Make-up sex. There’s a lot of make-ups round here, but not any actual make-up. Like, nah, I’ll pass. Here’s the thing, I want to wear make-up, I do. I wish I was one of those ladies who lived and died by whatever her particular eye liner brand is, but I just don’t. I never have been and I can’t imagine I’ll ever be. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and there are too many books to read as it is. I’m not saying I think wearing make-up is bad, not at all, and to all my friends who can’t get through a day without putting your face on, I salute you. I admire you. I adore you, you beautiful creatures. But please make no mistake, even though I don’t wear make-up doesn’t mean I don’t have things I have to do to feel good about myself everyday. And please don’t think I never feel good about myself. I do.

I, for instance, have to take a shower every, single day. I’m amazed and awed by people who can’t remember the last time they showered or who have “hair-washing” days. Gasp! If I couldn’t wash my hair every day I’d be okay crawling into a ball and dying, right there. Dead.

Dramatic? Maybe. But I’ve heard people say that about doing their make-up too. Also dramatic for that, but seems to be tolerated better. I think washing everyday just doesn’t seem so important to people because if I smell good, and my face is pretty for people to look at, then what different does it make if I showered? Maybe that’s the different? I don’t take a shower to make other people feel better, I do it so I can feel better.

It’s like why I also have to get enough sleep. Somewhere around ten hours is best for me, every, single night. That’s the best way for me to have a good day. Some people think 10 hours is nuts! Well I feel the same about six hours. How do you even function?

I dunno why I was thinking about make-up today. Or showering, or sleep, or things we do to make ourselves feel better. Maybe I’m taking stock today of trying to feel better. Probably I’m taking my mind off the fact that I’m headed to the rheumatologist this morning and I feel scared and sad and not my best.

Maybe some make-up will help? 😉

Have a fantastic day, however you have to get it.

M.

Pain, Pain Go Away

I’ve been in pain for about two weeks now. Back pain. Ugh. It’s the worst. I used to have lower back pain pretty regularly when I worked in the restaurant business. That up on your feet running around everyday thing gets to you after a while. But since I work on my feet much less now, my back has been doing better. Then a few months ago I started running again, then a couple of weeks ago I added a HIIT workout to my routine that included free weights and BOOM! I have no idea if I pulled something, or moved something, or what happened, but I am down for the count. And it’s only getting worse, not better.

So I have an appointment with my doctor today, but something tells me I will be referred. I am having, I think more than the muscle pain, some pretty intense joint pain too. My hips, my knees. Sometimes in the morning I have to like wake up slowly and move my fingers for a while before they seem to work right. I sound like an old lady, I know. I feel like one right now. As I write this I am laying on the couch, Gatorade on the table next to me, a protein shake, and a bottle of ibuprofen. I am literally falling apart before your very eyes!

Listen, geez, okay, I’ve been trying to be optimistic these days. After all, Biden is running with Kamala Freaking Harris, how exciting! So let me start over. I’m going to the doctor today for some back pain, but it’s all gonna be fine. I’ll be cured!

Still, wish me luck please.

M.