Frustrated, Helpless, but not Hopeless

Today I have feelings. I am reserving judgment on these feelings for now. I feel frustrated, and helpless, and agitated. I feel as though I am burning with energy to channel into positive things, but paralyzed in my inaction at the same time. I have fear of the unknown. “What if the things that I want to do take too much time? What if I fail? What if I sit in my anxiety so long that the opportunities pass me by, as I sit on my hands and wait for someone to tell me what I should do?” As I sat this morning, scrolling through Twitter and becoming a mixture of defeated and incensed, I decided that the best thing that I could do for myself is to write. Today, I am ever-hopeful for a stranger to tell me, “I’ve been there, and I know how to start. Let me share my experience with you!” Will that happen? Will it be you?

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know that I’ve recently had a few bumps in my road to being healthier. Today, I celebrate day 18 of being migraine free. Yesterday, in a follow up with my Gastroenterologist, I learned that I indeed DO NOT have colitis. I was confused, because he told me I had colitis, then had me do nightly enemas (as you may recall). So confused that, as soon as I got in the car after my appointment, I called Wave and asked him, “He told us that I had colitis, didn’t he?” Wave confirmed my memory, so all that is left is that I fought and argued and wasted so much of my time to try to get an affordable treatment for an ailment I didn’t even have. The doctor did not own this mistake. He acted like this was just normal to tell someone that they definitively have something, then act like you never said that.

Fodmaps diet bowel map including explosive gas

He asked what my symptoms are, if any, and I told him that I have dull abdominal pain every day, peppered in with sharp pains that feel like lightening, and when it’s time to go to the bathroom, I have about 10 seconds to get there or all hell is breaking loose. He sat back, silent for a moment, grabbed a stapled set of papers from a stack, and handed me a packet describing a low-fodmap diet. It was clear from the size of the stack that this is a common handout. He looked again at the pictures from my colonoscopy, commented that I had some internal hemorrhoids that he didn’t think to mark during the procedure, and said that the inflammation I had was simply irritation and not infection. He pointed to the diet and said that obviously I am eating something that’s irritating.

I left the office much like I leave most doctor’s appointments. Irritated, agitated, and a general feeling of loss for the time and money that I’ve wasted. This is my second go round with a Gastroenterologist, and both experiences (twenty years apart from each other) have been similar. No answer but suggestions to reduce stress and cut even more foods out of my diet. That will be $1,500, please.

F*ck you Pay Me Meme

I have spent the last several years learning about food and food sensitivities, and streamlining my diet to try to manage the IBS that I was diagnosed with as a young adult, which has led me to veganism. In addition, there are several fruits, vegetable, and beans that I need to cut to see if these are my current problems via elimination diet. What makes me laugh a little is that a friend of mine showed up at my desk about a year ago with the exact same hand out. She has diverticulitis and colitis, though. I have nothing but IBS. I feel almost exactly the same as when I got the original diagnosis, which is, “I don’t really know what is wrong, here is a diet, do that, go away.”

To clarify, I don’t think that IBS is nothing. I have lived with it for as long as I can remember. It is painful. It is embarrassing. It can take over your life if you let it. It is frustrating. It is lonely. It is something that you have to champion for yourself. The pain can lead you down dangerous paths. What it has made me learn is that no one will fight for me better than me. It has taught me that I have the power to become my own healthcare manager. I have the ability to research, ask, relate, and try methods that a doctor might not ever recommend.

I also want to touch on the ever present ‘maybe you need to eliminate stress’ suggestion. This was the only suggestion that the first Gastroenterologist gave me. This and a prescription for an anti spasmodic as they were sweeping me out the door as quickly as possible. I am a rule follower, and a person in authority gave me a rule to ‘eliminate stress’ without any guidance. I did what any twenty year old would do. I took up drinking my cares away. Soon after, I took up smoking cigarettes, because then I could take breaks at work! After I figured out better ways of managing life, I learned how to eliminate stress through exercise, thoughtfulness, coping skills, and good planning. I am not a stressed person. I sleep well. I eat right. I exercise. I talk out my feelings. I don’t internalize stress. Yet still, physicians and others counsel me to stress less. To me, this is silly and generic advise that needs to just stop! It’s like saying that to lose weight all you have to do is take in less calories than you expend. FALSE! This is generic and misleading, and quite frankly, LAZY! Every single body is different. Every body is delicate and intricate in its inner workings. Everyone has different optimum hormone levels. Some bodies can stretch and bend and do yoga well. Some bodies have shorter muscles and tendons, which make it all but impossible to do yoga. Some people can put away an entire pizza and not gain an ounce. Some of us can look at a pizza and gain a pound. If you issue any of this advice, please stop. Join me and stop. It’s insulting. We are all individuals, and what works for me, may not work for you. Not everyone handles stressors in unhealthy ways. Not everyone is able to just drop 5 pounds in a week. Not everyone can go from couch to marathon with ease. So stop.

Ok, so back to my feelings. My stated goal for this year is to be a voice in affordable healthcare reform. I am feeling lost at the moment. It’s one thing to have a goal. It’s entirely another to figure out where to begin. I am frustrated with bad physicians. I am angry that I have paid so much money for an “I don’t know” diagnosis. I am flabbergasted that not only did I have to lie on a table in the most vulnerable position and listen to a man (who is not an anesthesiologist, but a nurse anesthetist (to correct my earlier post)) talk about pounding breasts and watching me like a stalker, but who is also going to be billing me for more than the facility and the doctor who performed the procedure COMBINED. I am appalled that I have the privilege and access to healthcare, and am able to pay my bills, while women who sit one department over can’t even afford to carry the low cost company health care policy because it’s either daycare or healthcare, but not both.

Where do I start? Tell me! PLEASE! Well, even if you’re not the person who is supposed to share your experience with me today, I know this, dear reader:

You’re probably NOT crazy (though sometimes, if you’re like me, you have your suspicions after meeting with doctors…)

A Study in Ridiculousness: My Experience With Treating Colitis (so far).

If you read my last blog, which I know that you must have, you know that I have a very recent double diagnosis of Colitis and a Cavernous Malformation on my cerebellum. There is not much to talk about with my brain, other than I am working with my Neurologist to realize my dream of having an actual picture of my brain on a coffee mug. We are also working together on a migraine strategy, which has no obvious triggers at this time. Any input from you migraine sufferers out there is welcome! We are mostly sure it is not food related, but open to suggestions.

That leaves us with the colitis. Not just the colitis per se, but my experience with insurance, doctors, and healthcare during this, my time of medical need. I think it is important to note that as I am writing this blog, I conscientiously did so while holding a treatment enema (you read that right) in for at least 30 minutes, but ideally, over night. Remember that as you are reading my words. We will revisit this.

My insurance plan year renewed on December 1st. I was able to see my PA and get the MRI on my brain, and see my Neurologist once before the plan year ended. So far, 26 days in, I am responsible for a Neurosurgeon visit ($250), a Gastroenterologist visit ($250), a Colonoscopy ($415), the facility charge for said colonoscopy ($765), the creepy anesthesiologist who is not covered by my state’s largest insurance provider ($1220), and now, the medication. I technically met my deductible about 10 days into the new plan year. However, it all depends on how quickly the providers bill. They demand payment up front, but then some drag their feet on billing the insurance company. The issue here is that you, the patient, are eaten alive in medical fees that are required upfront, when your insurance could be kicking in and covering the majority of the fees. This is the case with the treatment for colitis.

After the colonoscopy, my doctor came in and told me everything looked great except for the colitis he found and showed me the picture. It was biopsies, a prescription was handed to me, and I was asked to visit his office in 3 weeks time. He mentioned that there is a coupon for the drug he prescribed, so I knew there was going to be a problem. In the meantime, I have no idea what colitis is, and trying to research it leads me nowhere. There are so many different variations that mean different things. I figure that I will get a better picture when I visit the office after three weeks. We went straight to the pharmacy to ask about the medication cost and get it ordered.

My belly just made a screaming noise at me. We have 10 minutes minimum to go on the enema.

I asked Wave to inquire about the cost of the prescription. I knew in my mind a dollar figure that would be acceptable, and hoped that it would fall well beneath that. Considering I just spent at least $1,500 in 10 days, I need to be mindful of what we can afford without murdering our savings fund that is ear marked for new air conditioners next year. The pharmacist took a moment and reported back that a 30 day supply was $990. WHAT. Suppositories. That you put in your bum. 30 of those were almost $1,000. You’ve got to be kidding me. I asked for the prescription back, and called the doctors office the following day.

First, I spoke with billing. I asked when everything would be billed to my insurance company. I was told that they were at least 2 weeks behind, and I shouldn’t expect anything sooner. I explained that the doctor asked that I be on this medication that is $1,000 for one month without insurance and asked if they could try a bit harder in light of these circumstances. I was told they are doing the best they can. Really? Is that really the best you can? I have a job with clients. If they are in a bind and need help, I can always try harder and do better. Accepting this answer, I ask if I can speak to someone who can help me to get a more cost effective medication. I am transferred to the receptionist.

30 minutes achieved! I feel like a real astronaut now. (I tried to find a picture from the enema scene in the movie ‘The Right Stuff’. The internet has failed me.

I explain to the receptionist that I am not a Rockefeller, and I (like most people) can’t afford to shell out $1,000 for something that I will be shoving up my ass for 30 days. She said that she also could not afford that, and was sending a message to my doctor’s medical assistant to get a different prescription. In the mean time, another migraine, more urgent bathroom trips and stomach aches, and extreme fatigue. After 5 days, I call again, and explain that I still do not have medication to deal with the colitis that the doctor found. I was told that the doctor JUST responded to the medical assistant, and they would call in the prescription right away.

I seem to be lucky in that every time I call a service provider to follow up on a request, the person in charge JUST responded. I mean, my timing is impeccable I guess.

So, the pharmacy robot calls me to tell me that the prescription is delayed. She tells me that it is the EXACT SAME PRESCRIPTION THAT I TOLD THEM THAT I CAN’T AFFORD. I am now at a cross road. Do I just let it go through and hope that my insurance deductible is met by the time it arrives? In speaking with the office, I don’t have a lot of hope for that. So, I call. I tell the receptionist who was nice enough to help me before what happened. She is now irritated with me and tells me that all she can do is transfer me to the medical assistant’s voicemail. “Look, I am almost at the end of my rope here. You can transfer me, and she won’t get back to me, and here I am, with these bad things happening, and getting next to no help here.” The snark was thick. I felt bad, but at the same time, I think of my clients, and how I treat them. The feeling disappeared quickly.

The pharmacy called me two days later, my new prescription was in! It was December 22nd. The colonoscopy was on December 14th. My insurance deductible was just met that day, so I went to the pharmacy to collect my prescription. “That’ll be $15, please.” I happily handed over the money, and was handed a huge sack. “Do you have any questions?” Embarrassed, I said no, and left abruptly. I quickly realize that I was prescribed daily enemas. Not only that, but I was expected to hold the fluid in my body for at least 30 minutes, but ideally all night long. WHAT? Who comes up with this stuff??? Not only that, but the cost without insurance was $630 for two weeks, or $1,260 per month. The medical assistant called in an even more costly prescription. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?? I called the pharmacy and asked them to please fill the platinum suppositories, and asked if I could return this nonsense. They refused to return it, and I have since come to learn that it is almost impossible to donate unused medications to people in need.

The pharmacy called today, December 26th, to tell me that the prescription was ready. The amount? $370. Much less, and yet still, unaffordable. I remembered that the doctor said that there was a coupon online. I looked, printed it out, and took it to the pharmacy. Even with the coupon, the cost was $130. As an astute accountant, I immediately multiplied this out by 12 and mentally reviewed our budget. On principle, I refused to accept this. I can pay $30 a month and do enemas, or pay $130 a month for the luxury of not doing enemas.

So, as I sit here, holding fluids in my rear end, I reflect upon people who can’t afford to buy insurance. These aren’t deadbeats. These are people I go to work with every day. They are not lazy. They never call in. They aren’t relying on welfare. In fact, most people who are on welfare aren’t lazy either. They have actual, verifiable needs that we as a society should chip in and help. I know people with devastating diagnosis’s who have been told that they don’t qualify because there are still some jobs that they can do. The idea that America’s welfare programs are clogged up with lazy people who have multiple kids just so they can stay home is a fallacy. I have always been very healthy, and have never really understood the need for medical insurance until this time in my life. I am coming to realize that I need to advocate for affordable healthcare, and be a voice for those who don’t have one.

I am happy to say that I still have this enema held in. It’s medications are soaking through the walls of my colon. My colon isn’t super happy, and is making that clear through. all kinds of noises. However, I am finally starting to treat this thing.

I would love to hear your stories. Medical bills are the number one causes of bankruptcy in the United States. Together, we can be a voice for change.

As always, listen to your body. You are the only one who recognizes its voice. I know it is telling you this…

YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT CRAZY!!

Where The Heck Have I Been?: A brief synopsis

Hello, again, my friends. I have been absent from blogging and social media for several months. Some of you have noticed. Most have gone on with your busy lives, not even missing the weekly Monday drops. It’s ok. I don’t think my own family even reads these things. As a child of a divorce and re-marry situation, I don’t take kindly to anyone who makes an assumption that I know anything different from the information that they last told me. I hate when a tv show or a book leaves you in one place, then picks you up three miles down the road with no explanations, just inferences made in hopes that we are all bright enough to connect the dots. However, the inferences are generally sub-standard. With this in mind, I’m offering a short blog to catch you up, so we may begin volume two.

Starting back in late September, I had decided to start writing another book. I promised I would pop in with semi-reliable blogs, but really wanting to focus on the book. I did follow through on a few blogs, and then everything went silent. Even my real life friends and family were perplexed. It wasn’t just silence in blog-landia. It was silence on all fronts. I had some people send simple one line texts, “Are you mad at me?” To which I would reply, “No”. I wasn’t mad. That was the absolute truth. The whole story goes like this…

In early October, I had a migraine. It was no big deal, I usually get one or two a year. What made it a big deal was getting another one 4 days later. Then another 5 days after that. Then another. And another. And more. I stopped counting after 10. Instead of getting help or admitting defeat, I kept going to work, and hiding my symptoms. Then I started shitting blood. It wasn’t just black turds like we all see from time to time. It was straight up, bright red, “Did someone just get murdered” red. And it wasn’t a little. I called my PA (because the doctor of the practice never sees me anymore), and scheduled an appointment with her. Reason given: Migraines. As any of you who are American know, it takes a week or so to get worked in if you are a current patient. I waited about a week, had another migraine, then went to meet with her.

My PA has been pretty good to me. If she’s in over her head, she refers me to a specialist instead of trying to deal with it. While checking in, the medical assistant asked me really silly questions, like “Does it hurt to move your head?” Or “Is it like a dull pain or a stabbing pain?” Or “Does it hurt to go from sitting to standing?” I am just really happy for anyone who has never had a migraine, and those of us who have them know who you are. Anyway, in talking to my PA finally, I expressed that I wanted an MRI or a CT scan to make sure there was nothing up there, then I would seek out help from acupuncture. She kind of rolled her eyes, but agreed that it’s better to put my fears at bay and check things out. I mentioned the blood, and she paused, thought about it, and told me to keep an eye on that and call if it happened again. She and I both agreed that we expected to find nothing on the MRI, but it was good to check things out, just to make sure since the migraines were way out of character.

A few days after the MRI, Shanna (my PA), called me and had a strange tone in her voice. “So, I have your MRI results. Looks like there is something there after all.” The Radiologist couldn’t tell if it was a tumor, or a cavernous malformation, either way, this was far outside of her pay grade. I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten news like this. Chances are, you have. For me, I felt a very clear moment. I had a choice. I could cry and be scared and start calling everyone I know, or I could be calm and fearless. One of my dearest friends (who I KNOW is reading this) had a brain tumor removed many years ago, and I thought of the grace that she had while in the midst of that situation. I chose to be like her.

I got in with what turned out to be an amazing Neurologist about 10 days later. We spent an hour and a half looking at every scan, making notes, asking questions, and hearing him say over and over, “…but WHAT is THAT?” It was decided that the migraines, which are not being caused by Alf (my name for the new part of my brain) needed to be assessed by a Neurosurgeon. Alf resides on my Cerebellum, and it right in the path of where all of my spinal fluids enter and exit the building. It’s really not the best or easiest place to get to, so a second opinion was welcomed.

The Neurosurgeon’s wait list was 3 weeks, and that was only because there was a cancellation. Otherwise, it was three months. During this time, Wave and I had some very frank end of life discussions. It’s pretty sobering to talk about what needs to happen if we do have the surgery and there is an oops that renders me in a vegetative state, or if I was to die before Lily graduates, or how I want certain possessions to be split amongst our family, or telling Wave that it’s ok to live even if I don’t. It’s ok to love other people. Hoping that my sisters will take on the role of mother to my 17 year old child. In this time, I shit bright red again, twice, and was referred to an Gastroenterologist. 2 weeks wait on that appointment, but still before the Neurosurgeon.

The Gastroenterologist was interesting. They stressed when making the appointment that I must arrive at least 30 minutes early. I ended up 45 minutes early, and the receptionist was a bit snarky about me being early. I brushed it off, as it was clear that she was eating her lunch at her desk, and sat in a completely empty waiting room. Shortly after, another medical assistant arrived, and I was treated to listening about her lunch date, their office holiday luncheon, and burritos. I tried to read the book I brought with me, but I just couldn’t concentrate. I sat and listened until the medical assistant called me back.

The doctor came in, talked with me for about 5 minutes. He noted that I have IBS, and asked about it. He also asked what exactly it is in my brain. I told him that I wish I knew. Interestingly enough, 1 in 5000 people will get a brain tumor in their life. Of those, only about 1/3 are cancerous. Most brain tumors are secondary to another illness in the body. There is a pretty solid link between brain tumors and colon cancer. So that was something that I was constantly thinking about. Unsurprisingly to me, he ordered a colonoscopy to take a look at the situation for himself. I also want to note that my insurance plan year renewed on December 1st, so now, all expenses are out of pocket until the deductible is met.

Anyway, we see the Neurosurgeon, who is a very bright and highly recommended professional. He was immune to my jokes. I did the same tests (very similar to sobriety tests) and answered the same questions. Then we looked at my brain again. The surgeon also found that at one time, this area hemorrhaged. There is also a misplaced vein in the area, which in the past, would have been cause for an immediate surgery. Thankfully, this is no longer true. His professional assessment is that this is a cavernous malformation. He would be willing to remove it if I wanted to be aggressive. You all know me. I’m a wait and see kind of gal. Also, if it were to be removed, it would be a pretty heady (pun intended) surgery, with a very difficult and long recovery. We decided on a schedule of brain scans with immediate changes if the pattern of migraines worsen or if I start to lose dexterity or balance. If it grows in size or bleeds again, it will need to be evicted.

Hurray! But this doesn’t solve the blood shitting or migraines.

The colonoscopy is scheduled for the next week. It was easy. People cry about the prep. It’s really not a big deal. You shit your brains out, but you get a clean slate. The procedure goes off without a hitch, except the anesthesiologist makes a creepy joke about his wife at home pounding breasts for dinner…chicken breasts of course. Also, that he is just like Sting, and will be watching every move I make and every breath I take. I get the dude’s intentions, but no. This is NOT ok. I don’t need to be put at ease. It’s not like this is brain surgery for crap’s sake. Stop being a creepy dude and just be quiet if that’s not possible.

So it turns out, I have Colitis. And the cavernous malformation on my brain is also referred to as a lesion. We are dubbing this ‘The Col-esion”. Like “Collusion”. Get it? HAHA. Still no migraine answers though.

I think you are all up to date now. I will be sending out another blog in the next day or so, documenting the treatment plan for the colitis, not because any of you want to know, but I believe that a lot of what I am experiencing is highly relatable. You can judge for yourself. I also want to point out that I have no idea what colitis is. But we will get into that as part of the relatable aspect.

The next time you see your doctor, and you know that something is wrong, don’t let them roll their eyes at you. You know why? You know your body best, and also…

YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT CRAZY!!!

Let’s talk about Sexual Harassment

Statistics show that 1 in 4 women experience sexual harassment at some point in their lifetime.  I think that this statistic is wrong.  I think it is MUCH higher.  I think that many women are too afraid to speak up or admit that it is happening.  In the United States, we are seeing a wave of powerful men being outed for their reprehensible behavior, with two very different outcomes.  It seems like about every ten years, sexual harassment comes back into the forefront of our conversations, and then slowly falls back into the shadows.  I would like to share some experiences of mine with you today.  Though I do not like to talk about it, I know that it is of monumental importance to call the monsters out and not take responsibility for their choices.

Towards the end of the election season in 2016, Donald Trump was accused of harassment by multiple women, and was caught on video talking about how it is ok that he sexually assault women because he is famous. Courageous women came forward and shared their stories, which basically showed a pattern of predatory behavior.  The response?  He threatened to sue them, they were all liars, and it was a conspiracy against him to harm his chances in the general election.  The fact that he was elected demonstrates how people tend to not believe victims, or even blame victims for the predator’s actions.  “But look at how slutty she dresses, though.”  “She’s asking for it with that red lipstick.”  “Well, she should be flattered that he likes her!”  “Boys will be boys, you know…”.   Somehow, even after all of it, this monster was elected as our president.  Some may say, “…but…Bill Clinton!”  And to that, I am not disagreeing.  SAME!  He doesn’t get a pass from me.  I don’t care what your political leanings are.  If you are a predator, you are trash, and you may want to take a look at yourself and make some major life changes.


Flash forward to Fall 2017.  A powerful Hollywood producer is accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.  The reaction somehow was different this time.    He was fired, and he was ousted from the industry.  His wife has announced that she is leaving.  Men in the industry have denounced the behavior.  Perhaps the tides are turning.  Perhaps we are starting to not accept that boys will be boys.  Perhaps men in power are starting to understand that this behavior is unacceptable.  I would love to believe that this is true.  However, the ‘casting couch’ has been part of Hollywood lore as long as I can remember.  These men have been at this for YEARS.  The behavior is well known by the people in their employ, and the circles that they are part of.  So why are we so outraged only when women come forward with their stories, detailing the assault?  Though I find the support of others to the actresses (and some actors (I see your Terry Crews and James VanDerBeek)) who came out against Weinstein to be applauded, why were you silent for so long?


I am just a regular woman.  I am average height, average build, average hair color.  There is nothing aesthetically overwhelming about me.  For much of my life, and at different employers, I have been sexually harassed.  The harassment comes in the form of lewd comments, ogling me, staring at various body parts, unwarranted offers of sex, and inappropriate touching.  I want to remind my readers that I have never stated my places of employment, nor will I comment on my employer’s handling of the situations, other than relaying factual pieces of conversation.  Each story I share with you is my story.  I do not know, nor do I wish to know the intent of the other parties.  I will not name names, not in order to protect these people, but rather, my current employer has a clause in the handbook that ill words may not be shared on social media about the company.  If you violate the policy, expect to be fired.  I want to be clear, I am not posting judgment, nor do I blame my employer for any of these situations.  I do blame the predators, and our culture of acceptance at large.

I have a high pressure job, and there are times that I like to take a break, go outside, get some fresh air and perspective, and unwind.  I used to walk through the employee parking lot, up one row, then down the next, listening to music and blowing off some steam.  As I was walking, a familiar car pulled up next to me, and rolled down the passenger window.  It was a man that I have worked with in another department that I generally say hello to and smile when we pass in the halls.  I took out my ear bud, and said hello.  He leaned over, looked me in the eye, and said, “Hey, I have $20…”, role playing as if I was a hooker and he was a John.  I felt like I had been punched in the gut.  Whenever it happens, I feel like I am knocked back on my heels and in a daze.  Since this incident happened fairly recently, I had at least enough wits to tell him to “F*@k off”. And kept walking.  I took myself straight back into he building, held back my tears, sat at my desk, and went back to work.  I thought about my outfit, and all of the other exchanges I had with him in the past that might have led him to believe that this would be a good idea, or I would think it was funny.  You know, it seems like more often than not, they say, “It was just a joke.  Where is your sense of humor?”

A few weeks after that, a different person from the same department, was out walking at the same time I was.  He stopped me to talk about a shared project and check in on my progress.  I folded my arms across my chest, as I often do, and spoke of the project.  Out of nowhere, he reached up and grabbed my watch.  The watch on my wrist.  On the arm that was folded across my chest.  Directly next to my breast.  “What’s this?”  He asked.   I yanked my hand back, and replied, “It’s a watch.”  “Oh”, he said.  “My wife has one just like this.”  One of this man’s subordinates was also present for this, and said nothing.  NOTHING.  I again, walked back to my desk, reviewed my interactions with this man, and blamed myself.  This time, I decided that I’ve had enough.  From the years of, “You are so hot”, and “If you ever want to cheat on your husband, give me a call!”, and “I will take you out in the parking lot right now and f*@k your brains out!”  I was done laughing it off.  I was done accepting this.  


I had mentioned a few of my experiences to someone I thought I could trust, and unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the case.  Though I was resigned to head that way anyway, I was summoned to Human Resources, where the interrogation began.  I don’t mean for that to sound like a prison camp.  It wasn’t. It was humiliating.  It was raw.  It was awful for me to crawl back through every experience I could remember and lay it all out, bare on the desk, asking for help.  I was asked what I would like for the outcome to be of the investigation.  I remember saying, “All I really want is to do my job, and not be afraid to go to my car, or have to deal with this anymore.  I think it is fair to ask for an environment free from intimidation.”  The investigation proceeded.  I knew that executives that I have to work with directly had been briefed (and knew my identity), and I know that women from all over the company were being called to HR to discuss possible harassment.  Women who were not aware that it was me who caused the investigation would come to my desk and talk about the investigation with nothing but disdain for the woman who reported this.  “What an attention seeker!”  “I’m sure it’s one of these ugly fat chicks who no one would even look at in the first place!”  “Ugh!  This is just where we work!  Why can’t women just accept that and stop being such prudes!”  “Whoever this is, I bet she’s a real bitch!”  Most of the time, I just smiled and said, “I don’t know, maybe we should be honest about what our experiences are and not judge someone we don’t know.  It must have been pretty bad if they were brave enough to go to HR about it.”  My heart was broken.  The women I saw as allies and friends were turning their backs on me without even knowing.  

You often hear of people reporting acts of sexual crimes years after the occurance and many people start to question why.  Is this valid?  Is there an axe to grind?  Why did they wait so long.  I can tell you why.  I had everything to lose, and nothing to gain.   The sexual predators are still employed.  Every one of them.  In fact, the fellow in the watch grabbing incident came to my desk a few months later, and was looking down my pants as I sat.  I saw him with my own eyes.  I reported it to HR.  I was asked how I was dressed, if that was a possible provocation for his actions.  When he was confronted, he reported that he did not do that, and he thought I was a ‘genuinely nice person’, and was shocked that I was offended by his actions in any way.  The fellow who offered me $20 in the parking lot?  I was asked if I thought he meant it as a joke, and maybe because I was friendly with him, I should just address it with him directly.  Women do not report predatory behaviors because they are often either not believed, or told that the men were probably just joking.  Experiencing this clear violation of human dignity once is awful.  To recount it again, and be faced with the possibility of having to hash things out with the predator, when often no real actions or consequences are taken seems, at large, not to be worth it.  Every time one of these stories comes on the news, it is like PTSD.  You are put right back into that place of fear and shame.  A fleeting moment of power for the predator results in a lifetime of consequence for the victim.  Even after all of these years and all of these experiences, I still cry, I still try to alienate myself from others, and I still attempt to protect myself from every man I come in contact with, even if I know and trust him.

These are the stories of just one of my employers, and they are by far not representative of all of the incidents I’ve experienced.  It is also not to say that EVERY WOMAN will experience anything like this, or EVERY MAN is a predator.  That is just simply not true.  Predators are highly skilled at choosing victims.  They choose women who are more likely to blame themselves than to report them.  They will choose women who they think a have lower self esteem.  They will choose women who they see as weak. Interestingly enough, women don’t always stand by other women in these incidents, as I found out first hand.  It was the women who were more accusatory towards me than the men that found out about the investigation.  Another piece that I found intriguing in my experiences is that men KNOW other men are being predatory.  Men HEAR other men talking about the women they work with in a crude and inappropriate fashion, but are afraid to stand up and tell them to stop.  They are afraid of being called a p*ssy, or made fun of, or being emasculated by the same predators.  Somehow, these people just keep getting away with it.  They keep bullying those who would stand up, and when called out, deny and act contrite, or profess that it was just a joke.


For myself, as hard as it is to keep reporting it, and as difficult as it is to find the courage to stand up to these predators, I have chosen to keep going.  I will darken the doorways of HR until they are sick of seeing me.  I will continue to tell men that it is not appropriate to call me ‘sweetie’, or ‘honey’, or ‘dear’.  I will call their supervisors and inform them of the behavior and tell them I expect that it cease immediately.  I am not employed to star in their sexual fantasies.  I am not there for entertainment.  I am a human being, and as such, I have a right to dignity.  If I stay silent, they will continue to find those voiceless others who are afraid and internalize and fear them.  My courage will spread to others.  My encouragement can change the perspective.  My voice, though it is alone, will be joined by another.  And then another.  And then another.   Until our voices are too loud to ignore.  

If you are experiencing harassment, please, be brave, share your story, stand up and say no.  It is not your fault.  You did nothing to provoke or ask for this.  I would also like to point out that it doesn’t matter what you wore that day.  Men who are trash will act like trash if you are wearing burlap sack.  Do not let ANYONE victim shame you.  Do not worry about protecting the predators.  Even if you just want to share with a spouse, or a close friend, or a sister, do it.  Cleanse yourself of their bad behavior.  Don’t sit silent as their eyes wander all over your body.  Even if you don’t believe me, I believe you.  I believe your story.  I believe that you have a right to have your dignity restored.  Come, join my single voice when you are ready.  Let us be a force for change.  

“Back down the bully to the back of the bus, ‘cause it’s time for them to be scared of us!” – Third Eye Blind, Wounded

Oh yeah, of course, you are probably NOT crazy!

Let’s talk about me for a minute…

Hello, friends!  I know that my posts have not been coming every Monday over the summer as you have grown accustomed to.  For this, I apologize.  It’s been a pretty hectic summer.  Well, that and the theiving house guest.  The good news is, I am writing today to tell you something that I think is pretty exciting!  Let me give you a little back story first…

About 10 years ago, I wrote a novel.  It is certainly not my best work.  I have a special relationship with this novel.  It sits in my nightstand  drawer most of the time. Some times I dust it off, get my red pen, and start editing it.  Truth be told, it’s not bad work, considering I was drinking when I wrote it.  I also wrote it in just a few weeks.  I was working full time while I was writing it and taking care of kids, so I think that’s pretty amazing.  The novel is 400 pages or so.  Something like that.  But the fact is, I hate it.  I hate the story.  I hate the ending.  I hate some of my characters.  No matter how much I edit it, I will always think of the time I asked my older sister to read and edit it,  and later, she accused me of basing one of the more grating characters on her, which is not necessarily true.  Were there parts of her in that character?  Yes!  But there were parts of many people in that character.  There were parts of her in other characters as well, but she only focused on some of the more irritating things of that character and assigned herself to that.  This character also happened to be a major philanthropist, which had nothing to do with my sister, but she still said I hurt her feelings with that.  So, I stopped writing.

I started writing this blog as a cathartic outlet for some of my pent up frustrations, and also as a way to share what I have learned through my crazy existence, in the hopes that it may help someone else to not have to take the paths that I chose, or to help them get off those paths, had they already been chosen.  One of my followers and best friends in the universe called me at work a few weeks back, and she told me that she needed to talk to me.  Straight faced and serious, she told me that I need to write a book.  I told her that I already wrote a book and I didn’t like it.  She told me that I need to forget that book and write another book.  So, I laughed, and I told her that if she could come up with a viable topic that I can write an entire book around, I would write her a book.  

A week later, I was talking to another follower on the phone and mentioned that I had been admonished to write a book.  I received even more encouragement, and was told that I also need to write HER a book.  I came up with my regular excuses…”I am so busy with work!”  “I barely have any time as it is to write my blog, let alone a book!”  “My writing is not good enough to get published.”  The pure truth, once the onion is peeled back a little, is that I am afraid if I write a book, it will suck.  Plus, people who want me to write books ask that I write about self help.  Let me tell you something, I am really the last person qualified to advise anyone on self help.  Which is what has led me to this point.

I was sitting with Wave on the patio this morning, drinking coffee, thinking about my life, and my topic suddenly occurred to me.  Actually two separate topics occurred to me.  WHOA!  It’s been years since I have come up with a viable topic that I can write about at length, and suddenly, here are two!  I have always felt like I wanted to write about my life, but I also detest the thought of a true autobiography.  Being that I am a Virgo, I prefer to blend into the back ground.  I am not a big fan of self adulation, and bravado.  However,  I believe I have found a way to write about what I want to write about, with humor and wit.  Just like all of us, there are some pretty dark spaces in my story.  It’s daunting to consider taking those monsters out of the closet, shaking them out, dusting them off, and sharing them with strangers.  We’ll see if they make it to othe story.

For anyone who has ever written, or attempted to write, you know what I am taking on here.  Not only the trials of the actual writing, the editing, the polishing, the give and take of the cut and paste.  But then the almost impossibility of it ever getting looked at or published.  Mountains of rejections.  I never actually got to the submission stage of my last novel.  As I mentioned, it’s still sitting, lonely in that nightstand drawer, never to see the light of day.  I never thought I would be excited about writing a book again.  Time to face the fear of rejection.  Once it’s complete, I hope I am able to find a platform to be able to share it with you all.  In the meantime, I am sure that I will still be here, at least every other week, sharing my tales of hope with you.  

Are you taking on any big challenges that will change your life?  Tell us about them in the comments section.  Thank you all for your support.  I know you are out there, reading, laughing, and thinking about what I’m saying.  And above all….

You’re probably not crazy!!! 

Finding the Courage to Ask For What You Need

I often find myself feeling overwhelmed.  Almost always, after a quick examination, it is because I have over committed to others, with things that I don’t want to do.  I understand that normal, healthy adults are able to say ‘No’ to invitations, favors, events, and commitments. It seems that I did not pay extra for that upgrade.  I am always agreeing to things, and finding myself regretful and resentful as those calendar items approach.  Do you ever find yourself stretched too thin?  Let me share a few examples with you, then I will discuss my new found favorite response…”NO”.

I am not a very social person.  Even lunch with my sisters sends me into a panic.  “Who will be there?”  “Will I end up having to pay for everyone?”  “What if there is nothing that I can eat?”  “What if she brings up that topic that makes me uncomfortable like she always does?”  My sisters are the opposite of me.  Very easy conversationalists, no worry at all.  Lunch is a wonderful way to chat and spend time together to reconnect.  I, on the other hand, am full of anxiety the entire time.  We have been meeting for lunches on each other’s birthday’s for about 4 years now.  Every time my birthday rolls around, I make an excuse that I am busy, and its fine with me if we skip.  I’ve never wanted to admit to them that it’s really uncomfortable for me, so an excuse was just easier.  This year, however, it was suggested that maybe we should just start planning family get togethers on all of the holidays and rotate houses and hostesses.  So, my excuse plan backfired in a huge way.  Not only did one sister tell me that I should reconsider because I am missed, and whatever other guilt trip was available at the time, the other sister recommended MORE anxiety filled get togethers!

FULL DISCLOSURE: That’s not really me.  But I can totally relate to this young lady.  Still.  As an adult.
I know what you’re thinking…Yes, this is my family, and I should feel comfortable, right?  Well, not all families are like the ones in the movies.  I’m not interested in airing out the dirty laundry.  Regardless, each family member’s memories and experiences are all different, so there’s no point in even trying.  I do my best to get along and be a peace maker, but at my age, I’m a bit tired of that.  In fact, as they say, you can’t choose your family.  I disagree.  I am choosing my family, and I am choosing it carefully.  I don’t feel like I have to sacrifice myself for the whims of others anymore, just because we are related.  I’m over it.

This whole situation with the get togethers and the lunches could have been averted, had I just been honest from the beginning.  “Thank you for thinking of me.  Social situations like lunches cause me anxiety, so I would like for this to not be a tradition on my birthday any longer.”  I eventually got there.  In the mean time, panic ensued.

I was also in a situation recently where we agreed to help a long lost relative out as a favor who wanted to relocate to Arizona.  We offered a place to stay until she was able to get on her feet at no charge.  We also asked a few people we know to consider her for a job.  Once she arrived, she did nothing but disrespect our wishes and acted completely unacceptable.  When the jobs didn’t come through for her, she blamed us, and said it was the only reason that she relocated to Arizona.  Things got to a point where we asked her to please find somewhere else to stay within 30 days.  She did..and stole about $200  worth of things from us.  So how could we have avoided this situation?  Simply by saying “No” in the first place.  As much as we all want to be helpful to others, we truly had no business opening up our home to someone we didn’t even know.


I think that many of us are conditioned to turn the other cheek, or to act in a way that you would like for people to act with you.  When we do that, we often find ourselves being taken advantage of by others who’s own moral code likely doesn’t line up with ours.  I have come to the conclusion recently that people who are out to take advantage of me, or guilt me into doing things for them are not worried about my feelings, or what is good for me.  So, in turn, I will no longer be afraid to say no, or at least ask for my needs to be met in these exchanges.  


I know that we are not easy hosts at our house.  We are very particular.  Dishes should be cleaned immediately.  You don’t need to use multiple cups in one day.  If you use the dryer, empty the lint trap.  Be kind, and at least ACT like you enjoy spending time with us.  For us, these situations have forced us into deciding what we are and are not ok with.  We are ok with two day max house guests.  We are not ok with anything beyond that.  We need to be kind to our guests and let them know that staying beyond that will cause resentment and anxiety, so two days is all that we are able to accommodate.

It is up to you to decide what your boundaries are, and then find the kindness to enforce those boundaries.  There is almost nothing worse than feeling like you are being held hostage in a situation.  It is just better to be open and honest upfront.  Doing so will undoubtedly save hard feelings and relationships.  Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.  In most cases, people will respect your honesty and appreciate it.  It happens to the best of us.  Don’t worry…

You’re probably not crazy!!!

Get off my nerves!!  Strategies to deal with people who know how to push your buttons.

Hello, my friends!  First, allow me to apologize for my fickle posting schedule.  I’ve had some challenges that are not insurmountable, but I’ve needed to take some time to myself to reflect on who I am, and come up with some strategies to deal with them.  For today, I am choosing this topic because this is exactly what I am dealing with on every side of my life. So, maybe in writing this, it will help me to find the courage to draw specific boundaries and retain my own sanity.  See what I did there?  

Throughout my life, I’ve been faced with people who I just do not understand.  I often joke that I was raised like a feral dog, so my sense of social mores and politeness are often baffling, even to me.  I was the youngest of 4 children, then later 6 when my dad remarried.  All of my parents did the best they knew how to do.  We were never homeless.  We always went to school.  But I never really learned manners, or how to show gratitude until I was an adult, on my own, observing others.  I am now highly irritated at the lack of courtesy and manners around me.  I guess I figure that if I was able to learn that mailing a thank you card for a gift was polite, then why should others, who were not raised like I was, be excused from this?  If someone took their preciouos resources (time and money) to give me a gift, the least I can do I’d take my resources (time and a postage stamp) to express gratitude.

I have also found out that the world consists of givers and takers.  Both are very good at what they do.  However, givers are often manipulated by takers.  They play on their good nature and sympathy to get exactly what they want, then rarely show gratitude in their actions.  A text message of ‘Thank you!!’ Just doesn’t cut the mustard.  Lately, I am finding that takers are coming out of the wood work to prey on me.  Not only to take advantage of my empathy and good nature, but to follow up with a guilt trip if I don’t follow their code of conduct and do exactly what they expect of me.


Let me get a few things off my chest, then I will move on to strategies for givers in dealing with this.  First of all, if you are staying with someone in their home, it is not your right to drain their resources.  Offer to make meals, bring groceries, help clean up the house, and don’t leave cups and dishes scattered in your wake.  Clean up your messes.  Observe how your host lives, and follow their lead.  Maybe even offer to treat your host to dinner.  Secondly, if someone goes out of their way to help you, or do you a favor, maybe consider doing something special for them.  You don’t have to spend money.  Write a nice thank you card.  Offer to mow their lawn.  Maybe even house sit.  Let your actions show that you are thankful that they sacrificed to help you and you appreciate it.  


My personality is such that my initial reaction to anything I don’t like is to avoid it.  If I feel like someone is trying to manipulate me, I just ignore them.  I don’t answer the phone.  I don’t return calls.  I am short on responses to emails.  I know that is not the correct way to deal with things, and I wouldn’t encourage it, because all it is going to do is encourage the taker to just keep calling, texting, and emailing.  Rarely is the outcome what I want, which is for them to just go away.  What I should be doing is setting my boundaries.  I should be answering the phone calls, and when the person asks me for what I am anticipating, I should say, I’m not able to help you with that.  When they ask why, I don’t owe them an explanation.  We are allowed to say no.  We have every right to put our own interests in front of others.  That doesn’t make you selfish.  It makes you not co-dependent.  It is not your job to take care of other people or their problems.  If you choose to do it, great.  But you are not obligated to do so.  The fact of the matter is, you can ALWAYS say no.  

I have learned to ask myself, “Am I willing to follow through on this?”  If I am not willing to follow through, then I must say no.  I shouldn’t be offering to help anyone move if I know that at the last minute, I am going to bail out.  I don’t know  about you, but I have a lot of ‘hinters’ in my life.  These are people who don’t come out and directly ask me for anything, but they hint at what they want.  For instance, “I really want to relocate to your area, but I don’t know where to apply for a job or where I should live.  Oh, but my current employer is abusing me and I don’t know what to do.  What should I do?  You’re so smart, what would you do?”  This person hasn’t asked me for a place to stay or for me to put in a good word at my own employer, but they are certainly using techniques to play on my emotions.  What is their end game?  What is it they want from you?   The best thing in this situation is to stay out of it.  When I was in grade school, my parents fell for this one with a step cousin.  He lived with us, for longer than he said he would, wore out his welcome, became the master of the television, and was all around annoying.  In fact, who among us hasn’t fallen in this trap?  What is unfortunate is that I believe that we all just want to be helpful.  More often than not, we just end up used, abused, resentful, and unwilling to do it again.  Side note, if you have been the person who stays with someone and wore out your welcome, I hope that you can find it in you or conscience to make things right.  


My advice is to set your boundaries.  If behavior isn’t acceptable to you, don’t accept it.  Don’t surround yourself with people who are just taking advantage of you.  Ask yourself if they would be there if you didn’t have something to give them.  Relationships should be two way streets.  There is no law on the books that prohibit you from letting people go.  If the relationship is leacherous, let it go.  Back away.  If they question what is going on, tell them that this is just not working out for you.  We don’t need to fear hurting other people’s feelings.  I mean, I’m not advocating being a jerk here.  I am saying that people who take advantage of others aren’t really concerned about the damage that they are doing.  So why are you concerned with saving their feelings?  

Now you may say, “But I can’t just let go of my boss or coworker!  What do I do?”  Well, this is the toughest situation because you are kind of stuck.  In this situation, I usually try to be pleasant and still ask myself, “am I willing to follow through on this?”  If your coworker annoys you, don’t engage them on personal topics.  Keep it to business, and be as pleasant as you can.  If they are not doing their job, and it’s not affecting my job, I ignore it and let them deal with their consequences.  If it does affect my job, I have a discussion with them, and keep all emotions out of it.  If things don’t change, I leave it with my boss. If the boss does nothing, I document.  If things fall apart, you now have a record of attempting to correct the situation.  You may consider getting HR involved at that point.  DON’T sabotage anyone else.  Keep the emotions out of it.  Follow your company’s guidelines in dealing with conflict.  And document EVERYTHING!

I do understand that this may be contrary to your religious tastes.  I get that.  You have to do what is right for you.  If you want to continue to turn the other cheek, more power to you.  I, however, will no longer choose this.  We are not on this earth to be used by others.  It is my right to say what I am and am not willing to do.  I am not bound to do everything that suits my parents because they are my parents.  If they are taking advantage of me, I have a right to say no.  I hope that you are able to courageously take a look at the toxic relationships in your own sphere and bravely stand up to those more interested in what you can do for them rather than what they can do to contribute to a healthy relationship.  Do not let the deceptions ever make you question your own sanity, as I am currently questioning mine.  I’m going to listen to my own advice here for sure…
I’m (You’re) probably not crazy!