Mental Health

Let’s talk about something a little dark and frustrating, today; something that usually goes along with chronic illness, but is its own chronic thing too, not to be outdone: mental illness. Because, don’t get me wrong, you can be drug down, without accompanying physical pain, by mental illness alone. You can be knocked right the fuck down, right where you stand, and thrown to the carpet, never to get up again…well, at least for several days, weeks, or even months. Oh, and mental illness can be physically painful too. Exhaustion, aches, pains and the whole nine yards, of course.

 

When I’m depressed, I take my perch on the corner of the couch. I usually don’t move much, so I tend to get a lot of super cute pics of my cats…like this one.

When I’m depressed, I take my perch on the corner of the couch. I usually don’t move much, so I tend to get a lot of super cute pics of my cats…like this one.

I have a picture-perfect life. It’s the same thing we say to celebrities who claim mental illness, exhaustion, or other mental health issues. How can they feel bad, when they have it so good, right? That’s the point. It doesn’t matter how good you have it. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter what you have around you; it’s what’s going on inside you, that matters.

 

This is hard for me to confess, or talk about, and it’s hard for most people with mental health issues to talk about. But, it’s important for people to talk about! It’s time to be aware of these things, instead of pretending that it’s not a “thing,” or that I just get a little down sometimes. Yeah, I do; but it’s a lot more than that. Let’s get real with what it really is.

 

Here’s what I didn’t know: I’m sick in the head, too. I’ve been sick in the head for longer than I’ve been sick in the body. I thought that being sick in the head was a thing that I’d acquired from being sick in the body, that my swings into depression, and my anxiety, were caused by my failing body, and the frustrations that it brought me. Sure, those things help bring on a cloud of depression. Sometimes, the heavy weighted blanket that it throws onto my body make it impossible to get up off the couch, even when I have to pee so badly that it feels like I may die if I don’t move.

 

But, I’ve learned that I have had these issues all along. I’ve stifled every real emotion that I’ve ever had, except for anger. I’ve refused to feel hurt. I’ve refused to feel love. I’ve refused to feel anything. I got really good at keeping feelings locked away, and pretending they don’t exist. I’m a good robot. So now, I fall into fits of depression and anxiety, almost at random, rather than to deal with feelings. It’s unbearable. It’s deeply painful, and it’s frustrating for me. I can never predict these sojourns into darkness, and I feel like a terrible burden to those I love.

 

For those who’ve never experienced depression, for me it’s as if the world stops, but just for you. There’s literally no reason to do anything. Nothing makes you want to move from the spot you are in. It’s as if you are almost paralyzed by immobility. I could be dying of thirst, but not go to the kitchen to get a beverage. It feels as if I’ve atrophied all my useful muscles. It’s as if my mind works, but my body won’t do what it’s supposed to do, and I don’t care about that problem, not enough to solve it. Worse, I can look around and see things I would like to do, like dust, vacuum, or otherwise take on tasks, but can’t be bothered to do them. Thus, I begin to feel guilty for leaving them to others. The same is true for tasks I should do for myself, like getting dressed, exercising, or even brushing my hair. The guilt compounds the depression, which makes the whole situation worse, and the cycle compounds. It’s a terrible cyclical situation. It’s as if the Puritans are there with the stones, slowly crushing you to death, but you are doing it to yourself.

 

As if that’s not enough though, you throw anxiety into the mix, which jumps in at random times. For anxiety, you just feel like you are dying. Suddenly, there isn’t enough air in the room, then in the world, for you to breathe. Sometimes, I get dizzy first, or my legs start shaking uncontrollably, but that’s just “mild” anxiety. I don’t take medication for my anxiety because it doesn’t mix well with my pain medication. It can cause side effects like death, so it’s generally not considered a good idea. So, I get to suffer through anxiety attacks by just waiting for them to pass. I can try to talk myself through them by gently reminding myself that there is enough air, and I’m having an anxiety attack. This usually doesn’t help. A person having an anxiety attack knows they are having an anxiety attack, and intellectually knows there is enough air. It doesn’t help them feel like they are breathing it. Alas, I just have to wait until it’s over and I can breathe normally, again, leaving me exhausted and numb.

 

My last visit to the land of darkness has been the worst that I’ve ever experienced. I can always feel it coming on, and I do everything I can to keep it at bay. I try to bury myself in routine, exercise more, take on a project, pretend that I can’t hear the little voice in my head that says, “why bother, everything is useless.” Nothing helps.

 

This time, the darkness overtook me to the point that I imagined what it would be like to forget suffering through it any longer. I’ve always seen through to the other side. I’ve always kept my son in my sights, even when the voice in my head says, “you don’t matter to him, to anything, to anyone.” I’ve always said to myself that my loss would destroy him. This time, I was able to rationalize that I didn’t care because I’d be gone. It was a horrible time. The moment I realized that I’d put my son aside, I knew that I had to tell Bryon that this wasn’t just a typical dark patch.

 

Around the same time, I had a panic attack, in my bed, at random, in the middle of the night. I haven’t been able to sleep in my bed, since. I can barely go near my bed. I’ve been sleeping on the couch. That is mental illness. My husband, tucking me in at night, kissing my forehead, and asking me what he can do to help me feel comfortable, and helping me think of strategies to get me back to bed, is awareness that we don’t have to be in this alone.

 

Not a super flattering picture of me, but Bryon took it. He said he just missed the moment when all three cats were sleeping on me. Told you, I don’t move much when I am on my depression-spot!

Not a super flattering picture of me, but Bryon took it. He said he just missed the moment when all three cats were sleeping on me. Told you, I don’t move much when I am on my depression-spot!

But, more importantly, we need to be aware of just how hard it is to find appropriate help. Finding a new therapist out here has been an uphill battle. I’ve been white-knuckling my depression and anxiety since we got here, which was a terrible idea, obviously. So, I promised to find a new doctor, especially since this last bad patch has been so rough.

 

I had only one requirement: I wanted a woman. I had a preference for a close drive. Anyone with severe depression, which I’d recently sunken into, knows that sometimes, even brushing your teeth can seem like climbing Mt. Everest. Alas, I couldn’t picture getting myself motivated to make a 30-minute trek. Five minutes seemed more reasonable. But, I’d compromise if I had to.

 

Eight phone calls later, I’d realized that I’d have to make a concession to accept any doctor with a pulse. That’s right, there are NO female therapists within a 30-minute drive who were accepting new patients. None. Zero. How is that possible? Let alone therapists that take my insurance. With local hourly rates at up to $200, how are we still shouting at people to “get help,” when they feel helpless, or to “reach out?” Where? To who?

 

I’m lucky to have a support system at home to help feed me, and make sure I’m meeting basic life-sustaining needs when I’m in the throes of a rough patch. I’m also lucky to have someone to talk to about nonsense when I just feel like babbling. I’m lucky that when I confessed to feeling like I was afraid of myself, my support system held my hand and guided me over the hump. Even more, I’m lucky that, even without insurance support, we can shoulder the burden of the bill for mental health care. But, I’m frustrated at how difficult it is to find.  

 

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has their demons. There’s a little crazy in all of us. All of us has a tale to tell, and a little weird to let out. We’re all messed up in our own way, and we all manage our weirdness. We all have coping techniques, and they all work for us; mine were working just great, until one day, they just didn’t, anymore. I was a driven, successful woman, with an education, career, spouse and a child. Then, I got sick. My life slowed down, and I lost control. Everything fell apart. Everything came unraveled and my marble sack spilled. I haven’t been able to put it all back together, ever since. It was always in there. I just need new coping strategies and some more therapy.

 

Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, or to confess your crazy. It’s always okay. Pulling yourself together, no matter how much, is a victory. Being aware of one another and being kind is how we heal wounds. Go out there, be aware, and be nice!

Oh…and PS: No matter how dark it gets, KEEP LOOKING FOR THE LIGHT AT THE OTHER SIDE! Don’t give up fighting!

Moving On

I can’t figure out what to write about, right now. I have, literally, a dozen half-started posts. They are all dull, boring, and about negative things. They are about negative things because, last week, was a depression week. I’ve mentioned the darkness before; and how usually, when I’m in the dark spot, I don’t write. I don’t write, when I'm in the dark spot, because when I do, it’s blaaaaah. Now, I still write, but I generally don’t write anything to publish.

It’s important to talk about depression as part of chronic illness, even as part of life. But, for people who are sick, like me, it’s a genuine part of our illness. Someone touched my brain. Not to mention the fact that my life, thanks to this bitch called Chiari, is forever changed. So, when I get sad, or down, it’s not a matter of knocking it off, or cheering up. I have a chemical imbalance, that is genuinely difficult to overcome. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and it sucks.

It makes everyday life much more difficult to deal with, when it rears it's ugly head. It lies to me and tells me that I'm a bad mother, a bad wife, and bad person. It tells me that I'm fat, ugly and stupid. It tells me I'm worthless, and should just stay in bed, and to forget about bothering for the day, for the week, for the month. But, I do all the right things to try to combat it, when it rears up like a tidal wave: I continue therapy, even when I feel good; I exercise regularly; I eat right; I get dressed; I focus on my hobbies. In other words, I do.

So, last week, when the shit hit the fan, it felt a hundred times worse than it should have. It’s also why I didn’t publish a link, on my FB page, to the last post. See, what last night’s post was for an audience of one, so I didn’t bother. It was angry. I was angry. And, I know it reached it’s intended audience, because, in under 12 hours, it had been viewed almost 80 times. I’m a small-time blogger; I make no qualms, or have any disillusions about the size of my audience. If I have a post viewed 80 times between midnight and 8 am, it’s by one person, especially since I can track how many places it’s coming from. Those 80 views, were from less than 10 unique places. I know that if someone talked, directly about me, I’d be reading it a bunch of times too, getting more and more riled up.

The sad thing is, all of this can be fixed with a phone call, or a ring on the doorbell. It could’ve, been fixed much more easily a year ago; but now, it takes some doing. It sucks to be the one who’s wrong, really wrong, and know it. Hey, I’ve been there too; I was a real bitch to my sister a while back. I was wrong then. I openly admit it. I know what it’s like to be the wrong one, and not be able to admit it to myself, and then to have to, upon reflection.

It's a terrible feeling to wake up one day, and realize you've done something awful, and hurt someone. But that takes two steps: the ability and desire to reflect; and then the act of apologizing. I apologized then. It took a while for her to accept it, and me; but I’m glad she did.

I actually feel badly for people in this position, being forced to hold an indefensible position, when all you’ve got to stand on is, “but she said I was mean!” Imagine, for a moment, that it wasn't me that got sick, that it was a sister, a daughter, a best friend; would you have treated them the same? Even close? What would you have said about the person who had treated them that way?

Now, in this pitiful position, you have to dig your hole deeper and deeper and deeper, until you find peace in acceptance and self-reflection. You have to claim it’s light enough in there to see, and that you love it down there with the filth. The ladder that leads out is always there though; it’s always ready; it’s just that people refuse to see it sometimes.

It's an important part of being an adult; and more importantly, of being a woman, to be able to recognize when we've hurt one another, and then to be able to both apologize and forgive. Without these things we have lost the soft strength that makes us women, the thing that makes us unique from men, but also equal to them. If we don't keep, and hone, our ability to both know our weakness, but also care enough to forgive it in others, we are nothing more than war and anger. We must be better.


So, what do I want to write about now, to get the taste of that nastiness out of my mouth? Let’s see, how about a list of random things that happened to my family in the last week, that brought a smile to my face, despite being in a sucky, depressive state:

 

Blue Pee

Remember how I’ve been having some bladder issues? My urologist gave me some meds to try. Now, I pee Windex. Well, at least it looks like Windex. The meds don’t work, and I’ve since stopped them, and it’s been several days since I took my last dose, but my pee still looks blue. And, when I say blue, I mean blue. I had to go to Urgent Care the other day, because like so many other times before, it seemed like my bladder issues were a UTI (they weren’t), and the nurse said, “Oh my gawd, you’re a Martian!” Apparently, Martians have blue pee. Good to know. If I’m ever suspicious of someone’s earthly origins, I’ll make him pee. Quick, make Trump pee!

Daphne the Great

At the time, this was not funny, and I guess it’s not hilarious in a “I could’ve been killed,” kind-of-way; but, it’s a little funny, really. Daphne hates small dogs. She used to be cool with all dogs; we even took her, as a puppy, to the AKC classes, and she has her little certificates for “Good Citizen,” and everything. She was the biggest puppy there. Hilarity ensued.

But, hundreds of trips to dog parks, and countless small dogs who act like big dogs later, and Daphne has learned that little dogs tend to treat her like a pin-cushion for their dagger teeth. So, she’s stopped laying back and taking it.

Our neighborhood doesn’t have fences; so, if you leave a dog outside, it has to be on a tie-out. Technically, the leases state that you can’t leave them out, unattended, which we follow to the letter, because we live on pretty highly-trafficked corner, for kids and walkers.

On a walk, recently, we passed a house, where a small dog, let’s call her FiFi, was tied up, outside alone. FiFi’s tie-out, was too long, and she could reach the sidewalk. FiFi saw Daphne, and darted from the safety of her yard, to leap on Daphne's back. Picture that. Fifi, literally on Daphne's back.

This is a dog, totally unaware that she just behaved like an asshole.

This is a dog, totally unaware that she just behaved like an asshole.

Can you imagine doing such a thing, if you were a human? It’d be like, if I saw The Rock, and decided to leap on his face, clawing his eyes out. He’d pluck me off, and flick me, like a booger. Daphne did much the same thing, except FiFi, realizing her mistake, dashed back to the safety of her own yard, as if it were protected by a force field. Daphne ran after her, taking me with her; I was pulled underneath the thrashing dogs, and the ankle-biter bit me, in the ankle (shocking), in the melee.

I think that The AKC, when they see this, will come and rescind Daphne’s Good Citizen certificate, despite the fact that she was provoked. She should’ve used her words to resolve the conflict. Or, she should’ve listened, when I said, “heel.” Or, at the very least, she shouldn’t have tried to kill me too. She says she’s very sorry, indicated by deep sleep, and lots of sad-eye faces.  

Boats that Go Nowhere

Collin fixates. Autism is like that. All kids are like that, really. Anyone with a kid knows what it’s like to watch the same movie over and over again. But, parents of kids on the spectrum really know what a fixation is. Last week, Collin started making boats out of pieces of sandstone. He glued two pieces together, a flat bottom, and a “sail” vertically on top, to make a make-shift sailboat structure. I think they are adorable. I think they are less adorable, when they are glued to the following places: my entryway floor, my patio table, and my patio. I wish I’d taken pictures of these voyages, before I scraped them up.

I didn't take any pictures of Collin's boats; but, you are about to read about something gross, so look at Homer being adorable. I mean, look at him. He's precious, right?

I didn't take any pictures of Collin's boats; but, you are about to read about something gross, so look at Homer being adorable. I mean, look at him. He's precious, right?

 

Cockroaches…Cockroaches…Cockroaches!

Collin was being punished last week, pretty harshly, as a means to adjust a piss-poor attitude. As part of his punishment, he had to scrub the patio furniture. The poor kid, I actually felt pretty badly for him, because it turned out that the spigot in the backyard didn’t fit the hose; so, he had to use bucket after bucket load of water, individually, for rinsing. Then, it got worse. As soon as water touched, and seeped around the post of our back patio, the one that holds up the support beam, cockroaches started pouring out of it, scattering and skittering everywhere.

Then, as water continued to fill the ground, on the patio, as he kept scrubbing, they began pouring out of the side of the house, and out of the other beams. They were, no joke, everywhere. So, that kid was out there, scrubbing patio furniture, and actually battling, cockroaches, as they ran around his feet. I kept hearing him yelping and making "hi-ya!" noises, but nothing that sounded dangerous; so, I left him alone. Every time I checked on him he was fine, just scrubbing.

He proudly showed me the carcasses, later. Talk about a punishment! Because he’s such a rule-follower, he knew that he wasn’t supposed to come in until the furniture was clean; so, he stayed out there, with the cockroaches!

I let him out of cleaning the inside of our storage box, mostly because there were at least three, that we could see, black widows in there. But, he did a decent job on the rest. We’ve called maintenance to come spray for the roaches. We’re pretty excited to figure out a place to go, for four hours, on Thursday, with the pets. Should be fun to keep the animals away from a hamster, in a car. I’m open to suggestions.

Insanity

One of the things that has always been me, is exercise. I love it. I am a work-out-aholic. I could spend all day at the gym. So, getting sick, especially in a way that severely limits how much, and how I’m allowed to exercise, for the rest of my life, continues to be especially hard. I’m healed enough to allow things like the elliptical machine, walking, and aerobic exercise; but I’m still not allowed any weightlifting, and maybe never will be. So, I moved from the elliptical, to the Insanity series. Logical, right? Seems legit to skip twenty steps.

Let’s just say that after the first day, despite modifying for my condition, I could barely move. At all. It’s ironic how getting fit can make you hunch over, and shuffle like a ninety-year-old with arthritis. Bryon thought it was hilarious. During the video, Collin begged me to stop, and at one point, started crying, because he’d not seen me so sweaty in such a long time; he thought I was having some sort of heart-attack. I thought I looked pretty. I was merely glistening. I had to stop and remind him that sweat is normal, especially during a heatwave, and when the mean man on the video is trying to kill mommy.

However, I think I sweated for the next eight hours, straight. I was woefully unprepared to start the program. It reminded me that, while something like that would’ve been cake for me before, I am back to square one. The soreness has, since, abated, both because I’ve gotten a little stronger, and because I’ve lightened up, even more, on myself, finding that medium, of what I should be doing, at my level. It’s a tough road to travel without a real map. But, I know I’m not doing anything dangerous or risky, so that’s good.  

We’ve done a few of them together now, as a family, which is a blast. Collin is a big fan of the “high five,” which means he only does any movement at all in order to arrange to meet up, in the middle, to receive, and give, a high-five. It’s pretty adorable.


I hope that, soon, I land on some new ideas. I hope that, soon, some new stuff hits, and I have some better stuff to write about. But, this is a palate cleanser to get that nasty business out of our hair. We’re done with bitchy crap, and we’re done with bitches. Let’s move forward and forget about it. I’m feeling the clouds clearing on my dark spot, and I’m ready to go out and be me again, and I’m ready to go forward without that nonsense too. Who cares about ugliness and ugly people?

I'm so excited to move on,in so many ways. I'm taking a painting class this fall, which should be fun. And, I'm really excited to just be doing more of what I love. Hooray!

I'm so excited to move on,in so many ways. I'm taking a painting class this fall, which should be fun. And, I'm really excited to just be doing more of what I love. Hooray!

 

 

 

You Cannot Have My Soul - I Made Pillows

I have lots to say about Comic Con, and about all kinds of geeky happenings of late. But first, I want to talk about these pillows. Boring, I know. Bear with me. I have a point. I always do, you know.

I made all of these throw pillows in the last 18 hours. I have been a throw pillow machine. Why? It’s the only thing in my life that I have any control over. And even that, this afternoon, has failed. We ran out of stuffing, leaving my last pillow unfinished. Fuck.

Last night, it occurred to me, bleary-eyed, as I was determined to finish one of these goddamned things, that being sick sucks your soul. It takes away all the bits and pieces of you, until there’s nothing left, and you grab onto random things, and fight for them, for tangible, random things to hold into the air and scream “you can’t have this too!” about. Yesterday, it was pillows.

Two blue Hawaiian pillows, a green Hawaiian pillow and a patchwork pillow. The patchwork one is made of a pair of shorts that Bryon used to have that he wore until he, literally, wore a hole in the seat. They were special to me because he bought them while we were dating. That means he wore those shorts for close to, what, over 11 years now! I had to keep them, in some way. Don't say I'm not sentimental.

Two blue Hawaiian pillows, a green Hawaiian pillow and a patchwork pillow. The patchwork one is made of a pair of shorts that Bryon used to have that he wore until he, literally, wore a hole in the seat. They were special to me because he bought them while we were dating. That means he wore those shorts for close to, what, over 11 years now! I had to keep them, in some way. Don't say I'm not sentimental.

Now that I’m all in the “recovery” phase of the second surgery, and things are looking up, fate decided that it wasn’t okay to leave me the fuck alone. I’ve been feeling like shit for months, specifically, in my bladder. I’ve been having an increasing amount of difficulty emptying my bladder. I’ve had several UTIs because of it, and now, it looks like I have either kidney, or bladder stones. The doctor is very concerned, and frankly, I am too. I can’t tell you how much it hurts. Considering that I’m still heavily drugged from surgery, and I’m doubled over sometimes, I can tell you that it’s wildly unpleasant.  

I’m being scrunched into a urologist’s schedule tomorrow, and I’m terrified. I’m terrified of the same things I was terrified of when I started my whole Chiari journey before. I’m scared of finding out that I’ve got run-of-the-mill stones; I’m terrified I’ve got something worse; but mostly, I’m terrified I’m in excruciating pain and there’s no immediately detectable reason.

For as “healthy,” and as good as I supposedly look right now, remember that I’m healthy comparable to where I was six, or eighteen months ago. I still need twelve to fifteen hours of sleep a night. I still nap nearly every day. I can’t work. I can’t pick up anything heavier than my cat. I can’t concentrate long enough to read anything more difficult than a young adult novel. I can’t exercise more than twenty minutes at a time. I’m making peace with how slow that recovery is, and what the cap is on how far it might ever go.

My "healthy" picture (there, some Comic Con thrown in). Even this is drugged up with some anti-spasm meds for my bladder, so I could manage to be here. It sucked. I was still super uncomfortable anyway, and only managed this day and the next day before they wore off, and I had to go home. Still, we had a great time!

My "healthy" picture (there, some Comic Con thrown in). Even this is drugged up with some anti-spasm meds for my bladder, so I could manage to be here. It sucked. I was still super uncomfortable anyway, and only managed this day and the next day before they wore off, and I had to go home. Still, we had a great time!

So, to have another blow, another thing added to the pile was too much to bear yesterday. Yeah, I know that something like this is something that anyone gets. I get that. But, the reason that I probably got it? A drug that I have been on since I was about 20, for migraine prevention, in varying doses, ranging from high, to super high, can cause kidney (or bladder) stones. So, do I have a lifetime of side-effects from being sick, to expect? I mean, that’s what happens, isn’t it? First, you get sick, then you get sick from being sick, right?

The thing is, when I spent about three hours raging and crying, it wasn’t for me. I didn’t shed a single tear for pity-party me. I was mad at how this fucking thing affects everyone and everything around me. It’s more time off for Bryon. More doctor’s appointments. More procedures. More anesthesia. More time that Collin watches me suffer. More appointments. More specialists. More time that we have to tell family that “Rachel is too sick to come to that family thing,” and hope that they don’t judge Bryon for being married to a piece of shit drama-queen.

So, I made pillows. Collin and I had picked out some fabric a few weeks ago because he’d been fixating on sewing. The thing about his autism is he fixates, sometimes for very short periods of time, and goes bananas for random things. A few weeks ago, it was sewing; so, we took him to JoAnn’s and let him pick out fabric for various projects, which he promptly dropped. I’d planned on doing pillows with this particular fabric, for our bedroom; but life, and his other, newer fixations, got in the way.

After not only urgent care, but an ER visit and a visit to my family doctor, my bladder really got bad yesterday. I don’t know what possessed me to feel like making the pillows would make me feel better; but, I was not going to go to bed until I finished a few of them. I insisted that, while being sick was going to take my job; my pride; my hair; and now my ability to fucking pee; I wasn’t going to let it take away my ability to make this pillow, right now. And yes, I knew, even then, how stupid it was.

So, I stood there, because it hurt to sit, and I made pillows. I made two last night, and two today. I made another one too, but I ran out of stuffing. It was like a mission. I couldn’t stop until I was done. I was in agony half the time because my bladder hurt so badly at times that I could barely lean; but, I got them done.

Why Hawaiian? I don't know, really. I think I've always wanted a bed like Blanche Devareaux had in  The Golden Girls.  I think they look pretty okay with the plain bed, anyway.

Why Hawaiian? I don't know, really. I think I've always wanted a bed like Blanche Devareaux had in The Golden Girls. I think they look pretty okay with the plain bed, anyway.

God damn it, I refuse to give up. Take a piece of my skull, take it twice. Put rocks in my bladder. Do what you will to me. Unless you are planning on killing me, I will win, even if it means that I have to waste a day crying, and then making fucking pillows to get my soul back on track.

Wonder Woman's Comic Con Delay - With a Side of Plagiarism

I am throwing myself a pity party. It’s sad a pathetic here right now. I am supposed to be at Comic Con with my family, schmoozing with all the geeky nerds, pushing through throngs of people, and fighting for free stickers and swag that I’ll argue with Collin about to throw away next week, because it is, indeed garbage.

More specifically, several hours ago, I was supposed to be climbing into the invisible jet, in one of my Wonder Woman costumes, and smiling for a picture that I’d treasure forever. I was prepared to throw elbows for a spot in that line (it was last night). The promise was that it would be lit up for a nighttime display. I was thrilled to see it, thrilled to be a part of it, and ecstatic to sit inside it. It was a dream come true. Now, all I can do is hope that it’s not dismantled by the time I make it down there.

Why aren’t I there? And where is my family?

Well, my family has made it to Comic Con...without me, Franky! Not to worry, the "plan" is that they come get me tomorrow morning, and "hopefully," I can join them. Fingers crossed.

Well, my family has made it to Comic Con...without me, Franky! Not to worry, the "plan" is that they come get me tomorrow morning, and "hopefully," I can join them. Fingers crossed.

Well, I’ve learned that I can’t depend of my body to hold together for much of anything. The one thing I can rely on it for, is to fall apart when something big is in the works. It threw me in bed with one of the worst Chiari attacks I’ve ever had, when I was supposed to be the dutiful, proud wife, at Bryon’s promotion ceremony. It slammed me into two emergency rooms, with much of the same, as we tried to drive cross-country for our move. And now, this. I guess that with my body, it’s like there are some things in this world you can rely on, like a sure bet. And when they let you down, shifting from where you’ve carefully placed them, it shakes your faith, right where you stand. You get used to it though.

Hi! From the ER. I know I don't look too sick, but that's because I'm lying flat on my back, the only position that I could find that was manageable. Boo for the ER.

Hi! From the ER. I know I don't look too sick, but that's because I'm lying flat on my back, the only position that I could find that was manageable. Boo for the ER.

Off and on, for several months, I’ve been having abdominal pain and weird bladder symptoms. Without being too personal (wait, don’t I tell you all pretty much everything?), I have been having difficulty voiding my bladder. I’ve started bringing books to the bathroom, not for that, but because sometimes, it takes me half-an-hour, to go. This means that, sometimes, I don’t want to go; because it’s such a chore! So, I hold it too long. Obviously, this is a bad idea. So, I’ve gotten two UTIs, in the past three months.

My trouper, who deserves lots of credit. He sat at the hospital for over seven hours, in that chair. There was barely a peep out of him. The only time he got up was to comfort me, when I sobbed, several times, about missing out on Comic Con, and to apologize, guiltily about how sorry I was for ruining yet another family event. My boy is the best boy in the world...even if he does take crazy pictures!

My trouper, who deserves lots of credit. He sat at the hospital for over seven hours, in that chair. There was barely a peep out of him. The only time he got up was to comfort me, when I sobbed, several times, about missing out on Comic Con, and to apologize, guiltily about how sorry I was for ruining yet another family event. My boy is the best boy in the world...even if he does take crazy pictures!

In tandem with these UTI issues have been lots of non-descript abdominal pain, and the feeling of constant fullness, like there’s something “blocking,” what I’m doing. After the last UTI, which I just finished the antibiotics for, a few days ago, the abdominal pain didn’t go away, and over the past few days, has gotten exponentially worse.

By yesterday morning, I couldn’t stand up straight. And, I was increasingly nauseated. Paaaartayy in Rachel’s whole trunk-al (I like that word that I just made up to describe everything between my neck and my bits) region. You should’ve been present for the heartburn. Thanks to it, I couldn’t even drink water. It was a sight. It reminded me of being pregnant. If Bryon hadn’t been snipped-de-do’d, I’d have questioned it!

So, we went to Urgent Care, on the way out of town, thinking that if another UTI was brewing, or the last one wasn’t gone, we should antibiotic-it-up, before it got out of hand. Alas though, my urine was clean, but the doctor was concerned with my symptoms, so he shuttled me off to the ER with a permission slip to be escorted in more quickly, or at least, ahead of others. It worked; I was called back almost immediately. That never happens at an ER!

They did the same tests, plus more. The ultrasound was particularly fun. It was one of those times that I wish I had a penis, instead of the equipment that I’ve been given. If I had a penis, I’d not have had to endure a trans-vaginal ultrasound yesterday, with an inflamed bladder, or whatever the fuck is going on in there. I literally sobbed the entire time. The poor ultrasound tech just kept apologizing. I felt badly for her, because she didn’t know what to do, or how to help, but had to do her job, and I was moaning and wailing. I tried not to cry, and to be a man about it, but as I said, I don’t have a penis.

Lots of blood work, which was difficult to do, as my IV fell out, literally, just fell out on the bed, later, and no answer. All we know is that there’s no blood in my urine, and no infection that is immediately present. They sent me home on some of the stuff that makes your pee orange to help stop the spasms, and a high dose of anti-inflammatory meds through my IV. Thankfully, they gave it to me before my IV fell out. 

My favorite part was listening to the patient who came in, and was in a gurney in the hall outside my room (he was very loud). He “thought” he might have overdosed by taking the wrong pill from his mother’s pill bottle, instead of his. He meant to take an Ativan (anti-anxiety drug), but he might’ve taken his mother’s Valium (also an anti-anxiety drug). His description of the problem was as follows:

Patient: My mom’s drug is a yellow football. It’s bigger than my white football.
Doctor: So, you swallowed a football? Like a toy?
Patient? No, I took a pill. But, it’s a football shape. A yellow football. My football is white. I’m not sure if I took it.
Doctor: So you think you took the wrong meds?
Patient: Yes, but I’m not sure. I can show you. I’m not even sure I took it.
Doctor: You have one of the pills you think you took?
Patient: No, I have the pills I’m supposed to take. But, the pill I might’ve taken looks like a yellow football. It’s bigger than this. It has a “V” on it.
Doctor: The white pill, shaped like a football, is usually a Valium. Yours is an Ativan. Did you take them both?
Patient: Yes. I got panicked that I might’ve taken the wrong pill, so I took my Ativan to help me calm down. So, now I feel a little funny.
Doctor: (gives him a basic field sobriety test, which he fails) Yes, you are essentially “drunk.” You aren’t in any medical danger, and it’ll wear off in about four, to maybe, six hours. Why did you take an Ativan, if you thought you might’ve taken too much Valium?
Patient: I don’t know. That wasn’t smart, was it?
Doctor: No.

This conversation went on a while. It was insane. It was very loud. Additionally, he spent every other moment on the phone (ironically, with his mother), or flagging down passing nurses, by shouting, “are you my nurse?” trying to get himself released, or another blanket. It was really something entertaining to pass the 7 hours we were there.

But, I think we expected too much: we ended up disappointed, in that way that disappointment is a bankruptcy of soul. It’s the type of bankruptcy that expends too much in hope and too much in expectation. Alas, that’s my tale of woe. For the first few hours, we held off disappointment. We thought, maybe, just maybe, they’d be sending us on our merry way, and we’d be able to make it to Comic Con still, happy as clams. Then, we thought, maybe we’d make it to the hotel that night, skipping preview night, but that we’d still be there together. As the day wore on, it was pretty clear that we weren’t going anywhere, it was just going to be them. It was a sucky realization. But, as I’ve adopted the idea that blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed. Wait, no, fuck, I’m disappointed.

But they are there today...and they are happy. So, I have to live with that and be happy for their Daddy/Collin day! Hooray for bonding time!

But they are there today...and they are happy. So, I have to live with that and be happy for their Daddy/Collin day! Hooray for bonding time!

The thing was, why was I sad? All I had was plans? There was nothing tangible. I’d not been there yet? I’d not seen the invisible jet that was supposed to be there. All I had was imaginary things about how it was going to be fun. I kept thinking about how fun it was going to be. So, I tried to realize that I was disappointed about something I’d not really had, I guess. It was one of those times that you feel a sense of loss, even though you didn’t have something in the first place. I guess that’s what disappointment is, a sense of loss for something you never had.

Being perpetually sick, you have lots of “sick” days though. You can plan things, and hope for things, but you have to prepare yourself for the idea that you will miss stuff, even if you plan to be there for it. It sucks. Life, it turns out, is a long preparation for something that never happens. It turns out that for sick people, that’s more true than for well people. I’m hoping that I get to go tomorrow (Friday). I know that one must not let oneself be overwhelmed by sadness; so I’m trying to be upbeat today, while I wallow in my pajamas, focusing on the idea that I will hope to be well enough to be there tomorrow.


If you thought I sounded more genius-y than normal, that I was more profound today, that’s because I was (or, maybe I’m always profound, and you always think I’m a genius?). See if you can find where I plagiarized. It’s only a few places, and only a few words; and, they are general IDEAS about disappointment that anyone might share. So, you could argue, that anyone might generalize the ideas behind them; but, they aren’t MY words, they are someone else’s, and they said them, in THAT order, FIRST. It’s not a “coincidence” when so many words, in that order, in a row, are exactly the same. It’s not mathematically possible. We’ve proven that, time and time again, with plagiarism software, that universities, worldwide use.

Thus, it’s plagiarism. This is they very definition of plagiarism, in fact. This isn’t to harp on Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, or anyone who’s done it, frankly. It speaks to the larger point, because I’ve seen it so many times in my professional life. It’s an opportunity to define the term, at least in a small way. There are so many ways to plagiarize. People don’t realize, you can even plagiarize ideas, but we can talk about that, some other time. In summer “school,” with Collin, this is a learning opportunity for us, actually.

What’s happened with Melania Trump is important, because people are screaming, “but it’s such a small amount!” Well, you can’t rob a bank of $200 dollars, or even $50 and then scream, “But I only took a small amount!” You still robbed a bank! Obviously, these are different “crimes;” but, the comparison is what I’m looking for. Small vs large is irrelevant; the “offense” is the “offense.” When we take, even a small amount, of someone else’s words, especially exact ones, and say they are our own, we are saying several things about ourselves:

  • Our own words aren’t valuable enough, smart enough, or important enough to be heard
  • We don’t take enough care with our work
  • We don’t the appropriate amount of time or care with our work
  • We don’t expect our audience to notice, thus….
  •             We don’t respect our audience
  •             We think our audience is stupid
  • Most importantly: we don’t have the integrity to admit any of the above, both to ourselves, or to our audience.

Plagiarism isn’t just cheating, copying, or cutting corners. It’s a lie. And, just like any other lie, it speaks to the character of the person who does it. I’ve had plenty of students mistakenly plagiarize, before they knew, or understood, the writing process. It’s understandable. I’ve also had plenty of students plagiarize on purpose. There’s a difference.

What’s recently happened with Melania Trump has given us an opportunity to talk openly about plagiarism, and about integrity. I think that this was, most importantly, an opportunity for discussion about integrity, in a campaign that is so fiercely lacking. No one faults Mrs. Trump for being uncomfortable at a podium, with English being her second language, and being nervous about giving such an important speech. Thus, this was a good time for her to say, “I love my husband and wanted to make him proud, so I looked up some extra notes, and got confused. I made a mistake.” If that’s the truth, of course! She might’ve won some points for not appearing like a gold-digger, for once. It’s possible that she does love him – gag, gross, vomit.

Instead, we’ve got all kinds of weird excuses from Meredith McIver, who has admitted fault for the whole thing. Over the course of a few days, Meredith McIver became a mystery. Was she real? Was she fake? But, the more interesting question now is, thanks to the letterhead, is Trump violating all kinds of campaign spending laws?

Of course, Trump could drag a toddler and a puppy up on stage, have them fight to the death, and his supporters would scream for more, probably providing the toddler with an AK-47 and the puppy with sharpened teeth and landmines fitted on its paws. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love Hillary; but I think that a vote for trump Trump is a vote for an actual sociopath. At least a vote for Hillary is just a vote for just a politician, not great, but, meh, at least it’s not a vote for evil incarnate. This election cycle has produced the top two hated presidential nominees…of ALL TIME.

I think Melania gave a speech to satisfy someone she’s afraid of, and wanted to keep satisfied and proud. So, she plagiarized. That’s not much different than what a terrified freshman does on their first essay, when they don’t know how to write, or haven’t been paying attention to citation standards.

Okey dokey. And, now, she’s lying to cover it up, as part of both her (terrible?) marriage, and the political machine that she’s trapped in. The problem is that no one (of his supporters) seems to have a problem with the integrity of the whole affair. Lying about lying is a problem, for me. And, when someone deflects the issue at hand by saying, “but what about Hillary” is ridiculous! Talk about the thing we’re talking about!

Mike Rowe, who’s basically a God to conservatives, because he’s got dirty hands all the time (grunt, hard worker, grunt), spoke up about the whole thing too. He did say that Mrs. Trump is:

 absolutely, positively guilty of standing before the country and reading words she didn’t write as if they were her [sic] own (Rowe).

But, he also said that we’re not focusing on the bigger issue, which is that politicians are never using their own words anyway, because they use speechwriters (Rowe).

Frankly, what the fuck? Who cares about speechwriters? The politicians themselves review all speeches, help write them, and polish them. It’s not like they aren’t part of the process. And yes, politicians read from a teleprompter, something else he criticized. Can you imagine giving new speeches, almost daily (or more!), having to memorize all of them? Some of these speeches are up to an hour, or more, long.

I think that using a teleprompter, because it’s difficult to memorize a long speech, day after day, is a far cry from Kabuki, sir. And, comparing it to such a thing intentionally distances white-collar politicians from blue-collar workers, to make the divide seem immeasurably far. Bravo, Mike Rowe, at intentionally, using a word (and concept) that your audience might be unfamiliar with, like Kabuki, you make your audience feel like the white-collar politician is just thaaaat much farther away, while you are thiiiis much closer. You are a very smart man. Mucho respect-o.

By the way, Trump has never written a thing, including his speeches, nor does he read. This is why his speeches are so… hugely eloquent, and off-the-cuff? I wish you could’ve been in my head to hear my emphasis on “hugely.” On being told he was being sent an important, but lengthy report, he told someone to send him three pages, for example (Fisher, 2016).

Meanwhile other politicians (and humans) read voraciously. All the books Trump “wrote,” have been ghost-written. Surely, you know that his ghost-writer, from Trump’s most famous book, The Art of the Deal has come out to say that the biggest mistake of his life has been aggrandizing a man that he considers a sociopath? He’s afraid that if he didn’t speak out now, he’d go to his grave regretting it, afraid that if Trump is elected president, without him telling the world what a crazy person he is, that he’d be responsible for helping to not only elect him, but to destroy civilization, as we know it (yes, for real):

I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes, there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization

Trump is so humiliated at being sold out by his former ghostwriter, that he's, of course, sent a cease and desist letter to him to, basically, stop beinga meanie-pants to him. Even if you are a Trump supporter, the list of horrendous things Schwartz says about him makes for an interesting read; the man spent eighteen months shadowing him, so he's got an interesting take.

A ghostwriter, by the way, is way worse than a speechwriter. P.S. Meredith McIver is a ghostwriter! Remember her from a few paragraphs ago, the staffer who admitted to being responsible for Melania's "issue?" A ghostwriter writes the whole thing, and lets the other person put their name on it, and, theoretically, everyone pretends that he/she doesn’t exist; meanwhile, everyone knows there are speechwriters employed. So, how does ghostwriting compare to speech writing, Mr. Rowe? Is that plagiarizing to the Nth degree, then, in terms of compromising a person’s integrity?

Alas, that was a long digression, yes? But, the issue of plagiarism is far more complex than just stealing a few sentences, isn’t it? Especially in politics. When we “steal” a few words, it’s not just “stealing,” it’s lying. And, lying is always about integrity. We have to ask ourselves: why? And, when it’s political, then answer is never simple.

By the way, as a side note, I read an equal amount of garbage-ola about Hillary. If you think I don’t know anything about e-mail servers or about Benghazi, try me. Just FYI. I read…let’s just say, I read. If it’s out there, I’ve read it. But, I try not to make my only source material come from one side.

For example, these are places some of my insane friends have actually sent/posted links to that I assume they think qualify as “news” stories, in just the last 7 days alone – if you want a laugh at what people THINK qualifies as “news” check some of them out: Redstate, Right Wing News, Town Hall, Fox News, The Blaze, The Drudge Report, Jihad Watch, Patriot Post, Life News, Conservative Tree House, LifeSite News,

**by the way, one of these days, I'll have to do a post on divisive rhetoric. I mean, clearly, liberals can't be patriots, or can't value life. The conservatives have the market cornered. We should call our news sites death news or traitor news, right? Rhetorical devices are pretty interesting, right? I read, practically everything, because I think it's interesting to see where the other side comes from and how they develop their thought. Maybe more people should be reading MORE.

P.S. The good girl in me can’t allow “real” plagiarism to stand. If you want to know where the plagiarism is, I’ll tell you. Send me a comment, or an email!  But, I plagiarized the following people: Jackie Kennedy, W.B. Yeats, Alexander Pope, Deb Caletti, Eric Hoffer, and Sarah Desser.

P.P.S. I'm still thinking on that Ark thing. I promise. It's driving me CRAZY!