Blind Leading the Blind, Bigoted Encouraging the Ignorant

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What strange times we live in now. We have a (unsuccessful) TV personality for president (shout out to The Arnold, we took you for granted as a politician!), literal Nazis that are marching the streets, right-wing media bashing the people who stand against them, and a prospective wall to be built at our southern border reminiscent of the infamous Berlin Wall.

I’m strangely nostalgic for the days where all I had to complain about were drone strikes and whether it was appropriate enough for the president to wear a beige suit. (Jk about the last one) Who knew that a few short years later we would have a president who calls the media (who is important enough that we included them in our constitution) and a large section of our citizens an Enemy of the People or an Enemy of the State.

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When all of this started, I immediately looked around to my peers, expecting outrage and was shocked to see just under half of them, just under half of our citizens cheering. At first, I figured Trump’s rhetoric would die down when he won* the election. When David Duke publicly came out in support of Donald Trump, I wondered if that would be enough. When Donald Trump referred to the Charlottesville protests which included LITERAL NAZIS, and ended with a wonderful girl losing her life with this:

“I think there is blame on both sides,”

“You had some very bad people in that group,” Trump said, referring to the white nationalist groups rallying against removal of a Confederate statue. “But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

I looked around, I looked at the generations before me who had literally FOUGHT Nazis in WW2, and was simply.. shocked? Shocked that they were applauding this man as president.

(*via electoral college, which some including myself believe needs to be abolished. Trump lost the popular vote.)

We are in the times where our country’s figurehead name calls his fellow politicians, congressmen and other nation’s leaders on TWITTER. This is the day and age, where we find out that his administration is enacting a “National Emergency” on our southern border via a tweet, with a shotty screenshot of the Notes App on an Apple Device.

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Of course people are speaking out about it. However, a portion of our country isn’t. They are perfectly content in their armchairs while our sitting president is using the guise of a National Emergency to get funding for a border wall that congress (the purse) didn’t grant him. These people are okay sitting back and letting this man misuse that option because he didn’t get his way and 2 years in, hasn’t fufilled some stupid campaign promise. These are the same people who had a stroke over every move President Obama made, ranging from his declarations of National Emergency, to the First Lady wearing a sleeveless shirt.

(I’m going to go ahead and include a link with information regarding previous presidents’ national emergencies: NPR.com)

These past few years we’ve gone back further in time than we ever had before. Women’s right to choose, equal rights for LGBTQ+, and many other things are all in danger. Our country has become a laughing stock for the rest of the world, we have people literally laughing at our president, to his face, at conferences. We have Nazis holding public office and every day people retweeting far right, extremist, racist, sexist groups like The Proud Boys. It’s the blind leading the blind. The bigots leading the ignorant.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not sure voting is enough anymore.

 

 

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Winter – Depression & Crohns rear their Collective Heads

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Winter has always been rough for me. My depression and anxiety tend to get worse, usually from late December until spring. Usually my Crohns Disease acts up (my anxiety levels up my symptoms) as well. However, I tend to look at it like this: There’s no better time to be sick and depressed than winter. Why? Because fuck the cold and snow, that’s why.

It’s not big deal though, although I hope my (few) friends understand why I’ve been so distant lately. Sometimes it is just hard to push through the brain fog. So for now, I’ll remain cuddled up on my couch with my books and Reddit.

Life other than all of that is alright.

The kid is doing fantastic, she’s not the biggest fan of school this year, but she’s doing great. She’s got one hell of a personality now, she’s like my little punk rocker. She’s super open minded and accepting of others, and thanks to the current political climate has a firm dislike of racists and nazi-scum. She asked me to give her an undercut the other day, so now she has the underside of her ponytail buzzed and the bottom 4″ of her hair is sea green/blue. She is definitely something else, and despite the daily video calls with her other little gremlin friends, I am indefinitely proud of her.

The boyfriend has been job hopping. Trying to find one that is a good fit for him, might as well take advantage of the interviews and look for a great position and company to work for. Things are going great with us, so nothing new there.

Our Animal House has been good too. Vader (our neighbor’s old cat) has settled into the house fantastically. Smudge is still not too fond of him, but they get along. I do have to say that I love Vader dearly. He is such a sweetheart, I couldn’t ever imagine losing him even though he hasn’t been here nearly as long as Smudge or Thumbs.

Things calmed down with Jon’s ex. That’s something I’m glad is basically over. She had denied him visitation over the summer (I guess she got angry that we questioned her parenting choices and called her bluff on abandoning her daughter at our house). So we took her to court, and her lawyers basically told her to go kick rocks and give us our visitation, do half the driving and let Jon in on all decisions. Unfortunately Jon is still stuck paying for the son that is not biologically his (Ex cheated on him, got pregnant, tried to pin it on Jon) as Pennsylvania will not cancel child support, despite paternity unless another man takes his place. Unfortunately they do not require her to work, so she’s still living off of CS & Welfare. Alas. Just like with my daughters dad NOT paying child support, EVER.. we are completely okay with the kids knowing who does what for them, and seeing us as examples. Neither of us will bad mouth our exes in front of our children, but we also don’t lie.

As for me? I’m still on hiatus from work. I’ve interviewed with a few places over the phone, and turned down several in person interviews. I’m not sure what my plan is for right now, but our situation works for us and I’m enjoying finally being able to spend (forced) time with the kiddo even if she’s at the age where she’s not so keen on it. Ha.

As the months drag on, I still do not regret quitting my last job. I’m reminded almost daily by Timehop showing me the posts about how miserable I was from the last 8 years. I may have my normal depression and anxiety, but I am no longer having daily anxiety attacks about going into that toxic environment. I hear from old coworkers and work contacts every once in a while, and it seems like it hasn’t gotten much better beyond a crackdown. All I can say there folks is I learned a life lesson, one that I’ve drilled into Jon (as he walked from one recently in order to take another higher position) and one that I’m teaching my daughter. Work is work, don’t let them destroy you and your health, because at the end of the day, you are expendable. No job is worth being miserable. Not even one you devoted the better part of your 20’s and early 30’s to it.

So beyond all that rambling, hey. At least I’m writing again. I have been slowly working myself into writing again. Even if it’s just free writing a few sentences a day. I’ve just got to get into the habit. Writing is the easiest way to clear my mind and lift my mood.

On that note. I’m off to eat some chocolate and cuddle with the pupper.

Crohns & Colitis Awareness Week (December 1-7th)

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More than a decade ago I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease. I had first gotten sick almost a year earlier, unfortunately my early doctors did not think to check for Crohns. It wasn’t until I had lost just under 100lbs and my life consisted of ERs, Fevers, Pain and my bed that I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

I happened to go to a specific ER, where a group of GIs, one of which has devoted a significant portion of his life to studying IBD. It took one look at my chart and medical history for him to look at me and say “I think you have Crohns Disease”.

When I first became sick, I had only heard “Crohns Disease” once as a good friend of mine’s mother had it. I didn’t know that there were multiple options for treatment, I didn’t know the complications, I didn’t know anything. The following years were lonely. I found out another friend of mine had Ulcerative Colitis (same family of IBD) (who ended up helping me with my daughter way more than she had to prior to my diagnosis) and met another friend with Crohns. It was still odd talking about it.

There wasn’t medication commercials on the TV, Facebook wasn’t public yet (or popular until later) so instant support groups were out, I had no idea that so many people had the disease and were suffering right along side of me. To make it worse, my then husband and my family didn’t quite understand that there was so much more to it than a “bathroom disease”. No one around me understood the pain, urgency, fatigue, nor the side effects from my medications. I looked healthy enough, and at size 0, my friends were envious.

Check out Noodles face! Note: this is after I got sick, and before my diagnosis.

The first few years that I was diagnosed were the most lonely I had ever experienced. I had so much shame about a disease a couldn’t control. I just dealt with it as my disease stabilized. Having a bowel disease wasn’t something you talked about at parties, and I even tried to hide it from my close friends (online).

A couple of years later I had developed severe inflammation again, it started turning into scar tissue in my small intestine and colon. I learned what a bowel obstruction was, and after the first few, it became near constant. I was in and out of the hospital monthly.

It seemed like all there was to my life was Crohns. That was it. Now that Facebook was more popular I leaned heavily on my online friends and found some support groups. Furthermore I said “Fuck it” and started being vocal about what I was going through.


Everyone online was bombarded with what I was going through. I started TELLING people I couldn’t deal with the symptoms, I started EXPLAINING what Crohns Disease really was. I’d post pictures from the hospital or from my infusions. Showing people what Crohns Disease was.

Then I started hearing from people. I found out my then boyfriend’s niece has IBD. I had people acknowledging that even though people with IBD didn’t look sick, they were.

I had support and I tried to share it with whomever needed it.

I eventually had a bowel resection a few years ago after so many bowel obstructions I lost count. Even after being in the first 50 in IL to try Entyvio. Luckily, I have only had minor problems since then.

I am technically in remission. My last blood draw showed elevated levels of inflammation, so we’re just watching and waiting. So unfortunately I’ve become complacent with this disease (and also focused on dealing with some other issues, IST & POTs) as well as quiet.

However, I’ve learned that being open with the world about my Crohns served a purpose. People remembered. I have talked to just under 60 people in the last two years because of Crohns. People who have the same symptoms, were being diagnosed or just diagnosed, people in the hospital, family members of Crohns patients. People who just needed questions answered, who needed to vent, who needed someone to understand. I’ve talked with friends, their family members, friend’s friends, and strangers who found me through my social media platforms. I will never ever mind, I remember how hard it was in the beginning, I remember how horrifying and lonely it can be. Worst of all, I remember not knowing anything or what was going to happen. So I will always be up to talk.

It occurred to me last night, that THAT is a benefit of the awareness week. The more people know, the more people available to talk.. the more people who might recognize the symptoms in themselves and loved ones and get a diagnosis. The more people might not feel alone or overwhelmed with what they’re facing. The more people talking about it, the further we get.

So Happy Crohns & Colitis Awareness Week and remember to keep talking! It’s more than a bathroom disease!

Slow down there heart.

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I am exhausted, even though I slept a bit last night and had a nap it feels like I ran a marathon. My muscles in my shoulders and neck are tight, my chest hurts, and I have a lingering headache that thuds along with my heartbeat.

Why? My heart decided to take off running for no damned reason last night and continued through this morning. So instead of resting with a nice low heart rate, I was at 160bpm just sitting down.

It’s honestly frustrating and simply tiring. By this morning, standing up made me dizzy and nauseated. I am sick of it. However, I also know that my heart is a lot better than it used to be. I know I have more good days than bad, yet it still gets me down.

Either way, I have spent the entire day taking it easy. I’m starting to feel more like myself almost 24 hours later. Hopefully the entire weekend won’t be lost.

Healthy Realizations

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It’s okay to be angry.

It’s okay to be hurt.

It’s absolutely okay to not “get over it” in whatever acceptable time frame the person or people who wronged you claim.

I have a bit of a cold going on, so does my daughter. Between her coughing last night and my own sinus pressure, it was difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. A snow storm blew in during the late hours, and with it, some gusty winds. So while laying in bed, trying to breathe through approximately 1/2 of a nostril, I listened to the wind whip through the copper wind-chime Jon and Noodle bought for me last year.

My mind wandered to how my old wind-chime had been stolen, then I thought about all of the tools in my shed that had been stolen too. I laid in my bed, desperately trying to think of anything else, only to feel that familiar rage burn in my chest.

I remembered texting the man who had stolen my things, asking him to at least bring back my wind-chime and shears. I remembered threatening to call the police, after all, he had stolen almost everything I had out of my house and I had done nothing. I remembered wanting to stand up for myself, everyone had asked me why I hadn’t done anything? Why I had just let him take my things? I had to stand up for myself.

I remembered the text back, of him threatening to come back and take my daughter’s bed. It had been gifted to us by his ex-sister in law. Her daughter had no use for it, so she had given it to my daughter, and he thought he was going to come take it back.

I had backed down, I don’t know why I believed him. I now know that the police would’ve taken my side over a sex offender who had just robbed a woman and her child blind.  I now know, that not only would he have been arrested, but I would’ve had a case in court, and that is what still bothers me, two years later.

Even last year, when I had him, his sister and his new girlfriend all threatening me via text message and Facebook chat (I had inadvertently outed him as a sex offender to his family, apparently he had chosen to hide that from them. Who knew that was a viable option? Opps.), all three of them had missed the point. They kept telling me to get over it, he wasn’t going to come back to me, all in between threats of violence and vandalism.

Some how, they all assumed that a registered sex offender was someone I wanted to be with. That a year later, after discovering the hundreds of hours logged on sex-hotlines, all of the craigslist ads and affairs, after him hurting not just me but my daughter that I wanted him back. I assume that all 3 of them didn’t know that I was in a relationship, had replaced all of the stuff he had stolen from me, and was happy knowing the true extent of what I had “lost”. I had gotten over that ridiculous relationship, and had thankfully started seeing a therapist to deal with the trauma from it and work through all of the gas-lighting and emotional abuse.

What was it that I was angry about a year later, and as it turns out two years later? It wasn’t all of the horrific issues from within his own head that he had heaped upon our relationship. Nope, I was and still am angry that he stole from me and my daughter. That he stole from us right before Christmas, and left us with nothing. I am angry that he stole from us, to give to his new girlfriend, and that she was not a good enough of a person to tell him to bring it back.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, what really bothers me, is that I wasn’t strong enough to stand up to him and protect myself, my daughter and my belongings from him. That is what truly bothers me. In all reality, it doesn’t pop in my head too often anymore, as time is healing that wound, but when it does, it’s a good reminder.

There are shitty people in this world, there are men and women who use and abuse people.  I have learned from that period of my life, and hopefully I can teach Noodle how to protect herself (in all aspects: physically, financially, living together and not) during a relationship and how to handle these situations as they come up. It’s not foolproof obviously, as no one can protect their children from everything, but I hope that she doesn’t make as many mistakes as I did.

It doesn’t matter what people say, especially the people that have wronged you. I was most certainly still angry a year after being robbed. Two years later, when reminded, I am still angry. It takes time, and you’re allowed to take as much time as you need. It doesn’t matter what you’re getting over, a relationship, a friendship, a crime, a life.. the human mind takes time to heal.

Also just because you’re reminded of a wreck of a human being, maybe a decade later, and get a twinge of anger, doesn’t mean you’re not over it either. It’s okay to recognize that someone was horrible to you and that it hurt you, that’s also human nature.

On a parting note, on the rare times that I am reminded of my stolen things one thing makes me chuckle. My copper wind-chime invokes memories of Jon and Noodle sitting around me waiting for me to open it, both with adorably dorky looks on their faces.  My ex-boyfriends current girlfriend told me my wind-chime was her very-favorite thing when I asked for it back. It makes me fuzzy inside to know that when it moves in the wind, she’ll be reminded that it was a gift from her boyfriend and my daughter to me.

Stolen gifts aren’t worth anything.

 

21 Years Long

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Twenty one years ago, I was Ashley’s age. I was in the 5th grade, I had long brown hair that my mother refused to let me cut, and I was even more of a dork that I am now. I still liked to read more than I liked to talk to people, and you could still find me hanging out with animals more than with my friends.

Today, in 2018, we had a pretty standard day. Jon and I had to work, and Noodle had to go to school. So the day started off with Jon getting to work, me having coffee in bed, and Noodle playing around with the cats. A pretty relaxed morning before I had to drop her off at school. She had a regular day at school, I had a regular day at work, and we both got home and are relaxing while Jon makes us stuffed mushrooms for dinner. Right now I’m writing, Ashley’s harassing my sister on Snapchat, and Jon’s listening to his videos while dinner is finishing up. It’s a decent day.

In 1997? It was a much different day. I had woken up in the early morning hours to use the bathroom, only to find out that my mother had fallen into a coma. I remember mumbling “uh okay” and going back to bed just to dwell on the fact that my mom had been too tired to sing her “good night” song to me before bed the night before. I had insisted my little sister go first.. trying to be a good older sister and all. A few hours later, I crawled out of bed to be informed my grandparents were coming to pick my sister and I up for the day. 

We spent the rest of the morning trying to be .. normal? I don’t think my brain quite understood what a coma was being in 5th grade and all. All I knew is that my mom was asleep and not waking up. It was pretty surreal, even when my grandparents encouraged me to crawl into bed with my mom and say goodbye. I remember laying there and praying to whatever god I believed in to let my mom be okay.

Because what 5th grader understands “terminal cancer”? 

I realized maybe 15 minutes later that she wasn’t going to be when my grandmother started describing her version of heaven once we got into her car. 

I don’t remember the rest of that day from 21 years ago. 

… 

21 years have past. Each year that passes I reflect, I remember, and I learn. This year I think is a bit special to me since Ashley and I are the same age. She’s the age I was when I lost my mom.. so this year it just hits a little closer to my heart. So this year? I am grateful for the very simple things. 21 years ago, I was exactly her age, in exactly her grade, and had *just* lost my mother. I was starting on a new, seemingly horrific part of my life. 

Today? I’m sitting next to my own daughter, listening to her send her screeching raptor noises over snap chat to my unsuspecting sister and cracking up. We may not have done anything super fun today, or anything she’ll remember in 21 years, but that’s okay with me. Considering what I remember 21 years ago? I’ll take it. I’m grateful for the simple things, and how lucky I  really am.

 

I miss you mom.

Take a Deep Breath – It’s 2018

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Happy New Years! It’s already 2018, I can’t believe how fast this last year flew by. It seems like it was just Christmas 2016.. and then I blinked and it was Spring 2017.. and then I blinked again and it was Summer and Noodles birthday.. then I blinked again and it was New Years.

Time really got away from me, that’s for sure. I remember being a little girl, even younger than Noodle is now, and it seemed like time simply crawled. It took forever for a week to pass, much less for a month to pass, or god forbid a birthday or a holiday to arrive. Summers seemed to last forever, almost to the point where I looked forward to school at the end of August. Now? I don’t know how, but time just seems to slip right through my fingers.

I am glad it’s a new year though, 2017 was a rough one, it really was. I mean, I guess they all have been, at least for the last decade or so. We had some issues with Jon’s ex, I had some health issues (when do I not?) and Jon was unemployed for a bit while he searched for a job that was the right fit. It was definitely a bumpy road. Towards the end of the year it smoothed out a little bit though, enough to give me hope for this year.

So I have a new specialist now, a neurologist who studies autonomic disorders. I went and had all of the autonomic testing run right before Christmas, and it turns out that the majority of my symptoms are because of autonomic neuropathy. Almost everything can be related to it: Crohns symptoms (even though I’m near-remission), headaches & migraines, tachycardia/POTS, insomnia, tingling & numbness, you name it and it can be tied to it. Pretty interesting actually. He’s leaning more towards it being kicked off because of my Crohns or it being a genetic thing I got from my mom. It’s an answer, and just having an answer makes me feel a bit better. Now to start the roundabout of meds (again) to try and put the brakes on and slow down my heart.

Jon found a new management job that he likes quite a bit too. Very similar hours to mine which really rocks. His previous job was almost like a swing shift between third and first, so it was a bit odd with me working full first shift. He seems to be enjoying the challenge, and it’s a load off of my shoulders to have two incomes in the household again. It was definitely hard on me to support the house on top of my health issues (because of course, when it rains, it pours). Just having him working for the past handful of weeks has lifted a lot of the stress off.

Noodle is doing great, she’s shot up like a weed over this last year. I swear, she looks like a teenager already. Sometimes when she and I sit down and talk, she blows me away with how smart she is. She’s definitely got an old soul, she’s a brilliant, caring young girl, that I’m proud to say is my own.

On that note.. she’s also mastered her “metal scream”.. and really enjoys alternating screaming her chicken nugget song and making her pterodactyl sound and scaring the ever living crap out of me.

She definitely an interesting child, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. I can’t believe she’s almost done with 5th grade, it really blows my mind how fast time has flown by. I love my little nerdling.

Beyond all that, it’s the same shit, same struggle, same work, same house. Not a whole lot has changed. Life is always a fight, but I’ve learned from the past few years to surround myself with good people and that is what makes it worth living. I’ve got someone I can’t stand that I can’t avoid in my work-life, but beyond that I love the majority of the people I work with, both in the office and out.. so that makes the office that much more enjoyable. I’ve got my beer-girlfriend, a good boyfriend, and great kid. Life is good despite the everyday shit. Huzzah.