Monthly Archives: August 2014

Open Letter to the Jerks Who Think They Know Me


It has come to my attention that people think I am lazy. For some reason I have been an easy target lately but I have also heard this by a few ever since I decided to be a stay at home (step) mom. People are so quick to judge without having ever been in similar shoes. So let me explain some things to you.

I have never been super ambitious or high energy. I have even joked about my laziness in the past based on needing more down time than the average person. But maybe some people haven’t heard me also discuss some pretty major issues. I know many of you have and it may be one of those “just get over it” situations. And I am. Truly. I am not losing sleep over this. I just am not the type who can remain silent when surrounded by nitwits. So, I will say my peace and let it be.

I do not work outside of the home for several reasons. One being that I was falsely accused of a crime and have a criminal record that has devastated a big portion my life. That will not go away. Ever. The emotional scars are permanent and deep.  It also makes getting any decent job very humiliating and difficult. For the good jobs which require background checks, I always have to try to explain in 50 words or less the whats, whys and hows. For the more menial jobs, they do their own checks on CCAP and I never get any chance to explain at all. Eventually, I gave up. And funny story – one of the people who likes to criticize my lifestyle is one of the people who created this entire problem to begin with.

Another reason I do not work outside the home – I have been taking care of children for 13 years. With vacations, various days off, sick days, early release and summers – getting a job flexible enough for their schedules and/or financially worthwhile has been impossible. It simply made no sense to work just to pay someone else to take care of our kids. And before they were school age, I was with them 24/7 by choice. Even though I was made to feel like a loser at times for being a stay at home mom, I can assure you – it was worth it. That time flew by and my daughter is now almost 10 years old. I am very grateful for that time with her. I also appreciate the time I had with my stepdaughter during those years when we were very close.

When I am at home, I spend a lot of time in my room because that is where I am comfortable and where I keep my computer/work table. While I don’t make big bucks – I do quite a bit of website work, volunteer work and writing. Our house is 1300 sq ft and I am rarely alone or unaware of what is happening in all corners of the house. I cook, I clean, I do laundry, I run errands – but, yes, I also spend time in my room simply because I like it better. For some reason, the room in which I spend my time seems to be an issue for some people. I guess sitting on a couch working on a laptop is more respectable than sitting on my bed working on a laptop. Whatever, jerks.

I lay down a lot because I am in pain a considerable chunk of the time since surgery/complications. If you have never dealt with chronic pain – you can really just shut your fucking mouth. Until you go through it, you have no clue. It IS getting better with therapy and time. I am so thankful for that. But this has been the most painful and depressing year of my life  (aside from the year I was accused of child abuse). Don’t you dare pretend to have any idea what my life is like. Because barring a handful of really great people, most never bothered to ask.

I realize I make it easy to jump down my throat, judge or talk shit about me. But know this – I am a great mother and have been the best step mother I could be in a very difficult situation. I am a caring friend and compassionate person. I volunteer and help others whenever I can. I have a banging sense of humor, make some delicious ass food and I am pretty smart too. If my in-home logistics, past-times and sleep patterns somehow make me a lazy loser, then so be it.

As a good friend reminds me from time to time – your words say far more about you than they do about me. So go pray or have a drink or do whatever you do in your perfect life, assholes. Because you are too insignificant for me to acknowledge after this post. Piss off.


Breast Cancer: It’s All Fun and Games


Oh goody! I found another thing to be annoyed about and how lucky are you to get this invitation to join in my curmudgeoness. I normally don’t like it when people pretend to be social media police. People do it to me sometimes and it bothers me. So,  I do hate that some of you have put me in the position to flash my own plastic badge. But I simply cannot stop myself.

As you may know, it took me a little while to really have an appreciation for the Ice Bucket Challenge and to realize that it actually was doing a lot of good – even though some people have been intention-challenged about it.  What I am here to bitch about is not the same and I will tell you why.

You must stop playing these insensitive, annoying and imbecilic Facebook games under the guise of breast cancer awareness.

“I just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket.”

“I’ve decided to stop wearing underwear.”

The list goes on. And the more it goes on, the more I want to punch you in the vagina.

Listen, I am sure most of you are wonderful, brilliant people in your own way. I am sure that I may like you as a person and perhaps as a friend. I am sure you have decent intentions. But this…this is foolish. Please stop.

Posting some ridiculous status update is doing NOTHING for people with breast cancer. And what it could be doing is offending and even hurting those who are already going through so much. Imagine having to deal with endless rounds of chemo and radiation. Imagine having to go through the side effects of many medications. Imagine losing your hair and having every muscle in your body ache and burn. Imagine having to have your breasts removed in order to, hopefully, extend your life. Then imagine going on Facebook and seeing people repeatedly playing some GAME about the very serious disease you are currently fighting. Imagine seeing senseless, fake posts about using your BOOBS to get out of a ticket!!! Do you see how stupid this is?

How about the oh so popular No Bra Day? You really think women going through breast cancer treatment want to see your tits jiggling and flopping about? Chances are, no, they do not. Put your goddamn bra back on and make a fucking donation. Or offer to give rides to a person facing cancer. Or bring her cookies. Or help her clean her house. Or volunteer to watch her kids. And please, wear a bra while doing any of those things.

You want to help raise breast cancer awareness (even though I am pretty sure most people are fully aware of its existence)? Help educate people. While everyone not living under a rock has heard of breast cancer, they may not know all of the facts. Instead of posting some vague status that isn’t the least bit humorous, post a fact about breast cancer. Or you can post the link to where people can donate.

Sorry if I sound mean and bitchy. But someone needs to tell you guys the truth. These silly games help no one. And they are not even entertaining. If you are going to perpetuate silliness – at least, for the love of Pete, make it FUNNY. And hey, if these games one day morph into something that raises over 80 million dollars – then, perhaps, I will change my tune. In the meantime, I have to go yell at some kids on my lawn.

2014 Emmy Awards: My Ballot, Bitches


Oh how I love my over-blown and excessive award shows. Yes, they are filled with overpaid celebrities who love to pat themselves on the back as though they are continually curing fatal diseases. And yes, I also know that they are wasting billions while people around the world are starving and bathing in their own toilets. It’s gross on every level. But I still love them. Sue me.

So, like the big ass dork that I am, I will be watching with my ballot in hand and tears on my cheeks because for some block-headed reason – I always cry. Once in a blue moon, I am actually happy for one of these people. But usually my tears are out of jealousy because deep down I know that I am suppose to be up there giving some bullshit speech in a fancy dress with fake boobs and an empty stomach. Me, damnit! ME!


Okay. So here is my take on this year’s noms.

Best Comedy – VEEP. This was a tough one (as many are this year). But a couple of the other ones I consider more drama than comedy (OITNB and Louis, oddly enough). While those shows still make me laugh – this season, they had much more seriousness to them. VEEP simply makes me Laugh. My. Ass. Off. Honestly, I almost pee myself during every episode.

Best Drama – Breaking Bad. While I love some of the other shows, BB is and will always be one of my all time favorites. Every week was better than the previous. Each season lived up to the last. It was just perfection. And, it’s gone now (insert snot blowing sobs).  We will never be able to ‘vote’ for BB again. It better win, yo.

Lead Actor, Comedy – William H. Macy. I love Louis a lot. But for acting? Macy has this shit down. And Shameless is his best work yet. No doubt in my mind – he deserves this win as much as his character does NOT deserve a new kidney.

Lead Actor, Drama – Bryan Cranston. Come on. Is an explanation really needed? My daughter and I have been watching a lot of Malcom in the Middle lately. Seeing the spectrum of this man’s talent is mind blowing. From silly and hilarious to scary and vicious – his range is like no other. Dude fucking rocks.

Lead Actress, Comedy – Julia Louis Dreyfus. This was hard because I think Edie Falco is fabulous in Nurse Jackie. But NJ is more of a drama to me and since this is a comedic award, it has to go to an actress who cracks me up. And Dreyfus does just that. Plus, she is usually pretty entertaining when she wins awards and I could use a good laugh tonight.

Lead Actress, Drama – Claire Danes. I have said it before and I will say it again – this chic in this role…no words. Quite possibly one of the best acted roles on TV ever. I almost have a hard time believing she isn’t really bi-polar. She is THAT good.

Supporting Actor, Comedy – Tony Hale. And no! It isn’t because of my Arrested Development obsession. Hale is truly one of the funniest actors on television. And on VEEP – he makes that show as great as it is. He gets into a character and he plays the fuck out of it. And he has me in tear dripping laughter every time.

Supporting Actor, Drama – Aaron Paul. Because I said so, bitches.

Supporting Actress, Comedy – Kate Melgrew. Yea. I know I said it was more of a drama. And it honestly pisses me off that it is being considered a comedy because much of the extraordinary acting in that show (Orange is the New Black) is dramatic including Melgrew’s role. I just adored her in this season and would love to see her win – even if the category is all fubared.

Supporting Actress, Drama – Anna Gunn. She was great in the show and the other noms don’t even compare. As simple as that.

Writing, Comedy – Louis C.K. Now THIS is where is MUST win. This season of Louie was outstanding!! I mean, as stupid as it sounds – I laughed (hysterically), I cried (more like blubbered) – I always wanted more and walked away in awe. A step above what I ever would have expected. This dude wrote from another level this season. Truly beautiful stuff.

Directing, Comedy – Louis C.K. Visually, this show also took the cake. Each scene was natural yet well thought out. Gorgeous and genius.

Writing, Drama – Vince Gilligan. When I am watching a show and constantly repeat the words, “How do people think of this crazy shit??!!” That is when I know I am one jealous ass writer. I don’t know how his brain was made or how I can make mine do that – but wow.

Directing, Drama – I don’t know. Between BB, Game of Thrones and House of Cards, it is too hard to pick. I guess maybe GoT because it has to be incredibly difficult. But the other two are so well done too. I dunno. I can’t choose.

Miniseries – Fargo. If you haven’t watched, you really have to. Like now. Do it, eh.

TV Movie – The Normal Heart. A true story that is truly heartbreaking, educational and so well acted you will crap your pants.

Lead Actor, Miniseries/TV Movie – Mark Ruffalo. People say the word far too often but…AMAZING. Plus, he is my boyfriend…so…

Lead Actress, Miniseries/TV Movie – Jessica Lange. I have been telling everyone that her role/s on American Horror Story have been her best work ever. And it is true. She needs to win this.

Supporting Actor, Miniseries/TV Movie – Matt Bomer. See Mark Ruffalo (above). Same words.

Supporting Actress, Miniseries/TV Movie – Toss up. It really is between Kathy Bates and Allison Tolman. Both so excellent and deserving.

More noms – Top Chef (reality show), Daily Show (variety series, writing, directing) and Fargo (writing, directing)

So those are my thoughts. And they are accurate and correct in every way so there is no need to question or debate. Just watch tonight and you will now know when I am yelling at the television (annoying the hell out of my family) or clapping like some drooling half wit at a children’s magic show.

Oh. And here. This is for you. Happy Monday.


Ice, Ice, (Cry) Baby


This is probably the 567th post you have seen regarding the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge just today. This movement has become something that will go down in history and likely never forgotten. And that alone is pretty fascinating just for the social phenomena aspect.

What’s more – the last time I checked, ALS Association has received over 41.8 million dollars in donations – and that is growing by the minute. I am impressed that their website has not crashed to be honest. Maybe the ACA people can take some tips from the ALS IT department 😉 Seriously, though – this is just unheard of. And what a wonderful testament to human generosity and to the powers of social media.

Along with the endless videos of people dumping ice water on their heads our virtual fields of vision have also been filled with posts and tweets about these videos. Some people are highly angered and irritated with the popularity of this campaign. And then there are those who are pissed at the people who are pissed. Leave it to the internet to bring out so many loud opinions and complaints.

When the challenge first began, the purpose was to not only spread awareness (because let’s face it, awareness doesn’t pay the bills) but to raise donations. If one was nominated to take the Ice Bucket Challenge, they were to either A. complete the challenge by dumping a bucket of ice water over their head AND donate a small amount to the ALS Association OR  B. decline the challenge and donate a large amount to the organization. So, either way, a donation was being made.

Somewhere along the line, people began to believe that is was: dump OR donate. And it sort of became another notch in the world of “slacktavism“. And this is part of the reason some people were getting irritated. And yes, originally, I was kind of annoyed. I wasn’t ranting and spitting nails like some, however. I mean, people do shit on social media every day that irritate the piss out of me in much larger ways. Ignorant narcissism isn’t exactly a shocking new development on the interweb.

But yea, I can understand why seeing people doing the challenge as simply a way to get attention or show off their wet bodies or just to be a digital lemming can be a thorn in one’s side. Especially when it was clear some of these people had no clue the true purpose of this movement. I mean, I have seen people loudly cheer “Yea!! ALS!!” as though it were a football team. SMH (as the kids type).

The other day, the girls came home from their friends’ house all excited because they did the challenge.

“Did you donate?” I asked.

“Donate to what?” they responded.

“ALS. Do you even know what that is?” I continued.

They just stared at me like I popped all of their balloons.

The next day I made them look it up and read about the disease. I also made them do extra chores to earn money to add to our family’s donation to the ALS Association. Yea, I suppose I am not the most fun, lighthearted mom on the block. Oh well.

So, while I was paging through my Facebook newsfeed this morning, I was noticing more and more anger and hostility from all of those pissed off people on both sides. How unfortunate, really. What was meant to be a positive and fun endeavor to gain funds for people affected by this horrible disease is turning into a pissy debate. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. And I do see both sides.

I then watched a video that finally set me straight and drained the irritation from my mind. Please watch the whole video – it continues after the challenge is completed.



There. That really should be all you need to see.

Listen. I know people can really fucking suck. I know that society is filled with idiots and self centered douchebags. But ya know what, clearly there are 41.8 million worth of decent people out there to make up for it. Let’s not lump everyone into one ice bucket, okay? Some people are indeed doing the challenge for the right reasons. How about we ignore the rest?

There are a lot of shitty things going on in the world. Black men are virtually being hunted, killed and incarcerated while the rest of us are enjoying our white privilege. (And, yes, I do care very much about what is happening in Ferguson. I haven’t written or posted about it yet because I simply am not in a place to talk about it now. This doesn’t make me a petty asshole, by the way. But that is a rant for another time.) There are American journalists being killed and tortured across the ocean. There are children being blown away by bombs. Terrorist groups are committing genocide.

There is a lot of shit to be appropriately pissed off about. And while people will continue to annoy you (and me) – how about we save the actual RAGE for topics more deserving?

How about we put some RAGE into a disease like ALS that ravages entire families every day? How about we throw our RAGE onto the politicians who laugh as they do the Ice Bucket Challenge while cutting funding and research for ALS and similar diagnoses?

That man in the video above – that man with the eyes of an angel and  emotional wounds so gaping – he is the one who deserves our focus. He and the 30,000 others who are being devastated by ALS as we speak.

Let us be oh so thankful for our achy bodies, for our chubby bellies, for our tired minds. Let us be thankful for the gift to be able to be annoyed by the little things in life. Because there are so many out there who would give anything to have complaints like ours. And one day – we may be one of those people looking back when our lives were so simple and taking a breath required not even a thought.

Be thankful. Pick your battles wisely. And please donate to a worthwhile charity today.

You can make a donation to the ALS Association HERE

My Take: Dealing with Anxiety and/or Arrhythmia


(I have written an update to this post. While most everything here still rings true and is important, there are just a few updates which can be found HERE.)

I belong to a couple of online support forums – one for anxiety and one for arrhythmias/heart issues. It is quite fascinating how the topics can often intermingle. Especially the anxiety and heart issues. If I had to guess, I would say that some form of anxiety/panic co-exists with a heart rhythm disorder probably 80% of the time – and that is a conservative estimate.

Some times the anxiety triggers the arrhythmia and very often the arrhythmia triggers the anxiety. It is a vicious, shitty cycle that spins with the velocity of a cyclone and it is very difficult to jump out. Let’s get off this stupid (not so) Merry Go Round, shall we?

When I do become involved in the discussions on these forums, I find I am most often giving support, advice or tips to those who may be newer to these experiences. Having dealt with this issues for several decades now, I have gained a lot of insight which I feel would have helped me earlier in my journey. So, why not utilize my crappy background to benefit others? There may as well be something good to come out of that suffering, eh?

There are several things that come up over and over again. So instead of constantly rewriting the same answers, I figured I would make a post with all of that information in one place. And this will be that place. Welcome, all. Have a seat. Relax. Have a listen and be well. This is for anyone who is dealing with anxiety or panic or an arrhythmia or all of the above. It could also be helpful to those who love someone dealing with one of these maladies.


I have lived with anxiety/panic for nearly 20 years to some degree. Maybe even longer. If you go to the My Crazy Brain category on this site, you will find a lot of posts on these topics.

I was diagnosed with SVT, PVCs and PACs about 10 years ago – but had it for many years prior. I was diagnosed with mild MVP a couple of years after that. All of these conditions cause symptoms that I can feel. Many people do not notice a thing and never even know they have it until it pops up on a monitor. But lucky me – I feel almost all of it. If you go to the My Crazy Heart category on this site, you will find quite a few posts about my heart issues.

One Bad Ass Mineral 

One thing I tend to preach about – perhaps to an annoying level – is magnesium. And let me tell you, I have my reasons. Whether you have anxiety or heart rhythm issues – magnesium may just end up being your best friend. It also helps many other ailments and it is definitely worth looking into. I can say with all honesty and certainty that supplementing with magnesium has made a very big difference in my life.

A couple of years ago, I was having hundreds of ectopic beats (PVCs and PACs) per day. Sometimes they would come every other beat. I was absolutely going insane. And, of course, it drove my anxiety into high gear – which only made my heart nuttier.

I searched high and low for solutions. I tried it all, man. Aloe gel, apple cider vinegar, black strap molasses, meditation – if I read about it, I tried it (for the most part). I saw several doctors. One wanted to perform an ablation procedure on my heart and another said that was a ridiculous idea. Finally, I spoke to a pharmacist/nutritionist here in Racine at Nutritional Designs Pharmacy. She explained to me how magnesium works and that I may just be deficient in the mineral since American diets are so lacking many of the nutrients we desperately need.

I soon found myself in Barnes and Noble with a decaf coffee drink reading The Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean. Suddenly, a light went on and I knew I had to try what could just be a last-ditch effort to slow those horrendous ectopic heartbeats.

From the National Institute of Health website:

Magnesium is of great importance in cardiac arrhythmias. It increases the ventricular threshold for fibrillation. Sinus node refractoriness and conduction in the AV node are both prolonged. Main indications for intravenous application of magnesium are Torsade de pointes tachycardias, digitalis toxicity induced tachyarrhythmias and multifocal atrial tachycardias. Additionally, patients with ventricular arrhythmias due to overdoses of neuroleptics or tricyclic antidepressants may profit from i.v. magnesium. Monomorphic ventricular tachycardias and ventricular arrhythmias refractory to class III antiarrhythmics have been shown to respond to i.v. magnesium. Recent publications have documented that perioperative use of magnesium can reduce the incidence of arrhythmic events on the atrial and ventricular level. Oral magnesium has been used for many years in patients with symptomatic extrasystoles. Studies show that the incidence of extrasystoles as well as patients’ symptoms are reduced during oral magnesium therapy.

With the recommendation of the above mentioned nutritionist, I began supplementing with Krebs Cycle Chelates (I take one in the morning and two at night), a magnesium/potassium supplement (one at night – never go above 90mg of potassium without a Dr’s suggestion) and with powdered magnesium citrate (which I add to my tea several nights per week). They can be purchased online (see links) or look for a local health/supplement shop in your area. In Racine, I highly recommend Nutritional Designs.

It is very important to find an absorbable form of magnesium. The magnesium oxide you typically find at Walgreens only provides 4% of absorbable magnesium. This means you are paying to basically have your crap loaded with magnesium – it simply goes right through you and does not enter into your cells where it is needed.

It should also be known that typical blood tests cannot detect an accurate level of cellular magnesium. It can only tell you what is floating through your veins. This does not help you. The best way to know is to go by how you FEEL.

I also take a warm bath with epsom salts and baking soda (about a cup each) almost every night. This not only helps my heart and anxiety but also menstrual cramps (when I had a uterus), muscle and joint aches (its been a godsend since surgery) and really helps with my sleep.

How much magnesium should you take? Well, it isn’t a difficult experiment – but perhaps one you’d be best doing on the weekend. If you want to know how much is too much – you ask your bowels. Hey, I am sure it won’t be the first time you’ve talked to an asshole! So, you need to purchase an absorbable form of magnesium (magnesium only, do not do this with a complex or combo supplement. With combos – take the recommended dose unless directed otherwise). Make sure you get a dose low enough to take multiple pills (or whatever form you take) per day. Take a small amount each day. And then a little more. And keep increasing until you have loose bowel movements (yes, the runs). And hey, if you have been constipated – this just may be a relief! Once you get runny stools, you back off to the previous dose and continue on that dose as long as your movements are back to normal. That is the magic test to find out how much magnesium your body is needing you to take.

**I highly HIGHLY suggest trying magnesium if you are struggling with an arrhythmia. But – as always – please check with your doctor first. I AM NOT A DOCTOR and this is not to replace professional medical advice!!!**

More Heart to Heart

Along with my beta blocker (Metoprolol 12.5 mg twice a day – which helps tremendously for tachycardia), magnesium has truly changed my life in regards to my heart arrhythmia. I went from having 100s of ectopic beats (what I sometimes refer to as “skipped beats” even though that isn’t exactly accurate) to maybe 4. Some days I get more and some I get none. Right now, I am in what I consider a “remission”. I get maybe a couple per day. Next month I could have a week where I get 20 a day. But that is not frequent. There are people who live with 10s of thousands per day. This isn’t a cure and isn’t an exact science. We simply look for things that help our lives become more manageable.

I am sure you already know, but just in case – you should really eliminate stimulants from your life if you are dealing with an arrhythmia or anxiety. This means caffeine, energy drinks, decongestants and even some times ginseng or similar herbs. Be careful of anything you take as far as herbal remedies or medications. I once tried melatonin and my heart went bonkers. Same thing happened with valerian root. Both of these are supposed to be calming. Even sedating. But for me – opposite. You just never know.

When having any kind of local anesthetic/novocaine, make sure you speak to the doctor or dentist about your heart. Many of these medications have epinephrine in them and, usually, you can request for that to be left out. Epinephrine will most certainly make your heart tachy.

When prescribed a new medication, I always ask the doctor AND the pharmacist if it will have any effects on heart rhythm. Always better to be safe rather than sorry.

Someone asked me yesterday how I have gotten to where I am now as far as my acceptance with these stupid heart flip flops. My answer isn’t an easy one. And it won’t be the same answer each day. But what I can say is that this is a process and likely a life long one. Some days I can deal with it calmly and rationally. And other days I am scared and angry and want to throw something against the wall.

Each arrhythmia is different and each person is different. I can only tell you what has helped ME. Walking and trying to stay as fit as I can helps me. I hate exercise, really, I do. But I make myself do it because I know my body needs it. For some people, this may not be the case. It is all individual and needs to be discussed with your doc. Alcohol also makes me feel worse so I usually avoid it. For others, it doesn’t bother them a bit.

While I do have my little tips and tricks when it comes to dealing with this crap – none of that really helped until I came to a realization. And that happened gradually as I became more and more sick and tired of wasting my life.

I watched my father die in front of me at the age of 46 years old. I was 23. I know all too well how short life is. Even if we live to 90 – it is still very short in the grand scheme of things. And it flies by in a flash. I could no longer allow myself to waste away in a puddle of my own tears and fears (not to be confused with the band, Tears for Fears, which is pretty fucking awesome).

Fact is, I am going to die. I don’t know if it will be due to my heart or an accident or a toilet seat falling from a jetliner in the sky. And I certainly do not know when I will cease to exist. So, while I am here – I am going to do the best I can to actually LIVE. Waiting to die isn’t a life. It definitely is no fun. And it usually doesn’t include cake. So fuck that. And I don’t mean I am out there hang gliding or mountain climbing. I am still pretty toned down. But I no longer set up camp in that pile of shit pebbled with fear. I do things I can savor, even when I have to force myself.

Am I always able to keep it all positive like that? Hell no. But the older I get, the more I refuse to wither away until I am actually dead. So, I can sit home feeling my pulse all day long just waiting for that final thud. Or I can deal with my PVCs and other crap while I am spending time with my family or going to a movie or eating a tasty meal. If the thud is coming – I may as well be trying to enjoy myself when it arrives.

After All, I AM the Neurotic Housewife

I was always an anxious child. And that anxiety manifested, eventually, into depression and later on into panic. The panic came after the arrhythmia. I was undiagnosed and untreated for over a decade and this created the whirlwind of panic disorder. At my worst times, I was having more than one panic attack a day. In the past 9 years, I have had maybe 5 full-blown attacks.

I still deal with GAD and health anxiety. Much of the time, these aren’t much of an issue. But other times – I can go off the rails. Before my recent hysterectomy, my anxiety went into overdrive. I was obsessive and SCARED TO DEATH. But I got through it with the help of medication, meditation, loved ones and some CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) techniques.

I Said Yes to Drugs

For years, I was a medicinal guinea pig. SSRIs, SNRIs, Tricyclics, Benzos and other oddballs tossed in for good measure – I tried almost all of them. They either didn’t work or the side effects were worse than the original problem. I ended up hating meds and refused to try them again.

But after my daughter was born, I became a wreck. As a stay at home mom, I was with her all day. And I panicked constantly that I would drop dead and she would be left here alone until Charlie returned at night. It was awful and no way to live. I was absolutely miserable. So, I finally broke down and agreed to take a daily medication for the panic.

I started taking klonopin and I swear it saved my life. The panic subsided almost immediately. I noticed no ill effects and, in 9 years, I have not had to increase my dosage. I believe the beta blocker and magnesium also help in that arena as well – but the klonopin has truly changed my life. I will happily take it forever if need be.

Now, it doesn’t eliminate any depression nor does it get rid of my generalized anxiety. It simply stops the panic and the physical/physiological symptoms of the anxiety. The thought processes that create the GAD have to be dealt with on a cognitive level. And I do work on that constantly.

In the Midst of Panic

People often ask what helps during a panic attack or extremely anxious times. Through the years when I did have so many, I developed many coping skills. Here is a list of what got me through those moments and what may help you too:

  • Distraction is key!! Count the pennies in your change jar, rearrange your living room, clean out your closet, alphabetize your CDs (do people still have CDs?), watch a funny television show, pull weeds, organize your bathroom drawer, make a grocery list – get your mind on something easy, simple, lighthearted and distracting.
  • Buy and read the book – The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. This was my Bible for a long time. And I still pull it out during hard times. Do the exercises in the book!!! I cannot tell you how helpful this is.
  • Relax. I know, I know – this is the worst thing to tell a person who is panicking. But do what you can to manifest some relaxation habits. Take a bath (again, epsom salt!!), guided imagery meditations – you can find millions on YouTube, stretches, painting or crafts….find things to relax not only your mind, but also your body.
  • Move it move it move it. During a panic attack, your brain is releasing adrenaline and setting off your fight or flight instinct. The adrenaline and muscle contractions are what is causing those horrible physical symptoms of a racing heart, sweating, shakiness, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest tightness, muscle aches, etc. Exercise and moving your body will release that adrenaline more appropriately. Take a walk and notice the beauty around you. Try out a yoga video online. Jump rope. Swim. Move your body in a way that feels comfortable to you.
  • WRITE!! Journaling helped me so much. I would use the same notebook each time. I would just keep writing until I started to feel better. I wrote whatever I was feeling, I wrote gratitude lists, I wrote about my day – anything. And not only is this  releasing your feelings – it also provides proof for you the next time that you have been through this before and you SURVIVED!! You can clearly see that (for example) last Tuesday you were also certain you were about to die and had chest pain and had tingling in your legs…and that you lived through it.
  • Call a trusted friend. Now, while this may be extremely helpful, it can be tricky. You do not want to become a constant burden to the same friend every day. It cannot always be about YOU and how YOU feel. You will drain the friendship – even the great ones. You must make an effort to gear the conversation toward THEM. Ask them about their day and their families. Show them you care and appreciate their time. It not only will strengthen the friendship, but it will also help you escape your own shit for a while. Try not to be an energy vampire.
  • Help someone. Anxious/depressed people can become pretty self involved at times. Some more than others. It is important to get out of your own mind and a great way to do that is to help others. Volunteer. Visit a nursing home. Make cookies for a sick friend. Write cards of thanks and mail them. Walk a neighbor’s dog or mow their lawn. Help out at your local food bank. The options are endless. You will feel better and you will help someone else feel better. Win win, man. Also, you may just get a new perspective that helps you see how good you have it. As sucky as anxiety disorders can be – there are problems that can be much more devastating.

Some People Just Don’t Understand

And they never will. If they have not felt this themselves – they just can’t truly get it. There are some great people who really try to understand and are compassionate enough to be there for you even if they don’t know what it is like. These are the people you really need to appreciate, pick flowers for and smother with kisses. These people are rare and precious and deserve praise.

It is not easy to be the loved one of someone experiencing this mental bullshit. It sucks for them too – please remember that.

There will be people in your life who treat you like a disease. They will talk to you like a child and roll their eyes when they think you aren’t looking. They will never attempt to muster up an ounce of compassion and they have no tolerance for your emotions. They will think you are too sensitive and need to get over it. They may be close friends, relatives, clergy, teachers and people you’d expect to care. But they don’t. And there isn’t a goddamn thing you can do about it.

You can let it get to you. You can over explain or try to change for them. You can hide your real self. You can allow yourself to be constantly disappointed and heartbroken. Or you can simply say goodbye. I will let you guess which option is healthier.

In Closing….

While I could go on and on all day about these topics, I must end it at some point. And like I said, I have written extensively about all of this in the past. Feel free to search this site (almost a decade of blog posts here). And if you would like to discuss this or anything else about these subjects – please feel free to comment!! Start a discussion.

So, as a re-cap:

Magnesium is wonderful. Klonopin saved me. Beta blockers help the heart and adrenaline surges. Different meds work differently for each person. Speak with your doctor, be patient and give the med a chance. But be aware and listen to your body. If something is making you feel horrible, say something and make them listen!!!

Distraction is key during panic. Helping others is one of the best ways to overcome your own anxiety. Exercise is necessary. Stay away from stimulants. Read The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. And remove toxic people from your life.

Most importantly – live. This is your one chance and it is passing you by RIGHT NOW. Live the life you are so afraid to lose. Shit, you may as well make the fear worth it, right?

Again, please see my update to this blog post HERE

Robin Williams: Let’s Start the Conversation


Robin Williams Quote. True. true words. "I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that you make you feel all alone."

This morning, as I was watching one of the many tributes to Robin Williams on television, my daughter asked me how he could be depressed if he was a famous actor. She is 9. And while that may sound like a 9 year old question – I am hearing similar comments made by adults today. The DJ on the radio right now is confused because “Williams had plenty of work” (4 movies due to come out yet this year). I have heard some say he is selfish and weak and ungrateful for his lavish life.

“Depression doesn’t care who you are, honey. It is an illness that can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how big your house is. You can have millions of people who love you and still have depression. It is sad and scary. But there is help and many ways to treat it. Most people with depression can live normal lives – it doesn’t have to be hopeless.”

I don’t know if my answer was appropriate – I tend to be as honest as possible with her.

I have been very open about my struggles throughout the years. So open, in fact, it has made others uncomfortable. I have lost friends due to my outspokenness about my anxieties. My mother was never very happy with my openness, a little embarrassed, perhaps. I am certain I have not been taken seriously when it really counted in the Dr’s office because of me not hiding my anxiety in the past. While dating, I was dumped a number of times because I admitted to these issues. There certainly are consequences to sharing experiences such as these. So much stigma still remains when it comes to mental illness.

Even with all I have mentioned, it hasn’t stopped me from talking about it. I refuse to be ashamed of something for which I have no fault. I refuse to be silent because it might make someone uncomfortable. If I have a friend, relative, doctor, etc. who cannot handle my honesty – they are clearly not a person I need in my life.

I have never wanted to end my life. Not really. I may have had fleeting thoughts out of pure exhaustion and frustration. But never could I cause my own death. And I am very grateful that my depression/anxiety isn’t on that level. Yes, I have lived with this for most of my life. And there are times when it has been worse than others. So I do understand it. I can imagine that feeling of no other way out. I can imagine being so depleted of all energy. I can imagine no longer having any fight left within.

We hear all of the time – Cancer Sucks. There are 5ks, ribbons, Facebook games, telethons. You can’t go anywhere without seeing pink breast cancer paraphernalia all around. But how often do we hear about suicide awareness or mental illness charities? Why are people who are plagued with depression or OCD or bi-polar considered weak while cancer patients are considered warriors?

Here is a post I made yesterday on Facebook:

When you see an addict – picture their bandages because their using is almost always an attempt to self medicate. When you see someone with a mental illness – picture their wounds because they are as real as anything visible. Stop seeing mere weakness because there is nothing weak about being sick. What is weak is how society views and deals with these very real diseases.

Many of us grew up watching Robin Williams. He was an American icon, a fantastic actor and an electric comedian. He brought happiness and laughter to countless people around the world. And he was a true humanitarian. The loss of his life have many in a contemplative space today. The sadness is almost tangible. And it kind of upsets me that it takes such a tragedy to get people talking about something we should have openly dealt with long ago. But it is better late than never and I truly hope that, if nothing else, this horrible situation will open the eyes of family members, politicians, physicians, media and those suffering.

Stop the silence. Stop the stigma. Speak up. And speak loud.

For information on getting help for yourself or a loved one, please visit:

Hystercovery, Macrobid and a Shitty Summer (with a Dash of Hope)


At the end of my last post regarding my hysterectomy saga, I was waking up after surgery. And when I say waking up, I mean somewhat opening my eyes and talking to people…sorta. I remember Charlie was there, I remember throwing up several times, I remember having a couple of visitors including Cassidy and I remember falling asleep here and there.

Later that night, I was eating, talking, walking and trying desperately to pee. In fact, most of my entire night was trying to pee. I knew that once I peed – I was really on the road to recovery and could go home the next day. Plus, I could feel my bladder about to burst and that isn’t fun in the hatchback of a car after a Steve Miller concert nor is it fun in the hospital. As much as I felt the need to pee, I simply couldn’t. I had to be catheterized several times and, eventually, I was discharged with a foley (aka piss tube and bag). This also happened to after my daughter was born, so I wasn’t too distraught about it. And it didn’t hurt.

I was given a prescription for macrobid to prevent any urinary track infections which could be caused by the foley. I was to be on this med for two weeks.

I returned to the doctor’s office on Monday and had the foley removed. I was able to then urinate on my own so that part was over.

During that appointment, I let them know I wasn’t feeling right. I was very weak and dizzy. I couldn’t take a shower on my own and could barely walk. I felt very, very ill. They thought it might be the pain meds and told me to make sure I eat when I take them.

That was the beginning.

I started noticing that my legs would turn a reddish/purplish color when I stood or walked. They also felt sore, heavy and numb. My joints began to ache – even my fingers. I had a lingering headache and would sometimes feel short of breath. I felt feverish and very much flu-like. I just didn’t feel right. I called my general physician and my surgeon. Both said I was probably just having a harder time healing. My GP did order some blood work and my CRP was elevated – which just tells ya that there is inflammation going on. I also tested positive for Epstein Barr but I guess they felt that test was irrelevant. I was told just to continue what I was doing and not to worry.

In addition to the above mentioned symptoms, I developed a rash on my chest, a metallic taste in my mouth, a very white appearance in my mouth and throat, floaters in my vision and extreme exhaustion. I also had a very tender, achy feeling in my upper right abdominal quadrant.  I contacted the on call nurse (this was about 2-3 weeks post op) and she said to go to the ER just in case there was infection.

In the ER, they completed a large amount of testing, gave me some IV fluids and sent me on my way. They said I was fine. I was relieved and felt better thanks to the IV.

A day or two later, my surgeon called and told me that my liver enzymes (taken in the ER) were extremely elevated and to call my GP. I did. They scheduled more testing. And, after that, an ultrasound of my liver. None of these tests gave any answers aside from eliminating possibilities. For the next few weeks I would undergo a shit load of labs and ultrasounds.  Still, no answers as to what was wrong.

I decided to get to work. I researched my ass off. I read and read and read. And eventually, I found the cause of my symptoms and test results. I had drug induced liver injury and peripheral neuropathy from the antibiotic, Marcrobid.

This isn’t common, but it does happen. And it seems to happen more than doctors seem to realize. I think this is because many patients never find out the cause of their symptoms and it is never reported as an adverse effect. Many times, symptoms do not occur until after the patient has long been done with the offending medication. I also believe the pharmaceutical companies keep busy doctors in a haze about the true ADRs (adverse drug reactions) of many overused medications.

These reactions seem to be much more common with fluoroquinolone antibiotics (ie. cipro, levequin, etc). There is quite a lot of information regarding these reactions from those meds. Here and Here are just a couple of articles; but there are many all over the internet.  I also found THIS website devoted to patients who have had these reactions. And reading their postings made me feel less alone. And strange thing is – the symptoms are almost exact. Each person is different, of course. But the similarities are remarkable. While researching this mountain of information, I found that Marcobid and fluoroquinolone ABs are quite similar chemically as well.

So, after I found this info, I brought it to the attention of a doctor who was covering for my GP. She was surprised but after reading some things, concurred with my findings. I then went to a gastroenterologist who told me, “I sure wish all of my patients came in with their own diagnosis! While reading your chart, this was the first thing that entered my mind as well.” I thought to myself, “I sure wish they didn’t have to.”

He examined me a little bit, asked some questions and indeed did diagnose me with DILI with PN (drug induced liver injury with peripheral neuropathy) due to the Macrobid.

He said that my liver numbers were improving and that I was to be tested again in September. He said many of the symptoms, especially the ones involving nerves, could take a year from which to recover. I wasn’t really given any instructions – just to come back in September.

The pain in my legs has been the worst, really. It comes and goes and the type of pain changes. Most often, they feel very heavy, achy and like I have very, very tight socks on. One day, the pain was significantly worse and they were quite swollen feeling and red. It was after hours so I went to urgent care. That doctor was wonderful. He spent a lot of time with me and really explained how and why these sensations are happening. It helped me a lot and he was the first doctor to really take the time to do this for me. I was beyond grateful.

Last week, I decided it was time to go back the chiropractor who had helped me in the past with TMJ and back pain. I just couldn’t go on doing nothing. I have been feeling like I am 80 years old and it has been sinking me into a deep depression. I didn’t know if he could help, but it was worth a shot.

He examined me extensively and spent 90 minutes with me. He said that if he didn’t know better, he would think I was in a really bad car accident. Due to the systemic toxic reaction from the medication, my muscles, joints and  nerves are all a hot mess. All over my body, I have muscles that are contracted and on the verge of spasm. My mobility and flexibility are shot. And something I was not expecting – my abdomen is filled with scar tissue from surgery. Because of the toxicity and liver injury, I was not able to heal properly after surgery. Because of this, scar tissue is causing a great deal of problems (including intestinal) and pain within my entire abdomen. If left untreated, it could cause serious issues and future surgeries. I have also gained about 15 pounds and have significant swelling/bloating in my belly.

So, physically, in a matter of just a couple of months I aged 40+ years and my entire body has changed. I cannot put into words how shocking and distressing this is. Absolutely heartbreaking, really. I had this surgery so I could feel better and have a better life. Now, my life is filled with pain, worry and an overwhelming sense of being out of control.

My chiropractor is confident he can help me with scar tissue release therapy and gentle adjustments. I will be having these treatments twice a week for a long time. I am hopeful, but not optimistic. It is difficult to not expect the worst after everything I have been through.

I was in tears as I left. I felt so relieved to hear that there is hope. I felt vindicated after so many people acting as though this is all in my head. I felt grateful that this professional showed me respect and compassion and true understanding for what I was going through. I am sure crossing my fingers that this therapy helps me.

My other doctors do not seem to want anything to do with me. Not sure if they just don’t have answers or if they are worried I will sue (there are some lawsuits regarding this and similar medications – but I am not the type to do something like that)…but aside from throwing prescriptions at me, they don’t want to see or talk to me. I am not blaming. While I DO wish I had been heard when I was complaining in tears about all of these weird symptoms (when I was still poisoning myself with the macrobid) and I do feel I was ignored – it is not my intention to blame. I only want to feel better. I just want to be heard, validated and given some options. I am so grateful my chiropractor was able to do this for me.

I was really beginning to believe I was nuts. Or at least that no one would ever listen. I was even starting to blame myself. He said that I would have to be unbelievably talented to create these physical issues with my mind. We both agreed I was, indeed, not that talented.

I want people to be very aware of their bodies when taking any prescription. I want people to report their side effects. I want people to stop being afraid to question their doctors. I want people to stop believing that drugs are safe just because a doctor can prescribe them. I want people to trust their own judgement, listen to their intuition and  be their own number one advocate. No one knows your body as well as you do and no one will care as much as you do. Doctors are too busy to read the latest reports on every single medication. They aren’t lucky enough to have the kind of time House MD has to diagnose a patient. It sucks and it is wrong – but we need to get smart and start paying attention.

My whole life, I have experienced weird ass medical shit. No poison ivy, no broken arms, no ear infections (yes, I am knocking on wood). What HAS happened? In second grade I lost all control over my facial muscles for an entire day. When I was pregnant, I developed an enlarged blood vessel on my tongue which bled whenever it wanted for the next four years. I did have the common chicken pox…a couple of times. I have a weird heart arrhythmia most have never heard of (supraventricular tachycardia, anyone?). When I was a kid I used to get these weird infections on my fingernail cuticles. And, the latest addition to the list is a rare drug induced liver injury caused by the antibiotic Macrobid. If it is weird or rare – it may just happen to me. This has made me a little more vigilant than I should be. It has caused me to have considerable anxiety. But it also helped me help myself (and my family). And I hope I can help some others as well. I mean, shit. These fucking unlucky ass experiences need to be put to some good use, right??

Next time, I will talk about how intuition and subsequent anxieties may have played a role in my NOT being diagnosed properly over the years. If I hadn’t been so aware and vigilant – perhaps I would have been taken more seriously…??


(Please know that as saddened as I am about all of this – as angry and frustrated as I feel – I realize completely how much worse it COULD be. I know very well that people deal with much more horrible illnesses and disabilities every day. I know this and I am grateful for what I DO have. I really am. This is simply my account of where I have been and where I am now in regards to this experience.)