Monday, August 18, 2014

My Little Identity Crisis

I have an identity crisis with my blog. I am a humor writer. However, all I can think of lately is serious subject matter. So, do I write serious matter or do I bite the bullet and make all of my serious subject matter funny? Do I avoid serious subject matter or wait until the funny hits me and go with that? Life is a funny thing, I'll give you that. However, it's not always ha ha funny. Sometimes, it's strange funny. And stressful. I'm at a crossroads. Help.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why Is Everyone So Offended These Days?

Recently, I read a blog post and found that I had an opposing view to not only the writer, but all of her commentators as well. I feel the need to respond because I think that as a nation, we need to lighten up and certainly have more empathy and respect for others.

Why on earth does everyone get offended so easily these days? You can read Lisa A. Kramer's post, Dear Man in the Cubicle Next to Me on the blog Woman Wielding Words, or take my short version at face value.

She goes to have blood drawn. Tough looking guy is put in cubicle next to her to have his blood drawn and she overhears him say, "I'm such a girl about this."

She takes offense and itches to say something to him in response, but ultimately does not and just blogs about it instead, wrestling with whether or not she should have spoken her mind.

One woman, quite incensed, wrote a 500+ word response, basically calling this poor guy a "chauvinist".
Another comment refers to him as a "jerk".
Then another pulls out "bigot."
"He was wrong," says another.

I must say that my heart just sank when I read the post and all of the subsequent comments. Why must anyone take such offense to this benign statement that a post be written about it and this man attacked?

Let's break this down. Lisa states that the man has tattoos and muscles and appears to be a tough guy. Her point is that women handle pain better than men in many cases (childbirth, anyone?) and that his comment was basically insulting to females.

I am female. Lisa is a female. Most of the commentators are female. Why are the general masses offended by his statement and I am not? I had to check myself for the answer. Am I weak? Am I too soft? Am I a bad judge of character? No, I don't think so. Because I did not agree with the masses, however, I felt that I was in some way wrong.

Rosie The Riveter Flexing Her Arm Muscles, We Can Do It! - Free Pictures at Historical Stock

Let me be clear that I am not attacking Lisa here. She genuinely felt hurt by his statement. I am simply intrigued by the fact that she and I see the situation differently and I want further input from my readers on how you see this situation.

This subject was even addressed in a commercial recently which Lisa and I both found in subsequent conversation that we had both viewed. You can view the Always "Like a Girl" commercial here. I must say that I disagree with that commercial as well. When I heard that comment as a young girl, it just made me want to do my best to see if I could match the boys. As a grown woman, I've found that sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is no, not ever... and I'm fine with that.

The last time I checked, ladies and gentlemen, there ARE differences between men and women and we women are still considered the fairer sex, aren't we? Has women's lib gone too far and we now believe any comment putting a female on a lower position on the totem pole is a negative one? I think that's silly and shallow. Men are designed by God to be physically stronger than women. They are designed to be hunters, gatherers, and protectors. Have we thrown this aside just because we can now perform many tasks that only men previously performed?

To call him a bigot is not even right by simple definition. A bigot is "a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)" according to Mirriam-Webster.

He didn't mean that he hates or refuses to accept women! He was making a comment about his own vulnerability and weakness. For this, he is attacked. None of these people even know this man. He might very well be the loveliest human being ever.

A jerk? Again, Mirriam-Webster defines a jerk as, "a stupid person or a person who is not well-liked or who treats other people badly."

And what does Webster define as a chauvinist? "an attitude that the members of your own sex are always better than those of the opposite sex."

This man didn't say anything to warrant any of that! What he truly said was that in this situation, he felt weak, afraid, and not at all like the image he projects to the world. His comment sought comfort. He was not trying to be insulting.

I do not in any way, shape or form take offense to what he said. I feel compassion for him. I feel that he was the one wronged in this situation.

I had a conversation recently with a respectable man who told me that he believes that women's liberation has ruined the relationship between men and women. He pointed out that when he attends his daughter's sporting events, he hears nothing but the women around him bashing their husbands and other men. I'm ashamed to say that I hear women do this also. He said their comments are so awful that he doesn't even understand why these women are still married to these men. They speak as though they hate them. Is this to appear dominant? Tough? Independent? What are we trying to say here with this deplorable behavior, women?

Now, what do you say? Am I wrong? I would love to hear your comments. I promise, I won't take offense to anything.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lyme Disease Awareness Month & Beer Ticks

It's May and that means it's Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Although this may not be on your radar, it is certainly on mine and I could not let the month end without doing a PSA on Lyme Disease because, you know, I have it.

Allow me to introduce you to Ranger Cindy Brown. (Disclaimer: I am not a real Ranger.)

My mother gave me this hat for
outdoors, I swear to God.
Now, let me tell you a little something about ticks. They don't care who your momma is or that she gave you that great hat with the lovely wide brim to protect you from the elements. If you have ticks in your element and ticks are attracted to you like they are attracted to me, they will find you.

They will hunt you down, rappel from mountainsides, leap from trees, and crawl stealthily up your pant leg to find your super tasty sweet soft skin and make you their host.

However, this is one dinner party you don't want to throw.

Mainly because ticks carry Lyme Disease and you don't want it.

I've posted about it before when I was diagnosed here and unfortunately, it did not leave me. I still have it and am not sure if I will ever be rid of it. At least it's been manageable for me in the past year.

That white speck is my skin.
I've taken many pictures of the ticks I've pulled off in this past year. This year so far, I've had eight ticks attached and have literally pulled off about a hundred and that's no joke.

Once again, bugs love me. I am their queen.

To right, you will see a picture of a tick I pulled off my head. It still has a piece of my skin in its mouth. Although not a nice thing to think about, this is what you want to see. You want to pull off the entire tick and NOT leave the head of the tick embedded. Just ask Lisa Gradess-Weinstein, who after reading about my Lyme journey, recognized symptoms and went to the doctor only to find that part of a tick was left embedded in her leg, and causing her troubles. Thankfully, she was tested and did not have Lyme, but the bugger had left its troubles behind anyway.

Ranger Cindy says "Protect and Check!"

What can you do to protect yourself from getting Lyme Disease? Well, in honor of Lyme Disease Awareness Month, I am wanting to help spread the word, since I'm becoming quite the expert and all.

Protect yourself with Permethrin if you are going out into the woods. I have dogs to walk and a trail I walk for exercise. I live smack dab in the middle of deep woods, so it's impossible for me to avoid woods and I would not advise that you let your fear overtake you and avoid woods for the rest of your life either. Nature is beautiful and should be experienced... with appropriate caution.

I thought I would have to order Permethrin, but I was thrilled to find it at Rural King made by a company called Repel. You spray this on your clothing and shoes, backpack, etc. It not only repels ticks, but will kill them as well. Oh yeah, I totally did a kill test. These suckers are hard to kill, and this stuff works like a charm. Follow directions, though, because I think it lasts two weeks or something like that and I have found it to produce great results with one application to shoes and pants - many days tick free!

You can also use repellents like Off or Cutter. They don't keep everything off of me, but they do help.

You may smell like a chemical factory (see pictured stinky face), but you won't care if it keeps you from getting Lyme Disease, trust me. You don't want it. Ever.

The next thing you do to protect yourself is to check, check, check yourself for ticks after you have been in an exposed area. This week, I had someone who lives in town tell me they found a tick on their pillow at home. They have no idea how it got there. So you never know, but you can be sure that if you have been in a wooded area, they may travel home with you or on you or with your dog or on your dog.

Check especially under areas where your clothing may have been tight. The tick I had which transferred to me the evil Lyme Disease was under my bra strap to the back of my armpit. Stealthy and unnoticed, it did its thing for two days before I discovered it.

Ticks come in several shapes and sizes, so look at the pictures here and on other websites to familiarize yourself with what they look like. They can be oval or round, brown or black, white dots or solid color.

They love to attach to your head, so be vigilant to check your hair very well with your fingertips and fingernails after a walk in the woods. Check again after several hours. Check again the next day. And for good measure, the day after that. You can never be too careful and they can attach without you ever feeling it or knowing it.

The one pictured below is on a postcard. That's a postal bar code there, for size reference.

They can be so small, you can barely see them. Once, we went mushroom hunting in Tennessee on the way to vacation in Alabama and we came back to the hotel room only to find that we were all covered in tiny ticks. We must have stumbled into an area with a nest or infestation. We found lots of great mushrooms, but we were panicked about all of the ticks. We had to check in crevices of each others' bodies that nobody ever wants to see. Still, with showering and closely inspecting, we all still had ticks attach.

Some ticks are as small as a speck of pepper, like the next pictured one here on top of a contact lens solution bottle cap. I'm using a magnifying glass in this particular photo and there is a hair beside the tick to show the size. It was so tiny, I was lucky to detect it.
I mostly get ticks when I've been outdoors unprotected, but I sometimes find them in my house just crawling around. I recently found two beer ticks in the house. Yep, you heard me right. I said beer ticks. I have photographic proof.

I found ticks in my house on not only one, but two beer cans one day. Apparently, beer ticks prefer light beer.

When ticks attach, they excrete a kind of glue which helps them adhere to your body. You can react to this substance and it can make you itch as well.

I saw a piece Dr. Oz did on ticks and I had to cringe. He instructed the woman on stage with the giant pair of prop tweezers to remove the giant prop tick and he told her to grab it behind it's head. WHAT? No, no, no.

You should use tweezers if possible (especially if you have someone else to help you remove the tick), but you have to be careful not to squeeze the body of the tick and squeeze its Lyme juice right into you.

You want to make sure you remove the head of the tick, not leave it in your head. As I mentioned before, if you see a speck of your own skin in the tick's grasp when you pull it out, that's good. It means you removed the entire tick, head and all.

When I found the tick with the horrible cellulitis-like swelling (which in reality was the Erythema-Migrans rash, cleverly disguised as cellulitis and not really a bulls eye looking thing at all), my doctor treated me with antibiotics that should have taken care of an initial Lyme Disease infection, but it did not.

Perhaps it was too strong. Perhaps I was too weak. Perhaps my theory is right and I already had Lyme Disease which had not been too problematic in my life and that particular tick bite kicked it into overdrive.

If that theory is correct, then I was already in late disseminated Lyme and the antibiotic treatment I received was not adequate. After being sent to an Infectious Disease Specialist and being put on two months of Doxycyclene (which he said "should take care of it"), I still can tell a year later that I am not rid of this disease.

I have started my Salt/Vitamin C regimen again. I have good days and bad days, but it is nowhere as bad as it was before.

I have that weird feeling in the back of my head.
My arms fall asleep at night.
I need frequent naps.
My right elbow and my forearms feel arthritic.
I'm seeing the rashes reappear.

I just know what it feels like. I know what it feels like to the point that I helped diagnose someone recently. I ran into my sister-in-law's mother at HellMart Walmart and she told me she felt like she was falling apart. All of her symptoms were so similar to my late disseminated Lyme symptoms that I made her promise that she would demand her doctor test her for Lyme. She did. She was positive.

Then, she went through the same rigmarole many Lyme sufferers experience. She had several other docs say, "Nope, you don't have it." I urged her to find an LLMD. She persisted and was properly tested and guess what... she has a bad case of late disseminated Lyme. Not only that, she had been diagnosed and treated for MS for 18 years and the LLMD said, "You never had MS. This has been Lyme the whole time."

Imagine! She is now in the fight of her life, taking eleven medications and thankfully covered by insurance thus far. I know like I know like I know that there are thousands of people out there just like her, misdiagnosed with illnesses like Fibromyalgia, MS, Chronic Fatigue, etc. Lyme is not nicknamed "The Great Imitator" for nothing. It mimics many diseases and doctors are sorely under-educated about Lyme.

Do what you can to help spread the word and just be aware and protect and check yourself when outdoors. If someone has the symptoms I listed in my first post about Lyme (reference the link at the beginning of this post), please encourage them to get tested and seek the advice of an LLMD. An LLMD is a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor and is NOT an Infectious Disease doctor or a regular MD. It is someone who specializes in the treatment of Lyme Disease.

Be safe and enjoy the summer! Back to more fun posts in the future which will not feature creepy-crawlies, I promise.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Along Came A Spider

My husband came into the house a few weekends ago and shouted, "I found a Brown Recluse spider in the garage! It was in my work clothes."

My initial thought was, 'Yeah, sure you did,' and I admit that I secretly suspected it was absolutely for certain a case of mistaken identity on the part of my husband.

He bellowed, "You want to see it? I have it in a jar."

I went to take a look and could not remember what a Brown Recluse looked like (and it surely wasn't one even if I did know), so I didn't get too excited. He showed me the violin shape and seemed confident. I did a silent pshaw in my head and he continued on outside to do some more work in the garage.

I Googled it.

Damn the luck. My husband was right! It did exactly match the images of a Brown Recluse, violin on its back and all. OMG. He really did find a Brown Recluse in our garage!

But, I digress. Let's talk about fear. This calls for a list!

  1. If there is one Brown Recluse, there are more. Probably lots more. Think Arachnophobia, the movie.
  2. They're "moving in" and this is the first of many we'll encounter. No way was this little gem just on vacation at Brown Station and passing through. He's got family and they're all coming to live at Chez Brown.
  3. I will eventually be bitten. Why? Because that's my life, that's why. Bugs love me. I am their queen.
  4. They're in the house; everywhere, in every dark corner, just waiting for my unsuspecting finger or toe.
  5. They're in my pillowcase and my head is going to rot off.
I distinctly remember a few weeks ago, just prior to this special find in our garage, when I proudly announced in my Sunday School class that I had practically conquered my fear of spiders. Really! I have worked hard to not fear creepy crawly things that glide silently through the night, especially since contracting Lyme disease. However, we live here:

I live in the heart of the woods. It's beautiful. It's also filled with creepy crawlies which display various levels of fear-striking capabilities. I've posted about them before. Remember the snake post of 2012? Yep, I live in Blair Witch-ville. I've kind of had to learn to adapt.

I thought I had conquered my fear of such things. Yeah, I thought that right up until I realized my husband was right and we actually did have a Brown Recluse on our property.

I had to send myself back to fear-conquering school. Sessions are held regularly in my brain, if you'd like to attend. There's a sign-up sheet in my Thalamus, right next to the Hippocampus.

If you're not familiar with the Brown Recluse, here is a quick lesson. They look like the two photos below and the venom will cause your flesh to rot and die as though you have contracted a flesh-eating bacteria if you are bitten by one. Go ahead on over to Google and look at the images if you want to really freak yourself out.

This first photo is the one my husband took. I wasn't satisfied. With the most extreme caution you've ever seen, I removed the red metal lid from the glass Lay's dip jar (which the spider later met an untimely death within) and carefully slid my phone in place of the lid. While praying that the spider would not leap onto my phone and go bananas trying to escape, thus likely biting me in the process, I took this picture:

I know, right? Mine is way better and far creepier. Thank God I risked life and limb to obtain it for you, my loyal and inquisitive readers, whom I knew would want yet another public service announcement from Everyday Underwear. You can see quite clearly the violin shape near the head, which is an identifier.

I'll let Wikipedia tell you the deets about its habitat:

"Brown recluse spiders build asymmetrical (irregular) webs that frequently include a shelter consisting of disorderly thread. They frequently build their webs in woodpiles and sheds, closets, garages, plenum spaces, cellars, and other places that are dry and generally undisturbed. When dwelling in human residences they seem to favor cardboard, possibly because it mimics the rotting tree bark which they inhabit naturally. They have also been encountered in shoes, inside dressers, in bed sheets of infrequently used beds, in clothes stacked or piled or left lying on the floor, inside work gloves, behind baseboards and pictures, in toilets, and near sources of warmth when ambient temperatures are lower than usual. Human-recluse contact often occurs when such isolated spaces are disturbed and the spider feels threatened. Unlike most web weavers, they leave these lairs at night to hunt. Males move around more when hunting than do females, which tend to remain nearer to their webs. The spider will hunt for firebrats, crickets, cockroaches, and other soft-bodied insects."

Truly, it had never occurred to me that I might find one of these on my property. As is common in life, even though I knew they existed in Illinois, I couldn't quite imagine the reality of one until I was faced with one of my very own.

Excellent. More life lessons, learned through experience. Yay. That's how my life is and it is both a blessing and a curse. Forced knowledge is a blessing. Forced experiential knowledge you didn't agree to is the part that feels like a curse.

Just previous to this incident, I had bragged that when I find a spider on my body or in my immediate life area, I very calmly take it outside and deposit it back into the nature from whence it came or I open the door and ceremoniously flick it calmly into the ether. Now, I think I might freak out and scream like a little girl if I see anything resembling this beast.

The changes I've seen?


  • Throw on shoes without a care
  • Pick up cardboard without a care
  • Move freely about the garage without a care
  • Work in the yard with dead leaves and wood without a care
  • Use the toilet in the dark without a care
  • Do anything without a care
  • Check shoes visually, smash toes for good measure
  • Gingerly pick up cardboard with the edge of my finger and inspect fully
  • Avoid garage, especially dark corners
  • Avoid yard, especially creepy death areas
  • Pee with ALL LIGHTS ON!
  • Um... care.
For four years, I have lived in this place and not feared a spider. I've worked to stay calm when I encounter them. I've rationalized, "They aren't going to bite me unless they feel threatened, they eat insects (so they're actually beneficial), and they are more scared of me than I am of them."

Now I am second guessing myself and wondering if I knew what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks I was talking about. Should I be extra cautious with everything? Fear what I had learned to accept? Become paranoid of nature's creatures? I live in their world. I chose that. So, to keep my sanity, the answer has to be no. I can't let fear control me. I try to live by this new rule and I refuse to let this spider change my life's philosophies.

But you can be assured that I'm still checking my shoes and peeing with the lights on. Shudder!

P.S. My husband also burned the article of work clothing he found the Brown Recluse in. Eeeks!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Talk

I woke up yesterday morning and breathed a heavy sigh. I knew it had to happen. I would have to sit someone down and have "the talk."

I was fed up, tired of the crap, and needed to give this person a swift kick in the behind and tell her exactly what I thought of the situation at hand.

I didn't want to do it. I hate confrontation and I knew she would resist my approach, but I also knew it had to be done.

I had to be honest, harsh, brutal, and firm. I knew it would be hard... and it was.

Who is this person I had to have "the talk" with? Who had upset me so? Who was making me worry and fret and put me in this unhappy state?

I'm ashamed to say that it was me.

As I rolled out of bed, I could hear various pops and crackles and it just drove the nail further into the coffin. It sounded like my vertebrae were just knocking around in my body like large, loose, clanking marbles. But this was no fun game with colorful glass orbs. This was my life. This was my health. This was me knowing that I needed to firmly kick my own ass.

I started the conversation in my head, "Okay, muffin top, you and I simply have to part ways. I just can't have you around anymore. I love you, but you're hurting me and dragging me down. You're bad for me and I know it. I just can't ignore these feelings anymore. I need to move on. I need my life back."

You're going to think this is ridiculous, but as I silently gave myself "the talk," I had tears welling up in my eyes.

If you look at the picture of the muffins here, you will see what my belly looks and feels like. Overstuffed! Bursting out of the container.

I knew it was time. I could tell I was nearing my "time to do something" weight and a simple step onto the scale confirmed it. I was at top weight, my self-imposed limit, my doomsday. My body was rebelling, fighting me, and had been flipping me the bird for even suggesting we should get healthy again.

When I lost the 15 pounds after doing the Creative Bioscience challenge, I felt pretty good. Wow, what a difference 15 pounds can make. I now feel uncomfortable. My clothes don't fit. I don't want to move, and if and when I do too much moving, my back goes out like it did after vacation. I am weak and my body is vulnerable... to itself.

Why do I feel so shameful about it?

  • I know better, that's why.
  • I can do better, that's why.
  • I am better than this sloppy existence, that's why.

I used to be a Beachbody coach. Working out was a passion of mine. I inspired other people. I ran a workout group online. I felt like a superhero. Now, I just feel like the villain. A pizza and cheese fueled villain. Sigh. I feel guilty. I have let myself down.

I am reflecting deeply on why I haven't felt satisfied lately and it all boils down to two things. One, I'm not physically fit and therefore I feel sluggish in every aspect. And two, I'm not happy with my home health care job.

I could give you a list of 50 reasons why working out is good for me. One reason is that I don't have back problems when I work out. Why? Muscles support the skeletal system. If the support system isn't strong, neither am I. I wobble and clank around like an old empty freight car. I am carrying dead weight. I am rusting.

This winter has been rough. I haven't been able to go do my home health care job very much because of the weather. If it's too cold, she won't let me come because my car might break down and I'd be stranded in the cold. If it's too snowy, she won't let me come because I might get stuck. If it's too wet, the roads flood and I have trouble even getting there. Mostly, I agree with the logic and have not been wanting to take any chances. However, one of the things I do for her is to walk her dog, which gives him (and me) much needed exercise. No work. No dog walk.

My home terrain is not conducive to exercise. My road is one of the worst in the county and the last to clear of snow and ice and the rest of my walking path was snowed over or too icy or too muddy this past two months. I haven't been walking my dogs since - oh - fifteen pounds ago or so. I love walking out here in the spring, summer, and fall. But this winter, I hate it. I don't even want to go outside. I don't like temperatures under 60 and it's been far under that. I just want to curl up in a ball on the couch and hibernate.

Sure, I've used my hula hoop and done an occasional workout, but it wasn't until yesterday that I got serious with my lazy self. And boy, did I kick my own ass. I am soooo sore today. I did a whole RevAbs workout without missing a single exercise and I did it with weights. I woke up this morning and my whole body knew I had been in a fight. I think everything but my fingers, toes, and nose is sore.

But this time, I am winning, not the villain. So I did another workout today, a P90X Stretch one hour long workout. Tomorrow, I will work out again. And again. And again. And again. I will beat myself into submission.

I remember what it feels like to love working out. I want that feeling of love again.

I remember what it feels like to love my job. I want that feeling again.

Sure, I love the lady I take care of and she is "family." However, as I crouched on my hands and knees scrubbing dog poop out of her carpet last week and as I scrubbed her bed sheets where she had soiled them, I thought to myself, "This is my life." And I was sad.

I love writing, not cleaning poop. I'm forty-four years old. I'm smart. I can make a living writing. Why am I doing something I'm not passionate about? Both times I've taken the home health care job, it started as a favor, helping someone out. Somehow, it became life; a life I'm not passionate about.

I don't know exactly how I got here. All I know is that it's time to kick some Cindy ass. Join me?