Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shining a Light on Newtown; A Different Perspective

Almost every blogger did a post about Newtown; every blogger except me. It certainly wasn't because I wasn't sorrowful and affected like the rest of the US, but I just wasn't sure where to start. While the nation grieved, I thought about myself and my own family. It was a selfish thing, but let me explain. You see, my family was affected by a school shooting back before school shootings were all the rage, literally.

My uncle Carl's sister-in-law, Deanna McDavid, was shot in the head, killed by one of her students as the other students watched in utter disbelief. I'm sure unless you are related to me or you happened to be from the area, you didn't even know about this incident. It was big news, being one of the first school shootings, but there was no immediate media hype like today, no instant Internet blitz to alert the world that my family bubble had been burst.

It happened in the sleepy little town where I visited my dad's family on a regular basis over my forty-three years; my grandma, two aunts, and two uncles, my cousins, and extended families. Even though Deanna was on my uncle's wife's side of the family, I spent time with them growing up. Deanna's kids were my cousin's age and I spent a lot of time with my aunt Betty (Deanna's sister) and uncle Carl and I have been blessed to know them. They are outgoing, spirited, and kind. They have endured unspeakable tragedy.

When I heard about the shooting at Newtown, I suppose it hit me in a different way than most. Frankly, I found myself less upset than most and if you know me, that would surprise you. I am easy to cry. Yes, it was tragic. The sheer number involved and the fact that they were children was heartbreaking, but the truth is that I had "been there, done that" nearly twenty years ago. That sounds terrible, but if you have trouble wondering why people react in certain ways to certain things, perhaps this article will shed some light for you.

Am I hardened? Not necessarily. I remember being very affected by Columbine and the Virginia Tech shootings. I vividly remember watching TV coverage of Virginia Tech and bawling like a baby. I remember choking back tears as I told my boyfriend's young son about Columbine and then soaking up the media details, trying to understand.

Most people want to understand why and how someone could do such a thing. Now, years later, there are plenty of articles on the Internet about the shooting at East Carter High School where my aunt's sister and a custodian were killed. One article I read stated that he didn't have a beef with Deanna, but he wanted to kill two random people so that he would be eligible for the death penalty. His logic didn't work. He remains in jail to this day.

Did you know there have been 386 school shootings since 1992? Here's a website with statistics Stop The Shootings and I must be honest, I had no idea there were that many. Not all involved fatalities. Does this make them any less impactful?

No, the incidents were tragic in each case, I'm sure. Not all involved children or teachers being shot. Not all involved a troubled teen saying to one of my family members, "Shut up, bitch," and then carrying out his own version of a death sentence on her just one day before her 49th birthday.

As a writer, this story is personal for me in more ways than one. Deanna was an English teacher. Prior to killing her, Gary Scott Pennington had turned in writing assignments with content that concerned her and she had given him a C grade which he thought might affect his college prospects. His killing method was eerily based on Stephen King's novel (published under a pseudonym), Rage, about a student who kills his teacher in front of students -- in Kentucky, no less. Coincidence? It's debatable. The things Gary Scott Pennington said in his shooting were eerily similar, but in life, I've had eerie coincidences more than a few times. There is reporting to say that he read it before the killings and reporting to say that he didn't.

Can writing influence action among a readership? Certainly! This would not be the first time King's story was connected to a school shooting, nor would it be the last. Do I blame Stephen King for Deanna's murder? No way. That would be stupid. I used to be a huge Stephen King fan. I am no killer, nor do I use it as a springboard for my own twisted mind, but some do.

I don't blame his writing as a tool of destruction any more than I blame the gun. It is the person behind it who remains ultimately responsible. Had it not been a story idea or an availability of guns, he would have found another way to express his mental state of frustration. Perhaps a bomb or a knife would have been the weapon of choice. He would have found some thing, some way, some awful end to make his point stick in the collective mind.

Here are a few articles about the crime.
People Magazine: Reading, Writing and Murder
US News: The Tragedy in Room 108 (Thank you, Jerry Buckley, for allowing me to get to know her even better through your great writing).

I didn't watch much coverage on Newtown and the tragedy at Sandy Hook. I give the victims the honor they deserve, lives lost too soon, but I refuse to let fear and depression grip me and keep me in its hold where my life is concerned. I just won't do it. Why? I've wasted too much time with that sort of focus in the past and it did me no good. Rather, it was detrimental. I smile and laugh, not out of insensitivity and denial, but in the face of the devil. He won't have me. He can't have me... unless I allow it.

After the most recent school shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook, I posted on a humor thread about the appropriateness of using humor again after tragedy and got the following response from a man who put things into a different perspective when he replied:

" for me, I learned this news just 10 minutes back from Humor Writers! I am exactly on the opposite side of the globe... partly, the result of not being able to afford to live in the U.S. any longer, and met no one who told me this. I would have had to meet an American, no Cambodian would consider this to be news. Now when 350 people died here because of the collapse of a bridge, that was news. I think that gives a sense of perspective. We feel the loss of those close to us, but tragedy from a distance does not touch us. ???"

Wow, he is so right! It really hit me, that particular sentence, "no Cambodian would consider this to be news." It's all about what we're exposed to on a regular basis. Is the school shooting more tragic than genocide? Deaths in hurricane Katrina? Lives lost when the Titanic went down?

These children killed at Sandy Hook are a sad reminder that tragedy happens and our children are not safe. However, it did not make me hug my children tighter, tell them I love them more, or get up in arms about gun control. It simply reminded me that every day is a quiet blessing and if you are treating them any differently than you did the day before, you are doing them a disservice.

You should be hugging them every day as though today could be the last. I've already learned in life that the tragedy can be you, your neighbor, your cousin, your friend, or your child. It can happen in a thousand different ways. Illness, accidents, tragic circumstances or whatever, it can all be over in the blink of an eye. So do we cease to blink? No, we learn to keep one eye open and see more clearly between blinks, that's all.

As I engaged in my 2012 Christmas rituals with my husband and children yesterday, my thoughts drifted to the families and community of Newtown and I realized how blessed I am. I am between tragedies. Will they happen again in my lifetime? You can be sure of it. Am I better prepared? Never. But I am gaining new perspectives throughout my years and that helps me to see things in different light. In the darkest days, I sometimes need that light.

I choose to use that light to celebrate the lives of those lost and not mourn for too long. Those I have loved and lost would never want to see me grieve long-term. It's so destructive. Long-term grief and anger eat away the very fibers of faith, love, and happiness and pull your focus to the dark side. I've lost much in my lifetime and have only begun to hint at it in my writing. I've learned much about keeping a light on in the process.

My light burns for you tonight, your little ones, your mothers and fathers, your friends, and even your enemies. Remember, you can be a Stephen King kind of Shining, or a Shining light of your own design. The choice is up to you. Please share how you shine in the light of this tragedy in your unique way. Have you instilled hope in your children? Comforted a friend? Helped someone cope with it all? I'd like to hear from you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jane, You Ignorant (finish it if you know it)

I am sooooooo stupid. This was proven to me this morning by Dr. Probst, our local vet. I do not hide my stupidity from anyone and this is one of the reasons I have such an interesting blog. Case in point:

Everyone at my house has been sick lately. My youngest just got over a horrible ear infection, my oldest isn't feeling well, my husband missed a day of work this week due to a horrible head cold, and my poor dog Buddy had developed some symptoms which gave me concern enough to call the vet.

If you've read this blog very long, you are aware of a few things about me. I raise Great Pyrenees dogs and we live in the country on a road that runs into a creek, so it's only a through road if you have a 4-wheel drive. Buddy is my 150 lb. male Great Pyrenees, daddy of all the cute little puppies I proudly sell. We have two left from a litter now, almost 11 weeks old. I love my big daddy dog, simply to pieces!

Almost two weeks ago, we came home and Buddy was limping, missing a tiny patch of fur on one leg, and had a lovely new tire mark tattoo on his rear. You would think on a "dead end" road, there would not be much traffic, but we are hicks around here and four wheel drive vehicles are plentiful. Traffic (mostly teenagers and good 'ol boys) will whiz by, careening recklessly around the curve by my house like Mario Andretti. Buddy is a car chaser.

Yes, we've tried a shock collar, but he is a fluffball with an undercoating of thicker fluffball and it didn't do the job, so we are still looking at options to deter him. Most locals are courteous and just slow down to pass by, but some idiots actually try to hit him. Apparently, an idiot visited our neck of the woods that night while we were out.

We examined him and determined all was well. No broken bones, no yelping out when we touched anything, etc. and observed him the next few days. He was fine within three days, bouncing around, running like normal, and engaging in horseplay with his wife, Penny.

Then this past Saturday night, I came home and Buddy came from the back of our property by the woods and he and Penny were both acting funny, skittish, barking and whining, etc. I figured they had a possum up a tree or something. The next day, I noticed Buddy was walking funny, like his back end was hurting and he was whimpering a lot. He started spending a lot of time on the porch laying around and I could tell something wasn't right. Penny would try to play with him and he'd look at her like, "Leave me alone... can't you see I don't feel like playing?"

By Monday evening, he couldn't stand up very well and wasn't gallivanting around like normal, so I decided to check his underside out while he was laying down. I could tell he didn't feel good. I noticed he had some yellow-greenish discharge from his penis, he had a raw area on the inside of the thigh, he was having trouble peeing, and when his peter poked out, it looked angry, red and irritated. He kept looking at me like, "Do something!"

So yesterday, I went to the vet's office to pick up some worming supplies for the dogs and I plopped down into the chair and said to the secretary, "We need to talk about my dog's penis." She looked at me like I was insane, one eyebrow curiously raised. My theory was that when he was hit, something had been damaged down there internally and he now had an infection or injury that wasn't healing. She thought maybe he'd had a fight with coyotes, which is possible. We have some livestock and 12 acres, so we hear them out here all the time and the dogs run them off. She would send doc to my house to take a look, but he couldn't come until mid-morning today.

Early this morning, I checked him again. He willingly opened his legs as if to say, "Help it, my pee pee hurts!" I could immediately see that something was very wrong. Oh, no! His penis was very swollen, he had the discharge again, he was shaking like a leaf, and now he had two very large lumps under the skin about halfway down the shaft. I was sure he had a raging infection or blockage of the urinary tract, or possibly cancer. Poor baby! I took my daughter to school, did my errands at Hell Wal-Mart, and I called the vet first thing to see when he could come over. I was certain Buddy was near death.

When I got home from my errands, Buddy had miraculously transformed into the old Buddy again. He was walking better, the lumps on his penis were gone, and he reluctantly played with Penny a bit, who kept jumping excitedly on his back in an effort to land his attention. "Maybe he had a blockage and he passed it," I thought. I noticed he was still having a bit of trouble peeing and still didn't play like he normally would and his gait still looked a bit stiff, so I decided to go ahead and have the vet check him out.

When the vet arrived, we got Buddy down and rolled over and I began describing the horrible lumps he had earlier. He checked him out and I pointed out the lump location. The vet began his diagnosis, "Okay, in this that location, there are glands..."

I interrupted, "They were huge this morning!" I formed my fingers into unhulled walnut sized circles for visual reference, but the vet interrupted me back.

"Let me finish!" Geez, he sounded so snippy. "Those glands become very enlarged when the dog is sexually excited. He was horny!"

I looked at him and said, "You're kidding me."

"Nope. Your dog was horny. Has he been mating someone? Is your female in heat?"

At that moment, a flood of realization hit me. Shit. Yes, I just cursed. So, sue me.

"Well, she was jumping on him earlier, but she still has puppies that aren't even 11 weeks old! She can't be in heat yet, can she?"

"It's usually every six months, but sometimes they can go in early."

The vet was already hurrying back to his truck as he spoke. I'm not sure if he was hurrying to try and get in the truck before he busted out laughing or if he was extremely perturbed that he had to come to my house for a "my dog is horny" call.

I came back in the house and as I looked out the door at my dogs, I could clearly hear in my head the iconic late '70's voice of Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live Weekend Update saying to Jane Curtin, "Jane, you ignorant slut!"

I started laughing hysterically and couldn't stop. Tears filled my eyes, I couldn't believe how stupid I was. Poor Buddy had been walking funny because he had blue balls! Of course his penis was swollen - he was horny! Of course, he didn't want to "play" with Penny, she was wearing him out with all the sex and that look toward her was, "Oh my God, no, no, no... not again. Bitch, please! I can barely walk, much less urinate! You're killing me. My penis is so engorged, mom had to call the vet, for God's sake."

I was supposed to go to my mom's today, but I had canceled... because my dog was sick a horndog.

I worried about my dog's life and health because he was sick a horndog.

I now know the true meaning of horndog.

Thankfully, the vet didn't charge me for my stupidity, but hey, it's not like I ever look at his pee pee under normal circumstances and I did not have any idea Penny was in heat. None!

I sent my husband a text at work with the news and got the following reply, "Saw work nurse today. Found out why I've been sick. Turns out I'm just horny. Said I need to have sex with my wife immediately!"

I replied, "ha ha."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No, I Am Not Down Wit' OPP

Naughty by Nature did a song about it back in the '90's. Are you down with OPP? Well, I'm certainly not. Wait, we're talking about the same thing here, aren't we? Other People's Pubes? Sure we are!

So, I'm in the shower the other day, humming a little tune and in a generally good mood, when I glance over at the ledge which is supposed to hold innocuous shower stuffs, and I stop cold in mid-songbird. There it was, just staring at me... a pubic hair!

Uber-annoying Janice on Friends couldn't have said it any better. Oh. My. Gawd!

Oh. My. Gawd.
You'd think I'd never seen one before. It might as well have been a spider, the way I reacted. I went all Anita Hill recounting a Clarence Thomas Coke can incident, in full scream (inside my head) accusation mode, "Who put the pubic hair on my shower ledge?"

If you don't have to deal with OPP, then you are one lucky mama, but I am forced to deal with it often. First of all, I have to clean the toilets in this joint. Trust me, the hairs of nether-region origin hang out there.

Let me be the first to point out that there are substances on toilets that many mere humans will not even touch, especially if they belong to someone else or in this case, fell off of or out of someone else. I must touch these things because it is my domestic duty. That means nobody else in the house will do it, so I am forced to scrub the toilets.

Worse yet, I clean for a relative and I have to deal with OPP there also. Housekeepers of the world, may I just say that the respect I have for you is great. Other people's pubes are one thing when it's your own house and your own tribe, but when you have to cleanse a foreign toilet of its ookies, well, that takes a special person. I am that special person.

So the pubic hair in my shower was not that surprising since the shower is location number two on the Family Feud board when asked, "Places you might find a pubic hair," but I just couldn't figure out how it got up there! It should be at hip level and go down, not rise up to greet me on the shelf at shoulder level somehow, not a foot from my face, agreed? I do expect agreement here.

If it's in the bottom of the shower, you can take care of it much easier. You can poke it with a toe and guide water its way to coax it down the drain. But up there? Well, that takes ingenuity to get it down the drain without touching it with your hand. You have to fashion a water irrigation system out of your body parts that will reach the hair with the right angle and force to dislodge it and send it drainward.

I accomplished the task with some difficulty and body contortion, for the angle was high, my friends, being up on the shelf and all.

I pondered how it came to be there in the first place while I finished my shower. In case you were wondering, singing was now out of the question.

It could have hitched a ride on a bar of soap, undetected... you know, stealth mode. That happens. I get that. However, there was no bar of soap in the vicinity.

It could have been from our teen daughter who insisted on using our shower because hers was clogged with what else, HAIR! It would not drain, leaving her and her sister standing ankle deep in water. Instead of cleaning out the drain, she did the lazy teenager thing and jumped ship... er, shower and invaded ours. Eww! Not my daughter's pube, puh-lease!

Trust me, I fixed their shower after this particular OPP incident, just in case. There was a substance in there I can barely speak of, much of which was hair. Hair and other gag-me substance. Oh, and also a part of a razor and naturally, a hair tie.

Back to my shower... the pube could have been placed there by Clarence Thomas or Anita Hill. This would be a heck of a conspiracy theory and is the least likely scenario.

And of course, don't forget the irrational fear version. It could have crawled there on its own accord and positioned itself there just to startle me. You know, a different kind of OPP - otherworldly paranormal pubes.

Isn't it funny how we can tolerate OPP in sexual situations with our spouse, but in the wrong setting, one tiny hair freaks us the crap out? Truth is, my husband has curly black hair at the base of his neck that could pose as a pubic hair if it got long enough. I'm hoping that's what was really in the shower. I'd be much less traumatized if it was a rogue neck hair.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tag! You're It (and you don't even know it)!

Melanie Conklin writes YA and MG novels. She doesn't know me. I don't know her. She's probably wondering why in the heck I'm featuring her on my blog. I may not even tell her. I'll just give her a nod and see if somebody says, "Hey, I saw you were on Everyday Underwear the other day," and she'll be all like, "You saw me in my underwear where?"

She's in a group I'm in on SheWrites and in a thread I contribute to frequently. I get a lot of notifications of other blog posts to read in this thread, too many to have the time to address. Some I delete without a thought, some titles catch my eye and pull me in, and sometimes I just check somebody's work out for the heck of it, which is what happened with Melanie Conklin.

Melanie received the Very Inspired Blog Award. What I found in her post was a very good approach to an award if you're not a sharer (unlike moi... I can share my business with noooo problem). Melanie chose to share what she has learned from design and how it can apply to writing instead of sharing facts about herself. A fellow rule breaker! I like her already.

Anyway, I thought it was worth sharing. Nice to meet you, Melanie! Fellow writers, look out... you never know when you might unexpectedly end up in my Everyday Underwear. I mean that in the cleanest way possible.

Here's a teaser:
"5. YOUR IDEAS ARE NOT YOUR BABIES. If ideas were babies, and designers kept every idea they ever thought of, every designer would have millions of children. So when you get upset about cutting something, remember..."

Check out Melanie's design/writing tips here!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Do You Read Me? I Could be the Next Big Thing.

I have a few little housekeeping details for you today. No, not like cleaning the toilet (by the way, look out... my next actual commentary humor post is going to be about pubic hairs) or washing windows. It's a little Cindy Brown Everyday Underwear writing career housekeeping.

If you read me (and I assume you do, or your eyeballs would not be ogling my website right now), I need to ask a favor. I entered a contest in which I could receive a feature and a mention if I make it into the top 25. Circle of Moms has a Top 25 Book Author Moms category and since I am now a published author, I entered, not really thinking I'd even rate. I started at #54 and quickly jumped to #24, then other votes knocked me back into last week, so to speak, but I'm still close!


I need a push to get back into the Top 25. Please click here and hit the gold circle with the thumbs up to vote for me. Just two clicks, nothing to sign up for, etc. I will love you forever and have your babies if you vote for me. That's a boldfaced lie. I don't birth no babies for nobody. However, I would sincerely appreciate the vote. Voting ends tomorrow, December 7th, 2012 at 4 p.m. PST. You can vote once a day, so you could even vote today and again in 24 hours - or tomorrow if you forget today or don't read me until tomorrow, you know, leaving me languishing in your e-mail... waiting... waiting... waiting.

My book finally came in the mail! As soon as I get some stock, I will put it up on the site for purchase. For now, though, this is my baby! Isn't it cute?

I am one proud mama!
NUMBRERO THREE: (to heck with it, I don't speak Spanish)
I've been invited to join the Next Big Thing blog hop several times and never did it. Until Norine Dworkin-McDaniel posted about it. Nancy Hinchliff tagged Susan Bearman of 2KoP, Susan added Norine, Norine's adding me, etcetera, etcetera, etceter-ahhh. Check out their sites, as well as a few others I've learned about from Norine's post, and keep things hopping.

Please check out my fellow blogger goddess Kelly Hashway who will be posting her Next Big Thing post on 12/12/12. She is the author of many books and will be promoting her YA Novella, Love All. UPDATE! Here's the link.

Shari Brady: Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye is a story about Carmella D'Agostino, an average sixteen-year-old girl who is faced with coming to terms with her older sister's accidental drug overdose and death. Through Carmella's eyes, we witness the courage and strength it takes for her and her family to overcome their grief and guilt.

Christine Wolf: Christine's manuscript is called My Life Afloat—With her parents both out of work, the anchors of Maeve's "normal" life come undone. Riding the waves of her family's private shame, 12-year-old Maeve tries to save the family from sinking, even as their ship heads toward catastrophe. Christine blogs at My Life Afloat on her website and Riding theWaves on Chicago Now.

Norine Dworkin-McDaniel:  The book-to-be is a collection of essays from by blog Don't Put Lizards In Your Ears about my being a late in life mom, done "snap-shot style" a la "Shit My Dad Says".

Also, check out my friend Chris Dean who finally did her Big Thing post: My Next Big (Pfft!) Thing!

Do I have a book of my own? Well, yeah, I kinda do! I have started writing a book, many years ago, actually. It's something I hope to complete in the next 8 months to take to the BlogHer '13 conference with me.

My Next Big Thing Q&A's:

1. What is the working title of your book or project? Forty Days Without a Face.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book or project? I journaled a bit during a life-changing experience.

3. What genre does it fall under, if any? Probably self-help or religious/women's issues.

4. If applicable, who would you choose to play your characters in a movie? Charlize Theron, totally!

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your manuscript or project? Fasting from hair and makeup for forty days revealed more than skin deep beauty for Cindy Brown... it shed harsh light on her fears and insecurities ripping away the mask she wore to hide her disturbing past.

6. Will your book or story be self-published or represented by an agency? I am hoping to be picked up by an agent or publishing house, but if not... well, self-publishing - here I come!

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? That is incomplete at this time.

8. What other book or stories would you compare this story to within the genre? I once searched for books on different types of fasting, but found none on fasting from pride, so I am not sure there are any to compare to. I once saw somebody start a Facebook group of women challenged to do the same thing, but the participants quickly dropped out, so they discontinued the group!

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book or story? A friend, Rebecca Merten, shared the beginnings of my writings with someone who in turn shared it with her women's group at church. They wanted to turn it into a bible study and they were anxious to hear the rest of the story. My friend suggested a book/workbook/workshop/speaking engagements. It was then that I knew that subject should probably be my first book.

10. What else about the book or story might pique the reader’s interest? I made it the entire forty days without curling my hair or wearing any make-up! And yes, it was freakin' hard! Other women tell me how impossible this would be for them, so I feel I have accomplished something worthy of writing about.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Poopy Little Puppy

I always think there is a book by that title, but then I realize it was instead, The Poky Little Puppy. It's a Little Golden Book. I read it as a child and I loved the book. Years ago, I entertained the thought of writing children's books. Why not, right? Therefore, I have an announcement. In light of my experience with dogs, I'm writing a new book entitled The Poopy Little Puppy and submitting it for certain rejection.

I'm totally kidding. Hmmm, perhaps I should create a tongue-in-cheek satire piece based on each Little Golden Book. Maybe there's a market. Maybe they'd sue me. I'll have to think about that. Sigh... I digress.

What I really want to talk about today is cuticle scissors and playing mind games with my children. What does that have to do with The Poopy Little Puppy? These things are all related, I promise. Don't be confused. Here, I'll tie the threads together for you.

We raise and sell Great Pyrenees puppies. Yes, you've seen the pictures of my fur-babies. The other day, we had to do a little... shall we say... delicate fur maintenance in the buttocks region of a puppy. You see, our puppies have very fluffy, fine, white hair. The puppies also have a little bit of  a case of the goopy poops when they're weaning.

One of the puppies apparently managed to sit on his goopy poop and then fall fast asleep, or some horrid scenario like that, and his fur-mommy did not get it cleaned up. This meant that human-mommy (that would be me) got the privilege of butt maintenance. I know 'tis the season, but I can't very well sell a puppy with a chunk of poop dangling about like a Christmas ornament from the poop-a-doodle orifice.

My plan was to bring the puppy in, put it in the tub, and take care of it with some paper towels. Plan A did not work. The poo was stuck like glue. It soon became apparent that I was going to have to cut the tainted chunk of fur from my wriggling poopy little puppy.

I needed help.

I summoned both children and grabbed the cuticle scissors. Not only did they not want to help and were properly grossed out, man, but they both almost simultaneously exclaimed, "Ewwww, you're using those scissors? I'm never using those again!" I almost crapped in my own fur at that moment. I had an epiphany. Brilliant!

All I have to do to keep the children from running off with my things is to do something disgusting with whatever item they would normally "borrow," then disinfect it. They will never touch it again! I grinned from ear to ear. An evil smile of realization crept across my face. Brilliant, I tell you. Brilliant!

My mind raced. What could I do with the hair brush? My makeup? My stapler! Oh, the possibilities... Why, I think I'll drop something in the toilet right in front of them next week. "Oh no, I dropped my hair brush in the toilet and I just peed. So gross! Oh well. I'll just wash that off and it'll be fine." Hee hee hee. They'll never touch my stuff again.

Felix sure has a pretty butt, though, thanks to my now thoroughly bleached, scrubbed and sanitized cuticle scissors. Brilliant, I tell you. Simply brilliant.

If you enjoy my humor, please click on the Circle of Moms badge on the right to vote me into the top 25 Book Author Moms. You can vote once a day through December 7, 2012 with no obligation. I am currently at #26 and every vote counts. I appreciate each and every one!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Hair of My Chinny Chin Chin

One night, I was watching TV while mindlessly checking the landscape of my chin. I felt something. I assumed it was a blemish, but it wasn't. A trip to the mirror revealed the ugly truth. This was worse than a blemish.

This sinister demon keeping residence on my face... was chin hair!
Eeks! What is that?
Bad enough, chin hair on a woman, but this was a chin hair on steroids. I couldn't believe it. The thing was a quarter inch long, at least. It had hidden itself so well, curled under the curvature of my jaw line so tightly that I hadn't noticed it for how long? I have no idea!

I'm no stranger to facial hair. I sport what's referred to as peach fuzz and it's not uncommon for me to have a wiry hair occasionally. Pluck! Be gone! I banish you from the kingdom of Faceopotamia! Perhaps it's a genetic gift from my father. He did, in fact, sport a beard of his own.

Very fine blond hair blankets my face if I let it do its thing. However, I'm not a very good sport about this facial hair thing and therefore, I get rid of it with a dainty little battery operated personal shaver that makes my lady beard experience seem more feminine. It's a cute little shaver. I appreciate that. I'd be horrified to have to use a Mach 20 - or however many blades Gillette has come up with for men to shear themselves with these days.

As a teen, I worked for a time in a nursing home in the developmentally disabled wing. There was a woman who didn't speak, didn't walk on her own, and family didn't visit her. She seemed happy, however. She had very long chin hairs and I always wondered why nobody plucked them for her. Was it because she didn't go out in public? Was it "not my job" for any employee of the nursing home? Were they afraid she'd punch them if they messed with her facial hair? Perhaps they had tried. I do not know.

The burning question in my mind is this: Who will pluck my chin hairs and shave my peach fuzz when I'm old? Who, I ask you... WHO? Whoooooooo.........?

And who will pluck yours?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Year in the Making

I know, I know, I just posted yesterday. But truly, today is a special day and special days are worth noting. It was exactly one year ago today that I started my blog. It was my little experiment. What would happen? Would anyone care? Would anyone relate? Would I fade into the sunset, laptop in hand, tail dragging on the ground behind me as I retreated from my writing dream?

Heck to the N-O! I consider my first year of blogging a smashing success. I've gotten my feet wet, gotten paid for blogging, made wonderful friends and connections, and have been proud of what I have done here. Also, it is an excellent day to announce my book! Well, I say "my book," but it belongs to many.

It's a humor anthology called My Funny Major Medical and I have two blog pieces in it - the ones about my mammograms this year. If you are a long-time faithful Everyday Underwear follower, you'll remember The Ma'ams-o-gram and Ma'ams-o-gram: Take Two, with a Twist in which I talk about my boobs, the pain, and Jesus holding my boob (in prayer!) to the end of chuckle-worthy results. All came out fine with my mammos, and thanks to a thread on LinkedIn which I just happened to comment on and mentioned my boob work (LOL! - snort), I got the opportunity to submit the pieces and they were accepted.

I am so proud to say that I am now a published author and my own Amazon Author Page and I downloaded the book (with me in it) onto my Kindle Fire! I read it first to make sure it didn't suck before I told anyone I was in it. It doesn't suck! It does have some cursing in it, so if you are extremely prim and proper (and if so, why are you reading this blog?) you may not want to read it. Other than that, I actually found myself chuckling many times throughout the book, and not just when reading my own stories!

I am in the company of some wonderful humorists, such as 2010 Erma Bombeck Global Humor Winner, Barb Best and award winning and Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Saralee Perel plus many other talented folks, both male and female, telling their medical funny bone breaking tales.

I'm happy to have this blog, the relationships I've come to have with all of you, and the ability to write despite my recent challenges. I'm even taking steps to plan attendance at my very first writer's conference. I'm so excited, I could pee my pants! I won't, since I'm not wearing a diaper, but you get what I mean.

I thank all of you for coming along on this ride with me this past year - the making of Everyday Underwear. I will continue to do my best to entertain you further! Remember, no thongs allowed.

Monday, November 5, 2012


We threw a party last week. It was an early birthday/Halloween party for my daughter, the tween. My two daughters, ages 11 and 14, agreed to do all the planning, shopping, purchasing, inviting, cleaning, etc. They know I'm sick. They know I'm tired. Yes, I'm literally sick and tired, thanks to my newly diagnosed Lyme Disease. So I let them do it all. Yeah, right! In my dreams...

There was even a full moon for the "haunted trail!" Perfect!  

We always give them a budget. They get X amount for their birthday and they can do whatever they want with X. They can use it for a present, for food for the party, decorations for the party, etc. I feel it's a pretty fair deal. They usually opt for spending all of X on the party. This year was no Xception. Nearly the entire amount was spent online at Party City on decorations. They would buy the food themselves out of the money they made working at our food stand on the weekends.

Several days before the party, while I did my Wal-Mart shopping, they filled their own cart with food and met me at the checkout. Their budget was $60, the money they would make helping us at the food stand if they worked really hard that weekend. The grand total at the register? $137. I was nice and agreed to let them owe me. Truth be told, I was too tired to argue. That happens a lot. Anybody else out there with a horrible disease let their children take advantage of them inadvertently because you're too tired to fight about it? I didn't think I was the only one!

They promised to hand over their last weekend's pay, work really hard for us at the food stand all weekend, AND my oldest daughter even cooked up a bake sale idea to raise money at the flea market to pay us back. Fine. I'm down with that. Add another $37 for bake sale supplies and yet another Wal-Mart trip.

Fast-forward to reality. My oldest daughter cooked all night Saturday night for the bake sale on Sunday. I was so proud of her! They spent all day Sunday selling their wares and eating their wares. They ignored the food stand all day Sunday for the bake sale and made a whopping $33, not even enough to pay us back for supplies. Also, the pay they would have made on Sunday (which was to be put toward what they owed us) was practically nothing since they vacated the food stand and sat up at the main building at the flea market all day.

I reasoned that they were making oodles (my daughter had projected $117 from her venture) and they were out of our hair, so I let them stay at their post. At the end of the day, they managed to lose the money - all of it - plus the change I'd given them to use. It was the end of the season for the food stand and we'd decided not to continue with it next year, so we decided to cut our losses. Their lost money, however, was later recovered.

Seems that grandma (flea market owner and sitting mere feet away in her office, observing the bake sale all day) had made it a point to teach them a lesson by taking their money box when all FIVE children (my two kids, two friends, and a cousin) left it unattended. She did a convincing job of pretending to know nothing and an intense search for a mystery man with a food stand to-go box full of money became the afternoon delight of the children.

The party was on Monday. After working the food stand all weekend, I dragged my weary butt out of bed, prepared to clean my butt off on Monday for the party. Somehow, that hadn't gotten done by the children. What, really? Yeah, really (apply heavy sarcasm here). I entered the laundry room to look for something and there on the counter was all of the food for the party. A gajillion hot dogs and four frozen pizzas had been sitting on the counter in the laundry room with the s'mores and buns all weekend. The food was ruined. I'd have to make another trip to Hell-Mart Wal-Mart to replace the food - on my own dime.

My kids did this. They brought in all the groceries and were supposed to put them away. I wasn't supposed to have to do anything for this party, right? Ha! What I did in response to finding the expired food cannot be repeated, but it involved throwing packages of hot dogs and cursing, let's just leave it at that. Outbursts of rage are a symptom of Lyme, I swear to God. Look it up.

We had put an R.S.V.P. on the invitations and my daughter had handed out 30 of them to her friends at school. I happened to run into two parents who told me their children would attend, so I knew two people were coming, but besides that, I got no response whatsoever. Have people forgotten what an R.S.V.P. means? It means that you are supposed to call and tell me whether or not you're coming so I can know how many people will be here. Some family had agreed to attend, so I knew there would be at least two friends and some family, but there could have been anwhere between 10-40 people as far as I knew. I figured it would be closer to ten.

Twenty children showed up at my house that night. TWENTY! From 4:00 - 8:30 (several came home on the bus with my daughter), they came in droves, multiples crammed into minivans and SUV's. I thought I would die, but I did in fact live. The kids had a blast and I wore myself out.

I guess you only turn twelve once. In a mere six years, my party throwing days will be over, so I bucked up and weathered the storm. Those children whipped past me faster than 75 mph winds!

My daughter forgot to put that it was also a birthday party on her invitations (despite my example, which included that fact) and so she got no presents, but a good time was had by all. I ended the night by stating that, "We'll never do that again," but we love our kids and so.... I bet we will do it again... and again... and again. I'm still making them pay us back, though. I have a chart and everything.

How do you handle birthdays for your children? Little parties? Big? Do you plan it or do they?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Where Have You Been, Young Lady?

Have you ever said that to your child? Perhaps you've even said it with index finger pointed on one hand and other hand on hip, visually displaying your displeasure with some apropos body language. I feel like that may be what you're all saying to me these days, "Where have you been, Everyday Underwear? You'd better have a good explanation, young lady!"

First of all, thank you for calling me a young lady in my fantasy chastising. Actually, a few of you have contacted me and for that, I'm grateful. I had no idea that people would miss me. I am so pleased to know that you noticed I was "missing." I do have a good explanation, I SWEAR! It wasn't my fault, I SWEAR. My life has been a whirlwind. Hmmmm, shall we do a bullet list? I think we should.

  • As you all know from my last post, I found out recently that I am in late stage Lyme disease. This kept me from writing for a couple of reasons. This thing kind of consumed my life for a period of time, I must admit. And it may again, but I hope not. I miss writing. I miss you guys! I spent a great deal of time researching Lyme after my diagnosis. I learned that I don't want it. I learned that it may be difficult to drive out of my body. I learned that it is controversial. I learned that there is a lot to learn. I could already write a book about what I've learned. Hey, I'm a writer! Gee, what luck... I just might do that. In the end, I have been taking antibiotics for nearly a month and am feeling a bit better. Lyme cycles and moves around your body as well, so lucky me, the writer, it attacked my hands and lower arms for a while! Yay. Not. Please pray that my symptoms stay at bay. I am enjoying almost a week of feeling somewhat normal and I could get used to it. After all of my research, I have decided to treat my Lyme with a combination of traditional and alternative medicine. More on that later, homies, in another post with less bullets.
  • I had a litter of puppies. To clarify, my Great Pyrenees, Penny, had a litter of puppies. Look!

  • Go ahead and tell me how cute they are... I'll wait... They are so stinkin' cute! Puppies are a lot of work, though, and so I am busy getting up in the night to check on them, seeing why they're fussing during the day, making sure their bedding is washed and changed, and cooing, oohing, and aahing appropriately. This is her biggest litter so far. She had eleven and nine survived! The most we've had in the past is six. We almost lost five of these, but set up a little doggie hospital in the house and nursed them back to life from their near death state one night and only lost two. One we lost even got mouth to snout in a last ditch effort. Don't judge. They're $300 puppies.
  • My aunt died recently from an extended battle with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She died during Breast Cancer Awareness month, which makes this even more impactful. I will be traveling to Kentucky for services this week and will get to see my family there, two remaining uncles and some other extended family. My two aunts and my grandmother on my father's side have all passed in the past two years. Cancer ravages our family. My grandmother lived a good, long life, but my father and my two aunts died before their time on this earth should have come to an end. I miss them very much. They were all great role models and such wonderfully funny and nice people. I couldn't be prouder to have such heritage.
  • I've been out of commission every weekend since the weekend after Labor Day helping my husband run his food stand at his parents' flea market. It's completely exhausting and I don't have the energy to spare most days because that's a symptom of Lyme I deal with. Hickerbilly's Food Stand is open 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday & 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sunday. We need to get there early to prep, stay late to clean and close, and it's 40 minutes from our house. I have no life on the weekends because of Hickerbilly's, plus I have to do the shopping, ordering, errand running, and books for the business. This is a business I was supposed to have nothing to do with. I suppress my emotions about this issue well most days. Sometimes I drown in them. Luckily, it closes for the season after next weekend. Perhaps I'll be able to resurface.
  • My oldest daughter's health has been as bad as mine. She missed five days of school due to stomach trouble (she's had it on and off for years with various diagnoses) and we finally had a CT scan done on her abdomen. Clear. Then she got a sinus infection and missed more school. She missed several games and couldn't cheer. I had her tested for Lyme also because she is always exhausted and has mystery illnesses sort of like I had. Clear. She doesn't have it! Hallelujah! We are still faced with getting her well, though, so I am still struggling to figure out the best treatment method for a problem that cannot be pinpointed. Hmmm. Another mystery illness case, Chris Dean! As soon as her stomach troubles went away, she got a sinus infection... and missed more school.
  • In the meantime, my other daughter managed to fall and hit her head on concrete and get a mild concussion, so she missed two days of school and had me a little worried for a while. She's all good now, though. Sweet patoot is planning her birthday/Halloween party with which I have also been busy.
  • Soooooo, my oldest then decided she wanted to home school. Yes, you heard me right. She asked, no, begged, for me to home school her. As you can imagine, this was a difficult decision for us, but in the end, it has already been a smart one. She felt she could not keep up at school, as much as she is sick and she also felt she could get a better education out of the public school system. She really cares about her education, unlike some children. So I pulled her out of school and am homeschooling her. My other daughter remains in public school. She has no desire to leave. I've been researching high school home study programs and would appreciate input. We do not require a religious based program. I'd actually rather prefer a secular one. This wasn't a religious decision. I'm proud of her for making this decision. She isn't in trouble with boys, she isn't pregnant, she isn't bullied. She wants a better future and knew her health was making it difficult to achieve her goals. For a fourteen year old Freshman popular cheerleader to make that decision, how could I say no? So... I'm a little busy with all that entails.
  • We're refinancing our house, so I've spent a ton of time researching that and finding the best deal, taking care of the paperwork, meeting with and talking to the lender, and preparing for the appraiser. I had to call in backup to help me clean before she came. Thanks mom. I love you!

Holy moly, I'm just tired, people. I need an extended vacation. I feel very overwhelmed! I feel like I'm a month behind on everything and can't pay proper attention to anything, yet I must.

Oh, and then there's that whole writing career I'd like to have. What? Oh yeah, if I have time, I still want to write! Oh my, that is what I miss the most. I am literally at the point of tears about not having time to write. It's my passion and I must make it my priority again, but how? How? I'm waiting for my busy season to be over. I will sleep sweet, blissful sleep (if the Lyme buggies leave me alone) and write late into the night and early in the morning. I'll entertain. I'll make people laugh. I'll grow my position as a writer. I will, I will, I will. I. Will.

I have had a couple of good things happen on the writing front. The anthology I'm going to be in is getting closer to completion and I got the Reader Appreciation Award from Chris Dean. Thank you, dear. I shall answer the required questions now. Then I will not nominate 15 people. If you are in my Top Commenter section, you are tagged for this award. I appreciate reading all of you!
  1. Who was your favorite childhood mentor and why? Easy. My band director, Mr. Icenogle, lovingly known by all as Mr. I. He taught me to love learning, love discipline, love structure, and proudly excel at something. Yeah, I was a proud band geek.
  2. If you could go back to school, what would you study and why? Writing. Duh. Because I want to write real good-like.
  3. What is your idea of the perfect date? Fresh, chewy, no pits.
  4. What is the most stupid baby name you've ever heard? Moon Unit. No, Dweezil. Mmmm, yes, both Zappa children.
  5. What is the best advice your parents ever gave you? I didn't take their advice until it was too late and by then, I couldn't remember it anymore. Somehow, I still grew up fine, though, so they must have had some good words of wisdom to impart and I'm sure it's stuck in the old brain somewhere.
  6. What is the worst advice anyone ever gave you? "Here, I'll show you how to steal those. It's easy." Oh and then there was, "You should blow off work tonight to hang out." Both of those pieces of advice came from the same girl and got me into a lot of trouble when I was young and stupid. Needless to say, we are no longer friends.
  7. If you could re-live one day in your life, which one would it be? My wedding day to my current husband, "The keeper," not the first husband, "The practice husband."
  8. If you could be rich or famous, which would you choose and why? I would be rich. Fame is different for everyone. Besides, I've already been famous. I did the local Becker Wash-n-Dry Laundromat TV commercial. I got recognized on the street.
  9. If you could only travel to one place in your lifetime, where would you go? Italy. And I would drink the wine and eat the food with pleasure.
  10. What is the one thing you'd want your children to say about you after you're gone? I was lucky to have her for a mother.
I also got a little mention in the SheWrites newsletter for my entry to "In Six Words." The SheWrites community submits their answers to a question or idea, but are limited to six words. The challenge was to describe my favorite food in six words. They liked my entry of "Gastric orgasm of sinfully luscious proportions." Yeah, I write food porn. I'm just kidding. That's the closest you'll ever get to seeing me write porn!
And now that I've updated you all, how are YOU?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

You're Kidding Me? What the...? I Have What?

If there's one thing I've learned in my life, it's that I have no idea what's going to happen next. I can plan the crap out of my entire existence and at best, come close.

I am going to cease doing an every Wednesday Woo-Hoo. It's been a very fun thing to do, but due to many extenuating circumstances, it's all the writing I'm getting done lately and I need to return to being more broad.

That's what you want - more of this broad, right?

I hope to get back to posting every 5 days. I haven't been able to keep a schedule recently. I have my reasons and they're good, I swear! I just found out I have a disease.

On Monday, I received a phone call from a nurse that actually made me react nearly the exact same way I reacted twice when getting phone calls over the years, telling me of acquaintances' suicides. I actually told her, "Oh my God, this is making me cuss!" She laughed. I was glad. I needed to hear a laugh to help keep from crying.

Her shocking news? "Your test results are consistent with Lyme Disease."

Not only do I have Lyme Disease, I'm certain it isn't a false positive. I would have been lucky if it was. Back in April of 2011, I found a tick attached to the lower back side of my underarm. This was nothing new. I've been around ticks all my life, have found literally hundreds crawling on me at one time or another every single year, and have had them attach too many times to count. Bugs love me. Ticks are no exception.

What was not normal was that the tick bite site had developed pus, was very red and swollen, and looked infected. Naturally, I took a picture. Now, today, knowing what I know... I'm glad I did. It's proof I will likely need.

No, this is not a boob. Yes, I've had someone ask that.

It was a very large area - probably five or six inches across. I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed the tick. I just hadn't. Stealthy bastard. I showed the angry looking area to a nurse neighbor and she ordered me to take antibiotics immediately if I had any in the house and call the doctor first thing in the morning. I saw a physician's assistant, who regarded it with great awe and determined it was cellulitis. She gave me a very painful 1000 mg shot in the hip of a thick goo known as Rocephin and put me on a two week course of Doxycycline. Over and done with - or so we thought.

I'm sure, like me, you've heard of the bull's eye rash associated with Lyme. This wasn't a bull's eye. But now, looking at pictures of what I know now is erythema migrans, it apparently was the rash in a slightly different shape. You don't always get a bull's eye. I didn't know that and apparently neither did anyone else who looked at it. We all knew it came from a tick bite site, but still nobody suggested Lyme testing. I think I recall my mother-in-law asking if it could be Lyme, but I was sure the doctors would have caught it if they suspected it. They surely didn't. And now I have Lyme Disease.

Life went on and then probably six months later, I began noticing some things about my body that weren't quite right.

I noticed a change in my speech. My voice began to jerk unexpectedly during speech, sort of like a stutter. It was intermittent and my voice had done that before, but I noticed it becoming more and more frequent. I also developed "old lady voice" - where my voice would waver. It sounded like I was getting upset when I wasn't. It also became easier for me to get emotional over things, a little like a stroke victim might experience easily coming to tears. I choked on liquids or my own saliva much more easily. It was a muscle problem, but I didn't know that.

I began to notice muscle weakness in my thighs. At first, it was happening around menstruation, so I just associated it with that and getting older. I attributed a lot to "getting older," but now I know better. Then I noticed it was happening when I walked the dogs. Then it was occurring all the time. My legs felt weak and shaky and tired easily with exercise.

I also noticed the same behavior in my arms and hands. When I'd walk the dogs, my arms from the elbows down felt heavy, like they were filled with fluid and should be swollen if I looked at them. I always looked. They always looked fine. Then my arms started falling asleep at night. Every night. Then I noticed the weakness in my arms was persisting. I could feel it all day instead of just after exercise or after waking up.

I had a couple of episodes where I felt like I was dying. One time during the night, my heart was beating erratically and I felt like I might be having a heart attack. One day, I felt very disconnected from my body. I cried and all I could manage to explain to my husband was, "I just feel so weird."

Then there were the rashes and hives. At least once a week, some kind of manifestation of rash or hive would appear somewhere on my body. My legs, my waist, my whole body, my face.

The right side of my head started going numb. When it wasn't numb, it was tingly, like I had done a stimulating drug and my hair was "crawling." I began to feel pain and pressure at the base of my head at the back, like I'd worn a hat all day and then taken it off and I could still feel it, if you know what I mean. I feel it every day, all day.

I had an incident in the night almost like a seizure with my jaw jerking so hard it woke me up. I actually chipped the sealant on a back tooth and chipped a bit of my front tooth as well. I was so tired that I thought it might have been a dream. I could feel grit in my mouth, but was too exhausted and out of it to get up and check it out. I wondered if it was a dream. I could have been a dream. I have had very realistic dreams before. My routine dental cleaning a couple of weeks after showed that it was no dream.

I heard a strange noise in my head and thought I might be having a stroke or brain aneurysm. It lasted approximately 5 seconds. There was no sensation. Just the sound... something I'd never heard before. It scared me, but there was no physical reaction to the sound, so I dismissed it, mentioning it to the docs later on.

I developed popping in my right jaw, ringing in the right ear, pain in the right ear.

And then there was the extreme fatigue. I cannot tell you what that was like, other than to say that part of the reason I haven't been blogging much is because I was spending half of my week in bed. I was exhausted all of the time. I could sleep all night, get up and get the kids ready and off to school, then lay back down for another 3 hours and sleep hard and then still be exhausted when I woke up, having to drag myself out of bed to get anything accomplished. But I was busy with the kids, the elderly lady, the new business... I should be tired, right?

I developed mild dizziness, mostly when first waking up in the morning. I'd get up and run smack dab into a wall before getting my bearings.

I noticed a bit of brain fog and memory loss. I couldn't concentrate on tasks as easily. `I'd go to town to do three things (a 15-20 minute drive, so I have to plan carefully) and get clear home before realizing I had only done one of them. For instance, right now, I do not remember what side of my body the tick was on. You'd think I would remember that. It appears to be on the right in the pictures, but I could have sworn it was on the left. Did I take pics in a mirror or have my husband take them? I don't know. I don't remember things at all like I used to. It makes me feel stupid sometimes.

I began to tire easily during normal duties, like walking up the stairs or just walking the dogs or even doing a little housework. It wore me completely out. I had to quit my part-time job caring for the elderly lady. It was too much. Just 8 hours a week and it was too much.

I began to feel "shaky" on the inside. What I mean is that when I would wake up in the morning, before I would even get out of bed, it would feel like my head was shaking like a Parkinson's sufferer. The odd thing was that I wasn't shaking, it just felt like I was. I know. Weird. I still have that nearly every morning.

My left knee sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies when I walk up stairs.

I knew something was wrong. I'm usually pretty healthy. I am happy to have gotten an answer finally because it's been a frustrating journey. Am I shocked at the diagnosis? No. But it was a heck of a ride getting there. The process started early this year:

I had my voice checked by a physician's assistant. She checked me out and determined my thyroid might be enlarged. They took blood (results were fine) and ordered an ultrasound of my thyroid (which also came back fine). They suggested that if I had further trouble, they would do an upper GI to see if there was any reflux, etc. I had an innate feeling that wasn't the problem at all, so I chose not to do it and give it a little time.

When the rash came on (I thought it was Shingles - remember the post?) the fun began. They treated me for the Shingles and took a scrape which went off to the lab and the results came back negative. I was baffled. I just knew it was Shingles!

Remember this picture? The dermatologist's office thought it was Contact Dermatitis, I thought it was Shingles.
I was closer than they were, but we were both wrong!

They sent me over to the dermatologist. She did allergy testing and determined I had Contact Dermatitis. I had an irritant reaction to Balsam of Peru and Nickel. I knew it wasn't Contact Dermatitis because of the extreme fatigue accompanying it, with a few other symptoms not typical of CD like stabbing pains and tingling, but that was the diagnosis. I was given creams and sent home with allergy information.

Next stop: my annual female exam. This just happened to be during the time of great ear pain and jaw popping and I was sure I had a raging ear infection. I excitedly told her, "Look in my ear, there's something wrong there," and she looked and said, "Nope, clear as a bell." However, combined with my dizziness and other symptoms reiterated, she suggested I see an ENT and get a CT scan of my head and neck. Joy.

The chiropractor and dentist both confirmed that there were no TMJ issues they could easily see. I was referred to an orthodontist for the jaw popping, someone who is fabulous with tempomandibular joint issues and just happened to be my kids' orthodontist. She's an hour away, but I knew she could do the fabulous scanny thing to look at my jaw and determine if there were any growths or problems there. Great, another hour drive to see another specialist. That appointment is in a few weeks, by the way. Every specialist costs me about a month's time at least.

The ENT did a hearing test, shoved a probe through my nose and down my throat and made me repeat specific sentences with the device in place (fun), looked in all of the orifices of my head and proclaimed, "The good news is, there's nothing wrong with you. The bad news is, there's nothing wrong with you." I felt so defeated and confused. Something was wrong, but what? I nearly broke down right then out of pure despair, but I kept it together. He suggested that I might have MS or a neurological problem and scheduled an MRI of the brain. Double joy.

MRI came back. Brain = normal. Normal? No way! I'm not normal! Not normal! NOT NORMAL! NOT NORMAL! The consolation was that at least I now knew that I didn't have a brain tumor or Multiple Sclerosis. I already had an ANA and they had ruled out the big autoimmunes, but my symptoms had such similar properties. How could this be? There is a big, bad something wrong with me and I know it!

My mother concluded it was menopause and bought me a book. I got to page three before I got the Lyme diagnosis. Mother, you may now buy me a book on Lyme Disease.

My husband, tired of the complaining, my feeling terrible all the time, and the house being a wreck, oh... and the medical bills piling up when we really can't afford them anyway, determined it might be in my head and I was stressing out about it so much that I was actually causing my symptoms.

I developed a painful bump in my mouth and one on my hoo-ha and decided to go to the doc again. I knew I needed to document everything. However, the spots weren't like anything she had any concern about. Not a herpes lesion or anything like that, she said. Whew! But then again, what the heck was causing my head to be numb, the frequent hives I'd developed, and all of this horrible stuff I am dealing with? I told her I felt like a hypochondriac and that wasn't like me. Out of ideas and noting how frustrated I was, she suggested seeing a neurologist.

In a last ditch effort, I asked her before leaving the appointment if she would consider testing me for three things I had researched and wondered about, just to eliminate a couple of my concerns. I felt like that was what we were doing, finding the needle in the haystack by picking up one piece of hay at a time and going, "Nope, that's hay, not a needle. Nope, that's hay. Nope, that's a piece of hay, too." I was beginning to wonder if there was even a needle in there. Perhaps it was in my head. Perhaps I was crazy. Perhaps it was just menopause. The doc pooh-poohed that one and didn't give it much consideration.

I asked if I could please be tested for other types of Herpes (I did have the Herpes Zoster Shingles virus in my body, after all), Lyme Disease (I did have a tick bite that turned into cellulitis and I have all the symptoms of advanced Lyme Disease, after all), and Vitamin B deficiency (it can cause neurological problems similar to mine). She agreed. I waited six days for the results.

Monday came. The phone rang. I have Lyme Disease.

I knew right away it wasn't good because I knew when I had contracted it and I knew enough from what I'd already read that I would either be in stage 2 or possibly 3. Upon further research, I am in stage 3, the late stage. If I had any of the early stage symptoms, I missed them or thought I had the flu. I do remember thinking I had the flu once last year, but I don't remember when it was.

U.S. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health:
Symptoms of early localized Lyme disease (Stage 1) begin days or weeks after infection. They are similar to the flu and may include:

  • Body-wide itching
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • General ill-feeling
  • Headache
  • Light-headedness or fainting
  • Muscle pain
  • Stiff neck
There may be a "bull's eye" rash, a flat or slightly raised red spot at the site of the tick bite. Often there is a clear area in the center. It can be quite large and expanding in size.
Symptoms may come and go. Untreated, Lyme disease can spread to the brain, heart, and joints.
Symptoms of early disseminated Lyme disease (Stage 2) may occur weeks to months after the initial tick bite. They may include:
  • Paralysis or weakness in the muscles of the face
  • Muscle pain and pain or swelling in the knees and other large joints
  • Heart problems, such as skipped heartbeats (palpitations)
Symptoms of late disseminated Lyme disease (Stage 3) can occur months or years after the initial infection. The most common symptoms are muscle and joint pain. Other symptoms may include:
  • Abnormal muscle movement
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Speech problems

So there you have it; everything you never wanted to know or didn't care to know about how Everyday Underwear got Lyme Disease. They are putting me on two months worth of Doxycyline and sending me to an Infectious Disease Specialist. My appointment isn't until mid-November. It was hard just to choose a doctor. Apparently, Lyme Disease is quite controversial for those who don't have confirmed cases and there is a real secretive underground network of doctors due to the touchy political climate surrounding insurance coverage and validity of the disease. I think I'm lucky. I have a confirmed tick bite, a picture of the rash, live in a tick infested area, and have all of the symptoms, plus a positive test for Lyme, so I hope I won't have trouble with my insurance.

The nearest Lyme Literate doc is 3 hours away, so I called and found an Infectious Disease doc who has treated Lyme patients at all stages and spoke to a nurse before committing. He is only an hour and a half away. Darn living in the middle of nowhere! The really good Lyme docs are all up north in Wisconsin and Minnesota or in the Northeast US states. I can't travel that far. I have a life to live, kids to cart around, a house to run, and my husband's businesses to help out with, not to mention my humor writing! If you've been wondering where I've been, now you know. Please pray that this doctor knows his stuff and can help me.

Many patients end up with PLDS (Post Lyme Disease Syndrome) or Chronic Lyme (permanent problems and damage much like autoimmune diseases cause) and I don't want that. I reject that! I choose total healing from this thing. Join me in that belief, if you will. I hope you never have to deal with anything like this. I'd like to hear about some people who have found healing from Lyme because so far, I have found a lot of really ticked off activists and family members with horror stories from Lyme. That's not real encouraging and uplifting.

So where's the humor in this? Here you go... when I told my 11 and 14 year old girls I have Lyme Disease, I got the following responses:

14 year old: "Oh! Well, that's not so bad then. All you have to do is, like, not eat limes, right?"

11 year old: "Soooooo, my mom has a disease..." (I could tell by the way she said it that this would be a cool thing to be able to tell her friends).

Also, I told my husband I think it would be really funny if I wore his beekeeper suit and one of his respirators from work when I go to see the Infectious Disease specialist. That would totally freak people out! I tell you one thing, I'll be taking a large container of hand sanitizer with me, that's for sure.

Do you know anyone who has dealt with Lyme Disease? Tell me your story!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Witchy Wednesday Woo-Hoo

Everyday Underwear readers, I told you I would be posting a response piece to my post entitled, WWJD Part II - The Day The Shamanic Priestess Came to Lunch about an interesting visitor to the Christian writers group my husband and I had taken over years ago (ECWU - Effingham Christian Writers United) and the journey of ultimately deciding to invite our new "witch" to stay. Billie sent me her point of view response piece last week and I was blown away. Woo-Hoo! I love it! I'm so proud to present my first guest post from B.C. Brown and hope you will grace her with kind comments afterward and visit her sites. Thank you, Billie! Much love, my dear writing friend!

Joan of Arc Ribs, Anyone?

- contributed by B.C. Brown

Growing up, while a chatty person by nature, I always felt a writer's existence was a solitary one. At the tender age of 20, just as I was truly coming to terms with pursuing my first novel, I stumbled onto a writer's group. And the clouds parted, the sky opened, and the light shone forth! I learned that writers don't have to lead solitary lives of isolation and loneliness. Believe it or not, we can congregate as colleagues and learn from one another.
I spent many years with this group. So when my (now ex-) husband and I moved to a town nearly an hour away one way, I felt bereft. Out of the blue, I'd been plunged back into a world of hermetical existence. Well, I did not go softly into that good night! What's a writer to do? Words are our solace and comfort, and the places that house those words? Our refuge. I found myself at the local library.
The librarian was kind enough to tell me about a local writer's group that met monthly. And, after providing me with contact information, I rang up a polite lady named Cindy, who informed me the next meeting would be at her family's home. She invited me to visit the group there, if I felt comfortable. I accepted.
Later that week, I found myself at a modest home amidst several other writers, a barbecue sizzling in the background. At this point I knew nothing about these people except that Cindy and her husband were the group coordinators and everyone there had some interest in writing to one degree or another. So one can imagine my bafflement when Cindy's husband led the group in an opening prayer... O.o *blink, blink*
I waited until the prayer had been finished and the meeting officially began with the discussion of Christian-related writing projects. Then I interjected that I wasn't exactly Christian. I was *gulp* a witch (although not entirely accurate. I'll explain in a bit). My heart launched itself into my throat, my palms grew slick, and my beautiful writer's mind supplied fantastically vivid images of old black and white films of lion pits and stonings.
Then, Cindy and her husband looked at each other, a few of the other members glanced my direction, and... nothing. They went on with the meeting like nothing amiss had occurred. Later, after the meeting wound down and many of the people had drifted back to whatever lives they led, Cindy, her husband, and I discussed my spiritual beliefs (because "religion" is not a term I've ever been comfortable with - my views are a bit too fluid for it). To my surprise, I was invited to return to the group.
There are a few things about me you must understand. I have always stood out. Pick one: my bright red hair, my unusual sense of fashion, my spiritual beliefs, my writing and fascination with all things fantastic. The big one, however, was the peculiar sense my spiritual beliefs as a Shamanic Priestess ("exploratory" would be the best description) in my back water, rural, fundamentally Christian town. It seemed the belief was that my fluid religious beliefs were evil. The townsfolk made sure I was aware of how vile they thought I was. *Ahem... burning, upside-down crosses on my front lawn* What did I do? I killed 'em with kindness, etiquette, and phenomenal manners. Honey, not vinegar, baby.
As you can understand, my trust in Christian groups has been limited. Just because I'm willing to be open-minded and unrelentingly polite does not mean they always are. I'll admit that as I attended more meetings, I was leery to how I would be received. ECWU members were unfailingly polite and more than interested in my experience as a writer. I was always well received, my enthusiasm matched. With the exception of the occasional curious question, my beliefs were never mentioned again. To these people it didn't matter that I was a heathen - just that I was a writer and loved words as much as they. And, since my writing is non-political and non-religious in nature, it was easy to find some of my work to share at meetings.
I've since moved away from the ECWU area and its group. While I've joined a new one where I currently live and enjoy my group a great deal, I do miss my fellow writers from The 'Ham. I've managed to stay in touch with Cindy electronically and, for that, I am grateful. It was Cindy and her husband and the wonderful people at ECWU that taught me to heed my learned experiences but to understand that my learned experiences are not always the most reliable. Different isn't always the big, bad scary we thought it was.
What I didn't know until Cindy contacted me regarding sharing this story with everyone was how much flack she and her husband took for me being in the group. My friends (those who do and do not share my spiritual beliefs) shared a momentary twinge of oddity that I was joining a Christian writer's group. Then it was dismissed. They had no comment or opinion one way or the other. There were no concerns over my association with "such people". I understood my introduction to the group might be a concern for the actual members. The thought that it might also be a concern for other individuals outside the group hadn't occurred to me. Until Cindy's article it still hadn't.
Now I know that I obtained more than just writing-related learning from my time with the group. I also obtained friends - ones that didn't judge me based on my personal life but accepted me based on my professional enthusiasm and skill and love of all things word-y.

B.C. Brown was born with six fingers on each hand endowing her with super powers, thus enabling her to fight crime.  When a freak Cuisinart accident severed the additional digits and her powers, B.C. was forced to fall back on her secondary talent -writing.  Now she lives between the pages of a book - whether she has written it or not.  Since she has not found the surgeon to restore her fingers and powers, she has published three novels to date and contributed to one anthology.  She enjoys writing mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction and fantasy but is always in the mood for a challenge to branch out.  You can follow her crime fighting or writing at her blog: , Twitter @BCBrownBooks, or Facebook: .