Thursday, July 29, 2010


I'm so screwed.

CNN: Social relationships key to survival, study says
Having satisfying social relationships may be about as important as not smoking when it comes to your lifespan, a new study suggests.

It turns out that people with adequate social relationships have a 50 percent greater likelihood of survival than people who have poor or insufficient relationships. That means that having good relationships is comparable to quitting smoking in terms of survival benefit, and is a stronger factor than obesity and physical activity.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oh, just yank it all out

Four periods a year is four too many. At this point, it serves no purpose other than to greatly decrease the quality of my life.

I've stopped using sunscreen, having decided it's worth the cancer risk to get the Vitamin D I need so desperately. It seems to me that not having periods is very much worth the uterine cancer risk if it means I won't be gripped by debilitating pain and fatigue that is destined to last until I hit menopause.

There's just no reason for it at this point. Having children is not even a remote possibility. I'm finished with the whole process, but why won't it finish with me?

Sunday, July 25, 2010


"troop" (noun) 1. an assemblage of persons or things; company; band. 2. a great number or multitude. 3. Military. an armored cavalry or unit consisting of two or more platoons and a headquarters group. 4. troops, a body of soldiers, police, etc.

So, no, it is not correct to say, "Eight troops were killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq today," or, "Four troops have been reported killed by insurgents outside of Kabul."

They are soldiers, sailors, Marines, pilots, men and women, but unless they are all together as a functioning unit and all have experienced the same fate, no, they should not be referred to as troops. It is no0t a synonym for individual persons.

Please stop using this word incorrectly. It only validates the notion that English is going to Hell in a hand basket.

I once heard a TV reporter say a story was "heart rendering." I wonder how that works, exactly.
Can we also consider that, "On the up-and-up" means something is honest or legitimate; it does not indicate that business is flourishing.

"Thoughtful" is not interchangeable in meaning with "pensive" or "introspective."

Just because you heard it on TV doesn't mean it's OK to perpetuate the error.


I love, love, love, love, love summer. I want it to be summer every day.

I wish I could live at the beach all summer long.

Alas, I am landlocked.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In perpetuity

From Wikipedia, regarding the stages of loss:

  1. Denial and isolation - The "This can't be real" stage.: "This is not happening to me." "There must be a mistake"
  2. Anger - The "Why me?" stage.: "How dare you do this to me?!" (either referring to God, the late person, or themselves)
  3. Bargaining - The "If I do this, you’ll do that" stage.: "Just let me live to see my son graduate."
  4. Depression - The "Defeated" stage.: "I can't bear to face going through this, putting my family through this."
  5. Acceptance - The "This is going to happen" stage.: "I'm ready, I don't want to struggle anymore."
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler Ross will be best remembered for the work she did in articulating the process of grief. Later researchers suggested that the process is not linear, but a spiral. There is no set length of time to experience these stages, and some may be skipped entirely.

Although Dr. Kubler-Ross was thinking about patients with terminal illness and persons who had experienced the loss of someone close, it turns out that her paradigm applies to almost any situation where the unexpected changes everything about the future, particularly in an unwelcome way.

We take as much time as we need to get through the stages. We come back and revisit the stages we struggle with most. Eventually, we give up and admit there's not a damn thing we can do to change the way things are going to be. Fight if you must; you're already defeated, though.

On December 10, 2004, a doctor told me I had bipolar disorder. The words had no sooner left his mouth when I interrupted with protests of disbelief. There was no way. Not at 43 years old and without a previous history of episodes. I wasn't buying it.

In the last five-and-a-half-year period, I've burned with anger, embraced skepticism, come to the lowest of sad lows, and followed every plan I thought would redeem me from the diagnosis, if not the illness itself.

Now, half-way through 2010, everything has changed except for one. I've seen many doctors. I've taken and stopped taking dozens of medications. In the end, I followed a hunch and proved what I believed from the beginning: The diagnosis was wrong.

These days, I question why everyone involved was so quick to accept the diagnosis, but so incredibly reluctant to consider other possibilities. This stirs up Step #2 whenever I think about it. After all of the doctors, blood tests, and differential diagnoses, the answer, quietly arrived at, is a combination of things, none of them bipolar disorder.

A neurological event, NOS. No matter what it spawned or whatever its etiology, there is evidence it was real, just as I had been saying all along. Pernicious Anemia. I will require B-12 supplements for the rest of my life. Adrenal insufficiency and Addison's symptoms are very much affecting every process in my body, including my thought processes. Over the course of the past six years, medications have helped me, and medications have caused me irreparable harm. Going back to the beginning, it was likely medications that ended my life as I knew it, and forced me to endure the end of nearly everything I valued and the thorny path back to a life I am still not convinced is worth living.

The psychiatrist has said that as far as he can tell, someone else's jump to hastily prescribe what turned out to be the worst possible medication for me triggered symptoms that were not what they first appeared. He sadly concluded that one person's egrgious and irresponsible error led to my nightmare. He agreed that no, I am not mentally ill and probably never was. But it's too late. The damage has been done.

Acceptance. It all happened. It's still happening. Despite this, my life has taken on a mundane tone and is no longer anything out of the ordinary. This should bring me comfort. I am productive. I am emotionally stable. I sleep, I work, I function as I was designed to do. I am completely different. I am cynical and cautious. I am sad and don't see that changing. I am older and wiser. So much wiser. The modified version doesn't end with acceptance, though. It ends with "Return to a meaningful life." I accept what I cannot change. I accept that my life is once again much like everyone else's.

Anger again. Bipolar disorder, mental illness, and all that went into "treating" them will forever be part of my medical history. It's all on the record. It's something I will have to bring up with every doctor I see from now until my death. There is nothing I can do to have my record expunged, to erase this mistake. Yes, I was treated for that.

I understand that mistakes happen; however, I will never understand why so many people simply took my symptoms at face value, judged me, rejected me, chastised and ostracized me, and why those at the helm continued inappropriate treatment even when it was apparent that the chosen treatments were futile.

I cannot go back and fix this. Nobody can fix this. There is no system in place to give me back the last six years as they should have been, but even more frustrating is that my medical records are rife with errors that will certainly always attract more attention than the much quieter truth.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

damn it


I have a cold. I can't breathe. I'm exhausted. I'm miserable. I only have enough energy for sleep and more sleep.

And it's 100 degrees this week. Our house does not have air conditioning. Company coming for brunch. I want to feel better and prove I can have a sparkly personality.

Right now, it ain't happening.

I feel like crap.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I am a bitch.

That's why nobody can stand to be around me. Well, maybe Frank, and for limited exposures, Jolie. The trick, then, is to grow a thicker skin so I don't care about the aloneness bitchy brings.

Monday, July 12, 2010

So far, but not really

A steroid. The latest medication to come my way is a mineralcorticoid:

Fludrocortisone, a corticosteroid, is used to help control the amount of sodium and fluids in your body. It is used to treat Addison's disease and syndromes where excessive amounts of sodium are lost in the urine.
I'm not too sure about this. The list of possible side effects is long. Most important, though, is it causes weight gain.

So much for the 25 pounds I lost since December. I still had another 15 pounds to go until I was only "seriously overweight" and not obese. How will I achieve my goal of 104 pounds if I have to take this medication?

The doctor prescribed it because she feels it will help my adrenal insufficiency and eventually cure my deep fatigue. It sounded benign when she described it, but having looked it up, I'm not convinced.

On a similar note, I've started having ophthalmic migraines again, at least once a week. It started before the new medication. It's a form of vasospasm. Hmmm. Isn't that what my chest pain was supposed to be? Of course, the asshole cardiologist (in lieu of an actual exam), said that I'm just mentally ill and my vasospasms are an attention-seeking issue.

So, if I drop dead from a stroke, I'll be sure to have Frank let you and the cardiologist know.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

bored, bored bored bored, bored...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I love the Fourth of July

I love my country. I love Fourth of July. Living in Chile for a year under the Pinochet regime cemented this for me; working with refugees continues to remind me how fortunate I am to live where I do.

Living where I do. I miss the big celebrations of the East Coast. I spent my evening watching A Capitol Fourth on PBS and the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on CBS.

John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever may be the theme of July Fourth celebrations across the nation, but it is the victorious and explosive nature of the 1812 Overture that really captures the spirit of the day.

When the Capitol Fourth program came to a stirring rendition of the 1812 Overture, I was instantly reminded of the summer of 1994, when I was living alone in the Washington, DC area. The great thing about DC is that it doesn't suck to be alone there. There's always something interesting to do, regardless.

Every year in mid-August, one of the military bands stages a concert on the Mall. The big finale is the 1812 Overture. When I first found out about this, I marked the date on my calendar and prepared for a rendition of the piece unlike any I had ever heard.


It was a hot but clear evening on the Mall, and as I made my way toward the Washington Monument, I noticed two huge military cannons on a street corner inside the park. I was still well over a block away from the concert performance area. The cannon was surrounded by a makeshift bunker of large sandbags. Soldiers in full fatigues were checking over the cannon.

I got to the ampitheater, spread out my blanket on the somewhat crispy grass and waited for the concert to start. I overheard someone say there were two canons on two separate corners, a quarter-mile apart. I wondered how we'd really hear them at the appropriate place in the music.

My concerns were unfounded. As the music swelled and the chorus let forth a beautiful vocal rise, the first canon went off, precisely when it needed to. The ground below me vibrated and rumbled as if I were sitting atop the Metro. Shortly after, the orchestra, truly fully emotionally involved in one of Tchaikovsky's master works, hit the next notes and BOOMBOOM, two cannons fired and the ground shook so hard, I was sure there was an earthquake in the heart of DC.

It was phenomenal. I salute the person who had the inspiration to haul large military ordnance onto the Mall as an accompaniment to an orchestral work. If you're gonna use a cannon in your arrangement, seriously, use a cannon. It's so worth it.