A New Set of Bullies

Happy New Year, dear friends.  As many of you know, 2016 was a roller coaster ride for me, both physically and emotionally, because of my health.  I puked nearly every day and absolutely every week, no less than twice a week, with the exception of a very few times when I found intermittent relief with one gimmicky pill or another.

I developed what I thought were more food sensitivities, as I had increased swelling and pain after ingesting certain ingredients.  For nearly all of 2016, I almost exclusively ate grilled cheese sandwiches because that was about all I could hold down.  (I used to say the only thing better than cheese is more cheese.  Do you know how sick I am of cheese now?)  And I got sicker.

I had my intensely infected gallbladder removed which provided temporary relief, only to find out that the surgeon left an extremely calcified and diseased gallstone in me which made me sicker than ever for nearly a month until it worked itself out.    And I got sicker.

I literally ate acid before each meal to help it digest before I vomited it.  And I got sicker.

My energy was ebbing to the point that I barely was able to stay awake for work hours only.  I was losing big clumps of hair everywhere.  Every. Single. Day.  My vision was blurred, and I was dizzy most of the time.  And I got sicker.

I put up with asshole “friends, acquaintances, and family” calling me a hypochondriac, telling me I didn’t “look sick,” doubting that I vomited as often as I claimed because I hadn’t lost much weight, telling me I needed to see a psychiatrist, and advising me to seek mental help.  I became the butt of their jokes, either by claiming, “Oh, we can’t serve that food; we might as well serve cardboard or Rachel might throw it up,” or “Maybe instead of visiting the toilet, you should visit the psychiatrist’s couch.”  I tried to force a smile.  I tried to shrug it off and not be a bad sport.

But I was boiling inside!

Can you imagine how stressful it is to not know what’s wrong with you, to want to eat like normal people, and to select a meal not based on price, availability, or taste, but rather solely on how it might taste when I throw it up later? The simple question, “What’s for dinner?” literally reduced me to tears on more than one occasion.

I feel that most of these so-called “friends” were no less bullies than the jerks on the playground when I was a kid.  I know they thought they were funny or cute, or they didn’t know what to say, or they were the type that needed to “fix something” and because they didn’t know how to “fix me” they had to just say something.  But the sharpness of their words stung just the same.

After over 6 months of tests with no real answers, I was disgusted by doctors, and just fed up with life in general.  And then my hair started falling out even more.  Since I’d already been diagnosed as anemic, I made an appointment at an entirely different clinic, hoping I could just get an iron infusion and not have to wait for the pills to kick in.  As I mentioned in my last post in October, this doctor was awesome!  He’s the epitome of what a doctor should be.  I kept the focus of my issues just on the low iron anemia because I didn’t want to go through the same intense GI tests that I’d already had to no avail.

I accepted that hugging the toilet was a way of life, and I just wanted my energy and hair back.

He kept asking different questions, and I kept my answers vague because I only went there for the infusion prescription.  I got annoyed when he asked if I was “regular” (because that’s none of his business, right?), so I rolled my eyes and dismissed the question with, “No, but I’ve been that way for years because I feel swollen inside after I eat most foods.  It’s just how I react with food sensitivities…”

The word “swollen” caught him, and he started writing so fast, his pen was a blur.  He went from ordering a couple of tests to more like fifteen.  When a couple of those results came back irregular, he repeated them then sent me to a specialist when they came back irregular a second time.

So, apparently, I’ve been wrong for years.  The swelling I get after certain foods is not a sensitivity or allergy.  The pain and swelling I get after eating or upon waking the day after I eat a “no-no ingredient” is also not from a sensitivity or allergy.  My dizziness and exhaustion is not necessarily from having low to no nutritional value to my diet.  And my chronic vomiting is not from a sensitivity or allergy.

I was diagnosed with lupus.

I’ve tried to avoid telling people so far because I wasn’t ready to have to deal with the stupid comments from the same jerks that made me the butt of their jokes.  But there were certain people I had to inform, and, yes, it’s left me just as angry and pissed off as before!

Lupus kills!

It can cause excruciating pain in any part of your body.  It can destroy your organs, including robbing you of your eyesight, your hearing, and even your brain!  (I now wonder if that’s why my gallbladder was so filled with infection.)  You often have to avoid the sun with lupus because sunlight can cause a flare.  Stress can cause a flare.  Food can cause a flare.  Colds or infections can cause a flare.  Exhaustion or an injury can cause a flare.

If you’re unaware, lupus is an overactive immune system which causes your immune system to attack everything, even healthy cells and tissues, organs, etc., within your own body.  So just being around someone with a simple head cold means I can get their cold, take 3 or 4 times as long to heal, and possibly even get a worse infection from it, and then of course, deal with a flare.

I always thought I had a poor immune system.  I never realized I actually had an overactive immune system (which results in the same thing: slow healing time, easily infected, etc.).  So everything I’ve done to try to boost my immune system has been counter-productive, actually causing my immune system to work even harder and fight against my own body even more.  {I’ve already dealt with this since my diagnosis, having had bronchitis since Thanksgiving weekend, and I’m just now starting to get over it!}

During a flare, you can expect, pain, inflammation, swelling, vomiting, migraines, hair loss, facial rashes, fatigue, dizziness, memory loss, cognitive skill loss, and organ damage.

It’s scary as hell!

Yes, it is true that between 80% to 90% of people diagnosed with lupus can have a normal lifespan with the appropriate medication and monitoring, and I pray to God that I’m one of them.  But so far, the medicine I’m taking also causes hair loss, muscle loss, dizziness, water retention, brain fog, and it can cause a dreadful sounding condition called “moon face” where your face grows and flattens out from fluid (Thank God I haven’t had that yet – and thankfully it is reversible if you stop taking the medicine).  But I have had increased loss of hair, loss of muscle, a lot of forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, and worse yet, the loss of speech!  It is so frightening to be in the middle of a conversation and know what you want to say, yet not be able to make the words leave your lips!  (Oh, and by the way, I’m still puking regularly, but the doctor says once one of these medicines kicks in some six months from when I started taking it, that should level out.)

The Impact of Lupus of the BodyI now feel stupid and ugly!

I’m angry because I’ve already dealt with a world of shit, and despite that, I’ve still tried my best to refrain from complaining, but I don’t deserve this (not that anyone does!).  I’m pissed because the idiot doctors I saw since 2015 never once sent me for any of these tests so I could get a handle on this sooner.  And I’m scared to death!  Because while there are plenty of people with a long lifespan, there are also plenty of people who die from this awful disease long before they should, and their only solace from it is that they’re finally out of their excruciating pain.

I know I probably sound like a wimpy whiner.  I know many of you probably have lupus and are living just fine.  And I’m sure I’ll “settle in” to my diagnosis soon enough.  I just wish I had  a better “support system” in place to help me deal with the scariness of all the unanswered questions I still have.

That being said, do you know how many of the same assholes who played me off as their joke have had the nerve to tell me, “Well, at least you finally got a diagnosis,” or, “Oh,  my aunt died of that,” or, “Oh, that’s nothing.  I knew someone once with that, and she lived a normal life.”  But the absolute worst has been, “What’s lupus? [Then I explain as above…] Oh, I know what you mean!  Once, I took a medicine that made me lose my hair for almost six weeks, and it drove me crazy…”

Reactions such as this make me want to scream! 

So while these friends of mine are probably well-intentioned, their comments throughout my journey have hurt me no less than when my arch nemesis in grade school used to pick at me relentlessly.

I’m stepping down from my soap box now.  I appreciate your allowing me to vent and kick and scream and cry on your shoulder today.  That being said, now that I’ve gotten it all out, I hope to be able to, in true Rachel fashion, pick myself up, dust myself off, and get on with my life and the act of living with this diagnosis only being a little hiccup.  I’ll definitely appreciate each and every encounter much more as I walk my journey.  When I next see my doctor (in February), I’ll get tested to see if it’s one of the medications or the disease itself that’s causing my recent brain problems, so I’d appreciate your prayers and good vibes until that time.  And I’ll keep you posted as I rearrange my bucket list and hope to have some wonderful adventures.

Let’s talk:  Have you ever received scary news from the doctor?  How did you cope?  How would you deal with people who joke at your expense to the point of being cruel or who blow off your ordeal?

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My Selection…

A lot of people are sure who they’re voting for, but I’m finding that not as many people are sure why they’re casting their vote for their chosen candidate.   I know a lot of Trump fans who are just that —  fans.  When I ask why they support him, they say, “He’s so funny.”  (Not a reason to elect a President, folks.)  A lot of people I know do not like Trump, but they support him anyway, simply because he’s Republican, and Republicans generally believe in pro-life or no gun control.  I’ve met people who are voting for Hillary Clinton simply because she’s a woman, or people who are pro-Bernie because they’re Democratic but they don’t want a woman.  I met a woman the other day who told me she is very conservative and always votes Republican no matter what, but she just wasn’t sure if Trump was the man for the job.  She asked who I was voting for, and after I explained that the reason for my vote had a story behind it, she told me she was so impressed, she was moved to change her vote because of it…

In 1999, I relocated from Central Florida to Central New York.  I had visions of New York being more upscale that Florida, more progressive, more expensive, and more lucrative.  I was wrong on all counts except the expense.

In Florida, on just about every street corner, you can find a daycare center, an after school kid care, or another such facility such as dance studio, karate center, or gymnastics gym that picks up kids after school and cares for them until 6:00 when their parents get out of work.  The cost at the time for one child was approximately $30 a week.

That was one of the first things I found to be quite different when I moved to New York.  I had six-year old Jeremy who was in kindergarten, and ten-year old Stefani who was in the fourth grade, and other than them and my sister Michelle, we didn’t know another soul in the Empire State, so we had no one to ask how these things were handled.

What I found was that there were essentially NO kid care facilities whatsoever in my county.  What they had instead were county licensed “babysitters” who were allowed to run “home daycare centers.”  Since I moved there mid-school year, there were only two available women on the list.  The first woman was the wife of a military man, and she said they’d be moving before the end of the school year.  So, I moved on to my last hope… A woman named Rachael R.

Since Rachael and I shared the same first name (though hers was spelled wrong), I took that as a good sign.  Boy was I wrong!  She charged $140 a week (yes, really!) to watch my kids after school for a couple of hours, five days a week.  (I got off work at 4:00 back then.)  She smoked like a chimney, and my son had chronic asthma.  So every day, when I picked up my kids, I had to have them strip in the car and change into clean clothes, then bathe them when we got home before they could play.

jeremy six

Can you see picking on this little cutie?

After a few months, I learned she was being abusive to my son as well as one other child she watched.  She made these boys sit on the couch — on their hands – from the time the bus dropped them off until the time their parents picked them up.  She refused to give them a snack, and she refused to allow them to get up and play with the other kids or even watch TV.  In fact, she apparently sat in her chair and chain smoked and watched rated R movies the whole time the kids were there!

Now, I knew my son could be a handful… He’s autistic, and as such, he was very active and curious.  However, he was always a sweet kid and generally well behaved.

I was kept late at work twice one week (so I had to work until 5:00 PM those two days), and she got so fed up that the second time, she fired us!  (Keep in mind, the $140 price was the same for parents who always had to work until 5:00.)  When I picked up my kids, she told me to never bring them back.  No notice.  No warning.  So I was stuck on the spot with no caregiver.   It wasn’t until that night that my kids told me what had been going on.  They said she threatened to beat them if they told me how she treated everyone.

That was the Friday before a long weekend (Martin Luther King Day), so it was more difficult to find anyone at home to secure a new babysitter.  But that’s a story for another time.

Tuesday, I had to call into work and take the day to find someone.  When I went to the County office to get a new list of sitters, I filed a complaint against Rachael R.  They told me it didn’t sound like much of a problem, and I should be glad my kids were out.  (Yes, really!)  I then drove straight to the police department, and they told me there was nothing they could do.  I went to the Sheriff’s office, and they blew me off as well.

A couple of weeks prior, Hillary Clinton had just taken office as Senator in New York.  I was at my wit’s end, and I really hated the thought of Rachael R. making one more dime off any other unsuspecting parent and abusing another child.  So I wrote a long letter detailing my frustration to Mrs. Clinton.  I started off welcoming her to the Empire State and telling her that like herself, I was a newcomer a short time before.  I then quoted her from her book “It Takes a Village” (to raise a child), and told her how disappointed I was that the “village” I lived in was not helpful in the least.  I never expected to hear back from her, but it felt good just to get my frustrations out on paper.

Well, imagine my surprise when just short of two weeks later, I received a lengthy, personalized letter from Mrs. Clinton’s office telling me that Hillary had read my correspondence and was going to look into the matter further.   It wasn’t long after that that my county started buzzing.  County officials called to ask me questions about Rachael R. and what specifically she did to my kids and others.   And about a month later, the word on the street was that Rachael R. lost her license!  I thought that would be the end of it, but then a couple of months after that, I received a follow-up telephone call then another letter from Mrs. Clinton’s office telling me what they’d done on my children’s behalf, and asking me to contact them again if I was not satisfied with the result.  WOW!

In 2004, I was back in Florida, and my son was having an extremely difficult time with his teacher.  Without getting into another lengthy story, I’ll just say that it was BAD.   (You’ve all heard stories of how some teachers pick on autistic children.  This was one of those stories.)

I went to the principal and the superintendent of schools with no satisfaction.  When they did nothing, I wrote to the governor at the time, Jeb Bush.   I figured since Hillary had been so responsive and helpful, that ALL government elected offices had a duty to be as diligent.  Not so.  His response didn’t arrive until several months later after school was out and it didn’t matter anymore.

Jeremy had another horrendous school experience in 2006.  This time, after going through the local school channels (principal, superintendent, etc.), I wrote to my Senator.  He wrote back and told me to try talking to the school principal!  (Yes, really!)  It wasn’t long after that that I quit my job and homeschooled my son for the remainder of his school career.

So, in closing, while I encounter a lot of people who can’t stand Hillary for one reason or another, their reasons are usually based on media hype and not because Hillary did anything personal to negatively affect them.  I, on the other hand, agree that I would probably be voting for her anyway just because she is a woman, and a Democrat, and so intelligent, and has prior experience in office and in the actual White House.   But the reason I am so exceptionally passionate about casting my vote for Hillary is because she personally assisted my Autistic child in getting the justice he deserved.

Let’s talk!  How do you select a candidate?  Has your child ever been bullied?  If your child had been bullied by another adult, what would you have done?

So, here’s what’s going on…

Hello, friends,

I’ve missed you all terribly.  I apologize that my posts and blogging participation has been erratic this year.  As you know, I had surgery then complications following the surgery.  Here’s what I’m dealing with (and I apologize in advance if it’s too long… I’ll try to keep it brief.):

Throughout 2015 – I vomited five or more times a week, my hair was falling out, my tongue was coated all the time, I was exhausted and freezing all the time, my vision was blurry much of the time, and I generally felt like crap.

Late 2015 / Early 2016 – I started undergoing every test imaginable to man.  This included numerous bloodwork, barium swallow studies, an endoscopy, a colonoscopy, a large and small bowel study with barium, multiple x-rays, several ultrasounds, and probably some more stuff I’m forgetting right now.  I was diagnosed with low iron anemia and low B-12 anemia, so I had to start taking supplements twice a day – Not surprising considering how often I vomited and how few foods I could actually eat in the first place.  (The really sucky thing was, with all the puking I was doing ALL YEAR, I only lost 10 pounds!)

The truth is, I was convinced I had either esophageal or stomach cancer.  Cancer runs rampant in my family, and I’ve personally already had cervical pre-cancer twice, so I was prepared for it.  In fact, at one point, I felt my life ebbing, and knew I didn’t have much longer.  I started getting things in order to prepare for the worst.

Late January 2016 – I was diagnosed with an extremely diseased gall bladder and was still waiting on results for most of the other tests.

February 2016 – My gall bladder was removed, and I felt SO much better —  better than I had in YEARS!  I mean seriously, I had actually forgotten how it felt to feel that great!  For the following two weeks, I ate food I hadn’t tasted in months or even years because it had always given me a negative effect in the past.  WOW!  This was amazing!  I didn’t throw up anymore.  My hair stopped falling out.   My vision was perfect.  I had energy.  Life was wonderful!  (If you didn’t read about it already, I detail it more here: https://rachelcarrera.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/things-are-looking-up/)

1 Week Post Surgery – All my other tests came back, and while I had some stuff show up, nothing especially egregious was noted.  Since I was feeling so much better, the doctor said it was likely that everything I had experienced was due to how incredibly diseased and infected my gall bladder was.  Only then did he confirm that I was indeed at death’s door before my surgery.  He said at best, I was only days away from it having ruptured had it stayed in.  He told me I could discontinue the iron and B-12 supplements because my body should be getting back in order.  What great news that I didn’t have cancer!

2 Weeks Post Surgery – Something went horribly wrong!  I puked black sludge and some hard objects that I hadn’t eaten and were never identified.  I had an x-ray that showed a “mystery object” inside me.  And excuse the language, but I felt like complete shit!  I mean I seriously never felt worse in my life!  (I documented that horror here: https://rachelcarrera.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/things-are-looking-down/)

I appreciate all of you who encouraged me to get myself to the emergency room stat, and that’s exactly what I did.  (Though, the $1,000 E.R. co-pay hurt almost as bad as my belly did!)

You can see the “mystery object” above the hip bone.

The hospital gave me a CAT scan, and the “mystery object” showed up again, though it had moved.  However, the E.R. doctor didn’t seem concerned, and he told me I was probably only having pain from a tiny hernia that was likely caused either by my surgery or by my level of activity following my surgery.  He sent me home with some mild narcotics and told me to take a few days to rest.

(I was highly peeved.  This didn’t feel like $1,000 worth of treatment!  Of course I felt much worse a few days later when I received a bill for an additional $500 because apparently my insurance has a separate copay for imaging!)

Early March 2016 – I had a doctor friend of mine write me a script for another x-ray at a different facility, and the “mystery object” was still there, but it had moved.  This was 12 days after the original x-ray.  He told me it could be a calcified gallstone that dropped during surgery and was floating around in my peritoneal cavity.  Great.

Twelve days later, the “mystery object” is now close to my spine.

Mid-March 2016 – I saw a doctor at a different facility.  For some reason, he got stuck on the part about the small hernia and didn’t hear anything else I said.  I was back to vomiting almost daily and sometimes twice a day, my hair started falling out again, my vision was blurry again, I was exhausted all the time again as well as freezing, and to add to my misery, now not only was I every bit as sick and pukey as before my surgery, but there was this thing in me, and after the awful black sludge and hard things vomit, I was terrified to get sick!

This doctor x-rayed only my lower abdomen and said the object was gone.  Actually, the x-ray tech tried to tell me that I must have – now get this – swallowed buckshot, and it had passed!  Yes, really!  When I told her I don’t eat meat, other than the occasional fishsticks or tuna sandwich, so it would be impossible for me to ingest buckshot, she then tried to tell me I must have swallowed a metal button!  (The fact that I own nothing with metal buttons notwithstanding.)  The fact that they didn’t x-ray the entire peritoneal cavity made me wonder if the object really did pass, or if it’s still floating around in there.

Early April 2016 – Things were really getting old for me as well as others around me.  In fact one “friend” told me to “get over it and move on already.”  (Thanks.)  My “quality of life” (What quality of life?) was non-existent.  I saw a new surgeon referred to me by the Mid-March doctor.  He ordered an MRI (with another $500 copay!) and suggested that if my bile duct still had infected gallstones in it, that could be the reason for all of my misery.  I was hopeful.  He also offered to operate on the hernia.  I declined.

Mid–April 2016 – I got the results back from the MRI.  It seems the bile duct was fine.  Furthermore, they failed to look at any other section of my abdomen for that “mystery object.”  At this point (and with no offense to anyone who has battled cancer), I almost wish cancer would have been my diagnosis – at least then, they’d know what was wrong with me and I could have hope for treatment.

Late April 2016 – I went back to the original facility that did the surgery and saw a GP there.  I told him my symptoms were: daily vomiting, hair loss, exhaustion, coldness, coated tongue, pale face, pain in abdomen, blurry vision, and general malaise.  Plus I fear there could be a thing floating around in my peritoneal cavity.  He told me, and I quote, “No, that’s too much.  Pick your top three symptoms, and we’ll try to deal with those.”  Yes, really!  So I chose vomiting, hair loss, and blurred vision.  He then decided exhaustion needed to trump hair loss, and told me to see an eye doctor for my vision, and he said I didn’t need any more x-rays to see of the mystery object was still present, and that it was a “ridiculous request.”  (Jerk!)  He then ran another thyroid panel, as well as a CBC, and checked my iron.  Later that week, he claimed all the bloodwork came back fine.

So…  I started taking the iron and B-12 supplements twice daily again despite the bloodwork being fine, and guess what?  My vision is back to normal, I am still really tired, though not as much, and my hair loss is still more than normal, though not nearly as bad as it was.

However, I still vomit at least five times a week, and sometimes twice in a day.  Anxiety courses through me every time someone asks, “What’s for dinner?”  I now judge and select food not by how it tastes going in, but by how it might taste coming back up.   I still have constant pain in my gut.  I often puke so violently, it causes nosebleeds.  And I have tiny broken blood vessels all over my face from throwing up.

As far as the “mystery object,” maybe it’s still floating around in there somewhere.  If so, from what I’ve read, I can expect it to eventually puncture an organ or cause an abscess, and I guess at that point, someone will remove it.  Or, maybe it really did get in my digestive tract and pass.  If that’s the case, I have to think it’s more of whatever the hard things were I puked with the black sludge.  As a few medical friends have said, it could only be metal or an extremely calcified stone to show up the way it did in the x-rays.  I have to wonder if something happened during surgery for stones to slip into my belly somehow, though that seems unlikely.

I don’t know.  But what I do know is, I feel miserable, and no medical professional that I’ve seen seems to care.  Many of my “friends” make jokes about having me committed because I’m “crazy” and “it’s all in my head.”  And that gets old, too.

Anyway, I know I promised to try to be brief, and I already failed at that, so I’ll close now.  Thanks for reading and sticking by me.  I miss you guys!  xoxo

-R.

Things are looking DOWN…

Hello, friends.  Last week when I told you things were looking up after my recent gallbladder surgery, I apparently evaluated my condition prematurely.  Today, I am EXTREMELY ANNOYED to say the least.  The VERY least.

In fact, please pardon the “French,” but I’m fucking pissed!  If you have a weak stomach, you’ll probably want to skip the rest of this paragraph and the next one.*  I was feeling a lot better after my surgery.  They gave me two to three weeks off work instead of just one because of all the pus that was in my gallbladder and the fact that I’m allergic to antibiotics.  So I was working half days and still getting pretty worn out from just four hours of office work, but still, I was hopeful that things were definitely improving.

Then on Tuesday, just two weeks post surgery, I woke up with a “tummy ache,” and my belly was more swollen than it had been at my post surgery check-up the Friday before.  I went to work for the morning, and while I was there, I just felt “off.”  People started telling me I looked grey and not good at all.  When I came home for the day at lunchtime, I ate some broth and crackers soaked in broth (which was my only meal of the day).  About an hour later, I puked broth and crackers.  Then I had three more rounds of puke, which can only be described as black sludge!  And in that black sludge, there were four “hard things” that looked like cat turd and were the size and shape of a tube of Chapstick!  (Keep in mind, I ate nothing solid.)  I won’t even disgust you further by describing the foul stench.  HOW NASTY!

*The weak at heart can continue reading here –>  So I immediately called the surgeon’s office and spoke to his nurse, and said, “I think I just vomited feces.”  She told me the doc was in surgery for the rest of the day, but if I felt it was an emergency, I should go to the hospital.  Otherwise, she’d talk to the doc and call me the next morning.

The next morning, I was even more swollen, and I hadn’t heard from anyone by 9:30 (they open at 8:00), so I called them back.  The nurse told me to go to the lab and get bloodwork and an x-ray.  So I got the bloodwork, then the x-ray.  The x-ray tech had me take off my bra because it had metal wires, but she said I could wear my pants because they were elastic (because I was so swollen) and had no metal.  She ran two x-rays then called in her supervisor.  There was “something metal” showing up near my left ovary.

They checked my pants, my panties, my gown, and the table, and found no metal.  They asked me repeatedly if I was “sure” I never had any other surgeries on the left side.  (Did I forget being sliced open before?   Uh, NO!  Of course I haven’t had more surgeries that I forgot about!)  So they assumed it was on the film, and ran a second set of x-rays.  When the metal showed up again, they ran a third set.  It showed up in all three sets.  It’s about the size of a pinky fingernail.  I asked to see, and they showed me.  It’s definitely something that was NOT there in the x-rays I had three weeks ago before surgery.

So I got home before noon and waited for the doctor to call me with the results.  (I have to wonder if the titanium clip they put on during my gallbladder removal didn’t slip off…  I did NOT see the gallbladder clip on the x-rays, but then again, I only looked briefly, and I was looking at the foreign metal.)  When the doctor hadn’t called by 3:45, I called, and his nurse said they didn’t have the results in yet (even though it’s from the same facility), and she’d call me as soon as they did.  I told her my concern about the metal, and she made a note of it.

Today, I woke up even more swollen, and I went to work.  I expected to get a call telling me they need to schedule surgery to remove this thing (and possibly put it back where it belongs).  When I didn’t get a call by 9:45, I called them and was told that the doctor and nurse were both in surgery until the afternoon.  The nurse called me close to 1:00, and said the doctor says my x-ray results are “fine.”  I asked about the metal thing, and she put me on hold then said he again said I’m fine.  I reminded her how swollen I am, and she put me on hold yet again, then said the doctor said he doesn’t believe it’s related to surgery and I should make an appointment with my primary care doctor.  I then got a little postal.  Just a little.  I told her I was rather perturbed, to say the least, that two days ago I called to tell her I’m puking shit, I’m swollen several inches, and the doctor hasn’t even wanted to see me, and two days later he tells me to see someone else!

So I called the GI doctor (from the same facility) who referred me to the surgeon, and his nurse was with patients, so I told my story to the lady who answered.  Only this time, I was a bit more forceful.  I asked if I needed to make an appointment with him, or perhaps if I needed to make an appointment with a different facility altogether to get a second opinion.  She said the doctor was booked, but she referred me to their after-hours annex where I am supposed to be in about an hour.

What’s really frustrating is that with tomorrow being Friday, if this annex doctor also tells me things are fine, I don’t foresee being able to get an appointment anywhere else until next week at earliest, not to mention being able to obtain copies of all my films and records to take.  So I’ll keep swelling over the weekend and hopefully not die before I talk to you all again, not that these turkeys seem to care.  (And people wonder why I have such mistrust for most doctors.)

I’M SOOOOO ANGRY!

Anyway, that’s the update, friends.  Thank you for allowing me to vent.  I hope you all have a much better weekend than I’ll probably have.  I miss you guys!

-R.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…  No, wait; that’s Star Wars.  For today’s Throwback Thursday, I’m not going that far away… or that far back in time.

Back in January, I showed you the photos of my new couches.  Since then, my sister Michelle and I have been redecorating the entire house.  In the living room, we’re going for a late 1950s/early 1960s inspired theme, so we got a couple of funky rugs with wavy lines for the living room and foyer.

I’ve also been going through my Grandma’s old 50s/60s vases to sit around the room.  What’s so frustrating to me is that even though her favorite color was green, and my living room’s main color is green, she apparently had every other color vase but green!  This is so aggravating!

So, I’ve now amassed a nice collection of vases to store in my closet, and still have nothing for the living room.  Grrr!   I’ll keep you posted as we go along…

Time to talk:  Have you ever redecorated a whole house at once, or do you take it one room at a time?  How often do you redecorate?

On Editing

Tap, tap, tap.  (Tapping my microphone.)  Is this thing on? 

Well, folks, I thought I’d have a nice little Tuesday segment during the summer that all of us writers could participate in and share and enjoy, but I can’t get anyone else to play along.  Don’t YOU want to share some of your editing tips and tricks with us here?  In exchange for your participation, you’ll get a shameless plug for your book(s) as well as a heartfelt thank you from many of my followers.

Too many of you seem to think that you don’t do anything special or you don’t know anything that everyone else doesn’t know.  But that’s not necessarily true.  We all do things a little differently, and we want to hear from YOU.  What do you say?

If you’d like to play along, please email your responses to the following questions to my email address below, and include any photos and/or links of you and your blog and your work so we can purchase it.

  1. Please share one to three tips or tricks that you use when editing your work, how specifically you use them, and why they work for you.
  1. What was your biggest repeated mistake when you first started writing? What’s your weakest point of editing and why?
  1. Have you used any editing methods previously that just didn’t work for you? If so, what were they, and why didn’t they work?
  1. Please tell us something about your current work in progress or your most recent completed work (or both), and tell us where we can purchase your book(s).
  1. If you have any other news to share with us, please feel free to do so now.

This is why animals are the best people…

I was joking around a couple of weeks ago when I gave you the public service announcement, but please consider this one quite real.

At my job, I’m lucky enough to really love almost everyone I work with. That’s why what recently happened to my best work friend made me so angry.  My friend, who I’ll call Laurabelle (because she recently completed the first draft of her first manuscript that she’ll be publishing under the pseudonym Laurabelle), got a call from her husband a couple of weeks ago telling her that her son had a health scare and was taken to the emergency room via ambulance.

Laurabelle lives nearly an hour away from work, and the hospital where her son went was slightly further than that.  She was so upset when she got the call that she couldn’t drive.  Our boss’ wife took her to meet her husband.

Because they were at the hospital until late into the evening, Laurabelle didn’t come back for her car that night, and it stayed in our office’s parking lot which is a bit off the beaten path and not well lit after dark.

The following afternoon, Laurabelle’s husband dropped her off at my house after work, and after we visited a while, I took her to the office so she could pick up her car and take it home.

Now, I have to interject here that only one month prior, Laurabelle started the patch to give up smoking.  She’d tried several more times earlier in the year, and those times, she only lasted a couple of days, but this time, she was really doing it.  I was so proud of her when she made it through her son’s medical trauma without needing a cigarette.  You’ll see why this is so important in a moment.

Anyway, I dropped Laurabelle off at her car, and she started on her way home.  About a mile from our office is a toll road, but shortly after she paid the entrance toll, she noticed her van was running almost out of gas.  So she took the very next exit and made it to a gas station where she pumped $20 worth of fuel.  However, soon after she pulled out of the gas station parking lot, she looked down and saw that again, her tank registered as nearly empty.  She coasted into a muffler repair shop next door and had them look at her van while she called her husband.

Laurabelle’s husband happens to be a mechanic by trade, so he spoke to the muffler man who determined that there was a hole in the gas tank!  The muffler man put a temporary plug in the hole which was enough to get her home.  He said that because gas tanks are plastic these days, she might have hit a rock or something that caused the damage.

But that weekend when Laurabelle’s husband removed the gas tank, he discovered that there were actually two holes.  Furthermore, they didn’t just happen by accident, but they were made with a drill!  He said that it’s not uncommon these days for vandals to drill holes in a gas tank to siphon gas.  He said they probably drilled the first hole then realized that the tank wasn’t as full as they’d thought, so they had to drill a lower hole to get all the gas.

The holes could not simply be patched, and the entire tank had to be replaced.  Because he’s a mechanic and could purchase the tank at cost, it only cost them $800!  Insurance won’t cover anything because they don’t specifically have a vandalism clause in their policy.

I’m just thankful that Laurabelle was on the patch when this happened.  Prior to quitting smoking, her first impulse would’ve been to light up a cigarette after work and hold her hand out the window as she drove.  Can you imagine how long it would have taken for her to have killed herself if when a spark hit that leaking gas?

This pisses me off on numerous levels, but mostly because people today can be such assholes!  (Pardon my foul language, but I’m really angry about this!)  Back when I was a kid, sure, I knew some jerks who siphoned gas (and, no, I wasn’t one of them), but they did it the “appropriate” way, with a garden hose and their own lungs to start the suction.  The most it ever cost anyone was a ten dollar tank of gas and maybe a bit of time off work if they left the next morning and didn’t have enough gas to make it to work.

Of course, if we ever siphoned gas when we were kids, it was only an actual tragedy if it caused someone to miss work or another important event such as a job interview, or perhaps worse if the car owner was an on-call doctor and they missed getting to the hospital in time to save a life.  Or if it happened to be a pregnant woman in labor, then that was definitely a tragedy.  But for the most part, a ten dollar tank of gas was the worst of the damages, and it was only ten bucks’ worth of damage if the tank was full.

The vandals these days are beyond evil!  Not even counting the possibility of a full tank of gas (which can now be upwards of forty dollars), replacing a gas tank, if you do not have the luxury of being married to a mechanic, will be in the thousands!  And if the person starts their car and happens to smoke with a gas tank that’s pouring out fuel – or if they even happen to drive past someone else who smokes and tosses their cigarette out the car window – can you imagine just how many people could have been injured, if not killed?   And worse yet, if this had happened the month before when we were in the midst of a drought, and a fire ensued, it could’ve cost homeowners near the road their houses, land, or lives!

Anyway, as you can see, I’m still quite upset about this, and I wanted to pass along the warning for you all to watch where you park your vehicles, and check (and smell) under them before you drive after you’ve left them overnight.  (We only noticed the next day the large puddle of gas where Laurabelle’s van had been parked.)  Be safe, my friends!

Time to talk:  Did you ever do something sneaky as a kid that you regret as an adult?  Have you ever met an adult who tells stories of being deceitful as a kid, and they still seem actually proud of it rather than remorseful?  Did you know vandals drilled holes to siphon gas these days?