Super Blood Moon Drawing Blood

In 1993 to 1995, I worked at a regional hospital in the admissions area, and we always knew when it was a full moon. On any given day we would have one or two women during regular business hours coming in (not through the ER unless it was after hours) in full labor. When the full moon hit, the number always jumped up to about nine. If we ever forgot or wondered for a second, we checked the calendar and then it would click: oh yeah, the full moon. Every time. Don’t ever doubt that the moon has a big influence on happenings on Earth, and it’s not just tides and births.

I was at a social gathering this Tuesday the 30th of January. There were only six of us, but I only knew two others and three were strangers. One person came from her workplace and was wearing her work uniform and I was familiar with the clinic where she works – it’s quite large, and I used to have the majority of my doctors there. One of the young women sitting next to me piped up and said, “Oh, I used to work there, in ophthalmology!”

I immediately tensed up. “Do you mean you used to work with Dr. X?”

“Yes! I loved working with him, he was so laid back,” she said.

Now I’m no good when it comes to putting out a poker face. I also didn’t feel like playing Minnesota nice either. I said, “He made my life a living hell. He was the first doctor I saw there, and he said that my condition was psychogenic [meaning it is psychosomatic], and all of the doctors after that saw what he wrote so they wrote the same thing in my chart, and now no one will treat me. I actually have scans showing that my brain has collapsed and I’ve had a clogged shunt for almost three years.”

She nodded and said cheerfully, “Well, yeah, he actually writes that it’s psychosomatic or psychogenic in almost everyone’s file. But he’s nice to work for as a boss, he doesn’t get crabby often.”

When I say she was young, I mean early to mid-20’s. She wasn’t affected at all by me telling her that his notes basically ruined my life and chances for getting treated properly. I also haven’t had any money (including and especially disability) coming in for three years. I also wasn’t successful in filing a complaint with the Minnesota Board of Health – they said I didn’t have sufficient evidence. But now I’m wondering if I’m the only one who has complained about what he put in my chart because it was so obviously wrong, and I backed it up with 100+ pages of medical records.

This Dr. X is Harvard-educated, but you know, even Harvard has to have someone who is the shittiest out of the bunch. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s the one.

This is also why it’s important to stay diligent about your own care. I realize that anger makes people uncomfortable, but in my case, it’s legitimate. 

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When I returned home from this gathering, I was taking my nighttime meds and catching up with my emails, and I saw one pop up in my inbox. I dreaded opening it. It was from a researcher I had written to a week ago to give her an update on my situation. I had met her in 2016 at the hydrocephalus conference that just happened to be in Minneapolis. I wasn’t sure that I could handle more disappointment, but after delaying it for a bit, I braced myself and checked her reply.

I had explained that I was diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome, and that my Phoenix neurosurgeon had noted that my dura was extra tough when he started doing surgeries in my head rather than my back, so my theory was that my CSF couldn’t drain properly and that it was probably because of the mast cell degranulation. I already know the shunt failures are because of the mast cell action.

Her reply was very encouraging. She thought that I was absolutely on the right track, and she wants to work me into her research. A lot of it already revolves around inflammation; I consistently have astronomical platelet counts (that have already been checked via a bone marrow biopsy), but she hasn’t studied mast cells and I would be the perfect candidate since I had problems before the shunts and with the shunts.

I tend to be a pragmatic person, which sometimes leads to awkwardness in emotional situations. But I’m more than happy to sacrifice my body at the altar of science if it means that some knowledge is gained and others are helped. I’ve become a broken record in the online MCAS groups because I’ve talked about the CSF and shunt issues so many times, but every time I do, more people step forward and say that they have had some mysterious problems too, even if they are not exactly like mine. For a long time doctors have said that only fat, middle-aged women have pseudotumor cerebri/ideopathic intracranial hypertension, but I’m beginning to suspect that mast cell activation syndrome might be playing a bigger part than they realize because of how many people in the groups have stepped forward. 

So after this low low and this high high, the super blue blood moon arrived in the early morning hours Wednesday. The moon has ruled my Earth. I feel a little bit lighter now.


Ladies First

I grew up in Minnesota, and I currently live in Minnesota, though there was a big break of 20 years where I lived and voted in other states. Still, one of the bright and shining lights in being in this horrible position of having to burn through all of my personal savings and deplete my entire 401k plan just to live until I find out my fate in a much-delayed disability hearing is that from my mayoral candidate to my state representative to my House and Senate candidates, everyone is a Democrat.

And the two Senators from Minnesota are very popular; Amy Klobuchar is a champion for women and often works across the aisle to find common ground so that bills don’t stall completely. The most recent bill (embarrassingly) is the one outlining what needs to be done in the case of sexual harassment – because nothing has been in place or updated for more than 50 years. Amy Klobuchar’s office is “following” my disability case, though for the time being, there is not much they can do to speed the process to the hearing because I’m technically not completely down to zero dollars (though I’m close) and I’m not close to death at the moment. Things have changed quite a bit since that concept of approaching your senators and representatives for help was introduced.

The other, Al Franken, often makes the news because of his relentless and sarcastic grilling during committee hearings. As recently as Wednesday night, after another video was posted on Twitter and Facebook, people were calling for him to run for president in 2020 because of his no-nonsense approach and seeming transparency in all areas professional and personal has made him the darling of many who tire of the current shitgibbon in office who picks fights with other world leaders via Twitter.

Of course, everything flipped on Thursday morning when it was revealed that Al forcefully kissed a woman after she refused him, then pretended to grope her while she was sleeping.

Al is actually a friend of friends, so I’m going to start there. I’m going to imagine knowing him for a few decades as someone who went to his house, or he came to mine, watched his kids grow up and he watched mine get bigger, and maybe we talked about how I finally got diagnosed with this really sucky disease that has no cure and not a great prognosis – because that is what happened to my friends. And it seems like he genuinely cares and wants everyone to have a better life.

My friends were hurt and disappointed. It’s difficult to wrap your head around having something like this hit the news and it touches every corner of your life. How do you explain it to children, who also see it on the news and hear adults talk about it? How do you bear the burden of close people being really disappointed, not to mention millions of strangers? How do you feel safe around someone who says that they respect boundaries and is a champion for women but then demonstrates the opposite?

Al even co-sponsored a sexual assault bill; it addresses how first responders are trained in handling rape victims and how to interview them. Abby Honold had to fight her rapist for two years in court in order to get a six-year sentence for her attacker. As soon as the story broke regarding Al’s behavior, Abby contacted his staff and requested that he immediately remove himself from the bill, and he agreed.

I tried to talk about this situation with a man who I generally see as supportive to women. When the report came out and was immediately confirmed and an apology was issued, I was extremely disappointed too. I admit I don’t personally know Al, but fuck, I’m a woman. I’m a woman who has worked with men. I’m a woman who has been out in public. I’m a woman who has been groped without permission. I’m a woman who has been kissed without permission. I’m a woman who has faked pleasure and orgasms in order to get away from someone as quickly as possible because I have recognized danger. The man that I tried to talk to about this knows this, because we have talked about it over and over.

But this time, he told me to shut up. He told me that the woman who reported it accepted Al’s apology, and that’s all that is needed, and my opinion doesn’t matter. Then he said he was sorry he got into the subject with me. Then he said he had bigger things to worry about. Then he went into these big, long speeches about how what Al did wasn’t as bad as what Roy Moore did, and it was before he was a senator, so he should just be left alone. This entire time he was spouting off, I didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything I could have said that he would have been receptive to. He was in Lecturing Middle-Aged Privileged White Male mode. 

Why do I take it so personally? Just last week I had been talking about adding Al in on my disability case in trying to get it pushed through faster because my funds are running so low, but my instincts kept holding me back. I don’t know why. Now I’m afraid to ask my elected official to help me just because I have boobs and he might want to feel me up in return for helping me. Why does everything have to have a fucking cost? Why do I have to whore myself out? I truly don’t think that men understand just how much of a betrayal this is, when we confirm that yet another person has abused their power.

A man saw fit to tell me that my opinion didn’t matter, then he went on to tell me all about his – about men forcing themselves on women, and his conclusion was that it wasn’t that bad and it could have been worse. Another man posted his own conclusions, saying that as long as love and dating have been around, “unwanted feelings” have been a part of the whole thing, and we should just deal with it like adults. Here’s the thing, though: Al and his accuser never dated. Ever. And for part of it, she was asleep. I realize that every man has a “wake me up with a blowjob” fantasy, but when a woman is in full fatigue gear and wearing a flak jacket and helmet and is in a deep sleep sitting up on a plane surrounded by men, exhausted, she’s probably not fantasizing about how she can fulfill their high school porn dreams. The same can be said about my asshole ex-boyfriends who didn’t believe me when I would get pissed about them feeling me up in the grocery store when I was trying to take care of a long list and they were contributing absolutely nothing of value, including money and effort.

I really, truly wish that men would put their dicks down and listen.

The One That Got Away & Other Lies

There is a guy on Twitter that I started following who is a life coach and motivational speaker, but is definitely not a Joel Osteen/Tony Robbins type, though closer to Tony than Joel – he reminds me of the fast-talking Italian types that I think all of us have seen a time or two whenever guys in suits are interviewed about whatever happens on Wall Street. And they’re Italian. And they’re loud. And they say “fuck” a lot. And they have a lot of big, white teeth and they talk fast and they say “fuck” again, just for emphasis.

What Brenden says in 140 characters on a regular basis at least once a day is what I have said at least once myself, or maybe have taken a few more words to have said it, but the sentiment was there. One downside to Brenden is that he is a staunch supporter of Trump, so I have to sometimes decide if I have to walk away from what he’s saying for an entire day because he’s humping Trump. I wish he would leave the elections out of his life coaching, but it’s his choice, so I have to deal with it.

To be clear, I’m not following Brenden because I feel I need life coaching. I think I have a pretty good handle on who I am, and I think Brenden has a pretty good handle on who he is. For a good portion of my life people have come to me for my help and advice. I feel like Brenden should be my backup bitch. I haven’t got the energy for it. Actually, I need to reword that: I don’t have the fucking energy for it. I’m at doctor appointments nearly every day and worrying about where I’m going to live when my money runs out.

Anyway, one of his posts today was this: “You can’t move forward in life until you’ve got a proper context for the past and are completely at peace with it.”

I think proper context is something that a lot of people miss out on, especially if they are finding themselves stuck in the same patterns.

Because I’ve been on OKCupid a few times in that past couple of weeks, I’ve seen old messages that were not previously deleted – even from a few years ago! Some exchanges cracked me up, some made me roll my eyes, some guys made me think of course you’re still on here, you’re just looking for someone to bang, not a relationship like you claim in your profile.

Of course, the messages between the most recent ex and I were in there too. He told me in the course of our exchange that he had taken expensive dance lessons to impress a woman who had no romantic interest in him and never would. I found out this happened sometime between age 38 and 44 for him, and he turned 45 when we dated. He was supposedly madly in love with this woman for five years while she said she only wanted friendship from him (and maybe once in a while emergency assistance like errands or bail-outs).

He told me, “She’s the closest thing to the one that got away, I guess.” This is not proper context. If one is going to use this Nicholas-Sparks-antiquated term, it refers to both parties loving each other and feeling as if they could, indeed, be in a long term or forever relationship, but distance or circumstances (like one of them is taking care of an ailing parent for 20 years and it’s the 1940’s and unmarried people don’t live under the same roof) keeps the couple from getting together. This woman could not imagine dating him. He was really, really trying hard to make her change her mind. For five years.

She does not owe the Ex-Saint because he really, really wanted her to change her mind. She is not, nor will she ever be, the one who got away.

Same goes for me. I am not one that “got away” – but I did call bullshit.

It’s weird and creepy how much of a departure from reality his imagination took him, but here’s a glimpse: He would tell everyone he managed a “call center.” Now, I’ve worked in call centers for 15 years. Hell, the campus I worked at in Arizona had 4500 people. His area has 3 people including him. He’s never worked in a call center in his life because this has been his only job in his entire adulthood besides the pizza place in college (which also wasn’t a call center, incidentally). My apartment has a cell phone and a VoIP phone. Do I live in a call center? No. But if he were describing it and it was his apartment, then yes, it would be a call center.

The Ex-Saint would get many calls that he wouldn’t answer while we were spending time together. I suspected that they were bill collectors, but he never admitted it.

The Ex-Saint had a gambling problem and would drop large bills on pull tabs. I only knew about it because the few times that we were at bars, he couldn’t pass by the pull tabs without spending a minimum of $50-100 in 5 minutes.

The Ex-Saint is a binge drinker. Every weekend, and even a few days a week, he gets stupid drunk. I estimate that he drinks somewhere around 50-70 12 oz. beers a month (but that might even be conservative). He’s also obsessed with putting jalapenos on all of his food, which has been identified as being an indicator that someone is an alcoholic – they seek out the spiciest food because they have fucked up their entire taste system.

The Ex-Saint is a binge eater. He slurps all of his food from his fork in a frenzied fashion as if it’s the first and last time he will ever eat, chews frantically with his mouth open and his eyes glaze over. He also eats 2-3 full plates at a time. This one is particularly hard for me because I have certain triggers myself, having struggled all my life with food addictions and seeking comfort emotionally through food. (Side thought: Where’s the damn gene that makes us addicted to vegetables??? WTF?)

The Ex-Saint is a hoarder. I was never allowed to see his apartment because apparently it was packed with junk and boxes.

The Ex-Saint is a compulsive liar. From the job description to the denial about drinking and gambling and just about anything else you can think of (too much to list here), lying is so much a part of his life because addiction is. I remember one time he tried to accuse me of lying about playing the violin, clarinet and piano; I told him that he had walked past my violin a few hundred times in my closet without realizing it, but it was there on the top shelf right in the open if he looked. No lie there. I’m musically inclined.

Proper context would happen if he actually got professional help to work through his issues. Unfortunately, he’s back on OKCupid (so now I can properly block him) – but that means he’s going to be telling his lies to a whole new audience. I’m sure his family feels sorry for him and has told him to get out there and try again. But if he’s lying to them, or worse, they are enabling him to continue to hoard and binge drink and gamble and wrack up debt, they’re not doing him a lick of good.

If he’s ready for some honesty, I’ve got Brenden’s info. Brenden will help him kick some fucking ass with truth and live an authentic life.

(Just don’t vote Trump or we will all die by February 2017.)