How to Fall On Your Ass and Get Bed Rest for a Week

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So, I was visiting with a “friend” – and when I say friend, I mean the guy I was briefly involved with – and I decided on Saturday night that I would take a quick shower. I never take “quick” showers but, when you’re with the same person in the same 3 room apartment going on the second day, any kind of escape from all that alone time may seem welcome. (I know that it also means, when you’re only a little over a month into the relationship, that seeking such immediate escape is probably a very bad sign.) I collected my gear, my lovely smelling bath products, and headed into the bathroom. Water turned on, all alone, I got into the tub and positioned myself under the spray.

All was going according to plan. I shampooed my hair, I conditioned my hair, I reached for my Olay Beauty Bar to wash my face while the conditioner sat. I soaped up my face. I dropped the soap. And then, anyone who knows what a klutz I am can see what happened next.

I tried to get the soap out of my eyes, and the conditioner was running INTO my eyes. So I poked around with my wee foot, looking for the missing soap bar, and BAM! Flat on the ass, directly onto my coccyx. Which as you may know is kind of like the bone from our vestigial tails. Unfortunately, I don’t HAVE a vestigial tail,  just the bone and, despite the fact that I’m fairly well-padded in the assbone area, ceramic tile can break through even the best of booties. It hurt.

So I sat there for about 3 minutes, chubby, soaked and nekkid, and, when I was ready, I gingerly got up. noticing that it hurt quite a bit to put weight on my left leg. The pain was tolerable, though, and caused only the most minimal of flailing and moaning. so I finished my shower and got out. I was a little gimpy, a little sore, so I took some naproxen and got on with the night. I was supposed to go home Monday, but by Sunday morning I was in more pain (probably the night’s athletic activities were not the best choice), so I went home. Slept all day. Got up Monday, which was a holiday (thank you, Christopher Columbus), and felt like my ass was about to fall off. There was a creeping numbness coming on in the areas that would hit a saddle, were I so inclined to mount one. I thought nothing of it,  however, and relaxed with my laundry for the day. As the day wore on, though, it became clearer and clearer to me that something possibly serious was going on. I couldn’t twist, I couldn’t really bear weight, I was having a hard time getting up and down from seats and sofas. Naturally, I limped and crawled over to Google, to be told that I might have the tragic and permanent Caudal Equine Syndrome, which is basically the deadening of the nerves in the back which can cause permanent paralysis. THAT kept me up all night.

Tuesday morning, while I was sitting in a meeting, I turned to the right side and heard/felt a “pop” in my lower back, toward the left. Within a few minutes, the creeping numbness became a complete lack of ability to feel anything on that side, from my ass to my knee. I got up and excused myself, nearly fell in the middle of the floor, and gimped my way to the medical office. I also about wet myself, because I couldn’t tell that I had to go to the bathroom. Which was fun. The building I was in at that moment is across the parking lot from the hospital, so they called 911 and within 10 minutes, I was in the ER, in a gurney in front of the nurse’s station because they were so packed, and thus my current adventure began.

Sorry for the amazingly dry back story (har har, see what I did there?).

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I spent close to 2 days down in the ER, and was then transferred upstairs, medicated and in pain and freaked out, to the room you see above. I mean, mostly, when you go to the ER because you fell, you don’t get ADMITTED. They don’t put in an IV. They take an x-ray or a CT and give you some anti-inflammatories and send you home with a referral to an orthopedic surgeon or something. I was put on bed rest with a “bed alarm” (I shit you not) to alert the nurses if I got out of the bed without assistance. I was humiliated into using a bed pan to pee. Tell you what, that makes you think long and hard about how much fluid you’re taking, especially when the aide on duty is a man.

I have now been here one full week. I don’t have Caudal Equine Syndrome, thank God, but I do have nerve compression, and herniations, all up in my lower spine, so they’re sending me to a sub acute rehab for physical therapy. The higher my pain level goes – which I prefer to numb, because at least with pain you know the nerve isn’t dead – the lower the number of pain meds I get ordered, which apparently makes sense in the medical world but not in mine. The food is hit or miss (I will be reviewing it on The Epicurean). The people do their jobs, and do them well for the most part, although I hear whispering about my addiction history and my perceived motives for wanting pain meds, which I did not ask for in the first place but which I have discovered work really well in keeping me sane. I would like to go home.

I just came back from a walk to the fire door, 2 doors down from my room, with one of the physical therapists. I am now sitting in the hard-ass chair next to my bed, as opposed to in my bed. I cannot get comfortable no matter what position I take. Just waiting for the nurse to come around with the med cart so I can wash up, because yeah, I can’t even do that effectively right now. My one true wish is to smoke a cigarette (my good friend Cristina brought me a Logic, which has helped I don’t know how many medical professionals avoid getting punched in the face) but I want a Newport more than anything.

And that is my bed rest plan. If you’re going to try this at home, make sure you’re in reaching distance of the telephone so you can call someone to get your chubby wet nekkid ass off the shower floor and into some clothes. I mean, just in case you don’t want to be a dumbass and actually wait until there’s a really big problem.

Life With Mental Illness

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Most people know that I am a recovering addict/alcoholic. I share about this openly, mostly because I want other people to share about it – what grows in the dark dies in the light, and that is true of those of us who keep secret the devastating disease of addiction.

What many people do not know is that I also live with mental illness. I don’t say suffer, because for the most part, my symptoms are under control and do not cause me suffering. However, I do live with it. Every day. And not surprisingly, it is difficult to find others with the same illness who are willing to put it out there.

My diagnosis is Bipolar Type 1 (although my lows are more frequent these days than my highs). I also have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Panic and Agoraphobia, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The combination of symptoms from these disorders has plagued me for most of my adult life (and some of my adolescence). Several months ago I was hospitalized for an extended period, and I finally received a diagnosis and was put on medication that is working for me. I still deal with panic attacks occasionally, but the crazy highs and lows of the bipolar, and the fear of even leaving my house from the agoraphobia, have for the most part subsided.

But that doesn’t mean I’m cured.

Living with any mental illness, coping with it on a daily basis, can be challenging. Take doctors, for example. Many (if not most) physicians that are not psychiatrists have no idea what my diagnoses mean. So any time I go to a new doctor, until they get to know me, they look at me like I might lose my shit at any time. While that used to be amusing for me – I would start acting fucked up just to see if the doc would freak – the fun has worn off and now it’s just a chore.

It’s also difficult when I have to disclose my illness to new people for whatever reason. I used to avoid being judged at work by paying cash for my psychiatrist visits and my medications, and this was before I was even diagnosed with bipolar. Many people, lacking education, see the term “bipolar” and immediately think of whatever TV movie they saw where the star had “manic depression” and stayed up for weeks painting murals on her ceiling and acting like a psychopath. Granted, my manic episodes are a little freaky to witness, but they’re not all that dramatic.

I use these, and other, opportunities to educate people about my illness. And for the most part, people, once they’ve been educated, react to me the same way as they would to anyone else. There are those who refuse to be educated, who are willfully ignorant, and those are the people I steer clear of at all costs. I’ve allowed myself to be dragged into shouting matches where I end up fitting the other person’s idea of “crazy,” and I don’t want that to ever happen again.

I’m writing this post because I want to open a discussion about this subject. A burden shared is a burden halved, as the saying goes. If we can educate more people about mental illness, if they can learn to view us as they would, say, a diabetic or someone with an overactive thyroid, if even one person with a mental illness feels better about their life, then this post will have served its purpose.

This Post Is Hugely Important (to me)

Don’t forget – Persephone’s Pen AND The Epicurean are available on the Kindle. It’s free for 14 days, then just 99 cents per month. I will be publishing my Dark Angels trilogy directly to Kindle as well, before I go to other devices and print. Here’s the link:

 

Persephone’s Pen  –  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I1KUXNA

The Epicurean  –  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I1KRPWM

Thanks for reading me and thank you for all of your support; if you have a Kindle, try a trial subscription – it’s free, what have you got to lose?

Worst. Day. Ever.

I am a recovering addict and alcoholic. I say that so you’ll understand why the rest of this story is pissing me off so badly. I was sober for 10 hard years, then I relapsed, and then I had a few years and relapsed again, and I couldn’t manage to get my shit together until last February 20. This month I will be clean and sober for one year.

I go to therapy twice a week, and one of the things they make you do is pee in a cup for drug tests. I never worry, because the only thing in my system is prescribed by my doctor and he works at the same clinic.

So imagine my surprise when my counselor called me into his office, shut the door, and told me that my urine had come back positive for fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Wait, what?

I’m also on Suboxone, and I don’t want a debate on replacement therapy. I’m just telling you this because Suboxone has an opiate blocker in it, so I could shoot 100 bags of fentanyl and heroin and do nothing but overdose and die. Why would I take an opiate when I’m on an opiate blocker and my levels for the blocker were consistent? Asshole.

As for methamphetamine, I don’t even know where to start finding meth on Long Island.

I’m really pissed, and hurt. My counselor just gave me one of those, “Tell the truth now” looks. I told him I want the urine retested and I took another test again.

Other people that go to my program have mentioned that their tox screens have come back positive when they haven’t done anything. I say they should start using another lab.

Okay, vent over.

Snow Day!

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I woke up yesterday morning and saw the above from my bedroom window.  It was still snowing, and there was about 4 inches already on the ground. The snow was coming down heavily, and it was obvious that, aside from policemen, nurses, and other emergency personnel, nobody was going anywhere.

I was pissed off. I had the day off and now I couldn’t go anywhere. I wandered around the house in my pajamas, wanting to punch someone in the neck. I ate a bowl of Special K with frozen strawberries, and got annoyed that the strawberries were warm from the microwave, messing up my cold milk thing that I have with cereal (I should post that on The Epicurean, though).

Then I went to the mailbox and found a Netflix envelope, with “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” in it. I decided to watch it after lunch, and I spent two hours curled in a chair, with hot coffee, watching an amazing  movie, and watching the snow fall softly and steadily on the bushes outside my window.

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And as Pollyannaish as this sounds, I felt serene and peaceful, after that two hour interval. I mean, how often do adults get an enforced snow day? A day when we can stay in our pajamas, watch nature do her work and create a spun sugar world outside your window and, just for a little while, you feel like a princess in a Disney movie, where the whole wide world is white and you’re waiting for your prince to ride up and give you the kiss of true love, and that will make spring come.

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It makes me feel terrible that I can enjoy all this from my warm living room while there are people out there literally freezing to death. But I do what I can to help the homeless, and just because there is ugliness in the world, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take time to appreciate what’s beautiful.

This morning everything is frozen, like an ice palace, and it’s sparkling in the sunlight. Prince Charming will have a slippery ride, and perhaps he should drive a Range Rover instead of a horse. But nothing is closed, so I will put on my grown up clothes, deposit the movie in the mailbox, and get on with my day.

I will buy a coffee and a sandwich for the homeless man that lives behind my program, and I will once again tell him about better ways than the streets, and give him numbers of people that can help him, and I will offer him my phone, and he will not listen to me. But I’ll do it again every day. Maybe it will help, maybe not.

But I will still try to appreciate the beauty of the day around me, the sparkling ice-coated trees, and I’ll be laughing at myself and my friends as we slip-slide our way down the sidewalk to get lunch.

Everybody needs a chance to act like a kid. Snow does that. Maybe I’ll build a snowman when I get home.

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Have a great day. And if you’re anywhere where there is snow, throw a snowball at someone! Be a kid again, just for a little while.

Why The Cheesy Fundraiser?

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I normally don’t like to ask for money for nothing. It makes me super-uncomfortable to ask people to give me money, and the only thing I can offer them back is a cheesy badge on my blog pages.

But I really do need your help, and if you could spread the word that would be great.

Why should you give money to someone you don’t know?

I’m a writer, just like you. Since I’ve become unemployed, I’ve been making an attempt to write full time, and I’m connected with one private client and a website that offers gigs for $5 (so I write 500 words for $5, and if they want it longer they have to order extra gigs). But you guys all know that quality writing consumes an enormous amount of time, and at the rates I’m getting, I’m lucky if I’m making $5 an hour.  And that’s not a living wage.

I’m not shy – I get food stamps. But they don’t exactly give you all that much, and it’s pretty hard to get through the month on $175.

All this is not designed to make you feel sorry for me. It’s to let you know that, despite a lot of hard work, I could really use some extra help so that I can maybe turn down some of the more disgusting gigs I’ve been offered and spend more time on my novel and on Persephone’s Pen and The Epicurean. Not because I think you guys will die without my brilliant voice, but because I think I have something to say, and some of the time, a few of you agree with me. Sometimes I’m funny, and a few of you laugh with me. And sometimes I’m just real talk, and some of you nod your heads with me.

So I would appreciate it and give thanks if you or someone you know could donate whatever is feasible for you. .Even $5 helps. And you’ll get a cool badge on my blog with a link to your blog, which will remain on my page for whatever time period is specified on the fundraiser page.

Thank you for not thinking I’m a jerk for doing this. But I really do need the help. And if I can ever help any of you, please just say the word.

Click here to donate: http://igg.me/at/persephonespen/x/6242292

The Guilt-Shame Tango

I hope that picture doesn’t offend anybody – I’m Catholic – or else I’ll just have something else to feel guilty about and right now, friends, I don’t need that.

Let’s start off by saying that my mom, who was old school Irish Catholic, could make me feel guilty for having to go to the bathroom. She’d whack me on the ass if I got snarky (which, in case you hadn’t noticed, is just part of my personality) and then, when I cried, because getting smacked on the ass hurts when you’re a little kid, she’d give me that line that we all hated: “Stop crying before I give you something to cry about.”  I obviously already HAD something to cry about, but there was no reasoning with the woman when I was 5 and she was….older. Actually, I never learned to reason with my mom, but I did learn to sidestep the ass-smacks.

Then she sent me off to the nuns. If I had been feeling a little bit of the guilt bug before, the nuns nailed it in really, really well. I bit my nails in first grade, mainly because I was a nervous wreck of a kid and wanted to do everything right. The nun who taught my class, Sister Saint Ignatius, would come sliding down the aisle in her habit and nun skates (I still believe they move on wheels, the old ones anyway) and would loom over my desk and ask to look at my hands. I would turn my hands palm up, trying to put off the inevitable. Then she would tell me to turn them over. When she saw the ragged nubs that passed for fingernails, she would mock me then make me kneel in the front of the room and pray for forgiveness for desecrating my body, and for the strength to stop myself from this disgusting habit. It felt like hours but it was probably only about 15 minutes. The floors were wood, and my knees would start to kill me, but pray I did, and fervently, mainly that Sister would get struck down in front of the class by a lightning bolt straight from the Big Guy himself. Never happened (that’s when I started to doubt the power of prayer).

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Getting older didn’t seem to help, and high school not only refined my high sense of being responsible for everything that went wrong and everybody that DID something wrong, it also convinced me that I was not only unattractive but pretty stupid and not fit for human company. Looking back, I now realize that the rest of the kids in that school were not human and I just wasn’t fit for THEIR company, but I went on to drop out and get my GED, rather than deal with the daily dose of bullshit and humiliation. I got an English degree a few years later from a very prestigious New York university, but even that didn’t salve the wounds. I think I tried harder than anyone in any of my classes. I had never had a problem acing any material, I could merely skim it and come out with at least a B+. But in college I worked so hard, my parents worried about my health. I was graduated from said university summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, editor of the literary rag – and feeling guilty that someone else didn’t get at least the suma or the editorship.

And so it went, on into adulthood, the guilt following me around like an unwanted suitor with bad teeth and body odor. I went to therapy. Didn’t help (especially since the therapist had the nasty habit of talking to my boobs when he addressed me – I was super glad there was no “couch” in his office or I would have had to kill him). I tried meditating and felt guilty about the time I was taking away from something more productive. I drank and did drugs. That helped while I was doing them. It helped a lot. But when I sobered up, the guilt was three times as bad as it was before because I had probably done something completely inappropriate to at least two people – and my friends were more than happy to call me the next morning and obliterate my beloved blackout by filling me in on all the details.

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The good thing about the drug and alcohol use was that it got me into AA and NA, where I was taught (and I learned slowly on this point) that guilt is a wasted emotion. No one should walk around feeling guilty all the time. And it’s usually tied in with shame, which tells us not that we did a bad thing (guilt) but that WE are inherently bad people (shame). That’s a shitty way to live your life.

I’ve for the most part tried to let the guilt go. It still rears its ugly head if I miss a deadline or forget a birthday (which is hard to do, since Facebook reminds me for weeks about birthdays, so if I miss one it’s only because I didn’t log in that day). But it’s not ruling my life. I have made it my goal to refuse to feel guilty for the way other people feel. I can’t MAKE anybody feel any kind of way, just like nobody can make ME feel any kind of way. No one can MAKE ME feel guilty, or angry, or anything else. It’s all in how I receive the other person’s words and behaviors. It doesn’t always work, but keeping that in mind helps me out a lot.

With all that said, it bothers me when I hear a parent tell a small child, “You should be ashamed of yourself.” There is absolutely no reason for any child to be ashamed. Perhaps they have done something that they should feel sorry about, in which case they should apologize and the matter should be dropped. If it was a big deal thing, like microwaving their sister’s Barbie, punishment of some kind is probably warranted (and here I’m not going to tell people whether or not to spank – I never saw the need to spank my children but as long as people are not leaving physical scars – I believe it does leave emotional scars – it’s none of my business how you raise your kids). But telling them to be ashamed? That’s just setting them up for a lifetime of feeling bad about themselves. Which, if they don’t get past it, will lead to them doing the same to their children.

Guilt and shame ruled my life for a very long time, and I’m happy that for the most part I’m free of them. I wish everybody could go to AA – the 12 Steps are a really great plan for living, even if you don’t have a substance abuse problem. But if I can take away one thing from the program and pass it on to whoever stumbles across this blog, it would be that we must always remember that we are NOT inherently bad. There is nothing wrong with us just as we are. There is always room for improvement, but we are only responsible for putting in the work – we cannot control the outcome. And we should never feel guilty about it if we put in the best work of which we were capable.

To the Woman Who Told Her One-Year-Old Daughter That Boys Are Bad

This is spot on. A great read from a great writer.

My name is Lynzee.

I watched your daughter run around today. I loved her sweet smile and listened to her infectious laugh. She was one of those kids that you’d just love to take home with you–especially since I’d love to have a girl someday. I smiled when I saw her earrings and told my friend how cute her clothes were. I saw her blow kisses as my son told her goodbye…and I listened with disappointment as you proceeded to tell your one year old daughter that boys are bad.

Now even though you said this right in front of me, I thought about just brushing it off. I’m sure it was an innocent comment and you didn’t think before you said it. But some of the most damaging things can start that way. Some of the things that stick with kids the longest are things you didn’t think they even paid attention to.

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NOT Writing About Your Ex

I don’t know about other writers, but I am having a very hard time not writing about my ex-boyfriend, even using a pseudonym and changing it up a little so people won’t be able to identify him. Of course I write about the breakup in my journal and call him all kinds of names (WITHOUT using a pseudonym and God help me if I ever lose my laptop). But that’s not what I mean. I mean writing about him in stories and essays and getting him out of my system for good and all. Writing is how I get things out of my system. That is why I have two blogs and write for a living.

For instance, I’m working on an erotic version of Cinderella right now, for a novella which I hope to turn into a series (it’s not porn, it’s erotica, tastefully done). And God help me, I want to make him a character in this story. And not Prince Charming, either, I want to make him the half-witted stable boy. Which isn’t really fair because my ex is a lot of things but half-witted is not one of them (he’s probably the smartest person I know, besides me). But that evil, vindictive little voice in my head, which I usually try to ignore, tells me to do it, and have him suffer all kinds of humiliation, much like the humiliation he put me through only more primeval. Like falling face first in a pile of horse manure.

I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to do something like that when the person can’t defend him- or herself. And I suppose that, as time goes by, the vindictive little voice in my head will shut up and not provide me with a thousand and one entertaining and humiliating ways to incorporate him into my work. It’s hard enough keeping him out of my blog, which clearly I’m not doing a very good job of since I’m writing about him right now. But this is a blog, so he CAN defend himself here. He can sign in any old time and write a nasty comment, or a nice one, defending his right to do what he did and to let me go through what I went through without any support from a man who told me I was the love of his life (I have since found out that he’s said that to every single woman he’s been with so…). I mean, I have open comments, I don’t even check them out first before they get published because I think that’s assholish – like I have the right to tell people what they can and cannot think of my work. So writing about this here is one thing. Making him into a stable boy with a hair full of horse poop? Not so good.

And I don’t even really want to do it in the Blog Universe. Before we broke up, we had a lot of the same friends on a lot of social networks, and I pimp my blog on almost all of them, so people who know him and who know me are going to know who I’m talking about. That’s why I haven’t referred to the situation between us at all since it happened three or four weeks ago. Aside from the fact that I spent pretty much all my time in the fetal position except when I absolutely had to work, I wanted to put distance and perspective on it before I put it out there. And then I decided that it would be really childish of me to put the details of our breakup on a public blog where everyone could see it, so I chose instead to tell only my closest friends the details. To the rest of the world I’m just single again.

I think my wanting to incorporate him into my writing is a way for me to keep him in my life. My characters all become a part of my life. I live with them in my head all day long, thinking up new plot twists for them, or dialogue, or whatever. So if I make him the stable boy, I can keep hating on him and piling on the literary humiliation. On the other hand, if I make him Prince Charming, I can wander around all day with him in my head with all the wonderful attributes he has as a person intact (because he is, basically, a good person – I just don’t like the way he treated me at the end, but that’s just the way he deals with things). Whichever the case, it’s not healthy for me to keep him in my head.

So THIS time, writing is not going to be the way to get him out of my system. Even though I just wrote about him. You don’t have to tell me that, I already know. Maybe I’ll talk to my therapist instead. And make my OTHER ex the stable boy.