Sweet Little Surprises

I haven’t written anything in a while, as I have been plagued with the severe exhaustion and agonizing pain that is Fibromyalgia. Every single day has sounded like a good day to sleep. No amount of sleep has seemed to be enough for my body, and the pain has been excruciating to the point where I’ve been pretty distraught. Unfortunately, I have had an onslaught of appointments during all of this and had no real time to truly rest or focus.

In the midst of all this, I have had great support from a select group of friends. I am going through something seriously awful in my personal life and these friends are trying to help me navigate it, to the best of their ability. It’s one of those things where you cannot say thank you enough because you get to see people’s true colors.

It’s amazing how sometimes, through all the trauma and awfulness in your life, little surprises pop up and you’re in awe of the thoughtfulness of the gestures. I have been on the receiving end of some really sweet, thoughtful surprise packages and here I share “my stash”.

SAM_0154   SAM_0155

This sweet little package arrived via UPS and totally made my day. Mally Beauty had been holding a 100,000 Fan Giveaway on their Facebook page. I entered, left a comment as to why I use Mally’s products, and never thought anything of it afterward. Then, out of nowhere, I get this adorable set of eye liners and a nice little note as a gift. I was so touched (I also have to mention that Mally personally responded to me when I sent her a thank you. That is the epitome of class!). The colors are Caribbean Sea (kind of like Emerald Green meets Teal), Milk Chocolate, Royal Purple, Midnight Black, and Silver. If you’ve never used a Mally product before and you love make-up, as I do, I highly recommend starting with Shimmer, Shape, & Glow. You’ll feel like you belong on a Red Carpet in less than a minute. These liners are a fun treat. Also, for all you animal lovers out there, Mally does not test on animals whatsoever. In fact, she’s the owner of two rescue dogs that she adores. You can now find her products nationwide at ULTA.

 

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Prior to New York Fashion Week, Kate Somerville Skin Care had a contest to win this Save Our Skin package. Kate has some seriously amazing products and as a fan of ExfoliKate, I tried entering the contest, to no avail. I sent the company a message to let them know there was a problem with the contest page. They told me they were working on it. After the contest ended, I received a message letting me know that they had saved one of these packages for me and just needed to know where to ship it. They came to the right place, because that is just plain good Public Relations. The package was beautifully wrapped and contained all of this:

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24 Hour Pimple Punisher on the bottom (Yes, I still get the occasional breakout. This stuff is nice and has already cleared up a few breakouts I had before the package arrived!), above that is CytoCell Eye Cream (I’m a religious user of a different brand, but this one is very nice.), to the right in silver is a product called DermalQuench Liquid Lift (I’ve been using this on and off and I see a difference in how sculpted my face looks. Might be the product, might be the weight I just lost, who knows?). In the middle are two of Kate’s self-tanning towelettes, and on the left is my beloved ExfoliKate. For the record, the ExfoliKate usually costs about $350 a year, with the assumption that you’re using it 2-3 times a week, so anytime I can get a small one, I’m thrilled. I returned the last full size tube I bought because $200 (which included tax and shipping) was a hefty price to pay, and I decided to stick with a gentler product for the time being. However, I am thoroughly enjoying this lovely little box from Kate Somerville Skin Care. There’s a reason this stuff is so expensive, the ingredients are high quality.

 

SAM_0180  SAM_0184

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My other surprises included this awesome little package from Dove Dark Chocolate. I received this with no knowledge whatsoever that I had won anything. Inside is a coupon for a free bar of their chocolate (free chocolate is never a bad thing!) and two special Nicole by OPI Nail Polishes in two different shades called Better After Dark (lighter shade on the left) and Promises In The Dark (darker shade on the right). I am really into dark polish right now, so I am going to enjoy wearing these. 🙂

SAM_0185  SAM_0186

The biggest shocker was one I received earlier in the year and absentmindedly forgot to share. It’s from Tria Beauty and is a Laser Hair Removal device. Not only did I win this in a fan giveaway, one of three they offered, but I also got to choose which of their lasers I wanted, they even sent me an additional message to ask if I wanted it in a special color. For me, this was a HUGE gift to receive.

This laser happens to be their top of the line device, and I can attest to the fact that it is much faster than the one I already owned. I’ve been a fan of their products for a few years now, and I do still use the previous laser even though it’s much slower. The results are amazing, so long as you are fair to medium complected and are removing light brown to black hair. This laser is not yet FDA approved for redheads or blondes, but I am sure they’ve got one on the way. This company has amazing advancements not only involving hair removal, but also involving skin care, so keep your eye on them, and don’t be afraid to follow them on whatever social media platform is your favorite.

Life has truly felt like absolute torturous HELL at times, but every once in a while, I get a really sweet surprise and it helps me see that my hard work and sacrifice is noticed by a much Higher Power than anything here on this plane of existence. These are the little things that make me smile, apart from my tiny little minx, my Goddaughter, my best friends, my friends on a whole, and the fact that I am forever reaching towards the light at the end of the dark, long tunnel.

I hope you have sweetness in your life too, in whatever form it may come in. Let us all count our treats and blessings. 🙂

*I am not a paid advertiser of any of these products, merely a customer.*

Caturday Came A Day Early…

ps

 

Yesterday was my “day off” after a pretty tumultuous week. My pain levels are driving me up the wall, and a few people in my life are choosing now, of all times, to be idiotic, pathetic, childish morons. Do you all wait for me to have PMS and be raring to go after you with a hockey stick or are you really just that stupid?! For the record, I could be talking about a plethora of people, so please, don’t flatter yourself into thinking I’m talking about you unless you actually know you’re a moron and have been behaving in a childish, pathetic manner.

It has been my experience that morons are completely oblivious to the shit that comes out of their mouth, as well as how they act and behave. If you’ve said or done something stupid and I have kept my mouth shut thus far, trust me when I say that I’m being merciful.

Yesterday morning I discovered a black & white kitten in my back yard. I was on my way upstairs and out of the corner of my eye was a kitten in typical cat like predatorial position, seemingly staring at something near the storage shed. I opened the door and called out to her, but she refused to leave her post. After about an hour or so, she slowly started to move around the yard, still watching something that I couldn’t see or hear, and I decided to put some food out for her and see if she’d bite.

She had no collar or visible tags and she kept looking right at me, so I know she’s not afraid of me (and yes, I know she’s actually a she because male cats have a totally different look to them facially and physically.). I’ve seen her in passing for a few months roaming around 4-5 houses close to mine, darting across the street in the early evening hours, but I have no idea if she’s microchipped and belongs to someone, if she’s been abandoned, or if she’s a stray. It’s possible she belongs to someone and is an outdoor cat, but to not have a collar or tags is usually a good indicator that the owner doesn’t really give a shit about their animal, and it pisses me off big time when people do that.

I suspect she’s been sleeping in my yard at night for quite some time because I’ve been hearing some major purring underneath my window pretty much every night. If you’re not a cat owner or cat lover, you have no idea what it’s like to have a purring little being lull you to sleep. I miss that SO MUCH after losing my macaroon in January. I felt like I was cheating a bit calling out to this kitten, I actually looked around as if she might hear me, but it comes down to me simply not being able to allow a kitten to hang out in my yard without feeding it and making sure it’s safe and belongs to someone. I’ll see if we develop trust between us because right now, I don’t want to spook her. She was here for several hours and then walked around the yard and left. She’s beautiful, but young. Maybe a year old, if that. Still a baby. I would take her in, in a New York Minute, and I don’t usually say that about an animal older than 10 weeks. Kittens are my personal preference and are such a joy to raise. I am well aware that older cats need homes too, and plenty of people in my area are adopting them, so I am not about to change my preference unless a situation presents itself. I do not compromise who I am to make other people feel better about themselves.

As of right now, I am supposed to attend a kitten/cat adoption event the day of my birthday in a few weeks. Initially I was really looking forward to this, I was so excited at the possibility of coming home with “little people”. It’s in the Main Line (outside of Philly), so it’s still close enough that if I don’t find a kitten or two to take home I can always attend their November event, but I’m honestly just going to wing it. If I wake up that morning and I’m feeling good, then I’ll go. If I wake up and I don’t feel it, then I will wait until next Spring and give myself that much more time to heal because in all honesty, I have a feeling that’s what I really need.

This has been a year that has shown me who I am. It has brought out a deeper strength I did not know I possessed, a fighting spirit that is so much fiercer than she used to be, and a person who sees things and people in a much clearer fashion. I will no longer hold on to things, relationships/friendships, or anything that doesn’t give me a sense of peace and happiness. I will not change to make others feel better, but I will change if I see something within me that needs fixing, for me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being yourself. I now fully realize that some people don’t know how to take that, and that some people simply want to run and hide from it because they’re really running and hiding from themselves. That’s not my issue. If you ask me to be a part of your life in any way, shape, or form, then I am going to be myself. If you ask me for advice, help, honesty, or to listen, then I will do exactly that. If I extend the hand of friendship, fully consider it before smacking it away as if you’re two years old.

I’m going to spend my weekend writing, reading, resting, and healing. I will squeeze some cleaning, laundry, and cooking into the fray, and I will try to catch the Pirates game tomorrow as well. Beyond that, I really just want to be left alone with my own thoughts. What next week holds is a whole other story, but I already know it’ll be challenging. I will make it through, and so will you.

100 symptoms of Fibromyalgia

For everyone who makes it sound like Fibromyalgia will get better or simply go away. Nice try. Making a photocopy of this for future reference.

The Pain Game

The Pain Game: Trying To Stay Sane & Keep Yourself From Exploding

 

I don’t find anything even remotely amusing about pain. I couldn’t be any more unamused than I am right now. By pain I don’t mean a paper cut or your cat scratching you, I mean mind-numbing, nausea inducing pain. Suffering from a spinal injury, I am constantly being told that my injury is inoperable. That’s fine, because I’d never agree to surgery. I saw what it did to people I loved, and I continue to hear horror stories, which pretty much gives me a number in my head that the success rate for such operations is nowhere near as successful as surgeons profess. None of these “it will fix the problem” surgeries improved their quality of life or range of motion. If anything, it deprived them of a more complete life, but I understand that when you’re in pain and suffering, all you want to do is find a way to alleviate your suffering.

Last weekend (Saturday morning) I reached a very critical point in my own pain levels and decided to take a medication that is being used off label for Chronic Pain. That was my first mistake, because for the first time in a long time, I took the “Very high success rate for Chronic Pain sufferers.” statement and the numbers at face value. I didn’t look too deeply into the medication until it was already in my system, and by then it wasn’t like I could reverse it because it’s a time release drug with an extremely long half-life, one of the longest I’ve ever seen in any drug, be it for pain or not. For the record, I’m usually very on the ball about this sort of thing to avoid problems and potential allergies. The pain was just so bad, and I was irrational in my attempt to rid myself of it and be able to function. Instead, I was pretty much bed ridden for over a day and a half, in between dealing with some pretty vile side effects. Because I’d only heard ½ of the prescription instructions, and no one had ever told me to not drink water before and after taking it, the medication released into my system much too quickly. Less than 30 minutes after taking it, I damn near threw up on my laptop before returning to my bed to pass out for a few hours. After several trips to throw up and return to a passed out/asleep phase, I woke up at one point and realized I was completely pain free. I did not hurt at all from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. My muscles, which had been killing me earlier that day, my spinal injury which had been screaming for months on end, was completely silent. No migraines, no muscle pain, no physical pain, but a complete inability to eat or keep fluids down (big problem, since this medication makes me thirstier than anything else I’ve ever been on. Water does NOT aid nausea though, so I had to switch over to iced tea at some point. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep that down either. Ginger ale wouldn’t stay down, fluids were becoming pretty hopeless.). As it slowly started to trickle out of my system, I was finally able to eat and drink without problem, but I was still really concerned and waited until I thought I’d pass out from hunger before I allowed myself to eat. I did not want to endure any more “fly out of the room” moments to puke up my guts. It’s not something I’d like to relive anytime soon.

By Sunday night though, the pain had become unbelievable. I was fine and completely pain free, and the next thing I know, my lower back was completely shot. It felt as if I’d been doing heavy lifting for weeks without a break, lots of bending, digging ditches, you get the drift. The pain was so bad I could not sit, stand, and could barely walk. There was no relief in sight. My mind was screaming “partial paralysis” at me in a very bad way. I used a topical roll-on product easily found at Walmart called Max-Freeze. In the past, this product has worked for me and worked quickly. I’d apply it, lay down, and by the time I woke up the pain would be gone, or at the very least manageable. The problem this time around is that I couldn’t even feel the product working, because even though I know I applied it directly to the source of the pain, I couldn’t feel it activate on my skin. I panicked a bit and after a while, resorted to ice packs. I probably should have made my ice packs hot, but because of the Max-Freeze I chose not to. Eventually I was able to get in my bed, some of the medicine still coursing through my system, and I was able to fall asleep, but Monday morning I was still in pain, and still experiencing that “What the hell did I do to my lower back?!” moment. My brother asked if I had tried doing anything out of the ordinary while on the new pain medicine and I said “I could barely walk from the bathroom to the bedroom. Do you think I was lifting weights at the gym, or doing something that I already know would aggravate my lower back?! What damage do you think I did in a less than ten foot radius?” I probably sounded insane, especially with the slurred speech and sudden whiny tone to my voice. I tried really hard to hold solid in my belief that my lower back would eventually loosen up and I’d be fine, that maybe I’d twisted wrong or caught an air conditioning chill. With Fibromyalgia, you simply never know.

It is now Friday and I can sit, which is a huge bonus. There’s still some pain, but I’ve got other pain to focus on too. Pain in my head (the migraine that just won’t quit. I’ve had it for two days. It’s trying to break me. I’m determined to break it first,), pain from wisdom teeth (Yes, I still have both of mine. I never saw the need to have them removed. They shift and cause some pain a dozen or so times a year, but outside of that, they do not affect me much. Plus, I am not a big fan of oral surgeons. They creep me out. They simply take way too much joy in pulling teeth and ripping your mouth open. Some people are fine to go and leave with pain medicine, but I’m not one of them. If something has to be done, they’d better bring in the anesthesia because I really don’t feel the need to see, hear, or feel what’s going on.), pain in my spine, and that emotional pain we all know called depression.

In my attempt to rid myself of pain, I ended up wasting a week of my life. That’s extremely upsetting to me. Life is short, pain makes it feel so much shorter, and I want to live. It’s hard to live when you can’t sleep, or you sleep, but you sleep too much. It’s hard to live when your body is geared up for every twinge that hits you and becomes the next great battle. And outside of the pain you experiences physically, you still have a real life. Bills to pay, things that need to be done, fixed, etc. Pain makes you feel like your life is a disaster. When you feel this crappy, faking a smile, pretending you’re fine, and lying to yourself to get through the next hour is just plain unacceptable to me. If I don’t feel good, I say so. Not because I want someone’s attention, a response, sympathy, pity, or anything else, but because it’s the truth and I refuse to feel ashamed because I suffer from more than one form of Chronic Pain. People usually say “I’m sorry you don’t feel good.” or “I’m sorry you’re in so much pain.” and my response is always the same. “Did you cause this pain? If not, don’t apologize for it. It is what it is.” I am a firm believer that I probably take on pain for those not strong enough to handle it, but honestly, I’ve had enough. I’d like to check out of my life for the next ten years, pain free, and do what I want to do. I want to live, I want to get up and go, I don’t want to deal with stress, anxiety, or all the other things that come along with the pain. I don’t want a half-life.

Am I being a kvetch? No, I’m being honest. The “pain game” is not a game I want to play. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone (except maybe Hitler, but honestly, Chronic Pain is too good for him.). I appreciate having a voice and a forum where I can say “I’ve had enough.” and no one judges me for my honesty, but I’d also like to use that voice and that forum to discuss happier, more successful things. I’d like to be able to say that I can get out of bed and feel good each day, or simply that I can get out of bed. I’d like to say “I laughed ‘til it hurt.”, but not because the pain is unbearable. Unfortunately, the pain IS unbearable, I’ve had enough, and I’d like a new alternative that doesn’t kick my ass and torment me. Doctors and scientists are making all kinds of advancements, yet they claim they know too little about the brain to help Chronic Pain sufferers. That’s bullshit to me. If one in every three people that sufferers from some form of Chronic Pain got a grant and became a doctor or a scientist, I guarantee we’d have better medicine and eventually, a cure. I’d like better medicine and a cure in my lifetime, and I’m sure everyone else that suffers would too.

I’m sick of all this crap. It’s time for a change.

If Pain Must Co…

If Pain Must Come…

“If pain must come, may it come quickly. Because I have a life to live, and I need to live it in the best way possible. If he has to make a choice, may he make it now. Then I will either wait for him or forget him.”  ―Paulo Coelho

Pain: Life-Altering

Pain: Life-Altering

I’ve mentioned it in passing, and some people have picked up on it and others have not. My primary focus with this blog is to promote my writing, on whatever subject I choose to tackle on any given day, and lockeandkeyenovels.wordpress.com is the blog to promote the books I am writing. So, you get both an author’s blog by being here, and a “You can follow this author now and be able to say you knew about her work first.” blog, possibly scoring some advance reader copies along the way. Again, this one is about my writing and, to some degree, me. It’s not about me in a selfish way, but definitely in a “Lets chat about this” fashion. If sharing my experiences can also help a person along the way, fabulous.

I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2004. All the doctors that should have caught and diagnosed it did not. I remember asking my primary care physician about it a year or so before I was diagnosed, and not only did he know very little about it, but he was also convinced I had “something else”. If I had been of a lower intelligence level, I might have accepted that. I might have just continued taking medicine for pain 8 times a day, and the accompanying prescribed muscle relaxers for when I really needed them. An estimated 12 million people suffer from Fibromyalgia, and possibly another 10-12 million are being incorrectly diagnosed. The word itself carries the weight of the unknown, for doctors and patients alike.

My diagnosis took an exceptionally long time to come to fruition. It was traced back to years of pain, originally attributed to “strange growing pains”. I’d be complaining and crying about the pain that always felt like it was seeping out of my bones and spreading through my body, while still under the age of 10. No one took me seriously, but it was very hard for my mother not to notice. She had me tested for arthritis and a few other things that can pop up at a young age, and more than one doctor told her I was fine, that I’d “grow out of it”. How wrong they were.

I became a gymnast at approximately age 4 and as a result, I did end up with some residual injuries that effect me to this day. One injury in particular landed me in the hospital. I was mostly a bars, floor, and beam girl. I was addicted to the parallel bars and the uneven bars. To this day, I can still remember my routines and I often find my mind doing them in my sleep. That’s how much I loved it. I was lucky, I didn’t spend a lot of time falling onto the mats beneath me, but somehow, I still ended up with some bizarre injuries, this one being amongst the worst.

My right hip and leg had damn near popped out of the socket, of their own accord mind you, because the pain I experienced for several weeks became far too much for my body to tolerate. I could barely walk, and when I was finally brought to the E.R. by my parents (No, they were not negligent, but they believed I had a charley horse, that it wasn’t anything super serious.), I had to be carried. As a result, I ended up in traction for a week, while every single test imaginable was run on me. By this time, I was completely knocked out on codeine, pain free in the moment.

I didn’t have one doctor, I had a “team”, and let me tell you that my mother nearly threw the “leader of the team” out a very high hospital window when he informed her that HE was “in charge” and would be making “all of the decisions“. She, in her infinite wisdom, informed him that she was the parent and as such, SHE and my physicians, whom she knew, were the only ones “in charge” of anything, and that it might be best for all involved, but especially him, if he left the room and never came back. We never saw him again. I’m pretty sure he went back to England, Australia, or New Zealand after the charming encounter that clearly let him know that the only thing he’d be “in charge” of, was how quickly he could escape the room, and the hospital.

I was tested for Lyme Disease because I often spent part of my summer in Boston and at the time, Massachusetts was considered a “danger zone” where ticks were concerned. Even though I was, and remain, the furthest thing from “outdoorsy” and had only been to the beach in Maine & Cape Cod, and Walden Pond, they insisted on running a full battery of tests for Lyme. The doctors were baffled beyond words when test after test came back negative. Alas, they thought they were missing something, and continued to run tests multiple times a day, requiring more blood than a TV vampire. Every test told them absolutely nothing. In the end, right before I was released on crutches, which was how I would spend the next eight weeks, I was told that an ear infection I’d had many months prior had probably never really gone away and settled into my hip, thus causing “this incident”. Are you buying that? I sure as hell didn’t. I rolled my eyes, hopped off on my crutches, and that was seemingly the end of that extremely painful ordeal, though I did have to follow up with an orthopaedic specialist for several months after all that which wasn’t fun, because he was convinced he’d find some secret message lurking inside my bones. He never found a secret message. If he had, it would have been reduced cartilage in my knee!

The next injury occurred during my final year as a competing gymnast, and as Captain, this was serious. I was on the bars, practicing a routine, and heard an extremely creepy sound come from my neck. It’s a sound you never forget, because you know it is life changing, and the second I heard it, I was terrified. In that moment, I was paralyzed from the neck up. I have no idea how I managed not to fall. I held still for maybe 90 seconds or possibly as long as 3-4 minutes in an extremely awkward position with my arms firmly in place, holding all of my body weight. My arms and shoulders never faltered, and when the paralyzation cleared itself up moments later, I did what I normally did. I shook myself off, finished the routine, and the subject never came up until many years later when the damage to my cervical spine showed on an MRI and my neurologist couldn’t imagine how I had done such damage at such a young age. He told me I was lucky I had movement of my neck at all because the nerves going in and out of my spine from the top all the way down to about C6, were being pressed on and shifting, and that’s what was causing me all the pain I had been experiencing for months. It’s the kind of pain that makes me want to come out of my skin. It limits some of the movement in my neck in terms of turning my head, and it limits some minor movement in upper body, but most of the time, unless the pain is at an all time high, I forget it’s an issue. I often have to remind myself that it’s there if it hasn’t acted up in a week or a month, providing I’m ever that lucky. I’m rarely that lucky. On an almost daily basis, this pain surfaces in some way and causes me grief.

Anyone that suffers from any form of chronic pain knows that when we’re not in pain, lets say we’re having a good hour or a good day, it actually takes us a while to realize that we’re not suffering because our bodies have become tightly programmed to handle our pain. We’re tensed up, our muscles hurt, we’re bracing ourselves, so when we’re not hurting at all, it takes a while for the body to completely relax. The only time I have a good day, or a series of good days, is when I am on vacation. The second I get on a plane, I am able to leave a lot behind, but as soon as I know I have to go home, my body goes right back into pain mode and it can take me weeks to recover from being gone for 7-14 days. It’s not a pleasant cycle. One of my doctors suggested that my pain might just be situational, but I suffered quite a bit the last time I went away, spending an entire day of my trip in bed, not able to move a whole lot, so I really don’t buy that, though I do tend to over-do it physically when I’m on vacation. I push myself more to exercise, to eat well (being away makes me realize that I do make healthy choices and that I don’t eat anywhere near as much as I imagine I do.), to walk that extra mile, because at home, it’s extremely difficult at times just to get out of bed. I have more caring support when I’m away, and I think that has a lot to do with how I feel when I get out of dodge.

No one will ever be able to tell me for certain what truly triggered the Fibromyalgia. It could have been my concussion history, which rivals that of most NHL and NFL players. I got my first one at around age 3. I have fallen on ice and done some stupid things, but my concussions were never intentional, except for the moron that smashed me in the face at a parade with some kind of beam, leaving me with a concussion and a black eye. It could have been my gymnastics injuries. It could have been mental and/or emotional trauma. It could have been two separate car accidents where I was the passenger. The doctor that told me “Your body mass produces pain.” might be right. Or, as a few suggested, it could just be that I have a hereditary predisposition for it. Where did they get that idea? From the fact that more than one person in my family suffers from migraines, as I do, and that more than one person suffers from chronic back & neck pain, as well as the fact that arthritis is in my family history.

Every doctor has a different story, and yet, none of them are specializing solely in Fibromyalgia. Many do not believe it even exists, so you often run into doctors that treat you like you’re some kind of drug addict looking for a fix, as opposed to someone who is in so much pain, you’re truly there just to be HELPED. I’ve seen doctors turn from professional to asshole in less than a second, as soon as they hear the words “Chronic Pain” or “Fibromyalgia”.

Initially when my Fibromyalgia was officially diagnosed, I was referred to a pain clinic. I’ve heard both good and bad things about such places, but my experience with “pain management” and “pain clinics” has been anything, but positive. After going back & forth with a lot of negative things from such places, I finally called a place that came highly recommended, asked if they took my insurance, and they told me they could see me…IN THREE YEARS! I was very respectful, mildly inquiring as to why the waiting list was so long, and was given a 20 minute lecture on how burn victims suffer so much more than the rest of us seeking treatment, thus, they come first, so even if I made an appointment, it could get pushed back even further if additional burn victims come to them seeking help. I’ve suffered minor burns that hurt like hell (I’m a great cook, but occasionally my common sense when reaching into the oven is incredibly scary. I don’t even realize I’m doing it half the time, because I’m so incredibly distracted with preparing a nice meal and getting it plated and on the table.). I do not, nor would I ever, denounce a burn victim’s level of pain, but when a receptionist is basically telling me “Make an appointment, but we’ll do our best to fuck you out of it.”, I find that extremely off-putting. No one who suffers from chronic pain of any kind wants to be treated as if their pain is “not as bad as you’re making it sound”. Really? Try living with it for a week, you’d be on the floor crawling over what the rest of us suffer through every single day of our lives, with strength and dignity. Yes, this topic angers me beyond words.

The next few “pain clinics” aren’t actually about helping you manage anything. They do nothing, but perform epidurals all day long. I was beyond appalled. I called my doctor and he was mortified, immediately pulling these “clinics” out of his referral list. I told him I really didn’t feel I should have an epidural, unless I absolutely needed one, and he agreed with me, saying that if I needed one during childbirth up the road, it could fail on me BIG TIME if I’d already had too many, especially if they aren’t done correctly the first time. For me, all these pain clinics were the same. No, I don’t need you to teach me biofeedback, thanks. No, I don’t need you sticking a giant needle into my spine, possibly causing more pain and more damage. Certain types of needle based treatment involving the spine can trigger migraines for me, and I suffer enough, so I don’t go looking for new forms of torture. Interestingly enough, tattoo needles do not bother me in the least. I should be studied, I know.

Currently I am between doctors and treatment for the pain. My primary care doctor dropped me as a patient, he never even bothered to say “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. Could you come in so we can go over your treatment plan?” Nothing, no communication whatsoever. He canceled a prescription medication for my spine that I should not have been allowed to go off of cold-turkey, and then he had a receptionist call and dismiss me as a patient. Nice, right? Professional to the Nth degree. <rolls eyes> I’m not exactly weeping over this, the man is way too young to have such a gigantic stick up his ass, and my immediate reaction was not very receptive where he was concerned. I can be terribly judgmental where doctors are concerned, especially when they are unprofessional and rude. I will find another doctor, but right now, I’ve got bigger fish to fry, incredibly huge battles in front of me, and I’m delicately paddling my way through shit’s creek. It’s not pretty. I’m doing my best, but it’s sucking the life out of me. I’ve already had a pretty horrible 7 months of agony and struggle, and just found out the other day that apparently, that will continue. The status quo really lets you know where you stand sometimes.

I hope & pray that things will get better really soon (not just for myself, but for all of us who suffer), so I can go back to focusing on my health. No one that suffers from chronic pain of any kind needs huge setbacks that pull him or her away from what is truly important. You cannot win wars if your health is failing on you. You can’t fight the battles, slay the demons, and rise up out of the ashes if you can barely move.

As a warning to everything and everyone I’m about to face, please know that I am a ruthless bitch when I have to be. I’m not going down without an epic fight. I have had enough taken from me in this life, I’m not about to allow anything else to go, not when it’s within my control to do something about it.

As a side note: To the world’s largest shipping company, I am coming for you motherfuckers. Settle up and back down, or I will use every single connection I have to do what I must. That, my friends, is the power of a pissed off woman. You don’t fuck with my family. Some people really don’t get it, and they’re usually the ones that need an unlubricated size nine up their asses.

Ramblings Of The Sick & Exhausted

Let me preface this by saying that I am still sick. Very much so. I’ll spare you all the truly gory details, but it’s both pretty bad and pretty boring. I feel like I’m under the age of ten if I’m throwing up, and that always lets me know exactly how sick I am. I’ve been under horrendous, mind-numbing stress for almost a full year now and a lot of it is manifesting into minor, and a few major, health issues. Stress is a silent killer, but it’s also the exact words that were used when I was born.”We’re pulling the baby out, she’s stressed.” And stressed I have remained. Maybe there’s some truth to the saying that we live our lives the same way we come into this world, who knows!

I am behind on what I’ve been writing, and in some ways I’m also ahead of myself because I’ve pre-prepped work on the first six books in the series every step of the way. Every time something comes to me, I write it, but I can’t deny that I’m in pain and struggling. Sleep is a struggle, every day life is a struggle, not coughing my brains out is a struggle, dealing with people is a struggle, and I’ve had my phone turned off for almost a full month in an effort to not deal with any more idiots, only taking calls from select family members and friends. Never one to suffer fools, I can hear my entire voice change the second someone gets stupid with me. It’s not just the cadence of my voice, it’s every little thing about it. If I’m answering in clipped tones, I’m not all right. I’ll be polite, I’ll be professional, but that’s where it ends. I’ve got my second shipment of Valerin on its way, need I say more? I’m a beast that needs to be kept calm. LOL.

I did not celebrate Passover this year, and I’ll be honest when I say that I try not to acknowledge it much, beyond conversations with family members and making sure I send my Rabbi a card. It’s one thing when you’ve got a family and you’re cooking for 6-8 people, or more. It makes it worth it, even if most aspects bore you to tears and make you want to rip your eyeballs out. When it’s just two people and neither of you is really into it, sometimes you take a pass.

I don’t really address holidays that I don’t personally celebrate, for many reasons. Full blown discussions on religion and politics are surefire ways to get people to send you a shitload of hate mail. People like to fancy themselves so incredibly tolerant, but I’ve spent my entire life having to explain that Catholicism and Christianity are not the only religions in the world, and God forbid you call someone that is Catholic a Christian, or vice versa. They flip out! All that kindness flies right out the window, and I wish I were joking, but I’m not. Yet explaining to them that you do not share their religious and spiritual beliefs is a lot like saying you’re personally slaughtering human beings in your basement. The expressions and comments are so unreal, and I’m from a city that has one of the largest Jewish populations outside of Israel, so I shake my head at people and, the older I get, the more I disengage. If only people asked smarter questions…

I’ve spent the last few days trying to really rest my injuries and rest in general. I’ve also been reading and re-reading, reminding myself over and over again what I don’t want to write where my own work is concerned. Of course, there is always research to be done as well, and thankfully a lot of that research allows me to dip into my own ancestry and gather information from the countries my ancestors are from. It’s a long, interesting list, and people always comment on how different it is. I probably relate more to my ancestry at times than I do to being born in America. That might seem weird, but when you question where your family is from and the answers aren’t simple, I think it’s a good thing. And of course, I’m kind of fascinated by family crests.

Best book of the last few weeks was Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. Beautifully written, richly detailed, and I had a good cry at the end, which is often a good indicator of how well done a book is. She is without fail, one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t read The Infernal Devices Trilogy or The Mortal Instruments series, I strongly urge you to do so. You won’t be sorry. I’m really looking forward to the next series which is slated for release in a few years.

I apologize for my ‘pain brain’ ramblings, but wanted to at least connect with my readers on some level for now.

If you have sent me a message or an e-mail and I haven’t responded to it yet, know that I will do so ASAP. A few of you are deserving of a real, personal e-mail from me based on things you’ve said and you will get exactly that.

I have a handful of readers that are becoming fast friends (I never use the word friend lightly) and I think that’s one of the great things about this blog as a platform for the future. I don’t make friends easily. Women are often intimidated by me, so they only approach me about superficial things, and I’ve recently had two people convey (to a third party, never to my face) that they don’t want to be friends with me because A) I’m not a big drinker and B) They’re afraid I will try and steal their husbands from them. Yeah, my jaw was on the floor both times. If your issue with someone is that they don’t drink, maybe you need to reassess how you choose your friends. I am a girl’s girl to the core. I get along well with men and I have a decent amount of male friends, but I don’t see them as anything beyond that, and many of them have been married so many times that I can literally pinpoint exactly when their next divorce and marriage will be! A married man is basically a eunuch to me, even if I’ve known him for 20 years, even if he’s “currently single”, I still consider him a non-entity when it comes to romance, love, and sex. I find cheating and home-wrecking abhorrent. My name is not LeAnn Rimes! Yeah, I said it. Someone should. I also find it disgusting that anyone would look at someone they don’t know very well, or at all, and say “She’s going to steal my husband.” First of all, people are not property and cannot be “stolen”. Two, if you’re that insecure, seek therapy. Three, if your husband has ever given you any indication that he’s cheating on you with a female friend, or anyone for that matter, hire a P.I., but also understand that not every woman is a lower life form lacking morals. So you have a husband? Big deal, I’m not impressed. Unless that husband is Gerard Butler, I swear to God I won’t so much as look in his general direction, flirt, or do anything other than be polite. I’m a lady, and I don’t believe in scoping out a friend’s boyfriend, leave alone her husband!! No one is so fabulous that he needs me to “steal” him. <rolls eyes>

I’m an extremely devoted, fiercely passionate, loyal friend, and once I’m your friend, I’m genuinely your friend for life. Just ask my best friend, who regularly comments on my posts. I’m like heavy duty nail glue. The woman keeps trying to shake me and she’s still stuck. LOL. Marion, I’m KIDDING, I swear. XOXO.

I will talk to you all soon, and I hope it will be in a much more organized fashion.

~Li

It’s Not Writer’s Block, It’s ‘Pain Brain’

It’s Not Writer’s Block, It’s ‘Pain Brain’

I’ve been writing for so long that it generally comes easy for me, even when I’ve had weeks full of coughing fits (If anyone knows a cough medicine that really works, feel free to clue me in. All the various 12 hour versions aren’t doing a lot for me unless taken immediately before falling asleep. Sleep doesn’t always happen for me at the moment.), physical pain, horrific migraines, and burn out exhaustion. And yet, I still have creativity alight in my brain, firing off all kinds of ideas.

Like most writers some of best ideas come to me in the shower, or as I’m drifting off to sleep. I often have to decide if I’m going to fall out or if I’m going to shake myself awake and jot something down. I can hear myself as I’m drifting off saying “I will remember this in the morning.”, as a mantra. Every so often I wake up out of nowhere at 3, 4, or 5 in the morning with an idea that must be done Right.This.Minute. Sometimes that demand takes 20 minutes, and other times it means I’m going to lose some serious amount of sleep as I sit in front of the computer and pour whatever it is I was thinking out until I am completely drained. The important thing is that I listen to my intuition, my inner voice. When it wakes me up and has something to say, I try to listen and write carefully.

I will never be one of those writers that says “This book came to me in a dream.” or “This character came to me when I was doing <insert random task here>.” I definitely believe that we are all given signs and shown things that only we would know are messages meant for us, but I’m also a firm believer that it’s what we do with those messages that makes things happen. If something pops into your head, but you never put ink to paper, then you’ve missed out on an opportunity and you have no idea what direction it may have taken you in.

The other night I was trying to sleep, but I couldn’t. I absolutely refuse to be the person that tosses, turns, and throws pillows around until morning, it’s incredibly fruitless and even more exhausting, so after 20 minutes or so I grabbed my Kindle and went back to reading. A few pages in on something that has absolutely nothing to do with what I am writing, a character popped into my head. I could see her, plain as day, except she was anything, but plain and she demanded to be written into creation. I immediately put the Kindle down and added her to the cast of characters for Book 1. I’m completely charmed by her, and I think people will love her when they meet her. She’s unique, and even though I’ve repeatedly said I did not want to delve into certain areas of mythology, sometimes we don’t really have a say when a character that rich shows itself. Again, it’s about listening to your intuition. This was a character that refused to be ignored. Most of my characters are like that, but somehow they all seem to fit together within the world I have created. Lots of strong personalities that, under normal circumstances, might be difficult placing into a room. On paper, the possibilities are endless. Things you can’t convey in other ways can always be conveyed in book form.

Don’t get me wrong: I spend plenty of time staring at what I’ve already written, unable to do more than add a sentence here and there, if that. ‘Pain brain’ is incredibly hard to work through. I have a very high threshold for pain, but certain things are too much for me and really put me out of commission. I have to be careful with other things because if I move around too quickly after a migraine, it will often resurface with much more intensity than the previous migraine. If it’s my neck or my shoulder, it can flare up again just as quickly as the pain went away. I forget sometimes that I have some physical limitations, but I try to remind myself that the areas in which I am limited are not the areas that really count. I may not be able to clean the house from top to bottom in a matter of a few hours any more, but there are so many others things I CAN do, so to put myself down and attempt to diminish my accomplishments is what I call “self-abuse”. I’ve “self-abused” myself for so many years. It’s a different kind of harm, but it’s still harmful. In order to be healthier in mind, you have to turn off the negativity that will insult you if you allow it. I am trying to accept myself and practice what I preach. I give amazing advice, but I have a hard time following my own system.

In order to be healthier in mind, I constantly remind myself that the pain is not something I caused or asked for, and that despite knowing I will have it for the rest of my life, that does not mean I should stop living. It might mean canceling plans here and there, or waking up and knowing that today is not the day to run errands or whatever it is I had planned, and I can only hope that the people in my life who truly love me will accept that.

Yes, when you have a pain disorder of any kind, sometimes your friends and family don’t understand. Many do not want to understand, there is a difference between the two. I suffered from this pain for a very long time before receiving an official diagnosis, and to this day I still have a family member who doesn’t believe it’s real. He wants sympathy and compassion for anything and everything he is going through, no matter what, but will not give it in return. I don’t have a lot of patience for that brand of thought, or the ignorance and hypocrisy of it. So it comes down to this: Anyone that cannot accept that you have a very real problem should be shown the door. It might be painful, but trust me, in the grand scheme of things you will feel a lot better for telling them exactly where to take their ignorance and negative attitude. This pertains to a lot of things in life, but sometimes, no matter how much you may love someone, you’ve got to let them fly. Don’t accept horrible treatment from anyone simply because you think it’s what you deserve. No one deserves to be treated like garbage because they suffer from something that they themselves did not cause. No one deserves to be told they don’t want to do something, and that they’re faking pain. I know too many people who suffer from various pain disorders. When you can’t move, you are definitely not faking it. When every part of your body hurts beyond words and you’re in tears from it, you’re not faking that.

Do not let pain discourage you or allow it to put an expiration date on your dreams. Find different ways to accomplish your goals and remember that other people know what you’re going through, even if the people you should be able to rely on don’t. Believe me when I say that you cannot describe the color blue to someone who is intentionally blind. Far too many people listen without hearing, and look without really seeing. Don’t suffer fools, you already suffer enough.

No One Plans On Being Sick

When I say that I was home for the past two days, sick and in bed, that’s not an exaggeration.

I was not sick, laying on the couch watching TV (Lets be serious, there’s nothing on. I have hundreds of channels, including movie channels and there is still nothing on. This doesn’t even shock me anymore, but it does aggravate me whenever I pay the bill.). I was not anywhere, except out like a light in bed, waking up only to take pain medicine & Valerin (It works for muscle aches & pains, back & neck spasms, as well as anxiety. Google it if you’re into homeopathic remedies, it works.) at the appropriate times. It’s so rare that I am feeling so bad that I will allow myself to go back to bed at 8:30 in the morning after a decent night’s sleep, but on the rare occasion that it happens, I’m not about to beat myself up over it. Shit happens, life happens, and no one plans on getting sick. No one plans on being in pain either.

Tuesday was the same as Monday, only round two came with a migraine from hell. Two rounds of medication, fluids, and no relief. I just took my third round of medication. With all that caffeine in my system, I am sure I will eventually bounce off the walls. I can’t have that much caffeine in my system without some negative side effects because I had to give up coffee and most caffeinated beverages years ago due to said migraines.

I slip up every now and then. I’ll be driving past Dunkin Donuts (or Starbucks) and need a fix. I prefer Dunkin Donuts because they’re one of the only places I can get blueberry coffee. I know it sounds weird to anyone that hasn’t had it, but I’m telling you it tastes like a blueberry muffin. Heaven. Plus, they’re not insulted when I ask for half caf, half decaf, not when I then go on a week long binge of iced coffee in a multitude of different flavors (Blueberry Vanilla, Vanilla Coconut, Raspberry Mocha, etc.). My soda crutch is Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper, but it takes me forever to drink a two liter bottle of it. By the time I am nearing the end of a bottle, it has to be spilled out. I try to be good and stick to Polar Seltzer (If you live in Bucks County and you know where they’re selling all the good flavors, please let me know because I am convinced I have to go home to MA and drive back with twelve cases!!), water, and green tea about 95% of the time. Again, I have slips, but they’re not huge and they don’t last long, so I’ve become very sensitive to caffeine. Sometimes it really helps my headaches, and sometimes it makes them worse. But I outright refuse to give up chocolate. A girl can live with a lot of things, even in this kind of pain, but she cannot go through life without chocolate. So, as long as it’s not going to kill me due to a serious allergy, my “hips don’t lie” because I’m a dark chocolate fiend.

So, where was I? Sick, in bed, pain, sleeping, migraine, caffeine, blah, blah, blah. It’s been a vile start to the week for me and I am hoping it gets better soon.

On the plus side, I was nominated for an award and I am going to acknowledge that as soon as my eyes can stare at the screen for more than a few minutes at a time without the required use of nausea medication (I’m a mess, I know!). I’m very humbled by this, and am now desperately searching for 10 additional people that I can nominate. I’ve already got 5, I think, and this particular award calls for 15. When I haven’t been blinded by pain, I’ve been searching blogs and I think I’ve come up with some really cool people to, hopefully, introduce some of you to. There are so many quality blogs on this site and I am in real awe of some of them. Each of them are doing something completely different from me, and for me to be intrigued enough to stick with anyone, their material has to be interesting, funny, or we’ve got to have some basic common interests (music, movies, books, a love of cooking, etc.). Just because I didn’t personally nominate someone doesn’t mean I think any less of them either.

I will be back with something solid as soon as I have one head, instead of two (I do think the back of my head is growing another one.  I’m not sure that will even be helpful!). I certainly wish a far better week for all of you.