Health update

Life has been getting harder lately with my not yet fully explained medical problems. I sleep an unbelievable number of hours, which means that I miss a lot of work, and I hate it. My boss and my co-workers have been very understanding, but that doesn’t make me feel any better for not living up to my own professional expectations. It makes me feel lazy and helpless, but trying to force my body to do things it doesn’t want to do hasn’t been at all successful. It’s so frustrating. I feel like I should be able to snap out of it and make myself feel normal again, but of course that’s ridiculous. Something is physically wrong with me (maybe several somethings) and I have to find the solutions before there will be any improvement. In addition to missing work, I haven’t been able to take part in too many enjoyable things in my free time either. In a previous post I mentioned cancelling my recent Disney World trip, but that’s not the extent of the losses I’ve suffered. I also decided that I wasn’t anywhere near healthy enough to go to Las Vegas this weekend with my girlfriends for the Rock N Roll half marathon. On top of all that, I cancelled a business trip to Florida next week that I was really looking forward to. As I’ve said before, I know this situation is temporary, but that doesn’t make it any less miserable.

As far as my search for answers goes, there have been a few developments since I last wrote about my health. On Wednesday I decided I needed to see my GP about the possibility that my antidepressant is at least partially responsible for my overwhelming exhaustion. There is an outside chance since one of the potential side effects of Lexapro is drowsiness. I was fortunate to get an appointment to see a nurse practitioner that same day, but the outcome wasn’t at all what I expected. The nurse decided not to change my medication, at least not yet, but he ordered some additional blood work to test for autoimmune diseases instead. Even if progress is slow, I was very grateful to see a medical professional who was concerned enough about my well being to go down a completely different path of investigation and not just throw more drugs at my symptoms. I had to have four vials of blood drawn, though, and it was more of an ordeal than usual. The technician had to tap both of my arms to get enough blood for the tests. I very nearly passed out when he was done! That’s not all I did this week either. I also completed my second sleep study last night. Overall it was much more pleasant experience than the first one (better facility, better room, slightly better night’s sleep), but still not an activity I’d like to repeat. (Although I’m sure I’ll have to before this is all over.) Hopefully this one night’s discomfort will provide my neurologist with enough information to take the next step in my journey to a diagnosis. I have an appointment with him after Thanksgiving to go over the results. Maybe the blood work by my GP will provide some insight as well. I should find out this week. I’ll let you know the outcome of this waiting game when they are available.

The wrong direction

“If rape becomes legal under my proposal, a girl will protect her body in the same manner that she protects her purse and smartphone. If rape becomes legal, a girl will not enter an impaired state of mind where she can’t resist being dragged off to a bedroom with a man who she is unsure of — she’ll scream, yell, or kick at his attempt while bystanders are still around. If rape becomes legal, she will never be unchaperoned with a man she doesn’t want to sleep with. After several months of advertising this law throughout the land, rape would be virtually eliminated on the first day it is applied.”
-Roosh V, “How to Stop Rape”

Back in 2015 the man who wrote this (who makes a living telling men how to pick up and have sex with women all over the world, by the way) proposed making rape legal in private property. So if a man takes advantage of a woman in his own house or in hers there would be no repercussions. (Or vice versa. I acknowledge that there are women who rape men as well.) First of all, have you ever read something so disgusting? I could devote an entire post to describing how much I despise this jerk for writing such a sexist, misogynistic, backwards “article” dripping with male privilege, but instead I want to make one particular point. The major fallacy in this dude’s hypothesis is that rape happens because women aren’t vigilant enough. Obviously he’s not female or he’d know that his underlying premise couldn’t be more wrong. Women already go to unbelievable lengths to safeguard our bodies and our property. Let me tell you a story about what happened to me this spring, which I briefly mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

On my way home from boot camp I stopped by the grocery store. It was about 9 PM so it was dark, and there were very few cars in the parking lot that late. Seal Beach is a sleepy little town at heart so things get quiet early around here. After I made my purchases I walked out of the store to head back to my car. I looked both ways as I went outside and I immediately noticed that there was a man standing to the right of the door. This fact by itself wasn’t cause for alarm, but then out of the corner of my eye I saw that he started following me. I recognized the possible danger right away because women have learned to observe our public surroundings in order to ensure our safety. That’s why I wasn’t oblivious of the risk I was facing simply walking 50 feet to my car. I increased my pace and got to my car as quickly as I could, climbed inside (unceremoniously tossing my bag of groceries onto the passenger seat), and locked the doors. My heart was racing. My potential assailant walked around the car to stand right next to my driver’s side window and wave at me. He was obviously targeting me or else he would have just kept walking. In all likelihood he was simply a homeless man wanting a handout, but after scaring the crap out of me I didn’t give him the chance to ask. I reversed my little SUV out of its parking space like I was in “The Fast and the Furious” and got the hell out of there. It was a terrifying situation, but luckily I didn’t experience any negative consequences. Other women in similar situations are not so lucky.

I don’t know how I could have possibly been any more vigilant. Not to mention how ridiculous it is to place all of the responsibility on my shoulders in this scenario. As I read in this article on Odyssey, “And, why is it the woman’s job to constantly be on high alert? Why can there be no push for rape to stop, so that she can live without fear?” Bingo. That’s the objective of the #metoo movement. To shift the blame from the victims to the perpetrators, where it rightly belongs, so that women feel safe to come forward and make reports when they are attacked. That’s the direction our society needs to go in order to achieve true gender equality. It’s sad, but we still haven’t achieved a culture where males are consistently held accountable for their despicable actions towards females. If a woman is sexually harassed or raped by a man he should be punished for the act, and the victim shouldn’t have her life ruined for coming forward and telling authorities. However, Roosh V is advocating taking our country in the wrong direction – back towards the end of the spectrum where a man can do no wrong. We cannot allow this to happen. Listen to women when they tell their personal stories, believe women when they say they have been victimized, and don’t let their claims get be swept under the rug!

Sacrifices

“In order to want to get married and have children, young women must be willing to sacrifice their time, energy, and maybe even their gifts, and most young women don’t seem to want to do these things. They also must learn to be a help meet to their husband and serve him by learning to have a meek and quiet spirit if they marry. They must learn to sacrifice their body, time, and energy to raise godly offspring which is difficult. Yes, marrying and bearing children requires a lot of sacrifice that many young women have no desire to do these days, sadly. (It’s heartbreaking to me.) Instead, they would rather sacrifice their time, money, and energy for a career that may keep them from marrying and raising their children, if they do have children.”
-My least favorite blogger, 9/13/18

I’m sure no one is surprised that this was written by my least favorite blogger. Yep, I continue to read her posts periodically in order to find inspiration (more like irritation) for my own writing. An unlikely spot for a feminist to find writing prompts! Funny enough, in the post I grabbed this excerpt from she used an image of the space shuttle to represent “women’s trajectory towards worldly success.” It’s like my least favorite blogger wrote this with me in mind. Well, here’s my response. Are you out of your freakin’ mind, lady? Why must women sacrifice the gifts that God gave them just to get married and have families? Men don’t have to do this. They are allowed, or rather encouraged, to use the full extent of their talents out in the world to earn money and support their loved ones. But for some reason fundamentalist Christian women are taught to ignore their innate abilities to submit to a man and raise as many children as that man desires. This is an archaic way of thinking, not just in 2018, but for at least the last century. Why would God give females intelligence, skills, and passions if he wanted us to ignore them? Why aren’t we simply born with the bare minimum needed to be wives, housekeepers, and mothers? Because not all women are meant to walk the same narrow path! To prove this you don’t even need to look outside the Bible for all of the examples you could ever need. Of course, everyone has to make sacrifices during their lifetimes, but there is no reason that women need to set aside everything that makes them unique in order to have a man put a ring on her finger. Fortunately, even among the usual comments praising my least favorite blogger for her assertions, I found plenty of other women who objected to the restrictions laid out in her blog post. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • 9/11/18: “Sometimes God’s plan doesn’t include marriage or it’s not in the time frame of early 20s. I’m certain that God wouldn’t advocate for simply marrying someone just to stay home and not be in the workforce, instead of waiting on God’s best. You can’t claim to speak for God and say that everyone who’s not married is simply seeking their own way…God designed us with different gifts and talents, hence there is no cookie cutter age for a life plan of marriage.”
  • 9/13/18: “If your only message as an older women is to tell younger women their only calling is to serve a husband and bear children than you’re putting your own God in a box. What he calls a woman to do is between Him and her.”
  • 10/1/18: “Only God can tell an individual what His will is for them, so nobody can possibly know what God has planned for someone else’s life. Not all women are called to the same thing. God does not call every woman to marriage and kids, and I can definitely see how it would be off-putting to many women for you to say that you know exactly what God wants them to do with their lives. You can’t know God’s will for anyone but yourself.”

Luckily I know that my least favorite blogger has no way to enforce her beliefs upon every woman of childbearing age. Ladies who disagree with her can rest assured that they won’t be locked inside their homes with only a mop and bucket to pass the time. Nothing can force them to use their brains only for keeping their houses clean and their husbands happy. In this day and age females have nearly limitless options so never let anyone tell you otherwise!

I believe her

“In an effort to preserve my sanity I have been using Facebook mostly for photos lately, but today I have to say something. What kind of message are we sending to the females in this country by putting a man on the Supreme Court who has been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct (at the very least) by multiple women? How many young girls are watching this unfold and deciding that they will never report sexual assault because of how Kavanaugh’s accuser was treated? How many young boys are realizing that they can get away with bad behavior because a judge on the highest court in the land was given a free pass and a guaranteed job for life? This is a step backwards for our country. Maybe several steps. It makes me sick.”
My 10/6/18 Facebook post

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that on October 6th Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court. This was in spite of the fact that he had been accused of sexual assault by three different women, one of whom was brave enough to publicly identify herself and testify in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing after the judge’s nomination. For hours Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was grilled by Senators and prosecutors about the details of a night back in 1982 when she says a drunk Kavanaugh trapped her on a bed with his body, groped her, tried to undress her, and covered her mouth with his hand so she couldn’t scream for help. They were both high schoolers at the time. The two boys in the room laughed while a helpless Christine was terrified that she was going to be raped or accidentally asphyxiated. Very fortunately luck was on her side and she was able to escape the assault without more severe physical consequences, but not before she suffered deep emotional scars that would affect her for life.

A lot of people (mostly Republicans who were eager to get Kavanaugh’s position on the Supreme Court secured) dispute this accusation, especially since the event happened so long ago, but Dr. Ford took a polygraph in August and she was determined to be telling the truth. As a woman who has been taken advantage of by men, and who knows a number of ladies who have been raped, I believe sexual assault reports. Or at least take them very seriously until there is evidence to the contrary. In our patriarchal society males have a majority of the power and can get away with all sorts of nefarious deeds with minimal consequences. And sexual crimes are rarely prosecuted even if they are reported to the police in a timely manner. Even with physical proof gathered by a rape kit, or even eyewitnesses, it usually becomes a “he said, she said” situation where a rapist can lie and go free. All the while, the victim who was injured, both in body and soul, has every aspect their behavior during the assault, as well as their life in general, raked across the coals in order to discredit them. The deck is stacked against them from the start. I came across this comment on a blog post that disputes this ridiculous practice.

“When somebody says their car got stolen, nobody says ‘Well, let’s wait until we have all the facts’ or ‘Well, you really shouldn’t have parked it in a bad part of town or ‘You’re not just saying that because you wrapped it around a telephone pole while you were drunk, are you?’ But when a woman comes forward and says she got raped, she gets hit with ‘Did you scream?’, ‘What were you wearing?’, ‘Did you come on to him?, ‘Oh, come on now, he’s a pillar of the community, he wouldn’t do that!’, or ‘You’re not just saying that to get him in trouble, are you?’ Or, more likely, most of the above.”
-Blog comment from A Guide to Sexual Assault Claims for Bible Belt Evangelicals

And we still wonder why women don’t report sexual assault! Because more often than not, nothing happens to our assailants even when we do! This needs to change. We need to believe women when they tell someone they were raped or attacked. We need to take all accusations seriously even if they seem unlikely. We need to make sure that there is no backlash against the victims (unless they make a false report, of course). We need to ensure that adequate consequences for sexually aggressive behavior are levied on the men that use women against their will for their own selfish pleasure. This should not be a partisan issue. Everyone, both Republican and Democrat, should find rape repulsive and want it stopped. Unfortunately the behavior of certain groups makes me think otherwise. They would rather protect their “chosen one” rather than force him to admit that he acted like less than a gentleman when he was younger. Heaven forbid he have to take responsibility for his actions. And since the Senate disregarded Dr. Ford’s testimony and (narrowly) voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court he doesn’t have to. Tragic.

P.S. In situations such as this you’ll hear the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” a lot, especially by the deniers However, that concept only applies in criminal trials. Brett Kavanaugh’s wasn’t applying for a job at a fast food restaurant – he was nominated to fill a lifetime position on the highest court in the land. His personal life was as free to be scrutinized as his professional life.

Deserved to die?

A while back an article was brought to my attention about Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student who was murdered while out jogging over the summer. This wasn’t a straightforward, fact-based news story detailing the tragic death of a promising young woman, but an opinion piece by a judgemental “Christian” woman calling herself The Thinking Housewife who suggested that Mollie was at least partially responsible for her own death. Yep, she pointed an accusatory finger at the girl who was abducted, killed, and dumped in a corn field. Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this is ludicrous. The author of this blog post speculated that Mollie was a target for a man to murder simply due to her clothing choices and their effect on her attacker’s impressionable male brain. Here it is in her own words.

“Feminism is also to blame for her death. A society that says female modesty and restraint are oppressive does not protect young women from potential predators. No amount of feminist social engineering can change the facts of nature. A woman who jogs in skimpy clothes on country roads — or even in the city — is a serious temptation to a small criminal element. Jogging in revealing clothes – or even just jogging alone – is dangerous. Safety depends on modesty and restraint.”
The Reckless Female Jogger

This is blatant victim blaming. Heaven forbid some “ladies man” has to control not only his lustful thoughts, but his violent sexual tendencies in the presence of an attractive woman. From the news reports I’ve read, Mollie’s alleged murder got angry when she rejected his advances, and his response was to attack and kill her. First of all, females running outside (or inside, even) are not doing so for the benefit of onlookers! Believe it or not, we exercise for our own health and well-being and not as a pretense to beguile the opposite sex. Additionally, society has convinced men that they are entitled to the attention of any woman they want just for having a penis. We ladies are supposed to be flattered, bat our eyelashes, and thank our lucky stars when a member of the male species deems us worthy of their consideration. These are lessons that we all need to unlearn.

As you can see in the above photo, the members of my running group don’t wear anything remotely provocative. Some of the ladies are in great shape, but the rest of us aren’t quite so fit (including myself!). Still, even though I don’t look like a fitness model, I wear tight shorts or pants when I run (because if I didn’t I would have serious problems with chafing), and I wear fairly close-fitting shirts too (because otherwise the fabric would move against my skin and cause rashes in terrible places). No, I don’t run in short-shorts or an exposed sports bra, but my outfit still wouldn’t be considered “modest” enough for The Thinking Housewife. According to her, if some man approached me with ill intent it would be at least partially my fault for enticing him with my provocative clothing choices. How dare I wear an outfit that’s appropriate for my current activity! I have been on the receiving end of unwanted attention while running, and I’ve responded in the most rational way possible – I flipped the bird at those jerks. But I’ve been one of the lucky ones who hasn’t been physically assaulted – not because of my outfit, but because I was extremely fortunate. What a woman is wearing rarely has any impact on a man’s bad behavior, and implying otherwise does a disservice to both sexes.

Searching for the correct diagnosis

“Not only do I still have twitchy legs sometimes during the day, but I’m so tired all the time. And some days I just can’t get out of bed at all. I can sleep all day, and it doesn’t feel like a choice I’m making. I just wake up in the afternoon/evening and feel depressed that I’ve lost yet another day to my poor health.”
8/10/18 webpage post

On Thursday I went back to the neurologist as a follow-up to my first appointment a little over a month ago. I’ve been taking gabapentin every night, in addition to the Requip, and that combination of drugs seems to be keeping my legs remarkably calm before I fall asleep at night. I haven’t had trouble with muscle spasms plaguing me after I get in bed, at least. (Unmedicated I’m still a huge mess. I dozed off on my couch the other evening and my legs immediately started twitching. It’s super frustrating.) It’s a major improvement over the situation I was dealing not that long ago, before I started taking any medication specifically for Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Unfortunately, I’m still feeling tired all the time so, while there has been definite progress, I’m not completely back to normal. When I told the doctor about my constant exhaustion he had a couple of thoughts. First of all, he theorized that the prescriptions I’ve been taking are meant for RLS, but might not be giving me the best results if I have Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). This is what one previous doctor and the technician at my sleep study thought might be the root of my leg spasm problem. With that in mind the neurologist gave me an additional prescription for Klonopin to see if that helps me get some actual restful sleep at night. (Yep, that means I am now taking three different anti-seizure/convulsant drugs every day. Fun!) But if after a few weeks of this new protocol that doesn’t work, he suggested that I might have narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy is a condition that I knew very little about before Thursday. With my limited knowledge I thought it meant that sufferers had a tendency to simply doze off at the drop of a hat, but obviously it’s more complicated than that. From what I read, in addition to excessive daytime sleepiness (which I certainly have trouble with), narcoleptics experience abnormal REM sleep. The neurologist told me that in order to get a diagnosis I would need to do another sleep study where I would be allowed to fall asleep for several short periods of time to determine whether my brain goes through the proper progression into REM sleep. Narcolepsy apparently causes people to go directly into REM sleep without the usual hour and a half or so of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep beforehand. While it sounds a little far-fetched, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is the cause of at least some of my medical problems. I hate to admit it, but I doze off at work sometimes. Only for very short periods of time, but it happens. Especially in meetings, and especially if I haven’t had enough caffeine. Fortunately I don’t seem to have any of the other, scarier narcolepsy symptoms – like cataplexy (periodic loss of muscle function), hallucinations, or sleep paralysis. That also means that narcolepsy might not be the right answer. We’ll see. I have another appointment with the neurologist in six weeks to discuss a path forward. I have some hope that we are zeroing in on something.

On the plus side, I’ve been able to start reading again! I’ve always loved reading, and I used to look forward to immersing myself in a good book when I crawled into bed every night. It was the way I wound down and calmed my brain after a busy day. It usually made me drowsy too. But before my days of taking any RLS drugs I started getting twitchy legs when I was stationary for more than a short period of time – either lying in bed or sitting on the couch. This really put a damper in my reading habit. Books by my favorite authors that I was dying to read piled up in my Kindle app while I was desperately trying to avoid the muscle spasms that made me want to crawl out of my skin. But now that I’m fully medicated at night I can read for a while before falling asleep without worrying about leg craziness. It’s a miracle! Even though I haven’t yet reached the end of my road to recovery (or remission), I’m still so grateful to modern medicine for improving my quality of life. Maybe one day I’ll even feel normal again!

Offended vs. offensive

In case you were wondering if there was any resolution to the issue in my last post, the McGaugh Elementary principal apologized in an email to school families on Thursday. From what the online article quotes, it sounded like a half-hearted apology to me. One those that basically says, “I’m sorry if I offended you,” where the inclusion of the word “if” means that the author isn’t really admitting fault. Instead, the blame is put on others for being offended. This seriously pisses me off, but it’s not up to me to forgive her. That’s for the families and the school district to decide.

As a follow-up to my previous blog post I thought I’d address a similar situation – one that involves me this time. In February 2017 I posted a statement on my Facebook wall after a shocking interaction with a friend that left me nearly speechless. In one afternoon this friend managed to make derogatory statements about blacks, transgender people, immigrants, ComicCon attendees, and the homeless. I didn’t even know it was possible to display that level of insensitivity in a single day. In general I don’t think it’s my job to try and change people’s opinions, no matter how different they are from mine, but in this instance I could only hold my tongue for so long. After she attacked homeless people for “checking out of society” I finally challenged her views. It didn’t really make a difference, but I couldn’t just passively listen to her stream of ignorance any longer. I was so upset that when I got home I posted something vague about it on Facebook. Here’s what happened next. (Note: Other than my own, the names have been changed to avoid further conflict.)

  • Lauren: I’ll preface this with the fact that I’m a liberal and a feminist, but I’ve had all the intolerance I can stand. I just don’t understand how inclusiveness, sensitivity, and avoiding offense can be a bad thing.
  • George: Taken from Reddit – “There’s nothing wrong with being offended by something.
    There is a problem with not being able to personally deal with your own feelings of offense, and trying to regulate/control other people so that you won’t be offended. It’s selfish, bigoted, and myopic. As they say; offense is taken, not given.”
  • Jane: Translation – “I want to be able to do whatever I want, and if anybody holds me accountable, I would like to pretend it is because they suck, not because I am sometimes wrong, or because being a human who has social relationships with other humans necessarily means sometimes being told I messed up and apologizing.” Seriously, George, this quote is bizarre. If you were walking down the street and someone punched you in the face, would you be wrong to say, “What the hell, man?!” Being racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. is repulsive, hurtful and preventable, and it’s actually peak fragility to think one must never get pushback about it.

Some people don’t seem understand that there’s a difference between “offended” and “offensive.” I am not a member of any of the groups that my friend disparaged that day so I wasn’t directly offended by what she said, but her comments were undoubtedly offensive to blacks, transgender people, immigrants, ComicCon attendees (nerds like me, actually), and the homeless. Just because a person’s insulting statements don’t apply to anyone in their audience doesn’t mean that they aren’t still insults. I wasn’t to blame for objecting to my friend’s comments, but that’s what George’s response above would have you believe. I used to be married to a man who blamed me for everything so this behavior of making the opposing party the one at fault isn’t anything new. But that doesn’t mean it’s right. Never feel like you are “selfish, bigoted, or myopic,” as George said, because you call out someone for offensive things they say. We have to continue to challenge abhorrent views and behaviors or humankind will never make progress. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Subtext is important

It’s an extraordinary day when the daily post from my least favorite blogger isn’t the thing that gets me the most riled up (although today she wrote about the “sin” of obesity so it was a close call). Nope, today it was something from my own little community that disturbed me the most. When I woke up this morning I saw a thread in the Seal Beach Facebook group regarding law enforcement and news crew activity at the local elementary school. Fortunately it wasn’t something life-threatening like a shooting or a hostage situation. Thank goodness! After reading the associated article on the Orange County Register I learned that the McGaugh Elementary School principal posted something contentious on her personal Facebook wall regarding the Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. Yep, another social media scandal. We can’t seem to learn from even the very recent past when it comes to these situations. Here’s an excerpt from the OC Register article.

Along with thousands of other people around the country expressing similar viewpoints, Roni Burns-Ellis turned to Facebook Tuesday, Sept. 4, to condemn Nike for featuring controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick in an ad. But as principal of McGaugh Elementary in Seal Beach, Burns-Ellis drew her own controversy. Above her photo of a Nike T-shirt cut into pieces, Burns-Ellis wrote on her personal Facebook page: “My newest rag! When Nike signs an anti-American thug to represent their brand, I will not support, wear, purchase or endorse their product.”

I added the bolding myself because that is the root of the problem. After reading the principal’s FB post, a Seal Beach resident went to the school administration’s office to complain about her use of a racist term to describe Kaepernick. This woman is in a position of leadership over not just adults, but also children. It’s understandable that parents would be alarmed by racist views expressed by such leadership, right? The elementary school has students of many colors and backgrounds so the principal’s FB post is not just generally offensive, but directly offensive to black students and their families. Seems straightforward to be, but unfortunately not to everyone. The main dispute in the Seal Beach FB page thread was over whether “thug” is in fact a racist term. So many people cited the bland dictionary definition to prove that race was not an implication in the principal’s use of the word. The shortsightedness of this argument is astounding. Unfortunately, there are untold numbers of words that have meanings beyond than the ones in a large, dusty, probably outdated volume. How many times have you had to consult Urban Dictionary to ascertain the current usage of a word or phrase? (I am old and out of touch so I use Urban Dictionary a lot!) We are all aware that calling a person of color an ape, baboon, or monkey is overtly racist, especially due to a few high-profile cases this year, but you won’t find words explicitly defining those terms as racist in your home dictionary. I found an NPR article that explained it better than I ever could – “One of the things that Americans have a whole lot of trouble with…is that words never keep their meanings over time. A word is a thing on the move. A word is a process. And that’s what’s so confusing about the N-word. And that’s what’s so confusing now about this word, thug. Any discussion where we pretend that it only means one thing is just going to lead to dissension and confusion.” The bottom line is that subtext is lost on folks who willfully ignore it. Luckily there was one encouraging comment from a woman in the FB thread.

A vast majority of McGaugh’s military families are minorities. Military members who take off their uniform at the end of each day and step out into the civilian world, only to face discrimination because of the color of their skin. Minorities in the military are not safe from unjust treatment by people in positions of power. I hope all of you parents/community members reading this will take a step back and remember that behind a parent’s job title, there are people and families of color, including black husbands and sons like my very own, who benefit from people like Kaepernick speaking up for them. Calling a black man a “thug” just because you don’t agree with the way he’s exercising his freedoms as an American is racist. It truly is. Please remember that every single service member past and present, signed an oath to defend the constitution and the freedoms that it grants. I don’t pretend to speak for all military families, but I do know many local military families (and thousands across the country) share my sentiments. And I hope you all will help hold those who are supposed to advocate for all of their students, students of color included, accountable for not doing so.

I couldn’t have said it better myself! In a post back in May, I stated that “Some people don’t understand that free speech means that in the United States you can’t be arrested or executed for your opinions, but it does not mean you are completely free from the consequences of what you choose to say. Hate speech can absolutely get you fired.” Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequence! We’ll see how this plays out for the McGaugh Elementary School principal.

Searching for the right combination

There was a time, not so long ago, that I wasn’t taking any prescription drugs. It was fantastic. But then 2018 came crashing onto the scene and now I am picking up one refill or another at the pharmacy just about every week. I’ve been on five different medications at one point or another since January and I’m still searching for the right one(s). In my post about my health last week I mentioned that I’ve been taking 1 mg of Requip, a Parkinson’s and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) treatment, to calm my legs at night so that I can fall asleep. While I believe that it has been somewhat effective, meaning I can go to sleep without leg spasms now, I am still not feeling 100% like myself again. Not only do I still have twitchy legs sometimes during the day, but I’m so tired all the time. And some days I just can’t get out of bed at all. I can sleep all day, and it doesn’t feel like a choice I’m making. I just wake up in the afternoon/evening and feel depressed that I’ve lost yet another day to my poor health. And the kicker is that I never feel rested no matter how much I sleep. For example, the other day I opened my eyes and the clock on my nightstand said 5:30 PM! I managed to drag myself out of bed, get dressed and go to my boot camp class at 8 PM, and then went back to sleep at 11:30 PM. I was only awake for 6 hours that day and I was still tired when I got up to go to work the next morning! It’s beyond ridiculous. I can’t afford for this to continue, both monetarily (I need to work to support myself!) and mentally (I am at the end of my rope!). Fortunately I had my long-awaited appointment with the neurologist yesterday afternoon. I explained all of my symptoms to him, showed him copies of my blood work from December and my sleep study in May, and told him what pharmaceuticals I have tried so far. After laying it all out on the table the doctor was a bit baffled by the whole picture. It was frustrating, but understandable. All of the other medical professionals I have seen so far have been baffled too. My symptoms don’t all fit into one nice, easy, predefined diagnosis. Of course it isn’t that simple! Some things point to RLS, but others suggest Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD), while a few could be signs of a more serious affliction. So while I don’t have any definitive answers, the neurologist did write me a prescription for another drug to try in combination with the Requip. So I will be adding Gabapentin to my nightly pill dosage to see if it makes a difference. On top of that, I have instructions to double the dose in one week if the initial amount doesn’t seem to be working at all. I also have another appointment in September to report back on the results, and perhaps conduct some further tests. (The doctor seemed concerned that I could visually see my muscles contract during the leg spasms, so he might order some electrical stimulation tests to see what’s going on in there.) I’m still encouraged by this progress, even if it is small. Finding the right combination of medications is the key to relief and the neurologist told me that it might take a while. After two and a half years of dealing with this issue I will try to be patient as we zero in on a solution!

When time doesn’t heal (part 2)

You want to know why women don’t come forward more often when they are being abused? First of all, they might not realize are in an abusive relationship. I didn’t until after I left my marriage. I knew that my ex-husband didn’t treat me very well, but I didn’t see the whole terrible picture until I removed myself from the situation. Take a look at the above photo from December 2011. My ex-husband and I were given a huge container full of glass bulb Christmas ornaments from his grandmother when she moved to Texas. Unfortunately every year we lost two or three of them when they fell off the tree and shattered on our hardwood floor. Real Christmas trees don’t always have the strongest branches! It was never anyone’s fault if the ornaments fell, but this picture depicts what the aftermath usually looked like. (Minus the finger-pointing, generally. That was specifically for the photo.) This picture was amusing at the time, but looking back it feels like a perfect and unsettling illustration of our marriage. Me cleaning up some mess, whether or not I actually caused it, while also taking the blame for the situation.

Everything was my fault. Everything was my problem to fix. Eventually my entire life consisted of keeping my ex-husband happy. Attempting to foresee and mitigate potential issues and smoothing over ones I couldn’t prevent. I spent all of my time catering to his needs, trying to keep him from being upset with me, but it was never enough. I was always judged and found wanting. It was exhausting and soul-crushing. So why didn’t I leave earlier? Especially after he cheated on me less than three years after we got married? Because I wasn’t strong enough at the time. My self-worth had taken such a beating during our time together that I didn’t think I was worthy of better treatment. I had been groomed into such a state of submission that I couldn’t contemplate breaking free, even when he violated the vows we made on our wedding day. Honestly, I should have ended it long before I actually did. I have so many stories I could tell to back that statement up. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my husband, but I tolerated lines being crossed that should never be crossed in a relationship. It took me a long time to come to my senses, gather my strength, and save myself from my abusive marriage. It was such a difficult road to walk, but I have not regretted it for one moment. So if you’re a woman reading this, I truly hope that you do not allow your partners to take advantage of you that way I did. Do not accept poor treatment, especially from someone who claims to love you more than anyone else. You are absolutely worthy of love and respect!

P.S. I know that my blog readership is almost nonexistent, and I’m OK with that. I’ve always maintained this website (in all of its forms) for myself and not for anyone else. But I want to make sure that if any woman does happen upon this post that she reads something that empowers her to make her life better!