Not allowed to say no

I started writing this post on May 26th. A couple of days later my personal life imploded (in addition to the world at large already being upside down) so I haven’t had much inclination to blog since then. I’ve been making use of my private journal instead, but I’m not sharing that emotional rollercoaster here. No way the general public is ready for that level of insanity. However, I’m starting to get to the point where I want to write posts for my webpage again. Here’s hoping my creativity lasts long enough for me to breathe life back into this poor neglected URL!

A few years ago I was at a race expo with my running buddies. I can’t remember which one now. We retrieved our bibs, picked up our shirts, and were subsequently perusing the rest of the booths to see if there was anything else we wanted. Usually at least one of us needed to stock up on energy gels and the like, and there are often some decent freebies like snacks, towels, and chapstick too. The three of us were wandering up and down the expo aisles when we passed a young man handing out fliers for some business or other. I honestly don’t remember what it was. Lots of companies man booths at race expos because thousands of runners have to attend to get their packets. This particular guy could have been working for a travel agency, a massage parlor, a nutrition company, or something else that runners might have an interest in. When he offered me the flyer I politely said, “No thank you.” This is my response to just about every employee handing out stuff at an expo because it feels wasteful to accept something that I can guarantee will be thrown in the trash the first chance I get. Races already stuff their mandatory “goodie” bags with all sorts of odds and ends that no one wants, so I try to avoid acquiring anything extra on the expo floor.

When I refused the flyer from this man he gave me a dirty look and let out an exasperated grunt. Under normal circumstances I would have ignored his response and walked away, but this time I got annoyed. I turned around and asked the guy, “Am I not allowed to say no?” He obviously hadn’t expected me to vocally object to his rudeness, but he managed to reply, “No.” To which I answered, “So don’t be a jerk about it!” I then caught up with my running buddies and told them what happened. Much to my surprise, one of my friends chastised me for my behavior. “You should have just taken the flyer! He was only doing his job!” I was taken aback. Logically I knew that this guy had no right to behave badly towards me since I hadn’t been discourteous to him in any way, but not being backed up was very jarring. I briefly questioned my reaction. Should I have just smiled sweetly and taken the unwanted piece of paper to mollify the dude? Quickly the answer came to me – absolutely not!

The problem, I realized, is that our society has taught women, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, to believe that they are not allowed to say no. A man asks for your phone number? Don’t say no because it will bruise his ego (and potentially cause him to become violent). Someone asks you for a favor? Don’t say no or else you’re selfish and uncaring of others. Your husband requests that you stay home half the day to wait for a repairman because he wouldn’t even consider taking time off work himself? Don’t say no because your career couldn’t possibly be as important as his, in spite of the fact that you both work in the same industry. Oh wait, that last one actually happened to me when I was married. On more than one occasion. It’s a tragedy how women are always called upon to be the peacemakers. There are so many examples. Disagree with a man over something? Just let him win the argument because everything will be easier that way. Your boyfriend or husband doesn’t complete a chore that he was supposed to do? Keep your mouth shut and just do it yourself to pacify the situation. Unfortunately women are groomed to be pleasant and conciliatory no matter the circumstances. Society uses words like “unladylike,” “bossy,” and “bitchy” when we aren’t. Heaven forbid you speak up when society compels you to stay silent. Heaven forbid you take charge when society tells you to be subservient. And heaven forbid you stand up for yourself when society has advised you to accept unfair or unequal treatment simply because you are a woman. This is what we need to change in the next generation. Ladies, you can say no!

Thanksgiving 2019

Thanksgiving Eve
I was still on medical leave over Thanksgiving and I was struggling with fatigue, like always. But the day before Thanksgiving I had a full schedule of things to do so I couldn’t stay home and nap. First of all, I had a rheumatologist appointment in Pasadena. Having to drive that far the day before a major holiday wasn’t ideal, but it was the only time I could get an appointment before December. And to make things worse, it was raining. Adding precipitation to already busy freeways is a recipe for disaster. Fortunately it only took me an hour to get to my doctor’s office Pasadena, which is pretty average. (The first photo above was taken from the parking lot when I got there. The storm made the foothills very picturesque.) Things got crazier afterwards, though. I needed to pick up my OC Turkey Trot race packet in Laguna Hills which, if you’re unfamiliar with Los Angeles geography, is nowhere near Pasadena. Plus, it was still raining. That drive took me 1.5 hours because I was on the road with everyone trying to leave town for the holiday weekend. The race bib and shirt pickup process was a breeze, but then I was faced with another long drive back home. I spent nearly 4 hours driving that day, but I got everything done that I needed to. Including going to boot camp class at 8 PM.

Thanksgiving Day
OC Turkey Trot day! And it was still raining. Had I not committed to driving some ladies from my running group to the race in Irvine I would probably have stayed in bed. Even though I had paid to run the 5K I would have had zero qualms remaining warm and dry inside my house that holiday morning rather than venturing out into the winter storm (by LA standards only). I crossed all of my fingers and toes that it would be merely sprinkling by the time we arrived at Irvine College for the race, but I didn’t get that lucky. It was not only raining fairly heavily, but it was also cold and windy. So while the other ladies in my carpool braved the inclement weather to earn their medals, I chickened out and stayed in my car the whole time! I was a little disappointed in myself for bailing, but I knew I would have been miserable running without any proper rain gear.

My plan for the rest of Thanksgiving was to go to my happy place. You guessed it – Disneyland. So after I got home from the turkey trot, showered, and packed an overnight bag, I drove to a hotel in Anaheim to spend the next two days. Surprise, surprise, it was still raining. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when we get much-needed rain in Southern California, but it was seriously impacting my holiday. Before leaving my house I put on my circa 2010 rain coat only to discover that it is too small. Ugh. Like I needed another reminder that I’ve put on weight lately. Since I couldn’t zip it up I got pretty soaked walking from my car to my hotel room with my backpack and duffel bag. I was completely fed up at this point and had no desire to leave the room again that night. The rain still hadn’t stopped so I blew off my dinner reservation at Disneyland and ordered room service instead. About 20 minutes later I got a call to tell me that my food was undeliverable due to flooding on the path between the kitchen and my building. I walked outside to survey the situation and there was indeed a sizable lake that hadn’t been there when I checked in. To avoid going hungry that night I removed my shoes and socks, rolled up my jeans, and waded to the hotel restaurant for dinner. Room service couldn’t come up with that simple solution, of course. My Thanksgiving dinner consisted of a mediocre pepperoni pizza and a Coke. Not very festive, but it was the only food I had access to that evening. The rest of my holiday was spent watching TV in bed, which could have been worse, honestly.

Black Friday
I took advantage of the Black Friday online sales to buy a couple of new rain jackets from Columbia. I wasn’t going to get caught without a properly sized rain coat again!

The following weekend
I finally had a festive Thanksgiving meal at my BFF’s in-law’s house over a week later. I made my usual homemade cranberry sauce and pumpkin dip to share with everyone. It was wonderful to sit down and eat turkey and all the trimmings with a lovely family that has adopted me as one of their own. I got to hug not only my BFF, but also my precious goddaughter, which is the best medicine in the world. I had been in a bit of a funk since my disastrous Thanksgiving Day and spending time with people I love helped immensely. And of course they sent me home with delicious leftovers too! Next year I am going to be in Hawaii with my own family over the holiday so that’s something I’m really looking forward to. Hopefully Thanksgiving 2020 will be much better than 2019!

Catching up on my health

“I know that in the grand scheme of things my medical problems are not nearly as devastating as other have to deal with, and for that I am grateful. That doesn’t mean I’m not worried about the future, though. What if this is a symptom of a more serious affliction? This is another bridge to cross later, if needed.”
08/04/18 webpage post

Written in August 2019
Last August I was a lot more optimistic about my medical problems than I am now. Honestly, I’m glad I didn’t know back then that I’d be having just as much, if not more, difficulties a year later. So far I’ve been out of work for almost three weeks and trying to make the most of this time. The upside is that my stress level is significantly lower than when I was working, but I am still just as tired as I was before. That makes getting anything done quite difficult, especially when I’m trying to make progress on my long list of “must do” activities during this leave of absence. I really hate that my body isn’t allowing be to be more productive with this free time. My best friend recommended finding three things that I can accomplish each day to keep my spirits up. Apparently this is something that folks who are suffering from chronic illnesses are counseled to do so that the days don’t bleed into one another with nothing getting done. So I’ve been maintaining my daily to-do lists and trying to cross off at least three items each day, no mater how small. It certainly makes me feel like less of a useless sack of skin.

January 2020 addition
My leave of absence from work turned out to be five months long. During that time I had good days where I was able to function more or less like a normal human being, but those were greatly outnumbered by the bad days where I was lucky to change out of my pajamas. Sometimes being upright for any period of time is just too much for my body. And forget leaving the house! Fortunately I did make some progress on my diagnosis during that timeframe. After exhausting the usefulness of my original neurologist, I found a good rheumatologist back in November. The first round of blood work that he ordered returned a positive result on the Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) Test, which means that something is amiss. This prompted a second round of blood work right after Thanksgiving. (Slight digression, but I had a miserable experience that time around. Two different phlebotomists had to stick me five times, and tap both arms in order to get enough blood or the order. The insides of my elbows looked like they had gotten repeatedly punched.) When I went back to the doctor in mid-December to review the new numbers there was more data, but no clear conclusion. As well as the ANA, I have a positive rheumatoid factor, which is another indication of an autoimmune disease. The kicker is that none of this is enough to assign a specific name to my health problems. It’s pretty obvious that I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), at least not at this point in my life, and I also don’t have full-blown lupus. A truly positive discovery on both counts, but it leaves me in a sort of limbo. The rheumatologist used the phrase undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD) – in my case, an affliction with markers for both lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but falling somewhere in between the two. It’s frustrating to still have so many unanswered questions, but it’s also a relief to feel like my medical team is making progress. As a first measure, I started taking a lupus medication that may or may not alleviate my symptoms. I won’t know for sure for about six months, though. Still, it’s something.

The bottom line is that I am battling at least two different chronic conditions simultaneously (PLMD and UCTD), and I probably will be for the rest of my life. Nothing is ever going to be the same again. I know that pretty grim, but I don’t see it that way. It just means that I have to adjust my expectations going forward. When my energy is low I have to budget it for important things like work and exercise. Little things are going to fall by the wayside, and I have to be ok with that. I’ll survive, and I might even start having fun again.

Just a silly story from the end of 2019

Written on 1/1/20
Happy New Year, everyone! I’m sitting at my dining room table wrapped in a blanket (my thermostat is currently inoperable so no central heat) trying to figure out what to do on this first day of January. New Year’s Day 2020 looks a lot different when compared to previous iterations. First of all, it’s 10:30 AM and I’m still in my pajamas. My usual January 1st tradition is to go to Disneyland in the early morning, before the large crowds arrive, but due to my myriad of health issues that is not something that I can count on being able to do. I went to bed at 10 PM last night because I wanted to give myself the best chance of fulfilling my tradition, but when I woke up at 6:30 AM today my body told me it wasn’t going to happen. I have gotten much better at listening to my body when it tells me I don’t have the energy for a particular activity, so I wasn’t going to push myself. Hence why I’m still in my pajamas!

So my energy level was so low on January 1st that I never even finished this post! Having chronic illnesses means that nonessential activities often fall by the wayside. I really hate it, but sometimes I’m forced to operate in survival mode where rest trumps everything. That was basically the entirety of my New Year’s Day. However, one of my goals for 2020 is to blog regularly. (In order to avoid undue stress I’m not going to explicitly define what “regularly” means. At least not yet.) Making New Year’s resolutions have never worked out well for me so I’m not going to write a traditional list or anything. I just have a few goals for the year that I want to work on. So for my first post of 2020 here is a little story from the end of 2019!

I took my large suitcase to Tallahassee for Christmas because I was going to be there for a full week, and December weather in Florida weather can be extremely variable. I needed clothes for warm weather, plus coats of different weights in case winter decided to show up for any period of time. This suitcase was a Christmas gift from my ex-husband back in 2008 (see the first photo above) when we were traveling to New Zealand for the holidays. An amazing present. It was a really nice (and expensive) suitcase, but back then luggage didn’t have the multi-directional spinner wheels like they do now. A suitcase only had two wheels so you could tilt it by the handle and drag it behind you through the airport. Not ideal these days, but still perfectly functional, even at 11 years-old. Except for the antiquated wheel technology this suitcase is perfect. First of all, it’s bright green (i.e., easily identifiable on any baggage claim carousel). Also, it’s big enough to hold a lot, but not so big that I have to worry about it being over any airline’s checked baggage weight limit. I had absolutely no complaints about this piece of luggage…until December 29th. On my way home from the holidays I flew from Tallahassee to Orange County with a layover in Dallas. I was tired when my flight arrived at the John Wayne airport that evening so as soon as my suitcase appeared in baggage claim I was happy to grab it and start my journey back home. As I began the long walk to the parking structure I wondered why my bag felt so sluggish. Maybe the wheels didn’t function well on the airport carpet? I wasn’t sure. But when I got outside onto the concrete I knew something was amiss. Upon further inspection one of the two wheels on my trusty green suitcase was gone (see the second photo above). So sad! (And so much harder to drag to my car with only one wheel!) He had flown his last flight. Farewell to my trusty traveling companion of 11 years! You will be missed!

Major NaBloPoMo fail!

Who has two thumbs and wasn’t even able to keep up with NaBloPoMo for a full week? This gal! The writing was already on the wall by day 3 when I first mentioned my exhaustion, and it only got worse after that. I’m not sure what precisely prevented me from publishing anything on day 6, but I’m sure it had something to do with being tired. Big surprise, I know! I looked back at my day planner to see if I could figure it out, but there were no entries for November 6th or 7th. That general means that I slept an excessive number of hours those two days. Unexplained fatigue is no joke, folks! I guarantee that blogging wasn’t the only thing that was neglected in that time period. When I started the month I was afraid that my health would jeopardize this blogging challenge, but I wanted to attempt it anyway. If nothing else, I got five posts out of my abbreviated NaBloPoMo that I probably wouldn’t have written otherwise. In spite of my medical issues I do still have things going on in my life that I want to document. Like my insane Thanksgiving yesterday. Stay tuned for that post, hopefully this weekend.

First challenge (NaBloPoMo day 3)

It’s only the 3rd day of November I’ve already hit my first hurdle of this blogging challenge. It’s only 5:30 PM so I theoretically have plenty of time to write and publish a post before I go to bed, but I’m completely exhausted. And I’m not just talking about a little sleepiness. I feel like I have a weight inside my head that’s pressing down on my brain. That’s the best way I can describe my fatigue. This weight makes my eyelids heavy and my thoughts sluggish. If not for my stupid restless legs I could very easily lie down and pass out at a moment’s notice. (Trust me, I tried to nap this afternoon since I had been awake since 5 AM, but my legs were not having it. I’m running on many, many ounces of Coke Zero right now.) None of this is exactly conducive to producing blog posts that I’m inclined to publish. In fact, it’s taken me multiple hours to finalize even this single paragraph. I’m just so weary. But for now I will attempt to soldier on. Maybe tomorrow will provide more suitable circumstances for writing something of substance!

Health recap

“I know this is a temporary state and I that I am strong enough to get through it. Life isn’t always easy, but I’m hoping that it won’t be long before I see the light at the end of this particular tunnel.”
06/08/18 webpage post

I’m on medical leave from work now, which is both a blessing and a curse. For one thing, it has given me way too much time to argue with people on the internet, as you can tell by my previous post. Responding to jerks on Facebook was not the topic I intended to cover upon my return to blogging after a long hiatus! Instead, I wanted to start writing about the reason for said hiatus in more detail. It’s been a long road so far, and I still have quite a ways to go.

I started documenting my health issues in May 2018 after my first sleep study, but the first onset of symptoms was about two years before that. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been suffering in one form or another for over three years now. It’s exhausting in more ways than one. At first I thought I simply had mildly irritating Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) brought on by a sharp increase in the number of miles I ran every week, but it escalated from there. The “twinges” and “shivering” I felt in my legs when I went to bed at night became full-blown cyclic muscle spasms and involuntary leg movements that completely prevented me from falling asleep. It took me hours to get to sleep every night so I was either late to work the next day or severely sleep deprived. When I finally sought medical help the first GP I went to ran some blood work and told me I was anemic and needed to take iron supplements. Even after I told her that I am a carrier for a blood disorder that contradicted her diagnosis she offered no additional options. Fortunately the next GP I consulted was much more helpful. She initially gave me Xanax (which made me feel sick) and then Ambien as a sleep aid. The Ambien put me to sleep very quickly, but I still woke up exhausted the next morning. That’s when the first sleep study was conducted and my case of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) was verified. What a relief that was. After ramping up on a medication for RLS/Parkinson’s Disease I got a much-needed reprieve from my limbs flailing about all night long.

However, my daytime fatigue persisted. As I wrote back in August 2018, “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.” This wacky schedule was not at all conducive to being a functional member of society. I started seeing a neurologist shortly after establishing my PLMD to determine the right cocktail of medications to help me live a normal life again. Adding a couple of other nighttime anti-seizure drugs to my treatment (Gabapentin and Klonopin) didn’t seem to make much of a difference, but I faithfully took them anyway. Eventually I broke down and took a 3-month leave of absence from work in order to rest and hopefully recuperate. My third and current GP, who is seriously amazing, ordered more blood work during this timeframe to check for autoimmune markers, but none of the numbers were glaringly out of range. So I went back to the neurologist, but after another (Maybe my 3rd? I’ve lost count.) sleep study in January 2019 ruled out narcolepsy he was stumped. Not a good sign. His last ditch effort to restore my energy was to give me a prescription for a stimulant to help me stay awake during the day. And for a while I thought it worked! Every morning I would pop one of these “pep pills,” as I called them, and I felt like a normal human being again. I was elated! Just before the end of my leave of absence I was confident that although I didn’t have a definitive diagnosis, I was ready to go back to work full-time. I was wrong.

Even with daytime and nighttime medications that were supposed to alleviate my symptoms, adding 40-hour work weeks back to my routine practically put me back where I started. My body just couldn’t sustain 8 or 9 hours of work per day, plus regular exercise, and all of the other stressors of daily life. Even increasing the dosage of my stimulant by 50% wasn’t enough. I was struggling to do the things I absolutely had to do, and I was missing out on just about all enjoyable activities due to my extreme fatigue. Basically, I was miserable. It was hard to explain to my friends and co-workers without sounding seriously depressed, but I felt like a useless human being. I love my job, but I wasn’t pulling my weight there and it killed me. Then outside of work I wasn’t adequately taking care of myself or my home environment due to lack of energy. All I wanted to do was sleep for days, and even then I didn’t feel any better! It was so hard not to beat myself up for these failings, even though I knew it wasn’t my fault. If I had a choice I would certainly not choose to feel this way! Eventually I reached my breaking point again and took another leave of absence from work, and that brings us up to the present.

The bottom line is that something is wrong with me and I have to figure out what it is. I am suffering from some sort of difficult to diagnose chronic illness (or illnesses) and someone, somewhere will be able to help me treat it. I just need to find that particular doctor or facility. So far I’ve been out of work for two weeks. While it’s been such a relief to be able to sleep when I need to and as many hours as I need to, I am starting to feel disconnected with the world. I am lacking a purpose. I’ve been working on finding some comprehensive medical care while I’m on leave from work, but I don’t have anything definitive set up yet. It’s hard to get much done when fatigue is your constant companion. It’s a struggle, but I know I’ll find answers eventually. Being positive isn’t easy, especially on the days where I can barely drag myself out of bed, but imagining a future where I feel normal again and can be the engineer, runner, and friend that I used to be is what keeps me going.

Haters gonna hate

Much to my dismay I’ve found someone in the running for my second least favorite person on the internet. It’s another author/blogger/social media presence whose publicly-shared beliefs are in direct opposition to my own. To minimize the length of this post I won’t go into too much detail on this person today, but instead I’ll outline an encounter I had with one of her followers. Unfortunately this author attracts men who don’t have much of an opinion of women. At least not ones who refuse to conform to their own personal standards of how our gender should behave. I think you’ll see what I mean shortly.

I’m going to share, word for word, a comment that one particular man made a few days ago. I can’t remember all of the context that lead up to it, but it had something to do with women having minds of their own. The horror! This guy objected to my questions and decided to go with a personal attack rather than attempting to use his brain and engage in an actual conversation. That’s when you know someone can’t back up their statements. I’ve been called all sorts of names in online discussions, but this dude found my blog, read it for a substantial amount of time, and then crafted a Facebook comment in an attempt to shame me for my views.

I’ll address each of his allegations individually:

  • 40 something feminist (divorced) –> True! I happily embrace all of those labels.
  • Typical post-wall ‘Strong independent woman’ –> Partially true. I had to look this one up, but “post-wall” means past my fertility window. Since I’m not actively trying to get pregnant I have no way to verify this one. As for “strong independent woman,” hell yes this is true! Putting this phrase in quotes is meant to make it demeaning, but I am the living embodiment of all three of those words.
  • Free tax dollar funded college degree –> False! While I did go to college on someone else’s dime, I earned my tuition from the Bright Futures Scholarship, which is funded by the Florida Lottery. Not tax dollars. And how is paying nothing to earn an engineering degree from a highly respected state university in any way shameful?
  • Attacks other women that don’t agree with her twisted views –> False! I simply write blog posts responding to online content that I object to. Isn’t that what everyone on the interwebz is doing in one way or another? My “twisted” views, as this dude calls them, aren’t any less valid because he doesn’t agree with them.
  • Regularly see’s [sic] a neurologist for “brain” problems –> True! It’s no secret that I have I have health issues, and a neurologist does in fact treat brain conditions. Moving on.
  • Pushes ‘equality’ –> True! But with another bizarre use of quotations (the third so far). As if equality is a bad thing. Someone once told me that if you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression. To any men who feel “oppressed” because women are being given equal rights and opportunities, get used to it. We aren’t going away.
  • Gloats about her female privilege on her hate blog –> Maybe? I’m not sure what “female privilege” is, exactly, since women have so many well-documented disadvantages in this world, but there is a possibility that while writing about my life I have unwittingly described some benefit of being female. However, I do object to the “hate” descriptor being applied to my blog.
  • Has self esteem issues / emotional train wreck –> Partially true. Everyone is a mess sometimes and I have written about some of my lowest instances openly and honestly. It helped me work through the trauma of those deep valleys, and hopefully it also helped someone who is going through a period like that of their own.
  • Takes a cocktail of SSRI drugs –> False! One SSRI does not a “cocktail” make, but thanks for playing. I’m pretty sure Lexapro saved my life when I hit my emotional rock bottom a couple of years ago. I felt utterly helpless not knowing the extent of my health issues. I was crying on my couch while texting my best friend, and that’s when I knew I needed medical help. I would shout it from the rooftops that I take Lexapro if it would help normalize mental health issues.
  • Does “retail therapy” for depression –> True! As long I spend responsibly I’m not ashamed of this coping mechanism.
  • Can’t sleep –> Partially true. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping due to my Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD), and other times I sleep 20+ hours at a time due to unexplained fatigue. Again, how is this something I would ever be ashamed of?
  • Totally loyal and obedient to her Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex masters, but can’t obey a man –> This one is really reaching and I don’t have the energy to unpack all of its baggage. As far as “can’t obey a man” goes, my former marriage obviously can’t be explained in a few sentences, but I’ll try. My ex-husband wanted me to do everything his way and never complain. I tried. I really did. I wanted my marriage to work so I poured every ounce of myself into making him happy. But it was never enough. He was always dissatisfied. Eventually I realized that I didn’t have to live that way and I divorced him. And out of all of the things in this insipid list, the one that I am least ashamed of is my divorce. Women don’t exist purely to satisfy the whims of men, and no one should be forced to stay with a person who believes that.

So if by some chance this dude manages to find his way back to my blog to do some more “research,” at least he’ll know exactly what I think of him. Nothing.

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!