health


I have what feels like a sinus infection, which is quite lovely1 and definitely didn’t happen on a week where I need to be at my best.2 It’s not like I have a pulmonary function test in around twelve hours.3 A month ago, I definitely didn’t schedule my road test for my driver license4 for this coming Thursday.5 So it’s not like this is an inconvenience of the grandest kind.6 Yeah, this definitely isn’t pleasant.7 I would have rescheduled my pulmonary function test, but I’m actually hoping that my inability to breathe through my nose8 will be helped during the test. There’s also the hope that the inability to breathe properly in general will be helped by doing this test.9 If I hadn’t waited until last Thursday to get my driver permit, I wouldn’t worry so much about this impacting the road test.10 It still might be okay, unless I’m unable to practice tomorrow. If that happens, it sort of fucks with any plans that I made for driving myself around after the 15th.11  Keep your fingers crossed for me. I’m determined to do this, even if it is the fucking worst idea I’ve ever had.12 It’s not like I can go to the doctor to get something to treat this.13 So I shall suffer in silence.14 Think happy thoughts for me, and maybe my suffering15 won’t last that long.   Not. ↩Oh, it so totally did. ↩Yep. ↩That thing that I put off getting for almost 17 years. ↩Oh, but I did. ↩If you haven’t noticed, this post is dripping with sarcasm–kind of like how my sinuses are dripping with…Sorry for the imagery. ↩Understatement of the year. ↩Not an understatement. ↩I’ve got high hopes… ↩But I thought that giving myself a week in between would give me plenty of time. ↩Dammit. ↩Surely, it can’t be. ↩Thanks, immune system. ↩I’m going to whine a fuck-ton, so you better get used to it. ↩And yours. ↩

That I Shall Never Breathe Again


I write a lot, not as much on here as I used to, but I still write a lot. For better or worse, most of the writing tends to be on Twitter, though sometimes it is on Medium or Tumblr. Occasionally, there’s a Facebook post thrown in there. Can you digress in a first paragraph? So Twitter is a major platform for me to express myself. Sometimes I make pithy polls. Typically, the polls get between 2 and 20 votes. Lately, they’ve gotten a few more. When I responded to a person claiming that the Hamilton cast’s rebuke of Mike Pence was a vicious attack, the popularity of my pithy poll was easily attributed to Elon James retweeting it: Which is more vicious:@Sanrenkay @elonjames @maggieNYT — Janet Morris (@janersm) November 19, 2016 Last night, I stumbled across this response on Medium by Tom Steele to a post on New York prisoners being allowed (on average) 11 pads or tampons per month for use during their periods: One has t0 wonder if there is more to this story. 2.8 pads per woman per week, if I read that correctly, is 11 per month which seems like a lot. Some women would be expected to need less and it is hard to imagine many women needing more than that. I fully support providing the basic hygiene products required, like food, clothes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, towels, tampons, etc… I responded with an explanation of why 11 is an unfathomable number of pads. I followed that up with a screenshot and a pithy poll. Raise your hand if you have ever needed more than 11 pads or tampons for a period. pic.twitter.com/fA38Oeq222 — Janet Morris (@janersm) November 30, 2016 #period #periods #livetweetyourperiod #feminism #reprohealth (please RT) During your period do/did you typically go through: — Janet Morris (@janersm) November 30, 2016 I thought the maximum number of votes would be about 20. As of this moment, there are 8,937 votes in that poll. My mentions have been filled with stories by people who have (or have had) periods of all sorts, whether they’re long, short, or regular in length; heavy, light, or medium in flow; or occur regularly or irregularly. I’ve learned about supportive friends, clueless relatives, and how many people are frustrated by how little they’ve been taught or that they know about their own bodies. I understand all of that because I’ve experienced some of it, and because I’ve seen others go through similar struggles. I’ve gone through moments where I was excited because so many people were sharing their stories1 to moments where I just wanted to throw my iPod at the wall because so many people were sharing their stories. I wanted them to feel free to share them. I love the joking. But I’m confused about how to deal with all of it. When people ask questions, I want to be able to answer them. When they say something funny, I want to be able to laugh with them. When I empathize with something they’ve been through, I want to express it. I’m worried that I’m being rude if I don’t respond. I’m also worried that all I will ever be talking about again is periods. I know it’s only been like 24 hours, and that this will die down. But this experience is just a bit mind-blowing. I worry that Mr. Steele, as annoying as I find him, will be harassed. I worry that there might be other repercussions, and I feel guilty about that. It’s a little weird when I wanted a boycott over his reaction to emotional abuse and bullying, but I don’t want him to have any personal suffering over this stuff.2 He seems like he would be the kind of guy who would laugh this sort of thing off, and maybe he will. Or maybe he’ll learn a little from it. I can hope that’s what will happen, but I will always worry about the possible negatives because that’s what I do. I worry that maybe his Christmas vacation will be spent trying to ruin my Christmas dullness. As I typed that paragraph, 34 notifications piled up on Twitter.3 This is new. This is different. This is weird. This is life with social media…and I really need to learn to stop doing my pithy polls. When Mara Wilson shared it, I fangirled out. Gayle Forman commenting about it made me fangirl a bit, too. I think I have all of her books. ↩What I truly want from both is for him to learn the facts and not promote ignorance. ↩Oy with the poodles already. ↩

Accidentally Popular



My father’s anger issues are something that I’ve mentioned a few times over the years. Whatever is causing the dementia/memory issues seems to have made those issues even more prevalent. Any time that my mom opens her mouth, he yells at her. She could be talking to me and he will snipe at her. He’s thrown things. He is mad over everything and convinced that the world is out to get him. I can’t talk him down. I used to be able to be the voice of reason between the two of them, but his rage gets worse when I try. That rage has had ongoing consequences for me. He grabbed my right wrist months ago and I had some pretty bad bruising; it’s still weak and painful, and it pops when I move it. I told my therapist, but I refuse to get it checked out by a doctor because I know that they might have to report it to cops.1  My mom told me that it would be better if, when he’s acting out, I didn’t say anything to him about it. If he does something, we don’t confront him because the blame falls on us–even if it doesn’t involve us in any way. I thought he was scary before all of this, but I never knew just how bad he could get. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. I keep making excuses for him because I know that even though he’s always had anger issues that something else is making him like this. This isn’t my dad. This is like my grandfather and I don’t want my dad to be like that man. I want my dad to be himself again. I want him to talk to his doctors about what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling; and I want him to be honest about his symptoms. He has lied to them and that’s impeding his treatment. I want him to let one or both of us talk to his doctors. How are they going to know about the rage? How will they know about the anxiety attacks he has every week when he goes to the grocery store with my mom?2 How will they figure out what’s going on in his head if he won’t tell them? Mom tried to ask him what she could do because she’s trying to figure out how they can get along. He doesn’t want her to try because he doesn’t think that anything will make their relationship better. In other words, he wants to be angry with her and take out all of his anxiety & aggression on her. This isn’t healthy and it isn’t right. I just want things to be better. The code of ethics for a social worker prevents her from sharing the information. ↩He won’t let her go with me instead of him. ↩

Tales from the Angry Side


1
If you’re near Greenville, consider boycotting @B937AlltheHits or @HawkAndTom for Tom Steele’s normalization of harassment and abuse. https://t.co/eLWfjkVktF — Janet Morris (@janersm) November 14, 2016 Two weeks ago, radio “personality” Tom Steele told an online acquaintance that his generation believed in the myth that “sticks and stones” wouldn’t actually cause you harm. As someone who was emotionally abused and bullied, I called bullshit. I also made a small suggestion that people in his market boycott his show. Over the weekend, after I’d all but forgotten about the whole thing, he decided that it was time to fight back. I’m going to keep a running total of how many insults he manages to throw my way. @janersm @B937AlltheHits Ahh, the last resort of the upset liberal – squelching free speech. That's what got you into this mess. LOL — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 @janersm Trying to stop free expression through financial threats is exactly “trying to squelch” free speech. You live in pretend-world. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 Before he challenged the tweet, my boycott statement had no likes or retweets. Those only started afterward. Even by his own admission, my “boycott” was unsuccessful. So the “financial threat” is nonexistent, or it was before he decided to draw attention to the “boycott”. Also, it is absolutely hilarious to me that I’m trying to squelch his right to free speech. As I told him last night, boycotts are an expression in the free market of speech by consumers. Insults so far: 11 .@janersm Debate is free expression. But you attempt to stop the speech from occurring. That’s NOT a form of free speech. It’s suppression. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 He’s correct that debate is free expression, but he’s incorrect in suggesting that boycotts are a suppression of free speech. He’s allowed to say whatever he wants. Consumers get to decide how they want to respond to his words. .@janersm I don’t try to shut you up. Just debate, see the difference? In your world you are right and everyone else isn’t allowed to speak. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 He actually didn’t try to debate. Ever. Anyone who attempts to debate him is accused of whining. It seems to be his go-to thing. Insults so far: 22 @janersm I never said that. You either didn’t comprehend or are deliberately misrepresenting it. That’s ok. Have a nice life. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 This is what we call gaslighting. You’ll notice similarities between this sort of response and the response of Donald Trump when people quote him. It probably isn’t surprising that Mr. Steele is .@janersm You’ve made your point. Clearly it isn’t a good idea to post on medium because you risk boycotts from anyone who disagrees. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 My point was actually that it’s not okay to be an asshole or push the “sticks and stones” narrative. .@janersm You do have the right. But trying 2 boycott is suppressing free speech. Debating the issue is FINE! Making others shut up is not. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 Which is why he wants to make me shut up. .@janersm You tried to. You didn’t like what I said, instead of debating, you immediately tried to use a boycott to make me stop speaking. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 Actually, my first reaction was to discuss it with him. We did go back and forth on Medium, then I didn’t hear from him again. I made the tweet over his willingness to normalize abuse/bullying. Trying to go the “sticks and stones” route is going to turn off anyone who has any understanding of the impact of emotional abuse or bullying on the human mind and body. He shouldn’t be surprised that someone didn’t respond positively to his remarks. Surely it isn’t the first time. .@janersm Just because it’s not successful doesn’t mean it isn’t an attempt 2 make someone stop speaking because u don’t like what they say. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 27, 2016 In other words, the financial threat by me wasn’t real, but he needed someone to yell at because he was angry over something in his life.3 @janersm I did not normalize harassment or abuse. You just don’t understand plain English. Some people are too stupid to argue with. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 28, 2016 Yes, he did normalize it. And he’s about to continue to normalize it. Insults so far: 445 .@janersm Instead of boycotting, why not ask them to read your lame article and my response and judge for themselves? I think I know why… — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 28, 2016 It wasn’t actually my article, it was Kiva Bay’s and it was awesome. Insults so far: 56 @janersm I observed that. I didn’t encourage it. I’m fat and ugly. I made that clear. I said get over it – like I did. I’ve tried 2 explain. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 28, 2016 I tried explaining to him again that the main issue was with the “sticks and stones” aspect. He may have gotten over the bullying, but he still seems to have anger issues. @janersm A generation of people who make mountains out of molehills. That’s my point. You won’t even hear when I try to explain it. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 28, 2016 Like responding to a weeks old tweet? Oh wait, a millennial didn’t do that. @janersm I didn’t justfy it. I told u what my dad told me. IGNORE them. Don’t GIVE THEM POWER 2 hurt u. They ONLY have power if u give it. — The Hawk N Tom Show (@hawkandtom) November 28, 2016 His dad was wrong. @janersm […]

Sticks and Stones and Hawk N’ Tom



Today was my last daily injection of Vitamin B-12. Now I’m going to weekly injections. Eight weeks from tonight, I’ll be back on monthly injections. So far I can’t tell that the shots have done anything. I only know that every time I give myself a shot, I feel more exhausted. It’s a paradoxical effect, but it’s one I’ve always had with B-12. My breathing is still crappy. My heart rate is through the roof. My dizziness and tendency toward disorientation has gotten worse. I was dizzy for about 3 hours last night after hearing a cowbell effect on a Mississippi State sports story; I wasn’t dizzy before the effect played. Sounds have often thrown me off a bit, but never quite that bad. I still have a couple of weeks before I’m supposed to go to the pulmonologist. Keep your fingers crossed that it won’t get worse. Speaking of appointments, tomorrow is dad’s appointment for the neurologist. Since his MRI, EEG, Doppler, and standard memory tests all came back normal, he’s convinced that he’s not got dementia. He thinks it is all just regular age-related memory loss. I’m afraid the doctor will feed into that. I don’t think he’s told him how dizzy he gets or about his headaches. I don’t know if he’s told him just how bad his memory loss has been. I don’t know if he’s told him how angry he’s gotten. I know that there is something wrong with him and I don’t know what it is. And I have this horrible feeling that it’s only going to get worse.  

A Bruising Hiatus


Last Monday, I moved my appointments with the hematologist up. The lab tests were done on Tuesday afternoon. My actual visit with the hematologist is tomorrow. Well, I assume it’s with him. It could be a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner. I’m actually worried now that I’m not really anemic. Sure, my skin is looking a bit more gray than it usually does, I’ve been covered up under a blanket on 80°F+ days, I crave protein like a person on a planet made of lettuce, and I get winded by just picking up a book,1 but I could just be crazy. I mean, we all know that I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. What if I’m just going further down the rabbit hole that is my brain? That could be all it is. But I know that this freaking out feeling that I have right now is the same sort of thing I always go through when I’m actually sick. I know that I have a tendency to worry about things that aren’t worth worrying about, but I’m also pretty damn certain that my anemia is something that is worth worrying about. And if I’m not in an anemic state, then I need to figure out why I’ve felt so shitty for so long. So if I’m not anemic,2 I need to know that. But I know that it is pretty unlikely that I’m not anemic right now. According to labs, my serum iron has headed downward at a steady rate. That rate was meant to hit the anemic stage in December, but I had two periods over the past several months that lasted at least 2 weeks and were extremely heavy. That would have sped it up slightly. Medically, the diagnosis is in the bag. Maybe I’m just worried that it’ll be low and I’ll have to get an infusion and those scare the shit out of me. Ugh. I try not to freak out like this, but I’m like sitting here shivering3 trying to convince myself that I’m either not nuts or totally nuts when it comes to this very issue. Sometimes I hate my brain and my body. It feels like they team up to make me miserable. And in the past 32 years, they have gotten quite good at accomplishing their goal. Photo credit: euthman via VisualHunt / CC BY No, really. ↩And I probably am. ↩It’s 76°F outside right now. ↩

What If I’m Just Nuts



After I nearly fainted after getting out of the pool, I quit exercising. It’s not a permanent thing. I will start back after I get cleared by my doctor. That will probably be after an infusion or two. Between the wooziness that day and the constant shortness of breath, I just can’t justify the risk right now. And somehow I feel like I’m a failure for not being physically able to do this one little thing. What’s that about? I know my body has limitations, but I don’t like what those limitations mean. I don’t like that my body seems to be fragile compared to most. I know, I know. Being disabled means that there are things that are more challenging to me than to able-bodied people, but knowing that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to deal with.

I Haven’t Been Exercising Lately


My veins suck. They have all kinds of structural issues and when combined with my chronic dehydration and other chronic health issues, they don’t like to play well with needles. I don’t expect blood draws to go smoothly. I’ve learned over the years that most phlebotomists (and some other medical professionals) aren’t going to believe me about just how bad they are. I’ve also learned that if they stay calm, it takes a shorter time, so instead of chewing them out about what’s going on, I smile and reassure them. But if I could tell them a few things, I would tell them: Stop hitting me. You may classify it as tapping or slapping, but it’s painful and it won’t help you. Slapping does not make it easier to find the veins. It doesn’t make them pop up. For me, it seems to make them “hide” because the stimuli is so painful; also, I have a connective tissue condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, so I’m prone to bruising, which make it even harder to spot the veins. The tapping/slapping/hitting also can damage the blood that you’re attempting to draw and mess with the results. I know I’m in my thirties, but my veins still roll. Every time I specifically tell one that my veins roll, they say that I’m too young for that to happen. Veins rolling is mainly associated with the elderly, but it is also associated with people who have connective tissue disorders. This is why you don’t continue a saline drip into an already blown vein. (Twitter) If I tell you my vein is blowing, then you need to listen to me. I know my veins better than anyone else, and I should since I’ve had them my whole life. I know what a blowing vein feels like, and I know what it feels like once one has already blown. For me, if I get a really cold burning sensation right where the needle is, I know that that needle better get out of my arm. I once told a nurse that the vein was blowing and she ignored me. She continued to work with the vein and even tried flushing it to start an IV. If you’ve never experienced the joy of saline flushing through an infiltrated (blown) vein, then consider yourself to be extremely lucky. I already drank the water. I am aware that being dehydrated impacts whether or not your veins are visible. Before scheduled lab tests, I make sure to drink even more water than I normally do. It doesn’t help. Stop being cocky and trust your patient. I know that some of these people are really good at their jobs, but the cockier they are the more likely they are to have problems finding my veins. And I’ve talked to other people with bad veins who have noticed this to be a common trait. Like I mentioned with blown veins, I know my veins better than anyone else. If I tell you that my veins suck, then I’m probably telling the truth. Even if the patient doesn’t actually have bad veins, the phlebotomist needs to behave like the patient does. What is the worst that will happen? Be confident. Yes, I want people who aren’t cocky, but if you’re nervous, you will miss the vein. Just be calm and respectful. Forget the gadgets. The only thing that was ever learned about my veins with a vein-finder was that they had more branches than most…and that they have are super-deep and really small. Using heating packs might help a little, but a warm towel or blanket works just as well. Oddly, a blood pressure cuff works better than a tourniquet. Tourniquets should die a painful death. Okay, back to the connective tissue disorder and its complications. If you’ve watched many episodes Law and Order or CSI:, then you may have heard of petechiae. It happens when the capillaries (really little blood vessels) explode and spew their bloody guts into the tissue that makes up the skin. Petechiae isn’t painful, but tourniquets are. (Blood pressure cuffs also cause petechiae and pain, but veins pop up quicker with them than with tourniquets.) Ask me about my allergies before you stick me. I know that it’s the patient’s responsibility to tell the phlebotomist and I try to get across that medical adhesive and latex are a no-go, but if they aren’t listening or they forget, it helps if they ask again just to make sure. Again, this is one of those what’s the worst that will happen things. Prepare your needle and equipment before you go hunting for a vein. A lot of people like to hunt for my vein before they have the needle ready to go in, which means they find one, walk away, grab their stuff, wipe me down, and then go to stick me. Veins that roll are not veins that you can just walk away from and expect to still be there when you get back. My veins have other plans. Stop digging. It hurts and it typically leads to a nerve being hit. That is pretty unpleasant. And by “pretty unpleasant” I mean that I would rather walk barefoot for 5 minutes down in Antarctica than have a needle hit a nerve. Sharp pointy things do not play well with nerves. Oh, so now you think they’re too hard to find? No shit, Sherlock. The exclamation of “these are hard to find” is always one of those things that makes me want to roll my eyes. I know that some people might lie about the difficulty, but I don’t. I don’t need your affirmation that they are hard to find. I know that they are. I’m the one who has been stuck in the palm of the hand and the top of the foot when safer/better areas were not found. I’m the one who has had to wait for the charge nurse to come do the stick or for the anesthesiologist […]

Stop Hitting Me



I was going to call the hematologist today & chickened out. I think I may be putting it off because I’m afraid of moving up the infusions. They actually do kinda scare me—well, the killer headache aspect. But I know I need to go through with them.  I also need to get my hip checked out, which I’ve been saying for months. I don’t know if that would involve going to just the family doctor or the family doctor plus physical therapy and/or an orthopedist. I don’t even know if I would be seeing the same orthopedist. And I don’t know if anything could really be done. It’s either a subluxation or tendinitis. Treatment for either would probably suck, and, until I get the anemia situation under control, I don’t really have the energy to deal with it.  Dad got a letter from the neurologist saying his MRI was normal. To him, that means nothing is wrong and this is all normal age-related stuff.1 But he doesn’t understand that a person can have a 100% normal MRI & still have dementia—even though he and I have gone over that. This week. I don’t know if he has forgotten it or is in denial. I know he doesn’t want the diagnosis to be real, none of us do, but the family doctor and the psychiatrist have both said all signs point to dementia. But we have to accept it because there is nothing that can change that fact.  And since it’s October I’ve started worrying about other things. Ridiculous things. Like that now that Nana is no longer living on her own, and is in the nursing home, do my parents & I have a place to go on Thanksgiving & Christmas? Or do those become just another day for us. I mean technically Christmas has been that way for years—when you don’t have presents & don’t put up decorations, holidays kinda lose their magic. But I don’t know what will happen this year, if my aunt will host, if we’re invited if she does, if we’re going to the nursing home that day, if I try to get everyone in my house to stay awake long enough to watch parades or anything. I just don’t know.  And it’s stupid that I cry about that a lot lately. But I just want one or two good, non-stressful days. I want life to make some kind of sense again.  I just feel lost.  His EEG and Doppler were yesterday and may take a few more days to get results. ↩

Chicken Janet


Seriously, this year has been so unpleasant, and not just because Donald Trump is running for President. With Nana going in the hospital, then the nursing home, dad’s health decline, everyone dying (Connie, Jay, Andrea, Joey), my depression coming out to play, the anemia rearing its ugly head, etc., it’s just been quite yucky.1 But it’s had decent moments. I almost had a paid article on xoJane, which encouraged me to submit more pitches & to start entering my poetry in literary magazines. That hasn’t resulted in any publications yet, but I just started. Besides, I know that most writers get a lot of rejections before they get their first acceptance. My time will come.  I’m sorry I haven’t been writing more. I just feel like shit a lot of the time lately. And it’s hard to encourage yourself to talk about how you feel like shit when you’re feeling that way. I also have started feeling like I’m too self-centered and don’t really give enough attention to the people I care about. I will try to do better.  Sometimes the most childish word is the best. ↩

Ready for This Year to Be Over