Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Cancer Files

Stupid people make me blindingly angry. I realize this is fairly common. Why should I be any different than the rest of you?

But my Facebook news feed gives me daily exposure to a very specific kind of stupidity, one that seems to occur in otherwise highly intelligent individuals, and in an area I care very deeply and passionately about and it makes me a little bit crazy. And every so often it boils up and I have to rant about it for a while and all of my immediate circle are very tired of hearing me preach to the choir and thus its your turn blog friends.

I wanna talk about cancer. The Big C. Its everywhere. Everybody knows somebody who has had it, or they've had it themselves. Its ALL OVER the news. I swear theres a new headline every day. And believe me, I get it.

My parents, between the two of them, have had cancer FOUR times. No, to the best of our knowledge, they did not at any point grow up playing in toxic waste.

I need to shoot down, rant about, nitpick and otherwise ruminate on a couple of things I've seen online that just make mah eye start twitchin'.

1. "We spend all this money trying to cure cancer. Why haven't we found a cure already?"

Fine! Here's some more but I expect results by morning!

The profound ignorance of these individuals is revealed in the very nature of the question. The big problem and the reason why we haven't found "the cure to cancer" is because "Cancer" is not one disease. Its a whole category of illnesses, many of which have about as much in common with each other as the common cold does to the ebola virus (i.e. "barely harmful" to "kill you dead before we can even look at ya").

You're not fighting ONE disease. You're fighting THOUSANDS. And every one of them has a different cause, course, vulnerabilities and treatment plan. Sure there are similarities between many of them, mercifully, so we don't have to completely reinvent the wheel every time but sadly the differences are vast.

So yes we spend lots and lots and lots of money trying to "cure cancer". Because we aren't just trying to cure one thing, like polio. That was one illness with one specific cause and we dumped a bunch of money on it and we kicked that things tush! It was awesome. This is a couple thousand different polios. Its gonna take A LOT of money and resources and time. But these are lives we are talking about so its worth it.

2. "Fill in the blank causes cancer in white rats! BEWARE! NEVER EAT/DRINK/TOUCH THIS POISON AGAIN!!!"

Poor little sucker...

I hate fear mongering. I hate it with a passion. Don't go Chicken Little on me friends. If something causes cancer in white rats that is worth noting. However, its more than slightly terrifying the number of things that can cause cancer in white rats. So many, you'd lock yourself in a little bubble in a padded room if you tried to avoid them all and then you'd worry that the bubble was off gassing something and is the paint on the walls under the pads the right kind??!!

I jest but I do believe there has to be a balance. I cannot live my life in fear.

Understand that LOTS of things cause cancer in white rats, but for those in the research world, this is merely something of interest to be researched further because quite often they have to give those poor little white rats INSANE amounts of whatever it is to cause that cancer. They are exposing them at concentrations that considering our much larger size and exposure to a much wider range of factors, we would never in a million years come close to matching. Also keep in mind the VERY important point that people are not white rats and thus lots and lots of drugs die on the drawing board because they don't make the jump from helping white rats to helping actual humans and likewise many substances that give white rats cancer, humans laugh at.

 So when we find something else that causes cancer in white rats, the white coats all go, "Interesting, lets investigate further and see if there is really something here". Its the STARTING point for research, not the "OMG CALL OUT THE ARMY THE WORLD IS OVER" point.

That said, once we have accumulated a pile of evidence that supports that not only does X cause cancer in white rats, we also have good evidence that it causes cancer in people, by all means PLEASE avoid it. My Mom had skin cancer, I won't be caught dead tanning. I'm not about to start smoking either.

3. "Do/Don't eat/drink/smoke fill in the blank! It cures cancer/asthma/diabetes! Its the secret BigPharma doesn't want you to know!!"

Perfect! Now eat this 3 times a day, forever, and nothing else and you'll live to be a million!

This is the one I find most insulting. I'm insulted on behalf of my parents and all the other amazing employees of MD Anderson Cancer Center. I know there are many, many, many other cancer centers around the world. Amazing people, fighting the good fight. But MD Anderson is the one I am most intimately acquainted with so I'll use them as my example. I first walked its halls when I was 8. And my Mom had leukemia, one of the really nasty varieties that kills most adults right about the time you figure out whats wrong with them. And they saved her. Its been almost TWENTY FOUR YEARS since she should have had about six weeks. My Mom is a nurse now in the clinic where she was a patient all those years ago. Her doctor still works there. Thats how much he cares about ending cancer.

Do you know how hard it is to work in a cancer center? 40% of the people that walk through their doors will not be alive in 5 years. That is not because they are not extraordinary at what they do, its because they are the people that invent the protocols that the rest of the world uses. They're on the front lines, taking the worst cases. And it is HARD on their staff. Its a war where almost half their people die. And the turn over rates for the staff is HUGE, because it is brutal. They want to help so badly, but it takes a desperate toll on these people to try and fail to save people, day after day.

And you're going to tell me that those doctors and nurses are sitting on the magic bullet, the miracle cure, just because they want to help BigPharma make a buck. I want to spit in your face on their behalf.

Just to be clear - MD Anderson is part of the University of Texas system. Its a PUBLIC SCHOOL. This is a state institution. These people aren't in it for the money. If they wanted the money, they would work private sector. They have to have some of the best security in the world to keep the private sector from stealing their research and patenting it and charging millions for what they want to share with the world.

If you tell me theres a big conspiracy thats blocking the research I will tell you those doctors don't know the meaning of the word "No". If they think there is something there they will go after it. They even track all those "miracle cures" and watch for effects and interactions because they know their poor patients are gonna go home and try them because they're desperate and they want to hedge their bets, and the problem is some of those powerful natural medicines ARE POWERFUL and they do interact with the drugs the docs are giving them and sometimes those interactions can kill people. Sometimes its harmless and sometimes its beneficial. And if its beneficial you better believe they jump on that band wagon. They had my Mom taking probiotics 20 years before anybody else had ever heard about such a thing.

So if you really think that drinking wheat grass or not eating meat or turning around 3 times before I lay down is going to cure cancer or keep yourself from getting it, have fun trying. I understand cancer is scary and we all want to do something to keep the boogie man from getting us. But don't try to sell it to me. I'll just get angry. You want to sell me on something you'd better have a boat load of evidence and a far more compelling argument than "They say" and "Its natural". Its natural to sit naked in a tree and eat raw meat. Everything else is personal preference. Sell your voodoo to somebody else.


... And there my husband goes, simplifying my world. He reads over my comments and offers this wisdom: "Yeah. People are stupid. Thus endeth the lesson". LOL

I feel better now. Thanks for listening. So what arguments from otherwise intelligent people on Facebook make you twitch?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rachel's Birth Story

Well almost four weeks ago I gave birth to the most gorgeous little girl in the world and I really want to record her birth story before the sleep deprivation erases the details from my memory. lol

To really get the feel for the thing I need to do a quick refresher on Caleb's birth for comparison purposes because the single biggest thing I can't get over is how dramatically different it went and how much better I liked it this time around.

When I had Caleb I woke up at 5:45 am for yet another trip to the restroom, laid back down and had a contraction. But this time, for the first time ever, the contraction hurt. And I was like "Is that what I think it is??" So I grabbed my alarm clock and started timing things to see if I needed to wake people or not. I had 4 contractions and then my water broke! So we headed into the hospital and it was raining that morning so half the valley went into labor and it was CROWDED. So I was stuck in hell (also known as OB Triage) FOREVER.

It took them FOREVER to start my IV and by then I was in so much pain I couldn't hardly pay attention to whatever obnoxious thing they were doing to my arms, which was good since it took them FIVE tries (and one blown vein) to get the dang thing started. Then we had to wait for 2 bags of fluid before they would let me have my epidural. Then we had to wait longer b/c they wouldn't start my epidural until I was in the actual Labor and Delivery Suite b/c its hard to switch beds when you can't so much move your legs effectively.

So by the time I FINALLY got into the room and my epidural started I didn't know I could hurt that bad and not die/lose consciousness. No fun I tell you.

Hours of pain and I only went from 4 cm to 5 cm. But once I got that epidural (which is an invention straight from God in Heaven) and I totally relaxed I went from 5 cm to 10 cm in like an hour and a half!

Then the pushing started. And went on FOREVER. Which was okay initially b/c hell once I had that epidural I can do that shiz all week. But the problem was that Caleb had a 14.5 inch head (95th percentile) PLUS he apparently had his little fist in front of his face. So I had to get a couple shots of pitocin to make me contract harder and pushed for a solid hour to FINALLY get that kid out.

Then the problem was that my body was so exhausted from all that pushing that it didn't want to contract again to deliver the placenta and then contract the final time and stay contracted so I don't bleed to death. So I bled. A lot. It was bad. Not quite blood transfusion required bad, but close. I didn't appreciate just how much I bled until this time when I didn't hardly bleed at all and then I'm like "Oh now I know why they were freaking out last time".

So compare that drama of pain and agony and bleeding followed by MONTHS of God awful exhaustion (that at the time I thought was just normal "I just had a baby" tiredness) to this time around.

This time around I'd been having contractions pretty much non stop for the last 2 months. They weren't productive but they were obnoxious (about a 4-6 on the pain scale usually).

So the hospital finally calls me in for my induction around 4:30 pm (after waiting anxiously alllllll night and day for them to call). And we get there and I walked myself in (no wheel chair required) and we did paper work and a copay and were shown directly into the Labor and Delivery suite. Totally by passed L&D Triage, which is awesome b/c the beds in there are NOT comfy, there's no windows and those rooms are TINY.

I got set up with my IV, which they started ON THE FIRST TRY! Which is nothing short of AWESOME b/c we had repeats of the "get stabbed 3-5 times and they blow at least one vein" experience during my multiple hospital visits for preterm labor so I was very scared. So they get my IV on the first try and b/c I was group B strep positive this time they started me on IV antibiotics. They make you get two doses 4 hours apart before they'll start the pit drip. So the first part was very boring. Just sitting there watching my IV drip.

I will say those antibiotics BURN like fire. Like I called the nurse in a hurry b/c I was like "Is this supposed to hurt or is something horribly wrong??" She turned it down so it was uncomfortable but not omg painful.

So after staring at the IV dripping for hours and having a shift change, my new nurse asked my opinion on the epidural - did I want one and when. My response was "I want it as soon as you can give it to me. I've been in pain for months now and anything you do will only increase that so I'm ready to be out of pain". She looked at me, blinked and went "No problem!" and 20 mins later I was getting my epidural!

I was definitely more aware of the epidural this time. Last time I was in so much agony I didn't so much notice what was going on behind me except he was pushing on my back and that was kinda annoying but otherwise who cares? This time I definitely felt everything but other than the first stick (to numb me) it didn't hurt at all. Was just ... odd. Went in fast and easy so that was nice.

I initially was not a fan of my anesthesiologist. He came in right as I was sitting up and getting into position for the epi, during which my blood pressure cuff got twisted on my arm and then immediately started to inflate and then b/c it was twisted it did that thing where it blows up great big, starts to deflate, gets an error, blows back up, starts to deflate, error and then blows up again. By the 3rd time with it twisted and cutting into my arm I was like screaming in pain and ripped the damn thing off b/c the nurse wasn't fast enough hitting the abort button.

Well the doc walks in right as I rip the cuff off and starts lecturing me on how I have to leave the damn thing on and if I don't leave it on I don't get my epidural. I was less than pleased to be lectured like a small child. I tried to explain but he just kept chiding me and I'm like "I will happily keep the damn thing on for the whole time, I just need it straightened out so its not cutting into my arm!!" He calmed down after a bit and we got along by the time he was finished. Actually kinda liked the guy once he stopped lecturing me.

I got a really HUGE bruise from that damn cuff. Like 3 inches wide by 7 inches long on the back side of my arm. I should have taken a picture. It was epic. Every nurse who saw it over the next couple days when they would check my vitals freaked out over it.

But that was pretty much the extent of my trauma this time around, so really I can't complain too much.

So once we got the epi in place, they started the pitocin and they came in and broke my water and stuck a intrauterine contraction monitor in there - not the kind that sticks to the baby's head, but something that looked like a long plastic zip tie strip b/c they were having a hard time getting my contractions on the monitor with the belly band. I didn't feel a dang thing so I was cool with it. They also stuck this big rubber peanut ball between my knees to keep my legs apart to help the baby descend which was new for me this time around. It worked, for the record.

An hour later the nurse came in to up my pit again and I asked if she was going to check me (I was at 4 cm when it started) and she said no b/c my contractions weren't that impressive on the monitor yet. But she said to call if I felt a bunch of pressure or anything. So about 10 mins later I was feeling LOTS of pressure so I called the nurse and she came into check me. And this time instead of being 4 cm and -2 station, I was at 9 cm and 0 station! The nurse was like "You weren't kidding when you said you go fast!!"

So they called the doc and let things keep cooking in the mean time. I started to have some discomfort, like period level crampiness in the midsection at one point so they pushed the button to give me a bonus shot on the epi. Worked great.

It was an interesting experience to have labor but no pain this time. B/c while I was finally pain free for the first time in months, which was absolutely lovely, I could tell I was still in labor b/c man did I get TIRED and rather shaky. I'm like "I might not feel it but my body is definitely still working b/c something is wearing me out".

They started doing all the final count down preparations and kept a very nervous eye on my south end b/c apparently they could all see her head crowning but they weren't quite ready yet (it was midnight almost and they had to wake my poor doc up). Once everything was in place and I got the go ahead I pushed one time and she all but fell out! I only needed one stitch this time "for cosmetic purposes"!

Compared to pushing for a solid hour and ripping to kingdom come and getting a million stitches, that was AWESOME to push ONCE and tah dah!

Rachel did have the cord around her neck twice but the doc got it off super quick and she cried right away, nice and loud, which is always a welcome relief in a delivery room. She looked great but was a little blue initially but she pinked right up and had 8/9 apgars which was way better than Caleb's inital scores so that was another relief.

My biggest problem was that I was shaking uncontrollably after I had her. I was fine, I just couldn't stop shaking. Side effect of the meds plus the trauma of delivery. No biggie.

So having gone into labor naturally one time, and having an induction the second time, I have to say I am 100% in favor of my induction. I LOVED skipping the pain entirely and this delivery went SO much better. I do think it helped that her head was 2 inches smaller and she was a whole pound lighter than her brother, plus it was my second kid.

The most amazing thing to me tho in all of this was how much better I felt (and continue to feel) after having her. For starters all of my horrible pregnancy symptoms (the heart palpitations and nausea) are GONE and I actually have a surprising amount of energy. In talking with other women who hemorrhaged (or people who had friends who hemorrhaged) - I think it was actually the almost bleeding to death thing the first time around that made me a zombie for months after I had Caleb b/c I feel shockingly good this time around and I'm just plain grateful!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Online Privacy

So I've recently been made aware of individuals who criticize the extent to which I share information on my blogs and Facebook accounts. Apparently the main objection is oversharing in a public forum b/c its "online and everybody can see it".

And so I have had Online Privacy on my brain and in a lot of ways, I do think "Online Privacy" is an oxymoron. I live in a house. I use banks and ATM cards. I've owned credit cards in the past. I use utilities, cell phones and the internet in a post-9/11 America. Thanks to the Patriot Act I have no delusions that ANYTHING I do is actually, really truly private.

If I was REALLY worried about privacy I think I would have to live in a wooden shack I made myself with materials I smuggled to an undisclosed location that I definitely do not own in the middle of no where and rely strictly on cash and avoid any and all technology or paperwork. Then you MIGHT be able to keep Big Brother from tracking you. Maybe. Odds are you'd probably just get put on a watch list.

No, I don't think I need to go don a tinfoil hat or anything but I think anybody who lives in a house and uses credit cards and phone lines or the internet is deluding themselves if they think they have any REAL control over who reads their stuff.

I fully expect everything I post online is probably getting routed through some server somewhere where an algorithm reviews its content to check for something that could be threatening to the public safety and if flagged then probably gets reviewed by some poor analyst some where who attempts to determine if the threat is legit. Maybe I could be over stating the power of Big Brother, but I think I'd rather assume that he's watching and be wrong that assume he's not watching and be wrong again.

My father taught me when I was a kid to make absolutely sure I never put anything in writing I wouldn't want posted in the village square. And by and large I have taken that advice to heart. So as much as I do overshare with the world (I fully admit I am a blunt person prone to sharing more than some of my more conservative friends and family), believe it or not there is A LOT that I think and feel that doesn't get posted in a public forum.

Why? Most often its because it could be hurtful to certain individuals should they come across the post. And believe it or not I try very hard not to stomp on other peoples feelings. I don't always succeed but I do apologize when its made known to me that I screwed up.

Occasionally it has more to do with the opinion not being very PC and while I will take some liberties with political correctness, I do respect the internets ability to keep anything alive forever somewhere and I'd like to not completely toast my chances at landing a job should I need to go hunting for one in the future.

However, I would also like to point out that as much as I think its a joke to think that Big Brother is not watching, I do take advantage of Facebook's Privacy filter. B/c while Big Brother might be watching, I definitely don't want to make it easy for Joe Blow to stalk me online. In that way I do think its possible to have some small measure of "Online Privacy", if only from my fellow netizens.

I am very familiar with FB's privacy settings and have carefully reviewed all of them and use most of them. Probably 95% of what I post on FB is Friends Only. And while I've got a big friends list, only about 9 of those people I have not actually met in real life. I know some people "friend farm" and will friend anybody, but almost everybody I'm friends with on FB are people I know from high school, college, my mission or places I've lived.

So keep in mind, that while you might think I'm oversharing in my FB status updates - not just anybody can see it. In fact some of my status updates I limit to a much smaller list of close friends and family. I am aware that anybody could surf to my blog and see it and therefore try to be a bit more judicious in my posting of close personal information. I also don't post when I'm out of town online until I get back as an added security measure (unless of course Adam is still at home b/c then someone is still in my house so whats the diff?).

I don't allow FB access to my GPS on my phone. I don't check in at places 99% of the time b/c I don't want to paint a target that says "Hi I'm not at home right now, please go rob me".

So I'm more private than you might be aware, but if I share more than you are comfortable with I will state the following:

I'm a stay at home Mom. My poor husband is one of the only outlets to my ranting and I do in fact talk his ear off but its still not always enough to help me feel better. So FB is how I connect with my friends (quite a few of them are fellow stay at home Mom's) and we lend each other a sympathetic ear. It helps. A lot.

Also, as I stated when I first started this blog, I'm not blogging for fame or fortune, I am blogging as a therapeutic outlet, so this thing is going to read a lot like a journal.

Why don't I just buy a journal? B/c for some reason sending my thoughts out into the great cosmos of the internet is somehow infinitely more cathartic than putting it on paper and locking it away on a shelf somewhere. I don't know why, I just know that it is. And I do check my stats so I have no delusions that anybody is really reading this blog. I occasionally get a little spike on a post that I cross post to FB and then my stats go right back to dead. And I'm okay with that.

I just know if I write it down in a journal, A. I can't write fast enough, handwriting is annoying and SLOW to me. I've tried typing things up instead and while that helps the speed I'm still left with problem B: After I'm done, I don't feel 100% better. I still feel like I need to talk to somebody and process more. I have no idea why posting to a blog is so cathartic to me but it is.

So its oversharing on the internet or emotional constipation and emotional constipation breeds all sorts of problems for me and I refuse to do it any longer (I used to have SERIOUS problems in that area). So long story short, if you don't like it suck it up. If I hurt your feelings please tell me and we'll talk about it. If you think I'm jeopardizing my safety or the safety of my family, please talk to me b/c I'd like to understand and discuss your rationale.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gun Safety

I really need to rant right now. So I'm gonna do it here and just let my soap box rip until I get it all out and feel better. Fair warning I am 24 weeks pregnant and have a wicked case of the hor-moan-ies (think My Big Fat Greek Wedding) so this maybe more ... virulent than my usual ranting (yes its possible. I think).

Lemme give you some context. I saw THIS story in the news today:

http://news.yahoo.com/5-old-boy-shoots-2-old-sister-ky-161229579.html

If you're too lazy to click thru and read it (and really I can't blame you there) the gist is that a 5 year old who has his very own .22 caliber rifle, shot and killed his 2 year old little sister on accident. His parents left the gun down where he could get it b/c they thought it was unloaded.

A FIVE (5) YEAR OLD had a 22 caliber rifle. The rifle is made for kids. He's had it for over a year.

Ya know I can get my mind around the existance of a .22 rifle made and sold for kids. Its important to have a gun that you are comfortable using. Its safer that way. Maybe you really like to take your 8 year olds target shooting, or a really small 12 year old could use it.

But really WHO ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH thinks its a good idea to give a 4-5 year old a REAL gun?? Hell, I wouldn't let my kid have a bebe gun until he's AT LEAST 6 and probably closer to 8. Its a weapon. I'd like my kid to be old enough to have some judgement.

My father was a police officer. I have been raised around guns my whole life. I like guns. I'm a big fan of my 2nd Amendment rights but that story just blew my fricking mind. I had gun safety drilled into my little head from a very young age.

RULE #1: You NEVER, EVER point a gun at another living thing unless you intend to kill it. I don't care if its loaded or not. If you want to play cops and robbers, go get a plastic toy gun and go to town. Real guns ONLY get pointed at real bad guys.

I think that disturbs me the most - the fact that these people apparently let their kid PLAY with a REAL gun like it was a toy. A real gun is a weapon. It is a very dangerous tool. Like a chain saw. Chainsaws are very useful tools but you'd better make sure you know what you're doing and that you use it with the utmost respect at all times b/c the one time you don't it will kill you with out even trying.

They left the gun down where the kid could get it because "they thought it was unloaded". That blows my mind as well. Another rule my Dad GROUND into me was to ALWAYS assume a weapon is loaded unless you have personally verified that it is NOT. They assumed. They had to have. If you're going to be dumb enough to let your kid play with a real gun like it was a toy, I would assume you'd at least be religious in making sure to unload it after firing. And clearly they didn't teach their kid basic gun safety b/c he didn't check either because its a toy and its down low therefore it must be safe...

I see lots of different debates on how to keep guns in the home safely. Lots of people in favor of keeping the guns in one place with the ammo someplace completely different. Everything is locked up in safes and even has trigger locks on top of that.

I think thats just plain dumber than a box of rocks. If I ever have a gun safe its because I have so many guns I like to lock up the spares to keep them safe from robbers. Thats about all I think a gun safe is good for. My father raised us in a house full of guns and he kept them all loaded at all times (well, all the handguns are always loaded. The rifles usually have a loaded magazine there with them). And I think that was the safer option. And I'll explain why in a moment.

In my personal philosophy guns have 3 purposes. First and foremost, my gun exists to protect me and my family. Second thing guns are good for is hunting and the final is target shooting for fun and practice (so I can be prepared to protect my family).

If the bad guy is breaking into my house in the middle of the night, its going to be dark, I'm going to be scared. My adrenaline is going to be pumping and my hands are going to be shaking. I do not want to have to fiddle with keys and combinations, and go to multiple places and have to assemble and load my gun before I can use it to save my child's life. Thats asking for it. An unloaded gun is worthless.

I also think an unloaded gun is more dangerous to your kids and here's why: Kids think an unloaded gun is safe. If you make a habit of leaving them unloaded, then its something safe to touch and look at and the one time its NOT unloaded you have a horrible accident. I knew every gun my father owns is loaded. Why? Because its a weapon and needs to be prepared to shoot the bad guy at any moment. That means I NEVER EVER touched one when I was little.

I was taught from the time I was small enough to remember that if I managed to find one of Daddy's guns I should not touch it and run and tell Mom or Dad that I found it. Then they would move it. Dad is a smidgen paranoid as a result of his profession so he keeps them strategically stashed around the house.

This was gospel doctrine as far as I was concerned. You don't run out in the street. You don't poke things in the electric outlets. You don't touch Mommy's knives in the kitchen and you do NOT touch Daddy's guns.

I'd watched him clean them and he would point out the parts and show me how it was put together so it wasn't mysterious or anything but I understood that if I touched it me or somebody else could get bad, bad owies. And he would teach me how to use it when I was bigger.

I remember the very first time I ever touched one. I had managed to find one on accident (because kids get into EVERYTHING) and went and told Dad, I was probably 5 at the time. And he shocked the life out of me by telling me to bring the gun to him. I was like, "Say what???" And he told me to pick it up by the handle, keep it pointed directly at the floor and bring it to him. It was maybe 20 feet. I remember being absolutely shocked by how heavy it was. lol.

And he did keep his promise to teach me how to use them when I got older. In fact, he made sure my mom, sister and I were trained to use every single weapon he had because a weapon you don't know how to use, you can't protect yourself with. We started off with my cousins bebe gun when I was a kid and moved up slowly to larger rifles and hand guns as I was big enough and strong enough to safely use them. Good gun safety was an absolute must if you wanted to be allowed to touch the guns. They were great fun but they were deadly serious.

We were taught you never, ever point a gun at a person you don't want to kill, loaded or not. Because even if its not loaded, you don't want to get in the habit of pointing them at people because you're leaving yourself open for an accident. It only takes once.

Unless you are aiming at a target you keep that gun pointed at the ground at all times. If its set on a table, the muzzle is pointed away from people. I'd sooner drive with my eyes closed than wave around a gun, loaded or not.

You never even put your finger inside the trigger guard unless you are aimed and ready to fire at your target. There are more rules but I will stop there.

And every single time we went shooting, we'd gather the guns that were going with us. Then was the ritual of unloading of the good ammo. Dad keeps really expensive ammo loaded in the guns for defense purposes.

Hollow points are my preferred bullet for defense because the problem with a regular bullet is it can go through the bad guy, through the wall, and hit the innocent person in the next room. This is bad. Hollow points hit the bad guy or the wall and thats where they stop. They do lots and lots of damage to the bad guy b/c they fully transfer all of their kinetic energy to your target. But they're expensive so we always switched out for cheaper rounds for practice.

Then we'd go shooting. And that was so much fun. I'm very proud of my ability to blow the heck out of the center of the target. And I definitely feel safer and more confident knowing that I can defend myself if I had to. Occasionally growing up we'd get people who resented a bunch of girls intruding into their Man Territory at the gun range. They'd shut up once they saw us shoot tho... ;)

Then when we came home was the ritual cleaning of the guns and then reloading with the expensive ammo and replacing them in their various homes.

We never once had trigger locks or gun safes and we were safe growing up because my Dad taught us excellent weapons safety rules as was appropriate for our age and abilities.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

This Pregnancy is Kicking my Butt

Fair warning I'm going to whine here but I need to get it out so don't mind me while I'm purging and just carry on with your lives.

So I'm 22 weeks along now and just yesterday was commenting on how glad I was that I was starting to finally feel mostly human. Ha... hahah.... ha.

Which is of course why I woke up this morning with a migraine after not being able to sleep for most of last night. And of course the meds I can take while pregnant for this migraine cost wayyyy too much money to not work at all. Oh so annoying.

And I just feel like such a wimp b/c at first I was like "Oh I just have to make it to 12 weeks and then I'll feel better". And then 12 weeks came and went and nope I didn't feel better. In fact I felt so much worse I finally had to wimp out and go on anti-nausea meds. (For the record: Caleb made me this sick. He just didn't make me this sick for this LONG).

So then I told myself if I could just hold on until 16 weeks, surely I would feel better then. And at 16 weeks I developed a heart arrhythmia that sent me to the ER and then to a cardiologist. Thankfully its one of the ones thats more annoying than dangerous but if I get dehydrated and it happens I could pass out. If you thought I was diligent about my water drinking before, you haven't seen me since the doc dropped that one on me!

So they put me on meds for the heart thing after putting me on one of those 24 hour heart monitors (anyone who ever has to put up with one of those has my deepest sympathies. It is NOT pleasant for those of us with sensitive skin. That tape was EVIL). And after a few weeks on meds I did in fact start to feel better, which was lovely.

So now that we've passed the 20 week mark, which was of course my next magic line, that once crossed would leave me feeling just peachy, which is proof that my mental faculties have been diminished by this pregnancy b/c otherwise I would have learned my lesson after the first 2 times and laughed at myself for daring to think I'd ever REALLY feel better this time around - now.... now I'm having migraines.

They'd been doing much better, until the last few weeks. And now I'm having migraines that last for days and days and the meds I can take do NOTHING for them. Mercifully they're not the worst head aches I've ever had, but its just so harsh that once you've slept as much as you can, so you can't sleep at all anymore, then you get BORED. And the pain isn't TOO bad as long as you stay laying down, perfectly still in a darkened room and avoid light and noise. But then you wish you could die of boredom so you get the lights as low as you can on your phone and reread novels off your kindle until the pain from the light is worse from the boredom and then you turn it off and wait for the pain to die back down and sit there and hate the whole world. And then I miss my son b/c of course being stuck in here in the dark I'm not out there playing with him and reading stories and getting cuddles.

And even on good days I wish I had more energy. Desperately so. B/c after being so wretchedly sick for 4 months my poor house and yard are in desperate need of attention and Adam is finally starting to do better (he's been sick w/ various issues as well) but domestic stuff isn't his strong suit and the yard especially needs to be unburied before we get fined by the city for the stupid weeds in the front yard.

And so normally the best way for me to get more energy is to work out right? But right now no matter how careful I am not to over do it (b/c "pregnancy is not the time to start a strenuous new work out routine"), instead of energizing me like it usually does, it completely wipes me out the next day, and possibly the day after that as well. My Mom tells me not to push it. She says my body and especially my heart are over taxed as it is "So be careful and rest if your body says to rest!"

But thats just so farking frustrating. And I'm trying so hard not to compare myself to all the other pregnant women I know. B/c you shouldn't compare your biggest weaknesses to their biggest strengths and I know that. But seriously?? I know women that have more kids than me, still keep a spotless house, go to work and/or school full time and cook and clean and all of that while pregnant and my poor family has been living on sandwiches and fast food for months because I'm too sick to cook at all. And I just feel like a complete failure.

I mean I know women who are pregnant that have it so much worse than me. I'm not in the hospital. I didn't get so sick I had to have IV meds, I was able to control my puking with just the regular pill. I'm not on bed rest and thus far every test has come back clear and all the indicators say I have a healthy baby girl *knock on wood*. And let me tell you this child is crazy energetic. I can't believe something that only weighs a pound can kick that hard already (mercifully it doesn't hurt yet). I never even have to do kick counts b/c at her most mellow she still kicks me once or twice in a 5 minute period and the rest of the time you'd swear she was doing Zumba or some other enthusiastic Latin dance craze. I am so lucky and blessed that way.

Its just hard to feel like a failure. And I hate to ask for help b/c I know other people are so busy and I keep feeling like maybe if I could just push a little harder I could do this. And I'm not sure how much they could do anyways b/c so much is sorting and crap that I really need to do.

So the good news is that I have a follow up with my neurologist for the migraines in 2 weeks anyways so I'm going to call and beg him to do the nerve block injections then b/c thats safer for the baby than any meds they could give me that would work better for the head aches.

And in the mean time just ignore me. Its a bad day and my head hurts and I just feel like a complete failure and I miss my Mommy terribly right now and I just needed to whine. But I can't even call anybody b/c talking on the phone would hurt my head. Hows that for harsh?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Guess what!

In case you don't follow me on FB: I'm pregnant!!

I just did a big long post on my family blog with lots of ultrasound pictures and videos if you wanna watch: http://fleipaper.blogspot.com/2013/02/we-are-pregnant.html

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Power of Negative Self Talk

I've been thinking about writing this post for a while, and I usually sit and hammer out a post all in one go as part of a therapeutic purging but this one I think might take time. We'll see.

I want to talk about the incredible power that your self talk has over your self image. Because I don't think I can understate the incredible difference that this has made in my life. And its still new for me but I want to share because it has been such a change for good, that I can't not share what I've learned with those I love. Ya know?

Some definitions before we start so we're all on the same page. Self talk is the things you say to or about yourself and how you say them. You can say them out loud or in your head, it doesn't matter, they have power either way. These things can be good or bad. And sometimes its not immediately obvious which category they fall under b/c as a society we tend to be fond of self deprecating humor, but that too is often dangerous. I'll talk more on this in a bit.

Self Image is how you see yourself. This includes both your mental image of yourself and what you see when you look in the mirror (which is not usually what is really there but can be strongly altered by the filter of your self image). Some one who is depressed is liable to have a very negative self image and what they see when they look in the mirror might be very accurate on the negative end of the spectrum but they can't see any of the good that others see. Other mental illness such as eating disorders can warp your perspective so badly that while they might look like a holocaust survivor to anyone else, but when they look in the mirror all they can see is a fat person. Literally. Some one with Narcissistic Personality Disorder would look in the same mirror and see only good things (possibly far more good things than are actually there) and none of the bad.

I think one of the healthier goals you can have in life is to have a fairly accurate and overall positive self image.

I'm also going to pull the terms Pride and Self Esteem and in my usage they're not going to be the same thing. Self Esteem is positive self pride - for example - when you are rightly glad and proud of yourself for the good things that you have done and for the accurate evaluation of your own strengths. Its a good thing to have good self esteem. You want to have positive self worth.

Pride in my usage is akin to arrogance and over statement of your own achievements. You fail to recognize the support that others give you in your tasks. Everything you do is good and perfect and wonderful and you did it all by yourself and others should kiss your grits.

Negative Self Esteem is what happens when you feel worthless because you fail to recognize the good and give credit to yourself.

And now I'm going to share w/ you an image that I slaved over in photoshop that, sadly, came as something of a revelation to me in my early 20s. Because somehow I got it into my head as a teenager that there were only two options:

If you said good things about yourself, then you were arrogant and stuck up. And I had been horribly bullied by arrogant, stuck up girls so I desperately didn't want to be like them so I avoided saying anything nice about myself at all costs.

This was bad (also wrong).

The reality is that its a spectrum. There are 3 options and not just two. And like most things, swinging too far in either direction is a bad thing but theres a happy place somewhere in the middle that you want to aim for where life is good. With out further ado here it is:

Aren't you amazed at how beautifully colored and detailed that chart is? I know its amazing. lol. But ya know what? It works great to illustrate my point. Its a spectrum and I've discovered that not only can you say nice things to yourself and about yourself with out becoming one of "Those" people, you SHOULD say nice things to and about yourself because its healthy and does good things for you.

Ya know for years in Psych I read about and was taught about the power of positive and negative self talk. And somehow I just didn't think that really applied to me. Yes, in this one area I had rocks in my head but the good news is that I have learned.

I used to have horrible self esteem and an even worse self image. Looking in the mirror used to reduce me to tears. Literally. When I looked in the mirror all I could see was someone grotesquely obese (regardless of my actual size at the time) and borderline deformed in the face. I couldn't see a single positive thing and all I could see were all the horrible imperfections and it seemed the longer I stared at them the more pronounced the deformation.

And the things I said to myself and about myself were even worse. It started when I was in middle school and people called me an arrogant bitch because I was intelligent and wouldn't let people copy off my papers (because I felt it was morally wrong and I didn't want to be a sinner).

People said I talked funny. (The clearest I could get anybody to elaborate on what it was I was doing wrong, so I could try to fix it, was that it was my vocabulary and I had no idea how to fix that.) But I learned quickly that if I made fun of myself first - that self deprecating humor I mentioned earlier - then it diffused the situation and they laughed with me instead of at me. It was survival in the horrible school I was in (I was living in the ghetto and my name was "Hey White Girl" for a few years). And like many survival skills for horrible situations - they might save your life then but applied to normal life, are terribly unhealthy.

Then we moved and I hit puberty and now because I had boobs and hips when none of my peers did, they called me fat and I learned to apply self deprecating humor to that as well.


I have a pet theory that this is why so many fat comics commit suicide. Because they too learned that if they made fun of their weight before others did that they could avoid being laughed AT and instead be laughed WITH. But they, like me, didn't realize the terrible price of that humor...


The problem, that I didn't realize at the time, is that long term - I believed it. I started to believe I really was stupid and fat. It happened so slowly I didn't notice but it did happen.

By the time I was in high school, I was seriously considering an eating disorder as a viable weight loss option because I was so unhappy with how I looked. Even when I lost weight and was dang near perfect in my proportions (in hindsight) I still thought I was fat. I compared myself to the other girls and because I wasn't perfect, I was worthless.

And that is more or less how I thought until college. And there a few wonderful roommates and companions on my mission taught me the revolutionary new thoughts that "Chubby girls get married too" and "Anybody who doesn't want you because of how you look, isn't the kind of person you want to be with anyways" and "Just because you're not perfect doesn't mean you're worthless".

Those might sound like "Duh" statements to you, (and I sincerely hope thats the case) but sadly, for me they were revolutionary.

And then I met Adam. And for what he has taught me in this area I will forever be thankful. Because prior to getting married to him I avoided all negative self talk in his presence (okay maybe more like 90% of the time I managed to keep it hidden) b/c I loved the way he saw me and I didn't want to point out all the things wrong w/ me in case I managed to convince him of them and he'd lose interest...

So when we got married and he started hearing more of it (harder to hide things from people you live with) his response was thusly: "Hey!! Nobody gets to talk smack about my wife! Not even my wife!"  lol. It made me smile and it seemed to truly, deeply bother him when ever I did it so I made a conscious effort to avoid negative self talk aloud in his presence.

And sometimes the difference was subtle. Instead of going "Omg, I am so stupid!" (which would get me in trouble lol), I could say "Oh man, I had a stupid!" (Which he also objected to initially and I pointed out, that no I'm not stupid in general, but in this one decision was a poor choice etc etc).

Doesn't sound like much of a difference but I started to notice a change in the feeling. When I would call myself stupid, it didn't feel nice. It was a pang in my chest. But when I would say "Oh man, I can't believe I had that stupid moment", I didn't get that bad feeling. I like avoiding bad feelings so I kept it up. I even started to watch how I worded things in my own head.

Then I realized I was going to be having children and that I desperately didn't want them to learn my bad self image habits from me (because "Do what I say and not what I do" has never yet proven to be an effective parenting technique). And, this sounds silly, but I learned I couldn't look at myself in the mirror with out a barrage of negative thoughts. So I avoided it. Unless I'm doing my hair or make up, or just checking to make sure I look okay before walking out the door, I didn't look in the mirror.

It was kind of a "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" and since staring at myself in the mirror naked lead to involuntary negative thoughts (not that I made a habit out of that or anything, just more, I catch sight of myself after say a shower and go "OMG!" and then stare for a few minutes at what I felt was a train wreck and poke and prod and jiggle and catologue all the parts I hated... you wanna talk about powerful negative reinforcement....). But so because I couldn't look with out bad thoughts, I made sure I avoided looking.

And I did this for probably a year or so. I'm not sure exactly. I still find its not advisable for me to stare. Its much healthier for me to only check out my weight loss progress in the mirror with clothing ON. And to make sure to ridgidly control my thoughts. "Yes this does not look how I would like it to look, BUT it does look better than it did before and that is positive". I also make sure I include at least one positive for every negative to try to keep balance.

And something miraculous started to happen. After I'd do my make up and look in the mirror, instead of wincing and going "Well thats as good as its going to get", I'd actually look in the mirror, wince free and think "I actually look pretty decent!" I even got so far as thinking I looked pretty.

Then another little miracle happened. I posted a bunch of headshots to FB for opinions from friends (I needed a new profile pic for work) and an old friend of mine who is gifted with photoshop took one and played around with it. She sent me a copy and apologized and hoped I didn't mind.


And no, no I didn't mind one little bit.

In fact I stared at this image for weeks afterwards (which sounds incredibly vain now that I write it but I swear its not) just because I was so shocked that that girl in the picture was ME and she was beautiful. I had never put myself and the word beautiful together in a sentence. I was pretty, maybe, with make up. But I'd never be so arrogant as to call myself beautiful. But that was the only word I felt was accurate for that picture. I think it helps A LOT that the pencil-sketch like quality of the picture means you only see the features themselves and not any imperfections in the skin or circles under the eyes. You just see the features that are very pleasant.

But either way it was the start of a recognition of the revolution that had happened with out my hardly even noticing. I discovered that I actually liked myself, that I could look in a mirror and LIKE what I saw there and that while I don't look like I want to look like, in terms of "I'd like to be skinnier because I want to be healthy", I don't hate or punish myself for not looking like I should.

And I credit it to my positive self talk. Its important people. Don't ever, ever call yourself dumb or stupid or ugly. Never. Not even for a joke. You might have made a stupid decision or made an ugly face but you yourself are not stupid or fat or ugly.

So please, start today. Resolve to never, ever say bad things about yourself. Not even in your own head. It hurts. Even if it seems silly or frivolous, I thought Adam was full of it and I only stopped abusing myself to keep the peace in our house but I cannot understate the powerful positive impact this has made in my life.

Self abuse robbed me of the energy I need to accomplish things, don't let it steal your joy and your energy. You can have positive self esteem with out being prideful. Be accurate and fair to yourself. I am not fat. I have weight I would like to lose so that I can be healthier. I am not stupid tho I occasionally make stupid decisions but I can learn from those and not do them again.

(For the record, this took a couple weeks to write).