Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Go Big or Go Home

I've always been the nerd who pushed herself to the limit when it came to grades and school.  If someone got a 97 on a test, I needed to be the one who got a 98. Unfortunately, sometimes having a high score isn't always the best thing in the world.

Case in point, my thyroid.  I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease/hypothyroidism four years ago while having trouble conceiving our second child.  Basically, it means that your thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones to balance your body and metabolism.  For four years now, I've been on medication to regulate it but, if you've read my recent blogs here and there, I've been feeling really shitty as of late between the weight gain, surgery, and pain. And thus, I went to the doctor who I screamed about in my last blog and had blood work done.  In keeping with her "I don't give a shit" manner, when the results came in, her nurse informed me that my Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels were "high" and that I needed to go back to my endocrinologist.  I already had an appointment with my endo for the 21st of August so I didn't think to worry.  On a whim today, I decided to look up my lab results on my patient profile online.  The results of my TSH screen floored me and further validated my feelings that doctors today could give two shits about you.

The results were as follows: 

Normal levels of the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) range between .5 - 4.5. My lab results came back and (despite my daily dosage of 200 mcgs of synthroid) my TSH level is at a 10.71!!!!!!

10.71 people.  My thyroid is simply a decorative accessory or lazy motherfucker that just sits there and does nothing.  EVERYTHING I have been doing to lose weight, to feel better, to alleviate this pain has been pretty much for naught.

So, on a whim, I decided to look up the symptoms of hypothyroidism.  I mean, I know I already have it, but I just wanted to refresh my memory.  Remember, I've been dealing with this crap for 4 years.  So here are the symptoms (with my commentary).
  • Fatigue (I'm a mother.  This is a given for anyone of us.)
  • Increased sensitivity to cold (I live in Florida. "Cold" is 72 degrees)
  • Constipation (I eat so much salad and leafy greens that the toilet is my best friend)
  • Dry skin (Yep.  Me and lotion are like "this".)
  • Unexplained weight gain (Well, when I was pregnant, I could explain it.  Now?  Not so much)
  • Puffy face (That pretty much goes hand in hand with being a big fatass)
  • Hoarseness (This one is true as well.  I've found it hard to talk sometimes, feeling like I'm pushing the words out of my throat. I sound like a skvitchery old lady)
  • Muscle weakness (Let's just say that I cannot star in "Over the Top" at any point)
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level (I was told my cholesterol was "high" by the "caring doctor")
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness (No comment)
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints (Really, no comment)
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods (When my period decides to show up, every six months or so, it's like a fucking episode of Dexter down there)
  • Thinning hair (Yep, and no amount of Garnier Fructis Volume Enhance will change that)
  • Slowed heart rate (Probably but I'm not sur.........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)
  • Depression (I don't need a fancy named thyroid problem to be depressed, baby)
  • Impaired memory (Huh? Wait?  Where am I?  What is this place?)
I'm no doctor (although I think I have more compassion than some), but I'm guessing that all of this bullshit I am going through is related to this 10.71 TSH level.  You think?

Hope to get some answers soon.  But really, 10.71 TSH and your nurse simply says "it's high"?  Epic fail.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Paining and Gaining

A few months ago I casually mentioned to a friend that I wanted to express on my blog the troubles, both physical and emotional, that I've been having since my spinal surgery in May 2012.  My friend vehemently opposed such an idea, telling me that I would come across as a "whiner" and would just annoy people with my "looking for sympathy" post and that I should just "deal with" whatever I was going through and leave the "sob story" for other bloggers.  So, I didn't post and I carried on with my life.  But as of late, I'm getting sick and tired of being, well, sick and tired, and I'm at the point now where I just want to say a big ol' "fuck you" to everyone and everything.  I'm not here to give a sob story or whine about how bad my life is, but I am here to vent and get my shit out in the open and maybe, just maybe, shed light and understanding as to why I am the way I am lately and feel the way I feel.

First off, I'm pretty much done with the medical community and doctors in general.  They don't give a shit about their patients.  Especially ones who are overweight like myself and who are begging and pleading for some help.  Fuck you. Fuck you. And fuck you.  Just because I'm fat doesn't mean you can dismiss all of my problems to the "she's fat" category and tell me to diet and exercise.  Guess what?  I'm on a fucking 1200 calorie a day diet already and I'm pushing through excruciating pain to get to the gym at least three times a week.  So don't tell me about "diet and exercise".  What the fuck do you want me to do?  Eat air and damage my spine even more just so I can be your idea of "healthy"?  Fuck you. Fuck you. And Fuck you too.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Before I had my back surgery I went to countless doctors, explaining to them that I had horrible pain shooting down my left leg and that I knew something was wrong.  All of them.  ALL OF THEM said "You're fat. You have sciatica. Lose weight."  Look, I know my body (all of it) and I knew that we weren't dealing with sciatica.  I begged for MRIs and scans, telling these doctors that this was much more than sciatica and that I was in agony and all they saw was a fat girl complaining about her back.  No one listened to me.  And finally MONTHS after I begged to be heard and scanned, I had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance, pumped full of morphine, and told casually by a doctor (13 hours after I had been admitted) that I "needed surgery yesterday".  Gee?  You FUCKING THINK SO?!?!?!

And now, 14 months after my spinal surgery, I am back to square one.  But, as though the Universe were playing a cruel joke, the pains are now down my right leg and my back hurts so bad that there are days where walking the few steps to the kitchen seems like the Exodus out of Egypt.  And the carousel of doctors has begun again.  I tell them my pain, they see a fat girl complaining about her back.  This last doctor put me over the edge today.  After 10 days of waiting for lab results from blood tests, her assistant calls me to tell me that the doctor, after reviewing my results, recommends "diet and exercise".  REALLY?  REA-FUCKING-LLY????  I spent an hour in her office explaining to her my diet, showing her my food journal, explaining to her that I was stuck in a vicious cycle of being overweight and in pain which prevented me from exercising as fully I wanted which was because I was overweight and in pain which prevented me from exercising as fully as I wanted because I was overweight and in pain which prevented me from exercising as fully as I wanted because I was overweight........
But no.  Apparently, she didn't listen to me either.  Apparently, NOTHING I fucking said registered other than "she's fat and whining about her back".

Let me tell you something, unlike most of the fat asses that I see stuffing their faces with whatever the fuck they want and sitting on their couches all day doing jack shit, I don't do that.  I don't want to do that.  I want to go bike riding.  I want to go swimming.  I want to go hiking up a goddamn mountain with my kids and then have a picnic and play frisbie.  I care that I am stuck hobbling through the grocery store using the cart as a walker.  I fucking care that ten minutes on a bike renders me IMMOBILE for the rest of the day.  I care about the foods that I put in my system and you had better believe that I care that I am not providing the best possible parenting to my children that they deserve.  I can't pick my child up when he cries.  I can't chaperone a field trip to the botanical gardens because there's too much walking.  I can't go for late night walks on the beach with my boys.  I can't fucking do anything without being in excruciating pain.  And with pain comes anger and I take it out on my kids.

I am a horrible mom right now.  And I know it.

I am so fucking sick and tired of this bullshit.  And I don't care who knows about it anymore.  Here's my sad story blog.  Deal with it.  I am unhappy and miserable and in constant pain.  You want me to point to the number on the chart where my pain level is at?  It's off it.  My kids are suffering, my husband is suffering (I can't ride a bike, you think SEX is easier?), and I'm fed up.

And while we are at it, let me comment on those annoyingly self serving "fitness" memes that everyone seems to be posting on Facebook as of late.  You know, the ones who are like "just get in the gym" or "being sexy is just too easy", or "no excuses for being fit".  A giant fuck you to you too.  And a giant fuck you to the comments on those memes about "fat people just need to stop eating" or "fat people need to get off the couch" or even those lovely ones about how "fat acceptance is just ugly people trying to make themselves feel better".  Screw you.  You have no idea why some of us are suffering inside these giant bodies.  Screw you if you think I wouldn't kill to be able to go back to my Yoga class and ride my bike again.  Screw you for not having to deal with horrible pain on a daily basis.  Screw you for not needing your child to help you put your shoes on because you can't bend over to do it yourself.

I'm tired of doing what I am supposed to do and getting no help and no results.  After my surgery I blew up from being so inactive that I put on a ton of weight.  I've managed to get 50 pounds of that weight off and now I've been hindered with the return of pain and I've virtually come to a standstill.  I went to the aforementioned doctor to seek guidance, help, and maybe some encouragement.  "How can you help me, doctor, get through this plateau I've reached?"  "What can I do to stop this pain?"  "Can you recommend some physical therapy?"  "Can I please have an MRI?"  "Help Me."

You're fat.  Diet and Exercise.  Thank you, drive through.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Move Over David Beckham Redux and watch out Lebron James!

Well, it looks like the Original Soccer Star has been replaced with this new up and coming star.....

That's right, it's David Beckham 2.0!

I wish had more pictures but unfortunately, Dodie needed  A LOT of coaxing from the coaches.  He's young and it was his first time but when it was over he said to me, "Mo' sacka mama?"

Dante was 3 1/2 when he played Tiny Tots Soccer at the YMCA. Dorian is not yet 3.

Dante, on the other hand joined the youth basketball league at the Y and is doing awesome.

I'm just wondering where my babies went.  (And when I will ever have the time to focus on my blog again).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Standing Room Only

If you follow this blog or any other web space I happen to occupy, then you know that I had spinal surgery back in May 2012 and the road to recovery has been a long and difficult one. I haven't blogged about a lot of what I am dealing with as far as mobility, pain, weight issues, etc. because I think it would just be one complaint after another and bore everyone to death. Suffice it to say, I have a tough time some days while others I feel like I could ballet dance across the world. So it wasn't without some trepidation that I booked our yearly Disney trip, not entirely sure if I was going to be able to hack it.

The fact of the matter is that I have trouble walking if I'm not leaning on something. A shopping cart is usually my best friend and sometimes I rely on a cane.  I've been exercising at the gym four days a week but I think I'm doing more harm than good and have backed off. Standing still is agony and the pain shoots down my legs after about five minutes so the prospect of walking around Disney and then standing on a line for an hour made me want to cry.
"So why go to Disney" I can hear some of you saying.  And I just have to answer that 1. We go every year and it's our family vacation and 2. I'm not putting my life on hold simply because something hurts.  I'll work it out.
I did a whole mess of research before embarking on our vacation and found that along with wheelchairs, I could also rent an ECV motorized scooter at the parks for a whopping $50 A DAY. (We were there 5 days, do the math).  So I decided to swallow my pride and rent a scooter.  Walking from our hotel room to the restaurant had put me in tears so I knew I had no other option. And so, it began.

Scooter, Magic Kingdom, Day 1:

When I walked up to the ECV rental kiosk, I was filling out the paperwork for the scooter and happened to glance over at other folks renting the same thing. Some of the people were elderly folks with canes, adults in casts, or people with crutches, but a majority of the people renting them were these ENORMOUSLY fat people who just didn't feel like walking.  And before anyone tells me I'm "judging", I'm not.  I flat out heard at least five people on scooters say something to the effect of "so glad I rented this, I ain't walkin through this damn park".  Ok fine you don't want to walk, but ECVs are in limited quantity (unlike wheelchairs which they have millions of) and by "not wantin' to walk this bitch", you're essentially making someone who actually needs a scooter, have to put their name on a waiting list and then struggle until their name is called.  So I got on my scooter and I instantly felt like an idiot.  Then I began second guessing myself. "Do I need it?", "Should I just walk?" "Do I look like Kendra Krinklesac?"

So I proceeded to enter the park with Randy pushing the double stroller next to me and that's when all hell broke loose.  People just don't look or care that someone is on a scooter and I was bumped and bashed and eye rolled at more than I could count, but the worst parts were the comments.  Because I am not visibly "disabled" people assumed I was just ridin' dirty and the things that came out of some of their mouths was certainly NOT what the "Happiest Place on Earth" would deem appropriate.  "You're one fat, lazy bitch", "Looks like they'll give any fat fuck a scooter here", "Wow could you be any lazier?", "Hey instead of dyeing your hair freakish colors why not hit the gym?", and so on and so forth.  It was horrible and it certainly did not make the start of my vacation pleasant.  So I decided to return my scooter and go with just pure adrenaline and use the stroller as my leverage.  But, I knew I wasn't going to be able to handle standing on long lines so I opted to get the Guest Assistance Card (something I had researched and heard about prior) which would not automatically move me to the front of a line for an attraction, but would allow me Fast Pass entry to the rides that offered it.  Most people who use the GAC are folks who have back problems, joint issues or children with special needs that don't require a wheelchair.  I brought my medical records in the event that I was going to use the GAC but it turns out that I didn't need them because by law, Disney is not allowed to ask why you are asking for the pass.  Bad move, Disney.

As it turns out, the line for the GAC was longer than the line for Pirates of the Caribbean.  Every Tom, Dick, and Harry was on line asking for one of these cards. Some folks visibly needed one (like the family with the "Make A Wish" package and their little boy), others didn't, but because I wasn't walking around with a hole cut in the back of my shirt showing off my neat scar, I naively assumed that they had back and joint issues as well.  So I got my card and they wrote my name on it and how many people were in my party and stamped it with the "use alternate entrance" notation and we were on our way.

Let me say that the GAC, for people who really need it, is a wonderful wonderful wonderful thing.  If lines were more than 20 minutes long, I used mine.  I didn't want to abuse it so I gave myself that 20 minute window to stand.  As it was, 20 minutes was ROUGH for me to stand in line for, but I did it because I saw so many people abusing the GAC that I felt bad.  For example, Dante and I went to the line for Soarin' at Epcot.  The Stand-by line was 90 minutes long. There was no way I could do it. The Fast Pass was 5 minutes. I showed my card, they asked my name and how many people, and we were whisked through.  In front of us though, were four girls, the oldest was twelve.  They had a GAC pass and were put through as well.  All four of them SPRINTED through the maze of tunnels leading to the ride, then proceeded to sit on the floor, gossip, and put on makeup while waiting the whopping 5 minutes.  It took me TEN MINUTES to walk to the ride from the entrance by taking baby steps and holding on to the railing.  We were letting old ladies with canes pass me.  Yet, these little girls had a GAC and ran the Olympics to get to the ride?

I saw so many more instances of the GAC being used by people who didn't really need it that I really think Disney needs to change its policy on getting one.  I don't mean that they should have to ask for a full medical history, but at least a doctor's note explaining why you should get one or what problems you have.  We would not have been able to do most of the rides at the parks had we not had the GAC because it was busier than normal (dance competitions, twirling competitions, soccer teams, and Kelly and Micheal were taping their show there) as I would not have been able to stand on line for that long.  In some instances where the Fast Pass or alternate entry was not available, I was allowed to sit and wait for Randy and the kids to catch up.  I thought that was fair.  

Because the Guest Assistance Card is a "Disney secret" that some people use to their advantage, I did get some inquisitive looks from Disney cast members when giving them my pass. No one was ever rude to me, but you could tell that sometimes they were saying to themselves "Oh great, another one of these" when I showed it to them.  Their doubts were soon allayed, though, when they saw that it took me 6 years to get from point A to point B and I needed to lean on walls in between.  Nevermind getting into the ride itself with the whole stepping down into the seat thing taking me another 5 years.

I also found that in talking to other folks who had a GAC card, that they would instantly get defensive with me and start rattling off their many ailments.  While my initial motive in bringing it up in conversation was to find out if they had been getting any slack from people calling them "line cutters" (since I had), they thought I was questioning them as to their validity of owning one.  Which I wasn't, but in thinking back on it, why would they get so defensive if they weren't hiding anything? But then again, I did the same when someone would comment on mine.  One man even went so far as to lift his shirt up and show me all of his bullet holes and scars from his surgeries.  I was like, thanks dude, I believe you.

I never did use a scooter again on our trip and we did a lot of walking.  The double stroller was very helpful in aiding my walking but I was in constant pain (thankfully I remembered to pack my muscle relaxants for the end of the day), but the added privilege (and it really should be a privilege and not a "perk") of having the Guest Assistance Card made my experience at Disney so much more bearable and manageable.  I just wish people had more integrity to not abuse such a necessity for people who really need it. 

By far, the "best" example of the "disability abuse" that we saw had to be the woman in a scooter on our bus ride back to the hotel one night.  She was in a rented ECV and used the handicapped ramp to board the bus.  In order to do this, the bus driver has to lower the bus, then open the special doors, lower the ramp, close a section of the bus and strap the scooter (along with the rider) into a special set of buckles and belts to keep the ECV and its rider safe.  This takes about 6 minutes to do. While he was doing this for her, she, in a very frail voice, thanked everyone for their patience and apologized that we had to wait.  Everyone on the bus, of course, was accommodating and kind. I mean, this woman is disabled. What are we going to do, yell at her because we want to get back to the hotel now?  Of course not.  So she gets strapped in and the bus gets to her stop (we were getting off there too) and the process of letting her off begins again.  And again, she in her frail voice apologizes for the delay then scoots off on her ECV into the building.  About 30 minutes later, we are sitting at the same bus stop waiting for the bus to take us to our hotel room (we were at the resort restaurant) and as it pulls up, we see a woman and child SPRINT to catch the bus.  I mean, full on running at full speed.  They get to the bus and then start jumping around like crazy.  Randy turns to me and says, "Look at the lady". And I say, "Yea so?" and he says, "Look closely at her".  Wouldn't you know it.  It was the frail "disabled" woman from the bus ride earlier.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Video Killed......No One


My name is Alessia.

And I play violent video games.

Now according to recent pundits and talking heads, that statement alone should have you running away from me screaming in terror and ducking for cover.  According to these same pundits and talking heads, the statement above also relegates me to being an insane, mentally unstable person, who loves guns and killing children. 

Let me just start off by saying that I hate guns. I'm terrified of them, which I think is the ACTUAL point of a gun.  It can end your life in a fraction of a second. And I'm pretty happy being that whole "alive" thing, so I make it a point to stay as far away from real guns as possible.  (Much to my husband's dismay). 

Notice I said "real guns".

Now on the flip side, you get me the BFG 9000 (that stands for Big Fucking Gun in the DOOM video game series) and I will gladly blast everything that has a pulse within 100 feet of me.  Yes, even cute puppies and kitties.
Why, you say?  BECAUSE IT"S NOT FUCKING REAL. That's why.

I am so fracking tired of the folks that come out after a tragedy such as Newton or Aurora and blame the "violent video game industry" for these horrific acts.  Video games are not the cause. Mental illness is the cause.  People who can't discern reality from fantasy are mentally ill, they don't become mass murders because they mastered the eviscerating finishing moves in Mortal Kombat.  (Oh, and FYI, I've played MK since its inception in 1992 and NEVER ONCE have I ripped anyone's spine out, launched harpoons from my face, or turned anyone into ice only to smash them to bits and disintegrate them.)  A mentally ill person will discern violence from anything.  Wasn't it David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer, who claimed his neighbor's German Shepherd was talking to him and giving him orders to kill?  Did anyone blame Pong for his violent crimes?  Was slapping a 16 bit ball across a screen the cause for his wrath?  Was Pong even invented when the Son of Sam was shooting people at random?  (Let me check: YES! Pong was developed in 1972, Berkowitz acted out in 1977). So there!  Did anyone blame the violent video game Pong for the Son of Sam's crimes?!?!

No.  They blamed his mental illness. 

Are we getting dumber or more paranoid?  Why can't people acknowledge that crazy people exist and need help, rather than try to point the finger at what they think is the cause.  In the 80's it was heavy metal that was blamed.  Remember when Judas Priest was on trial because some idiot kids decided to commit suicide and one of them "missed" and ended up blowing half his face off and surviving?  Yes, it was totally Judas Priest's fault for creating such eeeevil hits like "Turbo Lover" and "Hell Bent for Leather".  Hell, if anything, the gay undertones should have made anyone want to strap on some boots and a corset and find the nearest fetish party, but no Cletus shoots his face off and Judas Priest is blamed. 


What about the Dungeons and Dragons scare that had parents confiscating 20-sided dice and pewter wizards from the hands of their innocent children for fear that "witchcraft and wizardry" would lead them to "teh devilz" and suicide? 

The fact of the matter is, I come from a generation that grew up with video games. As a child, I held the Atari 2600 and the Colecovision in my little hands and jumped over crocodiles, swung from vines, and dodged cobras in Pitfall. I jumped barrels and avoided fireballs all in the hopes of saving the princess from a fierce gorilla in Donkey Kong.  I strutted about as I defeated Zaxxon, and helped save the world from evil terrorists (with my brother, of course) as freedom fighting Contras.  And naturally, I've evolved as my game systems evolved.  I went on quests for Zelda, I fought vampires and Dracula in the far off land of Castlevania, and I landed on the planet Zebes and defeated the Queen Metroid. 

And then, I got my first taste of blood. Zombie blood, that is, when I first visited Raccoon City and stocked up on ammo, honing my talent for the "head-shot" and making sure I was always within an arm's length from danger.  War games ensued (though I don't much care for them because I suck at first-person shooters), followed by hand-to-hand combat with worthy opponents who would dismember me (or I them) at the drop of a hat (or command by Shang Tsung).

On and on, the list is endless of the games I have played and creatures I have killed.  Whether human, alien, robot, ghost, undead, vampire, zombie, dog, cat, monster, or any other living creature, I have killed it.  Sometimes, the kills are clean and simple. Other times, brutal and gory.  Sometimes, I've kicked people off of cliffs, beaten them to death with a baseball bat, run over them in my Camaro, or stolen their money and fled the police.  I executed a hit for a Mob Boss once and then beat up a hooker just because I felt like it.  One time, I even killed my partner.

Sounds terrible doesn't it?  I'm a violent person, aren't I?  I'm sick in the head, right?

Not quite. 

You see, there's something sane people know and understand that mentally ill people don't.  Reality is not fantasy and vice versa.  I would NEVER in a million years do any of the things in video games in the real world because DUH how stupid do you have to be?  Ok Ok Ok, I admit, that if the zombie apocalypse were to visit my actual front door, I would shoot them in the head, but that's just a big "if" and not likely to happen (famous last words, right?)

And yes, I will fully concede that sometimes people use violent video games as an excuse for their behavior. Case in point, the Black Hawk pilots who used civilians as target practice and who could be heard on their coms laughing and joking about how it was just like "Call of Duty" and "Medal of Honor".  I would post the video here, but it really is too disturbing. Google it. You'll see.  Even in this case, I don't blame violent video games for their behavior.  They're soldiers in a war.  You can't tell me that a mental break is out of the questions. And in no way am I excusing their behavior of claiming they were insane, but psych evals of our soldiers need to be improved as well as the length of their tours and re-ups, but that's a whole other blog post all together.

So what have I been trying to express in this disjointed blog?  Basically, to the talking heads and pundits, quit placing blame where it isn't merited.  Violent video games are not the reason why people shoot up schools and movie theaters. A failed mental health system is.  A failure to diagnose, to care for, and to keep caring for people who have severe mental issues is to blame.  Not Duck Hunt, or Mario Kart, or Final Fantasy, or Resident Evil.  If that were true a HUGE part of Gen X'ers would be rampaging killing machines.  Instead, we're 30-something year old moms and dads who revel in the 30 minutes they get after bedtime to hold that Xbox/Playstation/Wii controller and save the world.