brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

I had surgery on my butt in August and I’m going to tell you ALL ABOUT IT in a series of posts because apparently what I do on the internet is talk about my ass. Which has resulted in a bunch of really interesting twitter bots following me. Lord help me when I try to get a job and they do a google search on me or something. Anyway. Pilonidal Cysts.

I have a cystic skin condition unrelated to Pilonidal Disease, so when I had gross oozing, bleeding, swelling, and pain at the base of my tailbone/ass I assumed it was just my skin being awful and trying to kill me. I’ve lived with this for LITERALLY twenty years. TWO DECADES. I was aware of what Pilonidal Cysts are, but what are the chances that I’d have hidradenitis suppurativa AND pilonidal disease? IT IS TO LAUGH. Of COURSE I’d have both! I mentioned my butt issues to my general practitioner who said “Hm, that sounds like a pilonidal cyst, pull your pants down” and I did and mooned her and she said “yup that’s a Pilonidal Cyst here’s a referral to a surgeon.”

I foolishly assumed the surgeon could like… lance it in his office and that’d be it. OH LOR. NO. It involves actual knock-you-out surgery and I’m going to talk about that in a later post. But right now I’m going to talk about what a pilonidal cyst is.

There’s a lot of misconceptions about Pilonidal Cysts/Pilonidal Disease and what causes it. The general idea most people have of Pilonidal Disease is that it’s caused by fat hairy gross dudes who sit around too much in a slouched position while playing computer games and jerking off. It’s OBVIOUSLY caused by ingrown hairs, poor hygiene, improper seating posture, etc.

Actually, according to my surgeon, it’s not! It is, I believe, related to Spina Bifida. When the fetus is forming you have the neural tube that eventually closes to form the spinal column. Sometimes it doesn’t close completely and a little pocket or closed tube is formed. Either you’re born with it or you’re not. If you’re born with it, either a hair grows into it or not. If a hair grows into it, either it gets infected or it doesn’t. If it gets infected either it comes to a head on its own and drains (like mine did, continuously for twenty years) or it just swells up and is horrific. It’s entirely chance. There’s nothing a person can do to cause or prevent it. Lancing, antibiotics, etc don’t really affect it. Even if you can get it into remission, it’ll come back. The surgeon I saw stressed that it’s something he sees all the time in men, in women, in thin people, in fat people, in hairy people, in not hairy people, in active people, in sedentary people. It’s just a thing that happens. And it can be treated.

The surgeon I saw removes the entire Pilonidal Sinus in out patient surgery and then stitches it all up. He does not pack the surgical site unless the stitches fail, which I appreciate, as I didn’t want to deal with packing. It took me about 3 weeks before I could sit again (I basically spent two weeks doing nothing but lying in bed, which actually is awful.) In my next post I’ll talk about how to prepare for surgery, and what happened with my surgery.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Nikola, almost six, is an only child who never attended day care or much in the way of play groups. Pre-Kindergarten and its broad swath of germs and viruses hit him hard. Kindergarten is hitting him less hard, but that’s like saying getting struck down by a golf cart is better than being flattened by a fast moving freight train. You’re still on the ground counting your bones and wondering what hit you.

Niko has a gross cold that leaves him snotty (although he’s finally figuring out how to blow his nose) and with a nasty cough. I kept him home from school yesterday because the cough was disrupting his sleep and he was on edge and poorly. Then last night his cough progressed to triggering vomiting. Thankfully he knew what was up and called me in to help him and we kept the mess pretty contained, at least physically. But he doesn’t enjoy vomiting, or coughing excessively, or feeling out of control, especially at 1:30 in the morning. I mean, who does? So the coughing till he pukes events usually progress to crying till he coughs more and then pukes again. One of my mom jobs is to calm him down when he gets worked up (even when he’s healthy, as he has asthma) because crying can lead to coughing can lead to grossness.

I cleaned up the puke, got him calmed down, helped him blow his nose and drink some water, cranked up his humidifier, fluffed his pillows, and did everything else I could to help him sleep comfortably. I gave him the last of the liquid benedryl we have on hand because it can shrink swelling in nasal passages and dry up postnasal drip, helping ease coughing and make breathing easier. He declined the codeine cough syrup we have for him (it tastes like fire) but if he’s coughing this much again tonight I’m going to insist he take it. But other than that, there’s nothing I can do. I mean, I can sit up on the couch with him, supporting his body so he’s not lying down, and hope that helps his cough. I can push fluids into him during the day, and feed him chicken soup. I can take him to the doctor (where they’ll say “yup, that’s a cold, keep him hydrated. that’ll be $25 please.”). But I can’t really make him better.

Most cold remedies don’t work any better than a placebo, while also having some pretty severe side effects, especially for children. There’s nothing I can give Niko to make him all better. If I could pull the sickness out of his body and endure it myself I would. All I can do is try to make him comfortable and be thankful this isn’t Pertussis.

Pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough for the whooping sound of the coughs, or 100 day cough because of how long the illness usually lasts (10 weeks or longer, ie, over 2 1/2 months), is a highly contagious bacterial infection. It causes coughing so extreme that people wit it vomit, can break ribs, or become utterly exhausted. After coughing they can pass out; during coughing they can wet themselves, tear open arteries, burst capillaries in their eyes, or develop hernias. Infants don’t always develop the cough, sometimes they just stop breathing. Complications include pneumonia, encephalitis, and seizures. Despite the fact that a Pertussis vaccine was developed in the 1940s and has been proved resoundingly effective and safe, people are still rejecting it out of fear and misinformation. And so a disease that could be completely eradicated in the USA has pockets where it lives and strikes those most vulnerable to it, hospitalizing many of them and killing some of them.

Nikola will be sick for a week or two. He’ll probably miss 4-5 days of school (a school week). He’ll be gross and miserable and he’ll probably get this one or two more times this school year, and hopefully will get it less often next year. We’ll continue to treat him kindly and gently and help him use his inhaler so he can breathe better. He’ll be miserable and I’ll be miserable and I’ll lie awake at night listening to him cough and worrying, and listening to him NOT cough and worrying about THAT.

But it’s not Pertussis, at least.

That’s something.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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A few weeks ago I felt a little weird in my face area before bed. I checked myself in the mirror and my face was blotchy and swollen. I generally felt unwell and had been battling a cold so assumed it was a sinus infection. I complained about it a lot, took ibuprofin, and drank a lot of water and it passed. In retrospect, though, I think it was hives.

Last Thursday I noticed a rash on my stomach. It was faint pink and vaguely itchy. I assumed it was dry skin or possibly that I’d gotten bleach cleaning spray on my skin through my shirt while cleaning the kitchen, but it got darker and itchier and spread. Also the backs of my knees really itched, but I assumed it was just eczema. Today, one week later, it’s covering my body from the tops of my thighs to my throat/neck, and snaking its way down my arms to the insides of my elbows.

I look kind of like a mottled pink and white cheetah or something, all blotches and roseates. My soft organic cotton t-shirts feel like fine grit sandpaper on my shoulders and back. I suddenly find myself scratching fervently at various places, scratching hard enough and long enough that while I haven’t broken the skin and am not bleeding, its moist and slightly weeping. I sit on my hands to keep from scratching myself raw, and suddenly find myself scratching my butt/hips/thighs. I fold my hands together, fingers twined, and suddenly realize I have welts on my wrists and am scratching them.

I’ve been taking benedryl, which does nothing much to alleviate the itching or hives.

My big fear is that I’ve developed an allergy to one of two things:

1) Some super common food that I eat all the time like eggs or butter or wheat or coffee that will be hard for me to avoid
2) zinc, which I take as a supplement to address a skin condition I have (hidradenitis suppurativa) that causes me to randomly and spontaneously break out in abscesses that take f o r e v e r to heal. The zinc doesn’t CURE the skin condition, mind you. It just puts it more or less into remission until you stop taking the zinc and then it gets as bad as ever.

I have an appointment with a doctor for Tuesday. I’d been meaning to make one for a while so I could get a physical and generally get checked out, but I wanted to get new glasses ($200-400) and get my teeth taken care of (god knows how much) first.

I’m pretty nervous about seeing the doctor because I’ve had some really horrific and abusive medical experiences in the past, and the fact that I’m fat does not help at all. We’ve had insurance in place for a while now… about a month?… but I’ve held off going in to get my asthma and PCOS evaluated– as well as starting documenting my skin condition for future disability claims*– because of the incredibly negative experiences I’ve had.

(* this skin condition never gets better. There’s no treatment for it that heals it, the best you can hope for is to keep it from getting worse. It’s very common for treatments that HAD been working to suddenly stop working. It’s intensely painful and can and does affect mobility. It’s one of (the?) only skin conditions one can get SSDI for, a process that’s intensely difficult to do. I fully expect to be in increasing pain from this and potentially require a number of surgeries that remove areas of skin and under lying tissue. The fact that I’m a stay at home parent and spend most of my day in yoga pants or pyjama pants is AMAZING for my skin, as clothing that causes friction also leads to increased instances of abscesses. Yet it’s very difficult to work a job where you’re in soft, unstructured clothing all day.)

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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(content note: discussion of body hate, disordered eating, mental health issues, harassment, etc)

What is a microagression?

A microagression is a small, non-physical act that takes a negative, hostile, insulting, etc stance toward people of lower status. The term was originally used to refer to issues of race but is also sometimes used to describe similar actions with regards to gender and gender expression, class, ability status, etc.

On December 11th, Melissa McEwan started the hashtag #fatmicroaggressions on twitter “because I was having a moment of fedupedness with people pretending that fat people’s lived experiences are not spoken about, not known.”

I started college in 1997 when I was 18 and already pretty solidly in the grips of an eating disorder. If you’d asked me about it, I would have talked about diets and willpower and how unbelievably fat I was. At the time, I was still able to shop in “normal” clothing stores and wasn’t unbelievably fat. But adults had treated me, since childhood, as a massive disgusting fatbag one snack away from imploding from my own fatness. Didn’t I know how disgusting I was? Didn’t I know how cute I’d be if I’d only lose some weight? I look back at photos of myself as a kid, and sometimes I was a little chubby and sometimes I was skinny, but I wasn’t a fat kid. But adults around me were super quick to enforce the idea that I was a fat kid and fat kids were fundamentally worth less than non-fat kids. I think a lot of that was in reaction to the fact that my mom is fat… that they were trying to stage some sort of intervention to prevent me from going down the same (constantly dieting, constantly hungry, constantly hating herself) path she was on. And I internalized that. I took it as a given that I didn’t deserve clothing that fit properly or looked good, that I didn’t deserve to sit on the nice furniture for fear of breaking it, that I didn’t deserve people to treat me well, that I shouldn’t expect to ever find a husband or have kids (neither of which I was interested in at the time) unless I was willing to be strong and use my willpower to lose weight and get skinny. Because I was just lazy and indolent, that’s all, and all I needed to do was pay attention and count calories and measure things and work out and walk just a little bit and not so fucking much.

I stopped doing ballet (and tap and jazz) because my instructor told me I’d never be able to go en pointe, I was too fat. Too bad I don’t live in Russia or I could have joined Big Ballet, made up of dancers who weigh 220 lbs and up. I stopped doing tumbling/gymnastics because the instructor refused to help me get into positions she helped the other kids get into, and responded to my complaints of physical bullying (shoves, pokes, punches, and pinches of my little tummy) with an admonition to lose some weight (I was under ten years old). My pediatrician dismissed my mom’s concerns over my recurring ear infections, bronchitis (2-3x a year), and strep throat and advised her to put me on a diet. (When I turned 20 I got a new doctor who immediately had my tonsils removed. In the ensuing 14 years I’ve had bronchitis maybe 3 times total instead of 2-3 times a year. She also, worried about my weight, put me on an anti-depressant because it tended to suppress the appetite. She completely missed the part where I was incapacitated by Depression and Anxiety, but boy did she see my stomach and decide losing weight would do the trick. She missed the obvious signs of PCOS, too.)

By my senior year of high school, I was subsisting primarily on heavily caffeinated diet sodas. They were calorie free and filled me up sloshily and gave me energy which I needed because I was taking in so few calories. They also gave me horrible headaches thanks to the artificial sweeteners, but it was worth it, because no calories! I counted calories to the extreme, measuring out teaspoons of peanut butter for sandwiches and making hot cocoa with half the amount of the mix recommended. And when I was too hungry to keep doing it, when I’d been fasting for three or four days, I’d go on a binge and eat until I hurt while hating myself the entire time. I had excruciating nightmares for years about eating, would wake up racked with guilt from eating in dreams.

At some point in college I encountered the Venus of Willendorf and, possibly somehow through that, Marilyn Wann’s website Fat!So? which was a life changer. They both started me thinking in a very fundamentally different way about my body and my place in the world. I later discovered Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size (HAES) and Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose and other blogs from the fatosphere.

I’m a lot healthier– and a lot fatter– now than I used to be. I rarely have my blood sugar drop so low I get shakey and nearly pass out. I haven’t fasted or binged in a long time. Keeping a food log can trigger incredibly unhealthy mindsets and behavior in me, but I can keep one if I need to (for instance, to be sure I’m taking in enough calories in a day). I still deal with stress by losing any inclination to eat, and sometimes realize that it’s almost bedtime and I’ve literally eaten nothing that day. I still have deep rooted problems, physical and mental, from the way people have treated me and my body for daring to exist as a fat person.

And I encounter similar problems pretty much every single day, people pre-judging me and my worth based on my size.

When I was pregnant, my first OB-GYN did not have a scale that went above 250 lbs. In order to weigh in, I had to leave his office, walk into a different office of a different doctor, and ask to use THEIR scale. I’ve had doctors fret that I was too heavy for their exam tables (I’m not). I’ve had medical staff refuse to use a larger sized blood pressure cuff (which skews my BP reading, making it register as abnormally high) or insist on using a thigh cuff (which is too big, and also gives a false reading… this time of too low). I’ve had many medical staff offer me exam gowns that were ridiculously small, because they simply don’t stock plus size gowns. When I had just delivered my child via C-Section, which is major abdominal surgery, and was still unable to feel anything from my chest down, I was expected to self-transfer from a gurney to a bed because the nurses didn’t want to touch my fat body. When I accidentally soiled myself (again, just had major abdominal surgery, had no sensation below the chest) they refused to clean me up and I lay there caked in feces for over an hour. When they DID clean me, they did an incredibly poor job. The morning nurse assumed I was simply incontinent and had regular bowel leakage because that’s just how fat people are. Medications, including birth control, are not tested on people over a certain size, resulting in fat people routinely being given the wrong dose of medication.

Every day that I leave my house I know I am going to be judged harshly by people. They are going to pull faces if I sit near them on the bus or train. They are going to be extra angry if I’m too slow crossing the street. People who see me with my kid assume I’m his aunt or nanny and not his mom. I know for a fact that I’m statistically likely to receive inferior medical care, that if I need an EMT they might stand around mocking my size instead of assisting me, or might post photos of me and insults to twitter or facebook. If I go into a grocery store, someone would feel it well within their rights to take photos of me and post them online with insults. In fact, there’s websites devoted to mocking people my size. People feel it acceptable and normal to casually insult me simply for existing, to judge me and find me wanting based solely on what they see.

I’m not going to pull that ridiculous “last acceptable prejudice” card or claim that anti-fat bias is somehow unique in the world of hatred and -isms. I’m also aware that as a white woman who usually doesn’t look obviously disabled I don’t get slammed with as much bias as other fat people in the world.

But still.

Every day I wake up and go out into a world that’s full of assholes. Every day I wake up and brace myself for absolute strangers to attack and deride me. Every day that I post something online i wait for the “lol ur fat” responses to roll in– and they frequently do.

So Melissa McEwan started this hashtag and people started posting under it. And some of it’s petty little shit like cashiers side-eying their Halloween Candy purchases and some of it’s bigger stuff like being denied birth control or having eating disorders and other medical issues go undiagnosed/untreated. And some people responded with WELL THAT ISN’T REALLY MICRO NOW IS IT.

I have 2 responses to that.

1) When you deal with toxic bullshit every single day, what should be a huge instance of hate and bias kind of sinks into a background noise. Pretty much every very fat person I know has had their medical concerns dismissed because they’re fat and “they just need to lose weight.” So on the one hand, that is (or should be) a huge fucking issue. On the other hand, it’s incredibly common. Almost every fat person I know dreads having to find a new doctor (or A doctor if they haven’t got one) because it means you’re probably going to have to shop around extensively just to find a person who treats you like a human being and not a gross sack of lipids. So a lot of the things mentioned under the hashtag? Are super huge things and not micro at all. But you know what? Those things are so common, so ubiquitous, and so many people feel they are deserved, that they just… lie there. Accepted. Acceptable.

2) It’s rare for the voices of fat people to be centered, to be heard, to be granted legitimacy. So fat folks see these kind of thing, and on twitter there’s very little barrier to entry, and suddenly… they’re entered into a conversation with other people who have Been There, who have Experienced That, who have Survived That, who Know How It Is. And the dam breaks. And all this fear and resentment and anger comes pouring out. Yes, there’s a difference between that woman on the bus who got up huffily after you sat down because your thigh touched hers and she didn’t want your gross fat cooties and the time you went to the doctor and he dismissed your questions about MS and advised you to eat more kale and lose weight, but at the same time, those exist on a spectrum of hate that affects all fat people and both are equally acceptable ways to react to fat people: with disgust, with anger that they exist, with dismissal. Just go away and don’t come back until you’re skinny.

The trolls, of course, have come out.

It’s easy to lose weight, they say. You’re just making excuses, they say. One asshole, whose entire account seemed to have been created solely to seek out and harass people who’d participated in the hash tag, tried to dismiss some of my claims. MAYBE THEY JUST SECRETLY HATE YOU.



Sweet troll.

Precious little one.

It’s not a fucking secret.

It is socially acceptable and valid to hate people, to treat them as less than human, to consider them both worth less than thinner humans and also to consider them worthless.

That’s not a secret at all.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

One of Niko’s prescriptions is Codeine, which is a controlled substance – it’s an opiate, and it’s habit forming, and it can also be dangerous (especially in little kids). When we dropped it and his two antibiotic prescriptions (one for his general lung funk and one for an unrelated butt rash) the pharmacist gave it a good long side eye.

“He’s just got a cough?” he asked.

“He’s got a cough that keeps him up at night, makes it hard for him to breathe, doubles him over, and causes him to vomit,” I answered.

After typing in a bunch of stuff on the computer, he informed me that our insurance wouldn’t cover it until Niko was 5 years old, which seems odd to me but WHATEVER. Although it wasn’t too expensive, it was still more money than we really had at the time (it was the day before pay day and we’ve had a series of unexpected expenses) so we elected to pick it up the next day. I spent the rest of that day, that night, and the next day doubting myself for two reasons: both for not picking it up right away even though that would have left us with absolutely no money at all in case of emergency, and for having it filled because Niko is FOUR do I really want to dose him with an opiate?

Nesko picked up the codeine last night on his way home from work. It was a bigger bottle than I expected. I opened it and sniffed it because I was curious. I remember taking codeine syrup and having it be a sickly chemical-y fake cherry This codeine smelled… wrong. Bad. I stuck a finger in the bottle and licked it. Nesko laughed at the face I made, then he did the same.

“Oh, that’s not so… URGH.”

It takes awhile for the flavor to really bloom on the tongue and throat, you see.

I am a person– a weirdo, you might say– who does not find the taste of NyQuil or Robitussin objectionable. Part of this is because I was so sick so often as a younger person and those medications made me feel better, if even a little bit, so I have a positive reaction to them. But this codeine? blargh.

Nikola, as I think I’ve mentioned, is A Delicate Flower, and certain textures AND TASTES cause him to gag and sometimes vomit. So we prepared him for the bad taste.

“This tastes bad,” we said. “This does not taste good. But it is medicine and will help you feel better, and after you have it you can have an ice cream sandwich.”

Nikola took it, agreed that it was DISGUSTING, and then ate an ice cream sandwich. And then he turned into a horrific whine beast, staggering around the living room and finding fault with everything. Was it the codeine, we asked ourselves, or was it simply a sick four year old who was up too late waiting for his medication to come home? We all tucked ourselves into bed, him wedged between me and Nesko, and he was Full! Of! Comments! And! Commands! for about five minutes while Nesko and I both advised him to shut up shut up shuttt upppppppp already. Five minutes later, he was sacked out.

Niko slept, without coughing, for twelve hours and woke up chipper and alert and in a great mood.

After eating breakfast, he joined me in the kitchen, and was seized by spasms of coughing. I asked him if he wanted more cough medicine. He shook his head no, then yes. He calmed down. I asked him if he wanted more cough medicine. He said no. He started coughing again. I asked him if he wanted more cough medicine. He nodded yes. When he’d calmed down again, I asked if he still wanted cough medicine. He looked. so. sad. but said yes. I gave him some more and he drank a bunch of water and had a piece of candy and bopped off. I heard him coughing a few times, although not as bad, and have heard no coughs at all for the past hour which is amazing.

For a long period in my life, I would get bronchitis 2-3 times a year. Each time, I’d be sick for 2-4 weeks and would miss at least a week of school. I’d cough until I puked. I’d cough my throat raw and bloody. I’d pull muscles. I’d get so tired from coughing that I was no longer able to really cough and would make pathetic almost-cough sounds and people would mock me for faking it and acting pathetic for attention, while I struggled to breathe. Super fun! I spent a lot of time sleeping sitting up in chairs because lying down resulted in suffocating on my own snots.

This is absolutely not something I want my kid to experience.

On the one hand, I don’t give him fever reducers when he runs a fever. I want his body to fight off the illness, and for the most part it does. I’m very aware that antibiotics don’t do anything for viral infections and if Niko’s doctor said “Welp, this is viral, only thing we can do is wait it out and keep him hydrated,” I’d be fine with that. On the other hand, good lord this cough. It’s gone on so long and it’s so rough on him and he has asthma so I worry about him being able to breathe.

So I filled his codeine prescription, and I’m super glad that it seems to be working for him. The deep shadows under his eyes are much lighter than they were, he’s got a lot more energy today. He could just be improving on his own, sure. But this really seems to be helping him.

He’s already missed a week of school. I’ll be glad to see Monday.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Are you tired of hearing about my jacked up knee yet? HA HA SUCKERS! I’m here to talk about it SOME MORE.

Nesko stopped at Walgreen’s last night and picked me up a cane and it is black and has a stylin’ orange-y copper band just below the handle, and I am able to walk around with it, albeit slowly.

The problem with me and canes… or me and crutches… is that I start feeling “normal” and get over confident and move to fast and over balance and then windmill my arms around and either twist my knee/ankle/other anatomy up or just plain fall down. No lie, I had a nurse bust up laughing at me once when she watched me flail my way across the room on crutches. I just pick up speed, ok?!?

So I’m moving around the apartment with greater ease than before, although I have to constantly remind myself to slow down, slow down, go slower, take my time.

I wish I’d gotten this cane days ago.

It’s good I have it now, though, because I am having… tummy troubles.

I was feeling pretty confident that I’d be able to take Niko to school on Monday and then I remembered that Monday is Labor Day and he has it off. So it looks like I’ll be super ready to start taking him again on Tuesday. I’ve felt super weird about someone else handling the duty, on top of feeling weird that strangers are with my kid for 2 1/2 hours a day and I have no idea what’s going on during that time. So it’ll be nice to get a little more in the loop, you know?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to put my left foot flat on the floor and walk around slowly but stylishly.


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ha ha, ow

Thursday, 29 August 2013 12:20
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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In 2003 or 2004, I forget exactly when but it’s when I was still working at the bakery, Nesko had the day off. He drove me into work at super early in the morning. We were stopped at a red light, a woman in little shorts jogging slowly across the cross walk in front of us, when a guy in a pick up truck slammed into us from behind. We jerked forward a bit, and my left knee hit the front dashboard. I’m super anal about showing up to schedule shifts, so after exchanging insurance info Nesko dropped me off at the bakery and I worked a full shift. THEN we went to the ER (and filed an accident report). The docs gave us both pain killers and muscle relaxers for neck and back pain, but I didn’t mention anything about my knee. However, I’ve had pain in that knee ever since, pretty consistently. It’s like a grinding feeling. I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s something… bone chips?… floating around and grinding against things.

Niko’s started preschool and it’s 4 blocks (half a mile) away. On his second day of school, we meandered over there and got him settled in his classroom, and then I headed back home. About a block away I started fretting to myself about how my knee was hurting worse and worse and that my right hip was starting to hurt because I was walking a bit funny, almost limping. I turned into the alley behind our building as a bit of a short cut. I was within sight of our back fence, about two buildings down, when suddenly I felt a snap and my knee was replaced with searing, blinding pain. I staggered to the side, unable to support my weight, and then managed to hop over and lean against somebody’s garage door, gasping and cussing.

It was pretty awful.

I managed to hop, hobble, and lurch to our fence, where I found an old fence post and used that as a sort of crutch thing to get me up to the house. I dragged myself up the back stairs. I’ve been in pain ever since.

Fortunately, my plan of staying off it as much as possible is paying off. Every day it’s hurting less. It hurts less this afternoon than it did in the middle of the night when I woke up to pee, which hurt less than it did that evening before going to bed, etc. I’m healing. And I’m super lucky that our house mate has been able to take Niko to school and pick him up again, letting me just sit around and convalesce.

I don’t have insurance, or I’d have called 911 right there in the alley and had an ambulance come get me. I don’t have insurance, but will be covered in November through Nesko’s new job. All I need is for my body to hold on for 3 more months. But stuff keeps blowing up and costing money and time and etc. Come on, body! Hold it together!

In retrospect, I think I stepped funny and sprained my knee. It feels a lot like what happened years and years ago when I stepped awkwardly off a ledge I didn’t know was there and felt a similar snap in my ankle. It wasn’t broken, just badly sprained, and time and coddling did most of the healing. I’m hoping that’s what’ll happen with my knee, but plan on going out and picking up a cane or something this weekend. And my knee’s just moved higher on my “get this checked out ASAP” list. Sorry, funny looking mole! You’re not causing me pain so you’re getting downgraded!

I’ve noticed that my knee’s been hurting a lot more since my whole face swelled up from my teeth going bad. It’s like I get a little inflammation somewhere and then my whole body goes to hell, everything swelling and hurting and acting up. If I could trade this fleshy shell in for something cybernetic I absolutely would.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Last night I had a nightmare.

This is nothing new or unusual for me. I’m a very active and vivid dreamer who routinely sees in color and can taste, smell, hear, feel, etc everything that’s happening. I can feel the change in texture of a painted iron fence, from smooth paint to rough rust spot. I can feel the dry heat of the sun on my head and back and the cool lapping of lake water on my legs, complete with the feel of rounded pebbles under my feet, toes digging in and gripping them. I once had a very pleasant dream where I was just sitting in a field of tall waving grass, dry and golden, rattling seed pods, while the sun set. The sky was brilliant colors, the air cooled, the stars slowly came out. It was peaceful.

But most of my dreams are pretty awful.

They’re complex, with convoluted plot lines. I have a lot of anxiety dreams about being lost, losing something, having to find someone or something. I’m never where I need to be. Sometimes I can read in dreams, and I have read the most amazing stories and histories. Other times words and letters are a shifting jumble and I need to read them and I can’t make sense of them. I frequently have dreams about needing to call someone and being unable to work the phone, tension and anxiety mounting as various things go wrong.

On top of that, I also have nightmares. Often. Frequently. Several times a week. Sometimes several times a night.

I’m chased through dark woods by slavering beasts who want to rip me apart. I’m traveling through ruined cities, looking for supplies and evading bad guys who want to kill me. I’m hiding someplace small and dark hiding from something lurking right outside, waiting, being absolutely silent. I’m on the run from people, from things, who want to torture and kill me. There are spiders on me. There’s something under my skin. My spouse/parent/child is possessed by a ghost/demon and nobody knows but me and I have to fix the problem before it kills me. Something or someone is trying to smother me and I can’t breathe.

I live with terror.

And that terror usually involves bodily harm- protracted bodily harm.

I mentioned that I can feel things? Cool water and round stones and breezes and grass? That I can feel the soft flutter of a cotton skirt against my bare legs, or the tickle of a dry leaf falling and brushing my cheek? I can feel pain, too.

I lie with chronic insomnia. I have a hard time falling asleep and I have a hard time staying asleep. If something (or someone) wakes me up, it can literally take hours for me to get back to sleep. I’m tired all the time, I enjoy lounging in bed, but I hate sleeping. I need to sleep, but I hate it. I wake up exhausted, often no more rested than when I lay down, and frequently more emotionally drained. I realized when I was in high school that I had a lot of delaying tactics around going to sleep and wondered if it was because of my dreams, and I think that’s true. There’s 6-10 hours a night where I’m not in control and horrors come out and play, and that is very stressful.

Sometimes I realize I’m dreaming, and I try to take control and direct things. Sometimes that works and I can change things or switch to a different dream. Once, while having an anxiety dream, I got very frustrated and exclaimed that this was JUST LIKE an anxiety dream and I was OUT OF HERE and I literally walked away and into a different dream. But other times I freak out and think “Oh, this is JUST LIKE a dream” but then lose that thread.

The first time I went on Wellbutrin I started seeing results very quickly. One result was that I got tired and went to sleep and woke up feeling refreshed. I stopped taking Wellbutrin for reasons I can’t remember, but took a generic form years later that sadly did not have the same effect.

I don’t know why my brain goes into overdrive while I sleep. It’s not related to physical activity or what I eat or if I’m depressed or what I’ve been watching or reading or anything. It just… bam.


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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I was awoken this morning in what I would have called pre-child-having the worst way to wake up, but now that I have a kid I know that the WORST way to wake up is to surprise vomit or other bodily fluids. So this is now ranked second, but it’s still awful. Namely, I woke up with a horrible Charley Horse in my calf.

I get them sometimes. Most people do. I got them more often when I was a teenager. Once, the searing pain woke me and I lashed my leg out, slamming my foot against the poured concrete wall of the room I was sleeping in, nearly breaking bones in my foot. Another time I literally woke up screaming, which alarmed Nesko to no end because I wasn’t fully awake and could just kind of roar incoherently at him and he thought my appendix was exploding or something. Good times!

This morning’s wasn’t horrifically bad, and I’m pretty sure it was caused by the fact that the temperature dropped over night and my leg was sticking out from under the cozy covers and the muscle got chilled and them cramped. I stretched it out a bit and was able to fall back asleep and it feels pretty ok now.

Once I had a limp for two days from the strength of the cramp. What the helllll, body.

We’ve been doing lots of drawing and coloring around here lately, and I’m going to go now and help Niko create a gallery wall in the living room of his dinosaur masterpieces.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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There’s a Jenny Craig ad featuring a woman sobbing because she realized there were no photos of her and her infant daughter, but now she’s lost a bunch of weight she can take SO MANY PHOTOS and REALLY LIVE HER LIFE.

This commercial makes me so, so angry.


There is nothing preventing you from taking photos of your fat ass, or living your life, but you. I super hate the societal message that women who are fat should hide away and never be seen, should exist in a state of shame, should do everything they can to reduce their physical bodies to an acceptable size. It leads to ill health both physical and mental, and it leads to people putting their lives on hold, waiting forever for the magic moment when they’re slim enough, when they’re good enough, when they’re deserving enough, to actually live.

Get out there and live.

Bust out the camera and take photos of yourself, have family and friends photograph you.

Then look at the photos.

You may hate the way you look, but seriously, the more you look at them the more used you get to them, and the more you’ll get to like them. Pretty soon you’ll stop focusing on your belly or thighs or double chin or weird hair or the way your shirt bunched up or your crooked teeth or your zits or whatever the problems are. You’ll just see you. And you’ll see you having fun and doing things and being with people you love.

I have very few photos of my mom, because she spends most of her time hiding from the camera “feeling fat.” Looking through family photo albums there’s a weird sense that she doesn’t exist. When she is photographed, she’s usually hiding behind someone or something, or half out of the photo, or something like that. One of my favorite photos of her is her on the stairs with a terrible haircut, a perm that went awry. My dad took it to document her awful hair, and she’s laughing, and you can see her brilliant smile and sense of humor and how gorgeous and full of life she is. Another snapshot is her on the day she graduated from college, holding her diploma triumphantly, in her weird hippy shirt and her hair longer than she usually wore it. She’s so alive, so present. Her favorite photo of herself, one that she carried around in her wallet for years (and might still have), is her standing in the sunlight in cut off jean shorts. She’s at her slimmest, and she keeps it to remind herself of how perfect she was then. She was taking prescription amphetamines and spending time she normally would have been sleeping running on treadmills to use up the excess energy. She was also in her 20s and hadn’t had kids yet. But oh, how she clings to that photo. It’s like something out of the long-running (now ended) syndicated comic “Cathy.” I mean, at one point, Cathy pulls out a photo of herself at her slimmest and compares her current fat self to it.

There’s a quote I ran across once and now I can’t find it again. I don’t know if it’s from a story, a blog post, a song lyric, or what. “We were young and beautiful and didn’t even know it.”

We’re all young and beautiful, and we don’t realize it, don’t recognize it. Especially those of us raised female. We worry about our fat and our breasts and hips being too large or not large enough. We fret over our skin and hair and posture. We’re perfect, but convinced we are imperfect and those imperfections make us unlovable. And we get older and bigger and more wrinkled and our hair thins and we lament our lost pasts. Why didn’t we take more photos? Why didn’t we run around enjoying our bodies? Why did we spend so much time hating ourselves? But we’re still unkind to our bodies, still viewing them with suspicions, still expecting perfection and disappointed in the reality. We had from the camera, too fat, too wrinkled, too female.

And our family looks through photo albums and we’re not present, we’ve made ourselves invisible.

It’s easy to pick up a camera and take on photo taking duties. It’s a service. It’s part of the emotional heavy lifting that’s expected of women. But it’s also an excuse. If you’re handling the photos nobody else has to. If you’re the only photographer, it’s an easy out, an easy excuse to not be in the photographs yourself.

Please stop doing this.

Take photographs of yourself, let others take photos of you. Leave a record of your life, be present in your life. Just live. Stop thinking about your body and live, exist. Give yourself permission to exist and take up space. Stop being afraid of not being perfect, not being good enough. Stand in front of the camera and just be.

When Niko was an infant, my sister-in-law snapped of photo of me sacked out on the couch holding him. I hated the photo when I first saw it, the first tens of times I saw it. I’m so fat. Look at my chins. Look at that huge mole. Ugh, my hair. Ugh, my hairy arms. Ugh, my crooked glasses. But the more I saw it the more used to it I got. Yes, I’m fat. That’s how my body is. I’m fat and I’m hairy and that’s just me, it’s how I am. And look at me, there with my baby, relaxed and happy and both of us safe and comfortable and asleep. It’s an intimate moment, a photo of us just being together and loving each other. I love that photo now, and Niko loves to look at it.

You are who you are. Please, please, stop putting your life on hold until you’re a better version of yourself. Start your life now and actually live it.

And take some photos.

You’ll appreciate it later.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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You’ve probably seen the latest Dove viral ad campaign. It’s a video available on you tube about how totally awesome Dove is because of their decade long “Real Beauty” campaign and how now they’re going after the people who are REALLY evil: “art directors, graphic designers, and photo retouchers.” Not ad executives and companies, no. Just those evil artists who for reasons TOTALLY UNKNOWN make women feel bad ON PURPOSE about their bodies. But how to “catch them in the act!!!” and “make them reconsider”? They needed a plan! So they created a Photoshop Action and released it into the wild, where it will be used by amateurs who want to make wedding and baby photographs look better. Billed as a “skin glow effect” they posted it on reddit and other places where art directors, graphic designers, and professional photo retouchers TOTALLY hang out and get their totally professional Photoshop Actions, Brushes, etc from.

In reality, all the Action does is revert all changes made to the original image and pop up a scolding message.

Don’t manipulate our perceptions of real beauty.

Of course, to undo that reversion, all one has to do is hit… well… undo.

BAM! A totally effective message that will OBVIOUSLY CHANGE THE WORLD FOREVER!

Or, more likely, go viral and make Dove look totally awesome and progressive because they just love women so much and are so willing to take on those horrible evil photo retouchers who are just the WORST, right?

Dove, remember, is owned by Unilver which has those atrocious Axe commercials (women! they are fuck beasts for fucking!) and SlimFast (women: you are fat cows, stop eating!). If they really wanted to push for long acting real social change, they could apply pressure to Unilver to at the very least stop marketing Axe the way it’s marketed.

Of course, they could also change their own advertising as well.

I mean, if Dove really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, maybe they shouldn’t find new body parts for women to be ashamed of? I, for one, never knew my armpits were ugly until Dove told me so.





If Dove really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, they wouldn’t market Firming Creams, and their criteria for casting calls wouldn’t be quite as shameful (beautiful skin and hair only! No zits or scars, those are GROSSSSSSSS).


If Dove (and Unilever) really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, they wouldn’t market skin-lightening creams (which are physically as well as emotionally harmful) around the world.

Like diet companies who co-opt HAES and Size Acceptance verbage, and companies who practice Greenwashing, Dove is taking Body Acceptance language and using it to sell product. They are telling women what they think women want to hear for the sole reason that they want to sell products to those women. There’s nothing inherently wrong with companies advertising their wares. What’s wrong is the incredibly hypocritical advertising Dove uses. They aren’t trying to change the world, but they very willing to use social justice and activism language to sell their products and their subtle form of body hate. Dove doesn’t give a shit about your body or how beautiful you feel, they just want your money.

One of the worst things is that Dove is actually in a position to make actual changes in the industry. Instead of telling everyone that we should pat them on the back for promoting size acceptance and bodily diversity (while actually showing a pretty narrow range of sizes and skin colors), they could just use a wide variety of women of different body types and ethnicities. They could show instead of telling. They could push for Unilever to do the same with other ad campaigns as well. And they could pressure Unilever to drop the body shaming, sexist, manipulative language and images that other Unilever products use. But Dove isn’t doing that. Instead, they’re creating viral videos that do the bulk of advertising for them (saving them money) and creating good will among their users. It’s an effective ad campaign, but it’s also an insulting one.

Dove claims that they’re against distorting perceptions of beauty, which is harmful to women, while telling women that their armpits are ugly and their skin is saggy and their scars are gross and their frizzy hair is uggsville and their dark/uneven skin is THE WORST, but hey it’s ok because they can spend money on products to make them prettier YAY GIRL POWER WOOOOO now how about a nice round of SlimFast for all? The hypocrisy is thick on the ground.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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February is my birth month. I’m turning 34 this year, on the 25th.

I’m very comfortable with my 30s, but lately I’ve been really feeling every year. Add this to my clinical Depression and Anxiety Disorder and this rough winter (I suspect that, like a lot of people, I have SAD which is… really aptly named) and I’m having a lot of trouble taking care of myself lately. So this month I’m investing time and effort in self-care. A lot of it is really ridiculous stuff that most people don’t have trouble with, like remembering to take my supplements to help with my pernicious anemia and skin condition (they’re just pills! once a day! why can’t I consistently take them?) and putting athelete’s foot ointment on my toenails and feet twice a day. And then I get all frustrated at myself because really! This is baby stuff! How can I call myself an adult if I can’t manage to do this?

So I’m trying really hard to do that basic stuff, to take basic care of myself, because I deserve it and also my family deserves it, because I function better when I’m taking care of myself.

I’m also trying to work out more, especially doing exercises for my back. Because I feel better and function better when I’m not in pain.

The days are already getting longer and I’ve noticed my mood and energy improving. Hopefully this continues.

I spend a lot of my life feeling less than functional, less than. I really don’t like it, but it’s hard to scrape together the energy and will out of the dregs of exhaustion to make changes, to take control. It’s so much easier to just lie back and float, to spend as much time asleep as I can.

I’m also thinking of what I want to do for my birthday (and Niko’s birthday after). Right now, I’m tentatively planning on pizza and watching “John Dies at The End.”

You know, one year, I’d love to rent a theater and show a movie, have all my friends come and enjoy.

What would your awesome party entail?

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I get migraines

Thursday, 14 April 2011 23:14
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I get migraines, sometimes.

They usually aren’t too bad– a sudden and searing whiplash of pain through my brainmeats, sometimes painful enough to literally stagger me, a LOT of visual stuff, and then it’s gone. They usually only last a few minutes, I rarely have confusion or nausea or anything lingering afterward. Lucky, right?

Except Tuesday evening my head started hurting. I lay down for bed with Niko and it just hurt worse and worse and worse, too badly to sleep. I took Excedrin with a coke and stayed up for a bit until it abated enough for me to go to sleep, slept in a bit the next morning, and spent the day stumbling around with nausea, mild aphasia, and an attack of the clumsies. And a sick headache that eventually ebbed around 10pm.

I haven’t had a bad headache for that long since 2004, when one stressful evening I retired to a dark bedroom with frozen peas draped over my eyes.

It’s coming back, like a bunch of stiletto blades jamming into my forehead, and I can smell this artificial, powdery, fake-candle chemical type smell everywhere. It’s like it’s clinging to me. Either it’s causing the headache (and yes, some smells, especially chemical perfume smells and stargazer lillies, can cause blinding headaches) or the sensation of smelling it is being caused by the headache. I’m not sure which, but it’s kind of creepy.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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For my GQ/Trans* friends, are any of you attending Be-All 2011? A friend of mine mentioned it to me, and then I mentioned it to a few other people and none of them have heard of it, so here’s a heads up if you’re unfamiliar with it.

Here are the Seminars, Vendors, and Registration Info. Like most conventions it costs money. They have Scholarships which one can apply for. A lot of the seminars look REALLY fascinating and informative.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I dropped about $30 at Payless on a pair of Safe-T Step black laceup shoes that are aimed, I think, at people who work in kitchens and warehouses and will in general be on their feet all day. I’m wearing them around the house right now to break them in, and tonight I’ll wear them on the half-mile walk to tutoring. I was riding around in the car today in my canvas shoes, unable to feel my toes because it was so cold, so we’ll see how these shoes hold up. the 8.5W were much too tight and the 9W are a little loose, but hopefully that means I can wear these shoes with 1) an insole and 2) thicker socks and not have any problems.

This is not the ultimate solution to my shoe needs. These are vinyl shoes and they WILL wear out soon. But they are something that can bide me over until I can get “real” shoes and they will work both as an office shoe and as a walking shoe, if I ever manage to get a job.

When it gets warmer, I’m going to try and get a pair of New Balance shoes. A lot of people have recommended them, but I’ve had bad experience with them wearing down and rubbing my feet in weird ways (like, blister-to-open-sore-in-minutes rubbing, and my feet/heels are INCREDIBLY calloused so blisters AT ALL are rare). I’ll see if I can’t find a different style or something. But this spring and summer I’m going to be doing a LOT of walking, since the closest parks are a mile away, the library is over half a mile away, the zoo is free, and I don’t have a driver’s license.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for awhile know that in the past, I’ve grappled with disordered eating. It mostly took the form of binging and fasting (where “fasting” is “going 2-3 days without eating until I’m so hungry I consume the entire world, then freak out about it”) and severe calorie restriction (like, trying to live on 500 calories a day, mostly in the form of diet soda). I’m also really, really fat and it took me a while, but I’ve gotten comfortable in my body. It’s a fat body, but it’s MY body, and (at least until recently) it more or less did what I wanted it to do, when I wanted it to do it.

I used to do a lot of manual labor. I used to dig up (small) trees and haul them around; muck out horse stalls and wheel around overloaded wheelbarrows full of sodden straw and manure; toss around 75 pound bags of flour and sugar; unload trucks full of slate, mulch, compost, etc; work all day in the hot sun.

When I started trying to practice Health At Every Size (HAES) and intuitive eating, my weight stabilized. (I also stopped eating so much dairy, because it makes me ill. It helped me listen to my body more.) I mean, I had a kid 2 years ago, and I had no problems losing all the (minimal) weight I gained while pregnant. I currently weigh the same amount I did before I conceived.

Only I feel fatter than I used to. Like, I feel like I’ve gained 20 pounds or so. My clothes don’t fit well. I feel sluggish and confined. I’m a lot more sedentary than I used to be (this has been a long, cold, wet winter and I don’t have a driver’s license, so going out and doing things and moving is… challenging) and I think I’ve lost muscle and gained fat.

I don’t like my body like this.

So I’ve started working out and holy shit am I out of shape. I used to dance competitively. I used to Irish Step Dance, which means I basically used to jump up and down for an hour or two at a time. I can’t even imagine doing that now. Well, I mean, I can imagine it… and when I put my head down to work out, I’m done far too soon. It’s depressing. I’m still working on it, working out, waiting for the snow to melt and the temperatures to break so I can actually leave the house with the toddler in tow. We can walk a mile to the library, to the park, etc and that’ll help.

But I’ve gotten into some bad food habits as well and I need to correct that. I don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, I’m a sucker for bread (especially with butter), and I could stand to stop eating so much pre-packaged processed food. We have an actual fruit bowl in the dining room, on the table, and having the fresh fruit RIGHT THERE AND VISIBLE is helping us remember to eat it (Niko calls apples and oranges myommyom balls) and I’ve upped my fruit intake quite a bit. I found some great recipes for cauliflower and we’ve been doing a good job of eating more cooked veggies AND more salad (we splurged and got fancy dressings, croĆ»tons, flavored almonds, etc for extra fancy restaurant style salads).

So I’m doing what I can to, in general, improve my body’s health. But the urge is there: to stop eating entirely; to count and reduce calories to almost nothing; to go on a faddish crash diet; to try to win that elusive prize of thinness by any means necessary even if it means shaking hands and dizziness and vertigo and poor health. It’s so sick. There are foods that make me ill (upset stomach, mouth rash, migraine… not all at the same time) and I should keep a food diary so I can track what it is that’s making me sick so I can cut it out of my diet. But I fear that if I start logging food I’ll start restricting again. That way lies madness, and by “madness” I mean “obsession and compulsion and terrible anxiety nightmares.” There are times I wish I could just not eat ever again, never put anything in my mouth again, shed my physical body entirely and just drift away.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I spent most of yesterday running a 100.4* fever, which is enough to make me really stupid and tired and out of it. Over the course of the day– which, let me remind you, was spent ENTIRELY ON MY OWN WITH A TODDLER because Nesko wound up spending over 30 hours at work, finally getting home after we were asleep– I managed to cut myself, burn myself, tear the knee of a nearly new pair of pyjama pants, drop a whole lot of food on the floor at different times, close my hand in a door, and hit my head on the fridge. I was in rare form.

I also became obsessed with the snow caked on our window screens, and opened a window to try and knock the snow off the screen. Only the snow had gotten between the screen and the window, so when I opened the window, dirty snow fell all over the window sill and the wood floor. Did you know that squirrels sit on our window ledges and poop? They do. I got squirrel poop in our house. :C

I should be less of a hot mess today, although we are running out of food and food-like substances. None of the side streets or alleys have been cleared out yet so they are all choked with snow… 2-4 feet of snow, depending on where they are. Nesko got home to our general vicinity in good time last night, but then was driving around for about an hour looking for a place to put his car. He couldn’t get down or street OR down our alley (which had a 5 foot drift of snow along one end of it). He wound up parking 2-3 blocks away and walking home. I think he’s going to have to do the same tonight. Hopefully he can stop for groceries on the way home.

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I have a cold. Again. It hasn’t settled in my lungs YET but I can feel it moving south just like last night I could feel my temperature inch up towards fever levels, my throat start hurting, and my sinuses slowly fill with snot. I started making stock today. Nesko will have to strain it and put it away because, my darlings, I made mashed potatoes and then had to sit down and rest for ten minutes. It just wore me out. Halp! I am weak and diseased.

I’m also job hunting and am kind of between a rock and a hard place here. At the very least, I need to make more money than Nesko is making at HIS job so that it makes fiscal sense for him to quit and stay at home with Niko, which means I can’t just pick up temp work. That pays crap, and day care would eat all that income up so what is the point? I’ve looked on monster in the past, and gotten nothing but work at home scams, pyramid schemes, and telemarketing gigs (I am terrible at telemarketing). I’m looking at Craigslist, but there is almost nothing on there. I’m sending out 2-4 resumes a day, which feels like absolutely nothing. I’ve sent out about 50 or so and gotten… two responses.


Out of 50.

Both of them scams.

Apparently, there’s a popular scam going round craigslist where a job is posted, and when people reply, someone ostensibly from the company writes back that hey! wow! you’re so awesome! You’re in our top ten list of possible candidates! All we need you to do is visit THIS LINK RIGHT HERE and get your credit score for us and let us know what it is because of convoluted reasons. So just sign up for this TOTALLY FREE CREDIT REPORT OFFER and we’re good to go! Note that we haven’t said anything about our company name, location, or type of business. JUST FILL OUT THE OFFER OK.

The first ad I responded to that replied in such a manner almost sounded legit. The ad looked like the kind of ad a small company that expanded quickly and doesn’t quite have its act together would post, and the “oh halp we needs ur credit score” response almost sounded legit, to the point where I composed an email saying that gosh gee wow I’d never needed to provide my own credit check before, the potential company has always done that.

The reply bounced.

Because, you know. They just want people to sign up with the TOTALLY FREE CREDIT REPORT OFFER OH HEY WOW DID I MENTION IT IS FREE? IT TOTALLY IS.

Which is depressing. Because I need a job, and now I need to not only filter out jobs based on type, location, wage, etc but also whether or not they even exist or are just scams. And since I have, seriously, about half an hour a day to do stuff online since I am the full time caregiver of a toddler? Fuck you. Seriously. FUCK YOU. I just want a damn job. (PS this is why, if you have a blog which I have not commented on, why I have not commented. IN FACT, it took me two days to write this relatively short post, which is why up top I say there’s stock needing to be separated and strained and down below I say there’s stock in the fridge.)

Somebody bring me some awesome drugs, ok? I’ve got chicken stock chilling in the fridge. I’ll trade you. In fact, I will give you one quart of very dark and flavorful chicken stock in exchange for an un-expired albuterol inhaler. That’s totally a good deal, right? You’d exchange a prescription drug that costs about $100 for a quart of home made chicken stock, right? Urgh.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I haven’t been super bloggy lately because I’ve been sick. I spent about 2 weeks with a cold that turned into what almost was bronchitis except that my terrible horrible no good very bad cough that was more like a fit, a paroxysm, of coughing that lasted for a minute or longer and left me gagging and retching and almost puking (and once I threw up in my mouth totally ugh) and barely unable to catch my breath afterward were… completely nonproductive. My lungs weren’t congested, my nose wasn’t stuffed up, I had no snots, no sinus problems, I was producing no phlegm. I was just coughing. I was coughing so much my throat was raw and hurting from the coughing.

And then I started getting better and I had about a week where I was almost entirely symptom free except I kept suddenly spiking a fever of 100* or so. My normal body temperature is 97.9*, just FYI.

And then Thursday or Friday (I forget when, exactly; I’m exhausted and not remembering things clearly) I started feeling ill again and seemed to be developing the exact same cold only this time? My lungs and sinuses are full of crap.

And I’m again with the terrible paroxysms of coughing, and I’m sleeping on the couch because I don’t want to wake up the guys (who have colds of their own) and this cough is seriously going to kill me.

It comes on if I’m lying down, lounging, propped up, sitting upright, standing, walking around, doing dishes, taking a hot and steamy shower, drinking water, blowing my nose, sucking on a menthol action cough drop. Using my inhaler helps me breathe a bit (I can feel the difference in my lungs after) but doesn’t really stop the cough at all; taking antacids etc (in case it’s “silent” GERD) doesn’t help; cough suppressants don’t really help (I HAVE TRIED SO MANY DRUGS INTERNETS SO MANY); expectorants don’t really help; staying hydrated, keeping my nose blown, and taking allergy medication helps a tiny bit; this has been going on for weeks and weeks and seriously. I can’t keep doing this.

I was in a different room, coughing, and woke Niko up that is how loud I was coughing.

I went on the internet, turning to the warm embrace of Dr. Google.

Did you know that there is totally pertussis in Chicago? And that about half the cases of whooping cough don’t have that characteristic WHOOP inhale, especially in adults? And that my cough sounds almost exactly like recordings of whooping cough I have heard online? AND THAT OBVIOUSLY I HAVE PERTUSSIS OH MY GOD.

I am fairly freaked out about this, and trying to remain calm and also trying to remember if my booster shot 3 years ago was for tetanus ONLY, or was DTaP, and hey, Nesko isn’t THIS sick and he’s apparently got the same thing as me and it’s highly unlikely that HE would have a shitty cold and I would get whooping cough and I am SO INCREDIBLY GLAD that Niko is up to date on his shots. Because I would not wish this on anyone let alone a small child who comes up to me when I’m spasmodically coughing and choking on the bed with white foam dripping out of my mouth, and pats me on the back comfortingly.

Another thing is, I have coughed until I puked before. I used to get bronchitis twice a year and I am an old hand at The Cough That Will Not Die, that produces thick wads of blood-streaked pustulant mucus, that causes gaggy retchy vomiting, that pulls abdominal muscles and leaves one sore. In many ways, this cough is similar. It probably is the same old same old, just slightly different. BUT. I swear, it feels different. My fever is nowhere near as high. My body and joints don’t hut as much. Sitting upright isn’t a help. I’m not drowning in snot. I mean, I was really snotty for like a day and a half, don’t get me wrong. I used up 1.5 boxes of tissues. I’m still producing mucus. It’s scanty, but it’s there. But it is not bronchitis level ropes and gobs of stuff. Which is kind of, you know, bronchitis is incredibly disgusting. But this feels like a different animal.

I’m going to try and hit a take-care clinic tomorrow (if nothing else I am going to try and get a fresh scrip for both my inhaler (oh god so expensive!) and metformin). I’m also going to try and record this croupy barking draining cough just in case I can’t produce one on command. It’s really freaky sounding.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from

Someone on a feminist website recently posted a bit about the BMI and ended it with the admonition that fat people should just put down the donuts, a line that was cliche years ago and thinking that is, frankly, dangerous and hateful. I mean, seriously, if it was that easy to lose weight there wouldn’t be so many fat people and the dieting industry wouldn’t be raking in the money hand over fist the way it is. But it’s easy (lazy) thinking that fat people are just weak and immoral and more in love with shoving food into their gaping maws than being slender, and it paints thin people as morally superior since they can just step away from the food and not indulge. Why yes, there is a reason that it’s bad to be fat, it’s bad to be female, and it’s fucking awful to be fat and female. This ties into the whole puritanical don’t-have-pleasure-ever women shouldn’t lust after or enjoy ANYTHING (sex, alcohol, food in general, “decadent” food in specific, chocolate in specific, shopping in general, shoes, money, power, respect) mindset so very prevalent.

I digress a bit.

One of the arguments against fat people being healthy or active is that every single fat person it’s mentioned who is fat and vegetarian, is fat and exercises, is fat and jogs, is fat and participates in triathlons, is fat and hikes, is fat and mountain climbs, is fat and swims, is fat and rows boats, etc is that that particular fat person is a statistical outlier. Sure, THAT fat person acts in ways that are healthy and active and is still fat, but that’s the exception to the rule! Fat people in general are ticking time bombs of obese ill-health, and it is ALL. THEIR. FAULT. If only they’d just PUT DOWN THE DAMN DONUTS and BACK AWAY FROM THE TABLE. On the flip side of that, however, nobody ever says that thin people who are completely sedentary and/or eat nothing but junk food are statistical outliers. They are given an automatic pass for having an acceptable body shape, just as the fat people are automatically damned for having an unacceptable body shape. And yes, “overly” or “excessively” thin people are damned and told to eat a sandwich.

Meanwhile, the USA is a country with a great deal of poverty and many many people– many of them fat– who go to bed hungry each night. It’s a country where many children cannot count on having enough food to eat, where it can be difficult to find fruits and vegetables or anything that doesn’t come in a box or can and loaded with preservatives and additives. It’s a country where a person can be both overweight and malnourished at the same time. But with all the focus on OH MY GOD FAT PEOPLE ARE EVERYWHERE there’s very little attention paid to the fact that these fat people are often starving/malnourished or came from a childhood of food scarcity, and that the body’s natural reaction to starvation/malnourishment is to cling to fat– cling to iiiiiiiit!!!– and that it’s not an issue of overindulgence at all.

Because it’s easier to shame people than it is to address a serious social injustice. And it’s easier to point fingers at people who are lesser than it is to examine critical fallacies in the medical system. And it’s really easy to forget that the BMI was rewritten so that literally overnight a bunch of people were suddenly classified as overweight who before hadn’t been, and that likewise the critical numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar have been rewritten so that more people now have medical conditions they wouldn’t have been labeled with a few years ago. Explosive epidemic? Not really. Just a re-writing of criteria.

But that doesn’t write headlines, sell diet products and plans, and make people into disgusting non-humans so, you know, it’s not talked about that much.

December 2015

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