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Triggers and Childhood Trauma

I will start this by giving a Trigger Warning/Content Warning now. This is a post about child trafficking and other traumas.

As most of America knows and acknowledges, we have a group of predators in the Executive Branch, to include the president* himself. Some of us remember the troubling and depraved story of the Jeffrey Epstein case in Florida and his alleged role (running it) in a child sex trafficking ring from reports made back in 2015, though reports existed as far back as 2003 and possibly beyond. (See the author’s criticism of Vanity Fair’s handling of the 2003 article here)

The point is, people knew. And one of the people who got him off damn near scott free is currently serving in the administration. As we now know, Alex Acosta, the current Labor Secretary, as the top Florida prosecutor helped Esptein serve the least punitive sentence possible. He has defended this decision numerous times, though to be honest, I don’t know how any person of conscience could.

Today we are also learning from reports that Acosta’s Labor Department is seeking to cut 80% of funding for the International Labor Affairs Bureau’s (ILAB) work in combating child sex trafficking, child labor, and forced labor in the United States and around the world.

It is very clear from these recent developments and Epstein’s arrest and indictment in New York and subsequent action in favor of Epstein that the current occupant of the Oval Office nor his administration care anything for the safety and protection of children – specifically victims of child sex trafficking. And of course, we also know of the exploits and self-entitlement of the predator-in-chief. A simple Google search will give you tens of thousands of results of his exploits over the past 50 years.

And don’t get me started on what this administration is doing to children in those concentration camps that CBP is running. The depravity has slinked its tentacles into every facet of our nation, straight from the top.

The silence from the Republican Party on these topics is deafening. And I see now that there is literally nothing they will not do to keep power. I’ve suspected it before now, of course. But remaining silent on the willful abuse of children is something I wouldn’t have thought any decent human being would be capable of doing. And it truly scares me in a deeply personal and visceral way.

As news broke this morning of Acosta’s plans to cut funding to combat child sex trafficking, news also popped up on my timeline that Secretary of State Pompeo was unveiling a new human rights commission that would redefine what human rights are.

My god, what is happening?

This terrifies me. And I am not a victim of child sex trafficking. I am a 42-year-old woman. But I do have a conscience. I do have empathy. I am a survivor of child molestation and rape.

I know what it feels like to not be able to stop what someone is doing to me.

I know what it is like to be violated by someone I know.

I know what is like to be violated by someone I don’t know.

I know what it feels like to lose your innocence. Without consent.

I know what it’s like to not have anything done about it.

I know what it’s like for authorities to “lose” the paperwork.

I know what it’s like to watch as the person(s) who hurt me walk away unscathed.

And memories and feelings bubble up to the surface every time one of these stories breaks. The bile that rises in my throat that I have to fight back. The tears that come to the surface stinging my eyes that I have to fight back. The fight or flight response that brings numbness and butterflies in my gut that I have to fight to keep from running away or screaming. Because I’m at work. Because I am at the store. Because I am at home with my daughter. My husband. Because I have a client.

Every time new reports break, I have to remind myself that I am safe. Otherwise, I revert back to that 4-year-old little girl. To that 12-year-old girl. To that 19-year-old girl. To that 22-year-old woman. To that 30-year-old woman.

That is a lot of trauma. With no repercussions for the people who assaulted me.

I know what it is like to feel unsafe. Unprotected.

I know what it is like for grown adults to tell me I was somehow responsible for it.

“Well if you did (or didn’t) do this…”

“Well, maybe you should…”

“You’re overreacting…”

“It’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be…”

I’m sitting at my desk at work right now. It’s a quiet day. Not a lot happening. I’m sitting here writing this because these stories keep breaking. It seems like every day for the past two years.

I’m writing now because if I don’t, even 12, 15, 20, 35 years later, I am still affected by my own trauma and I will fall apart. Or panic.

I’ve been to therapy. I still go to therapy. I have panic disorder and I am on medication.

That doesn’t stop the response. Physical, psychological, or emotional.

The trauma is part of me. As much as my toes or fingers are part of me. It doesn’t go away. Ever. But it does get better. Easier to manage. Until.

Until.

The children abused and victimized in the disgusting machinations of Jeffrey Epstein and his cohorts and the children abused and victimized by our home Department of Homeland Security all lost a part of themselves. Be it innocence, dignity, trust, all of those and more.

That it is being done by people who are supposed to protect them – to protect all of us – is perhaps one of the worst violations of this administration.

When I cry and hurt and flashback, I do it as much for them as I do for myself.

I know what it’s like. And because I know what it’s like, I have never been so ashamed to be an American as I am right now.

I Can’t Be Tired Already… Or Can I?

A great reference to use in fact checking the disinformation campaign against Senator Kamala Harris.

Travels With Slippers

Oh, yes, I can.

I wrote in August of 2016 about how tired I got from the attacks on HIllary Clinton, especially given their absurdity.  And here we are, sixteen months before the 2020 presidential election, and the attacks on the candidate I have chosen to support – Kamala Harris – are already escalating to that level.  And this time I’m not waiting to call out them out.

While I’m not going to dignify the attacks by naming them or linking to them, I am going to offer you some links to use as rebuttals against them.

Here’s one from @blackwomenviews (a great Twitter follow, too).  Read the whole thing.  Go to Twitter and read her other tweets.  Learn stuff.

Vox has summarized many of her campaign’s policy positions in this easy guide.

When someone brings up Mnuchin, there’s this.

Then there was the first debate – Jeremy Fassler…

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Pre-Existing Conditions & ACA

After the roller coaster regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the House and Senate’s Republican effort to dismantle it, I felt the need to speak to something very personal for me.  I’ve made mention on my social media accounts of my concern about losing my coverage because I am a woman.  Concern that anything having to do with my reproductive system would not be covered because of my “pre-existing condition—“a C-section.  But there’s something that makes it a little more real and personal for me.

In the 1990’s, I lived in my home state of California.  At the time, California hospitals could, and often would, refuse treatment for uninsured individuals.  Emergency Room visits included. There were a few instances of people dying in Emergency Room parking lots because the hospitals refused care based on insurance. This despite the passage of EMTALA in the previous decade.

In early 1999, many years before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, I was diagnosed with gallstones.  I was young to have such a health problem. I was only in my early 20’s. But it was a common health issue among the women on the matriarchal side of my family. Most of them survived this health issue, but a few did not. My grandmother died due to complications from gallstones that couldn’t be removed.  Ironically, the timing of the outcome of my incident coincided with my grandmother’s death. More on that later…

So, in 1999, pre-ACA, I was a young twenty-something single female. I hadn’t had health insurance for years. Since I was a pre-teen on my mother’s insurance plan. When I was younger, I told my mother I wanted to live with my biological father for a year, so she removed me from her health insurance so I could be added to his.  Things were rough during my summer stay, and I decided I did not want to live with my father for a year and I went back home to live with my mom.

She was never able to get me back on her insurance. Because I had been removed, she had to wait until open enrollment.  And even then, it was all in the hands of the insurance company whether they would cover me at that point. At that time, I had no major health issues. I’d never had so much as a broken bone. We don’t know why they rejected putting me back on my mother’s insurance.

Back to early 1999. I had gone out to eat with a long-time friend of mine, and almost immediately began feeling abdominal pain. By the time I got home, it had become so sharp and intense that I couldn’t stand.  I couldn’t stop crying. It was the most painful feeling I’ve had. Maybe even worse than my labor was when I had my daughter.

My mother got me to the nearest Emergency Room, where they ran an ultrasound and found a few gallstones, one of which was the size of a quarter. They sent me home with a bottle of Vicodin and instructions to call my primary care provider for a follow up and further action.

One problem: I didn’t have a primary care provider. I didn’t have insurance. None of the local doctors would see me because I didn’t have insurance. So, I was stuck.

I spent the next several months in and out of Emergency Rooms to be “treated” (e.g. given a bottle of Vicodin and sent home) for my condition. This was the most they could do.  You see, regardless of what some Republican Senators and Representatives think, the Emergency Room doctors cannot refer you to another area for follow-up or surgery, etc. if it’s not immediately life threatening. You have to go to your doctor.

Eventually, I was able to get past the pain by avoiding certain foods that triggered my gallbladder. So, a lot of bland foods and very little dairy. But, that doesn’t really take care of the actual problem. Obviously.

In October of 1999, another friend of mine and I were at the mall browsing, chatting, and eating giant pretzels. All of a sudden I had a sharp pain that was so familiar to me, but somehow a little different. We left the mall to head back to the military installation my fiancée was stationed at. By the time we reached the base that was only a short 10-15 minutes away, I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk. All I could do was cry. And I felt sick to my stomach. I was cold but sweating.

My fiancée didn’t know the area that well. He wasn’t a California native. So, he took me to the closest hospital he knew of—the hospital on base.

As a civilian, the military hospital was not technically allowed to treat me. Normally you’d have to be a federal employee, and even then it’s only in certain areas where you can get care on a base hospital. Typically when you’re employed by the military in foreign countries. Otherwise, you have to be Active Duty, Reserves, or a spouse or family member.

So, the hospital staff did what they could to give me pain medication and try to make me as comfortable as possible. They got my mother’s contact information from my fiancée (later my husband, and even later my ex-husband) and called her to let her know what was going on. They had called to the gate guard and given them her information so she could get a pass to get on base to see me.

The hospital staff then began calling local civilian hospitals to have one of them come and pick me up. Turns out my condition had gotten quite serious. Actually, it had become deadly.

Because I didn’t have insurance, no one would see me to treat the actual problem. They just managed the symptoms for me. Because the actual problem was never addressed, it just got worse. The gallstones had gotten larger and shifted. The larger of the stones had shifted and placed itself right in the duct of my gallbladder. Nothing could get out. So it just sat there and festered. For MONTHS.

It had become so bad, my gallbladder had become gangrenous. It was inflamed, impacted, and infected. I was bleeding internally. My gallbladder had detached from my liver bed.

I would literally die if I did not have surgery right away.

Knowing that I didn’t have insurance, and would die if I didn’t have surgery, the local civilian hospitals STILL wouldn’t take me.

A high level decision made by the Medical Group Commander of that base saved my life. He approved the military hospital to do my surgery. This is part of the reason I have such deep love, affection, and loyalty to the United States Air Force. The Air Force literally saved my life. And I will never be able to express my gratitude for that.

I had my surgery on the two-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death. As mentioned above, she died of complications from the same medical condition.  Two years after her death, I nearly joined her.

You can imagine how happy I was to finally have insurance after my ex-husband and I got married. Not only was I covered again, I was covered by Tricare. A federally run insurance program for our military members and their families. When we divorced, I had found a job that offered health benefits. It was the first job I ever had that offered health insurance. Ever. I was in my mid-twenties. With a pre-existing condition.

So, what did that mean? My employer policy covered everything. EXCEPT for any gastrointestinal issues. Because of my gallbladder surgery. Under Tricare, I was still covered for it. Because there were no surveys, etc. to fill out for coverage. It was pretty much automatic.  So when I got divorced, even though I had health insurance, I still wasn’t covered for anything related to my gastrointestinal tract. So there was really almost no point to having insurance at all. The gastrointestinal tract covers so much of your body; it ends up being nearly the majority of your body function.

When the ACA was passed, for the first time in my adult life, I would have complete health coverage. COMPLETE. My insurance could no longer deny me care for any reason. Zero. And what a relief it was. Although I haven’t had any other gastrointestinal issues, knowing that my insurance had to cover it if I did was a huge relief to me. I felt safe. I knew that I’d be taken care of if something happened again.

I don’t think people that much younger than me remember the days prior to the ACA. I think there may be some people my age who don’t remember. My mother and I had a very open and adult type of relationship. Otherwise, I don’t think she would have told me about the health insurance stuff. But as a single mom, it was important to her that I know these things. That I know what adults have to do as responsible people. And I’m glad she did, because I am more aware than other adults my age or even just a few years younger. They have the luxury of not remembering what it’s like, or not having to deal with not having insurance. They take the ACA for granted while spewing ignorant hate about this legislation that has benefited them in ways they don’t know or understand. All because of the man who gave it to them.

I am relieved that the current Congress’s attempts to dismantle, repeal, and replace the ACA have failed. It means I still have coverage and will keep my coverage. And now that I have even more “pre-existing conditions,” I need the ACA to stay in place more than ever. In addition to my gallbladder surgery, I’ve also had a C-section. And I’m (obviously) a woman. I have three checks against me right there.

And I’m only one of millions of Americans in the same boat. My health issues now are so minor, so miniscule, in comparison of millions of people who are disabled, cancer survivors, etc. People who need the coverage more than I do.

And I simply cannot fathom the people who are meant to represent us would rather take away the safety net that we pay for with our premiums just to make a mockery of our previous president.

That they have no qualms about actually harming millions of people. People who voted for them no less!

It is my hope that something will reach them. Something will touch them and make them think about what they are doing to the people they are meant to serve. The people they are meant to speak for.

It is my hope that if they do attempt to go after the ACA again it will be to improve the law, not to repeal it. Not to replace it.

The only acceptable substitute to replacing the ACA is single payer. And I have no problem pitching in an extra $.50 per paycheck to ensure that every American has health coverage. Because if we are not doing this for all of us, what is the point?

NY Political Mom

Finding My Hope in Chaos

I’ve been engaged in discussions with a couple of people today. I also have to thank Pastor John Paplovitz for his post from April 24th that I read today.  My discussions and Mr. Paplovitz’s post inspired me to lay out some of what I’ve been feeling and thinking recently.  And for the last 7 months.

I, like millions of others, have been reeling from November 8th’s election results.  I haven’t written anything regarding the election or the state of affairs in Washington D.C.  I suppose I have just been so overwhelmed by everything that has been happening since then and especially after Inauguration Day.

From the “Muslim Ban,” to the repeal of the ACA, to our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, to the rollback of Civil Rights in our Justice Department, to daily updates of Russia’s interference in our election and the current administration’s likely participation in it, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the turn our country has taken.

We currently have a national Republican Party who is happy to sit idly by while the occupant of the Oval Office works hard to dismantle the very foundations upon which our country was built.  They still attempt to blame Hillary Clinton’s e-mail “scandal” for what a Republican administration is doing in obstructing justice and attempting to subvert our constitution.

So, it’s easy to feel exhausted.  To feel depressed. To feel hopeless.  Except…

I work for a state legislator.  I read and listen to various communications every day from constituents.  Conservative and Liberal alike.  Among Conservative constituents, there is a lot of communication regarding refugees and our status as a sanctuary state (“We don’t want refugees.  They’re a waste of money. Why should my tax dollars go to someone who is a coward for fleeing their own country.” Seriously…).  Similarly, there is a lot of communication from Liberals on the same topic (“Please add MORE money to the budget for refugees. We’re not doing enough. They’re new here and scared and don’t know what will happen.  We have to help them.”)

The differences between the communications of each are very clear.

Reading and listening to such communications can be exhausting.  It’s easy to become jaded and cynical after reading so much hateful rhetoric every day.

Other times, it can be incredibly heartbreaking.  I recently read a letter from a family member of a child who was murdered.  I also read letters from numerous victims of childhood sexual assault. I would be lying if I told you I have never sat at my desk and cried at some of these communications.

So, today was a day I began to feel overwhelmed again.  And sad. And helpless. And then…

And then.

I remembered where I work.  The other things I see on a daily basis.

I see all of these communications from constituents turned into action.  I see literally THOUSANDS of emails on single pieces of legislation. Legislation that didn’t exist at the beginning of the legislative session this year.  Legislation that was introduced a mere 3 weeks ago. I saw those voices literally move brand new legislation through our system in a matter of weeks, to pass both houses of our Legislature and end up on our Governor’s desk to be chaptered.

I have seen legislation that had some support, but gained STRONG support after thousands of constituents wrote in about it.  Hundreds of phone calls as well.

This.  This is what gives me hope.

For everything happening in our country right now with lies, hateful rhetoric, and what I equate to attempted murder with the attempted repeal of the ACA, there IS good.  At the national and at state levels.

Sure, the day after the inauguration, we saw millions of women and allies show up around the world to protest a Commander in Chief who has no qualms with sexual assault.

We recently had the March for Science and March for Truth.

And these marches are necessary.

But what REALLY gives me hope is the action I see every day at the state level.  I see every day hundreds and thousands of people banding together for common causes.  They make a difference.

So. Do. You.

We all do.

Our voices matter.

So, while we simultaneously despair and work our tails off to make a difference nationally, we must do the same for our states. Whichever state that may be. That is where we can make huge strides in changing laws and outcomes. This is where we can start making changes more immediately.

In a nation where our immediate and distant future is unknown and on such brinkmanship, we cannot forget to pay attention to what is happening in our state.  And that is where our battle should begin.

Why I Changed from #BernieorBust to #GirlIGuessImWithHer

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For the past year, I have been actively and vocally supporting the Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, and his presidential campaign.

I have given money, campaigned for him, and become involved in local politics as well as various Bernie Sanders support groups. I helped organize a March for Bernie in Albany on the day of the National March 4 Bernie. Three media outlets from Albany showed up for us. And I spoke so very passionately for him and against Hillary Clinton.

I have been an active and vocal critic and dissident of Hillary Clinton. I do not like most of her politics, and I do not completely trust her.

I was part of the #BernieorBust movement. And I was so very set in my decision. And now I’ve made my final decision of this election cycle.

Now that my anger from the primary results and the DNC’s now widely-known but always suspected suppression of Sanders’ campaign has subsided and I’ve licked my wounds and grieved.

I am begrudgingly voting for Hillary.

First, let me preface this by saying you don’t have to agree, and I will not argue. Belittling, berating, and bullying will not change my mind. That said, I will do the same for you if you vote for Jill Stein, etc. I support your right to choose your vote according to your conscience. And I agree with much of why you are all choosing to support Stein. I get it, I do.

Hear me out.

Why did I change from #BernieorBust to #GirlIGuessImWithHer? Simply put: because of Jane Sanders.

Yes, I said Jane Sanders.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Titled Jane Sanders: Why Bernie Sanders Supporters Shouldn’t Get Over It, Jane said:

“He’s not going to win the presidency, we’ve known that since June 7th [the day of the last big primaries, in California and New Jersey], but we had to do as much as we possibly could on the issues to honor all of the work that so many people have done, and that we did. So that’s why I say it’s a bit of a relief now — now we can move to the next chapter.

How granular did those discussions with the Clinton campaign get?

Very, very, very. This is not conceptual at all. It’s policy. Where is the money coming from? How are we going to do it? All of it is in stone. It’s good.

We understand that we earned their support and their trust. Now Hillary Clinton has to earn their support and their trust. And we will hold [the Clinton campaign] accountable because we are endorsing her. We are that much more committed to making sure [she follows through on her promises], instead of saying, Oh, it’s politics as usual, people change. We’re not going to let that happen. Not without a big fight, if anything. If the Democratic Party starts backing away from the platform, ever, we will fight like crazy to support the work that all of these millions of people did.”

As a hard-core believer in Bernie’s platform, it’s important to at the very least have a Democrat in the White House. Otherwise, his platform within the DNC’s current platform (which is 80% of Bernie’s platform, BTW) is null. With Trump in office, that platform is obsolete. With Hillary in office, Bernie and WE can keep the pressure on her to abide by that platform.

Bernie stayed in the race for leverage for the DNC to adopt his platform.   He risked his political career for us. For his platform. I owe him the dignity of keeping his platform on the table. And I owe down-ticket candidates the same. I will fight for those candidates and Bernie’s platform in every way I can. By voting down-ticket candidates into office, they and I can hold Hillary accountable to Bernie’s platform. If Trump is in office, there is simply no hope of that happening. And this is why we ALL need to be sure to support our local Berniecrats.

And if Bernie and Jane fight when/if the platform is challenged the way they fought for all of us this election cycle, I am confident the platform will stay in place. And as I did from the first day Bernie announced his campaign and candidacy, I have faith in him.

All that said: I will be working between elections on helping build up third party options.  I still firmly believe that the two-party option in American politics is dangerous and antiquated.  I encourage you to help in strengthening third party options in this country.  To help dismantle the two-party system that has so thoroughly corrupted our nation’s politics.

I also encourage you to help with Bernie’s continuing movement at Our Revolution, which will help recruit, train, and fund candidates running on Bernie’s platform.  Also look into The Sanders Institute, which will also help the movement stay in motion.

It is important that we continue to work to change our political landscape.  Until then, we have to work with the system we have while we work to create the system we deserve.

 

Pregnancy and Invalidation

So, as you can see by the title, this post is relating to pregnancy.  MY pregnancy.  That’s right…after several years of miscarriages, I have successfully made it through the first trimester and am now on the cusp of entering my third trimester.  Clearly I haven’t been so great about posting here, but today I really feel the need to write about pregnancy and how women can be invalidated during their pregnancies.  I’ve spoken to some friends regarding their pregnancies and found they also experienced invalidation during this very beautiful and powerful time.  That said: today I am writing only of my personal experiences with this, specifically my experience leading up to an appointment at my OB yesterday.

During the course of this pregnancy, I have experienced multiple forms of invalidation.  Things like, “we’ve all had babies, we really don’t care if you’re tired,”  or “just deal with it.”  In some of these instances I wanted validation.  To feel heard.  To know I wasn’t alone in how I felt.  Instead, I received invalidating comments, a lot of them from women, which really baffled me.  I’m seeing so much in the U.S. how women invalidate each other, whether during pregnancy or not.  I see women tearing each other down instead of supporting one another and building each other up.  But that’s another topic for another day.  A completely different issue.  It’s also an issue I haven’t been immune to (more on that later as well).

Over the last 48 hours, I experienced the most invalidating experience of my pregnancy so far (and I do hope it’s the last).  Last week, I was given a gestational diabetes screening.  For those unfamiliar, it’s 50g of sugar water in a little bottle, and it tastes horrible.  You drink it one hour before your scheduled appointment, and have your blood drawn exactly at one hour to check your blood sugar level.  Evidently my levels were “barely” over the cut-off.  More on that in a few minutes…

So, after guzzling the equivalent of a King Size candy bar in the form of sugar water, I went to the doctor, had my blood drawn, then went straight to my ultrasound.  This was my last ultrasound until I’m closer to the end of my pregnancy.  During the ultrasound, my daughter was literally bouncing off the walls of my uterus.  My husband and I watched the ultrasound monitor as Dina (our daughter) started kicking her legs and shaking her arms, suspended by fluid in my uterus.  She was going CRAZY.  She did that for about 2 minutes, then started bouncing off the walls again.  She was moving around so much the ultrasound tech had to use more than one tummy full of gel from rubbing the sensor all over my belly just trying to keep up with her.  I was told (and common sense also told) me this was a result of the sugar water.  After I went in to the exam room to meet with my OB, the doctor told me it’s also common for baby to crash after that sugar high.  Not surprising.  She’s a little human and that is how humans respond to  a sugar crash.  I was told that it would be normal to not feel my daughter moving for the rest of the night.  I was also told my test results would be in the next day, and that if I didn’t receive a phone call by the end of the week, I was in the clear and fine.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday.  Almost a week later, and I hadn’t received a phone call.  Per my doctor’s statement, I figured I was in the clear.  No gestational diabetes.  Great.  Awesome.  Tuesday is when I get the call that my results were in and my blood sugar was “slightly” elevated.  That I was “barely” over the cut-off.  “Barely.”  OK, fine.  What do I need to do next?  Drink 100g (double the amount of the first) of sugar water and have my blood drawn every hour for three hours.  Yeah…NOT comfortable with that.  I then made the mistake of asking questions.  My questions were: Can you tell me what the risks are to my baby?  Answer: We wouldn’t do anything bad for your baby.  Ask again: Can you tell me what the risks are to my baby?  Answer: We wouldn’t do anything bad for your baby.  We do this all the time.  You HAVE to do this.  My response?  No, I don’t HAVE to do this.  I want more information about how this will affect my baby.  To no avail.  NO ANSWER. Nothing.  All I got was the equivalent to “you have to do this because I said so” from office staff.  My doctor is out of town this week.  I then start asking questions about alternate diagnosis methods since this person couldn’t answer my question in ANY way.  I was told there were no other diagnosis methods.  Really…because I have read articles in pregnancy publications and my doula also confirmed there ARE in fact other diagnosis methods for gestational diabetes.  I’d like to know more about these options.  Simple enough a request, right?  Not so much.  The person on the line got even more aggravated with me and told me, “we don’t do anything else.  This is protocol.  If you don’t like this method, you can find another doctor.”  Wow…really?  Well, maybe I will because all I’m looking for is INFORMATION so I can make, you know, an informed decision about my healthcare and the care of my baby.  Crazy thing, because I’m pretty sure I have the LEGAL RIGHT to do so!  (Side note: while the snarky comments were running through my head, I did not say them out loud.  I was, however, very adamant about my questions and wanting information)  The office member then proceeded to lecture me for 20 minutes about how “irresponsible” I was being for “refusing” to have the testing done, to which I replied, “I’m not refusing testing.  I am asking if there is an alternate means to diagnose and I’m asking what risks there are to my baby.”  And in circles we went.  Utterly ridiculous.  At this point, my blood is boiling, I’m pissed off, annoyed, you name it.  I even reference my daughter’s antics during my ultrasound after having only 50g of sugar water.  I mention the concern I have regarding the sugar and her heart rate.  How the subsequent sugar crash will affect her.  At NO TIME did I say, “No. I do not want to do this.”  I just wanted MORE INFORMATION!  Finally, the office worker said “well, since your results were so close to the cut-off, I’ll talk to the doctor about other options and call you back.”  Great!  Progress! Finally!  We hang up, and about 20 minutes later she calls me back and says the doctor there this week said that since my numbers were so close, they could find another way to diagnose.  Success!!!  Or not….she tells me to show up at 8am, they’d let me know about 8:05 what the options were, and to go ahead and fast like I am supposed to just in case.  Ok, fine.  I can live with that.

And here we come to Wednesday.  My husband and I go to the doctor and arrive at about 7:50 and sit in the lobby.  The lab tech  calls us back and gets me ready for my initial fasting blood draw.  I mention to her the conversation I had the previous afternoon with the woman in the office.  She looks in her paperwork to see if there are any notes.  No notes.  I ask her if she’ll talk to her and check the status of my inquiry and give her the name of the person I spoke with.  She goes to the back and returns just a few moments later telling me no one is in and they won’t be in until 8:30.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait for them to come in.  My dog had a follow-up appointment at the vet at 11:30, and the test takes three hours.  So, I proceed to ask the lab tech the same questions I asked the day before.  Her response?  She laughs in my face.  That’s right.  She laughed at me.  And gave me the same party line “we wouldn’t give you something bad for your baby” BS.  And I responded, “no offense, but 20 years ago doctors were doing things deemed safe for baby that are NOT considered safe today.  I just want to know how this will affect my baby.”  She couldn’t (or wouldn’t) answer either.  Finally, I gave up simply because I felt I had no other choice.  No patient should ever feel that way.  A patient should feel an active part of their own healthcare.  My husband was FURIOUS.  I drank the damn sugar drink, went into the lobby with my husband, and started to cry.  I felt violated.  I felt abandoned.  I felt invalidatedThat my concerns were not addressed nor taken seriously.  I was laughed at for being concerned about the effects of the sugar water on my baby.  To make things worse, I’m sitting in the lobby crying and the nurse I had spoken to the day prior before speaking to the office staff (who had also left early and didn’t bother getting back to me before she left, which led to me calling the office back and speaking to the office staff in the first place) comes out to the lobby, stands over me with a scowl on her face and an attitude and says, “You HAVE to take the drink.”  I looked at her deadpan, with tears in my eyes, and told her I had already done it.  She then turns around with the same attitude and stomps to the back of the offices.  Of course, I start crying again and feeling invalidated all over again.  Eventually, another office worker I had NOT spoken with previously sits down across from me and my husband and starts asking me questions about the situation.  Bawling, I explain to her that all I was trying to do was get more information about how the sugar water and testing would affect my baby, how the changes in my body and blood sugar would affect baby, and that all I wanted was to know if there were other options before doing the test I didn’t feel comfortable with.  I told her the staff were not helpful, blew off my concerns, did not address my questions, and were extremely rude to me.  I explained to her my concern with the sugar crash Dina would experience and how uneasy it made me feel knowing she’d be doped up for hours on sugar, crash, and then be silent for what could be the remainder of the day, that I wouldn’t feel her move, and that made me uncomfortable because I wouldn’t know how she was.  This particular staff member actually took the time to explain the drink to me, explain how it would affect baby, and what I could expect.  She also explained any potential risks, which were minor.  That’s all I wanted.  That’s it.  And she gave it to me.  Granted, it was a bit late at this point, but at least someone finally took the time and made the effort to put me at ease.  She apologized for what happened with the staff, and told me that I could call her any time for questions, that she knew how it felt to be worried about everything during pregnancy after suffering multiple losses.  This was all I needed!!  Why was it so difficult for other staff members to do this?  Instead, I get this whole ordeal that basically makes me feel like I was forced to do something I wasn’t comfortable doing.  The ironic part: all of the staff (minus one doctor) are female.  Most of them likely have children.  They know what it is like to wonder…or are they people who blindly follow whatever a healthcare professional tells them?  I admit, I know little to nothing of medicine, but I do know that I should and DO have the right to ask questions if I need more information to make a decision about my healthcare.  If a doctor is telling me to do something or to take something, I want to know why and how it works.  I like to be informed.  And instead of informing me like they should have, they made me feel insignificant.  It broke my trust, and that is something that is so major when it comes to pregnancy and eventual delivery.  I don’t know that I can trust my healthcare professionals to follow my birth plan or to do things the way I want them to be during my delivery.  As my doula says, “this is your birth story.”  It is my birth story…so I should definitely have a say in what is happening during my pregnancy and delivery.

I plan to have a chat with my doctor during my next appointment.  Depending on her response to the situation, I may very well end up finding another doctor during my third trimester.  Not exactly the ideal solution, but I’d rather find someone new than continue with someone I can’t trust to follow my wishes or keep me informed during my delivery.  I can not tolerate a doctor who will condone invalidation of their patients.  For all I know, she could be horrified by the behavior of the staff.  She could also be mad at me and tell me to find another doctor.  We’ll see what happens.  At this point, I just hope for the best.

On a positive note: my results from the three-hour test came in today and I do not have gestational diabetes.  So, there’s that.

Been Too Long

It has been WAY too long since I last posted here.  Between dealing with the loss of mom, a completely chaotic work environment (resulting in total exhaustion by the time I get home), and a Sony laptop that decided to give up the ghost AND the will to live, I haven’t wanted to do ANYTHING other than veg out and do NOTHING on the weekends.

Nothing too new to report.  Still awaiting word on future employment (long story.  Short version…my job has fallen victim along with the approximately 17.5K folks that work for the Air Force with the current economic climate).  But, I have faith that all will sort itself out and we’ll be taken care of the best way the Air Force can take care of us.  One thing that makes me VERY proud to work for the USAF, they ALWAYS take care of their folks the best way they can.  I also have my feelers out for potential jobs elsewhere…so I’m doing my part with what I can and leaving the rest to the powers that be in the government and in the hands of the gods.  It takes a joint effort, right?

As for the laptop issue….I now have a BEAUTIFUL 15″ Macbook Pro.  Lots more memory and works MUCH faster than the VAIO ever did, even when I first purchased it.  Never thought I’d willingly buy an Apple product, but after working on one for the last 2.5 years, I’ve softened my heart a bit and decided it’s the better way to go.  And my Creative Suite programs will run much smoother. 🙂

So, where I am now: Just passed the six month anniversary of mom’s passing.  Got a little misty-eyed, but didn’t cry.  So, I think I’m doing rather well with it all.  I still miss her every day, but the pain softens little by little, week by week.  I did just recently have a day where I needed to vent and cry and I couldn’t do what I normally did: snuggle up in bed with mom and cry while she ran her fingers through my hair and listened, or (since out of the house and living overseas for over a decade) call her.  Instead, I opted to grab her urn off the curio cabinet, place it on my nightstand next to the bed, and curl up and vent and cry.  I figured, “Why stop tradition just because her physical body is no longer in this realm?”  Why stop tradition?  And shockingly, I found it more therapeutic than I thought.  That’s how I’m dealing with it all.  I keep the traditions alive, just slightly altered.  It’s making the healing slightly easier.

Also coming up to the time of year where the people I’ve met and become friends with over the course of a year are moving on to their next locations.  It’s sad when you meet so many awesome people, just to tell them “goodbye” or “see you later” a short time later.  But, that is the lifestyle in which we live with the Armed Forces.  I just look forward to hearing from them on their journeys.

Of course, the local pagan group to which I belong had a fantastic Samhain ritual.  Outdoors…night….big bonfire….ancestors….many concoctions of wonderful liquors, and steak.  Turned out to be a really great evening, and one that I won’t likely ever forget.  The bond I’ve formed with a lot of the folks in the group is strong, and I find kindred spirits in them.  It’s comforting to feel that again.  Next up is Yule, and I can’t WAIT.  Lots of great things in store for that.  And more dear company is coming in for the ritual.  I’m so thankful I have a good support network here.  They may not be blood, but they are most definitely family in every other sense of the word.

I’ve also taken up a hobby of brewing my own mead!  Have a batch going now that a dear friend of mine was kind enough to help me get going again after the first batch kind of fizzled out and died….almost literally.  We managed to revive it and now it’s going strong.  Can’t wait to see how it turns out.  Will definitely post more information when my maiden voyage of brewing is complete. 🙂

So, I guess there’s really not much going on.  Nothing too new.  And I’m determined to start doing more interesting things with my life, just for the sake of actually having something to say other than, “I’m gradually getting over my mom’s death!  Oh, and by the way, this is how boring my life REALLY is!”

So…until I have something more interesting to say…

In frith,

Sara-Kitty

First Typhoon

So, I’m currently sitting through my first typhoon…Bolaven (Julian).  A LOT of wind right now but very little rain.  Somewhat disappointed.   Was looking forward to seeing a little craziness….nature’s temper tantrum.   Of course, I am a bit scared as I hear two panes of window “walls” rattling through my entire apartment.   But there are still people walking the streets!  And businesses are open! CUH-RAAAAZY!  Of course, if it WERE a full force typhoon, I’d be peeing my pants.

Still….it’s an adventure.  How many girls can say they gave themselves a facial in the middle of a typhoon?!

More to come.

Stay safe and dry, all. 

Sara-Kitty

Posted from SaraKitty’s Android

S’mores Bread Recipe from Betty Crocker

After several comments on the photos I posted on Facebook and Twitter, I’m posting this recipe.  PURE AWESOME!!

Blogger Deborah Harroun of Taste and Tell brings the outdoors in with this s’mores-inspired quick bread.
Ingredients

14 graham cracker squares
1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 to 2 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup marshmallow creme
1 graham cracker square, crushed

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. In food processor or blender, place 14 graham cracker squares. Cover; process, using quick on-and-off motions, until finely crushed.

In medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat oil and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping side of bowl between additions. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add graham cracker mixture; stir just until combined (batter will be thin). Pour into loaf pan.

Bake about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave whipping cream on High 1 minute 30 seconds. Add chocolate chips; let stand 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Pour glaze over top of bread, allowing some to drip down sides.

In another small bowl, stir about 1 tablespoon of the boiling water into marshmallow creme until smooth. If glaze is too thick, stir in remaining boiling water. Pour marshmallow glaze over chocolate glaze. Sprinkle with crushed graham cracker.

Let glaze set before slicing.