Listen Up: A Song I Wrote (and I’m PROUD!)

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Back in January – I wrote a post entitled “Memory That Moves Me: Co-Writing a Song.”

It just so happens that today’s prompt is asking me – have I ever written music or been part of a band?

I should mention, and sometimes I laugh about it, I was once the bane of my choir teacher’s experience. She knew I couldn’t sing – heck I knew I couldn’t sing. I would often lipsynch during performances – every once in a while a note would come out of my mouth and you would hear somebody in the alto section yell “SOMEONE IS SINGING SOPRANO!!”.

Yep. That was me. The tone deaf one who simply wanted to find her way somehow into the music world – but I could not sing. I could play the piano. I was also a poet – but a singing voice?

Uh, no. If I showed up at an American Idol audition – I would likely shatter a window or Ryan Seacrest’s make up.

Music does not fit me well. This is where having a dream – and believing in it – is powerful and important.

My favorite artist is a rock star out of Brooklyn, Ariel Aparicio. I learned about his music on Twitter – and I was hooked from the beginning.

We developed a friendship via Twitter and e-mail and I found myself helping him promote his music by showing up at his performances or by working on his website and promotion materials. One day I got the guts to ask – would you perhaps entertain a dream of mine – writing a song together? Color me excited when he immediately said yes.

I wrote the lyrics. He wrote the music. He presented me with the recording for my birthday back in 2010. I will never forget the moment I heard it. For today’s prompt I share with you the only involvement I’ve ever had with a band or with writing music. The song is entitled “I Need You” – and the brilliance behind it still brings tears to my eyes to this day.

I took that wish my heart held true for so many years – and found a way to make it happen. With the wonderful, generous personality of the oh so talented Ariel, and the poetic side of me – we came up with this wonderful rendition of what I will forever call “my song” – because I helped write it.

Introducing the dream I never gave up on – “I Need You.”

I Need You (Lyrics by Jennifer Stephens, Music and Vocals by Ariel Aparicio)

This lonely heart, it cried alone.

These tears, they dried – dried to stone.

This bed it, it felt no soul – of my – my very own.

 So lonely. It tore my life apart.

 

In truth I never knew

My life and then came you.

These scars are fading.

These scars are fading.

 

My scars are fading.

 I need you.

 

I spent so many days waiting

For a hand to take my soul sayin’

You’re not alone in your corners prayin’

I will take your – your pain away

 

In truth I never knew

About peace and then came you.

These scars are fading.

These scars are fading.

 

My scars are fading.

 I need you.

 

Lesson learned by knowing you

The way your words they teach me truth

I can’t go on, I can’t be new

These lessons learned by knowing you

 You only can mend my broken heart

 

In truth I never knew

About peace and then came you.

 These scars are fading.

My scars are fading.

 

In truth I never knew

My life and then came you

 These scars are fading

These scars are fading

My scars are fading….

 

I need you.

I need you.

I need you.

I need you.

I am An MD: Master of Determination

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Very soon I will be guest blogging for Dancing with Fireflies. This blog is very dear to my heart as I appreciate the writing, topics, and challenges that come along with it. Having been sick the past few weeks I’ve been missing her Weekly Writing Challenge. Today, I am partaking. The question: what is your expertise?

I would love to be able to have an actual MD. The truth of the matter is I actually have a Masters degree in Counseling.

But I love to give myself credit as being an MD: Master of Determination.

My expertise is in never giving up. Life can hand me the most unusual, difficult, and emotionally draining situations and it’s my strength, persistence, faith, and determination that help get me through these plights.

It would take me an entire novel or memoir, pages and pages of blogging to explain every life event that I have gotten through and learned from. It would take me years, I suppose, to explain each of the ways I have gained strength from not giving in to the worst of experiences. I have not only become a wiser person – my ability, or should I say expertise, as a person who persists to believe in miracles, second chances, in the idea that failing at something does not make you a failure: it is a lesson learned to benefit from. Failing never makes a person weak. Failure is an opportunity to become stronger – to overcome (thus the purpose of my blog – to empower myself and others to never give up or not allow the curveballs that life throws at us to become strike outs – yet home runs).

So, my friends, in response to this challenge I give you a new bumper sticker idea…

(Sidebar for new followers: I love to come up with bumper stickers – I find the humor and creativity almost inspiring in itself.)

Imagine the back of my Prius with the following:

“I’ll be Back: I am the Determinator.”

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The Shauny Award

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Ah, these are beautiful things on WordPress. Here’s something that I appreciate about the blogging world. I know some are against the idea of blogging awards – but I find it a beautiful way to connect with people and to show them you are truly interested and encompassed by the things they write, their ideas, and the emotions that go into writing in a public forum.

The other wonderful thing about these is that in the majority of cases – EVERYONE is a winner!

For a mother of 3 like me who has copious amounts of health problems, projects, house cleaning, and sleep to try and catch up on – in between diaper changes I do my best to read through everyone’s blogs. I try to find new writers I’m touched by, that I learn from. Sometimes I cannot always press the Like button because I just got thrown up on – or my cat accidentally hit the “back” button and I lost my place.

(Note: my cat is now climbing up our bare Christmas tree – yes I’m aware it’s February – but we’ve only gotten the ornaments down, the tree is still up).

I am so honored to have been nominated by one of the most amazing bloggers out there: A Moms Blog

Simple rules: Show Humanity, Show Love, Be Yourself, Don’t Be Others, Don’t Gossip,- share this award with 10 others. This part makes me happy. I want everyone to know that I DO check my reader almost constantly – and usually life gets in the way of me commenting or leaving a simple Like click. My apologies – when life gets crazy it does not hand me lemons – it hands me NUTS! I APPRECIATE ALL OF YOU! 

My 10 Shares:

A Game of Diapers

61 Musings

Poetry on a Roll

The Jittery Goat

Schizo Incognito

Dancing with Fireflies

Toe Mail

Positive Outlooks 

2 Me 4 Art

Breakroom Stories

An Open Letter to Doctors: Stigmas Are Negative Messages

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Stigma (Noun) Defined:

“A set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.”

Dear Doctors:

I understand your profession requires skill, strength, patience, and dedication. I am in no way undermining your work or your place in my life and the many things you have done to save me. Yet still, I wish to write to you openly today to express my sincere sadness, anxiety, and humiliation over recent treatment I received in the medical field because I am part of a stigma.

If you have not yet read my Pathway to Freedom, I encourage you to do so.

My struggle with opiate dependence and my journey to recovery has been no secret. I chose not to hide behind the curtains of secrecy that often come with facing a chemical dependence on prescription pain medications. I have sought therapy and help with my anxiety associated with parting ways with opiates on a regular basis. I have become a bigger and better person, I am stronger. My entire blog is dedicated to my journey as well as to mental health in general – relating to others, helping others, listening and offering support.

Just recently I came down with a weird set of symptoms that I could not define. Severe back pain coupled with another severe symptom I would rather not blog about.

Oh do not laugh – I know I blog about EVERYTHING – but for the sake of those who may be eating dinner, let’s say, mine was not exactly staying in – severely. This continued for two weeks.

I am new to my area. I moved here to be closer to family in September 2013. I have an OBGYN here, a pain management doctor that I parted ways with recently, a therapist, and a psychiatrist. I had yet to find a primary care physician and decided this time around instead of spending hundreds of dollars at the emergency room or at urgent care – I would finally make a relationship with a family doctor.

Their introduction was fantastic. They were kind, fast, and very attentive. My lab results were in within 24 hours. I was called personally. Another set of labs would take longer – but I would be informed, they said. At no time during this appointment did I request any narcotic pain medication. I simply asked for answers.

Upon finding out that my results were all negative for anything major – the back pain was so severe and the other symptoms continued so I sought out the help of the emergency room for a catscan. These results were negative for anything that needed immediate attention. I called my new doctor and let him know and asked him for other suggestions. I then saw a stomach doctor as well as an orthopedist. During these visits it was discovered that I have a severely sprained back that is causing continuous muscle spasms. It’s possible I have a torn disc in my lumbar region and my entire insides below are simply traumatized. Once again, despite the pain, I did not ask for and was not prescribed any narcotic pain medication.

Color me shocked when yesterday – a courier stopped by my door. It was no sooner than the orthopedist that my primary doctor referred me to found the sprain and other issues – that this letter came into my hands. It was from my new primary doctor. It read, in a nutshell, that my previous records had been obtained and my prescription history reveals I am known as a “doctor shopper” – an “addict” and am no longer allowed at their practice or to be treated at any of their facilities in the city.

I just about fell over.

I have never once in my life doctor shopped. I am very much against this practice. My previous medications were obtained legally and for medically proven specified reasons by the same set of doctors at the same practice. While I did go through withdrawals upon stepping off the medications this is not uncommon for a patient who has been on such high doses for such a long period of time. Within the letter was a flyer to a recovery center “go and seek help” it said. Funny it was the same recovery center I went to in December to be evaluated to be sure I did not need any further treatment or to see if I even qualified as an addict at all.

Allow me to digress but the results from the addiction specialist confirmed that I am not an addict nor do I have any addictive tendencies. My prescription records were scrutinized for 3 hours as was I before this determination was made.

My question to you is – why would you ever trash a patient like paperwork through a shredder without asking them for an explanation? 

You are subjecting innocent people to the biggest problem: a stigma.

I believe this sends a negative message. Denying medical care to a person without questioning or further investigating what you see on paper is very irresponsible, humiliating, and heart breaking to a patient who – since you never asked or cared enough to know – worked very hard to get to this point. I also forgot the part where I asked you for narcotic pain medications.

Is it because I came into your office and said I was in pain? Because I told you I was making you my primary doctor that you went and got all my records and jumped to a conclusion without going straight to the source – or for that matter, allowing an ailing patient to defend herself?

It is very disturbing to me that patients can be so easily ignored and kicked to the curb by medical professionals that are supposed to protect them. While I did not disclose my previous history to you in my appointment – it is because I am still learning to trust medical professionals after my recent experiences. I wanted to build a rapport and have you understand and know me before I opened up to you. This is quite possibly my fault – I’m sure, because you are not emotionally attached to me and you had never met me before that day, that you automatically assumed that I fall into the same category as those who abuse the system in order to obtain controlled prescriptions for recreational use.

I am not one of these people.

Your snap judgement has caused me heart break, anxiety, and distress that is truly unnecessary. It is a very lost and lonely feeling to know that a doctor you were trying to use as your family provider no longer wishes to provide to you based on a stigma – without any defense from an innocent patient.

While I did take up this issue with the Executive Director of the practice in question and with the doctor himself – I am writing to all doctors that work in any field where this may be an issue. It is one thing to tell a patient that because of their history you cannot provide controlled medications – yet you can still treat them in other ways.

It’s another to completely kick a patient out of your facility based on paperwork. I am a human. I am further than words, prescriptions, and whatever other reports you obtained that may have painted me in a light that you did not appreciate.

Through it all, I never have requested any controlled medications from that practice or any other provider. Would it hurt you so bad to bring a patient in on your precious time and ask them to elaborate? Is it truly against your will to find compassion because I thought that was part of your oath you were asked to take when you became a doctor?

Holding patients as stigmas causes such negative feelings of humiliation and distrust. I now have to search for another provider and am worried, scared, and anxious I will never be able to receive treatment for true problems because of a difficult past that I worked very hard to correct and to be frank – I was never wrong or abused the system in the first place.

I beg you to question yourselves as you practice each day. While I understand you keep emotional distance from your patients – it does not mean that you cannot dig deeper to better understand the measures a patient has taken to willingly fight a very difficult disease that, in my case and in many, is involuntary.

Please do not subject innocent women like me – innocent men, adults, adolescents, to feeling as though they are so abnormal that you cannot even treat them for a simple sinus infection, or perhaps give a simple referral because I need to see a doctor that is outside of your scope of study. Allow patients to feel welcome, understood, and above all: not judged.

I never got a phone call, an office meeting, or a personal voice message. I got a typed letter that was clearly copied from a template with a scribble of a signature on the bottom. This completely hurt my feelings and makes me question the integrity of doctors in the medical field who claim they are all for supporting patients in every way – including recovery.

This is not supportive or understanding – this is judgmental, unfair, and will affect me greatly now and in the future as I learn to work forward from this. This could affect anyone who may not have been as strong or in the position as myself to be able to recover at the pace that I did. You should reach out your hands – never take them away and leave your patients feeling desperate, uncared for, and worthless.

I never lied to my new doctor. He, however, lied to me when he said he was happy to have me join the practice.

That could turn any person in need of help into such a shameful place that it may have more negative effects than you ever intended.

I hope this message gets across to as many doctors as possible. I understand you hold high standards because you are licensed. I realize that others hold you to that standard and you are monitored- yet the realization is, people who have fought addiction whether it be now, in the past, or in the future – are still human beings with souls. We are far more than statistics – and a piece of paper or file folder you can just shred and throw away.

Let that be a lesson taught that maybe a patient can teach you – rather than you teaching the patient. Sometimes we’re wiser.

Because we’re people too.

Somebody Saved Me Today: But Who?

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I was driving innocently today. I had just dropped off my two oldest children in Stafford, VA to go back with their father. I was in my Prius compact car, enjoying the winter wind through my window, while listening to Zak Bagans’ song “In My Dungeon”…

Sidebar (see brilliance below):

I noticed out of the corner of my right eye – an 18 wheeler on the exit ramp coming onto Interstate 95 South.

Have you ever been to Virginia? On Interstate 95? Wacko drivers. Avoid it. 

Still enthralled in listening to my favorite song of my very brilliant idol I noticed something was off.

This 18 wheeler had nothing on the back of his bed. His bed was high. He was coming off of the exit ramp at a good 50 MPH. I was in the middle lane. It struck me then like something out of an 80’s sitcom when the answer to the question just suddenly appears within such a short time span. He was not stopping.

This truck continued to swerve and he was coming into my lane.

“He doesn’t see me. Oh my God. He doesn’t see me.”

Prius owners unite: we understand we blow the concept of the “blind spot”.

I was clutching the wheel in a panic. There was nowhere to go.

But wait. There was.

Before I could blink and say “I love cats” – I was underneath the bed of his truck. My compact Prius wedged between his bed and tires.

I began to beep. Scream.

What good will this do me NOW?

Ever seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?

It can really happen. My life began to flash before my eyes. I could see my children’s faces, hear their laughs. I saw bright lights around. I could hear my husband’s voice “You’re my everything”…

Oh my God. I’m dying.

This was it. I was about to see the pearly gates of Heaven – witness the miracles that so exist from those who speak of near death experiences. For us Ghost Adventures fans, I was about to become one. This was my day. February 17, 2014. Age 34. She loved coffee, scary movies, her husband, her children, football, beer and nachos. I could see my obituary.

I had one out. While saying a Hail Mary – praying like I had always been taught in my Catholic church that I hadn’t visited in years after many thoughts of wondering about my faith – I was praying like I never had before.

Dear God: please, I am going to swerve to the third lane, I cannot see out my side view mirror. Please, don’t let there be a car. Help me.  I cannot leave my babies. I cannot leave my husband, my family, my kitty cat Macy. Please.

I gave myself an ultimatum. I kept my hands gripped to the wheel and I swerved.

Today my friends, I witnessed a miracle.

As it turns out an angel in a gold Honda Civic had stopped traffic in the third lane. He had seen my plight. He had stopped them 1/4 of a mile back to allow me time to swerve back in the lane without hitting anybody. My car went off the road – and then something took control of my hands. Instead of hitting the guard rail – I went back onto the road, and stayed in the third lane. I did not overcorrect. I did not hit anybody. My car had not a scratch.

Neither did I.

It’s like an umpire yelling when a man on 3rd steals home base:

YOU’RE SAFE!

I immediately began to sob. Still shaking I called my husband to hear his voice. I called my mother to hear hers.

Now home and on my couch with a cold beer I wonder:

What was it that saved me today?

Somebody knew it was not my time – and they made sure of it.

Could it have been my love of the song I was listening to keeping me calm?

Could it have been the thought of my husband, children, and family?

Could it have been that amazing, thoughtful gold Honda Civic?

Or was it something deeper?

I should have died today. I saw the lights, I heard the sounds, there was really no way to avoid it.

Yet I did.

A guardian angel, perhaps. A keeper of my soul.

Regardless, I’m home. I’m home where I’m obviously meant to be now.

To February 17, 2014: today was not my time. Someday it will be – but it was not today.

To the driver of the Mack Truck: learn to pay attention. You could have killed this mother of 3. And knowing me, and my love of the paranormal and Ghost Adventures, I would have haunted the living crap out of you.

Life is good.