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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.

The new trend: Complaining about Complaining

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A note to readers:  I have been out sick for a while and am finally getting better, enough at least to be able to post again and update my blog. Not only did I get strep throat, I came down with a terribly painful case of Colitis.

Wait. Maybe I should not have revealed that last detail: Colitis. It seems that each and every time somebody complains about something, reaches out for support, says something happy on social media: all Hell seems to break loose.

Allow me to explain. I’ve noticed while being sick in bed for the past two weeks and observing the news, blogs, articles that there appears to be a trend in social networking and blogging as well as article writing – to target a specific brand of people.

Exhibit A: a recent article from Cosmopolitan about what engaged people do on Facebook that is annoying.

Exhibit B: A recently pressed article about the 8 reasons someone won’t be friends on Facebook with you in 2014 (see #6)

Exhibit C: An article written with regards to looking down on mothers who have husbands and children.

Allow me to retort. I wonder where all the negativity comes from that drives people to write such judgmental posts. I believe it is quite apparent that I am brutally honest. I have no filter. When I feel like talking – I talk. I do not care about the subject, and I certainly do not sift through my words to make sure they do not sound negative. I keep it real.

People constantly complain about complaining are beginning to become the bane of my social media existence. Granted, I am now issuing a complaint myself.  It is officially defined as “Facebitching”:

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Sometimes there are posts that are happy. My feed is full of Facebook announcements of engagement, new babies, wedding dates. I see continuous love for a spouse to another simply posting “I love you” on their partners page. I find these things beautiful and fun to watch. I post my own. It is no secret that my battle with addiction was fought publicly on Facebook. There is not a day goes by where I say something negative because I have the freedom to do so – and because I find so much support in others who suffer the same things and offer their shoulder and ears to me for venting.

These are the people I appreciate. It has become apparent recently that the concept of social media is continuously on a down spiral over those who feel compelled to say “stop posting happy things” “do not make up your own hashtags” “you’re a stay at home mother and you have kids, your life must not be fulfilling…”

I’m joining the group now of people who complain about complaining on social media – but my complaint is for the people taking other people’s exciting moments, difficult times, jobs, choices they’ve made and making rude, bitter, snide judgements just because you do not fit the same mold. You could be single, you may have chosen to not have children, you may have a job and it annoys the bejesus out of you because some mothers do not have jobs and choose to stay home with their kids.

Sidebar: parenting is a job.

Have you ever stopped for a second and just simply given somebody a congratulations? If you can’t bring yourself to do it and it drives you insane when people post on Facebook (for that matter, I could say I just had the best chocolate ice cream – all of a sudden it’s people complaining about the so called Food Porn posts) – try the hide button. On Twitter, there is an unfollow button.

I am a very open minded person. I read others posts and ideas. I read through the complaints about happy people being the disgrace of social media – then their posts and articles change to – oh there’s a negative post -let me proceed to complain about the details they give of their life. A person decides to post on their social media account that they’re sad, please pray. Yet no details are explained. These are the ones where I reach out and say I hope you feel better, or I’m thinking of you. I do not persist to ask the reasons because maybe they are choosing to say it’s not really other’s business.

Unfortunately there’s a stigma on social media where you pretty much cannot do anything right. A person posts they’re happy: someone gets pissed off “shut up, we don’t need you to post to your spouse that you love them on Facebook, go tell them in person.” (I’m rolling my eyes) – or then theres complaints of those who say they’re sad and do not give details. When they finally do give details, people are annoyed that the details were too much information “please do not post every detail of your sickness, no one needs to read that.”

WHY are you on social networking then? I’m still lost trying to figure out where the disconnect is between those who are on the internet for freedom of expression and those who are on social networking to stalk others posts and find a reason to complain about it (usually their posts consist of “i have to work today and it’s snowing”. ) Okay – I find your posts boring, so? I prefer to read when people reach out, talk about their happiness, post photos of pregnant bellies and their children playing in the snow. A few posts down there’s always someone lashing out at somebody else for being so open “geez get a room you make me want to vomit from all of your happiness” “I’m tired of people complaining that their kids are sick, so what, there’s worse problems in the world”.

Of course there are. However, there’s where I fall in: I decided to become the type that is transparent and I am now reaching out to those who complain about EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of complaining. For all of the articles on social media that post the rules, or what not to do’s, here’s MY list of rules. I hate making rules. Here’s a few insights from a transparent poster who does give details (and by the way I’m a stay at home mother).

1. Stop complaining about complaining about complaining. If you do not enjoy social networking and seeing a diversity of personalities who express themselves differently – then stop reading. Press hide.

2. Stop complaining about Bit Strip comics in your Facebook feeds. Do not like them? Turn off the funny creativity then.

3. Stop making engaged, married, or pregnant people seem like the enemy because they are hitting life milestones they are excited about and they want to share it with others. Show some compassion – I mean really complaining about that shows jealousy and bitterness on your part, at least in my opinion.

4. Stop insulting mothers who are on Facebook complaining about their child peeing the bed, or projectile vomiting at the local restaurant. I find the people who hate these posts are not parents so they clearly have no idea what that is like. Stop judging.

5. Stop making rules on Facebook and Twitter. I can use hashtags if I want, talk about what I want, and give the details that I want. It’s social media –  it’s a way of connecting with people.

6. Accept a diversity of personalities that exist beyond yours. Please do not post on how people should act on social media – stop stalking posts and go do something more productive.

7. STOP MAKING RULES. I myself am making rules – but these are MY rules that I hope EVERYONE would at least TRY to understand – but to be honest, there really isn’t a written rule that says somebody cannot express happiness, show a picture of an engagement ring, talk about their day with the kids and the million diapers changed or how the child accidentally pooped in the ball pit at Chick Fil A.

If you cannot take heat – get out of the kitchen. Get off your computer and find another life skill more fulfilling than bashing those who use social media as a way of documenting their lives and finding peace in the support they receive from others. Allow social networking to be just that- social networking.

I am in no way judging you. I am merely ANNOYED with you – just like you’ve complained pretty much every two seconds about being ANNOYED with me for SIMPLY BEING ME!

Always be yourself. Follow your own guidelines. Do not filter because you are afraid of the naysayers who have decided to take it upon themselves to insult every single solitary detail of any given post. If it can’t be happy, or sad, if it can’t be about a medical problem, or a picture of food, or a dirty baby eating his first solid foods meal: then what is it?

Boring and a total defeat of the purpose of self expression. I’m sure you claim your posts are about self expression that you cannot stand people complaining – but you yourself are complaining.

So I admit it – I’m complaining about complaining but I’m also taking a stand for people who choose to be transparent and honest with others. I applaud that. While I applaud the efforts of the complainers to at least put time and effort into their thoughts of why they hate hashtags, engagements, childbirth, marriage, posts about sickness: I feel you could at least give it a rest and find the positive in people who are not afraid to share their live stories to connect with others. Maybe their life story isn’t yours but instead of concentrating on telling them how annoying they are – remember, you are annoying too.

Because you can’t just simply sit back, watch, and possibly learn from the diversity of personalities that exist in social media.

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My Heart Unlocked: The Key

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Love can teach you many lessons.

I have suffered with anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues for many years. These issues date back to around spring of 1998. I have been through several major relationships – one of which ended in a broken marriage. Following divorce depression can become especially overwhelming. I had already been suffering for a year and a half prior to our separation due to postpartum depression stemming from the birth of my daughter in May 2009. The darkness I exuded brought so much despair that eventually – my ex husband decided to leave.

My life seemed to begin over again. Here I was living alone with racing thoughts and questions: how did this fail? I wondered had I ever really been in love – why had this gone so awry  … it was at that point that I said to myself, and believed, true love really did not exist.

In April 2012, on a chance encounter, I met my now husband, Joe. My heart was dead bolted. Locked. My soul was marked with a “No Trespassing” sign. I was still struggling with my esteem. I felt rotten, ugly, like I had completely been doomed to never feel the essence of true love. I was faced with a man that I instantly recognized had the type of strength I had always dreamed of. Here before me stood a Veteran, divorced himself, who had also survived cancer and had three children himself. His intelligence immediately sparked my interest. I consider myself a very smart and talented lady in a lot of respects – but his intelligence was not condescending. I was used to the type of man who would patronize me by making me feel as if my quotient of wisdom was stupidity, not knowledge.

Joe and I talked for hours each day. This man understood and got to the bottom of the deepest pits of my inner demons so quickly. I believe it was his kindness, his warm smile, his gentle voice that spoke to me with such caring generosity – that truly unlocked my ability to open up so immediately. It came out of nowhere. All of this time I had wondered if there was a man who was patient, kind, forgiving, understanding, hopeful, and loving – that would actually believe in me despite my emotional baggage.

Joe has never once left my side since. He has seen me through some of the most difficult times. We have braved my depression, anxiety, addiction, and health issues TOGETHER. He has taught me the meaning of true love. The value of his confidence in me goes hand in hand with his undying affection for each and every part of me. He never questions me. Every day I wake up and I’m told I’m beautiful. Little notes written on the steam of the mirror after I take a shower – “I love you, baby.” These are things I have never experienced before. In looking back on the past I realize that I never once failed anybody or anything when it came to love – I just had not yet found what it was truly supposed to be.

In my Prince Charming I have learned how to open my heart again. The key was in someone’s ability to grasp onto my inner imperfections and show me the light in each flaw – and that knowing that despite any days where I may cry for no reason, be moody, yell obscenities, need time alone – he still guides me and holds my hand through each moment. The key was finding somebody strong enough to not let go when the darkest hours present themselves in such perilous light – and instead, that someone would hold me through it and turn that into time together that just makes us both stronger.

He is my best friend. He is closest to me. He knows me better in 2 years than anyone has ever known me in all 34 years alive. He has brought me into that place of happiness and peace – he has taught me that the emotional catalyst to renewing my faith was simply in believing in myself – and to to trust someone else to do the same. I love him more than I could ever imagine loving another human soul – and in this lesson, I have become whole again. After being torn to pieces – his hands, his face, his smile, his heart, his hope, his soul, his genuine belief in my genuine self – has put me back together with a soulful thread and that missing needle in the haystack:

Undying, true, selfless, faithful:  love.

It does exist. We are proof.