Going Beyond Memes

 

Starbucks

 
If you’re like me, you’re sick of seeing these cups.  You’re sick of the “controversy” surrounding them and the blog posts and memes pushing back against the ridiculous notion that Starbucks having plain holiday cups is a war on Christmas. All of these memes and blog posts remind us that helping and giving this holiday season is more important, and more Christ-like, than bitching about cups.  There’s a problem with these reminders, though.  Clicking like or share on Facebook or retweeting lets us off way too easily.  In an instant, we are able to declare to the world that we are morally superior to people trolling Christmas because we get it.  And that’s the end of it.  Now we can dust off our hands and begin updating our wish lists. 

  Source

But, of course, it doesn’t and shouldn’t end there.  If you are a Christian, Jesus calls you to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit those who are in jail.  Other faiths call for the same.  Those without faith in the supernatural are called by their conscience and faith in humanity to do what is good and right.  Simply put, if you’re able, you should be helping your fellow man.  So let’s all make sure that this holiday season, and beyond, we don’t just post memes about how helping others is more important than the design of Starbucks’ holiday cups, but that we actually DO something to make a difference. You can donate to Toys for Tots, to food pantries, and other charities which allow us to help on a continual basis, like World Vision.  You can volunteer in a soup kitchen or shelter or anything on the front lines that puts you face to face with those in need.  You can help the animals with whom we share this earth, giving one of them a loving home or helping them to find one.  You can choose gifts this year which are ethically sourced, like fair-trade chocolate, or that give back to the people in the organizations who make them.  You can choose not to avoid eye contact of the person sitting by the road with signs asking for help, ignoring lame excuses like, They’ll probably just use it to buy drugs.  If you’re like me and never have cash on hand, you could do what my friend Sarah does and keep a supply of food in her car, which she hands to those standing by the road.  You can take the time to ask what the person outside of Target, the grocery store, or Starbucks needs and go get it for them.  Imagine how that could make a plain red cup reveal the joyous giving of Christmas.

Hope for Kaidence 

 
This is Kaidence, my cousin’s 4 year old little girl. Kaidence suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, which makes her ineligible for the traditional treatments. She has suffered over 350 seizures since they began at 11 months old. Her entire story is here.

They weren’t able to fully enjoy trick or treating last night because Kaidence seized while going door to door.  Kaidence is not getting a chance to have a normal childhood because epilepsy keeps stealing it from her. 

Kaidence and her parents need your help.  They’re unable to afford treatment from any doctors who might actually know what they’re doing.  They don’t have a spare $15,000 lying around, which is the cost for their portion of adopting a seizure dog for Kaidence.  In the last 48 hours, when the campaign began, several fantastic people have given generous support. But we’re still a long way from the goal. Please, please, if you are able, please find it in your heart to help this happy, little girl who fights and struggles every day.  Please share Kaidence’s story with anyone who is willing to listen and may be willing to help. I have hope that with the right resources, Kaidence will be able to get what she needs. 

Her mother, Samantha, said to me today, “That is truly amazing and such a blessing. Alex and I have been so used to struggling and going without and taking out loans to cover things and it’s just amazing that our friends and family and people we don’t know are so willing to donate for Kaidence.”

The Community that Jenny Built

Excited to have received “Furiously Happy”.

My introduction to Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, was this post a friend had shared on Facebook a few years ago.  It took me several attempts to get through it because I had to keep stopping to wipe tears from my eyes and calm down from convulsive laughter.  I shared it with Mike.  He was amused, but didn’t quite understand why I was shrieking like an angry chimpanzee.  (It’s because we share most of our DNA with them.  That’s just science.)

Since that day, I’ve been a loyal reader.  To this day I still say to myself, Knock knock, motherfucker! whenever I have to, ya know, knock.  But what made Jenny different from any other funny blogger who makes you pee your pants, was that she made herself vulnerable and let us into her world of physical and mental illness.  She showed us her view of the world from under a table or from inside a bathroom because her anxiety overcame her and she needed to feel safe.  She let us crawl under the blankets with her to watch Doctor Who for hours on end because deep depression was preventing her from doing anything else.  While reading her latest book, Furiously Happy, I walked with her out into the New York snow with my own cracked and bloody feet.  It felt safe to know I wasn’t the only one that happens to, that I didn’t have to feel like a freak whenever I have to clean up blood I’ve unknowingly tracked all over the floor because fibromyalgia has made my feet swell and remain constantly cracked open.  Jenny has built a community of “me toos”.  We know what it’s like to lay in bed, not able to get up, not able to reassure ourselves that it will be okay.  We know what it feels like to consider that everyone, including ourselves, may just be better off dead.  We know that having to interact in social situations, especially with people we don’t know, feels like The Doctor being dragged to the Pandorica.

Okay, so what? you’re saying to yourself if you’re a bad person who’s never read The Bloggess.  The thing is, Jenny goes a step beyond sharing her lows.  She reminds us all that depression lies, which is something I’ve repeated to myself again and again and have heard from Mike because I passed that mantra on to him.  She refuses to be defeated and finds the hysterical in the darkest and strangest of places.  And then she inspires us to do the same and helps us heal which, I just realized, basically makes her Jesus, (aside from the running around with 12 dudes.)

So I’m not entirely sure why I was surprised by the outpouring of love I received on Twitter last week.  I really wanted to go hear and meet Jenny at her book signing in DC, but will not go into DC by myself because I’m afraid I’ll crash in the fucked up DC traffic, or get raped on Metro like that one episode I saw on Law & Order: SVU that was on because I was at my friends’ parents’ house and I couldn’t escape it, or get lost and end up having to sit on the steps of the Capitol and wait for someone to come get me.  At least then I’d be able to mount a late night protest of the Republican push to defund Planned Parenthood or Ted Cruz’s stupid face in general while I killed time.  Ooo, or I could just try to scale the White House fence. Then I’d get arrested and would get to wait inside. I’d explain that I wasn’t a threat to the President, I just have bad anxiety. Then we’d all laugh about it. I’d get to meet President Obama and tell him that I really need him to have the HHS Secretary pencil a provision into Obamacare that would prevent insurance companies from refusing to cover a medication for the treatment of chronic illnesses. And then I’d be a Spoonie hero!  Fuck!  I should have gone by myself!
Aaaaaaanyway, I really wanted to go and just posted a throw away tweet about how I wanted to go, but was too afraid to go by myself.  I never, NEVER expected tweets from people in the area saying they were going and would I like a ride.  I received tweets of support and encouragement from others who were nervous about going alone or who weren’t going, but understood my anxiety.  It was like the community that Jenny built was reaching out and giving me a big hug.  Although, now I’m imagining a bunch of creepy, evil hands reaching through my phone and saying in a high-pitched, “sweet, little girl’s” possessed voice, “We just want to love you!  Come with us!”  But you get the idea.

I ended up not being able to go.  Mike hates joy and said he needed me to help him pick up the van from the mechanic, (although why he couldn’t just let Zoë drive the van home is beyond me) and wanted help with bedtime because it was a “school night”.  He was also concerned about me riding in a car with complete strangers somewhere.  Normally, I would have been, too, but I was like, They’re fans of Jenny.  It’s fine!  I was heartbroken that I didn’t get to go, especially since I didn’t get to meet this little guy and his owner,  

i maintain that he would totally lull you into a false sense of security with his cuteness and then launch an attack on your toes.

 and felt horribly that so many had rallied to get me there and I ended up having to shit all over their generosity.  But it was, and is, comforting to know that there is a safe and supportive community out there, on whom I can rely.  It gives me a warm feeling, right in my belly.  Or I could be digesting lunch.

America Needs You to Stop

Image via Huffington Post

  There have already been dozens of op-eds, articles, and blog posts about gun control in the wake of yet another mass shooting in Oregon, (and now another in Arizona!  There was another school shooting between when I began this post and now.  What the actual fuck, people?!) but I decided I needed to pile on anyway.  Once upon a time, people changed minds with well-written essays or impassioned speeches.  Anyone who is completely against new gun control regulations will not be a fan of this post.  While I don’t expect to change any hearts and minds, I hope that you will at least listen to what I have to say.

You don’t need a gun.

Correction: unless you’re an on duty police officer or military personnel, living completely off the grid and need to hunt and gather your food, or are training for the Winter Olympics biathlon, you don’t need a gun.  You may want a gun, but you don’t need a gun.  This is not to be mistaken with the idea that you shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun.  But so far, I haven’t heard a single persuasive argument as to why someone needs to have a gun.  For example:

“I like to go hunting.”
Everyone needs a hobby, I guess.  And truth be told, I don’t have a problem with someone hunting and eating what they’ve hunted.  I mean, Bambi is delicious!
“And I need a high powered rifle to hunt with.  It will allow me to get a cleaner shot so it will die quickly and not suffer.”
Nope.  You lost me.  You want a high powered rifle.  Plenty of people were able to hunt just fine before high powered rifles.  Hell, if you want to be an impressive marksman, go back to bow hunting.  And as far as not wanting your kill to suffer, that’s really sweet.  But if you’re so concerned about the welfare of the animal and its suffering, I suggest maybe not hunting.  

“I need to protect myself/my family.”
I really and truly do have sympathy for that idea.  Nothing is scarier than being attacked while defenseless.  Whenever I hear a strange sound in the house, my thumb hovers over the “send” button for 911.  Sometimes I might take a large kitchen knife with me.  In my mind at those times, I think I’m going to be like fucking Jack Ryan or Katniss and defend myself like I know what I’m fucking doing.  Here’s the thing, though.  None of us are Jack Ryan or Katniss Everdeen.  The likelihood of someone successfully defending themselves with gun in a home invasion is low, while the possibility of someone in the home being injured is high.  How often do we read stories about children accidentally killing their sibling or friend because they were messing around with a gun?  What about some asshole kid in Tennessee who murdered an 8 year old little girl the other day because she wouldn’t let him play with her puppy.  How about the girl in Arizona who accidentally killed her shooting instructor, even though she had learned proper gun safety?  The father who killed his own son because he believed him to be a home invader? Then there’s the fact that a gun in the home significantly increases the likelihood of a woman to die because of domestic violence. I will grant that there are a handful of stories where a resident was able to fight off their attacker with a gun, but that isn’t the norm, and it still doesn’t make having a gun in the home a good idea.  People survive parachute accidents.  That doesn’t mean we should all start jumping out of planes without chutes.

“I like to go shooting at the shooting range.”
Blink. Blink.  How liking to go shooting is more important than people’s lives is beyond me, but okay, I’ll play along.  Rent the goddamn things at the range like a club at putt putt.  And yes, I’ve been shooting…with a gun my ex-boyfriend was able to buy on the Internet.

“2nd Amendment rights!  Constitution!  Founding Fathers!  Liberty from a tyrannical government!  Hitler!
Let’s make one thing very clear: if you have always lived in this country, (with some obvious exceptions) you don’t know from tyranny.  And do you honestly think our government is going to come after you?  1) We liberals who aren’t pacifists aren’t usually fans of war anyway.  2) It’s highly doubtful that our military would follow orders from President Obama or a liberal Congress or any other liberal in power to war against its own citizens.  The portion of our military that isn’t Republican and telling our  liberal government to go fuck themselves would likely object to such action.  3) Let’s assume they do come for you, (for… reasons?) I seriously doubt the small arsenal you possess will do much against a tank or five.  But seriously, they’re. not. coming. for. you.  And the whole Hitler reason is bollocks.  And as a wise person once said to me, “If you invoke Hitler in an argument, you automatically lose. Those are the rules.”

The fact of the matter is, if your desire to have a gun is more important than the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of victims, then you’re a bad person.  Full stop.  If you’re arguing against or preventing gun control because you don’t want to make it more difficult for you to get a gun, then you have some seriously fucked up priorities.  Stop using bullshit arguments in order to keep your precious metal penises.  

Stop using Chicago as a reason to not regulate guns.  That’s like saying, Passing laws against driving drunk hasn’t stopped everyone from doing so, so we might as well not do anything.  It’s an excuse, nothing more, and you know it.  One must be true: either banning handguns in other countries has worked to drastically diminish this sort of gun violence or our country has a disproportionate number of the world’s murderous people.  Otherwise, I look forward to ceasing attempts to ban abortion and the decriminalization of  marijuana.

Stop saying that we just need better gun education and safety.  If that were true, there wouldn’t be accidents all the time.  My cousin wouldn’t have accidentally shot himself in the torso and then fought for his life. The fact is, people are stupid.  We just are.  We make mistakes.  We think we’re invicible, (I’m looking at you, 16-22 year olds.)  Then again, sex education has totally eliminated unplanned pregnancy and STIs. Wait…

Stop saying that we need to fix mental health care.  It may be true that mental health plays a part in the reason people go on these shooting rampages, but deflecting to mental health as the only reason is insulting to those of us who live quietly with mental health issues every day.  But thank you for continuing to propagate the stigma of mental illness.  Also, many times, the first indication that someone is seriously mentally disturbed is after people have been murdered.  And even if there are indications, that doesn’t mean they have been adjudicated to be mentally ill and dangerous, as in the case of the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech massacre.  

Stop saying that only good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns.  If that were true, Chris Mintz didn’t get the memo.  Nor did Aleksander Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, and Spencer Stone, (who, I am happy to say, is recovering from being stabbed last night.)  Not to mention, the late Colonel Bill Badger, who tackled the gunman in Tucson, AZ during Gabby Giffords’ campaign stop.  These heroes, and countless others, subdued these attackers without guns.
Then there are the would-be heroes who create problems, accidents, or get themselves killed.  Armed civilians have yet to stop a mass shooting. 

 Furthermore, escalation by putting guards with guns on school campuses will only open the schools up to accidents, (or “accidents”) and scare the shit out of the teachers and students.  It’s a place of learning, not a war zone.  I sure as fuck don’t want armed guards patrolling my girl’s schools.  And yes, I know about the meme from school shootings past, that suggests we should be like Israel and have guards at schools with semi-automatic weapons.  Well okay, but then I think we should have the car bombs and suicide bombers to go with them, then.

Finally, stop saying, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” and that if they don’t have guns, they’ll just use a knife or a baseball bat, etc.  Fuck off; guns kill people.  And as we’ve seen over the past two decades, they cause a lot of damage.  Plus, it’s not like you have some magical plan to make people change.  So we need to make it as hard as possible for anyone to get ahold of such devastating weapons.  Weapons which have the potential to be far more devastating than a knife or baseball bat, and you know  it, so cut it out.  

I’m too weary to write a real conclusion.  It’s beyond me why people are fighting tooth and nail to hold onto this culture of death. Even if you’re just having target practice, they are still deadly weapons.  A friend pointed out that we put people through more paces to get a driver’s license.  Why are we not taking more care with guns?  Fewer deadly weapons leads to fewer deaths.  It’s just common sense.  

I know this post has probably read more like a jumble of words I just threw at the screen. I’m angry. I’m exhausted. I’m incredulous. I’m a little hopeless. I need this to stop. America needs this to stop. 

Concerning Pants…er…Leggings

This post begins with a trigger warning.  The pictures you’re about to see may make you say, “Eww!”, “Ugh!  Why?”, throw up in your mouth a little, or feel like your eyes are being dry humped.  

This is how I was dressed when I dropped the girls off at school today. 

This may be the part where you ask god how he would allow such a thing to happen.

No makeup, wet hair, and *gasp!* leggings!  I know. I KNOW!  I just couldn’t help myself.  They were clean, they were comfortable, and so I put them on, even though I didn’t have a shirt that fully covered my lumpy, fat ass and bulging gunt.  I am so incredibly sorry to show this to you and to anyone who had to endure seeing it in person.  No, wait.  Not sorry.  What are those words?  You know, the ones that mean it’s my body, I’ll dress it how I want, and I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks?  Hmmm….. Oh, well.  Maybe it will come to me later.  

Actually, if I’m being honest, I do care.  Or, at least, I care more lately, as I’ve been seeing things on social media, which are essentially shaming people for daring to allow their bums to be seen while wearing leggings.  It began last week when a friend shared the following video with me.

Look, I know it’s meant to be tongue in cheek and to garner laughs, but the more she talked, the more I felt like shit.  My first response was the kind of anger that leaves a lump in my sternum, waiting to burst out with any defensive thing I could say that would make me feel better.  After watching the video, I texted this back to my friend: 


It’s fat-shaming, pure and simple.  You know that the people who make these videos and flow charts are not thinking about skinny people, like them, when they make these.  At the very least, it’s body-shaming.  Because more women, (one of whom is supposed to be a Christian) making other women feel self-conscious and bad about their bodies is definitely what the world needs.  If she is so distracted by asses in leggings that she can’t make it through a shopping run in Target, may I humbly suggest that she stay at home with her judginess and cuddle with it by a nice, warm fire, and leave us fat people alone.  As we used to say in the 90s, that sounds like a personal problem. 

Finally, I’ve referenced flow charts that are in circulation, letting the reader know whether or not society permits them to get dressed how they want to in the morning.  I’ve come up with a new flow chart, which I believe will benefit everyone, skinny and non-skinny alike.

  
  

Kids and Cats

This bed is mine now! My crazy eyes make it so!

Since becoming a parent, I have seen many articles on whether having pets is just like having children. You have one camp who only has pets, sometimes by choice and sometimes not, who claim their pets as their babies, while people with children shake their heads and smile smugly because these pet owners just have no idea. 

Now having both, I feel like I can definitely declare that having pets is more like having human children than those smug parents would like to admit. True, I don’t have to put away money for Kitty College. Nor do I have to worry about whether or not my parenting will lead to my cats being self-involved assholes with “affluenza” once they’ve grown up. But I keep adding to the list in my head every time I realize that I’m doing the same exact thing I’ve done with my own kids. 

Get cats, she said. It’ll be therapeutic, she said.

1) I have to feed them.
Pretty self-explanatory, though not always as easy as it would seem. As with children, I can’t just give my cats any old food.  I have to make sure that the food I give them has good nutrition.  Last week, Bridgette and Belle’s dry food gave Belle wet, sloppy shits, some of which ended up on our carpet.  Parents, don’t tell me you have had to deal with horribly messy poo because your child ate something s/he shouldn’t have eaten.
And once you do find food that’s right for your pet, they have to want to eat it. Cats can be especially picky, looking at you like you’re a fucking sociopath before they haughtily saunter away, because you dared to feed them salmon when they much prefer turkey giblets in gravy.  

2) I have to clean up their shit. 
Congratulations! They’re using the litter box you provided for them. Now, get down on your hands and knees and scoop it out.  If that isn’t analogous to changing a diaper, I don’t know what is. There are even times when I have to check and wipe my cat’s ass because it wasn’t clean enough after going potty, just like when Zoë hasn’t wiped well enough. 

3) I am paranoid about their health.
New parents, especially, all have had those nights when they’re trying to decide if their baby’s temperature warrants a call to the doctor.  Then there are the nights they can’t fall asleep because their child is coughing because of a cold, and they’re pretty sure their child is in the next room choking on their phlegm.
Similarly, I now have two more lives in my care, which means I get to make Bridgette go through a deep clean ear wash, and then worry about whether or not Bridgette shaking her head means that it didn’t work, she has ear mites, and they’ve caused her to have an ear infection. Last week when Belle wasn’t eating her wet food as much and began having wet, gloppy poo, I did what all parents do and searched the Internet for what my poor kitty was afflicted with. And, like all parents who have foolishly searched the Internet when their kids are sick, I became freaked out that she had parasitic worms that are difficult to eradicate and that I would have to follow her around for the next year catching her anal leakage and cleaning up whatever I didn’t catch.  This is compounded by the fact that I can’t exactly ask them how they’re feeling or where it hurts. Well, I can, but the only cat I speak right now is, “food”, “get up”, “sit down”, “pet me”, “play with me”, and “Mama!  Halp!  That crazy girl, Zoë, is chasing me again. Gah!  Now she’s touching me. Dude!  STAHP!”

4) I have to get a babysitter.
While someone doesn’t need to supervise them at all times, we can’t just take off for a week and hope they don’t have a kegger while we’re gone. As with a babysitter, I have to find a friend or boarding who will meet my cat’s needs and ensure that my feline family is alive and well when we return. 

5) I have to keep them from getting into things.
Anyone who’s had a toddler knows the feeling of having to constantly bird dog someone. You’re constantly on the move saying, “Don’t touch that!  Don’t eat that!  No going over there….and don’t do that either!”  As Belle is still a kitten, we have to do this with her more than Bridgette. Her specialty is locating ponytail holders; she’s obsessed! If there is one in the house that isn’t put away, rest assured she will find it. Then there’s chewing on paper, the living room rug, and kid’s toys.  This morning I had to stop her from chewing on a pushpin. Many of you know the feeling of asking your child, “What did you just eat?” and prising their mouths open, hoping they haven’t always swallowed whatever was in there.
I have to stop them from climbing on certain pieces of furniture.  They mostly have free reign, but the dining room table, countertops, and entertainment center are no-no’s. So naturally, Belle has to be on them all the time. She swaggers onto the table, sniffing around until I shoo her off. Of course, most of the time, she just looks at me quizzically like she’s thinking, “What?  I do this all the time when you’re not here.”  Trying to guide/push her off the table leads to her sitting down, clearly having performed the permanent sticking charm.  (Professor McGonagall, is that you?)  Have you ever tried to make a toddler go somewhere s/he doesn’t want to go?  Dead weight is my favorite.  And of course, I have to repeat this exercise with her several times within the span of a few minutes.  As far as cats and kids are concerned, “No!” is just an opening bid.  

6) Sibling rivalry is a thing.
Why do siblings fight?  They fight because they have different personalities. (Rachael is an introvert; Zoë is an extrovert.)  They fight because they have different agendas/ideas of fun.  (Rachael wants to watch tv.  Zoë wants to role play Team Umizoomi for the millionth time.)  They both want the same thing at the same time.  (“Nooooooo!” Rachael shrieks as Zoë tries to take a toy away.  Zoë whines back, “I had it first!”  I frequently refer to the noise they make as listening to feral cats fighting.)  They both want to protect their territory from the other.  (“Get out of my room!”; “I was in this chair first!”)
It’s not any different having cats. Energetic kitten, Belle, believes that now would be a great time to jump on Bridgette’s back.  Generally more sedate, Bridgette doesn’t agree, looks at Belle as if to say, “The fuck is wrong with you?”, and pushes Belle away.  A fun rough and tumble can quickly give way to Bridgette smacking the shit out of Belle because she wants to establish her dominance and possession of the cat tree at that very moment.  As with kids, she didn’t give two shits about the cat tree until that very moment, when Belle wanted up. 

“Come and get it, biznatch!”

 
It’s actually almost easier to deal with the girls when they’re not getting along. I mean, I can intervene if the cat fight gets too intense, but telling them that they had better stop or they’ll lose TV for the rest of the day hasn’t had the same effect that it does on Rachael and Zoë. 

7) You wouldn’t trade them for anything.
When you adopt a pet, they become a part of your family. You know, unless you have extenuating circumstances…or you’re a monster.  Those sweet faces you fell in love with grow into creatures with unique personalities and quirks. Fairly soon, you don’t entirely remember life before you had your furry companions.  

The Music of the Plight

   

Now sit back and I’ll tell you me tale of woe.  I feel like there should be a sad harmonica playing.  Imagine sad, slow harmonica music.  Ooh, and a banjo.  Wistful banjo. 

Back in June, I wrote about the letter I received from my insurance company, apprising me of the exciting new program designed to fuck with my medication because they didn’t feel like paying for it anymore.  You can imagine how relieved I was on Monday when customer service said that my doctor could send a prior authorization waiver, which would allow me to bypass the step therapy program.  Add happy fiddle, Con brio.  I called my doctor’s office, gave them the information, and rested in the knowledge that everything would be just fine.  

Suspenseful fiddle only, pianissimo
Fast forward to August.  I called the mail order prescription service to refill my Lyrica.  It was then that I found out from a sympathetic and apologetic customer service rep that my doctor had sent the prior authorization, but the prior authorization department had trashed the prior authorization because I didn’t need prior authorization for Lyrica in June.  Through tears and incredulity of the idiocy of epic proportions I was dealing with, I confirmed, and actually had the prior authorization supervisor say to me that:

A) Insurance sent me the notification of the step therapy program, set to begin July 1st, before July 1st so that I would have an opportunity to get things in order with my doctor.

B) I did everything I was supposed to do with regard to getting my medication ducks in a row and my doctor did send a prior authorization waiver.

C) The prior authorization department did receive the prior authorization request.  It was logged as having been received.  

Suspenseful fiddle, mezzo forte

D) The prior authorization department said to themselves, “She doesn’t need a prior authorization for Lyrica,” and trashed the request.  They were not aware of the forthcoming step therapy program because they are not informed of policy changes until the day the policy changes.

Angry fiddle, forte

E) Even though they have it noted that the request was received, and that it was their fault that it was gone, I still needed to have my doctor send another request.


Return to harmonica and banjo, piano

Fortunately my doctor’s office hooked me up with samples while I waited for this load of shit to be flushed.  The first request from my doctor was denied.  They asked what other medications I was on or had tried, (because, I assume, that wasn’t on the first request.)  The doctor’s office said they would send another request.  If this one was denied, then I could appeal with insurance.  Until then, I would wait to hear back from the doctor’s office.  

As of yesterday, I hadn’t heard anything, so I called insurance.  They hadn’t received another prior authorization request.  Sigh.  The receptionist at the doctor’s office said that the only thing they had in the system was sending the request back in June and that, if insurance had denied the request, they would have sent something in writing.  I must have explained that insurance trashed the June request, the doctor’s office had called me, told me the new request was denied, and that they would send another one no less than three times, all while she kept tryng to interject with reasons why I was wrong, before she finally got it and/or didn’t feel like arguing with me anymore.  I listed the pertinent medications that have failed to moderate my fibro symptoms, repeating another several times that, no, the mail order pharmacy only handles one of those prescriptions.  She retorted that since the mail order pharmacy doesn’t handle two of them, it was likely that they would deny the request again.   

 

Blues harmonica, adagio, mezzo forte

I felt defeated and resigned to my fate.  Life was hard enough as it was, but it was about to become a living hell, as far as I was concerned.  Mike maintained cautious optimism, as is in his nature, but I just couldn’t see this ending well.  It’s not like the process thus far had given us evidence to the contrary.  But then, (swelling choir of angels) miracle of miracles, I got the call.  REQUEST. APPROVED!

Cue gospel choir singing “Oh Happy Day!”

FINALLY!  After phone calls and despair and people being fucking clown shoes, I had succeeded!  I was finally going to get the medication I needed!  Now, apparently I needed to wait a day or two to call in the refill, but that wasn’t a huge deal.  After lunch today, I made the call.  Customer service informed me that they couldn’t refill the prescription. While there were two refills left, the prescription had expired on August 27th.  So they need a new prescription mailed which, fortunately, I have.  

Hopefully I won’t get fucked over anymore.  My ass is super sore.  


An Update in Pictures…and Words

Image via howtogeek.com

I have to be honest; I didn’t really feel like writing this morning.  Or lately.  Mike and the girls are at church on this cool, dreary day, and all I want to do is drink coffee, eat pumpkin donut holes, read Harry Potter, and get off my lawn!, etc. etc.  So I’m totally phoning this one in, but I felt like updating y’all on my life.  

We adopted two little, fluffy girls at the beginning on August.  We had been talking about getting cat(s) for awhile, but wanted to wait for a slightly less inconvenient time.  The timetable to move up the adoption to now from Mike holding off on it indefinitely came about as a result of my well-reasoned argument of, “Fluffy kitties will cure my fibro,” and big, sad eyes.  

  
We ended up adopting Bridgette, a 3 year old black shorthair, originally from the island of St. Thomas, and Sweetie Belle, a 5 month old gray tabby, from King Street Cats in Alexandria, VA. They’re an all volunteer, no kill shelter, and are fabulous.  Mike really wanted a black cat.  He grew up having two black cats, and also wanted to give a black cat a good home, as black cats are adopted the least. Why?  Because we’re a nation of superstitious numbskulls. She was very shy the first time we went, but hopped into Mike’s lap and adopted him the second time.  Sweetie Belle, née Thunder, adopted me.  She jumped into my lap, curled up, and went to sleep.  Now, we hadn’t intended to get a kitten, but I made a well-reasoned argument that Bridgette didn’t seem to like me, and it was pointless to get a cat if it didn’t like me, too.  On top of that… 

 
Adding them to our family has not been without its stresses. They didn’t totally get along for the first couple of weeks.  Time, our cat whisperer, Holly, and a Feliway pheromone diffuser have now made them cats who sniff and lick each other and pummel each other with sibling affection.   Otherwise, having cats has been easy. (Besides Belle feeling the need to eat and climb on everything.) Having cats and Zoë has been a challenge. Zoë is very much like Darla from Finding Nemo. She feels the need to chase both the cats, get in their faces, pick them up or pet them like she’s trying to juice an orange, and doesn’t understand why they run from her because she’s certain that they love her. So yelling at her constantly to leave the cats alone is a teensy bit stressful.

And now, for your entertainment, I present cat videos!

 

 
Peekaboo!


Lay down and take your bath like a man, dammit!

School Daze

Both girls are finally back to school. Rachael began second grade and lost her first tooth.   

How did this happen?

 
I felt completely unprepared and freaked out about school beginning again.  She seems to be enjoying her class, and she hasn’t, as far as I’m aware, cut her hair or hidden under her desk like the beginning of last year.  She also hasn’t had any homework yet, so I’m pretty sure I’m just being lulled into a false sense of security.  Zoë had a good first two days at preschool and has a few friends from her class last year in there.  Plus she hasn’t burned anything down yet, so that’s a plus.  

The Bitch is Back

By July, I was in a good place: my pain was at an all-time low and my energy was at an all-time high.  So, naturally, that’s not the case now at all.  I stopped going to acupuncture because it was almost $400 per month to go every week.  Shortly after I began treatment, my acupuncturist began accepting insurance from the company with which we are insured.  But, of course, our plan doesn’t cover acupuncture.  I need to start going back a couple times per month, though, because it seems like acupuncture was the key to reducing my pain and increasing my energy, which annoys the fuck out of me for some reason.  I say it seems to be the key because it was the only thing that changed over the summer.  My meds didn’t change.  I was still going to physical therapy 1-2 times per week.  Yet, my neck and back began aching all the time.  The pain in my feet and legs forced me to hobble to my destination upon standing.  My pain was waking me up at night. My morning stiffness, or as Mike jokes- pain boner, wasn’t eased by stretching. My energy has plummeted, forcing me to take accidental naps during the day.  

I am really thankful for physical therapy.  I highly recommend The Jackson Clinic, especially the clinics that offer aqua therapy.  The therapists were warm, supportive, and would genuinely get excited for my progress.  They never pushed me past my limits and really listened to me.  My strength and flexibility significantly increased between the spring and the end of August, when I was graduated.  I’m now able to shave my legs without feeling the need to amputate at the knees.  When I began PT, it was hard work for me to lie down and tighten my core while pushing down on an exercise ball with my arms for five reps.  Now I’m able to step up on a box and balance on one leg while pushing/pulling a resistance band for 15 reps on each leg.  I learned how much orthotic inserts for my shoes eased the pain of walking and exercise.  (Of course, every time I read or hear the word “orthotic”, I hear Hank Hill saying it in the episode when he learns he has no ass and needs an orthotic so he can sit without pain.) Even squats, which have always killed my knees, became painless.  They also showed me how changing my posture relieved a lot of pain in my lower back.  Tuck that booty and tighten that core, people!  Unfortunately, I couldn’t really sit with the posture they wanted from me, as it caused me to feel like I had weighted meat hooks stuck in my shoulder blades.  

So, what have you all been up to?

That time you contact your elected officials about gun violence…      

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Two more people are dead because someone was able to get a gun and shoot them.  As my grief and anger swirled in my stomach and stung my eyes, I decided to exercise the right to contact my state and Congressional legislators, begging them to do something.  The following is the letter I sent to Congresswoman Comstock, Senators Warner and Kaine, Delegate Tim Hugo, and State Senator Chap Petersen.

Dear Representative Comstock,

I am compelled to write to you with regard to today’s tragedy in Roanoke and the gun violence that is tolerated in our country. I am saddened and horrified by what happened to Alison Parker, Adam Ward, and Vicki Gardner this morning. As a graduate of Virginia Tech, I am especially mourning the loss of yet another fellow Hokie because of gun violence. As a mother of two young girls, I am terrified by how easy it is for these acts of violence to take place. As a Virginian who votes, I am outraged and embarrassed by how easy it is for people with bad intentions to obtain guns, and that so little is being done to prevent future tragedies like Roanoke, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Aurora, Colorado. How can we call our Commonwealth, and indeed our nation, great if we are to continue dismissing an innocent’s right to live in favor of someone’s desire to own a gun? I wish I could say, along with the other emotions I am experiencing today, that shock is one of them. These tragedies have become so commonplace that they are now interwoven with what it means to live in the United States. 

Representative Comstock, I urge you to do what is right for Virginia and our country by introducing and/or supporting legislation which would make it substantially more difficult, or even illegal, to buy certain types of guns, including handguns. My hope is that our Congress will eschew influence from the NRA and not buy into the lie that easy access to guns makes us a safer society. I ask that you continue to serve your constituency and the people of these United States in this way.

I chose the option to receive a response, not entirely expecting to actually receive any; I certainly didn’t anticipate receiving a response the same day.  But within a few hours, I had a response from Representative Comstock, or her office anyway.  It was obvious that it was nothing more than a form letter, meant to talk about how “awesome” she is on Second Amendment issues and that she won’t do a damn thing.

Side note: I found it very interesting that the Democratic Senators had “gun violence” as an option for the subject of my email, while the Republican respresentative had “Second Amendment issues” instead.

As I finished my representative’s response, the only reaction I had is best summed up by this GIF.

giphy

GIF via Giphy Thanks to Ellie for finding it for me!

Disrespectful?  Maybe.  But people are dead.  Such a cold-hearted, obviously bullshit politi-speak response isn’t worthy of respect.  (You got that, intern who probably sent the responding email?)

Here is the response I received from Congresswoman Comstock, with my comments in bold, (all emphasis mine.)

Dear Ms. Shore,

Thank you for contacting me about Second Amendment issues.  I appreciate hearing from you and always welcome you to share your comments and concerns with me.
Commence Liz Lemon level of eye-rolling.  Yes, technically it is a Second Amendment issue, (and that was the only option in the predetermined subject list) but I wrote to you because people have died.  People continue to die because of the ease of access to deadly weapons.  But, I’m sorry; you were saying?

I have a record of strengthening both enforcement and mental health provisions of law to protect our citizens from gun violence. As a former senior Justice Department official, I worked closely with law enforcement on the local, state, and federal levels on these matters and others and I will continue to build on those relationships in Congress.
That’s just peachy, so long as whoever is attempting to acquire a gun has been committed or adjudicated incompetent, (Code of Virginia 18.2-308.1:2; federal law 18 U.S.C. 922(d).) As we witnessed in 2007 at Virginia Tech, and countless times thereafter, there are those with significant mental health problems who are not adjudicated to be incompetent and are able to legally purchase guns and ammunition.  Enforcement is fantastic, although I’d rather have prevention.  Enforcement doesn’t bring back your murdered children and loved ones.  It’s doesn’t end the waking nightmares that survivors must relive every day.
The senior Justice Department position to which Rep. Comstock refers is the Director of Public Affairs.  You were the public face of the Justice Department from 2002-2003.  Whoopdie freakin’ doo.  Can we talk about how you were a key player in developing strategy to defend former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was a major proponent of gun rights, among other things?  No?  How about taking part in the defense teams for Scooter Libby and personification of a shudder, Tom Delay?  (Which I know has nothing to do with gun violence; I just wanted to put that out there, as she seemed eager to talk about her professional relationships.) 
Rep. Comstock has also received an A rating from the National Rifle Association because of the votes she cast as Virginia General Assembly delegate that weakened Virginia gun laws.  She has also received over $44,000 in contributions from the NRA since her bid for the U.S. Congressional seat she now holds.  

I understand background check systems are important tools to keep firearms out of the hands of violent criminals and the mentally ill. Virginia has been a leader with its mental health database and ensuring its mental health records are included in the national database. As Virginia continues to update its background check system, we see increases in the number of convicted felons and those with mental health conditions being denied from purchasing a firearm.
“When economist Richard Florida took a look at gun deaths and other social indicators, he found that higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness didn’t correlate with more gun deaths. But he did find one telling correlation: States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths.”
I think the mental health database is fantastic, but it’s clear that mental illness and a criminal history is only a small part of the picture.  I don’t want to see an increase in convicted felons; I’d like to see the crimes prevented in the first place.  

Under current law, background checks are required for firearm sales conducted through federally licensed firearms dealers, which are processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It is important that states share appropriate, lawful information with the federal background check system in order to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who clearly pose a danger to themselves or others. The NICS Improvement Amendments Act (P.L. 110-180) provided federal resources to encourage states to keep their NICS-related records updated to maximize public safety. Since 2009, this program has received over $63 million.
Instant background checks are like instant coffee: only good in baked goods.  No, wait.  Gross and of little use.  Yes, that’s it.  It’s pretty clear that an instant background check isn’t enough to curb the high number of gun-related deaths in this country.

I share your desire that the NICS database be up-to-date so that background checks can be completed quickly and effectively. I am committed to protecting policies that keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill while preserving the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. I am not a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over this type of legislation, but should legislation come to the floor on these matters I will be sure to keep your views and concerns in mind.
I don’t recall expressing any desire of the sort.  Did you all read that in my email?  I mean, I’m guess it’s possible I blacked out and expressed a sentiment completely opposite to how I actually feel.  Oh, wait!  Was it Opposite Day, and I forgot about it again?  Hahaha!  That explains why, when I said, “substantially more difficult,” you understood me to say, “Get people their goddamn guns, posthaste!”
I’m pretty sure that the bit about not being on the Judiciary Committee and keeping my views in mind is meant to be read with all the sincerity and gentility of a backstabbing southern belle.

Image via ABC

Thank you again for contacting me. Please keep in touch on issues of concern to you. I may also be contacted at my Sterling office at 703-404-6903, or my Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-5136. By visiting comstock.house.gov, you can sign up to receive my email newsletters and follow my efforts to serve you. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates on my activities in Congress and in the District. If I may ever be of service, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I’ve just written to you and expressed how you could serve me, your constituent, and you gave me the finger in letter form.  Why on earth would I contact you again for anything?  And you can bet that, if you’re not going to do what’s right for the safety and well-being of your constituents and country, I will do everything within my power to make sure that our district elects someone in 2016 who will.

I will update the blog with responses I receive from any other legislators. Rest assured, if I receive similar responses from them, Democrat or Republican, they too shall be marked with the GIF Seal of Disapproval.

I actually want to do burpees

  

I’ve never been one to love exercise.  Once we moved back to Virginia at age 7, I was given Twinkies and discovered the Disney channel; going outside to play was no longer at the top of my “to do” list.  I played softball for one disastrous season where the coach hardly ever showed up, but wasn’t otherwise involved in organized sports.  I preferred reading or playing the piano.  I have always been one of the kids that only made it through the first half of the first lap, (out of four) on the mile run before having to stop and walk.  Consequently, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was always on the chubby side. 

Finally, I got sick of it.  Enough was enough; clothes weren’t fitting and I was tired of getting winded from fairly simple tasks.  I began Weight Watchers and going to aerobics with strength training.  I lost weight and inches and toned various problem areas.  I wasn’t “skinny”, but I was at a place where I was happy enough with my body and fitness level.  

 

Me, at my smallest

 
 I was heartbroken when I had to discontinue aerobics, with the realization of fibromyalgia setting in and the toll one aerobics session took. While I can cut calories, my body has always been very resistant to shedding pounds without exercise.  As I’m sure I’ve mentioned on here before, doctors will repeatedly tell fibro patients that they must exercise to feel better.  And, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned on here before, my immediate reaction is to want to punch those doctors in the throat.  I knew they were right, but it’s difficult to exercise, (yes, even to walk) when the exercise programs are not built for people with chronic pain.  I decided that my inability to exercise was bullshit, and attempted to work with others to create such a program.  Unfortunately, the person on whom I was placing most of my hope, used me and my idea to complete her senior independent study, strung me along for months, and then left me hanging out to dry once she graduated college.  

On the plus side, I’ve been able to keep up with physical therapy, which includes aqua therapy.  In the pool, I am able to perform exercises, like squats, better than I ever could on land.  The exercise doesn’t affect my weight, but my strength is much improved, which helps me tolerate the pain a little more.  My therapists remind me than I’ve come leaps and bounds from where I began, (in the beginning, I was worn out after 5 reps of tightening my core) but I am still frustrated.  It’s difficult to push from my mind that I was once capable of so much more.  

The thing that has really stirred anger and aggravation in me lately are the motivational exercise videos and pictures various people post or like on Facebook.  This morning, I watched a video of two women about my age, working out.  As I watched, I settled into what felt very much like jealousy.  I coveted the ability to perform the motions their bodies performed easily.  I wished I still had the ability to squat.  I envied their ability to jump like them, their feet leaving the floor effortlessly.  I felt like a kid excluded from a club as they executed burpees.  Yes, as first brush, it was clear to me that my annoyance stemmed from jealousy.  As I wallowed in my jealousy, I noticed words of bargaining intruding.  If only I didn’t have fibro, I would push myself and exercise like this.  Now that I know what I’ve lost, I wouldn’t take my body for granted again.  And that’s when it hit me: I’m not jealous.  I’m grieving.