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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

Pains in the Ass: Pilonidal Cysts and You (pt 1)

December24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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At Least It’s Not Pertussis

February18

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it’s not Pertussis, at least.

That’s something.

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I have hives. It’s grosser than I expected.

January23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being Fat In The World

December12

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

What is a microagression?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But still.

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

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

I have 2 responses to that.

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

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

The trolls, of course, have come out.

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

Look.

Darling.

Sweet troll.

Precious little one.

It’s not a fucking secret.

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

That’s not a secret at all.

I have a jaunty cane.

August30

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

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

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

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

I wish I’d gotten this cane days ago.

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

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

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

Laterz.

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ha ha, ow

August29

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

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

It was pretty awful.

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

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

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

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

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

posted under body issues, health, life | Comments Off on ha ha, ow

Dreaming Is Serious Business

August22

Last night I had a nightmare.

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

But most of my dreams are pretty awful.

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

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

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

I live with terror.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bam.

posted under dream, health, insomnia, life | Comments Off on Dreaming Is Serious Business

The second worst way to wake up.

June4

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

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

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

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

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

posted under health, wtf | 1 Comment »

It’ll last longer

April2

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

This commercial makes me so, so angry.

Look.

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

Get out there and live.

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

Then look at the photos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please stop doing this.

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

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

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

And take some photos.

You’ll appreciate it later.

Dove wants your money and will tell you what you want to hear

March28

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

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

Don’t manipulate our perceptions of real beauty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

posted under advertising, body issues, fat, feminism, health, politics, social responsibility, vanity, women | Comments Off on Dove wants your money and will tell you what you want to hear
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