Tag Archive | health

I’ve Got a Choice to Make: Tylenol or Heroin?

I’ve recently been experiencing some stomach and gastrointestinal problems. Don’t worry, this post won’t degenerate into an in-depth discussion about my guts – because EWWW!!  Therefore, in the interest of sparing you the gory details, I’ll just fast forward through the last nine months of my life. It went something like this:  blah blah a bunch of doctors appointments…. blah blah annoying tests…. blah blah embarrassing ass-exposing hospital gowns…. blah blah a lot of results I needed a medical jargon to English dictionary to help decipher.

That pretty much brings us up to date.   End result after ALL that? I was told that I have stomach inflammation and I could no longer take Advil (or any similar pain relievers) because it would make the problem worse.  Normally, staying away from over-the-counter medication is not a big deal. I’ve never been a pill popper, but this piece of news happened to coincide with that time of the month. Yes boys, for the remainder of this post, you might want to pretend to stare at that Ficus tree over there in the corner, because I’m going to talk about my uterus. I promise I’ll try to make it brief….




For some girls, their monthly visit comes and goes without much disturbance (*if you’re one of these girls you should know that I HATE YOU.  A LOT). But for me, it feels like two porcupines are sumo wrestling around in my lady parts. Usually, Advil is my BFF during those few days, but now I needed to find something else to help anesthetize the porcupines – so, my doctor introduced me to Tylenol. I had never taken it before, but I felt confident that my new friend would help me through the rough patch, and not give me a stomach ulcer in the process.





By all appearances, Tylenol was a total badass – bright red box, the words “EXTRA STRENGTH” emblazoned across the front in big letters, and a promise that it would help relieve my pain. We had just met, but I loved Tylenol already. So, I popped two caplets, curled up with my heating pad, and waited to feel anything less than totally fucking miserable.

I waited…. and waited…. and waited. After three hours and no relief, I came to the sad realization that the only thing “extra strength” about Tylenol were its empty promises and boldface lies. Apparently, acetaminophen is medical-speak for “tiny caplet o’ useless crap”.

When I took the second dose, I think I heard my uterus laugh. Actually, it was more of a cackle – the kind you hear from the villain in a movie right before they kill someone. I couldn’t really blame her for going insane. I had the means of curing her ails right in my medicine cabinet, but was opting to take extra strength placebos instead.




After another THIRTY-SIX HOURS of sumo wrestling porcupines, I was faced with a clear choice: I could either keep taking this pathetic excuse for a pain reliever OR set fire to the little red box of lies and start shooting heroin. I thought that since heroin went directly into my veins, it wouldn’t cause any stomach irritation – I’m nothing if not practical.

Granted, heroin may come with a handful of other pesky side effects (including, but not limited to): crippling addiction, face pustules, rotting teeth, itchiness, muscle weakness, depression, and cold sweats. But have you ever heard of a heroin addict complaining about menstrual cramps? Nope! They probably don’t even notice when their period comes because they’re too busy scratching their face pustules.

So months from now, if you see me lying in the gutter with a gaping maw where my teeth used to be, probably covered in a variety of my own bodily fluids, don’t feel bad for me. I’m at peace in a world without porcupines.




My Magic Shoes

magic shoes

These may look like just another pair of sneakers to you.  The kind of shoes you might wear when you run to the grocery store, pick the kids up from school, or take a trip to the movies.  But they’re not.  They’re my magic shoes.  Unlike Forrest Gump’s magic shoes, mine won’t straighten out my legs or make me dance like Elvis Presley.  They also won’t take me back home with three clicks of my heels like Dorothy’s magic shoes.  But their magic is no less transformative or amazing.  When I decide to lace up these shoes, I have only one goal in mind – to be the best version of myself.

The girl wearing these shoes battles with the lazy girl in the flip-flops everyday.  She doesn’t always win.

She isn’t interested in taking a nap.

She doesn’t waste the entire afternoon watching TV marathons of her favorite show.

If you offer her a doughnut, she’ll probably tell you to go shove it up your ass.

She has no time for self-doubt, insecurities or excuses.

The words “I can’t” aren’t in her vocabulary.  But the words “BRING IT ON” sure are.

She doesn’t give a shit what you think of her looks.  She doesn’t need your approval – in fact, she’ll probably tell you to go shove that up your ass too.

When she has her magic shoes on, you’d better not ask her for anything.  She won’t cook you a meal, blow your nose or listen to you whine about your problems.

When this girl looks in the mirror, she sees nothing but strength staring back at her.

Instead of obsessing over physical imperfections, she says a silent prayer of thanks to her body for letting her do whatever she sets her mind to.

She thinks she’s beautiful.

She knows that the feats she is incapable of accomplishing today, will be what spurs her on tomorrow.

She doesn’t compare herself with other women.  She only wants to be stronger and faster than the woman she was yesterday.

She’s crossed a few finish lines in her life.

She doesn’t glow or perspire – this girl fucking SWEATS.  A lot.

She likes to play her music loud, though she’s usually too out of breath to sing along.

When those shoes are on, she puts herself first – it’s okay, you can call her a selfish bitch.  She doesn’t mind.

Endorphins are her drug of choice…. though she may need an Advil or two at the end of the day.

She aspires to inspire – both herself and those around her.

She knows that some things aren’t possible.  But she’s going to try anyway.

Then after she’s succeeded in pushing herself past her limits, she settles her heart rate back down to a normal rhythm, peels off her sweat-soaked shirt, and unlaces her magic shoes.  For the rest of the day, she has a smile of satisfaction on her face and a swelled sense of pride because she knows that she defeated the lazy girl in the flip-flops today…. and she looks forward to their battle tomorrow.

I hope she wins.


Some Lessons Death Taught Me About Life

My father passed away two weeks ago.  Since then, I feel like I’ve been thrown off my axis – like my world has stopped spinning, but everyone else’s has just kept right on going as if nothing’s happened. It makes me feel slow and lost – like I’m always racing to catch-up to everyone else, but can’t. My brain has totally shut down and can’t seem to process anything concrete – all I can do is grapple with my emotions.

I know exactly how you feel, Kid.

But life is a stubborn bitch, and refuses to be ignored for long.  When you least expect it, life barges in and demands that you pay attention because it has a lesson or two it wants to teach you.  Even though I felt like my brain would explode from the effort, I tried to pay close attention.  I figured that if I looked attentive enough, maybe life would leave me alone long enough to catch an afternoon nap.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far….

Go Acquire Some Funeral AttireI’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, so when it comes to dressy attire, I usually have to scrounge around in the back of my closet to find anything appropriate (and then pray that it still fits).  You can plan a shopping trip for something to wear to a wedding, but it’s difficult to do for a funeral.  You should have at least one black suit or dress on hand at all times.  Otherwise you may find yourself tearfully begging a sales lady for help in finding a piece of black clothing that’s as comfortable as the pajamas you wish you were wearing.

God, please let there be a pair of black pants in here somewhere….

Starve a Cold, Feed a GrieverI’ve sent flowers and fruit baskets to people for all sorts of reasons – birthdays, anniversaries, and various holidays.  But I’ve never sent them to someone who was grieving; I usually pick up the phone instead.  But what I recently learned is that sometimes, the person in mourning doesn’t have the energy or desire to talk to anyone, but they still want to know people are thinking about them – that’s where heart shaped pineapples and chocolate dipped strawberries come in handy!  Although, cookies, muffins, or assorted goodies would work too because they all say the same thing, “This basket of stuff is ridiculously expensive, but I love you and don’t mind having to eat Ramen noodles for the rest of the week in order to pay for it.”

It’s hard to be depressed when you’re stuffing your face with chocolate covered yumminess.

It’s hard to be depressed when you’re stuffing your face with chocolate covered yumminess.

Hugging 101When we are kids, we hug with our whole body, clinging to the target of our affection like little, balding monkeys.  Then as we get older, propriety steps in and our hugs lose a little bit of their fervor, sometimes feeling no warmer than a handshake.  But being wrapped up in a heartfelt hug can be more effective than a handful of Xanax at easing depression – because when you feel like your world is shattering into a million pieces, sometimes all it takes to keep it together is someone else’s arms.

I tried doing this with my cats,but they don't seem to share my appreciation for hugging.

I tried doing this with my cats,
but they don’t seem to share my appreciation for hugging.

United We Stand, Divided We Bawl:  Get yourself an arsenal of good friends because they are like the biological weapons in the war against grief.  I found comfort and support among family because we were all mourning the same loss.  But I turned to my friends for an escape from the insanity.  My friends sympathized with me, but more importantly, they gave me a reason to laugh again.  After crying hard enough to make my eyes burn and my head pound, laughter was the best gift they could’ve given me.  Well, that and the awesome fruit basket.

Our love for each other remains as big as our hair was back in the 90's.

Our love for each other remains as big as our hair was back in the 90’s.

Regret Sucks More Than the First Twilight Movie:  How often do you get the urge to call, text, or visit someone just to say hello or I love you?  Now how often do you ACT on those urges?  Too often we shelve those impulses because we allow other things to get in the way.  Work, kids, food shopping, or cutting our toenails become the priority because we assume we can make that call or visit tomorrow.  It isn’t until tomorrow is abruptly taken away that we begin to mentally tally up all those missed opportunities, and then the crappy feeling of regret sets in.  We can’t do much about the regrets of the past – whether you blew off calling Mom, or made the mistake of sitting through another one of Kristen Stewart’s movies, try to learn from those regrets and work towards avoiding them in the future.


Eat Your Goddamn Vegetables:  I’ll admit that if all the vegetables on Earth were destroyed in some sort of veggie apocalypse, it would probably take me a year to notice.  And don’t even get me started on exercising or my loathe/hate relationship with my treadmill.  Clearly, I wasn’t born with whatever healthy-living-genes Jillian Michaels seems to have in abundance (don’t get me started on her either).

But when I hit my thirties I got a serious wake-up call that implored me to take better care of myself – a front row seat to my father’s triple bypass surgery, and my best friend’s battle with lung disease.  When you see a prolonged illness suck the will to live right out of someone you love, you find out that there is a lot of truth behind the phrase, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.”  If you’re like me, you hate to hear preachy clichés like that– especially when you’ve got a donut in your hand.  But I’m saying it anyway.  So do yourself a favor and eat a freakin’ string bean once in a while.  Okay?

Except during girl's night out.

Except during girl’s night out.

Don’t Sweat the Small StuffGood grief Linda, how many clichés are you going to throw at us in one blog entry?!  Sorry, I know this slogan has been stamped on a million different coffee mugs, t-shirts and bumper stickers – but again, it’s true.  Let your grudges and petty annoyances go – the guy who cut you off in traffic or the co-worker who drank the last of the coffee isn’t going to spend a single second thinking about you.  So, why should you waste hours of precious time imagining all the different ways you could kill them and avoid trace evidence?  Especially when Google can do it for you in seconds….


I Double Dog Dare You:  Accomplishing something we didn’t think we were capable of is exhilarating.  Which is why I’m urging you to push aside all the imaginary roadblocks you’ve created for yourself (lack of time, money, ability, etc.), and take on a task that you find challenging.

I will be facing two challenges this summer.  Initially, both of them scared the crap out of me because there’s movement involved – a lot of movement; and I’m pretty sure I can’t bring my couch and TV remote along with me.  But after a little bit of thought (and a lot of alcohol), I decided to push past my fears and see if I’m still capable of surprising myself.

Here are the two upcoming events:

The 5K Foam Fest – I’m going to need a chiropractor and a few drinks when this race is over.  And I’m sure I’ll be spending the better part of a week cleaning mud out of places that should NEVER get muddy. But it looks like a hell of a lot of fun…..

The Long Island walk to help fight breast cancer – 2 days, 35 miles, and probably a boatload of blisters.  If you would like to help me raise money for this great cause (without the nasty blisters), all you have to do is click the link below and pull out your credit card. Personally, I think you’ve got the better end of this deal…..


If everyone who reads this donates just FIVE dollars, I can reach my fund raising goal of $1,000!!

BRING.  IT.  ON!!!!


Passed My Kid’s Lips and Straight to My Hips

For once, I’m going to side with all of the uber-conservative Christians of the world and say that Halloween is nothing but pure evil – not because all the gory costumes and creeping about late at night is a sin against God, but because the mounds of candy left lying around my house is a sin against my waistline.  Candy is the devil’s work.  Can I get an AMEN, sister?!

No, not THAT Candy…. oh, never mind.

I’m not one of those girls who is naturally thin – hell, I’m not even UNnaturally thin.  If you are one of those naturally thin people, I’m envious…. and maybe a little resentful.  But if you have ever uttered the phrase, “No matter what I eat, I just can’t seem to gain any weight”, you should stop reading this blog entry.  Seriously, STOP.  Now go find a blog that discusses issues you can relate to – like how miserable it is for you to have to shop in the junior’s department because you’re too skinny to fit into adult-sized clothes.

Are they gone?  Good.  Moving on….

I have to cover miles of rubberized road on my treadmill and eat lettuce like a ravenous rabbit in order to lose weight.  And if I’m not hyper-vigilant about what I’m putting in my mouth, I can pack on five or ten pounds in less time than it takes you to shout, “Twinkies!”  I have learned through years and years of trial and error (mostly error), which dieting tools work for me and which ones don’t – Weight Watchers is one of the things that work.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Jennifer Hudson on you, and start singing, “It’s a New Day” or preach the “Believe, because it works” slogan – you get enough of that from all the commercial breaks on TV.  What she’s saying is true, but who wants to hear it when it’s midnight, and you have a face full of Little Debbie snack cakes?

I don’t care how much I believe – my ass will NEVER fit into that little black dress.

Being on Weight Watchers is effective but it isn’t always easy, especially when there’s a holiday involved.  Halloween is one of many dietary saboteurs lurking on the calendar – the worst one, in my opinion.  Halloween can become Halloweek or even Hallomonth because the holiday lingers as long as there’s still candy in the house.

Before I had kids, I had a solid Halloween strategy that helped keep the holiday pounds off – I bought candy I hate to eat for the trick-or-treaters that came around, so that the leftovers posed no temptation to me the next day.  Granted, it was stuff the trick-or-treaters probably hated too, but they should be grateful I wasn’t handing out fistfuls of broccoli.  We’ve all been to those houses….

But that dietary trick does me no good now because I have two kids out scouring the neighborhood for goodies, and bringing back all the candy I purposefully didn’t buy.  When they come home after hours of pounding the pavement, the first thing they do is dump their spoils out onto the living room rug and decide what to keep and what to give away.  Inevitably, the throw away pile contains all of my favorites – Almond Joy, Snickers, and Milky Way bars.  What my unenlightened children see as inedible, I see as dozens of little “fun size” reasons I won’t be able to zip up my jeans in a week.

The Weight Watchers program assigns every food item a point value, and the combination of your age, gender and weight determines how many points you get per day; I’m allowed 26 points.  There seems to be a direct correlation between how yummy a food is and its point value – the tastier the food, the higher the points.  It’s no surprise that Brussels sprouts are 0 points, and birthday cake is 12 points.  TWELVE POINTS! Guess how much a fun-size candy bar is worth?  2 points.  Sounds harmless enough, right?  It would be if I were even remotely capable of stopping at just one or two.

Can you stop at just one?  For those of you that just said yes, I told you to stop reading this blog entry…. you thin people can’t fool me.

On a day like Halloween, my 26 points don’t seem to go very far.  All the coping skills Weight Watchers taught me vanishes the moment I hear those chocolaty sirens calling to me from inside my children’s trick-or-treat bags.  I can usually last the first few hours without caving into the temptation, but when night falls the rationalizations begin…

The candy is just going to go to waste if I don’t eat it.  How can I waste food when there are so many starving children in the world?  Maybe I should mail them the candy.  No, that won’t work, it would probably get all melty and gross by the time it got there.  Besides, if they’re too poor to buy food, what are the chances they have a good dental plan?  I don’t want to give starving kids cavities.  How irresponsible would THAT be?  I’ll donate to heifer.org and give them a cow instead.  Milk is better for teeth…. oooo, speaking of milk – that would go great with a couple of fun-size Snickers….”

The American Dental Association reports that 2 out of 3 dentists
recommend cows instead of candy bars.

Eating half a dozen candy bars becomes far less gluttonous when you think you’re selflessly ridding the world of tooth decay.  Of course, that same line of thinking will probably end up buying me a one-way ticket to Wilford Brimley town too – a sad place where nothing but the syringes and test strips are fun-size.

I’m thankful that this sugar-coated, willpower crushing holiday only comes once a year.  But even when the Halloween treats run out, I know there is another dietary hurdle looming close on the horizon – instead of chocolate, this one will be made of stuffing and apple pie…..

This is my Thanksgiving autobiography – originally, it was going to be entitled “Fuck the Turkey”
but the editor didn’t want people thinking the book was about turkey porn.

Goodbye You Useless Sack of Stones

I don’t remember much about the hours I spent in the hospital the day I had my gallbladder removed – probably because they were handing out narcotics like Halloween candy.  But I vaguely recall being asked to strip naked and put on a hideous hospital gown that did little to protect my ass or my dignity.  It seemed no matter how much I fussed with the ties, some R-rated body part was always exposed.

But after the operation I felt like my guts were on fire, and I no longer cared if my ass was hanging out the back of my gown.  I only cared whether or not the onlookers had any painkillers.  I felt I was entitled to a little pharmaceutical relief since people had been stabbing me with sharp, metal objects for the last hour.  So, when a nurse offered me pain medication, I made it clear to her that I was more than willing to swallow, inject, snort, or smoke any drug she was willing to throw at me.  In fact, I would have opted for a week-long drug coma rather than going home that day to face what would surely be an unpleasant recovery process.

As I would soon find out, unpleasant wouldn’t come close to describing the week that followed.  I was led to believe by several people who had gone through the surgery, that it was no big deal.  They assured me I would be back up and running after a couple of days.

Lies.  ALL LIES.

As I laid there in agony, I felt like I had been duped – sort of like when I wanted to start a family, and all the parents I knew told me how great it was to have a baby.  Then I had one of my own, and realized they just wanted me to be as miserable as they were.  But I’m going to give it to you straight, readers.  This way, if you have to have your gallbladder removed, you’ll know exactly what to expect during your first week of recovery.

Spoiler alert – it ain’t all rainbows and kittens people….

Day One – Please kill me now:  I have about as much chance of making it upstairs to my bedroom as I do of climbing Mt. Everest, so I set up camp on the couch.  I quickly discover that my bladder is public enemy number one because it’s the only thing that forces me to move off my makeshift bed.  During the painful, excruciatingly slow shuffle to the bathroom, I debate the pros and cons of adult diapers.  I decide against them because I don’t think I can convince my husband to change a diaper filled with pee that (for some mysterious reason) smells like a revolting mixture of asparagus and nursing homes.

I spend most of my time alternating between writhing in pain, sleeping fitfully, and eating saltine crackers.  I try eating chicken soup (I hear it’s good for the surgical patient’s soul), but after the first bite, my stomach is quick to remind me that I just had one of my organs yanked out through my belly button today – looks like nothing more than saltines and flat ginger ale will be tolerated.  In the meantime, my living room clock and I are in a stubborn battle of wills – it bets me that I can’t last the whole four hours between my doses of percocet.  Bastard wins every time.

Day Two – I think the cats want to eat meMy husband returns to work, and my kids go off to school.  I’m left home alone with my two cats.  They appear concerned for my well being, standing like two furry sentries on the couch.  But in my weakened condition, I sense that their primal feline instincts are starting to kick in – they know an easy kill when they see one.  If my husband doesn’t get home soon, I fear they will take me down like the wounded impala of the herd.  I wonder if my life insurance policy covers being eaten by house cats.

Day Three – So NOT back up and running:  Screw running, I can’t even put on my own socks without my husband’s help.  The pain is slightly more bearable, but I’m still taking pain medication at fairly regular intervals because they’re the only thing that prevents me from screaming and cursing whenever I want to venture off the couch.  I keep waiting for the “percocet vacation” everyone told me I’d enjoy, because right now all the percocets are doing are making me constipated.  How long can a person go without pooping before they go into septic shock?  I take Milk of Magnesia because I’d rather not find out – pretty shitty “vacation”, if you ask me.

Day Four – This isn’t what I meant by running:  The good news is that the Milk of Magnesia worked.  The bad news is that it worked a little too well.  After the fourth or fifth trip to the bathroom in less than an hour, I start to feel nostalgic about being constipated.  I realize that my doctor (who recommended the M.O.M.) is a sadistic asshole for giving me diarrhea when I can barely walk.  I take some Imodium A-D in the hopes that it will counteract the Milk of Magnesia.  But if my experiment doesn’t succeed in tipping the intestinal scales in the other direction, I’ve decided to let my cats eat me.

Day Five – Weapons of mass affection:  You know that instinct you have to comfort your kids when they get sick?  As it turns out, kids have the same instinct – we just don’t get to see it that often because they’re usually too busy annoying the hell out of us.  But as I lay helpless on the couch for four straight days, I watched my kids’ nurturing side emerge.

As sweet as it is for them to want to comfort me, having them within a 10-foot radius terrifies me – especially my 8-year old son, Aidan.  He’s usually about as gentle as a bulldozer, and I know that even an uncharacteristically cautious hug will produce more pain than my percocets can handle.  So, he discovered a comforting compromise – the head hug.  It has all the heartfelt affection of a regular hug, coupled with the asphyxiating effects of a sleeper hold.  I’m pretty sure this is where the phrase, “I love you to death” originated.

Day Six – Jesus hates me, this I know for Bruce Springsteen told me soWe bought tickets to see Bruce Springsteen in concert before my surgery was scheduled, but we decided to keep the tickets afterwards because I thought I’d be back up and running in a couple of days – remember the lies?  I think I can cope with the pain because all I have to do is get to my concert seat, sit down, and enjoy the music.  Wrong.  There’s a rain delay (outdoor stadium), and because there’s a threat of lightning, they won’t let us wait in our seats.  So, I decide to find a patch of concrete somewhere in the sheltered recesses of Metlife Stadium, and sit down to sulk.

I’m fairly claustrophobic, so I’m less than thrilled about being crammed into a concrete box with thousands of other people.  After surveying my options, I’m happy to find a spot slightly separated from the soggy masses – at least until a total stranger decides to join me.  If it isn’t bad enough that this guy is playing a disturbing game of personal space invaders, I’m also pretty sure he has leprosy.  At first glance, I thought he was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, but upon closer inspection (which I couldn’t help since the guy is sitting right next to me) I see the stuff covering his arms aren’t sleeves.

I know I should feel bad for the guy, but it’s difficult to be compassionate when I’m wet, in pain, and now getting flaked on every time he scratches his scaly arm.  I don’t buy into religion much, but it’s hard not to feel like God is testing me a bit:  TWO HOURS of pouring rain with no rescue ark in sight, and now there are lepers.  What’s next, a plague of locusts?  It’s official, Jesus hates me.

Jesus: Linda, you’re supposed to love all God’s children.
Me: Yeah, but you make it hard when you flake on me like that.
Jesus: Duh, that’s why it’s called a TEST.
Me: Couldn’t you have come back as Ryan Gosling instead?

Day Seven – Sign, sealed, delivered, I’m curedJesus may hate me but there are plenty of people around who still love me, despite my inability to tolerate people with gross diseases.  During the course of my recovery, there was an outpouring of support and concern from my friends and family:  emails, texts, cards, and phone calls came in daily to check on my progress.  It’s impossible to thank everyone individually – mostly because I was too drugged up this week to remember what happened.  So, I’ll throw out a blanket, “I LOVE YOU!!” to all of you who cared enough to check in on me and make sure I wasn’t dead.  I’ll also make a few honorable mentions….

1.  Moe, one of my best friends since the 10th grade sent me flowers with a card that read:

Here is the text I sent in reply:

“Bitch, don’t you know it’s mean to make someone laugh after they’ve had a holes cut into their guts?  Thanks for the flowers though.  Love ya!”

2.  My mother and father in-law sent me cupcakes in the mail.  CUPCAKES!!!   Despite my mother in-law’s mistrust and confusion surrounding the internet, she managed to successfully secure and ship me a dozen of these tasty treats.  Had I known there was the possibility of cupcakes being involved, I would have had my gallbladder out years ago!!  Maybe I’ll go for my appendix next year.

Their card read simply, “Gallbladder out…. cupcakes in.  Love, Mom & Dad.”

3.  Last, but certainly not least, is my wonderful husband, Kevin.  This week, he was Florence Nightingale and Mr. Mom all rolled into one.  Had he not been there to help me sit-up, take showers, and put on clean clothes, I would probably still be lying on the couch in a pile of my own stink.

I’m a Total Crack Whore For Cupcakes

If somebody asked me, “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” I never imagined my answer would be, “I’d have one of my internal organs yanked out through my belly button!”  You probably think I’m joking, but recent events have proved that I’m more than willing to make that trade.  Don’t you think that should entitle me to my own Klondike Bar commercial?  It’s a hell of a lot more than this guy was willing to do….

You might be wondering how I found myself in a situation where I had to choose between one of my organs and an ice cream sandwich – not too many people find themselves at that particular crossroad in life.  To get the full picture we’ll have to turn the clock back about four years to 2008….

We find the heroine of our story (that’s me, in case you’re wondering) elbow deep in a pile of leftover birthday cupcakes.  Remember what I said about Klondike bars?  You should, it was only a few sentences back.  Well, times that by ten and you’ll come close to what I’d be willing to do for a Betty Crocker cupcake.  Which is why my husband should have known better than to leave me alone in the room with them.

But on this day, my happiness would be short lived.  Somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd cupcake my stomach staged a coup – I guess it didn’t like the way I was running the show.  Judgmental bastard.  The revolution was messy and unbelievably painful.  I went from blissfully munching away on frosty goodness to feeling like Betty Crocker had strapped on a pair of combat boots and kicked me in the gut.  Shortly after the crippling pain started, the real fun began.  A wave of nausea hit me, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since my first trimester of pregnancy.  I’ll spare you the details, but I will say this much – the cupcakes were far less tasty the second time around.

After TWELVE hours of this agony, I caved in and called my doctor.  If you want to truly appreciate how much it takes to get me to go to the doctor, read this- I Hope There’s Not a Doctor in the House.  It wasn’t just the pain that finally made me pick up the phone, it was also the fear that with my next heave, I was going to puke up my lower intestines.  I didn’t know if that was a possibility, but it felt like it was.  And I figured that it was my doctor’s sworn duty to make sure that didn’t happen.

My doctor listened to me bitch and moan for a little while and then he told me I probably had an ulcer.  I agreed to come in the next day for an abdominal sonogram to test his diagnosis.  I didn’t think he was right, but I was too ashamed to confess to him that the previous night’s cupcake orgy was most likely to blame for all the medical drama.

My diagnosis of dietary stupidity was confirmed when I woke up feeling much better the next day.  When I went in for the test, I didn’t expect them to find anything legitimately wrong with me.  Much to my surprise, they did.  Though it wasn’t the ulcer my doctor expected – it was gallstones.

My doctor quickly scribbled down the name and number of a surgeon and handed me the slip of paper.

“What do I need this for?  I feel fine now.”

“Your gallbladder needs to come out or you’ll keep having these attacks.  That surgeon is tops in his field.”  He said, as if that was supposed to comfort me.

“I’m sure he’s awesome with a scalpel, but I’d rather keep all my internal organs where they are – even the expendable ones.  Besides, I’m all better now.  Really.”

My doctor let out an exasperated sigh, “It’s your decision, but you should keep the phone number in case you change your mind.”

Change my mind about being carved up like a Thanksgiving Day turkey because of one tummy ache?  Not likely.  The way I saw it, there was only one reasonable option – I threw out the phone number, changed physicians and pretended like the whole thing never happened.  Thankfully, my gallbladder agreed to play along with the charade.

I lived the better part of four years symptom free, which only served to strengthen my resolve that I didn’t need surgery.  I had one or two gallbladder attacks a year, but for the most part I continued on my merry way, indulging in the occasional cupcake or two (or twelve) without any physical repercussions…. at least none beyond the expansion of my hips and thighs.

Fast forward to July 2012, just one month ago….

The attacks were coming almost daily – despite the fact that I joined up with Weight Watchers, lost nearly 14 pounds and banned Betty Crocker from the house.  It seemed no matter what I put in my mouth, it made my stomach hurt and caused me to throw up.  And let me tell you, salad is no less gross than cupcakes when you’re forced to pray to the porcelain god.

After a couple of weeks of misery, I wanted to remove my gallbladder with a kitchen knife and a pair of tweezers.  It was then that I realized I was ready to revisit the idea of surgery, so I made an appointment for a consultation.

When the doctor walked in, I was relieved to see a head full of snowy white hair.  He didn’t look old, just experienced – like Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October (minus the facial hair and cool accent).  I felt like I had caught him in the prime of his surgical life; young enough to still have steady hands, but old enough to have had lots of practice cutting stuff out of people.

He started off by giving me a detailed explanation of the laparoscopic surgery, complete with colorful diagrams just in case I didn’t know where my liver and gallbladder were located.  I didn’t.  He also showed me where the four little 5mm incisions would be made, one of which would be through my belly button – where my gallbladder would be making its final exit.

Who the hell came up with this method of organ extraction?  Did his colleagues think he was crazy when he explained how he was going to pull the gallbladder out of his patient’s belly button the way a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat?  Do you think he yelled, “Ta-da!” when he was done?  These were the questions I was pondering as my doctor suddenly launched into a long list of foods that I’m not allowed to eat….

“You can’t eat any red meat or pork.  You also can’t eat any dairy – no ice cream, butter, cheese or anything with fat in it; skim milk is okay.  You can only eat chicken breasts – no thighs, wings, or anything with skin on it.  No pizza either.  Fish, turkey, fruits, veggies, and whole grains are all okay.”

I only knew the guy for five minutes and he was already trying to take away several of my reasons for living.  That’s no way to win friends and influence people.  In fact, in that moment I kind of hated him a little bit.

“Um…. wait a minute.  Is that the diet I’m supposed to follow after the surgery?  FOREVER??”  I asked with a hint of panic in my voice.  If that was the case, I was fully prepared to walk out of his office and take my gallstones with me.  I had already given up cupcakes in an effort to lose weight and stave off triple bypass surgery – what more did he want?  Did he really expect me to never eat ice cream again?!  Screw. That.

“No, that’s the diet you should follow if you decide not to have the surgery – to cut down on the risk of having attacks.  But if you opt for the surgery, you only have to stay on that diet for about a month.”

I was almost giddy with relief.  “Oh, okay.  In that case, rip it out.”  I said with a smile.  I suddenly wanted to hug him.

Then we talked about what to expect during my post-op recovery period. Since I was on a newfound health kick (a detail you might have missed because of my love affair with cupcakes and rabid defense of ice cream), my main concern was about my ability to stay active.  From past experience I knew that one week of couch surfing could easily result in 5 pounds being added to my ass.  So, I asked him how long I had to wait before I could go back to jogging on the treadmill.

“You’re basically going to be stabbed four times.  You’re not going to want to go anywhere near your treadmill for at least a couple of weeks.”

STABBED?!  Great, now I was thinking about the shower scene in the movie Psycho.  Good job, Doc.  Did you skip out on med-school the day they taught bedside manner, Mr. Bates?

“Do you have any more questions?” He asked, oblivious to the Alfred Hitchcock scene I had playing on a loop in my head.

“Nope, I think that about does it for me.”  I said, and with a shake of his hand I promptly left the examination room.

I needed a drink.  And possibly a cupcake.

Letters to My Treadmill

June 14th

Dear Millie,

Hi!  Long time no see, huh?  Well, I guess if I’m being honest that’s not technically true.  Every time I walk into the family room I can feel you glaring at me, but I haven’t risked a glance in your direction because I feel guilty about how we left things.  I know I promised we’d hook up again after the holiday season was over to work off all the Christmas cookies I ate, and I feel really bad for leaving you hanging for so long.  I’m sure you must resent how I’ve treated you, but it’s not like I planned to use you as a clothes hanger.  I thought that if I hid you beneath a mound of laundry, I wouldn’t be reminded that the remedy for my ever-expanding ass was right under my nose.  You’ve heard the saying “ignorance is bliss”, right?  Well, denial is even more so…. until you can’t zipper your jeans, then all bliss is lost.

Do you remember when I first brought you home a few years ago?  I was SO excited and I promised you that we’d hang out everyday.  How naïve was that?!  I should have known that you and I are too different to make a long-term relationship work.  You’re always on the move, and sometimes I just need to spend a little downtime with the other furnishings in the house – like Couch.  I hope I don’t make you jealous by saying this, but Couch understands me in a way you never could.  He is always so comforting and supportive, and doesn’t judge me for watching eight-hour House marathons on TBS.

Please don’t blame yourself for us not working out- it’s not you, it’s me.  I’m the one who made promises I couldn’t possibly keep and pretended to be someone I’m not.  But you have remained true to who you are from day one.  How do you keep on such a steady, straight course and never waiver?  I wish I could be more like you.  I’m really trying to turn over a new leaf… I know you’ve heard that one before, but I mean it this time.

I’d understand if you didn’t want to give me a second chance… well, it’s more like a fifth or sixth chance, I guess.  But if you’ll indulge me one last time I promise you won’t regret it.   I’ll meet you in the family room, sneakers laced and ready to run!  Whoo-hoo!!

Can’t wait to feel the burn,


June 15th

Dear Millie,

Today didn’t work out exactly the way I planned.  I apologize for being late for the big reunion, but it took me fifteen minutes just to find my damn sneakers.  I should have thought to look in the back of my closet because I put all my useless crap back there.  Once I found them, I thought I was ready to rock and roll, but I hadn’t taken into account that you would need some prep time too.  I know it’s been awhile but damn girl, you have definitely seen better days.   It took ten minutes to clean off all the dust that had accumulated over the last six months.  If I hadn’t, I knew there wasn’t enough Benedryl in the entire state of New York that would have saved me from the resulting allergy attack.

After wasting almost a half hour, my motivation was nearly non-existent and all I wanted to do was take a nap.  I knew it would be hard to start exercising again after all those months of hanging out with Couch, but I didn’t anticipate my feelings of frustration, self-loathing, and hatred towards you to be quite so overwhelming.  Sorry I called you an electronic piece of shit – I didn’t mean it.  It was said in a moment of agony because I felt like my guts were being forcefully yanked out of my belly button. If it makes you feel any better, the names I call Scale are WAY worse.  But in the future, I’ll try to direct my anger where it belongs – on the pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the freezer.  If it weren’t for those tasty bastards, I probably wouldn’t be in this mess.

Miserably yours,


Dust-free Millie and my running goddess, Sveltelana.

June 16th

Dear Millie,

Clearly whoever coined the phrase “it gets better with time” wasn’t talking about a fat girl on a treadmill.  Our meeting today sucked just as much as yesterday.  My stamina wasn’t half what it was six months ago.  I can’t believe I ran a 5K race in November and another one at the beginning of December!  I must have been on drugs… or delusional… or on drugs that caused delusions.  If it weren’t for the finish line pictures, I would’ve thought I hallucinated the whole thing….


Can you tell which one was my first race?  I thought I was going to need a paramedic and defibrillator paddles when I crossed the finish line the first time.  It amazes me what a difference a month makes – look how happy I was to torture myself the second time!

Now six months later, I’m starting from ground zero again.  I had no delusions of grandeur this time around.  I was only going to walk with you – NO running allowed…. except when the Black Eyed Peas sing “Pump It” because despite my pathetic condition, I can’t help but run to that song (although my lungs did threaten to boycott my body if I didn’t stop).  But even at a slower pace I still felt out of breath, and at the 2.5 mile mark one of the toes on my left foot felt like an overfilled water balloon about to burst – seemed like a good excuse to stop.  I’m sure you wouldn’t have appreciated toe juice splattered all over you.

Oh, while we’re on the subject of things we don’t appreciate, let me say that I don’t appreciate you creaking and groaning the way you’ve been doing the last couple of days.  I already know I’m fifteen pounds heavier than I was the last time we got together, so I don’t need you reminding me of that fact every time I take a step.  I just joined up with Weight Watchers again, so quit your bitching or I’ll trade you in for a Bowflex Treadclimber – they claim to burn over three and a half times the amount of calories you do… not a threat… just food for thought.

Fuck the burn…. I need a brownie,


P.S. –  Here’s a visual diary of our progress this week.  As you can see by the pictures, we walked 2.5 miles each day but the finish times vary.  I’m trying to take solace in the fact that we got a little bit faster everyday, and ignore the voice in my head that reminds me that I managed to finish a 5K (3.1 miles) in 35 minutes not too long ago….



I Hope There’s Not a Doctor in the House

Every family has at least one hypochondriac – the person you can NEVER ask, “How are you doing?” and expect to get a short and sweet answer like, “Fine, and you?”  In my family, that person was Nana, my grandmother.  I learned at a very early age to skip the small talk with Nana unless I had an hour or so to kill.

On the rare occasion I did inquire about her health, I either got a full run down on her medical history, or if she was having a particularly uneventful week with her doctor, I would hear about the ailments of her family/friends/neighbors/etc..  During one conversation, she must have been at a loss for any real medical drama because she resorted to telling me about her bird’s tumor.  If there was ever a man who deserved to be sainted, it was Grandpa because for him, there was no escape from her tales of woe – his only source of companionship was Nana and her cancerous bird.

Apart from Nana, the rest of my family is made up of people who avoid doctors like they’re doling out diseases rather than cures.  As long as all our limbs remain intact and our vital organs keep doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we stay the hell away from anyone donning a white lab coat.

Pops (my other grandfather) was an expert at doctor dodging.  Even when he had very valid reasons to visit the doctor, he opted to just wrap an ace bandage around whatever body part was bothering him, and keep going.  He once “treated” a hernia by tightly wrapping an ace bandage around his stomach – without the bandage, he looked like a turkey whose timer had popped.  He walked around for years that way.  I’m sure the pain must have been horrible, but obviously he thought going to the doctor was worse.  By the time he reached his eighties, he had practically mummified himself.

Ace bandages – the miracle cure.

Genetically, I think I tend to take more after Pops than Nana.  I cancel just as many doctor appointments as I make.  A few days before my appointment, I usually try to find an excuse to wiggle out of it…. the excuse doesn’t even have to be a good one.  I once cancelled an appointment for a physical because I gained five pounds and didn’t want to face the scale during the routine weigh-in.

A few months ago, I went to the doctor’s office to get a prescription filled and he was amazed that I hadn’t been to see him in the last year.  Then he went on to lecture me that I hadn’t had an annual physical in almost two years.  I felt like he was accusing me of criminal negligence of my own body.  Do most people see their doctor several times a year?  Or is my doctor’s view skewed because he’s used to having a waiting room full of Nanas?  I assured him I felt fine and that I had no reason to see him; but if he would waive the $20 co-pay I’d drop by to say hi sometimes, if it would make him feel better.

If I didn’t need an annual prescription for my crappy thyroid, I would treat my doctor appointments the way I do school reunions – my doctor and I would visit each other every ten years to play catch-up, take pictures, and silently berate each other over how much older and fatter we got.

I think some people run to the doctor too quickly – Mother Nature can take care of a lot of ailments all on her own.  Have you ever noticed that when you make a doctor’s appointment to have something checked out, you feel better either the day of the appointment or shortly thereafter?  That happens to me more times than not, which is why I play the wait-and-see game with most illnesses.  I’m not talking about the life threatening stuff; merely the symptoms that can be treated by taking a shot of Nyquil:  sniffling, sneezing, coughing, stuffy head, fever, etc.  After a shot of that stuff, I don’t care if my nose falls off, much less if it’s running.

I’ll admit that fear, not of the doctor but of his diagnosis, is what prevents me from paying him a visit sometimes.  In the last two weeks, I’ve developed a twitch in my legs and feet.  At first, I tried to ignore it; since there was only annoyance and not pain to contend with, I was successful for the first week.

But by week two, my head started to mess with me a bit.  With every twitch, images of Michael J. Fox would appear in my head, and I was convinced that I had Parkinson’s disease.  I remembered watching an interview on TV where Michael talked about how the disease first presented itself to him (when he was my age!!).  I saw that interview over ten years ago, but my brain was kind enough to keep it stored away for me, should the need to torture myself ever arise.  Locked up in the same mental file was the movie Love and Other Drugs with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal.  In the movie, Anne Hathaway’s character struggles with early onset Parkinson’s disease and the emotional havoc it wreaks on her life.

My brain can be a real asshole sometimes….

After telling my brain to shut the hell up, I decided that I might have better luck on WebMD.  I typed in leg/foot twitching and out popped a list of possible causes – all of which made what my brain had come up with look like a vacation in Hawaii.

  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
  • Rheumatic Fever
  • Tourette’s Syndrome

WTF?!  Thanks for that, WebMD.  I won’t be back to that website anytime soon…. at least not while sober.  Then I did what any sane person would do – NO not call the doctor – I went to YouTube to see if anyone else was experiencing the same symptoms as me.  Not only were there others, they were also more than happy to video tape their twitching for all to see.  God I love the internet….

I also love the fact that the guy who posted this video asked his viewers what they thought the cause might be.  I was really tempted to say that it might be Parkinson’s disease so that he could join me in my paranoid ruminations, but I refrained from commenting.  I did however note that one of the comments suggested that it might be gallstones (something about that digit being tied to the gallbladder).  I’m normally not one to buy into all that reflexology nonsense, but the fact that I’ve got gallstones made me think that it was plausible.  And since that cause isn’t incurable or fatal, I decided it was the best diagnosis.  See that?  Diagnosis done, and I saved myself the $20 copay and a trip to the doctor.

Put the phone down Mom and Dad, there’s no need to call and point out the fact that I’m acting like an irrational idiot.  I will (eventually) stop trying to self-diagnose the problem and get it checked out by a doctor – assuming time doesn’t heal all wounds (or twitches) first.