A Decade

If I added up the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years I have spent missing my mother, I am pretty sure it would be an astronomical number. All those moments have brought me to this day; the tenth anniversary. A decade without my mother. It makes me sick to my stomach, putting the words out there into the universe.

My life has changed in such dramatic ways since I hung up the phone for the final time the night she passed away. No matter far I have come, no matter how much growth I have achieved, no matter the rises and falls, I am still gutted by every moment that led to her death.

The people who loved me the most are all gone. I live in a world where no one mentions my mother. No one talks about her, no one acknowledges that she even existed, and it deeply affects me.

I remember when she was alive and people would often accuse her of being “too emotional”. I don’t think people, especially now, are emotional enough. I don’t think people are anywhere near as human, kind, caring, or compassionate as my mother was. Occasionally I catch myself looking for those qualities in others, and I find people sorely lacking. Perhaps this is why I am more introverted and isolated than ever before.

I am by no means searching for a “mother figure” or “mother replacement” because those are simply things that do not exist for me. No one else could ever be her. I can hear my father’s voice whenever I speak to my brother, but my mother’s voice has grown distant and foreign, and for me, that is very sad indeed.

I’m never not going to be disgusted to have someone, be it a family member or a friends, act like today is “just another day”. Today is the day I lost my mother, my best friend, and my guidepost. As imperfect as I am, I will never be the kind, caring, loving person my mother was to her children and other people. I have learned to accept that.

Lighting Yarhzeit tonight was difficult and highly emotional, but I did it. I’m doing my best. My Mom always told me “Your best is all you can ever do, and if people don’t like it, at least you know you didn’t sit around ignoring a situation.”

I’m a writer because of my mother. She introduced me to power through my voice, and that’s something that will never change. Nor will my commitment and devotion to her memory.

“Seek the sweet surrender of simplicity. Listen to the sound of faith like a flute playing inside your chest. Go within. Serenity lives always within your reach.”
-Ching Qu Lam

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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I’m Still Processing

Hey, everyone. 🙂 It’s been a rough time for me. Unfortunately my “rough time” is on a never-ending loop. No one is more tired of it than I am.

During all of this chaos and pain, I haven’t had “Writers Block”, but I have certainly had “Writer needs a break.” and “Writer needs a fucking vacation.” Unfortunately, the devil is in the details and any kind of break isn’t in the cards.

For me, one of the most crucial things about being a writer is choosing your subject matter. Do I want to write about people dying? Not so much. Do I want to write about Kate Middleton giving birth? No. Do I care about every single thing going on in the world? No, I don’t. That doesn’t make me a bad person, it simply means my priorities are different. My brain has an insanely fast processing system for certain types of information (I’m not kidding. Even when I’m asleep, I feel like I haven’t ever been “powered down”.), and sometimes I want silence. Okay, more often than not, I genuinely want silence. Inner peace is more difficult to achieve than one realizes.

I had a horrible experience last week that I do want to talk about, but in fairness to myself, I am still processing everything so that when I do speak up and speak out, people will understand why I am doing it. It’s important to call certain things into question and raise awareness. When it comes to mental health, any form of chronic pain, and migraines, I am NOT going to be silent about my experiences. These are small medical communities full of daily sufferers who aren’t being taken seriously. They are being cast out and demoralized by the very people they turn to for help. It’s disgusting. I refuse to be someone who doesn’t use the power of her position and voice to help others to the best of my ability.

Initially I was quite embarrassed over the incident. I do plan on talking about it, probably in my next major post. In the midst of having to feel ashamed and embarrassed, I thought “What if this happened to someone who wasn’t as smart or as strong as I am? What if this happened to someone who couldn’t advocate for themselves and go home at the end of this?” It’s been slightly over a week, and my mind is still in shock that I went through it and came out the other side. I know my behavior was in check, and I know I didn’t lose my temper until things escalated, so I shouldn’t be embarrassed at all. It’s important to explain and share it. I would hate for any of you to have gone through this. I had a few minutes where I was angry and afraid, and then this deeper part of me responded. Sometimes I forget that I’m a knock down, drag-you-by-your-hair, lay you out on the ground, make you cry for your mother, FIGHTER. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. Of course, I’d like to be reminded without the outrageous drama. This will all make sense soon, I promise.

To those of you who have reached out to me over these last few weeks via social media, or by phone or text, please know how much your thoughts, kindness, compassion, and words mean to me. When friends and readers come to you with support, those are some of the best moments in life. Cherish them.

I think part of why I felt overwhelmed by the support I received is because I don’t ever assume my words or thoughts are making a difference for someone else. To then hear how my experiences, struggles, humor, and grace under pressure have helped someone get through their own battles, well, it puts a lot into perspective for me.

For the most part, I write something and I click publish. I might look at it once or twice after the fact, but I don’t usually go back. I put it out into the universe to be read, and I go on with my life. There’s only so much self-promotion I am willing to do. I don’t respect anyone who shoves their work down your throat, so I refuse to be anything like that.

More and more, people are coming back to me, sometimes months later, to thank me for speaking up, for sharing my very real thoughts, and for inspiring them. I am only egotistical to a small degree in that I am proud of the things I put my name on, and I’m the first person who has to laugh at my jokes and weirdness. When someone calls me and they’re genuinely hurting and upset, but by the end of the call they are laughing hysterically, I realize I have a gift that helps people. Perhaps G-d really does work in mysterious ways. 😉 I am a firm believer that people are drawn to you for specific reasons. Anyone drawn to me is either looking for strength, loyalty, a genuine ear, a genuine friend, or all of the above. Because in the beginning, we are all just words. You have no idea how that will transition into real life, but anyone who has ever met me and become a bigger part of my life will tell you I am consistently the same person. I can be hysterically funny and make you feel better, I can completely have your back, I will take your secrets to the grave, and/or I can be detached. I don’t think a single one of my true friends has ever witnessed the detached side of me. I am well aware that I’m rare. I have had to accept my rarity throughout the course of my life, but I feel like the right people come into your life and they stay. Anyone with an agenda, who doesn’t get what they want, is going to leave. It’s difficult to know what someone wants when they’re “new”. I suspect anyone who first meets me is meeting the cool, detached person who isn’t about to kiss anyone’s ass or try too hard for anything. I’m not looking to impress anyone. I am not starving for attention or friendship. I would rather have one genuine friend than one hundred “friends” coming into my life with an agenda. I can spot bullshit immediately.

In the midst of the ordeal I am still processing, I was asked “What do you think your purpose in life is?” I think we can all safely agree that is an exceedingly DEEP question to ask anyone. Like anyone else, I am still discovering my path, navigating my talents, and taking things one minute at a time. I will almost certainly spend more time wondering about purpose, and seeking it out. For many people this is defined by their roles in life. Mine is not. It’s a little bit like when someone says “You’re obviously a great Mom because you have cats.” The look on my face when people say this to me is always one of “Where the hell did that come from?” One thing has nothing to do with the other, and the analogy is kind of disturbing to me. It’s highly possible for a woman to be great at something and not have it likened to anything other than “You are great at this.” As human-beings, we wear many hats, but those hats should not be all that defines us.

I often find myself in situations where I feel appointed as the chief “slayer of demons”. While some people might say I don’t have to take on that responsibility, I will take on that which is of deep importance to me. If something could become a much bigger incident, I am more likely to see the bigger picture and get on board quickly, as opposed to backing down.

As a Scorpio, my sign is ruled by Mars and Pluto. Only one other sign in the zodiac has the same ruling planets. I’ve always found it interesting that Mars, which falls in line with the Roman God of War, would be attached to me. The way other people describe me is much the way astrologers and astronomers describe Mars. Combined with the constant regeneration of Pluto, it makes an awful lot of sense to me. Whether you believe in this sort of thing or not, I always notice how much these things tend to influence us. For many, it is without any knowledge whatsoever. I much prefer to be knowledgeable.

This incident is an enormous demon, and will probably not be the last one I have to slay in my lifetime. Not for a single second did I hesitate about retaliating. So while I navigate all the legalities and take a stand, I hope others will understand that I’m not only doing it for myself, I am doing it for everyone and anyone who is too afraid to speak up, or for those who fear backlash and/or repercussions.

I’ve been reminded of who I am. It’s taking a little time to mentally process all I’ve experienced and the knowledge that followed. I am determined to keep my head fully in this battle, and I know I will get there.

Wishing you all an empowering weekend and a fierce Full Moon ahead. 🙂

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Every Witch Way, But Mostly Dead

Authors’ Note: **POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING**

Yes, the title is spelled correctly. Yes, it’s intentional.

Most of my weekends are spent doing things I’d rather not do. The weekends were once my refuge for sleep, quiet, peace, laughter, productivity, cooking, more laughter, and space. They are now filled with rushed moments, trying to pack a lot of time into a few hours here and there. I almost NEVER get to do something I genuinely want to do, and despite the fact that I am being supremely honest about that, I can’t say it doesn’t gall me. It does. There’s not a lot about my current life that I signed up for. I find that’s a repetitive theme these days.

On one hand, a person might try shaming me by saying I don’t appreciate what I have. I don’t recommend attempting that tactical method with me. I might seem nice, but I’m not. Only someone who truly understands what I am going through and experiencing would understand why I say what I say and feel as I do. The truth is; I don’t need to justify my feelings to anyone or have them agree or disagree. They’re MY feelings. I own them, and they are accurate.

By a certain age, we all kind of find our niche and know the direction we plan on taking, whatever that direction may be. It could be personal, professional, or a mixture of the two, but the decision is made somewhere along the way to go right or left, or maybe North, South, East, or West. Some of us meet forks in the road, whereas other people see smooth sailing on the same road from the initial decision until the end of their life. My life, for some unknown reason, is one fork after another. It is an expensive place-setting with more forks than one really need have on a table called life, but there they are; ever-present and obnoxious as hell. I’m not a mermaid, you can’t dangle shiny things in front of me and distract me. Perhaps one should try diamonds instead of forks. I’m a Royal Asscher kind of girl. 😉

For a while now the saying “Different levels, different devils.” has been on a repetitive loop inside my head. I have plenty to write and say, and no interest in actually drafting any of it into a post or anything else. I don’t get writer’s block, but I do experience writer’s boredom. Let’s call me a severely bored writer for the moment. It’ll pass.

My usual desire to be creative on other artistic platforms where I have either interest or talent is also in a “bored” phase. For me to walk into ULTA and come out with NOTHING is almost unheard of. I found it kind of disturbing when I was the person who didn’t walk out with a bright orange bag.

A friend asked me how I was doing last week and I replied “I’m in a state of really not giving a shit about anything or anyone.” Not realizing that her reply could make or break someone else, she responded by saying “Oh. That’s kind of a good thing, I guess.” I informed her it most certainly is not.

I’ve been pretty ill on and off for months. I was holding up halfway decently, and have slowly started to decline. Let’s get something straight; no one should EVER rejoice in someone else’s pain or hardships. You can’t tell me I’ll feel better if “just pray harder” or if I “take a bath” and “light some candles”. Seriously?! What the fuck is wrong with people?

Your mental health, and mine, is just as important as the rest of your health. I call Mondays “Mental Health Monday” because I allow myself that time to do nothing, but take care of me. To shut everything and everyone off and allow myself to get into the correct head space to do what I need to for the week. Unfortunately, I already know that I will be badly triggered tomorrow. As a result, today was not the day I intended for it to be.

I am forced to make a heartbreaking decision. Will it kill me? Physically, no, but it will kill my soul, whatever is left of it after feeling like I’ve experienced various forms of hell for the past two and a half years. If I do it, there’s no point left for me anymore because I will finally know there’s no future left for me to return to. There’s no point in forging ahead without what little in this world that gives me hope and keeps me alive.

As usual, my brother caused critical damage to this situation, refuses to take ownership of his behavior and words, and I have no where else to turn. I have always been told that I don’t know how to ask for help. There’s a reason I don’t ask, and it’s because time and again, I’ve been shown cruelty and the true nature of others. If you genuinely want to help someone, then you’ll do it and NEVER throw it in their face. You won’t lord it over them and tell them what a horrible person they are. If you genuinely want to hurt someone, well, I’ve been hurt enough.

This week will be full of challenges and pain for me. I hate feeling hopeless and I hate feeling like I have failed when the truth is, I’ve FOUGHT LIKE FUCKING HELL to get this far. My body feels like it’s perpetually at war, and it is. My immune system fights itself and it leaves me in a constant state of fight or flight. As I type this, my heart isn’t sure if it should be calm or jump out of my chest. It’s exhausting and I’ve had enough.

I spend a little too much time in Witch City, and have for the past year. Yesterday I was subjected to more people than I EVER want to be around in close spaces for over two hours. I have never been more happy to escape crowds of people. I keep thinking how sad it would be if this was my last weekend ever. I wonder if the selfishness of others would then finally be realized.

I never get to do anything of my own choosing. But I do get to control what I write.

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Well-Placed Word

dowhatyoufeel

Not that long ago, what I can only presume is an “older gentleman”, and by “older”, I mean over fifty, but probably closer to seventy, sent me a private message on Facebook to complain about my use of a word. I remember reading the message and thinking “Are you for real?” Initially I ignored it, until I decided to reply and set him straight.

As a writer, and especially with something like this platform, I don’t feel I have to edit myself or dumb myself down. In fact, I transitioned to this platform from another one that is still “active”, because I felt like I was neutering myself there and wasn’t fully being the outspoken person I always am. I needed to remind myself how I started out and how I have grown, but not changed my voice and how I use it.

I have come to resent myself whenever I am not 100% me, especially when someone turns to me and gives me any type of “warning” about how vocal I am or how they would like for me to “behave”. I’m not a child or a trained dog, so that kind of behavior, when directed at me, is a quick way to get yourself on my shit list. I revel in authenticity. You cannot ask me to me something I’m not; because the results will be negative.

The word this man took such issue with is one I did edit, slightly. Instead of using the word I wanted to use, I said “effing”. If that offends someone, that is a sad state of affairs to me because that’s pretty clean in my eyes. I couldn’t get more “clean” with that specific word, either. Perhaps I should have used symbols, instead? I know lots of us use this word in our daily lives because no one is perfect and it’s probably an overused word in many instances. I’ve never counted, but I’m sure I use it daily.

I remember consciously making the decision to use it in that “edited” way so as not to offend anyone. And yet, I get someone who is offended by it. Big surprise. He somehow felt the need to inform me that I shouldn’t use it in connection with God on a public forum. I love it when people think they’re lecturing me. <rolls eyes>

“I don’t mean to come off judgmental…” Really? How did you expect to come off? When surfing Facebook or the Internet at large, I am certain we probably all come across things we don’t like, or things that affect us in a negative way. You have the right to engage or scroll on. Hell, you can walk away from your phone, computer, tablet, etc., and disengage entirely.  I will usually scroll on if something isn’t worth my effort because unless I know someone, what’s the point of engaging? Would I engage with a stranger on the street who said something stupid? It depends on the situation, obviously, but for the most part the answer is “No, I would not.” I’m not that nice, or approachable.

As a result of this person’s comment, I ended it with respectful wishes for the upcoming holiday (Passover) and left it there. I’ll probably have to block him if this comes up again, lest I offend his delicate sensibilities with my honesty and directness regarding Israel, Judaism, or perhaps the placement of the sun in the sky.

When something is titled “Poison In Lethal Doses”, you can come to expect certain things from me, since I’m the one producing the written content. Anyone who has read my bio can probably figure out that I’m a “take no prisoners” kind of chick. From day one, the way I have conducted myself as a writer is the reason I have received respect, not to mention a widespread audience. There are Harvard educated doctors who read my work (Yeah, it shocks me, too.). If they’re not offended by the occasional use of profanity to make a point, I’m good with that. This is definitely not the place for anyone who is sheltered or buttoned-up so tightly that an edited word bothers them.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever had someone approach me in ANY way during the course of my career and tell me that one word I used bothered them. I think I’ve maybe offended one other person with my “brazen authenticity”, but for the most part, people either like me or they don’t. I can’t control how I affect others. I’ve mellowed over the years (sort of-ish) and curse a lot less than I once did, so I found myself staring at this message for a while, pondering how to handle it. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have replied in such a polite fashion, but I was incredibly polite. I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that HE contacted ME, and that if someone takes issue with a word I use, the issue lies with them, not with me. I’m not so sheltered that people have to curb their words with me. I’d be more concerned with the tone of voice you use, because that’s something I am more inclined to get in someone’s face about.

On the Internet, unless you’re on YouTube, you can’t really pick up on tone from people you don’t know. I have relatives who I communicate with who I am positive do not pick up on my tones when we speak. If they did, they’d stop talking. I have several tones that are “warning tones”. My voice drops several octaves and my responses become icy, or short. A lot of my text messages are “warning tones” because I’m probably pissed off at the other person for being nosy, presumptive, rude, disrespectful, hurtful, etc. I don’t always pursue my anger towards someone if I know how it will be received. It’s not an easy choice to make, but it’s knowing who and what to argue about. If someone keeps talking or texting through the “warning tone”, I do not feel sorry for them when they inevitably incur my wrath.

I have many different tones to how I speak and express myself. There’s my “dry tone”, which is all about timing. In my family, we refer to it as my “dry, British humor”. It’s my Judi Dench tone, along with the accompanying expression, and sometimes I throw in the accent for good measure. It can be delivered in a myriad of ways. There’s my “funny tone”, my “sarcastic tone” which are also, all about timing and delivery. What I find interesting is how people who know me well are never entirely sure which tone is which. Whereas my brother KNOWS if I’m being a smart ass or just being me. He knows my “warning tones” because he will often remind me, when I use them, that stabbing someone with a fork is illegal. He can even pick up on it in a text message. He gets me, even though he often pretends not to.

Nine times out of ten, I get accused of being sarcastic when I’m simply stating the obvious. That’s when you know, for sure, that a person is making an assumption. Don’t make assumptions via text message, because you’re probably wrong. I simply don’t have time in my day-to-day life to use a “tone” via text. Unless you’re an absolute moron, I’m probably just stating facts. No one said I’m not rolling my eyes while swiping my reply. I might be, but the other person can’t see me and that’s probably a good thing, though I wouldn’t shy away from rolling my eyes at them if they were in front of me. I’m not two-faced.

My daily vernacular is a combination of varying expressions, both in English and other languages, along with wit and measures of sarcasm and honesty. In certain situations, I dial myself down approximately five to ten percent, because I have to filter myself with the other person. I don’t like being unable to fully be myself, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

A family member pushed my buttons last winter. After giving them ample time to “get over themselves” and apologize, they continued to treat me like shit and be rude and dismissive. Publicly, they behaved like nothing had occurred. Because this person married into my family, I have to shield my actual blood relative from the incident, and my subsequent feelings. But first, I wanted to verify if the behavior was normal, so I asked this person’s sibling, with whom I am equally close to, if this was normal. They told me “That hasn’t been my experience.” and proceeded to ask if I had said something offensive or hurtful, leading the person to respond negatively to me. I had done no such thing, and I found the question borderline absurd. They quickly dismissed the subject after I replied that I’d done nothing but be nice and kind, and went back to talking about themselves (Yeah, that’s my family. I wonder if group rates are offered in family therapy…). I have now spent over a year shielding this family member from my true feelings. Someone I respect said “Well, you’re keeping the peace because you don’t want to lose another friend.” I stared at him blankly, because he clearly forgot who he was talking to when he said that. “Keeping the peace” isn’t how I do things. That’s “people pleasing” behavior, and I REFUSE to do it.

Since the initial incident, I have tried my best to be polite to this person, but I’m sure I’m failing miserably. My concerted effort has clearly not been well-received because even after sending this person a birthday card, something I did NOT have to do, I’ve continued to be treated as a threat. However, I have to be honest with myself about how I feel. I cannot be fake.

Fast-forward to last week, when I received a text message inviting me for Passover. Normally I am invited at the last-minute each year to most holiday occasions, and while I consider the invitation supremely kind and genuine, it’s the last thing in the world I want to reply to. I’m not known for my diplomacy. I know I can’t say what I truly want to say in response, so naturally, that upsets me.

On pretty much any given day, the last thing I want to do is sit in a room with a group of people I don’t know and pretend to be interested in forced, polite chit-chat. It’s not who I am. Food is of zero interest to me, and people I’ve never met before rank up the list, too. I appreciate the invitation, but there’s no polite way to say “I’d rather remove my eyes with a melon baller.” On top of my very real feelings, there is always my health to consider. I try to be around as few people as possible with uncontrollable chronic migraines and all the other health issues I am currently trying to navigate. I just took my last round of antibiotics this morning, and I don’t even know if they helped, which is worrisome.

Chronic illness makes me unreliable for many events, especially anything short notice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to heavily caffeinate in order to go to a doctor’s appointment or something else I committed to in advance. Inside, I feel like the biggest mess on the planet, but on the outside I don’t think people ever notice that something isn’t right. After all, the majority of people are only looking for visual clues. They’re not going deeper.

I ended up sending a very polite text reply to the invite last night. I was downright polite and borderline diplomatic (for me), but I didn’t get into any detail as to why I could not attend. If I’d been asked, that would have been a problem, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was told I am welcome anytime. I know it was genuine, so I was genuine in turn. I’m good with large crowds of strangers when I’m speaking in public or have a commitment, but there are still times when I will say no to such things.

This year, I need to spend the holiday focusing on my health, and giving myself a short break from all the craziness because I’m really suffering in terms of quality sleep. My body needs rest in the worst way. 😦 I won’t make any appointments those first few days (March 31st might have been a good day to get my MRI out of the way, but I’d feel bad doing it on a holiday.), but I do have things that I will need to get squared away during the following week.

Words are important in society. It’s how we communicate, because not everyone responds to non-verbal cues. I find that the well-placed word is crucial. It can be the difference between “keeping the peace”, should you enjoy the route, or starting a fight, but it can also be the difference between complimenting someone and making their day or going through life as an extremely unpleasant person. Each day, we make choices with our words.

No matter how you choose, I’ll be over here, maintaining my authenticity as a “Speaker Of Powerful Words”. 🙂

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Life, On Hold

I guess late Friday night has become my new “time to write”. I have no idea when that became a thing, but let’s roll with it, shall we?

My big accomplishment this week was talking to my insurance company and getting an emergency reinstatement, all thanks to someone who knew what she was doing and was the kindest person one could hope to speak with. The best part was, as she was helping me, saying “I don’t know why they needed address confirmation. You already confirmed it twice. And I’m not seeing where they sent you a letter, but apparently they wanted confirmation by June 13th. This makes no sense.” She then told me to call back Wednesday morning. After four hours of not being able to get through to anyone (I love being on hold for an hour and then being hung up on. T speak to a person once this week, it was a six-hour wait on hold, in total, and constantly calling back whenever I was hung up on.), I finally got confirmation through the automated system that I’m “active”. Yay! The downside is that I still have to call again to see if they will reactivate the “child company” before September 1st (I spoke with them, they told me their system might update next week, but there are no guarantees.). It’s still early in the month and there’s no legitimate reason I should have an issue. However, this does mean canceling the neuro follow-up without the “child company” to pay for it, which, lets face it, I had no belief in, any way. When a doctor is out of the room before you’ve finished speaking, it’s not a good sign for things to come. He still hasn’t called me back, still hasn’t squared away medicine or ANYTHING requiring prior authorization, and I don’t see the point in going in without knowing I’m covered for the visit and two, to discuss what? Would he even listen to me? That’s a twenty-minute waste of my time and I simply don’t have the patience for it this month. I’ll reschedule, and maybe between now and then, he can figure out how to get his shit together before I write a scathing review.

I rescheduled one of the appointments I wasn’t able to get into last Friday, but the person who scheduled it informed me I would require the doctor to “discharge me as her patient” in order to see someone else. I listened to the message and “Are you fucking kidding me?” is all I had to offer. I’m a PATIENT, not cattle, not a piece of property “owned” by the overlord. I feel like it would be hypocritical to see this doctor for thirty minutes and then say “Can you discharge me to another physician because, after the way you treated me when we first met, I cannot in good faith work with you moving forward.” Doing so could cut me off from much-needed medication, and I am already angry that she put me in a compromising position with my current primary care doctor, who surprisingly came through for me. And if you’re going to practice what you preach, it is hypocritical to sit with someone you already know isn’t going to work out, merely to get a month’s worth of medication. Plus, how long would I have to wait to see someone new? The whole thing stresses me out and makes me ill. These are things I will have to bring up at my appointment next week, which is also stressing me out.

Every aspect of my life is on hold. Finishing up online classes for a certification? On hold. Starting new classes for a new certification so I can begin a career I actually want to work in? On hold. Being able to get up each morning with zero pain? Probably never going to happen. The issue with suffering from any form of chronic pain is that, if you sign a pain contract, you can be tossed from any doctor’s office if, for example, you decide to use Kratom or CBD oil as an alternative because they might look for it in a drug test. The pain I am in is so bad, all I want to do is go to the emergency room and scream until someone helps me. However, no one wants that put into their chart as “drug-seeking behavior”. I’ve never “sought drugs” in my entire life. The only addiction I’ve ever had in my life was to Polar Seltzer. I’m drinking my first bottle in months because I went off of medication based on sheer forgetfulness. In case you’re wondering, Toasted Coconut is as good as it sounds. 😉

I’m having trouble sleeping soundly. I’ve had a migraine every single day this month, and only had two migraine-free days all of last month. I’m hurting, stressed, frustrated, and fed up. I’d like to sleep soundly, wake up pain-free, and not have to struggle to push myself physically. I was hurting so bad last Sunday, I nearly passed out in public, but not before a woman who has never met me before stopped me at the grocery store to inform me I “look kinda pale”. I went into the stores’ restroom and took a look at my face. Nope, pale is my natural skin-tone. If you don’t know me and have no clue what I look like on any given day, it’s incredibly rude to approach a stranger and say “You look kinda pale.” I turned around and said “Are you being cute?” I was annoyed. It wasn’t the concern of someone stating I didn’t look well, it was something else, and quite frankly, combined with my eye makeup, I wouldn’t have approach ed me at all. The colors I’d used sort of made me look like a vampire. I didn’t notice it until after the fact and once I’ve finished with something like that, I am not taking it off and starting over.

I’m having terrible difficulties writing the things I want to write. After months of research and trying to get the ball rolling with an article revolving around chronic pain patients and the reduction of medicine we’re experiencing as a whole, I’ve had to focus more on my own health than I would normally be able to focus on a body of work. And since then, plenty of people have come forward and written things from their own perspectives. It sort of makes me wonder if I should bother at all, which bugs me, because I don’t like starting something I’ll never finish. It makes me feel like a fuck-up.

Yeah, I’m hard on myself. What might normally work for others in terms of decompressing only manages to stress me out more. I hate hearing these terms “breathing exercises” and “mindfulness”. It’s reached a point where I will throw something hard at you if you mention either. I cannot breathe past the pain I am in, so please spare me the nonsense. I’m plenty mindful, yet apparently not mindful enough for people who preach about it. And yeah, I lack the ability to “go with the flow” because the “flow” is monotonous and makes me want to walk in front of a truck.

No one wants to “exist” and wonder what their purpose is. People keep turning to me with “pain advocate” or “pain activist” issues and here’s the thing; I am having a hard enough time advocating for myself. For someone who has been told I am “always incredibly articulate”, I feel like an absolute moron trying to explain how badly I am suffering and how all I want is relief. I imagine this is what happens when your body is experiencing too much pain on a daily basis with no break. I have NEVER outright said to any doctor “Give me pain meds.” Never, and yet I feel distraught at the thought of being forced into a pain contract or worse, having a year-long (possibly longer) wait to get into any form of pain management. Pain management in Massachusetts is everything BUT pain medication. They will even prioritize surgery over managing your pain. If you will willingly implant a pain pump into my body, but are afraid to give me real medication in that pump, then there is no valid reason for me to put myself through surgery. I’ve never had surgery in my life. I still have both of my wisdom teeth, mostly because I’m stubborn. I know they will likely have to come out by the end of this year, and I’m kind of okay with that, but that is far less invasive than something being implanted into my body that may, or may not, work. See how stressful it all becomes when you think about it?

This is, by no means, the life I signed up for. I had dreams, goals, and things I wanted to achieve. And yet, as I sit here, my entire fucking life is on hold. I, for one, hate it.

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Stressful Sleepless Nights

I have long since passed “tired” and have reached a state of pure “painsomnia”. No matter what I do, I am in too much pain to sleep properly, if at all. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I’m not in the correct head-space to allow my body to rest as it needs to. It’s twisted when anyone who suffers as much as I do is completely unable to sleep at times.

Most nights I am sound asleep by three a.m., if not earlier. Last Wednesday night, no matter how many times I tried, sleep alluded me. I had my alarm set and finally got frustrated and said “Fuck it!” I knew there was no way I was going to fall asleep because I couldn’t shut my brain off and the pain I am in is over-the-top excruciating. When you cannot see past the pain you’re in, it’s bad. Pain, as it turns out, is a definitive breaking point. It is exhausting, it is draining, and it makes you feel insane. Your entire body goes on high alert.

I have tried everything to break this cycle, and yet here I sit, trying to figure out how to reach some type of “pain-free” state. But really, what are my options? The emergency room? Kratom? CBD oil? I have NO idea. If I understood the root cause of the pain escalation, I could at least handle it from a medical perspective and make a decision as to how to proceed. However, I am being waylaid by every single doctor that is supposed to be treating me. And lets face it, Kratom and CBD oil aren’t covered by insurance and they can be quite expensive over time. Yes, they are natural methods to relieve pain, but I can say I know very little about CBD oil, despite extensive research. I only know some people swear by it and others say it doesn’t help them, which definitely makes me question the enormity of such an investment. A friend even found a company willing to give me a huge discount, but still, it’s a lot of money for a “What if?”

I have an appointment in a few weeks with my soon-to-be fired primary care physician. The first time I was in her office, I noticed she had pain contracts for her patients in each room. It left me sour on the whole thing because I also noticed an influx of patients that were clearly there for monthly drug tests and new prescriptions. The restrooms are FULL of testing supplies. It looks more like a lab. So, while prescription pain medicine is covered by my insurance, do I want to subject myself to monthly drug tests? No. For one, I’ve never taken narcotic pain medicine daily, and if I did, it was in much lower quantities than prescribed. I’d fail a drug test because I don’t take six pills a day, or however many might be prescribed if I were lucky enough to be taken seriously. Asking me to “bring my bottles” so my pills can be counted and “pee in a cup” each month is treating me like a drug addict when in fact, I am a pain patient. Moreover, I find it interesting that I had to wait two and a half months to be seen for something serious, but she can see other people monthly if they’ve signed a pain contract. It’s insulting. She flat-out said, via that infamous e-mail, that I should “go to the emergency room” when I have a paralytic attack. As if they happen daily and I am able to call for help during said attacks. Instead of being a responsible physician who orders the correct tests prior to my coming in, she blew me off. I will be printing up the entire exchange before she has the opportunity to delete any such evidence. They might just be e-mails, but I honestly never know what a doctor might do to cover their own ass.

I have ZERO trust or faith in this woman to properly treat me, and that is precisely why I have to move on. The second I have a scheduled appointment with the new physician, she will no longer be listed as my primary care doctor. I can still switch at any time. That is a comfort because I’m sick of not being taken seriously.

My migraines are still eating away large chunks of my life. It took the neurologist quite a while to get back to me, but when he did, it was a short message to tell me he could put me on another class of medication. I called him back and said “I’ve been on all of those already; they don’t work.” If he’d requested my chart from my previous neurologist, he would know all of this already. He did not address my request for Relpax or a new anti-nausea medicine, he skipped over it like I hadn’t said anything in the three messages I left for him. I’m sick of playing phone tag. If he can’t get this straight, I can’t keep my appointment at the end of next month. It’s an inconvenience to begin with and the man lacks the ability to listen and actually hear you. It’s not my job to do his for him. Why should I repeat, and pay for, previously failed medications? I care about the crazy chemicals that go into my body and as a patient, I have the right to say no. I played stupid when I said “My insurance does cover Relpax, they just need to hear from you.” and “I belong to a migraine support group and this anti-nausea drug is talked about a lot, do you think I can try it?” A close friend also recommended the anti-nausea medicine, but he only needs to know the basics. Instead of appreciating the fact that I’m an educated patient, he would much prefer for me to be a moron that simply says yes to everything he says. Yeah, that’s not going to happen on my watch.

I’ve decided that if I can’t survive this coming week on over-the-counter pain medication for my back and neck, that I am going to the emergency room. The doctor can kiss my ass if she doesn’t like the decision because ultimately, the hospital CAN admit me, even if only for a few hours, and run all of the necessary tests. If they did, for example, do a drug test, they would find I am 100% drug-free, so they wouldn’t be concerned about giving me pain medication, providing they deemed it necessary. Trust me; I’ve never thought it was more necessary than I currently do. I’ve had broken bones hurt a hell of a lot less than my back and neck do. 😦 I can’t even sit up straight or do anything to stretch my muscles out gently without causing the pain to worsen. And yet, I am the moron popping Aleve, using a heating pad in July, and alternating with ice packs because I am also running a fever. But according to the physician’s assistant “It’s probably just the weather or like your allergies.” If you are trying to be any kind of professional, drop the Valley Girl routine. It’s not cute.

This week I get to meet a new doctor and someone who I believe will be temporary. I’ve once again been handed over to a student, after specifically requesting “no one temporary” (I heard myself say it, so I know it’s not my imagination.), and I will likely have something to say about that after the fact. I am on an incredibly short fuse, so I’ve decided that both people get exactly two chances with me, if that. I legitimately don’t want to go, don’t want to discuss a damn thing except the outrageous amount of pain I am in, and don’t want to waste my time, but again, two chances. If I’m feeling nice (I’m rarely nice.). I hate forcing myself to do things I am not okay with. Chances are if I can’t stand the sound of your voice on the phone, we will NOT get along well in person. I know precisely how intense I can be, and I’ve only recently realized it’s because I’ve been badly burned by certain types of people and I won’t allow the cycle to continue. While some people will say, and have, “You enjoy giving off the impression that you’re a bad ass.”, I don’t think it’s actually occurred to them that I AM a bad ass. You can be a lovely human-being and STILL be a bad ass when you have to be. Believe me, being a bad ass is far better than wearing “the bitch card” 24/7. A bad ass is a position of power where you make all of the important decisions and stand your ground, and it trumps being a bitch every day and twice on Sunday.

I once questioned who the hell a person was without passion; without something they stood for and believed in. I said this in observation of someone else. I said something along the lines of “What does she stand for? She lacks passion. She’s too worried about what others think of her to concern herself with what she thinks of herself.” I vowed not to become a person like that, to always know who I am and what I stand for. So whether it’s advocating for my health or speaking my mind about something specific, I want to come in fighting strong. I feel like hell, but I do not have to look like hell and I don’t have to ever act weak because I am NOT. I am human. I have horrible, bad days. I am stressed, functioning on no sleep and very little caffeine, and there are days I want to break down and hide. But ultimately, I don’t have a choice in the matter. I am doing my BEST. It sucks, it’s not easy, and there are days where I live in pure fear of how far I have fallen, but no matter what, no one will ever be able to say I had zero passion or thought.

She is brave, she is strong.
She will get up whenever she falls.
She knows herself inside and out.
And though she may face challenges, 
she will face them with courage and hope.
And though she be but little,
she is fierce. -William Shakespeare

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Doctor & Patient: The Follow-Up

**Potential trigger warning**

“Exigo a me non ut optimis par sim, sed ut malis melior – I require myself not to be equal to the best, but to be better than the bad.”

I think my doctor is a compatible astrological sign and/or is perhaps magically able to defuse angry women. I realize sometimes it’s a little like talking to a cornered animal or a small child, except when it’s me, because I can’t be likened to either. I’m more like a venomous tornado; if tornados could have that additional level of power.

I genuinely give him credit because he handled my appointment with grace, class, ease, and owned his mistake. I can count on one hand how many doctors I know who would have owned up to a major error. He’s maybe one of three, if that. He is in the teeny, tiny minority because he has managed to maintain his humanity, sense of humor (I’m pretty certain his sense of humor is one of the reasons I like him so much. I can genuinely appreciate someone who has the ability to match my level of sarcasm, snark, and wit. It’s rare.), and the ability to stay grounded. I hope he never changes, because it would be a damn shame. I walked in enraged, and walked out laughing. I’m not that moody, not even for a Scorpio, but again, refer to my opening line.

I spoke, he listened, and we discussed possibilities for me to meet with someone who fits the criteria of what I need moving forward. He could have blown me off; instead he tried to problem-solve, and that is going above and beyond in my eyes. A far more jaded doctor would have passed me off to someone else, simply for being honest. God forbid you point out to another human-being that there’s a flaw in the system, or that they, themselves, are not perfect. Denial is not just a river in Egypt for some.

I’m proud of myself for handling this without reverting back to the old, angry version of myself who definitely would have handled things in a much more brusque manner, and brusque is soft considering it isn’t my original choice of words. Despite being angry, I was calmer than I thought I’d be once I sat down. I know the initial look on my face was anything but cute, but that frosty demeanor is my usual, unapproachable “Don’t fuck with me” look. I have scared postal workers with that expression; I know it’s not a good face. My doctor, all credit to him, seemed concerned, but unphased. He knew something was wrong, he just didn’t know what it was. Once he heard me out, everything was okay. In no way, shape, or form was he pacifying me, nor did he come off patronizing. I know the difference, and I would have walked out if he’d tried it. He’s too smart for that level of nonsense, and he earned another layer of my respect for keeping things real.

I know a lot of people would not have gone back. Many would not have been able to go back and be honest with him, but I’m no ordinary patient. I believe in full disclosure, even if I keep certain things private and keep pieces of myself to myself. I still don’t believe in accepting bullshit from anyone and eating it politely with a knife and fork. That’s not my style, nor will it ever be. I lack the ability to bite my tongue. I’d rather be honest and say what I’m feeling, as opposed to keeping it inside. That’s not healthy.

As I write this, it seems as though my ulcer is acting up once again, so I definitely don’t have time to hold any more stress or anger inside my body. I need healthy outlets, and writing has always been my first line of defense. It’s one of the clearest, most concise forms of communication. You don’t write as long as I’ve been writing if you don’t have something to say and have some serious talent to back up the words, otherwise, words are just that; words.

Did I feel better walking out of this appointment? A little. I’m glad I was myself and got the majority of the anger out of my system, but ultimately I still came away upset, just not at the doctor.

He admitted he wouldn’t have asked me certain questions if I’d looked more closed off. If I had looked like I had a wall up, he wouldn’t have dug so deep. Apparently my “packaging doesn’t match my pain”, his words, not mine. I do like him, so I let it slide, but that comment stayed with me for days and it’s going to bug me.

I immediately wanted to point out that just because a woman has makeup on, it doesn’t mean she’s an open book. Yes, I answered his questions. I did side-step a few, whether he noticed or not is another subject entirely, however, is wearing makeup what’s hindering me in getting proper care? It made me wonder if this has been an issue for the past ten years or so; the simple fact that I don’t walk into doctor’s appointments looking like death, which is usually how I feel on the inside. Do I need to walk in a drooling, incoherent mess? Is a face REALLY all people are paying attention to?! Is everything artifice? I do believe it’s called an “Invisible Illness” for a reason. Thirty minutes of my time, or less, to look human may seem ridiculous, but that time calms me down so I actually go to the damn appointment. Some doctors recommend coloring books to their patients as a form of therapy. Well, makeup is art therapy for me. It wasn’t even my best work, it was just mindless self-expression. Let’s not judge the broken, pretty mess by her “packaging”. Let’s not make assumptions. It sort of makes me want to show up in sunscreen and mascara next time, just to screw with him. However, that’s my “It’s over 90 degrees and I’m going to the grocery store in sunglasses” look. I try to look a little more human and pulled together when I’m face-to-face with someone. Not because I am trying to impress them, but because it’s something I do for me.

In hindsight, I realized that nearly all of my doctors, both past and present, are men, save two. I read a report about myself once that said I was “impeccably well-groomed” and it angered me. Obviously the doctor who wrote it has zero idea what it takes for me to be so “impeccably well-groomed”. I have an appointment in August, but I’m not about to ask another woman how she feels about my eye shadow blending skills. <rolls eyes> The first time I was there, the nurse went on and on about how good I smelled. That’s such a girl thing because my friends do it all the time with me. Women notice things that men do not. Men are more visual, but I don’t wear makeup for men; I wear it for me.

In my dealings with my beauty blog, I have sponsors, so I’m occasionally paid to write honest, unbiased reviews and I’m constantly trying new products revolving around hair, nails, skin, and makeup. It’s something I do for fun, something I hope will one day become more. However, the pain I experience has already held me back these past few years in terms of expansion, of starting a YouTube channel, and branching out. I re-branded last year, but my confidence levels are nonexistent, so if I’m not comfortable posting a photo of completed work to Instagram, then I’m definitely not ready for a camera in my face 3-4 days a week when I need to be filming.

Despite support from friends and family that I am definitely skilled enough to do it, I don’t feel ready. But does that mean I should be taken less seriously when seeking medical help? NO. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or in my case, its skill-set. That’s not even 1/100th of what I can do in this world, and by judging me for it, you’re taking me down to less than a millimeter. That’s an unacceptable thought process. I personally know some of the most stunning people who are suffering just as badly as I am, and if you didn’t know them, you wouldn’t know what is going on because they have trained themselves to fake smiles and laughter. I will never fake a smile, not will I fake laughter or any other emotion, but yes, I will use an art form. I assure you, it’s not a mask, it’s just product.

After my appointment someone asked how I was feeling mentally, and I said “Let’s face it; I’ll never be okay. This is not fixable. Maybe if someone had done something to help me when I was six, or seven, or eight, I’d be okay now, but they didn’t. I feel neglected. I feel like my life isn’t my own. No one should have to carry this pain with them, this knowledge, and have to keep on living.” I then realized I’m deeply upset, and there’s no fixing it. I could go to a hundred doctors and there’s no cure in sight. I don’t know if there ever will be. There are always new medications in the pipeline, but a cure? No one ever talks about that, do they?

Ultimately, I am who I am; imperfect, shattered, hilarious, loyal, honest, goofy, inappropriate, sharp, creative, determined, the family protector, a permanently exhausted night owl, incredibly direct, a girl’s girl to the core, the person everyone turns to in a crisis or for advice, the girl “most likely to take a bullet for you”, the person described as “part lawyer/part doctor/part pitbull”, the psychic/spiritual guru for friends and for many of my close family members, mother to Cat and Kitten, a kickass Godmother, a truly amazing sister, an introverted extrovert, the girl who’ll sing anywhere because she hates wasting her voice training, the very best friend anyone could ever have, and the last of the matriarchal cooks in my family. I wear so many hats and own so many titles. That’s my “normal”.

In all the positivity, there is also a lot of fucking pain. You can’t mask that. No one sells “You’ve been through hell” concealer (I’m trademarking that, so don’t get any cute ideas.), or everyone in this world who suffers from an invisible illness of any kind would be stocking up. I look in my own eyes and see it. They may look sparkly and green in the right light, to the right person, but to me, that’s predominantly a sign of intellect and personality, nothing more. I have a dark, twisted sense of humor. People either enjoy it or they stare at me and say “I don’t get it.”, which usually results in the response “Bless your heart.”, mostly because I don’t have time to explain it to someone if it goes over their head. I’m quick-witted and even quicker with my sarcasm. You either get it or you don’t, but it’s not intended to be offensive, unless my tone changes or I intentionally speak a different language in
front of you.

Suffering from depression isn’t just abysmal highs and lows. For me, it’s living in pure darkness and trying to find shards of light scattered here and there. Light comes in many forms for a creative type. I love learning how movies are made. I am fascinated by certain aspects of history. Certain artists intrigue the hell out of me, and they remind me I should be painting twice a month. I actively study parts of the world that most people will never see in person. I learn new languages. I have traced my ancestry back to 85 B.C., which was no easy feat, and I’ve researched cats so thoroughly that you can ask me anything about domestic or big cats. I never stop learning. And yet, I openly and honestly discuss suicide in the same breath. I don’t believe in hiding it. I don’t believe in masking the pain or lying. I’m not going to sweep it under the rug and pretend. Pretending is what gets you into trouble.

Last month, one of my cousins tried committing suicide via overdose. It deeply affected her oldest daughter and other family members; justifiably so. While they are all taking it personally and questioning the kind of person she is, offended that she lied to them or simply didn’t disclose how badly she was suffering, I’m the one person who seems to truly understand how much pain she is in to have hit rock bottom. I know how awful it is, and I refuse to sit in judgment of her for it. In fact, all I want to do is help her. I’m sick of their attitudes. They’re acting like it’s all about them when the truth is; her pain has NOTHING to do with them and EVERYTHING to do with being strong for decades and finally breaking down. I didn’t realize how deeply it affected me until I broke down in the shower one day. I am deeply concerned, especially now that she is back in the hospital and continually tries to manipulate doctors, friends, and family into letting her out. This is the person in the family who would personally kill any of us if we tried to do something as stupid as what she did, so I KNOW this isn’t her, this is merely illness and an extremely dark, low point. What they deem as selfish, I see as a diamond in a pressure cooker. That’s precisely how a doctor once described my own situation to me. I try to remember those words whenever I reach my breaking point, but it’s not easy to hold on to mere words when your support system is nonexistent.

I spend 97% of my time alone, in pain, so how could I not think about suicide? Between the stress and the isolation, it’s hard not to. and I refuse to lie or pretend. I’m not good at being fake.

There are days when I’m taking a long walk, just to clear my head, and there’s this little voice hoping I get hit by a truck or a bus, or a car not paying attention. Unfortunately with my luck, I’d be in a body cast and no one would ever think anything except that the driver was an idiot who didn’t see me. No one would ever think I had anything to do with it, and for the most part, I likely wouldn’t be thinking about it either because I have “city brain” and I’m very careful when I’m walking, but there have definitely been moments where I’ve nearly been hit because a driver wasn’t paying attention and each time, a large part of me was sad they stopped or that I was paying attention. It’s sad to admit, but it’s also honest, and human. I despise my life and almost everything in it. I find it pointless to pretend that it’s okay. I am 1000% NOT okay. I cannot remember a time when I was okay. Passable? Yes. But okay? No. Hell, I don’t even know what okay looks like or feels like. When people ask how I’m doing, I don’t lie and say I’m okay when I’m not. You know how cashiers and customer service reps often ask how you’re doing? My new response is “I’m too honest for that question.” I don’t play the game and say “I’m good.” or “I’m okay.” because lying is not my first instinct, and when people lie to my face, I look them in the eye and say “Do you want to try that again?”

As I constantly have to explain to other people, my ties in life are different from theirs. My Grandparents are gone. My parents are gone. I have a handful of cousins I am close to, and in truth, I don’t feel like I can discuss my life with them because they’re so wrapped up in their own lives (quite frankly, it’s ALL I hear about. Sometimes they talk at me, and don’t even ask how I’m doing. This can go on for months at a time.). I recently lost my Great-Aunt, who was the last tie I had to my father’s side of the family in this country, aside from my cousins (her grandchildren) who I am currently trying to tune-out because they’re stressing me out with every phone call or text message. I haven’t heard from my brother in months and constantly live in fear that I will get a phone call from a hospital, the police, or the country coroner’s office. I come out of my skin every single time my phone rings and I don’t know who the caller is. Every day of my life, I question my existence. Between migraines, the physical pain, and the emotional pain, there doesn’t seem to be much of a point in sticking around. Why would any sane person allow themselves to go through this kind of torture day in and day out?! Suffering to this extent is inhuman. I wouldn’t allow Cat or Kitten to suffer like this, so why am I allowing myself to live in such a manner?

I used to stop myself from acting on these thoughts because I was afraid my brother would be the one who found me, and I couldn’t do that to him. His best friend committed suicide in 2005 and it left him devastated. I didn’t want him to find his sister dead; I was certain it would break him. Especially after we lost our parents. My brother isn’t me; he’s not the strong sibling, nor will he ever be. One of my best friends lost her brother to suicide, something none of us could ever have anticipated, and she has told me that no matter what I am going through, it’s a permanent solution to problems that are “temporary”. However, you can’t say that to someone who has spent the majority of their life in agony and who rarely, if ever, knows happiness.

Nothing I’m going through is temporary. It is all quite permanent and very real. I don’t think my other friends are aware how much I’m hurting, nor has anyone ever inquired. I’ve only recently realized how one-sided our conversations are. I support and strengthen them, but who supports and strengthens me? My relationships and friendships are solid, but I will always be the black sheep. I’m needed when I’m needed, but where do I go when I’m in need? To a doctor and/or a licensed therapist, and right now, I’m not okay to sit with a therapist weekly, or even bi-weekly. I am gutted, and I don’t have the emotional capacity to sit and discuss anything when I feel like an empty shell. I don’t like wasting someone else’s time, nor my own. My last two therapists dropped out of my life during really awful periods when I most needed support. The last one disappeared completely during one of the worst times in my life. I genuinely trusted her. I’m not ready to be hurt like that again, nor will I allow it. She was the only therapist I’d ever liked, and her not so much as returning a call or referring me to someone else was incredibly unprofessional and rude. It’s something I’ll never forget or forgive. There is always a professional way to do something. It’s one of the first things I learned in business, and I was eight years old at the time! I cannot forgive stupidity when I know that the other person knows better.

So my appointment went well, and I’m glad for that. I genuinely DO like this doctor. I wasn’t kidding about following him to China. That’s one of the highest compliments I can pay him. I’m certain he knows it was genuine. He will be lucky if I don’t super glue myself to his leg at my last appointment, and for some reason the image of that in my head is hysterical beyond words. Oh, Lord, RELAX! I’m joking. Sort of.

He’ll be getting one hell of an online review when I get a moment to collect my thoughts. Not because I have to write one, but because he deserves it. I’ve never written a review for a doctor before. I’ve recommended my former neurologist to people in need (He is genuinely a kind, caring doctor who did his best for me.), but this is different. I want him to have an amazing review moving forward on every website I can slap one on, and I’m just insane (and sane) enough to get one posted everywhere known to man. I don’t actually know anyone who could write something better, and that isn’t ego talking, it’s mere fact.

For obvious reasons, I have protected his name this entire time. As I’ve said before, many times, “privacy is not a setting”. I adhere to laws and boundaries, even if some of them are personally defined. After all, this is still the Internet and while I do talk about a lot of things openly and honestly, I’m also an incredibly private person.

Even when he stops being my physician, I’m still going to feel protective of him; I discovered this accidentally. A family member made some outrageously derogatory remarks to me about him while I was in the process of writing this, and I’d never felt more defensive and protective of a doctor in my entire life. You would have thought she’d taken a shot at my mother, which is one thing that, to this day, is very likely to get you punched in the fucking face. Thus far, no one has deigned to do it to my face. One person made the mistake of doing it via e-mail, and I decided it was an act of pure cowardice not worthy of a response. People know that if they did it to my face, I’d kill them and tell God it was an accident.

My reaction to this family members’ truly insane comments regarding my doctor were to take a deep breath and pause before saying “Did she actually just say that to me and think I’d accept it?” However, she had, and my exact words were “I’m a very good judge of character and unlike you, I trust my judgment and intuition. Number two, this is someone you have never met, spoken to, or spent five minutes in a room with.” I was SO angry, she’s damn lucky she was in another state, or there’s simply no telling the level of fight it would have escalated to.

The following day, she casually contacted me like nothing was wrong, and I informed her that it was incredibly disrespectful and inappropriate for her to take a shot at my doctor and attack a stranger based on her personal experience of working in a hospital. You can’t go around assuming that every doctor is egotistical and arrogant. Far more was said than just that, and I refuse to give the insanity credence by repeating it. However, nothing I said was negative or led her into this series of hateful, rude, callous, inappropriate, man-hating remarks. She knows less than nothing, so it came completely out of left field and I was NOT having it. She did end up apologizing to me for her outburst, calling it an “occupational hazard” from watching the behavior of the doctors who work at her hospital, but that’s a blanket, bullshit excuse and she knows it’s completely unacceptable to me. I’d love to chalk it up to her usual idiocy, but much like attacking my work, which I’d never allow anyone to do, you do NOT attack this doctor. I may have been mad at him for an isolated incident which she doesn’t know about, but I did not disclose anything more than facts when I wrote about it, and she doesn’t read anything I write. This is someone I respect. That means he’s done something to earn it.

When you find a good doctor, however brief the encounter may be, it’s important to let them know which qualities they possess that they need to hold on to in order to survive as medical professionals. They might lose sight of that from time to time, so a solid reminder will remain in the back of their minds. Like anything else in life, there are always things that bring us back to the here and now and remind us of who we are during challenging times. No matter who we are or what we do for a living; we all have those moments. No one is perfect.

It’s a sad jungle out there. Finding someone amazing who cares and genuinely wants to help people, and isn’t egotistical, is very similar to finding a unicorn. Apparently, they DO exist in the medical community if you search hard enough. There’s an immense difference between having a healthy ego and having a Donald Trump complex.

In one of the most screwed up healthcare systems in the world, anyone that becomes a medical doctor in the United States has just completed four years of medical school and, depending on their chosen field, there is a 3-7 year residency or fellowship process after graduation. It puts the average physician over $175,000 in debt, if not more. Yes, they are choosing to become doctors, and no, most of them don’t go around earning our respect as patients for many reasons. One of which is insurance companies dictating far more than they should be allowed to. This has been going on for years, though. It is NOT all related to the ACA. However, there are still so many good doctors out there. Bedside manner isn’t a given. It is often learned, and so much more is learned by taking time out for your patients. In their efforts to help people, they can become doctors that focus solely on research or they can practice medicine based on their field choice in the state(s) in which they are licensed.

What makes this doctor stand out from all the rest? He’s fully engaged. He’s not distracted, dismissive, or daydreaming while you’re talking. He is 100% in the room. He’s not only listening, he hears you. Given the chance; he never would have given up on me. He’s simply too determined. You can fix broken bones, and I am using that as an emotional metaphor. Emotional bruises heal, eventually. But a doctor not giving a damn whether you make it or not? That stays with you forever. I know, because I’ve lived through a plethora of doctors who didn’t give a rat’s ass about anything, least of all me. I was never a person or a patient. They couldn’t be so bothered to return a phone call, or do anything other than rush me in and out of their office. They had no intention of ever helping or making a difference, but if you’re not an experienced patient, you don’t know the signs of what separates a doctor from being a licensed physician to someone who has greatness in them. I’m well-versed, so I do know the difference.

I lucked out. I found the needle in the haystack on my first try here in Massachusetts, but he is leaving, and I’m all out of super glue. I am glad our paths crossed. I think I’m a better person for it. Broken, pretty mess and all.

Yes, he knows I’m a writer and that I wrote the angry piece. I was incredibly honest with him. I will not be so forthcoming with the next doctor, or any others, up the road. Trust is something you earn, and I cannot give of myself again. He is getting a copy of the first piece, and this one, at my last appointment. He’ll probably never know how much his ability to care and treat me like a human-being undid damage every other doctor did along the way. All I can offer is my respect, appreciation, and heartfelt thanks.

Aut viam inveniam aut faciam-“I shall either find a way or make one.”

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.