Follow Your Gut, Because It Doesn’t Lie…

A few weeks ago someone friended me on Facebook. Under normal circumstances I only accept requests from people I know in real life or people I have met via a migraine or Fibromyalgia/ Chronic Pain group. I’ve met some great people who have become good friends almost immediately. Sometimes you click with someone and you’re good, despite not seeing them every single day of your life. But every once in a while, someone comes along and their intentions are less than honorable.

Here’s precisely what went down with this particular person.

#1: He friended me and I was busy, so I accepted it thinking he was from my migraine group. When I went to do a little recon, I found that his profile had exactly three photos, and he’d joined in February of 2017. He had the prerequisite photo of “himself” in the desert holding a gun. He claimed he worked “at U.S. Army”. Red flag. Why? He didn’t have a single friend or family member listed. That’s odd, especially when a person is friending you out of the blue.

#2: He immediately messages me. And by immediately, I mean I don’t think it took him thirty seconds. Everything about the interaction screamed “This is not the person in the photos.”, and because I trust my intuition, I reported him to Facebook. HUGE red flag.

#3: Facebook, as usual, did nothing. The profile was deleted for less than a few hours and then he was suddenly back on my friends list. I decided to let it go, as long as the messages stopped.

#4: When he messaged me after midnight and his English is about as American as my knowledge of Indo-Iranian languages, I called him on his shit.

#5: Instead of being honest, especially after I said “Your profile states that you’re U.S. Military, but your command of the English language shows otherwise.”, he tried to maintain the charade. “Sorry! I didn’t understand you better.” Americans don’t talk like that. We know proper tense.

#6: “Okay, but you hardly ever talk to me dear.” How many guys do you know who talk like that? I responded by saying “You are an absolute stranger and I’m not dumb.” He stated “What does that mean?” Even the dimmest person would realize I’m on to them and back off. Someone smarter would have immediately unfriended me. He didn’t. I was very direct with my response. I flat-out said he was not who he was professing to be and he replied “Are you kidding me? I am who I am and no one else is me.” He said a few other things and again, the English was SO off. Instead of continuing the nonsensical back and forth (which I do not have time for), I unfriended him, reported him again, and blocked him.

If someone friends you, do a little background on them if you don’t know them from work, every day life, etc. I attract different types of people because I’m a writer and I’m affiliated with some pain groups, one of which I founded and maintain, as well as some groups for specific interests, etc. But I’m NOT fucking stupid. I speak more than one language fluently and I know how Americans sound, even via text message or Facebook Messenger. There is a distinction to American English that does not translate into or out of other languages. Two of my best friends are German and Israeli, by birth. Each speaks English as a second language. I’ve been friends with both of them for over twenty years. On occasion, one or both of them will say something and they’ll state “This may not translate into English well, but…” They are honest and they own the fact that certain things get lost in translation. I have other friends who are polyglots and they, like me, will be the first to say that a lot of things can get lost in translation when English is your first language.

There are all kinds of people out there, but you are my readers and I want each and every one of you to be safe on the Internet. Don’t take anyone at face value until they prove themselves to you, just like you would expect in real life.

I know a lot of people are lonely and they look for people to chat with in chat rooms and assorted forums. IRC is one of the larger forums I know of because my brother has used it since he was a kid, making good friends along the way, but also losing friends because of it in terribly tragic ways. 😦

Be careful who you “friend” and be careful who you talk to. Not everyone is authentic. Don’t be so quick to trust. Trust your intuition and don’t be so willing to give out personal info.

Always, ALWAYS, trust your gut, and even more so if you see a red flag go up. Your gut instinct is the one part of you that will never lie.

There are real people in this world, but there are also fake people and fake profiles. Unfortunately, that is the land of social media.

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

Advertisements

Because He’s My Brother

The past two years have been incredibly hard on my brother. I have no words for what he has been through, or for the things he continues to battle easy day. For the past ten years or so, all we’ve had that we can truly count on, as siblings, is each other.

I remember the day he was born. The phone rang and I wasn’t pleased hearing I had a little brother. I was determined a sister would be coming home. And by determined, I mean adamant. There was simply no way anyone was going to convince me that a brother was a good thing.

We share the same birthday in neighboring months and our birth times are similar. We were born in the same hospital, but because the maternity ward had been moved and remodeled, our birth certificates state we were born in different zip codes.

I remember the day he came home from the hospital. He looked up at me from my mother’s arms and I was suddenly the most important person in his world. He knew exactly who to trust.

He would scream and cry whenever I was out of his visual field. I’d come running into the room and as soon as he saw me, he’d stop crying. He’d go from red-faced hysteria to laughter and giggles, because I always made him smile.

Up until a month ago, I hadn’t heard from my brother in four months. Every single day, I was convinced something horrible had happened and that I would soon get a call from a police officer or a coroner’s office. I was mentally prepared for the worst. What I got was an unfortunate shock I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But ultimately, the shock led to my brother being okay, and that is a relief.

A lot of people do not share close relationships with their siblings, for various reasons, and I understand that. But for me, my brother is the one person who will always have my back. He is someone who knows me really well. He’s one of my best friends.

I haven’t seen my brother in nearly two years, but nothing and no one can break the bond between us. He is the one living person who knows how to take the things I say. He knows when I’m truly being sarcastic, or when I’m simply making a statement. Even via text, my humor and delivery are not lost on him. He makes no assumptions with me because he actually knows me.

Together, and individually, we’ve been through a lot. It’s mind-numbing and disturbing to think about, but it’s life. Each of us is on a journey and for a while now, I’ve known that I somehow got dragged into my brother’s journey and life lessons. I wish I knew how to focus solely on myself, but I wasn’t raised to be selfish or to pretend that another person doesn’t matter. There are many people you walk away from, including family members, but I choose not to walk away from my brother because I know his heart. I don’t know one side to base my judgment on; I know the entirety.

I have the “luxury” of focusing solely on my health right now, but I know the odds aren’t in my favor. My brother has managed to survive quadruple bypass surgery, two operations due to staph infections, and several other procedures, all in less than two years. He has another treatment in a few months, and it scares me because I don’t trust it. I have a right to be concerned because as he pointed out “You’re the only one who truly cares.” He’s right, and knowing that angers the hell out of me.

Every family is different and each family’s dynamics are also going to be different. However, I was clearly raised right. I can go from zero to psycho in less than three seconds, but when it comes to most people, they simply aren’t worth it. My brother may not be of value to other “family members”, most of whom should be lined up and shot, but he’s of value to me because he’s MY brother. You don’t mess with what’s MINE, and that includes people. It may seem arrogant, but once you’re a part of my life and heart, I won’t allow you to be hurt by others.

I am proud of how far he has come, and I won’t allow anyone else to take the credit for it. He still has battles and challenges, and I will forever be a dragon slayer for him, if need be.

So today, on his birthday, I say “Welcome to the rest of your life. Don’t fuck it up.”

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

 

Official?

I finally have documentation on my medical chart that I have Fibromyalgia. What I find odd is that the doctor didn’t check for trigger points or question the discussion, she simply added it to my “history”. If the original doctor who diagnosed me in 2003/2004 had remembered to put it in my chart back then, I’d be dealing with a lot less stress now, but he didn’t. He also said he “did not remember ever having such a conversation”. Of course you don’t; you don’t have my memory and you aren’t the fucking patient! I think we can all safely agree that when a doctor doesn’t do their due diligence, it’s upsetting. From here on in, the words “Please put that in my chart.” are going to be ingrained into my speech at every appointment. All it takes is one idiot, and that’s unacceptable in my eyes.

If he had never said “I firmly believe you have Fibromyalgia.”, after running the gamut of testing and everything came up negative, I might have had to learn about it the way so many other people do; on the Internet. Instead, I walked away relieved, thinking “Thank God I don’t have lupus.” He didn’t explain Fibromyalgia or discuss the progressive nature of it, or I wouldn’t have been so fixated on testing negative for lupus. I had no idea how stupid my thought process was that day. Because in reality, I’d maybe heard of Fibromyalgia in passing, but I had definitely heard first-hand horrors about lupus. In the years that have since passed, we are much more aware of the horrors of Fibromyalgia and precisely how progressive it is, and widespread, as a community of chronic pain sufferers.

I feel a little better that I have a referral for a new neurologist after explaining how I am being ignored by the current “physician” (The man returned my phone calls ONCE. Since then, crickets.), and I use that term loosely. Initially she refused to refer me to someone else when I called and said the appointment was an absolute bust, but in person, hearing about it, she changed her tune. Of course, she also wasted a month and a half of my time because she should have had my back when I said something wasn’t right with the other doctor. I am being sent for x-rays of my cervical and lower lumbar spine, and the doctor said she’ll discuss direction with me when she receives the results. Now if only I could physically move my body… 😦

I talked about how bad the pain was. I’m not 100% certain she took that seriously. My baseline is an eight, which is honestly more like a fifteen for the average pain patient, but when doctors hear that, they react badly, so I stuck with the eight. Now while I am relieved she prescribed muscle relaxers, I was filling out some paperwork very early this morning and noticed a derogatory remark in her notes. It’s highly inappropriate to say to a person’s face (I would NEVER.), so to see it in black and white made me see RED. It genuinely put me back into the whole “I need a new doctor.” position, and I am still on a waiting list to be seen by a different physician in a few months. I firmly feel this is the best course of action. If I don’t like the new doctor, I can always go back to this one, but I feel like it’s important to get a second opinion and, quite possibly, a different perspective. You can only “Uh huh.” me so many times and look at the computer instead of me before I inevitably lose my patience.

Why does a derogatory remark bother me? Because if this was deemed an issue she felt she could put into my notes, but not say to my face as any type of concern, then that is a serious communication issue for me. Moreover, by not talking about it with me, she made an enormous assumption which I know for a fact isn’t true. Please, do not make assumptions about people based on looks, height, weight, skin color, ethnicity, level of education, etc. In other words, DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS AT ALL.

I’ve met Ivy League educated people who were dumber than a box of rocks with twelve piles of shit on top (one was a doctor who’d gone to three different Ivy League schools. Not only was he a moron, but he had all the warmth and compassion of a dead roach. He had zero empathy and cared only about the enormous check he got at the end of each session. He did NOT last long in my world.). I’ve met people with GEDs who made me feel inferior on the intelligence scale, and I’m not stupid, so I try not to judge a book by its cover.

When I see the nurse practitioner in a few weeks, I am going to demand that comment be removed from my chart. It was an assumption, but if it’s not fact, don’t put it in my medical records. Period. I’m a patient, and I want to be taken seriously, but when you write things like that, another doctor might see it and make an error in judgment that I simply don’t deem fair.

When women judge other women without any facts, it pisses me off. I have no right to do it, despite the fact that I am human and occasionally make a snap judgment or a snarky comment (privately). However, I do not know another woman’s story, pain, health, or journey, and taking her down to a tiny square of humanity is wrong. If I don’t want it done to me, then I cannot do it to others. There’s a time and place for joking, but NOT at the doctor’s office.

How sad is it that this reaffirmed my desire to only see male physicians? I’d rather deal with someone who’ll speak up and be real, as opposed to someone who smiles in my face and puts a nasty comment in my medical history. Ladies, you’re not doing the world ANY favors by being rude to female patients. Treat people equally and treat them with respect, or don’t treat them at all. Go into another line of work, but don’t be a bitch. The same way I’ll call out a male doctor for a douche bag comment is not dissimilar to how I’ll tell a female doctor she’s off base. For some reason, men always know precisely how to take what I’m saying and women just get offended that I called them out on their bullshit. In this particular appointment, I probably corrected her half a dozen times, maybe more. I wasn’t there to nitpick or play games, I was there for a serious discussion. Zero compassion, zero empathy, and very little eye contact because she was looking at the computer, not at me. Now while she did appear to be listening, I was the last appointment of the day and got more time than originally scheduled for, but it still wasn’t “enough”.

She said she wanted to follow-up with me “in a few weeks”, but they saw she didn’t have an opening for six weeks. There is NO reason why I should have to wait six weeks to be seen after waiting two and a half months to be seen this time around. It’s disrespectful, not to mention ridiculous. It was her decision to pass me off to the nurse practitioner and while I’m not happy about that, I can only say “Lets see how it goes.” I know a few people who prefer their NP over the doctor, but I still reserve the right to meet with a new doctor when an opening comes up and see how it goes. I deserve better care, period. I was assured that once I am “in” with the new doctor, follow-up appointments are not difficult to get and don’t take months. I need to see for myself, even though she’s further away. And I like the fact that she sees ten new patients a week and does her best to get through the waiting list by doing so. That means something to me. So, I’ll see how it goes when the time comes.

Tonight, I am trying to gear myself up for the x-rays tomorrow. I’m grateful that the hospital can take films 24/7, even on weekends. I hope that by mid-day, my body is loose enough muscle-wise that I can get that taken care of and go on with my day. I have so much to squeeze into this weekend and honestly, the thought fucking exhausts me. If I went back to caffeine, I’d be able to do it without issue, but I don’t know if that’s the healthiest choice to make, so I’m going to play it by ear. Overall, all I can truly do is my best. I’m tired of being told, and shown, that my best is never good enough.

Instead of getting to enjoy my weekends, or brief moments, I have to suck it up and force myself to do things I physically cannot do much any more. If only every day people understood this. 😦

For now, the Fibromyalgia is official. But at what cost? Don’t for a single second think I don’t wonder if I was misdiagnosed and I have something else, because I do. The more I learn, the more I question. As should we all.

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