Tag Archives: health

It Can Always Get Better

“How often do you have to come for chemo?” The woman hooked up in the chair next to me–a grandmother with a kind, yet tired face –asked me about two hours into my transfusion.

I looked up at the tubes attached to my arm, blood slowly and mechanically dripping down into the IV.

“No chemo for me,” I said, nodding my head up at the machine. “Blood transfusion because my hemoglobin was dangerously low.”

I was almost embarrassed, humbled by not only that woman, but the other people in the room who were also getting their chemo. I was lucky. I was sick, but I didn’t have cancer.

It could always be worse.

At this time last year I didn’t have a job.

Even though I dreaded returning to one I had gone to every day for seven years, that loss of security seemed like the end of the world. Every day was spent frustratingly looking for work, dealing with the unemployment agency, and trying not to let what was already a years-long deep depression completely sweep me up in the current.

I would lie in bed those unemployed months and make bargains with myself and some unknown higher power. “If I can get this job, I promise I’ll get the help I need for my (insert depression, exercise addiction, OCD here) and really make those big changes.”

“OK. That one didn’t work out. If I can get this job, I promise I’ll stop (insert maladaptive behavior), finally gain those needed 30 lbs, and dig myself out of this hole.”

Then eventually I landed a job I couldn’t have written up more perfectly for myself, one that’s the complete opposite of everything that made my last job so miserable. On even my worst work day, I always tell myself, “Remember how things were. Remember how grateful you are that this happened.”

Things could always be worse.

Yet many days are still a struggle. All those promises I made to myself, all those changes I no longer had an excuse to make are still there. For awhile, the newness and excitement of the job did distract me a bit. Then the OCD got worse, the fog got a little bit thicker. I made up new excuses to distract myself from the problems and continued to literally run myself to the ground, my body taking the brunt of my mind.

I conveniently ignored the signs, but I couldn’t ignore my mom crying about how sick I looked, the nights in my bed when my heart felt like it would either flutter out of my chest or stop, and then the phone call that I had to go in for two blood transfusions as soon as I could.

Sitting in that hospital chair, I had time to do nothing but think.

Everything I had been given could be taken away–the job, the freedom, even my life–because I refused to admit that I couldn’t outthink my physical and mental illness, that doing the same things wouldn’t land me in the same exact place.

Where it landed me was in the hospital with an IV running blood through my arm for eight hours, making small talk with a woman who had been dealt a deadly illness she was valiantly fighting. I again made all those same promises to myself that this time things would be different, that this is what it would take to finally get myself healthy.

And then when I was feeling better a couple of days later, I went back to the gym and all my old habits.

After all, it could be worse, right?

“Well yeah, it’s not cancer and it could be worse,” said my doctor a week later when I gave her my tired excuses. “But not much.”

There it was in black in white in the form of my lab results. There it was coming out of the mouth of a professional who I couldn’t negotiate with like I could–and do–with myself, which is why I’m rambling here.

Because the fact is you can’t negotiate yourself out of physical or mental illness–the latter of which is often suggested to be a choice. After all, if we know what we can do to “get out of it” but still engage in behaviors, that means we’re weak, right? I mean, we have so many good things in our lives that it’s ridiculous there are days that taking a shower is a major accomplishment.

Well, it’s not a choice.

Sickness is sickness, and I’m pretty sure that if we could get hooked up to a machine and have an IV drip some cocktail cure-all for mental illness into our arms, most of us would sign up in a second, no questions asked. It’s not that easy–nothing about it is easy. Wishful and willful thinking alone can’t cure cancer, low hemoglobin, depression, addiction, etc. or the guilt that sometimes accompanies these.

So for me–and for you–here’s a reminder.

It’s not a choice to be sick, but it’s a choice to admit that you are.

It’s a choice to do what you need to do to be healthy, even if it’s really painful in so many ways.

It’s a choice to reach out for support.

It’s a choice not to feel guilty.

I don’t know if I believe that myself most of the time, but I don’t want to know just how much worse things can be.

Because while it’s a choice to believe that “it could be worse,” it’s also a choice to believe that it could always be better.


It can always get better.

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Oral Fixation

I was going to write about something else—I’m sure it was extremely interesting and insightful, too—but I can’t think about anything other than the “drama” that I’m incurring as we speak.

*Note use of quotes to indicate sarcasm, as I know this isn’t a significant issue and that yes, I’m being dramatic. Let’s move on. 

Even though I’m trying to distract myself,  I can’t focus on anything but the damn canker sore that has returned to the inside of my bottom lip. While I’m sure it’s of a completely normal size as far as canker sores go, but it feels as if it’s roughly the circumference of the sun.

The stupid thing showed up about a month ago, went away, came back, went away and is back again. It’s like Ryan Seacrest, only larger in size. 

It’s placement is such that in those rare moments when my mouth is shut, it rubs against my top lip. Any time my mouth is open, it rubs against my teeth. It hurts. It’s distracting. It’s minor in the grand scheme of things, but it’s annoying the hell out of me.

Anyway, I have issues any time my body decides to go off and do it’s own thing without my consent, as that proves I have no control and am helpless to the powers that be. Whether it’s a cold, something more serious or a simple sneeze (or canker sore,) I get frustrated and annoyed at the fact I was not consulted about those turn of events.

In response, I do what most normal people do and spend inordinate amounts of time on the Internet trying to cure things that have plagued humans for hundreds of years.


According to WebMD and a couple other sources, my symptoms indicate that it’s either:

a) your basic canker sore or

b) Hoof and Mouth disease, an allergic reaction to unicorn dander or erectile dysfunction

*By the way, WebMD could up it’s accuracy percentage to 100 if it simply diagnosed everyone as a hypochondriac. Again, let’s move on.


For sake of an argument, I went with “canker sore” and found out the causes can range from certain brushing habits and foods—including citrus fruits, spicy foods and dairy—to nutritional deficiencies and gastrointestinal tract issues. But the most simple cause of canker sores?

Stress, which is ironic, considering this damn thing is causing me large amounts of stress.


I learned that “although there is no cure for canker sores and that they go away on their own after a few days, they do often reoccur.” However, you might be able to reduce their frequency by:

a) avoiding foods that irritate your mouth. Really? I was thinking I might make a meal out of atomic fire balls and rub lemon juice over my lips for shits and giggles tonight. Thanks for that. Plus, another source indicated that yogurt is helpful, contradicting the dairy claim above and proving no one knows what they’re talking about.

b) flossing daily. Yes, because sticking my hands in my mouth sounds like a great way to not irritate the large sore on the INSIDE OF MY MOUTH.

c) avoid stress. Good luck with that.

Final Diagnosis

So to summarize, I am one cranky whiny woman at this point and time, and it’s either because of a reoccurring canker sore (among other things) or erectile dysfunction and an otherwise latent allergic reaction to unicorn shit.

To heal, I think I will require a week to become a hermit in my house—to diminish the stress of being around people, of course—and a prescription for medicinal herbs that might not heal me, but will make me care a bit less about my dramatic “condition.”

But don’t worry! I have no doubt that I’ll make a full recovery, so in lieu of flowers and cards of concern, please just send cash.

After all, anything that makes talking and eating difficult for me is immediately elevated to a status of utmost importance, and I read on the Internet that cash can help—right after I wrote it—so it must be true.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make sure my house is clear of unicorn shit and citrus fruit and that I don’t have an erection that lasts longer than four hours.

I think we’re safe on all accounts.