The inherent beauty of woman

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the inherent beauty of women.

Women are different than men.  Women are beautiful in a way men can never be beautiful.  If I am at an art gallery, I hope to see naked women on canvass, or female forms in polished brass or blown glass.  I mostly don’t care much about naked men in a gallery.  Men can be powerful or slouchy or strong or sexy.  But can they be beautiful?  Perhaps.  But it just isn’t the same.  I think this because I find circles are more beautiful than squares, and women are made up of curved lines and circles.  Men are made up of lines and squares.  I don’t mean to insinuate that a thin woman with less curves is less beautiful, because I don’t believe this to be the case.  You see, the female form is ever so slightly curved all on its own.  The hip bones sit in a slightly different place than their male counterparts.  Shoulders are less broad.  Even the most “boyish” of women is a beautiful, curvy woman.  There is no earthly way to undo the blueprint that makes us women.  I have noticed that transgendered women carry this subtle grace in their souls so fiercely that they exude the feminine curve, as if their bodies are aching to be nudged in the right direction, into the circle of womanness, where they were meant to be.

Fat women are very beautiful.  Women covered in fat.  Bulbous, pendulous breasts, folds and curves.  The roundest buttocks with the widest hips.  Her belly rolling.  Mmm.  Push your hand into the side of a fat woman and feel bliss.  Her ribs are unseen and unfelt, she is made for comfort.  She is made to be naked, unconstrained by tight bra straps and girdles.  Her parts flop out all over the place, taking up space, because she is important.  She forces the men next to her to bring their legs closer together so they can fit in their seats; I like this.  Men who sit with legs wide open: we know there is nothing so large between your legs you need to keep your legs that far apart.  However, a glorious, fat woman IS that big.  She wins.  She can sit there with her legs closed and take up a lot of space.  I remember as a very young child looking up at my tall, curvacious mother, who was wearing a bathing suit.  She had beautiful thighs that jiggled.  I could not fathom something more… woman.  I wanted to be a woman.  I wanted my thighs to jiggle.  I told her this and she thought it was bad.  It hurt her feelings.  We’re all taught that fat is ugly, but we are all wrong.  Fat is woman, fat is motherhood, fat is life.

Some women are “proportioned”, and that is beautiful.  They are women who thrive in profile.  They are women who look like angels when they sleep on their sides, their hips creating the most splendorous curves, shooting down to their bellies, jumping out at their breasts, flopped over onto each other like hands praying.  No one can look away from a woman lying on her side.  It is quite possibly one of the most beautiful sights to be seen.

Some women are not proportioned, and that is even more beautiful and unusual, circles and ovals seemingly thrown together almost randomly like potatoes in a sack, but they are all soft and morph into one another to create a body.  What interesting creatures these women are to touch, for every hug is a new experience.  Bits and pieces bulging out where we don’t expect them, surprising us!  I used to find myself internally judging these women, finding their differentness uncomfortable.  Then, all at once, I realized that such women were entrancing and therefore extremely beautiful and fascinating.

Pregnant women are also very beautiful.  They become the most sphere-like they can ever be.  Their nipples darken and make their skin appear starkly lighter.  Something about those darker nipples seems meaningful and serious.  Perhaps even sexual, though they are soon to be a place of innocent nourishment.  Nature’s way of painting a target.  The breasts swell, the cheeks blush.  Ankles begin to become less and less distinguishable from the rest of the lower leg.  For some reason people often call this ugly, but how can something seeking to be closer and closer to round be ugly?  What else could we hope to touch than something soft and round and warm?

Thin women are beautiful.  Breasts hang so remarkably on thin women, since so little fat surrounds them, it all seems so obvious.  LOOK.  BREASTS.  The nipples somehow seem larger than they are since they have less fat surrounding them.  Sometimes the breasts defy gravity for a shockingly long time (I wonder if thin women with perky breasts truly appreciate this quality of their smallness; not all of us have breasts that look like tiny halves of the Epcot center).  Other times they fall like thin socks and swing easily when the woman doubles over.  Her tiny hips are subtle, gentle hills, with her hip bones jutting out playfully.  I love the faces of thin women, they give away the little differences in the jawline, in the nose, the brow, that men do not typically share.  Ultimately, thin women show us that underneath the fat curves of women are still the round, subtler curves of our skeletal blueprints.

Vaginas are beautiful, too, and mysterious.  Folds and crevasses and dimples and colors, hair and warmth and dampness and various liquids and smells.  They bend and stretch and accommodate.  Marvelous things.  Weird things.  They are, quite literally, places of life creation and the most fulfilling of pleasures.  I am sorry for men who do not know what a female orgasm feels like, or what it feels like to be opened like a special gift or a rare, precious, blossoming gift. Sorry, guys. (shrugs) I’m sure it’s great to have a dick, but a vagina is sweller.

Women are beautiful, they can’t help it.  All things in the universe want to be circles.  It is the most perfect shape, the most energy efficient.  Look at atoms, planets, stars, galaxies.  All expanding or contracting to become round or spiraling inward, or maintaining a roundness for as long as possible.  The sphere is the shape of life.  Perhaps this is why, eventually, I realized I was a bisexual woman.  I’ll always want to be fucked by men. And since I started going through puberty, I’ve desired them. But that doesn’t stop me from noticing women in their perfection, and it never will.

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Channeling part deux

I couldn’t sleep and needed to channel a lot of energy.  Here is the result, a drawing for my father (with metallic Sharpies and a black Sharpie).  It’s called “The Tomita Planets”.  A wonderful musician named Isoa Tomita performed a number of classical pieces on the Moog, which (if you’ve never heard about it) is a bizarre early synthesizer.  One of the pieces he played on the Moog was Holst’s musical suite The Planets.  It’s my dad’s favorite rendition of the piece so I thought I’d create a weird, abstract visual version of it.  Obviously very abstract.  There are far more “planets” on the canvass than we have in our solar system.  😛

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Be well, friends.

From the depths of my whatevers…

Somewhere in the midst of the depths of me yesterday, I became transfixed and had to art. This is what I arted:

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Bad picture, sorry. It really is true, you know. I was in a crappy mood but… You can get something out of miserable times if you channel energy properly. I’ve been wanting to draw something like the above work (Kandinskyesque) for many years but just never got around to it.

After drawing, I was completely emotionally numb. I went to bed at 6:30am (that’s healthy right?). Now I pretty much feel normal. I guess I worked out whatever needed to be worked out! Thanks, art!

Coffee + Depression

When you have chronic pain, you often struggle with depression. It’s important to face it head on. Don’t ignore it. Depression is real, it’s serious, and it can be deadly. It can get out of control. Depression caused by chronic pain can get particularly ugly, because those of us with chronic pain often know that the pain will not be going away–ever. There’s no relief in sight. Or, if we get relief, it is fleeting. That’s a depressing thought. It’s difficult to get around that, and one has to figure out how to make some kind of peace with it. Once, I wrote this short piece describing depression, and what it feels like to me. I hope if you suffer from depression, you know two things: 1) you are not alone. 2) you need help… get it.

Depression is seeing a cup of coffee.  Saying to yourself in your mind, pick up the coffee.  Pick up the god damn cup of coffee.  What’s wrong with you?  You can do this.  Pick up the coffee.  It’s not that hard.  You can do this.

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Then you pick up your stupid cup of coffee and say, hold it by the handle.  You can do it.  Turn the cup around and hold the fucking handle.  Just hold a cup of coffee like a normal person, god damn it.

Okay now move your arm up and put the cup up to your mouth.  Just get it in the proximity of your face.  It’s 100 pounds but you can do it.  Look at everyone else, they bring cups up to their face all the time.

Touch the cup to your lips.  Get it to your god damn lips, you lifted it up near your face, now get it to your lips.  Or move your heavy head towards the cup so your mouth meets the cup.  Or both, whatever it takes.  Just get the cup to your stupid lips.

Alright you did it, open your lips.  Very good.  Take a sip of coffee.  Take a real sip of coffee.  That’s not a sip of coffee, that’s like one droplet of coffee.  Take a normal-sized sip of coffee that counts as a real amount.  Okay, it’s in your mouth.  You did it.  Swallow it.  SWALLOW IT.  What is wrong with you, you usually do this every day.  Swallow your fucking coffee.

Congratulations, you’ve swallowed some coffee.  It tastes mediocre.  I guess, I don’t know.  Maybe it’s good.  I don’t know what’s good right now.  Put the mug down.  I’ll try that again in a half hour.

Botox injections for migraines: What to expect

Looking through my much neglected blog, I noticed that people seem to like reading the post about my colonoscopy-prep more than anything else.  Not that I blame anyone for being attracted to that post… pooping fire and then having a stranger shove a hose up your butt is one of those experiences that binds us ALL together.  Plus, as I think we can all agree, poop is funny.  However, I thought a small fragment of people may have read that post because it really provides an unedited, unabashed experience of what it’s like to go through colonoscopy-prep.  Perhaps that was useful to some people.  Hence, here is my experience with Botox injections.

I’ve gotten Botox injections for chronic migraines a lot of times now… hmm… I haven’t counted, but let’s say something like 10 times.  If you are considering getting Botox injections for chronic migraines or some other chronic headache condition, you may be feeling the same way I felt before getting my injections… some combination of scared, skeptical, vain, and cautiously hopeful.  Those are all good things to feel, all of them make sense.  But I think I can take away a bit of the mystery for you and explain exactly what you can expect, and hopefully, a bit of the fear involved will dissipate at the very least.  Actually, maybe the best way to go about this is to tell you what you’ll expect in one section, and then give you some side tips in another section.  Here we go…

Part I: Botox injections 101:  HELLO!  WELCOME to this is what it’s like to get Botox injections!  Woohoo!  Seriously, woohoo, this shit might really help you.  I have two other migrainey friends who have success with Botox injections, and indeed, I’ve come across zero people who’ve had NO positive changes after the injections.  So you’re on a good path here.  First, you’ll need to find a good doctor to do the injections.  This should be someone who is a migraine/headache specialist and/or a neurologist.  People who do plastic surgery work may try to trick you into thinking they can do the injections… ignore them.  Find a neurologist who knows what’s up.  Botox injections given for aesthetic reasons are completely different.  They use much higher doses of the medicine and they do not inject the same muscle groups all the time.  Indeed, people accustomed to giving Botox injections for aesthetic purposes may be dandy with a needle but they are used to purposefully paralyzing portions of the face.  That’s not what you want.  You want someone who understands the underlying muscle groups and how they respond to Botox injections related to migraines.  I can’t stress this enough.

Once you’ve found your doctor, you will need to call your insurance company and bitch for a while.  Most companies will pay for the Botox injections on a trial basis.  They want to ascertain whether or not it works for you, so basically, you have to tell your doctor exactly how many migraines you get a week and how bad they are (you are typically covered by insurance for Botox injections if you have 15 out of 30 days a month with migraines, or thereabouts).  Then after the injections, they ask you again, and basically they’re looking to see any improvement.  Good news is, if the injections improve your migraines, most insurance companies will continue to pay.  Don’t be afraid to fight them for it.  Oh and… don’t tell the insurance companies I said this, but feel free to exaggerate a tiny bit about how much the injections have helped, so long as they have helped.  Insurance companies may try to screw you out of a really useful treatment if it hasn’t fulfilled their standards of what is “helpful”.  As any migraineur knows, ANY amount of improvement is a great relief.  I have noticed that doctors will either tacitly permit exaggeration when you fill out forms, or actively tell you to exaggerate.  But all of this is for the second round of injections, so just remember that for your second appointment.  Back to the first appointment: Assuming you get through the labyrinthine vortex of insurance debacles, you’ll make your appointment to get the shots.  Make sure you contact your health insurance company AGAIN to see if they are sending your doctor’s office the Botox prescription in a timely manner.  Trust me.

BUM bum BUUUUUUUMMMMM the day has arrived.  Go to get your injections with a hair tie if you have long hair.  Wear a shirt that has a wide neck and/or is stretchy, unless you don’t mind changing temporarily (some of the shots are on the top of the back).  Don’t wear makeup, or if you do, bring more with you to the appointment because you’ll need to fix it later.  If you care what your hair looks like after this, take a brush or comb.  If you are nervous, which you probably are if this is your first time, you can certainly bring a loved one along to hold your hand.  The doctors are generally accommodating of this.  I used to bring music along, as well, to calm me.  I no longer need it, but it was really helpful when I was more nervous.

When you get to the office, they’ll take your vitals and you’ll sit in a regular ol’ doctor’s office, sweating your balls or ovaries off and wondering why the scale said such a god awful number.  While you sit there worrying, you’ll probably see a set of needles and alcohol swabs laid out before you.  Hey guess what?  Those are going in your head!  Most doctors set all of this up in advance so they don’t have to refill needles or anything like that.  After all, they have exactly 31 shots to give you and it wouldn’t be fun for you if you had to sit there waiting in between shots for the doctor to suck more Botox out of a bottle into a syringe.  This set up is also used very often because the doctor may wish to use different sized needles.  The needles that go into your face are going to be SUPER tiny.  Not so tiny that you won’t feel them, unfortunately, but waaaay smaller than most needles you have seen in the past, most likely.  The needles they use for your neck and upper back are larger, but fear not, those shots are less painful than the face/head shots.

Finally your doctor will come in and have you assume the position.  Actually, there are two possible positions to begin with: sitting in a chair or laying belly up on an examination table.  Either way, they will then proceed to sterilize your face where they’re gonna inject you.  It’s just a bunch of alcohol, no big deal.  Here’s where they’re gonna inject you:

Botox-injetion-sites-MigraineAll the places where they have the little white dots… that’s where they’re gonna stick you with a scary needle!  Seriously, it’s not that bad.  They start with the front of the face injections, always with the one between your eyes.  Then very quickly, they will move onto the rest of your face.  See the injections labeled “C”?  If you are worried about retaining some movement in your eyebrows (you will definitely lose a little bit of movement no matter what), talk to them about those injections and see if they can get them as high as possible, even at the hairline.  A very good injector will be able to accommodate you.  Here’s what I was afraid my face would look like after Botox injections:

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But really, here’s what my face can do (well only SOME of what it can do) with the Botox injections, which only impact your forehead in terms of facial movement:

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See??  I can move things!  It’s not so bad.  Note how I can even move eyebrows individually.  I’m fancy like that.  As for the pain of the face injections, I find them the most unpleasant, but everyone has their “favorites” and least “favorites”.  They are really not too painful.  Think of it this way: when you get a shot, you are generally getting a lot of fluid going into your body.  These injections use very little of the Botox so the injections themselves are extremely quick.

After the face is done, your doctor will sanitize the sides of your head and the back of your head (shown in the middle two pictures of injection cites, letters “D” and “E”.  I find the “D” injections a bit unnerving because they are basically on some muscles that have to do with your jaw.  It’s weird and sometimes you’ll hear peculiar sounds since the injections are so close to your ear, but this is totally normal.  And finally, the doctor will take care of the last injections, the “F” and “G” injection areas seen in the right-most picture.  If you have long hair, the doctor may ask you to put it high up on your head with a hair elastic for D-G.  The doctor may use a slightly larger needle for the “F” and “G” injection sites, but trust me, you won’t be able to tell the difference.  Those area of your body are way less sensitive than your face and head.  In fact, those injections barely hurt at all in my experience.

YOU’RE DONE!  Your doctor will periodically wipe blood off your face (remember: the face bleeds very easily so if you have blood dripping down your face, it’s totally okay and normal… kind of bad ass).  They may also rub the areas where you’ve gotten your injections vigorously, which is also normal.  This is to distribute the medication.  If they don’t do it, you’ll still be fine, you’ll just look a little lumpier for a short time (an hour or two).  Your doctor will now make sure you’re not going to pass out or something, which is unlikely unless you have a needle or blood phobia, and then you will go home (or even to work… now you see why I recommended bringing makeup and/or a brush or comb if you’re going to work).

Okay, now for Part II.  The tips and tricks that doctors may or may not tell you.

1. After your injections, take an Aleve immediately (remember: take Aleve with food, it can be abrasive to your tummy).  If your doctor permits you, you might consider taking a muscle relaxant as well (many migraineurs have muscle relaxants prescribed to them so it wouldn’t be a new medication or anything like that).  I find the Aleve (naproxen sodium) is EXTREMELY useful right at this moment because the injection areas may get tender and slightly swollen.  Not really visibly swollen, but tender enough that taking some preemptive Aleve can make all the difference in your recovery.

2. You may feel a bit woozy, which is not because the Botox has been injected poorly, but just because you had a lot of adrenaline pumping through your veins when you were getting all those injections, and now you’re coming down from that delightful, terror-ridden high.  I’ve noticed that after the injections I’ll just feel a little tired, very much the same feeling I get if I take one Benadryl.  But everyone’s different.

3. Sometimes people get a kind of “Jack Nicholson Effect” from the injections when they’re first given, which goes away in a day or two.  This only happened to me the first two times I got injections for some reason.  Basically the outermost portions of your eyebrows lift up, and it’s kind of hilarious.  To think that some people do this on purpose….

I mean, he’s a stunning man and all, it’s just not an eyebrow look I’m trying to emulate.

4. Whatever, if Jack Nicholson makes an appearance on your face, it goes away pretty quickly.  And then you will need to wait about 1-2 weeks before the Botox is FULLY working.  In other words, if you’re still getting the same exact amount of migraines right after the injections, don’t worry.  You MAY find that the injections wear off a little bit before the insurance company is willing to pay for them again (the FDA has approved Botox injections for chronic migraine every 90 days).  Therefore, be extra careful to avoid your migraine triggers around the time the injections will wear off, and around the time when you get your injections.  Keep your stress levels down, stop huffing paint, that sort of thing.  And if you can schedule your injections to NOT coincide with your menstrual cycle if you happen to menstruate, that is helpful as well, because your hormonal levels go bonkers when you’re menstruating and that in itself can bring on a migraine.  For all the above reasons, make certain you get these injections in exactly 90 days, or as close as possible to 90 days.  You do not want to wait longer because the efficacy begins to decrease.

5. Botox injections sometimes only work a little bit the first time, or not at all.  This does NOT mean it won’t work the second time.  In fact, the injections have had a cumulative impact on me.  At first it helped a little, but over time I went from 3-4 migraines a week to 1 or fewer migraines per week!  Which is the difference between having a life and not having a life… it’s a big difference.

6. You might get tiny bruises from your injections.  Get over it, they’re small and they go away.  😛

7.  People are gonna make all kinds of jokes about Hollywood and facial rejuvenation whenever you talk about the Botox injections.  You will have to appease them and/or tune it out.

8.  You are not gonna look like a freak after getting these injections.  AGAIN: they inject far less into your face than they would have if the injections were for cosmetic purposes.  The only time you’d have to worry is if you have someone injecting you without experience injection Botox for migraine treatment.  So just don’t do that, silly!  The most common sign that the injections have been done incorrectly is if the upper lids of your eyes begin to droop a bit.  But remember, even if this happens (it has never happened to me because I see reputable doctors), it will go away within 3 months time.

9.  Finally, a word of encouragement: Botox injections and their alleviation of migraine pain was discovered when a woman suffering from chronic migraines got injections for cosmetic purposes and noticed that her migraines almost completely went away.  The doctor found that rather astonishing and the company that creates Botox saw an opportunity to tap into the sick community rather than being limited to mostly the plastic surgery community.  Studies were done, positive results were found, and voila, here we are.

If you’re thinking about getting Botox injections because you have frequent migraines, give it a shot (haha, sorry… puns are fun).  Seriously, you should do this.  I feel dumb about how long I waited to try it.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, but I am a migraineur, and I have gotten these injections from three separate doctors.  So while I can’t give you medical advice officially, I’m slightly better than “oh I heard that guy my second cousin dated three years ago said Botox injections rock…”.

Body Shamed by NYC

Hello everyone!  It’s been a long time since I’ve last written.  That’s because all kinds of stuff happened.  But that stuff is super boring so I’ll just give a brief synopsis:

  1. I messed up my big toe (sesamoiditis) and had to wear a boot for the entire winter, it was awesome.
  2. The day I got my boot off, I started not feeling so great… fast-forward a few hours and I was in the hospital writhing around because I had appendicitis.  I got an appendectomy and a LOT of drugs, and I healed up pretty well except now my belly button looks weird.  Thanks for the weird scar, laparoscopic procedure (in all seriousness, I’m really lucky they were able to do the surgery this way; it means three tiny incisions instead of one huge incision and a giant scar across my belly).
  3. I still had migraines throughout that stuff.
  4. I did not crack.  MIRACLE.  However, I did gain erhm… a little bit of weight.
  5. Now I’m back at work and the migraines are well under control.

The end!  Now we’re all caught up.  So I’m trying to get back into shape because I’m not crazy about my body such as it is right now.  I want to be the person who always loves her body.  The female body is really beautiful.  I love its curves, its lines… guys, you are really sexy, but you’re modernism sexy.  You’ve got some great, sharp lines.  It’s all very angular.  But us ladies, we’ve got softness and curves all over.  At some point, women are taught to judge those curves in all sorts of ways.  These are too big, these are too small.  These aren’t in the right place at ALL.  Why is this curve bigger than that one… aren’t they supposed to match?  HEY that curve is getting bumpier… I don’t like that.  Why is this curve getting SO MUCH BIGGER?!  Um… hey why is that curve way down there now?  WHAT SIZE is that curve?!  Miss, you must be wrong; that number is really far along in the alphabet…

Normally I am around a size 12.  The full “typical” range for me is between a size 10 and 14.  Now I am a size 16 or XL and I weigh approximately 201 pounds.  My bra size is 34H.  Yeah you read me right.  BAYUM.  Mammolanche.  My figure is hourglass.  I just bought some new bras that fit properly so I can hoist my breasts up high enough to expose my natural waist.  My body has mostly retained its general shape since the weight gain, except that my belly right about the bellybutton juts out very slightly as a result of the scar.  Wretched scar.

Normally I feel semi-okay about my body but after the weight gain, it’s been difficult to look at myself in the same light.  My boyfriend tells me I’m sexy and beautiful and, god bless him, he really seems to mean it.  And sometimes I even look in the mirror naked and don’t want to run away screaming.  But since I’ve gained the weight, I’ve had to get some new clothes.  I may lose weight; it’s fairly likely since I’m more active now and I cook a lot of healthy food, but I still need clothing in the meantime.  I finally came into the means to afford some new clothes (thanks, parents; not thanks, economy) and it has been a REAL education out there.  I live in the East Village as I’ve stated in my blog many times, so I decided to go shopping for clothing in my neighborhood and just get a few high-quality items.  I had great luck at a small store called Meg (https://www.megshops.com/), which is costly, but if you buy clothing there they will have their tailor make any necessary amendments for you for free, the clothing is made right in Brooklyn, and the salespersons are extremely kind and helpful.  They generally go by the XS-XL sizing system.  I also had some luck at Eileen Fisher (http://www.eileenfisher.com/EileenFisher.jsp); the line is, again, expensive, however they carry a lot of XL in their stores and their clothes run quite large.  They, too, are very kindly.  I got a few items from The Gap because they actually carry size 16 pants in their stores and I can’t very well spend over $100 on every single thing I buy.  My parents aren’t made of money and it was nice enough of them to help me–I don’t want to take advantage of them.

These were the good experiences I had.  But far more often, I had surprisingly bad experiences.  I should preface this by saying that I have tried a size 1X and it is too large on me, otherwise I would go to plus size stores and not have to deal with some of the shit I’m about to share.  The body shaming began in a store called Think Closet.  I went in there because they have some really funky, interesting, and seemingly well-made clothing arranged playfully by color.  It occurred to me pretty quickly that I wasn’t seeing anything other than XS or 00 to size medium.  I thought, well this is weird.  So I asked the bored-looking salesperson if the clothes were somehow arranged by size.  She said, no.  I said, do you carry size large in this store?  Obviously I thought the answer would be yes.  Keep in mind I’m a size XL.  She looked at me–up and down my body–and said, um, no, sorry, we don’t carry sizes that high up.  I said, why not?  She said, we get our clothes mostly from Korea and people don’t get “so big” there.  In a Yelp review of the store, one person had the balls to say this: “only thing saving this shop from 5 stars [she gave the store a 4-star review] is the fact that their items were a bit on the big fit size, which is surprising for a shop that gets their items from South Korea.”  1) I very much doubt all South Korean women are a size medium or below.  2) Let’s just say almost all South Korean woman are at or below a size medium for funsies; is that really a reason to look someone up and down who is sooooo big?  What an asshole that woman was.

Next store, Ann Taylor Loft?  What what?  They carry size 16!  Yes, friends, they do.  But no longer in their stores.  At least not in the East Village store.  After browsing for a time I asked a salesperson if I could speak with a manager.  She was very polite and indicated that she was one of the managers.  I said, “It doesn’t seem that you are carrying size 16 in your store at all anymore, but I know you make the size.”  She said yes, that was true.  I asked why they stopped carrying it in the store, and she told me that that size rarely sold.  I pointed out that I hardly ever recalled seeing more than one size 16 in anything in their store before so it must have been difficult to find.  I continued to say that perhaps people wearing a size 16 didn’t feel like sifting through all of their clothing, hoping to find the rare size 16s the happened to be in the store that day, and that maybe that’s why they had a hard time selling size 16.  The manager smiled at me.  It was obvious what the company was doing.  They were essentially discouraging people of certain sizes into the store, marginalizing them to the online stores so as to keep their clientele in-store nice and trim.  And, “cleverly”, they managed to do so while claiming that size-16 people didn’t buy their clothing in the stores, and that’s why they only carry the clothes online.  But I think it’s even more than that.  I think that women are scared to go into stores to look for size 14 or 16.  Why?  Because we’re supposed to be ashamed of those sizes.  So-called “plus-size woman”, a mere 1-2 sizes higher, are judged for their body sizes and shapes regularly, but they do have a kind of community.  There are stores devoted to sizes 16W and/or 1X and up.  Women between the “average” (bullshit) sizes and “plus” (bullshit) sizes are kind of screwed.  I guess we’re supposed to be too embarrassed to shop in public.

Free People.  They carry size XL online, but not in their stores.  I found out after trying on a gorgeous top that fit beautifully everywhere except the bust.  When I asked about size XL the saleswoman snottily told me she didn’t need to look in the back because she knew they never carried size XL.  She then rudely walked away, as I watched her treat young women with tiny bodies like royalty.  She did not direct me to their website, which as I said, does carry size XL.  I won’t be buying it, though.  Because screw them, that’s why!

An Ren.  By far the most depressing trip.  They make some of the most interesting jackets, blazers, and coats in all of Manhattan.  Everything is really well made, really interesting.  Unique.  And anyone with an hourglass figure will tell you that a fitted blazer makes your figure look incredibly good.  I was in their store once and couldn’t afford to get anything there, and I remembered I was exactly a size XL so I was very excited to go back and get a really nice jacket to wear to work.  Except they didn’t have a single size XL in the shop.  When I asked why, the saleswoman told me that because space was limited they couldn’t handle having a size XL in there at the time.  I admit, their shop is very tiny.  But it can accommodate a single size XL garment.  I mean, I know it’s big enough to blanket half of Manhattan and all but they can probably fold it up reeeeally tightly to fit it in there, merely so someone could try it on, right?  If the size XL monster could physically fit into the store, that is.

I ended up buying a few jackets online from White House/Black Market, because their size 16 and XL are both perfectly accommodating of my figure.  They tend to add stretch to things, which obviously makes for a better fit around the lady lumps.  I have to say, I feel really beautiful in these garments.  All it took was something that fit my body.  It turns out, it’s not the size that bothered me, but walking around wearing clothes that look ridiculous because they don’t fit.

Okay so maybe I’m taking all of this a little bit too personally.  But some of you know just how I feel, don’t you?

 

 

 

Some extra-fun colonoscopy prep tips

I had this really grandiose idea about writing a giant blog post after going through my colonoscopy, as if this would be a one-stop-shop for anyone about to get their first colonoscopy. But there are plenty of information sources for colonoscopies and what to expect from them (including, one would hope, your doctor). More importantly, the colonoscopy itself ended up being way less action-packed than the prep itself, and nobody told me that! So what I’m going to do is skip providing a traditional “how to” section about a colonoscopy and merely give you a list of things that I sure as hell WISH I’d known about colonoscopy prep, but that aren’t listed on, say, the Mayo clinic website. Not in any particular order. -EDIT, 17 January 2017

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  1. When you do your prep for a colonoscopy, you shit fire out of your ass for an entire day. They say it’ll only be for a few hours, but for some people, it can be for, say, 13 hours (read: me). THIRTEEN hours of sitting on a toilet with horrifying things coming out of you violently. This is, believe it or not, okay. Just be prepared, you might be in the minority, and you might be on the toilet for even longer than expected. But you’ll survive, I promise!
  2. Your poo will turn from dark brown smushiness to a liquid yellow, or even colorless.  It’ll have weird things in it when it’s yellow. Little bits of… whatever. That’s normal. Just yucky.
  3. Have a huge supply of really soft toilet paper in the house.
  4. Have a huge supply of wet wipes for your butt in the house (especially good if they are unscented, because the scented stuff can have chemicals that irritate your butt when it’s inflamed/upset/shitting fire).
  5. Soon, your anus will start to burn like fire, not in some kind of metaphorical sense. It will literally feel like it’s on fire. You think I’m kidding? You think I’m speaking in hyperbole? I am pretty sure if took a blow torch to my ass for a couple seconds, it’d feel just like it felt at about hour 10 of prep. So what you can do is, when you START feeling uncomfortable, you need to begin using the wet wipes to give your butt a break. And then once you’ve cleaned yourself off, totally slather your anus (I know, I know) with plain, unscented Vaseline. It will protect your precious, innocent butt. Because if you don’t do this, eventually your anus will begin cracking (NOOOOO!!!) and bleeding. Even if you DO do it, it may begin bleeding. You can apply this by putting a large dollop on a piece of toilet paper and carefully dabbing it all over yourself, right on the “good” bits. Don’t be shy. I started using the Vaseline late in the game and until I did, I found myself actually screaming while on the toilet. You shouldn’t consider me a typical case–I’m pretty sure my… session lasted an unusually long time. Nonetheless, once I put on the Vaseline things were way more pleasant. I just kept reapplying after each potty break.
  6. Some people find that once their pooing has subsided, a lukewarm bath is very soothing on the ol’ derriere. Just don’t put anything in the water, because some soaps can be irritating.
  7. Keep a range of reading material in the bathroom. I found that inane magazines were the best. I was unable to focus on any serious reading and found Time Out NY much better. Especially the fashion sections. I read that one person used to wheel her tv into the bathroom during this special time. That’s pretty brilliant. EDIT, 17 January 2017: Since writing this portion, I think the idea that someone would “wheel” any television anywhere is hilarious. Even a few years ago, what was I thinking? Obviously, you’re just gonna bring your iPad or your phone into the bathroom like we all pretend we DON’T do, and you’re gonna watch Netflix or Hulu on it. That’ll do just fine. But if by some miracle you still have a television that sits on a device with wheels… well, do you think you could take a picture of it and send it to me? I’d like to see that in action. My grandpa had that setup and I miss it!
  8. Speaking of televisions, you’re going to have a lot of time in between potty breaks where you won’t really be able to be far away from the toilet, but also unable to do anything else.  So I think now would be a great time to have a tv show marathon.  Mine was Law & Order: SVU. I’ll admit that the occasional mention of “anal tearing” on that show was really off-putting especially given my condition at the time, but otherwise, it was very entertaining. Christopher Meloni is HOT (Sorry, boyfriend, you know I love you and you’re the hottest man in the world…). Weirdest way to be distracted by a colonoscopy prep ever? This is embarrassing.
  9. Drink tons of gatorade the day before you do your cleanse. You’re gonna be WIPED. OUT. So basically you’ll want to make sure your electrolytes don’t get dangerously out of balance. Best way to do this is to load up beforehand.
  10. Wear incredibly comfortable clothing that can be removed super quickly. I recommend pajama pants or sweatpants without drawstrings, or at least without drawstrings tied. You will be really surprised as to how quickly you’ll need to rip your pants and underwear off. Don’t be silly and wear jeans or something. You will not have time to remove them… and then you’ll be in one horrible mess. (shudder)
  11. Drink vanilla and/or strawberry Ensures (or other such “meal replacement” shakes) to keep your energy up. They’re delicious! Sorta! Not really! They’re fine… they’re better than starving. Most doctors are perfectly fine with you drinking these on the day of your prep. Ask your doc!
  12. Make homemade chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you’re a vegetarian or vegan) before your prep. That way, instead of drinking some crap from a can or whatever, you’ll have something delicious and fresh and full of vitamins/minerals. There are many recipes for chicken stock on the ol’ Internets. It isn’t hard, just time-consuming. But remember you can freeze it and if you have extra left over you can use it for making soups later. Real food to replace what you just did. EDIT, 17 January 2017: Don’t listen to me if you don’t feel like making homemade broth, go get some broth from a can, pouch, or make some from a bouillon cube… or that Better than Bouillon stuff. I was going through a real, snobby asshat phase when I wrote this post where I just HAD to cook everything from scratch. Now I live in reality and cutting corners is what most people have to do because, hello, people have families, jobs, they’re sick, etc. Broth is delicious in all forms. Just do whatever you can do and have some delicious broth! YUM.
  13. Make sure you have tons of soap in the bathroom. Because you are going to need to wash your hands approximately seven million times. And if your hands tend to get dry, some lotion, as well. EDIT, 17 January 2017: AND. It’d better be a scent you really like, because you’ll only smell it seven million times, remember. The way I see it, you have a few options, depending on what kind of person you are. 1) Pick a soap scent you already know you love; 2) Pick a special soap and scent, something reeeeally extra wonderful, because hey if you can’t have nice soap now when’s the time?!; 3) Switch it around so you won’t be bored with the smell and/or nauseated by it (some people find a repeated smell unpleasant). Do give this some thought based on your relationship to smells. I’m extremely sensitive to scent and decided on a lavender-scented soap because it’s my favorite scent.
  14. Hemorrhoid cream! This might make your butt feel better after several hours of diarrhea. Give it a try.
  15. Don’t be alone in the house. I mean, I don’t recommend having a family member, friend, or partner in the bathroom with you unless you have problems getting on and off the toilet (in which case, they are really in for a fun time and you need to buy them a drink after this), but it’s a comfort to have someone around who can get things for you if you need. There were a number of times I screamed things like, “VASELINE!!!” and “MORE TOILET PAPER AAAAAAAH” down the stairs. Also, you will want emotional support. I found it extremely difficult not to vomit the Suprep stuff you have to drink… TWICE. My boyfriend stood there while I drank it cheering me on. At once point when I was very nauseated he comforted me by giving me a little back massage and that distracted me quite a bit from it.
  16. When you’re drinking your prep stuff, use a straw! That way, the horror touches less of your tongue and you taste less of it. Also, you may be able to refrigerate the stuff for a little while before drinking it. The tongue tastes a bit less of something when it is very cold. EDIT 10/20/2017: Ask your doctor if this is an option. The medical info packet provided with Suprep states the following:“Store at 20° to 25°C (68° to 77°F). Excursions permitted between 15° to 30°C (59° to 86°F). See USP controlled room
    temperature.” However, my doctor permitted me to refrigerate the Suprep prior to ingestion (and it was effective), and others have done so successfully as well. Again, do not do this without asking your doctor. One of the people in the comments section came up with the idea of creating prepsicles (brilliant), which didn’t work for them (they have a very sensitive stomach), but I think this might work for others. Freeze the wretched Suprep and eat it like a popsicle. See if you have better luck not puking it up that way. Executed with Crystal Lite, apparently. Again, you will need to consult with your doctor to see if this is a viable option, because you need to ensure this does not hinder the efficacy of the medication. You don’t want all of this to be for nothing!
  17. THE NAUSEA GOES AWAY! If you can just make it through the first 30 minutes of nausea you’re pretty much home free. Then of course it all comes out of your butt, which is gross, but I prefer that to feeling like I’m going to hurl. Keep telling yourself it’s almost over, it’s almost over, don’t throw up. EDIT, 17 January 2017: If you absolutely can’t keep this nasty garbage in your stomach, don’t wait, call your gastroenterologist right away. It might be that you need another type of prep. And that’s okay! Everyone’s different. I have such a sensitive stomach, a fairy was likely sprinkling magic anti-nausea dust on me to help me keep that shit down.
  18. When you’re nauseated, you will often salivate a lot. Try to spit it out instead of swallowing it. Sometimes swallowing makes you even more likely to gag.
  19. Once it’s all over, remove all the towels in the bathroom and sanitize everything. I really don’t think I need to extrapolate on that one. You doodooed a lot.

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Here are some colonoscopy bonus facts:

  1. The shit they give you to make you go asleep during your colonoscopy (read: if you’re given meds for your colonoscopy, and they call it “twilight”, you won’t feel a thing, awesome!!!) makes most people borderline euphoric when they awaken. YAY!  Enjoy it. Mmmmmm. Druuuugs.
  2. They pump you full of air when they do a colonoscopy, like your intestines become one of those long, thin clown balloons. I can only hope they don’t try to make any shapes out of the intestines but let’s not go there. Well it’s not like the air stays in you forever. Which is HI-LARIOUS. Don’t be a jerk and be all embarrassed. C’mon.  You come out of your colonoscopy, laying on recovery bed all woozy, pretty happy from the drugs, and you are gonna fart and fart and fart. Epic farts, monstrous farts. Award-winning farts. And you’ll hear OTHER peoples’ farts. So let your fart flag fly, dude. Don’t be all, oh no! Someone heard me fart. Seriously? The recovery nurses (god help them) hear farts ALL. DAY. LONG. I had a good laugh with a very nice nurse named George over it. Take your special farting in public loudly opportunity and let ‘er rip. George takes it all very seriously: “I don’t let anyone leave until I’ve heard them farting.” (giggle) Great, George. That’s great. It must be quite something to know him personally. EDIT, 17 January 2017: I still think about George, and wish him well. I hope he continues to encourage every once of his patients to fart really, really loudly for him. What a freeing experience.
  3. Before your colonoscopy you’ll be wandering around with your ass hanging out of a gown and worry about strangers looking at your ass. Why? Honestly however your ass looks, remember that really, really, really, really old people get colonoscopies a lot. However old you are, someone older than you gets colonoscopies where you are about to get yours. And their butt is probably wrinklier/bigger/stranger/spottier/whatever than yours. But who cares? It’s just a butt.

Alright that’s it. I hope you’ve learned some good tips and/or gotten some relief and have learned from my experience. Now I will try to forget about that prep forever and ever, or until the next time. The colonoscopy itself is a snap! It’s the prep that sucks. YEEK. Next time I know what to do!

EDIT, 17 January 2017: I’ve received so many positive responses from this post, which brought me tremendous joy. People shared their own stories, prep-tips, and told me that laughter helped them with their prep experience. Those comments meant and continue to mean so much to me. I write very frankly, which is why you see words like “fire” a lot, and I fully admit to enjoying drugs in a medical setting (c’mon now, you do, too… c’mon… ever have morphine after a surgery? I had my appendix out once and WHOA nelly, I still fantasize about that sweet nectar). But I hope nobody took that to mean I wasn’t taking the topic seriously, and had–and continue to have–a very real hope to help people feel better about situations such as swallowing poison that makes you shit out every bit of fecal matter in your body, followed by having a total stranger shove a big hose up your ass. Resilience: people are built of the stuff. We survive strange, painful things all the time, every day, as evidence by the birth of each and every once of us (coincidentally, ANOTHER event that involves poop in a really unpleasant and embarrassing way). I’m no guru, but for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure the way to live isn’t to eliminate pain. It’s to figure out how to accept it when it happens and enjoy life despite it. We all have pain. Conservative, liberal, moderates, Black, White, Asian, gay, straight, trans, no faith, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, northerners, southerners, midwesterners; doctors, steel workers, teachers, people without homes, people in mansions, apartment renters. A lot of different kinds of people, not one of them born without the ability to feel pain. We all have to figure out what to do about it, whether it’s physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual pain. I don’t know about you, but a couple things help me deal with it: being informed, and laughing my ass off.

Thank you for your comments. I do hope you’ll keep them coming. 🙂  –Rachael

Do people change?

First I have to apologize for never following up on my “thrilling” colonoscopic experience.  I can now tell you I do not have cancer or ulcerative colitis, or any kind of lingering severe infectious agent.  They did find diverticulosis, which I’ll enjoy adding to my list of concerns, and I continue to have IBSish symptoms.  IBS being the stupidest diagnosis ever.  Doctors are so desperate to put something into a neat little box they have to essentially make up a condition.  Not that people with diagnosed IBS aren’t suffering–quite the contrary.  Rather, it’s a non-diagnosis.  It’s like saying, “I have no idea what’s wrong with you so I’ll lump you in with all the other people who don’t have diagnoses and we’ll call THAT a diagnosis.”  What a pathetic state of affairs.

I have been altering my diet somewhat to make things easier on my intestines and it’s helped me a little bit… we’ll see how things will progress over time.  All of this from ONE incident of infectious colitis.  Life sure does throw curve balls often, doesn’t it?  For those of you keeping up, here’s a really fine drawing of myself at my current state:

 

me 3But my wonky digestive system isn’t what I wanted to talk about.  I have been thinking primarily about the very life essence of people lately.  What is a personality?  Is it malleable?  Do people really change?  And in what percentages do people change?  Is it that most people don’t change, but a few get “better” and many more get “worse”?  Those terms are pretty subjective, but I bet we could all agree that there are certain “goodnesses” we can all agree on (kindness, love, truth, generosity) and uh… “badnesses” (haha, okay, sorry about how awful these words are) that don’t sound so great to anyone (cruelty, prejudice, greed, hate, violence).  I grapple with these questions because I feel myself changing as I have watched my friends and family change or stay the same as the case may be.  Being pleasantly surprised by the change or stasis is a rarity… usually I find myself disappointed in who people truly turn out to be.

If you are dealing with one or several chronic illnesses, you probably found yourself changing like I’m finding myself changing.  I have some theories as to why… first of all, people learn and grow in life through experience, especially stressful experience.  If you have more than the average share on your plate, or if it’s coming to you all at once, I think it speeds up the natural growth process.  To use an analogy: the human body is exposed to viruses and bacteria from time to time and the immune system (if functioning properly) learns how to defeat them.  Under normal circumstances a person’s immune system doesn’t have to deal with too much at one time, and thus, it strengthens slowly over time.  But what if someone fell into some kind of bacterial virus nightmare vat and their body had to deal with tons of shit at once, assuming they survived that, the body will have picked up a lot of skills in a short period of time.  And the body will have been forever changed.  This analogy is a bit silly and not entirely accurate, but I think my point is made.  QUICK change.  Time-defying change.  Conclusion: chronic illness (or any other serious hardship) alters the natural timeline for personal emotional growth.

Whether or not the changes happening in me are good I cannot say.  I feel somewhat scattered because I’m unfamiliar with myself.  But I enjoy the person I’m becoming.  I seem to be more sure of my self worth.  I care more about other people, particularly strangers, in that I see myself in other people and imagine how they might be hurting.  Perhaps suffering adds empathy, although I don’t kid myself… I know much of this is imagined empathy.  Real or imagined, I consider it a good thing.  I notice more happy moments as they are happening than I used to.  You know how it goes.  You’re sitting around, thinking back on some event from 5 years ago and how great it was, and wishing you’d enjoyed it while it was happening.  Well I think I’m enjoying those things in real time.  Some of the negative changes I’ve noticed in myself are that the stagnancy of others where it exists almost revolts me.  I know I shouldn’t judge people, but I do.  I wonder how they can bare to be so cowardly.  They see things in themselves that they dislike and do nothing.  They revolt against the change because it hurts to change.  At least that’s what I believe.  This is not to judge those who can’t or shouldn’t change things about themselves for many reasons I won’t get into.  But let’s face it.  Almost none of us couldn’t do with a little work on our personality.  We’re just too lazy to put forth the effort.  I got “lucky”–life forced me to change.  All I had to do is say to myself, okay, I’m going to embrace this and see where it leads.  It’s terrifying, no doubt, but I believe finding out new things about one’s self is not bad.  Self-reflection is not just about knowing yourself.  It’s about understanding other people, too.  I believe that because I believe we have more in common with each other than we’d like to think.

Conclusions… hm… can people change?  Yes we can fucking change.  People are full of shit when they say, “people don’t change.”  Or “people never change.”  A more realistic statement might be, “people can change, but it is painful and difficult.”  Or, “people can change but they have to want to change.”  Which is why you can’t make your partner stop throwing their dirty socks on the living room chair no matter WHAT you say.  You know, until they realize it’s gross.

If you want to be different, don’t give up.  Keep trying.

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind…” (Chapter 38, Book of Job, King James Version)

Friends, I am displeased to inform you that the gastrointestinal issues I mentioned in my previous post have returned in a slightly varied form.  I consulted with a gastroenterologist who believes I may have ulcerative colitis (UC).  To the two or three people who read my posts, you will know that I already “enjoy” a few separate chronic health issues already and, moreover, my most recent joy in life is cooking.  If I do have UC I will likely have to restrict my diet even further than I have been and it will be potentially physically and certainly emotionally devastating.

When I was but a young thing in college I took a class on the Book of Job. This came not long after dealing with a few personal tragedies in my life (one of which was the death of my Aunt Ellen; I was very close with her).  How obvious, looking back, that I was grappling with why good things happen to people for no apparent reason and mysteriously decided to take a class in the religion department (while a music major) that would focus solely on the story of a good man targeted by God not for being a bad man, but simply to test his endurance.

If I am diagnosed with UC, will I have ANY moments of relief between that, chronic migraines, constant upper neck and upper back pain, and occipital neuralgia?  Job was a fictitious person as far as I’m concerned, plus, he eventually buckled and cursed God in the end.  Otherwise, God wouldn’t have appeared “out of the whirlwind” to give Job a good long tongue lashing for being such a whiner (c’mon, God, you had Job sitting on a pile of poo, covered in boils, all his wealth taken, all his beloved family killed, his livestock destroyed… God wasn’t a very forgiving God in the Old Testament, was He?).  Still I think of Job.  Do I think it would take someone so long to curse God in the real world as it took Job?  No.  But I do think it’s telling that anyone could have conceived of such a person, even in a story.  There was someone somewhere who believed a human being could endure inconceivable tortures.  Endure with a continuing love for the thing most important to that person, in this case, God.

I will endeavor to endure for my own reasons and continue to love the things and people I have loved.  At this point I can only endeavor.  But the desire to endure is a beginning.

Tomorrow I will do a Nuprep cleanse (it clears out your bowels… yaaaaaay…) and on Monday I get a colonoscopy, when I will find out whether or not I am looking forward to UC.  I am hoping to have some tips to surviving the Nuprep, which I will probably not be able to do until late Monday or Tuesday once I have news.