Positively Honest

I would love to sit down and write hearts and flowers nonsensical prose, but right now, it isn’t where I am. Also, if I ever DO write anything remotely like that, please send men in white coats to do a psych eval.

Life is crazy at the moment. My primary care doctor is leaving, so even though I will be handed off to another physician during the remainder of Covid (Someone to authorize three of my prescriptions a month and handle a few referrals.), I will still need to find a new doctor for post-Covid care. 😦 This sounds like no big deal, but could take 6-18 months in total. I’m talking from experience. It will be my fourth primary care doctor, too. If you’ve been lucky enough to never have to change doctors, kudos to you, but I have lived in many different places and in each place, I’ve needed a new doctor. In Massachusetts, primary care physicians aren’t very good, so this should explain why I am extremely nauseated at the idea of a fourth one since moving here.

I’ve been dealing with self-induced stress, because I am always in fight or flight mode. It’s not a good place to be, but it’s how you survive, sometimes with (or without) lasting damage. I am doing my best to pull myself out of the quick sand. I’ve asked no one for help, nor have I discussed this with anyone. My independent streak about many things is taller than I am, but at the end of the day, no one else can credit themselves for digging me out of my own pain and suffering.

I’ve made some important decisions over the past six months. “Invest in yourself” is the best advice I can offer up to anyone, at any stage of their life, and I am proud of myself for following through on this, and continuing to make investments as I move forward. A few more steps and I’ll be sharing a whole new venture with all of you. One I know will be better at maintaining connection. 🙂

In the past year, I’ve realized connection, in all forms, is quite important to me. I can’t express enough disgust at those who’ve not even bothered to check in or ask if I’m okay. That’s doing less than the bare minimum in a friendship, and I don’t need friends like that. I am not a surface level friend in any way, shape, or form. I like depth, partly because I can talk about anything, but have no patience for small talk. I catch myself tuning out the second the subject matter isn’t of a higher level. It’s sad, really, because far too many people prefer to stay surface level. It’s boring.

When all of this craziness began last year, I reached out to everyone I consider a close friend or family member, and I included a few people I’m not the least bit close with anymore, because it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring. It was disheartening to watch, as the year came and went, very few people remain connected. It must be nice to live in your own bubble and not care about anyone else (Yes, that’s sarcasm.). I can’t relate to that kind of behavior because, as a writer, I live inside my head, but I do come out to check on those in my world. I don’t pretend I’m too busy or that a text or a few lines of an e-mail is too much work for me to fit into my day. That would be bullshit. I can track how much time I spend promoting on social media, and I can always reduce that time, or multitask.

I am learning that it’s perfectly okay to move on without closure. I am learning how to do this because I don’t aim to come off as a bitch. It isn’t who I am, but am I ending friendships which, if you follow the Marie Kondo philosophy, aren’t bringing me joy? HELL YES. Especially if there’s nothing to hold onto.

Friendship, and all relationships, are built on a foundation. If both of the people involved aren’t doing the work, why should one person alone carry all the weight? They shouldn’t. I will not allow myself to feel guilty for cutting people off. Clearly, no one cares enough to even realize they’ve been cut off, so it goes.

I have to thank all of the new subscribers. It is such a joy to reach out to you and realize I AM connecting with a broader audience. I appreciate all of you. Every time I log in and see new subscribers, I feel proud of what I’ve been doing with this site. Many readers have been with me for YEARS, and I feel blessed knowing I still keep you reading. I’m never 100% sure why, but I do feel that people relate, and therefore, they connect to the things I talk about.

Of late, my time has been spent in rewrites. I am trying to complete a novel for sale. Not because I have to, but because I want to establish growth. I read plenty of fiction (The darker, the better.), but writing it is different. My entire career has been based on truth, and I feel confident in the things I have written which have made an impact on others. I’m not good when boxed into one category, because I know I can do more than that.

I remember, quite vividly, shredding years and years of fiction before I moved away from home. If I think back to those days, I remember trying to develop compelling characters. It was, quite frankly, a never-ending story that I eventually saw for what it was. Thus, the shredding. Coming out of that experience shuddering, and embarrassed, I knew any fictional work I might do in the future would have to grab the attention of the reader immediately. I’ve already got editors breathing down my neck for this novel, so I’ve thrown myself head first into rewriting and developing the characters into multifaceted jewels.

I am confident in how the process is going. Instinctively, I know when something is working and when it is not. I trust my own judgment. Someone recently told me that because I trust my judgment, I don’t seek approval from others. They were accurate in this assessment. I will only ask questions if I’m unsure about something, and this rarely pertains to what I write. I write specific material, but I know a lot of my personality shines through. Sarcasm, humor, and wit, can all be involved in serious subjects. If you lose those things, you lose the individual voice.

Other things are happening, too. I am looking at almost all of it as positive. Sometimes, things occur and I am reminded of my strengths and how much I can achieve. Those are good moments, but we all have to take a step back at times and remind ourselves to achieve without feeding the ego, the superego, or the Id. I have watched people, over the past few years, truly feed their superego and it is such an immense turnoff. I choose not to say anything to them because you can’t talk someone down from that level. It slowly becomes a disease and I’m not trained to deal with everyone’s disease-feeding. Factor in that we all know someone who has reached this level of narcissistic behavior, and they now feel free to share their hideousness with the world. Over time, it is shown for the cancer on society it truly is. Add in closet racists and it’s very easy to see why many people choose to fully back away from society at large.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead. Mine involves some stress. I am meeting a new doctor this week (a specialist) and have had the appointment for five months. Before I got an appointment, I waited eight months just to get the phone call! Here’s hoping it goes off without a hitch. Fingers crossed.

Boker Tov,

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. Excerpts and quotes from the material also require consent. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws. Further protection is under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Numb Dismay

It’s hard not to be angry and numb today as an #American. I’ve seen a lot of ugly, racist comments made, all under the guise of, “If those people had been…” Just stop. I don’t want to see ANYONE shot, choked, tear-gassed, or harmed because of one psychotic person who bought an election in this country. The hatred is alive and well without his encouragement. The white supremacy needs to stop, and people who are wholly white need to stop their bullshit, because a lot of it comes off hateful, even if you mean well.

This morning, some white privileged pig told me (and the several million people I represent as an American Jew) to leave this country, “for my own safety”, and proceeded to made assumptions regarding how I vote. To be perfectly blunt; Fuck you. I will take up arms and I will fight back against all forms of hate, including someone telling me I’d be safer somewhere else. REALLY? Where?! “Go back to Israel.” Are you fucking kidding me with this shit?

🌏 My family, like many others, helped build this young country with their bare hands. Half of the things you admire in New York City were physically built by my Great-Grandfather, an immigrant who worked until the day he died, and my Great-Uncles, only one of whom was not born here. No one gets to tell me I’m lesser than everyone else because I’m #Jewish. Nor does anyone get to make assumptions about which way I vote, because unlike many people, I’ve been voting since I was legally allowed to do so. I was raised to know my voice has meaning. I’m tired of the assumptions based solely on my skin color and where I reside.
Let’s see how the transition from racist AF “President” who can’t stop playing golf on taxpayers dollars, to seemingly laid back, sane President goes. It’s NOT always red versus blue, or vice versa. It’s about HUMANITY. This country seems to have forgotten its history, and the future is on shaky ground. I’m hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. More importantly, we’re fighting a #GlobalPandemic. It’s not a hoax. It’s not going to be gone the second you’re vaccinated. These are facts. Today, try to be a lot more civilized than you might feel. You’re not alone.

In Your Life…

“In your life, you may at times feel you have worked so hard, and you have done every single thing you could in your power to earn your way and be a good person. You have given and given and given — trying never to keep score or be a burden to others. You tried so hard to be selfless and tried to believe that good people are rewarded in the end. You turned your doubts into faith and your anger into love after endless failures and betrayals. You pressed forward with positivity. But, maybe things have not turned out the way you had hoped yet, and you have found yourself in a low place. You looked around and said, “I have helped people, who will help me? I have been so good.” In these moments, it is tempting to ask, “Where is my break; what about karma or God — does anyone care? Is everything in life for nothing? Is any of it worth it?” It is so easy to want to give up in times of failure and disappointment in what seems like an endless struggle. We can become depressed and discouraged. — Bryant McGill

Fighting Your Internal Dialogue

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all doing well. I’m not going to lie; today was a rough one. 😦

I made an appointment sometime last month to meet with a spine specialist (read: anesthesiologist). My new doctor had asked me to meet with the in-house substance abuse doctor as well, so she could prescribe the one controlled substance I take, until I find a new doctor who would then take the prescribing duties on full-time. She said “You only have to meet her once.” I don’t know what my face looked like when she dropped that bombshell on me, but she tried to reassure me that this is merely procedure. I was okay with that. However, after today I can tell you that once was ENOUGH. I physically had to keep myself in my seat, choose my words carefully, and fight my own body so I wouldn’t lean over her desk and punch her in the face. Yeah, it was one of THOSE days. I am going to be seeing red for a while.

My day started out stressful. I didn’t get a lot of sleep, and I’d fasted for blood work, so I was functioning on next to nothing. No amount of water makes up for the fact that you feel weak and dizzy by the time you get to the lab, because at that point it had been well over twelve hours and if I don’t eat, I will inevitably get a migraine.

I arrived at my first appointment of the day; the spine specialist. I’d read his reviews in advance and was very mixed going into this appointment, but decided to keep an open mind and hear him out. I am happy to report that he was one of the nicest doctors I’ve ever met. How often do I say that? Almost never.

He took notes, did a physical examination of my spine, was very careful with my neck because the range of motion is poor, and he agreed that I definitely have weakness on the left side of my body. Before he made any decisions he turned to me and said “Do you WANT an MRI?” He told me “I will never order a test or force a treatment on you that you don’t agree with.” I thought my jaw might hit the floor from the kind, respectful treatment, but I remained in check. We agreed on the MRI, and he even ordered an open MRI so I won’t have to deal with any potential claustrophobia, which I experienced during my last few MRIs. Generally, I am not claustrophobic at all, but I felt he should know about it, just in case. He then said “Go when you’re ready, they’ll send me the results, and we’ll follow-up then.” Non-aggressive, highly respectful, and extremely laid back. I walked out and said “The doctor was LOVELY.” I don’t usually say things like that, but in this case, it was true.

We did talk about injections, which I am against, and he said “There might be some medications we could try again at different doses.” and he even said he might refer me out, depending on the results of the updated MRI. He doesn’t think an epidural in my neck would help with the pain that travels down my spine, into my left arm and leg. He believes they are two separate issues, but is wondering if I have a narrowing of my spine, which is highly possible. I remember my mother having it, but I shouldn’t have it this young. He looked at my x-ray results and explained that where the technician said, in the reports, that I had a muscle spasm or a shadow in my spine in two different areas, it was likely just my body’s natural response to being in so much pain for so long. He said it was probably residual tension, as opposed to an actual spasm. I inquired about a steroid pack, because so many people have suggested this to me, and he said he doesn’t think they would help because I’ve suffered for so long, or he would have prescribed it immediately.

I left his office feeling positive, mostly because the appointment went well and I was treated like a human-being, which is always a shock. Because I had a little less than two hours to kill in between appointments, I went downstairs to the lab. That took longer than my consult with the doctor, but I was already there and it wasn’t that big a deal. Four vials of blood and I was out of there. Most of the tests are similar to what I had done last May, except this time, my doctor will be calling me with the results because she actually gives a damn about her patients. I am concerned about one of the tests, but here’s hoping it’s normal. I will say the lab tech did a great job, because I don’t have a bruise the size of my hand on my left forearm. I still bruised right away, but it’s small enough that I’m not concerned. I’ll use some Arnica on it until it heals. The last one took a long time to heal and it was hideous.

When the “substance abuse” doctor was ready to see me, I immediately knew where things were headed. Doctors really ought to be more careful with their approach to patients they’ve never met and do not know. One day, behavior like hers will result in someone taking action. That may seem sad, but it’s the truth. I am not going to sugar-coat this woman’s behavior.

I was drug-tested for the first time in my life, and told to leave the test in a public restroom. Yeah, because that seems smart! I was outraged by this. As anyone who has ever had a urinalysis knows, those things are not sealed. Anyone could have gone into that bathroom after me and done G-d knows what with the test. This is a test that they bill approximately $1100-$1700 to the insurance company for, which is INSANE because you can buy them over-the-counter at Walgreens. Because I had fasted for the lab work, and had already gone to the bathroom ahead of seeing her, there wasn’t much for her to work with, providing they don’t call me tomorrow to tell me my test is missing or needs to be redone. Downstairs, in the lab, they had to call a woman who’d been there earlier in the morning to say she needed to come back and have hers redone. The entire office heard this phone call, there was nothing private about this person’s medical information, and that’s a blatant violation. Whatever did or didn’t happen with her test is an epic screw-up from where I’m sitting. If they fucked up mine, I REFUSE to go back there for a drug test. They can bite me. I’m surprised she didn’t also ask for a cheek swab, a hair sample, and DNA. DO NOT read this and say “Lisa, she’s just doing her job.” There is a correct way to do this job, and that does not involve making law-abiding citizens feel like they’re doing something wrong by following a doctor’s instructions where a prescription is concerned.

When I returned to her office, she had no idea why I was there, asked if we’d met before, couldn’t find my file, and then proceeded with a list of questions my own mother (G-d Rest and Bless Her Soul) would not have asked me in a million years.

I was asked approximately six times if I use marijuana or cocaine. I’m sitting there trying not to roll my eyes as I give her the same answer each time; NO. Is this person forgetful or fucking testing me? I don’t care, because the answer is no, and the drug test will prove it.

To my face I was, once again, told I was an addict. I’m not, and because I have known addicts and been around addiction, I do know the difference. I can spot it in other people. I have responsibly taken medication that I assure you, is the ONLY reason I did not knock this bitch out. That and learning how to rein my temper in slowly.

It’s one thing to be doing your job with the questions, that’s fine, but it’s a whole other ballgame when you ask me to relive the worst trauma of my life because you don’t understand why I have a specific diagnosis (to which I nearly said “Talk to the fucking treating physician! Don’t repeat that question again.”), repeatedly ask the same fucking questions as if the answer is suddenly going to change, and demand to know where my doctor’s notes are. I cannot see what you’re looking at behind the desk/computer, so my answer was very nearly “Beats the shit out of me!” Instead I said “I can’t access them, either. Your guess is as good as mine. Would you like his phone number?” When I give someone professional, cold answers, it is a WARNING. Apparently, this woman did not see the red fucking flag waved in front of her face, and kept pushing.

“Do you drink coffee?” she suddenly asks me. I live a mostly caffeine-free life because of my migraines, but for the past few weeks I have been drinking coffee at all hours. Maybe a cup a day, sometimes two, but I’m not sucking down gallons of the stuff. She should take the psychoanalysis to the local Starbucks, because rest assured, caffeine is not an “addiction” for me. It’s something I’m drinking because I like the taste. I don’t have it behind me in an IV.

“Do you smoke?” No. “Do you drink alcohol?” No. “Is there a reason you don’t drink alcohol?” Mind you, the spine specialist asked me these questions earlier in the day, except when I replied no, each time, he said “That’s great.” and only when I said I don’t drink did he ask if there was a specific reason for that, and quickly asked if I was pregnant. Light, calm tone, no rudeness or insinuations. Not from her, though. She’s a first class bitch, in all caps.

She aggressively pushed every last button I had, until I thought about the one person on this planet who keeps me calm and grounded, and I told myself “This office is small and you could strangle her and/or rip her fucking throat out in less than thirty seconds, but it’s not worth it. Let it go.” When you’re fighting with your internal dialogue, it’s not always a good thing. My creative process on murder astounds me. I’m only half-kidding, but no one needs to worry.

I had already answered her questions regarding my diagnosis of Complex-PTSD and where it potentially stems from, so when she asked where my parents lived, that was IT. I knew she was intentionally trying to break me, because she desperately wanted to know if I am an addict. She has reached the point where she cannot tell the difference between a patient and an addict, two very different beasts. I should have informed her that there is an immense difference between patients and addicts, and that I don’t appreciate her aggressive behavior, but I knew she would go back to my doctor and say I was a combative addict, or whatever she chooses to say in order to appease herself.

When she told me it wouldn’t take 2-3 years for me to be taken off this medication, I nearly laughed in her face. My doctor told me it WOULD take 2-3 years to safely take me off of this medication in order to put me on something else, something safer. He was concerned about seizures and other side effects that I have only been made aware of in the past four or five years, and he felt that I wasn’t ready to begin tapering because of all that I am going through, both health-wise and emotionally. He’s right, and I stand by what he said to me. Here she is though, suddenly telling me I can be detoxed off of this quickly (NOT true. Yanking me off this medication could kill me, and it does kill people when it’s not done properly.) and that forty or fifty years from now, this medication MIGHT  cause dementia. I wanted to say “I probably won’t live that long and quite frankly, I am NOT going to worry about what ‘could cause dementia or ‘might cause dementia’. Are you SURE you went to medical school?” I know people who take medication to improve their quality of life and that’s all this medication does for me, albeit not that well any more. From a medical perspective, it IS a high dose, but I’ve always been responsible with how I take it.

In June, my doctor asked me to start taking smaller doses, whenever possible, and I have done that. I am two months behind on my prescription and I still have enough medication for a few weeks. Instead of seeing this as a responsible thing, which is exactly what it is, this bitch took issue with that because she cannot understand what he said to me, because she can’t find his notes, and why I am being responsible and discerning with it. This didn’t sit right with her majesty.

She finally told me she will talk to my doctors and “figure something out”. She had about a hundred case files on her desk and as she desperately searched for mine, there wasn’t one. I suspect it’s because I am NOT a red flag to my doctor, who was a sweetheart to me and said she has no problem prescribing it, so long as this other doctor approves me. I don’t know if she will.

When I got home, I had to contact one of my doctors who she said she wanted to speak to. She does not have authorization to do so, because I didn’t sign a consent form, but I wanted this doctor to know, just in case. I didn’t want her to be side-swiped by this woman. She is the physical embodiment of a drive-by shooting, with all the subtly.

When she complained about the doctor who left, and not having his notes and diagnoses, I told her “This is where he works now. I’m sure you can find him.” She suddenly decided I need a “case manager” to get me in to see someone. Here’s a fact; I am NOT special. There is a LONG waiting list to be seen by so many specialists, and no one is going to move me up the list “just because”. I called before Thanksgiving to get an appointment with a migraine specialist and just last week, they told me I could be seen…at the end of May. I’m lucky they didn’t say “in 2019” after they said May. So, despite it being something I’d normally bitch about, I simply took the appointment and the receptionist promised she’d call me if there were any cancellations so I could get in sooner, after apologizing for twenty minutes because no one ever returned my call. The doctor has a five star rating which is the highest you can give a doctor, so I hope she’ll be able to help me.

Chronic pain patients put up with a LOT of crap. For me, this was unnecessary drama that raised my blood pressure to the point of a migraine. The sad thing is, I would have received more kindness, compassion, and far better treatment if I had walked in with track marks and an active addiction that was visible. Instead, I walked in with flawless makeup (It’s force of habit, I’m not trying to impress any one.), dressed like a normal person, and once again, I was judged for that. It’s NOT acceptable and it’s NOT okay.

When I told a family member that I wanted to talk to my primary care doctor about how this woman treated me, I received a lecture about how it’s “her job to ask questions like that, it’s all a form”. Yes, it’s her job to determine who is an addict and who is not, but no matter what I did, this woman was determined to find fault with me. I was waiting for Homeland Security to be on hand as I left for a fucking cavity search! I’ve never had anyone tell me, after a medical appointment, to “Just leave, go out.” I wouldn’t talk to a dog like that!

I don’t want to live in a society where patients are treated like dirt for taking necessary prescription medication, which means they’re smart enough to know something is wrong and seek treatment for whatever ails them, and addicts are being accommodated for choosing to use street drugs. The message this sends to patients is a horrible one, indeed. If I didn’t suffer terribly every single day of my life, I would throw all the prescriptions I have in the trash. We ALL would. Pharmaceutical companies would be out of business, or would have to look for other ways to make money. What would happen to pharmacies if, suddenly, we were all healthy? It’s an amazing idea, for a dystopian novel. In the real world, illness exists. No one asks for it.

When a doctor is annoyed because you don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs of any kind, that is your sign that something is wrong with them. It’s not you. Every other doctor I’ve met has noted those things as positive. Not her, because she is determined that everyone she meets is an addict of some kind. As she judgmentally sips her tea.

To make sure it wasn’t my imagination, I went and read her reviews. She has a one and a half star rating, which is basically unheard of, but I am glad I saw it because it validated me. The review that is posted, before my own, states that “She should have her medical license revoked because she is a real piece of shit.”, and that was merely the end of the lengthy review that was a mere glimpse at my own interaction with her. This person states they were repeatedly asked the same questions I was, and that they were also threatened by her. To add insult to injury, this is an award-winning doctor! I have NO idea how that’s even possible, but if she fucks with my medication and my health, she is just another doctor whose unprofessional, aggressive behavior is something I will happily report to the state licensing board. She seems incredibly overworked and I’d like to provide her with a permanent vacation.

There are great doctors out there, and I will always honor one with a great review and my full respect, but there are also bottom feeders that make you sick to your stomach. I encourage you to read reviews whenever possible, and I encourage you to write reviews, for the good and the bad. More often than not, it’s the doctor, NOT you.

Patients with chronic illnesses are still PATIENTS. We don’t deserve to be treated like garbage simply because a doctor assumes we’re all secretly addicts. I am shaking my head tonight, knowing in my heart that I didn’t do anything wrong.

Stay safe, smart, and warm, my lovely readers. And if you’ve ever experienced anything like this, I want you to know I stand behind you, and with you. 

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

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