Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I usually try to post about this during the month of October. This year, I may be late in doing so, but I still wanted to mention it.

I don’t know a lot of breast cancer survivors. Maybe three, in total, and each of them chose different options regarding how to treat it. I know more people who have been tested for the BRCA1 gene. One friend was shocked she didn’t have it, mainly because her mother had survived breast cancer (And is alive and well to this day, THANK G-D!), so she was expecting the gene to be present.

I have an 18-24 month wait to be seen in order to be tested for this gene, unless I can convince my primary care physician to order cancer screening. He is hesitant. If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, I would have already moved on to another doctor.

Self-check yourself monthly. I do it twice a month because I’m a lunatic. If anything feels or seems off, make an appointment with your doctor and don’t be afraid to pursue a mammogram at ANY age. My cousin died very young from breast cancer, and at the time, her birth control pill was found to be the root cause of something they didn’t detect until just prior to her death. Medicine is more advanced now, so do whatever you have to do in order to have peace of mind. And men, there has been a vast increase in male breast cancer, so if you don’t feel right, talk to your doctor about it.

Even during a pandemic, we all deserve quality health care. I know many of us aren’t getting it, myself included. I will discuss it another day, but for today, schedule that mammogram as a precautionary measure. It might very well save your life.

Mars and Venus Issues

“Margaret Atwood, the Canadian novelist, once asked a group of women at a university why they felt threatened by men. The women said they were afraid of being beaten, raped, or killed by men. She then asked a group of men why they felt threatened by women. They said they were afraid women would laugh at them.” ―Molly Ivins

*Reading this makes me incredibly sad, and a little angry.

Growing up in an abusive home, I was never truly afraid of my father. Most of his threats were empty and the few times he came close enough to possibly hurting my mother or brother, I would physically intervene and put them behind me. I was nine/ten/eleven, and I never once thought that protecting them was wrong. One day he pushed too far and I knocked him on his ass. I was already well into my teens at that point. Eventually, my mother was afraid I’d kill him, which is ultimately what gave her the strength to begin the process of leaving him. 

People used to ask my mother all the time if she was afraid for me. “Aren’t you worried or afraid of the guys she dates trying to take advantage or harm her?” Her response was, “Nope. They should be more afraid of her. Just because they’re taller or weigh more doesn’t mean she isn’t prepared to take them down. I trust her judgment.” This conversation came up a little too often with her colleagues and friends. It played into the gender roles that are “expected”; hell, they still are. Telling a group of women she trusted me to make the right decisions and take someone out, if need be, was quite alarming to these privileged individuals whose daughters moved across the country (or to another country, entirely) to get away from their overbearing behavior. Not all girls/women are delicate little flowers. Some of us know better, and aren’t into being treated in such a manner. I will stare a man down if he acts like I can’t do things without assistance. If I need an assist, I will ask for it, but I dislike presumptions of weakness. 

Why do we, as a society, (still) act like women, by proxy, are automatically victims? Why do women feel victimized enough to say these are their fears of men? Those are very big fears for women to have. They should be concerns, as opposed to fears. It makes me question who these women are and what they’ve already experienced in order to feel this way.

Yes, I know women who have been raped and sexually assaulted, and many of them blame themselves. They are often too afraid to report the incident and between the police and the legal system, they are failed by both from start to finish. This is NOT acceptable. We cannot blame ourselves for the actions of violent men. While I’m on the subject, why aren’t men smart enough to stop fearing whether or not they will be laughed at when their true fear is being rejected? Why do men think they’re owed sex because you agreed to have dinner with them? There’s no meal on this planet that is deserving of sex as a “reward” or as “payment”. Get the fuck out of here with that thought process! Obviously, not all men view it this way. There are good men in this world, but far too many do think like this. We have to keep educating both men and women regarding these matters. 

Gender roles are changing, but not enough. I am the first one to suggest that women take self-defense classes. I was lucky enough to be one of the only females in a family full of men. I can shoot straight, throw straight, and put a three hundred pound man on the ground with just a few moves. When people were concerned for my safety as a writer, I had to tell them this, and they were shocked. If you can learn something that will give you peace of mind, I encourage it and support you. 

There’s a popular quote that says, “Here’s to strong women. May we know them, be them, and raise them.”

No one is questioning the strength of men, but the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual strength of women is challenged daily. I’m used to being underestimated. By men, and by other women. But I’m not bothered about it for myself. I am bothered by it for other women. And to be fair, I am also bothered by good men being accused of things they haven’t done. Yes, we should believe men & women when they are brave enough to report something awful, but people are still innocent until proven guilty in the United States. Except Harvey Weinstein. He makes the Devil seem like a kindhearted concept.

Do you have anything to add to what I’ve said? If so, please leave your comments below.

Copyright ©2020 by Lisa Marino and Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

 

The Only Thing Worth Writing About Is People

“The only thing worth writing about is people. People. Human beings. Men and women whose individuality must be created, line by line, insight by insight. If you do not do it, the story is a failure.

There is no nobler chore in the universe than holding up the mirror of reality and turning it slightly, so we have a new and different perception of the commonplace, the everyday, the ‘normal’, the obvious. People are reflected in the glass. The fantasy situation into which you thrust them is the mirror itself. And what we are shown should illuminate and alter our perception of the world around us. Failing that, you have failed totally.” ―Harlan Ellison

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Often Go Undiagnosed In Men

Fibromyalgia symptoms often go undiagnosed in men

Insomnia & Painsomnia: A Wicked Combination

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Whenever there’s something stressful going on in my life, it often affects my sleep, thus turning me into a shadow of my former self. Insomniac Lisa and Painsomnia Lisa are two very different beasts from the person I am when I’m able to prioritize sleep, and actually get into bed each night at a decent hour. I’m never 100% pain-free, but sleep is a crucial part of how my body recovers from what I do to it each day. I have worked my ass off this past month and lost roughly 20 pounds, somehow managing to strengthen my upper back muscles in the process.

Unfortunately for the past month, my sleep has been insanely erratic. First it was major moving stress, liable to affect even the calmest person in the world, of which I openly admit is not me. Then it was my brother’s pre-hospitalization health, closely followed by getting the phone call that he would need open-heart surgery or a transplant. It’s normal to have things like that affect you on many levels health-wise. Let’s face facts: No one expects someone young to be told that their heart is at 11% capacity. An entire team of doctors and surgeons and two different hospitals told him he was 10-15 years too early for such a severe issue. All of this crap has been screwing with me day and night and thus far, nothing I’ve done is helping. To add insult to injury, I have had a migraine since the day before Thanksgiving. I currently feel as if my head is in its very own torture chamber, taking my body along for the ride. 😦

When my brother was first released from the hospital, my sleep schedule had already shifted due to late-night texting and phone calls when he was still hospitalized and feeling lonely late at night, before his final dose of pain meds took over. There were many times I had to suggest he watch something on TV (“It’s almost 10 PM, here are three shows you can watch tonight. I have GOT to get some sleep!”), and then mute the ringer on my phone as opposed to allowing it to vibrate, so I could go to bed without the phone buzzing for hours. Now he’s here 24/7, and he’s driving me insane.

He’s not doing anything in particular to make me crazy (though I wish he’d remember that his legs are fine and he can get up and pour his own damn drinks!), he just happens to be in my personal space, and I crave privacy and silence. He’s mortified that I disinfected the remote, but since I don’t want him getting sick and he’s using it and I’m using it as well, I figured it was a wise decision. It is cold & flu season and while he is currently not in contact with other people several days a week, I am, and that can pose a problem for him if I bring something into the house that I did not leave with.

The other night he fell asleep while I was talking to him (I wasn’t boring him, he was simply in a lot of pain.). It was super early, but I felt that was the perfect time to cover him with a few extra blankets (It’s cold here most nights, and even when it’s not, he’s complaining that he’s cold.), and sneak off into the silence that is my normal routine. Alas, he got about three hours of sleep and I was wide awake. The second I thought about going to sleep, he was moaning in pain and when I checked on him, he was messaging someone on his tablet, with the TV on lighting up three rooms.

After a highly stressful week, I was finally in bed at a decent hour last night. As soon as I’d dispensed the last pain pill of the day, my head was on the pillow. Unfortunately, the previously aforementioned migraine decided to kick things up a notch and a little after 2:00 a.m., I woke up in unimaginable pain. I have no idea how I am attempting to type this, much less see.

My first line of defense is to attempt to get some caffeine into my system. It’s the only thing I haven’t sought out or used to treat this particular pain level, when it would normally be something I thought about a bit more closely. No, last night I was too far gone, so I took something less targeted that, as a last resort, often helps. Clearly it only helped part of me. 😦 So, I am nursing caffeinated tea and I took two Excedrin Tension Headache capsules. Not because I have a tension headache as opposed to a migraine, I know the difference, but because sometimes that combination works for me and nips the migraine in the bud. It’s not a permanent solution, but nothing really is. If it doesn’t start working in an hour or so, I will take a third.

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It astounds people that I have managed to learn how to work through some of my worst migraines, or that I put myself into the head space to focus on healing one. I look at it this way: I am not going out and triggering the headache to be any worse than it already is. I am home, I’m safe, I can control the environment (noise level, light, temperature), and I know not to move around too much, but can I sit at a darkened laptop screen and talk about it? Sometimes, yes. That doesn’t diminish the intensity of the migraine, it does not mean I don’t suffer from migraines (three neurologists and two other doctors are all in agreement that I suffer from migraines. They have gotten worse since my first diagnosis, so there’s nothing else it could be. Everything else has been ruled out.), and it also doesn’t mean it’s “just a headache”. On occasion, like most sufferers, I will get a dull headache. Unfortunately, dull can go to extremes pretty quickly, so I take all headache forms seriously. I don’t walk around denouncing other people’s pain either. If a person says they have a headache, but quickly says “I don’t get migraines like you do.”, I still wouldn’t tell them it was “no big deal”. Pain is pain. No one likes it and for those of us that endure it 24/7, I have seen people empathize with others openly, and I have also seen people blow off the pain of others because they somehow feel it is their right in life to be the one person on the planet who has it far worse than the rest of us. Sorry, but that couldn’t possibly be true, or you’d be dead. What may be indeed true is that everyone’s threshold for pain is different. In fact, I know this to be true.

In studies, it has been determined that women tolerate pain differently from their male counterparts. Not better, not worse, just different. Taking into consideration that the female body can push out a human-being during the process of giving birth, that’s not an immense surprise to me.

All of my heavily tattooed male friends had their jaws on the floor when I sat through my first four tattoos and described the pain as “No worse than a cat scratch.” You see, I chose a spot that most of them found to be extremely painful. They all told me to put my ink somewhere else, that the pain would be too much for me to endure, especially considering I suffer from Fibromyalgia, but I’d consulted with several artists who, like me, believed that my first tattoo should be someplace easily covered up with clothing. However, never to do things the simple way, I got my first four all at the same time. I wouldn’t even rate that a one on my personal pain scale. I’ve had more painful piercings.

As many of you also suffer from migraines, has anyone gotten a Daith piercing to try to combat them? Compared to all the medication, a myriad of supplements that may or may not be useful to the individual, various treatment methods, Botox, acupuncture, etc., the piercing itself, depending on where one goes, is between $50-$100. I am being told that it works for 50% of the people who get it, but I am also being told the relief is temporary, though some people are reporting themselves migraine-free 3-7 years post-piercing. I have decided to try acupuncture for a year to see if that spot along either of my ears responds to treatment. My insurance covers it, which is rare, so I am going to take the opportunity to use it first. I’m not sure I need another hole in my head, but I’d be interested in hearing whether or not the piercing has helped anyone. If you’re considering getting this particular piercing, please go somewhere highly reputable and have someone experienced do the piercing itself. The report of infection with this spot is very high, and I’d hate for anyone to go through that. I’ve only had three piercings in my life that gave me problems. Luckily they never got infected, but two of them bled for years if someone hugged me too hard, and the third still gives me problems on occasion (The fact that I share the piercing with a highly toxic person is probably why… I’m a big believer in energy. Sometimes we are healthier overall without certain people in our lives.). While most piercings are mainly decorative, there is no medical or scientific evidence that a Daith piercing is a cure for migraines, so don’t read into all of the Pinterest and Instagram “science”. Those are exclusively individual experiences, most of which are brand new. There’s no way of knowing what the long-term effects may be. For many, it is worth it for temporary relief. I’d rather explore a few additional options first.

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Are there any alternative treatment methods that work best for your migraines? If so, what are they?

The day insomnia can be cured in any way, shape, or form, I will be on a line for that! Right next to the line for the great Fibro/Chronic Pain cure. Here’s hoping we see it in this lifetime.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

“Am I Mean?”

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This was the question I posed to one of my best friends the other morning when a friend said something stupid and I responded. If you make something public, don’t expect intelligent people not to make a statement. It’s common sense.

There’s a lot you can say to and in front of me. I will say ANYTHING to make my friends laugh or think and I’ll say things to be goofy, but there’s a time and a place for certain subject matter, and there are also boundaries I don’t cross. I say plenty of inappropriate shit in my daily life, but the difference is; I don’t say it publicly or in mixed company. I would NEVER intentionally say something that could be taken the wrong way and/or hurt someone. Moreover, on social media, it’s crucial not to do it.

I don’t give a fuck where you’re from, the use of the word “fag” is utterly inappropriate. Call it a fucking cigarette, but the second you say the word “fag”, you’re going to piss me off. You cannot tell me you’re trying to “adopt the language of your new country” because that’s a horrible excuse and you’re living somewhere on a visa, not as a citizen. If the Queen of England used that word in public, it would be just as offensive and wrong, and since your manners and breeding aren’t exactly up there, I suggest you stop trying to be something you’re not. My exact words were “You are not British, Scottish, or Irish and I strongly suggest not using that word in mixed company, as it is inappropriate.” In essence, don’t try to be something or someone you’re not.

“They don’t understand my English here, so I have to use their slang.” I communicate with Brits, Scots, and Irish people on a highly regular basis. Not once have they ever had a problem with my use of the English language. Perhaps my command is better. I don’t pretend to be something or someone I’m not. I certainly have my Britishisms. I always have, but in my day-to-day life you will hear me speak North American English (lest I offend someone), British English, Russian, Swedish, Yiddish, Spanish, Ladino, Italian, and French. On any given day, there are aspects of every language that are part of my daily vernacular. That’s who I am. It’s a sign of how I was raised and my education, not of trying to be anything other than myself. I do NOT blend in and I do not adhere to other people’s ideas of how I should be.

So, I consulted someone who knows me well to inquire if I was actually being mean, rude, or overly judgmental. Her response was: “No, you’re just really honest. If she can’t grasp the point, that’s on her, not you.” She found the entire ordeal as ridiculous as I did, but reacted the same way to the use of the word “fag” because it IS inappropriate.

The word was not used with malicious intent, however, in mixed company, I think one should put a lid on it.

My mind was completely blown when a 40 plus year old woman used the word “wee” to refer to her husband getting up to use the bathroom. “I’m in pain, but I’ll wait for hubby to wake up to take a pain pill because I’m scared to go downstairs by myself.” Are you fucking kidding me?! Are there rabid animals in your home, or is there a pillaging Viking in your midst? That is one of the most infantile, ludicrous statements I’ve ever heard.

Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m a 21st century, modern woman, but any time a woman tells me “I was strong and independent for seven years…until I met my husband.”, that makes me want to hurl. I have a four year old Goddaughter who isn’t afraid of the dark, of going downstairs in the middle of the night for a drink on her own, etc. And yet, a grown woman is afraid to get out of bed until her husband wakes up, as if being married means you are somehow protected and shielded from all the horrors of the world?! I am pretty sure I popped a blood vessel in my left eye reading that nonsense!

Being married should make you a better person, because that’s what your partner should want for you. Anyone who wants you completely reliant on them for every single thing is NOT a true partner. Being told you’re “allowed to visit hubby’s work on his lunch break” is controlling. That is not being a strong woman; that is being weak, childish, and ridiculous.

I have an incredibly low tolerance for shit like this. I will never be the little woman at home ironing for a man who is fully capable of ironing his own damn crap. This is not 1930. My maternal Grandmother may have been a homemaker, but that was an entirely different era and she & I certainly butted heads over the generational differences. My paternal Grandmother lost her husband to a heart attack when he was 40. She had a five year old and a fifteen year old to care for, so she worked two jobs and supported her children, making certain they never went without. She was sick and she worked her ass off every single day until she reached retirement age. In my eyes, that is strength.

I am sure many of you have nicknames for your spouses/partners, but “wifey” and “hubby” nauseate the crap out of me. The most anyone gets out of me is “Babe” or “Hon”, and even then, he’s pushing it. I do give people nicknames and I do tend to shorten names, but I’m not sickening to overhear. I don’t have to use baby talk to show my affection for someone. I don’t have to lose self-respect, dignity, and brain cells to prove that I love someone.

Case Study #1 gets called by his name, period. Many of my friends have nicknames, even if their names aren’t long. It’s a sign of affection if I’ve taken the time to give you a nickname, but referring to anyone in such an asinine manner is beyond me. Even Cat and Kitten have nicknames, and frankly, they have beautiful names, but sometimes I don’t see who is running in front of me or who is trying to trip me while I work, so I’ll say “Okay my little loves, knock it off. I know you’re here. Mommy loves you.” All they want is comfort and assurance, whereas an adult doesn’t need to be referred to like they’re a newborn. In fact, I’d NEVER do that to a newborn. No one spoke baby talk to me, and I turned out fairly well based on my family life. I was raised to be a strong woman, and that doesn’t stop no matter who is in my life.

Since this person is so incredibly fearful, I am going to be recommending that she seek therapy for her co-dependency and trauma issues. No, I am not joking. I’m a good friend and in order to continue being a good friend, sometimes you have to let a person know that they’re not healthy and that a different route needs to be taken.

Of course, I am sure she’ll have an excuse for not being able to do that, despite the fact that I have to hear about every doctor’s appointment she’s had since arriving, every meal she has cooked (I cook nearly every single day, give or take, and I truly don’t feel the need to report it to anyone, unless it was for a special occasion. Also, I don’t discuss it on Facebook.), complete with photos, and mentions every other fart she or her “hubby” have felt the need to report.

I may be tough, but I’m also fair. If you don’t want me to interject with a comment, don’t say stupid shit.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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