August 27, 2014

Let’s cut straight to the chase here. No effing around.

I’ve dealt with a lot of hormonal issues ever since my hysterectomy. I had an appointment this past Friday and had blood drawn to check levels and whatnot. I got a call Monday saying that I needed to come back in to discuss the results and treatment options. Immediately, I knew something was up. The last time I was told to “discuss treatment options,” I ended up without a uterus.

The appointment was today and I had visions of my remaining ovaries, the left one in particular, had finally given up the goat and was essentially useless. I mentally prepared myself for the words of “you need another surgery to remove it.”

Imagine my surprise when this isn’t the case, that despite how effed up my left ovary was at the time of surgery (a very large “chocolate” cyst was on it, caused by endometriosis. This was drained and left intact). I was told my ovaries are fine.

Say what? Really? Then explain why I’m getting hot flashes like I’m standing in the middle of the sun, please. But one hormone, FSH, or follicle stimulating hormone, was within normal range. If my ovaries crapped out, it would be high, like women going through menopause would experience. But nope, it was good.

However, my estrogen level is really low, despite being on birth control. What gives, yo?

Well, my problem may not lie in my reproductive organs, but rather, my pituitary gland. For those who slept through anatomy and physiology, the pituitary gland regulates and produces hormones itself, including estrogen. Given the fact everything but estrogen is normal, this points a finger at the ol’ gland in my brain. More lab was drawn today to check it and I should find out by the end of the week what these values are.

Until then, I’ve been taken off birth control because since I don’t have a baby house anymore, I don’t need the progesterone aspect of the pill, and was prescribed a straight up estrogen patch.

I hope this works, but I’m not going to lie to you all…I’m kind of sort of really freaked out about the pituitary gland thing. Why? Because I could have a tumor or something. I’ve read that most pituitary gland tumors are benign, but you know, it’s me and I’m a slight hypochondriac at times, and well, I’m scared. I’m sure I’m making this into something far more huge than it should be, but I also thought that same thing about Terry the Fibroid and look where that got me. Sometimes, a person just knows when things aren’t right in your body. I have that feeling again.

If the labs come back abnormal again, my doctor told me she’s going to refer me on to an endocrinologist. Oh joy. I’m getting really tired of this junk. I was under the impression all my problems would be over once the uterus was taken out. I even asked what would happen if the ovaries were removed and was told my troubles would increase. Uh, no thanks. I already feel like a freak now. Let us not add to it, thank you.

So that’s my day. I’m trying to be calm and cool, but again, it’s me. I seem fine on the outside, but internally, shit is being lost. I keep googling stuff and this is why I have put my phone in another room so I do not do this.

But hey, I’m reading a really good book, so I have that going for me, which is nice.

As usual, thanks for reading. My tumor and I thank you.


Depression and Suicide: A Handy Guide To Understanding Our Minds

Hi, my name is Erin and four years ago, I tried to kill myself.

The plan: I went on one of my usual long Sunday drives. I love driving. I usually pick a random direction and just go wherever the wind takes me. This particular day, I drove to Yankton, South Dakota. For those unfamiliar with northern Nebraska, there’s a big bridge crossing the two states over the Niobrara River. I was going to drive my car into the guard rail crossing the bridge. I had considered swerving in front of a semi while driving, but I didn’t want to potentially harm another life, just take my own.

My reason for this? I had just separated from my husband of almost eight years. I did not take this well, obviously.

What made me change my mind? I got scared. And some concerned friends kept texting me while I was on the road, knowing something was up. They convinced me to not do it. I listened, which is either a good or bad thing, depending whom you ask.

Oddly enough, four years later, when I go for my drives now, I avoid going north. Too many memories. I digress.

I had been seeing a therapist through an employee assistance service at my former job. I had an appointment that Monday and she asked how my weekend was. I told her through sobbing tears. I was then ordered to check myself in to a local hospital’s psychiatric ward. My friend Kristina came and got me and was with me when I did so. I was there for three days and is still one of the most horrific experiences of my life so far. It wasn’t One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but it was damn close.

I wasn’t allowed real silverware and given plastic utensils, save a knife because you know…and other precautions were taken to prevent patients from suicide–paper bags in the trash cans, all belts and shoelaces had to be surrendered. I recall I had a broken bicycle chain in my book bag, as it had broken a few days before and I was going to replace the busted links, but never got the chance as it was thrown away by nursing staff. The showers were timed and only lukewarm water was available, lest we tried burning ourselves. There was something about the shampoo, too, but I don’t remember what. Tiny hotel bottles, maybe? I’m unclear all this time later.

I had a roommate and she scared me shitless. She cried the entire time she was there. There were also repeat offenders, I found out. Legally, we’re only allowed to be held for 72 hours and we can walk out. This was her third time there in the last two weeks. I don’t remember if there were men in our ward or not…I don’t think so, but I do know the pediatric psych ward, which is just heartbreaking to think of, was behind a giant set of heavy, locked double doors. A little girl would pound on them from the other side, screaming. That was unsettling.

We had to have group therapy sessions, some of which were ridiculous and a waste of time, but the two I remembered most were where one we had to write down on a slip of paper a statement about ourselves that determined our self-worth. That is much more difficult than you’d imagine it to be. I simply wrote down “it isn’t your fault.” See, what drove me to the madhouse was I took full responsibility for the end of my marriage. It was my fault my husband didn’t talk to me because I must be absolutely horrible to try to hold a conversation with. I blamed myself for him locking himself in our bedroom for 24 hours after I tried asking him what he was going to do about finding another job since the one he had reduced his full-time hours to part-time and we were really starting to struggle financially. That was my fault somehow. It was my fault I had gained weight and our sex life suffered miserably because of it. All of it was my doing and all of it caused him to cheat on me and I on him. I read that sentence out loud and burst into uncontrollable tears, maybe because I still didn’t fully believe myself, or maybe because I did.

The second memorable session–and this is kind of silly–but it was pet therapy. Someone brought in a beautiful yellow lab and let us pet and snuggle and tummy rub the dog for as long as we needed. I needed a long time. I missed my dog, Blue, and just being able to unleash all your fears on this wonderful animal meant so much to me. He was so sweet and affectionate and licked my face, which again, caused me to bawl. Oh, and I forgot one: I got to color. 29 years old and I’m finding small joy in coloring. Don’t hate.

Anyway, that was my stint in the loony ward. I got released after my 72 hours. My dad came to get me, which surprised the ever-loving fuck out of me as I didn’t know my parents knew I had been on the inside. The first words my dad said to me were, “why? Why did you try?” “Because I didn’t want to be here anymore.”

See, the thing is, on my dad’s side of my family, depression runs rampant like cancer or heart disease runs in other families. There have been 10 or so suicides over the last 50 years, my dad’s father included. The most recent was a cousin who shot himself about two years ago. There’s just a mental illness gene that no one is safe from, I guess. To add insult to injury I guess, my mom’s dad also committed suicide, and my mom had a run-in with it herself about 10 years before my own. It’s like when I was born, something marked me for death early. I have the mark of the suicide beast. And here I thought I just had a third nubby nipple (true story. It’s just a tiny, teeny little nubbin, but it’s there).

And now, here’s where I make all of this relevant to the recent suicide of Robin Williams. Funny people don’t commit suicide! Funny people are happy and full of mirth and joy!


Funny people are funny for a reason. We’re funny (yes, I’m lumping myself into the funny group) because we’re hiding something. Going back to that work therapist I saw? One session I was telling her some heavy stuff, things that should not have made a person smile and laugh after retelling the tale, but what was I doing? I smiled and laughed. She asked me why I was laughing. I said to her, “because if I don’t, I’ll never stop crying.” She accurately told me I hide my pain behind my humor, which is true. I do. I’m funny because it’s my defense against people who try to tear me down. I got teased relentlessly by a few guys in school because I was fat. One in particular would walk over to his pals–who just happened to have lockers on either side of me in high school–and call me a cow every day. “Hey, cow.” Hey. What up?

As you can imagine, telling a 14-year-old girl she’s obese by comparing her to a farm animal does something to a person. Oh, gosh, like perhaps a lifetime of crippling self-esteem issues? Afraid of intimacy because you’re afraid you’re going to squish your partner to death with the rolls of fat around your middle and thick thighs? Hating being naked around anyone, including yourself? Forever seeing yourself as the awkward girl even though that was almost 20 years ago? I could go on, but I feel the point has been made. He stopped making fun of me the day I told him those were big words coming from a walking pile of spunk from his mom’s ass. Jackass: 0, Erin: 1. I want to say mutual respect was gained that day, but in reality, I think I stumped his fragile Neanderthal brain by standing up for myself, something I had never done to him before. After that, the torment became less and less, until he lost interest.

Gosh, off topic again. Okay, so, funny people…we’re crying clowns…okay.

People are asking, “why would anyone kill themselves? It’s a completely selfish act that leaves people empty of their friend/family member/wife/husband/son/daughter/etc.” But here’s the thing. This is at least true of how I felt when I wanted to kill myself, but I honestly thought I was doing everyone a favor. Why would anyone want me around like this? By me killing myself, you’d all be free of the sobbing, cheating bitch I’d become. My own husband didn’t want me anymore, why would anyone else? What good could I bring to any relationship I was in? I was a disappointment to my family, friends, coworkers…everyone. Offing myself would relieve so much stress from all of their lives. You and I would be free. I admit to still thinking that on occasion, but please, before you stage an intervention, please know I’m older, wiser, and medicated.

But that brings up another point: not everyone has the medication luxury, nor does everyone who is medicated have the right combination of medicines. It’s sadly a tedious process finding the right cocktail of antidepressants/mood stabilizers/antipsychotics to level a person out. I know this to be true first hand. After my attempt, I was placed on two medications–an antidepressant and antianxiety medication. These two together were awful. On to combo number 2. Better, but still not good. Combo 3 worked to help me sleep at night and control anxiety, but other than that, no good. Two years of trying to find a good mix and I found it…then I decided to be stupid and quit my good job and move to Texas and I lost my health insurance and that also meant all my medication. I moved back to Nebraska and erroneously thought I’d find a job right away and get benefits back. WRONG-O. After nearly 9 months unemployed, I found a job and had to wait a few months to get insurance back. Then I had my hysterectomy in June and because I was so goddamned loopy on hormone changes, I got put back on medication and as much as I hated the idea at first, I do feel better. I’m fortunate to be back on one of the meds I had been on two years ago, plus a different one to supplement it. It must be working because the doctor I work for said to me today, “you’re so cool and calm.” Yeah…that’s because I’m back on medication, doctor.

Suicide isn’t cowardly. Suicide is sometimes the only option for people. Mental health is still a taboo subject in the gooddamned 21st century. Visions of straight jackets and lobotomies dance in people’s heads when they find out someone has mental diseases like depression.

So, from a person who has walked the walk and talked the talk, take a few easy steps to help a person out who is suffering from this debilitating disease.

1) Talk to us. Please.

2) Listen to us. Please.

3) If we want to be quiet and not talk about things, just sit next to us and let us be quiet. Please.

4) We’re going to protest, but be annoyingly present in our lives. Please.

5) Let us know you’ll be there for us no matter what and fucking mean it. Please.

I know I may seem to be making light of all this, but trust me, I’m not. Like I said, I’ve been there and tried to do that. I was extremely fortunate to have people who followed my steps, which is where I got them, and why I’m here today, writing this stupid blog post and not.

Don’t think people who commit suicide are weak. They are not weak. They’re tired and fed up, but not weak. They are fighting invisible monsters and just need people to realize that. If you can reach out and help someone from doing what you call unthinkable, please do. Please.

I’ve rambled on enough about this, and I do mean ramble. I’m a pro at being incoherent and bouncing from topic to topic. A pro!

Okay then. Bye!

As always, thanks for reading. This one was a doozy tonight.


Francis Fitzgerald, Medical Examiner

The heart drops to her shoes.

“Damn it!,” Francis Fitzgerald curses out loud. The heart she holds fell to the floor, skidding under the cold, metal exam table. It comes to rest by her left foot. She nearly kicks it further reaching down to pick it up in her purple latex hands. Straining to bend down to pick up the dropped organ, it slips a bit in her gloves before she could get a firm grip on it.

“Good thing you’re dead,” she quips to the body on the table. She stares with a blank expression at the deceased man in front of her. Mid-forties, bald, morbidly obese. No wonder she is clumsy with his heart; the thing is nearly twice the size it should be, something called cardiomegaly. No wonder this guy is on her table and not watching the Red Sox on t.v. tonight. A massive myocardial infarction killed him while he was on the toilet, just like Elvis. She places the heart on a scale to weigh it, and speaks out loud to no one but the voice-activated dictation microphone located near her.

“The deceased’s heart weighs sixteen ounces,” she places the heart back into the man’s chest cavity and in a dry tone says, “thank you, thank you very much.”

Franny hears the heavy morgue door open and then vacuum itself shut. She tries not to smile to herself, but she can’t help it. Her assistant, Scott, returns with their lunch. Her own heart starts fluttering. She realizes at long last how much she liked Scott. He is damn near perfect, or at least to Franny he is.

“Hey,” he says as he walks into the room. He holds two white paper bags with grease spots soaking the bottom. “I got us some gyros and fries.” He is eyeballing the body on the table, his eyes linger on the dead man’s torso, grossly extended due to his enormous size. Scott looks down at the bags he’s holding, to Franny, then back at the body. “Maybe I should have gotten us salads instead. We’re gonna end up like fatty on the table over there. Anyway, grub’s on when you’re at a stopping point.”

“Thank you,” Franny says quietly. “I’ll join you in a second.” She pulls off her gloves and pushes her face guard up on her forehead. She hates wearing the thing, but after the incident with Mrs. Hemmy Way, who had died due to peritonitis and sepsis from appendicitis. She had just made the Y incision on the abdomen and fluids exploded in her face. It was like someone had taken a shotgun to the poor woman’s torso. Ever since then, she looks like an extra in the movie Outbreak–full mask with face shield, a long white gown, and gloves midway up her forearms. Better safe than covered in body fluids…and not the good kind, either.

Franny walks into her and Scott’s shared office just off the side of the exam room. He’s chowing down on the gyro, a bit of tztziki sauce on the corner of his mouth. He’s oblivious to it and Franny is trying very hard to not reach out and wipe his face for him. She knows if she does that, she’ll want to touch his face more and that leads to other parts. Instead, she looks at him and gestures on her own face to remove the bit of cucumber sauce from his. Scott grabs a napkin and does so. “Thanks,” he says around a mouthful of food. Normally, such poor manners would gross Franny out, but it is funny; with Scott, she doesn’t care.

Franny wants to tell Scott how she feels about him, but he can never know. He moved her on such a deep, chemical level, much more than any man had ever done before. Why can’t she tell him? Because they are co-workers and she couldn’t bear to look at him if things didn’t work out between them. There’s a quote about that sort of thing, though: “It is a risk to love. What if it doesn’t work out? Ah, but what if it does.” She’s had too many failed relationships in the past to put herself out there again. Her guts were ripped out, stomped on, and set on fire, all while she watched helplessly. She doesn’t think she’s capable of loving again. But Scott…Scott isn’t like the other men. Scott pales in comparison to them all.

She is unaware she’s been staring because Scott waves his hand in front of her face. “Earth to Franny, come in Franny. You’re a million miles away. Old Mr. Bates in there got you?” he asks. Scott has more sauce on the corner of his mouth again. This time, she reaches forward and wipes it away. Scott blushes. Francis smiles at him, a smile like she has a wonderful secret to tell him, like she knows something he doesn’t. He blushes more, his cheeks the color of ripe cherries.

Ah, but what if it does.



**Author’s note: this is truly awful. It’s the first bit of fiction I’ve written in a very long time, so the gears are rusty and stupid, hence this drivel. The only other time I can recall writing something this painfully dumb was in 8th grade when I was going through my crush on Tommy Lee Jones phase and I wrote what I guess can be described as fan fiction about him for our vocabulary words assignment. I’m pretty sure I used words that had no business describing Tommy Lee Jones. And if you were wondering, it was a story about how after filming The Fugitive, he traveled in his limo to Nebraska and picked me up and took me to California. I was so precious. End note**

The blue LED light flashes on my phone, letting me know I have a new message. I swipe the security pattern to unlock it and see I have an email. I smile to myself and know it’s him. Well, either him or Travelocity announcing its newest promotion. One of these days, I’ll take that $58 flight to Las Vegas, I swear, Travelocity.

I go to my email and my smile becomes wider. I was right; it is him. I read his words and that damn smile gets bigger still. I’m such a lucky woman. I can’t believe I met this guy. It’s kismet or something. Fate. Destiny.

He’s perfect. He’s funny, handsome, smart, and best of all, a lawyer! My parents always wanted me to meet a financially stable man who will provide for me and take care of me, and I found him.

There’s just one little thing…well, two…okay, three, no–four little things. One, he lives in Florida. Two, he’s married. Three and four, he has a son and a daughter. Alright, these things are really big things, but it doesn’t matter because I love him and I’m sure he loves me.

Hey sexy, he writes. I love it when he calls me that. Been thinking about you all day. Hope my favorite girl is doing well. I had another dream about you last night. You were terrific 🙂 I have to take Ben and Molly to soccer tonight, so don’t be too sad if I don’t respond right away. Damn kids. She was too busy getting her hair done to take them, otherwise, I’d be all yours tonight. Sorry, babe. Talk to you soon. Much love, J.

Damn. I don’t get to talk with him tonight. That bitch wife of his…if I ever met her, I’d punch her lights out. She doesn’t appreciate J like I do. She doesn’t love him as much, or even care about him. I do. I dream about being with him. I have a plan. I’m going to fly down to Florida, go to his law office, walk into his office and surprise him. I want to let him know what he means to me. I want to profess my devotion to him. I want him to leave her for me, and then the two of us and his kids will go to the beach and play in the sand and the warm water of the ocean. Later, when we get to his house and put the tired kids to bed, we’ll share a bottle of wine and end up making love on the living room floor, just like I always picture it.

Since I can’t email him tonight, I lay in bed and watch movies, but my eyes wander constantly to my phone to see if the light will start flashing any moment. Hey baby, I missed you too much…or something equally romantic. I sigh and my cat, Jinx, stretches out beside me, his front paws splayed out and his toes flexing. He lets out a tiny meow and goes to sleep.

I suppose you’re all wondering how I met J. Well, Facebook, of course. He is the friend of a friend of a friend. I comment on a post of my friend Sarah and he liked it. See? Meant to be. Some force stronger than us brought us together. He asked to be my friend and I accepted and I guess the rest is history! I found out so much about him. He’s also in a band, which is totally fucking hot. I’ve always wanted to bang a guy in a band. I do admit our friendship escalated quickly to I guess what some people would call inappropriate behavior, but it was mutual. He emailed me a naked picture of himself and I returned the favor. Oh my god, you’re even more gorgeous naked, he wrote. The things I want to do to that body…

Is it still considered sexting if it’s by email? I don’t know. Sexmail? Ha!

And I guess technically you can say he’s cheating on his wife with me. Maybe not in the physical sense, but definitely emotionally or whatever. He tells me really personal stuff, and I do the same. He’s the only one that knows I “experimented” with girls for a year after I graduated college. And I know he got a girl pregnant while they were in high school and he used the money he was going to buy an electric guitar with to pay for her abortion. That’s so nice. Most guys would have bailed, but not him.

I keep looking at my phone and the light blinks. I sit up quickly and scare Jinx off the bed. I pick up my phone, my heart racing to read what he’s written, but I see it’s just a message from a friend on Facebook. I can’t believe what I’m reading. This bitch has some nerve to write me lies like this. I throw my phone across the room and it bounces off my dresser.

This bitch Katie, she wrote to tell me that J asked to be her friend on Facebook and started hitting on her. Like, really hitting on her. That crazy bitch is just jealous. I told her about him and what we had and she is making up this stupid story for attention. There’s no way this is true and she’s a lying whore. I walk over to pick up my phone, hoping it’s okay. If not, this will be the third phone I’ve broken this year. I see she forwarded me his email.

That son of a bitch.

I don’t know what hurts worse: the fact he trolled one of my friends, or the fact he wrote to her exactly the same things he wrote to me. Both suck equally.

I’m angry and hurt, but mostly angry. I fire off a two word email: FUCK YOU. I unfriend him on Facebook, and I delete all the emails from him I’ve saved. A few minutes later, my phone flashes again. I see it’s an email and I snort in anger. Hey, what’s this all about? You okay? Did I do something? he asks. How about you emailing my friend Katie and telling her all the same things you told me? How many other women have you done this to? How about that, you lying sack of shit? 

I don’t ever hear back from him. I can’t say I’m that sad about it. I mean, I am and I’m not. It was wrong to do what he and I did, even if it was over email and not in person. I never hear from Katie, either. I guess she moved to Florida. Good luck to them both.

**Author’s note again: I should have rewritten that Tommy Lee Jones story instead of this shit. **End note.