A journal of healing

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A pending disaster

People do not listen. They do not know when they are in trouble and need to do something. We have a situation in my little village that is causing a big riff and issues. I am amazed at the shortsightedness of people and the easily swayed political officials.

We are surrounded by the Erie Canal. It goes right through the heart of the village and on to the neighboring suburbs. It is what makes my village so quaint and desirable. We have waterfront. The canal is actually higher than the surround neighborhoods on one side.    

When the canal was built, they shored up the sides with a process they called a dam. It is different than a bank which is level with the canal and surrounding area. A dam is higher than the surrounding land. Without going into a lot of detail, it is basically layered rocks and soil. It was built in a specific way to be supportive. It was not built however to support trees and bushes. They are the issue.


For the early years of the canal, the dams were kept clear. No trees and bushes. If you look at old pictures, you can see this. Where I live, in the early years, the lands surrounding the canal were farm land. There were one or two major properties with acreage. Now the land supports hundreds of houses. They are technically in a flood plain. Many of the properties who have the canal in their backyard have many trees and shrubs for privacy. They do not own the land, the Canal Authority does.

The trees and bushes undermine the dams. The Canal Authority is looking at doing a clear cut and removing the trees and shrubs. In doing so will expose the properties to the public who use the canal path for recreation. It is beautiful to glide down the canal in a boat or ride your bike on the path. It is heavily used in this area. The removal will expose all the properties lining the path. The vegetation is mostly invasive plants and trees also. That is why there is so much overgrowth.

Some of the wealthiest people live along the canal. Some people have petitioned to stop the cutting and cleaning up of the dam embankments. They won recently putting a halt on the process for now. Stupid is as stupid does.

Several years ago, the canal split opened and poured out its water into the low lying area down from my village. So many houses had four and five feet of water in them. Fortunately, the canal was “drained” but it still had at least three feet of water in it. It was a stretch of the canal that is actually concrete because it goes over a stream. The supporting soil and sand washed out and the concrete was not supported and a fell into the stream below, flooding the neighborhood.

I used to live in a neighborhood that is below a major portion of the canal. The canal actually bends around the neighborhood. When I bought my property almost thirty years ago, the basement was dry. There was no sump pump. The basement in time became very damp. We had to run a de-humidifier. In the fifteen years living there, I noticed more dampness every year. One time, the soil in the back of the house right up on the foundation washed away. That wall in the basement was constantly damp. No one knew why it was because there was no gutter draining there or other water source on the property. I remember that the person we called to look at the basement said that there were a lot of people in the area who were having basement water issues in the neighborhood. He said it was because the water table had increased in the area due to the canal leaking. I moved into the village shortly after that. (Not for that reason)

I feel like I am in a movie when it comes to this subject. This is a disaster waiting to happen. The Johnston Flood that killed hundreds was caused by an earthen dam that collapsed, much like what it on this section of the Erie Canal. And much like the Johnston flood, a select few very wealthy men knew of the possibility and did nothing. I have been involved with a core of people who are writing petitions and posting information. I pray that someone will listen and save everyone from a disaster.



Change is needed

            My Doves

I lived with “gun fanatics” all my life. I found in my father’s archives a Lifetime member certificate for him. The date was my birth day. I started shooting when I was eight. I was good. I married someone who was fanatical about guns.  He wasn’t when I first met him. My father turned him on to guns. Then he started hanging out with other gun fanatics. He became a cop. His career was being the head of the firearms training academy.

Everything we did was centered on guns. Our friends all shot. Some were police, others were sportsmen, and one owned a gun shop.  Every weekend was about shooting. Even some of the women shot. I did not.

They ate, drank and talked incessantly about guns, gun control and how unfair it would be if they had stricter gun control. As time went on, the group became more militant and also more narrow minded, putting it too nicely. They hated everyone who was not white, Christian and straight. Somehow, I ended up in a nightmare. But this is not about that, it is about the mindset.

Yes, they had assault weapons. Why? I could never see the beauty in them like I good well-designed wooden rifle. My father had two collectable rifles which he used for competitive shooting of clay pigeons. He belonged to a gun club where he socialized. The group my husband hung with went to ranges or private locations which had set up assault fields. They were tactical ranges where you had to shoot around things. In all the times I went along, I never saw anyone use a military rifle to practice in competition. It was always hand guns. Why did they have the military guns? Because….. just because.

I am long out of that group and divorced. But I saw what happened and witnessed the hatred and bigotry first hand. I actually was on the receiving end of it often. Sometimes it was like living with a powder keg. The fuse was there. Fortunately, there were few kids. Most of the couples did not have children, including us. But if there had been, I could easily see how their minds would have been melted by the warped narrow thinking that permeated this clan. And they would have access to an arsenal.

I have always said and will say this until I die….there is no reason for guns in civilian hands, especially military grade artillery. (See how well I fit in before?) You want to shoot something, get a paintball gun. I also am not into hunting and see no need for that for most people. If you feed your family off of hunting, then I understand. But the group I was in all had enough money and there were plenty of stores around. Yes I understand the skeet and being a marksman and all. But then we used to throw people to the lions for entertainment. Isn’t there something less harmful you can do? There is no other activity on earth that makes sport of killing. It strips the humanity out of the significance of life.

This blog says it better than I can. https://agingmillennialengineer.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/fuck-you-i-like-guns-2/  This is a man who is an Army Vet. He says it all about why do we have assault weapons for civilian use.

We need to do something about better gun control. There is absolutely no reason for military weapons to be available to anyone other than the military. We need to have stricter control and better training for people who have guns in their homes. I agree with the concept of licensing and recertifying to be able to have guns, whether they are long guns or not.

The government can regulate anything it wants to the ridiculousness in the name of protecting the people. For example, my washing machine was redesigned to protect people from hurting themselves by reaching in the tub when it is running. Really? If you put your hand in a spinning machine, you get what you get. But they will allow a child to buy a gun. Anyone else see the problem with this?

Fighting auto-immune disease

I am in a battle of my life, really and truly. I have auto-immune diseases. It is a fight many people participate in. But for me, I have the stigma of being fat. It is the first thing that medical providers hone in on, sometimes exclusively. But now I am in another tail spin. Let me explain.

I have psoriatic arthritis, PsA, and Psoriasis, P. I was diagnosed with them after I went through a horrific time in my life. I was divorcing after twenty-seven years with an abusive husband. I had to sell the home we lived in for fifteen years as part of the settlement. I lost my job that I loved, although there were some real stinky issues there too. I basically lost everything. But I got through it and then, I moved into a great house and went back to school. My life turned out great. But my body suffered from all the trauma and stress.

I ended up in the hospital with blot clots. The clots resolved themselves and I was truly blessed because there was one very close to my heart. I was put on Coumadin for life. People were quick to say, “Fat girl has fat blood and hence her issues.” Nope. I have an inherited disease call Factor V Leiden. It comes from my father’s side. It has absolutely nothing to do with being fat. But after being in the hospital, they put me on a strong regiment of blood thinners to the point I bled out. They needed to stop my periods. That was another battle but finally I had a hydro thermal ablation.  But the anemia and other issues took a toll on my body.

I was on a path of a wonderful new life. I was happy. I met a great guy. I loved my house. Life seemed great. But this weird rash appeared when I was going through the divorce. It got constantly worse, spreading all over my body. I itched. I went to the dermatologist who had no idea what it was. I also noticed that I was having pain, achy pain in my joints. Not enough to slow me down at first. I used to play tennis three times a week, mow my lawn and walk all over the place. I had always been a large active person.

I was teaching at the time and some days I could not stand for very long and walking became painful. I bought ugly shoes and went to the doctor. Her diagnosis was I was fat. “Lose weight” was the prescription and take Advil. So I took mega doses of Advil. Finally, when my hands started to turn into claws, they paid attention. I would sit and cry for hours from the dull burning that radiated in my body. It is hard to explain the pain to anyone who does not have this disease. My skin looked like I had the measles and I would scratch to the point where I would wake up with blood stained sheets from scratching in the night. I did not sleep for more than two hour blocks.

I was tested for rheumatoid disease and came back with a confirmed diagnosis of PsA and P. My life changed completely. I went on prednisone, methotrexate, and continued with Advil when needed. I felt better, but the results from those drugs impacted me in a bad way. My kidney crashed. I lost all function on the right kidney. I had been peeing blood for months, but they said it was the Coumadin. It wasn’t.

My glucose has always been low, much to the chagrin of doctors in the past who expected high glucose because I am fat. We do not have diabetes in the family. My A1c went from 5 to 13. Hello!!!  I also gained 30 pounds in a very short time. They took me off the prednisone and then the methotrexate. I would get very sick after I would take my shot. My body was telling me to stop. Next, they tried me on Humira, which did nothing, and then Enbrel. The Enbrel worked for 8 years. I started getting horrible cramps everywhere in my body and the pain came back. I also slowly put on weight that would not come off. This also is a known side effect of Enbrel. All the drugs I have taken, except Otezla which made me feel sick all the time, are known for weight gain as a side effect.

For the next three years, I went through a series of taking every drug on the market for PsA. I had horrible reactions such as feeling hung over to not being able to walk from the pain. I had horrible IBS brought on by these drugs. I could not go anywhere including going to work in the morning without the fear of crapping myself. And I had a few episodes where I did. It was humiliating and horrendous.

My kidney that had gotten better was starting to decline. I passed over 50 kidney stones. I have about twenty in a box. Some were huge and the doctor took them. They were all uric acid based stones which is a product of PsA. There were stones in the right kidney that were too big to pass. I spent days in agony when I was passing a stone, but I still went to work. I passed one at work. Talk about a high pain threshold.

In 2016, we decided to try Humira one more time since it was all that was left. It almost killed me. My glucose steadily inclined, my kidney function declined and all the while I was steadily gaining weight. I was miserable. It is hard to understand the frustration and discomfort of not having control of your health. And mine was getting worse in the name of drugs.

Finally, last year, I was put on the most expensive PsA drug out there: Stelara. One shot costs $20,000. I had to exhaust all other options before the insurance would cover it. It is a miracle. I have little to no psoriasis. My PsA pain was vastly better. But by now, I have lost a lot of my stamina. There is damage in my joints that will never repair. I need to have my one ankle fused but I refuse. I have damage in my spine and hips. But I had the best mobility with Stelara. I have been on it for a year.

Because of the elevated glucose, the Doctor put me on Januvia. Januvia passes sugar out the kidney. Not a smart choice for someone with kidney disease. He finally changed it and I am on a new drug which is not really working and my A1c has risen again. I got a note from the nurse from my doctor’s office saying, “the Doctor wants you to watch your diet. Eat less carbs and sugar.” I was so pissed and will say something when I see him.

I just went and had my blood tests done. I am in big trouble. My kidney function is now stage four CKD. There was a slight improvement since I retired, but not enough to put me back to stage 3. My blood pressure has been up and now I have awful cholesterol reading. It has jumped up 114 points in one year. My cholesterol has been normal most of my life.  Both the BP and cholesterol is due from the Stelara.  It is a known side effect.

So now what? I do not know. I see the doctor on Friday. I swear if he says it’s because I am fat I am going to walk out of the office. He usually is pretty good about things. I would have to be eating pure fat for that amount of increase. And, I don’t eat a lot of fat. I do not even eat meat. But I should not have to justify myself but I will be ashamed because that it the reaction I have. I will be made to be guilty of gluttony. Meanwhile, I have a situation that needs to be dealt with. When you have Factor V, the last thing you want is more reasons to have clots. And when you have high cholesterol, it also raises you blood glucose, which has been an issue with all the drugs I am on.

I feel out of control and I admit, very depressed. This was supposed to be a happy time for me since I retired. I will say that I am much more active than when I was working. I spend most days working on physical projects in the house. My mobility and stamina is much better.  I have noticed the difference. But I am scared that my recourse is to come off the Stelara, or take more drugs.  It is like being a prisoner in your own body.



Hatred: a Learned Behavior

Currently I am reading “Shrill”, a book by Lindy West. It is not for the easily offended reader. She is a comedian and is very funny. But she is also FAT. Lindy is a true Fat activist and writes for about the struggles she has. She deals with hate every day. But she wants to change the world and I think she has many valid points. She says, “Being fat is like walking around with a sandwich board that says, “HERE’S WHERE TO HURT ME!” That’s why reclaiming fatness— living visibly, declaring, “I’m fat and I am not ashamed”— is a social tool so revolutionary, so liberating, it saves lives.”

When I was growing up, bullying existed but it was not exonerated. Bullies were known. They were outcasts and shunned, unless you were one. As a child, you learned to fight back or suffer. Parents did not fight your fight for you. You could rat out a bully if you dared and they would be “in trouble,” which meant something in those days.

Today’s culture is very different. I blame the media who created movies like “Mean Girls.” Then we have TV shows like the “Biggest Loser” where they abused Fat people for entertainment. There was nothing real or entertaining about that show. There is one out there now called “My 600 Pound Life” about very large people who are suffering and struggling to just survive. There is nothing entertaining about witnessing suffering. But it creates absolution for the hatred of people of size and fosters bigotry.

Lindy talks about flying and the stigma attached to Fat people when they board an airplane. I have sat in seats that do not fit me. It is humiliating at best as well as painful. And my butt is not as big as a Kardashian. I love Lindy’s retort: “We don’t insist on a solution because it’s still culturally acceptable to be cruel to fat people. When even pointing out the problem— saying, “my body does not fit in these seats that I pay for”— returns nothing but abuse and scorn, how can we ever expect that problem to be addressed? The real issue here isn’t money, it’s bigotry. We don’t care about fat people because it is okay not to care about them, and we don’t take care of them because we think they don’t deserve care…..We don’t insist on a solution because it’s still culturally acceptable to be cruel to fat people.

We are not born hating people different from us. Babies do not see Fat people as a threat. They learn that from their parents. My parents hated Fat people and had no issues making hurtful comments my whole life. Their mothers hated Fat people too and passed that down. They had no reason to hate fat people. They also hated people of different religions and especially hated people of color. They had no tolerance for anyone different from them, actually. They were upper class snobs full of themselves. My siblings to some degree reflect the same thinking. I never did learn the behavior and was an outcast in my own family sphere. But I held true to my principals.

We live in a country where hatred, bigotry, misogynic behaviors are being tolerated and actually glorified by some. But we are starting to have people who are standing up and saying no more. We have to do this. The energy of hatred is toxic. We have to change what we teach our children. I am aghast at the comments I hear from young people that are vile and filled with prejudice of things and people they have no direct experience with. How is that possible? Because hatred is a learned behavior and we have to stop teaching and accepting it.

West, Lindy. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman (p. 148). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.










Fat Hatred

This weekend celebrated the second Women’s March in Seneca Falls. There were over 10,000 people there to voice their concerns. Voicing concerns is everyone’s right in the USA. I support that right as a woman and as a blogger. I am not able to accept and even understand what gives people the right to go on to someone’s blog and write an evil and threatening message. It happens all the time and to totally innocuous blogs.

Blogging is the opportunity for the blogger-author to express their thoughts. It is therapeutic at times and it can be a gift of education or just simply an outlet for the blogger to write about their experiences. It is a wonderful outlet.

I follow several blogs. There is one I find at times quite humorous called Dancing with Fat by Ragen Chastain. She is a large size lady who writes, is a triathlete, and a dancer. She also is a motivational speaker who encourages people of all size to be the best that they are no matter what their size. She is a true hero for the thousands of people who let their size inhibit their lives.

There are many other activists who are trying to simply educate people about size discrimination. It is totally acceptable in our country if not encouraged to harass and bully people of size. I do not get it and never have. But I was astounded by the hatred these activists have had hurled at them on their websites and even face to face.

In Regen’s blog she talks about trolls. She actually created a website and posted some of the comments and her very funny and witty replies. The comments are graphic and threatening and just frightening. She has never hurt anyone or tried to change anyone. She is only offering a glimpse into her life with joy and support for others. Pardon the language of this, but this is an example: “cant we just kill the fat people and make cat food out of them? 99% of obese people are just stupid lazy ugly pieces of lard,fuck em”  Can you imagine how this makes me feel as a large person to be judge that I should be KILLED and made into cat food simply because I take a larger dress size? Of course the sentiment loses value in the quality of the rant… and we move on. But how horrible is it that this person is out there expressing that much hatred and violence to an innocent group of fat people. Really? There are a lot more worthy groups to hate if you got to hate.

I am so naïve even at this ripe old age. I never knew there was so much hatred against fat people. This hatred is a learned behavior because it is not embraced by everyone in the world. What difference is to anyone if a person is large or small as long as they are not hurting anyone? This issue is becoming more prevalent now because people are standing up and saying “STOP IT!” Count me in!

We would never tolerate this type of harassment and hatred towards people of color. But I lived with that hatred growing up and I still hear it whispered behind closed doors. The fact is now it is unacceptable to slur and insult people simply because they have different skin color. It was an arduous fight. I am not saying the fight is over either. But when I was a young child it was a segregated world and it was nationally acceptable. But no more. It gives me hope.

I am not going to go on a political rant here. It would be too easy. Change has to happen. We need to be aware of this hatred in order for it to change. People don’t like to get involved in controversy and we have become a nation of complacency, which is why we are where we are with the leaders we have.

My goal is to just point out something that many people might not even be aware of. Next time you sit next to a fat person, understand that they know when they are being ostracized. They can see the looks and feel the shame you want them to feel for just existing. In many cases, their size is their protection from the harm and hurt their life has been. Try to understand and not judge.


Positivity Chain on FaceBook

Sometimes everything seems to go along swimmingly. There are people who go through life unscathed and never rattled. I cannot imagine what that type of world would feel like. I was told years ago there are always people worse off and a whole lot of folks better off. Accepting where you are is the best way to survive and live a full life. One of the ways to accept your life is to look gratefully at what you have. ‘Tis the season for giving thanks after all.

Our minds are programmed from our birth to be more receptive to negative input than positive input. Negativity makes a bigger imprint on our brain. This again was part of the reptilian brain that kept our ancient ancestors safe. Not smart to pet a sabre toothed tiger, even if it is a big kitty. It is the reaction that sells newspapers and keeps us watching the news. We love drama and crisis.

There actually is a ratio of amounts of positive and negative information we need to be happy. Seems we need five times the positive input as to the negative. I am not sure many of us are living that ratio. Big positive moments also do not have the lasting effect as much as a series of constant small positive moments. That explains why after a momentous event, like a wedding, there can be such a letdown shortly afterwards.

So where do we get these positive inputs from? We have to make them ourselves. It can be as simple as noticing a pretty sky or flower. I try to look at things around my house and feel how much I love being there. I pay attention to the sense of security and peace I feel so I can draw on it when I am not.

Being nice is a two-fold way to bring positivity into the world. We have a severe lack of being kind. It is as easy as saying to someone that they look wonderful. It triggers happy neurons for the receiver as well as the giver of the compliment. Just like negativity is spread from one to another, so can being nice. But we have lost the practice.

I am going to start a positivity chain on Facebook. Let’s see if challenging each other to send one compliment to friends on Facebook will have a positive reaction that will spread. It would be a nice break from all the slander and mud lately. Post on at least three people’s FB page a compliment and ask them to tag someone else and do the same thing. It worked for the black and white photo challenge that has gone around several times.  Why not positivity?

Remember, compliments have to be sincere, otherwise they are lies and we do not need to spread more of that.

Also make sure you compliment yourself once in a while. The biggest speaker of negativity is that voice in our head. Turn the negative one off and listen to the one who says, “Wow, you are awesome sometimes.” We are all awesome sometimes. Pay attention to that.

It is ok to be different. Embrace your individuality and be grateful that in our country we, especially women, can achieve all that we do. We can dress the way we want, we can look like we want, and we can go after what we want for the most part; at least much more so than other countries. This is coming from a 60 plus year old woman who put pink streaks in her hair. HA! (I have wanted to do this for years, so I have two bright pink steaks in my waist length hair)

I wish everyone a Blessed Thanksgiving filled with warmth and happiness. Don’t forget to try the FB positivity chain. And be the best you that you can be.



Time to go

I have been pretty quiet here on my blog. There is has been a lot going on and I have not wanted to write because it is pretty depressing. But that is the purpose of this blog; for me to be able to express myself in good times and in bad. So here I am.

It is the end of summer already. Fall has never been a good time for me for some reason. My feeling is that I sense the death of so much in the fall. My garden goes to sleep and many of the beautiful plants will die. The trees will shed all their leaves and the canopy that covers the garden will be gone. It feels so exposed. Many of the birds will leave and the garden will go silent. In my area, we hibernate in the winter as it gets nasty and frigid.

My biggest issue is work. It is very hard for me to deal with betrayal of any kind. I know that is because of the PTSD I have and that in my life, I have had some very significant betrayals. The problem is that you cannot walk around with a sign hanging on you saying, “Victim, handle with care”. I know that I don’t need a sign because predators can find you easily without one. They sniff you out like a walking candy bar.

I completed my course to become a Certified Trauma Professional. I was already certified as a Trauma Specialist. I am not sure what if anything I will do with it. It did a lot of good for me to have more understanding of what and the why’s of the physical and emotional side of why I am the way I am. That was a good thing. I will never be considered at my current employment an expert on anything. We went to a workshop as a group and the speaker did a piece on the ACE study and information on Trauma Informed Care. When she asked questions of the audience, I spoke up with the answers. She thought I was an addiction counselor and started focusing on me during her speech. Not one co-worker at the table asked afterwards why I knew so much.

At work, the fear is palpable. The agency is bleeding money and it is not improving. As the year comes to a close and it is budget season, there is a great amount of worry there will be layoffs and terminations. The clinical visiting staff is leaving in droves. The retention is the worse I have seen in the six years I have been there. My Clinical Educator is leaving after 27 years. I am going to be lost without her, but I absolutely get it. All the senior nurses have left. When I started, the median time of employment was 15 years. There were many people with 20 or more years, but they are all gone. Many have gone to other agencies. Does that not say something?

I could go on and list more but why? My complaining will not change anything.

I learned a long time ago that the wheel of our life keeps turning whether you like it or not. My wheel has turned and it is time to get off this particular spin. Trouble is I am not sure where or what to do next. I have been applying for different jobs all over. I would like to work at home. Truth: I would like to work part time and with a schedule that is mine. But it is a big leap and I know I am afraid. I have been poor and struggled to make ends meet. I do not want to do that again.

 I want to live for myself and my family. I want to not be so stressed all the time. I come home and I am in pain from being in knots all day. I know that the stress is making my situation worse. I do not want to give all to an agency that just as soon dump me out. I understand that it is a job and they owe me nothing but the paycheck. But what a terrible way to go through life. This is what work has become. There is no loyalty on either side. The new generations coming in think they should be CEO’s right off. They do not want to work for old people because they already know everything. And if something brighter and shinier comes along, they are gone.

So as I lay in bed this morning, I realized that I need to figure out what is churning in my soul. I sense betrayal again. I know I am very sensitive. I am done trying to fit into everyone else’s mold of whom and what I should be. It is about time I live for myself. Being a martyr is a waste of time. There is no reward for allowing people to treat you bad and disrespectfully. I honestly feel my confidence has been drained out of me completely by this job. I know my happiness has. There is no sense in keeping on this path.