The Newsletter: Issue #15

A week ago, a friend messaged me late on Friday. She said “we made it through to the weekend!” And I was like “I mean yeah except those pesky kids and all their bullshit.”

Well folks, here we are on a Friday: you made it. You made it through the week. That is if you aren’t a parent, or you aren’t working odd jobs, odd hours, or multiple jobs.

But nevertheless… you made it. So let’s get to this week’s newsletter.

Around the World

Fascism is on the rise, folks. So much so that I talked about it in my podcast next week (you can preview it on Youtube, or below). I’m really starting to feel like I belong to Fox News though on this topic, because the more cancel culture grows, the more I feel that Democrats have just as much a tendency to fascism as Republicans do.

Think of it: every time they try and suppress viewpoints, suppress information, cancel someone for being against the “vote blue no matter who” mantra, or claim that anything they simply don’t agree with, don’t like, or haven’t read the up-to-date information on… they call it misinformation, or a threat to democracy.

But do you know what the biggest threat is to democracy? Suppression. Censorship. Cancel culture.

What is most disturbing to me is in the case of local media, at least where I live. There is an argument afoot that “both sides-ing journalism” is harmful to democracy because it gives a mouthpiece to an objectively grotesque underbelly of society. But at the same time, if journalists do not offer the perspective of all views, what is to be gained?

One, singular, view that then becomes suppression of other whatever-it-happens-to-be out there. This is not a reflection of America, as a whole.

And I hate this with my whole being, because it offers the perspective that racists should be allowed to spew their racist hatred; transphobia permissible in the public space… and so on. Is what they say right? No. But the principles upon which this country was founded allow for those hateful things to be said, no matter how grotesque or abhorrent.

The Constitution does not save anyone from consequences from their words and actions, this is for certain. So consequence-away. Combat with love, sue people… whatever.

But outright suppression? That shit is wrong. It is anti-democratic. It is fascism, defined.

More on my perspective in next week’s pod, again you can already listen to it in its entirety here:

Around My World

School is back in full swing over here. I’m taking a course in Public Governance, and growing more skeptical of the concept of the “national deficit” by the day as a result. My kids are back at it too. I designed three, entire curriculums over the summer for my five year old, all based around projects in history, STEM, and art. My high schooler is at it, and also dual enrolled in classes at the community college. And my oldest daughter deferred a year to have surgery later this winter, but is taking classes at the community college as well, and playing tennis for their team.

As it turns out, my kids are taking two of their classes at community together, and they invited me to take their painting class with them. Of course, they were probably just being polite; but I graciously accepted, and let them turn my office into their painting space for these 15 weeks. Because wasn’t that nice of them to humor me like that?

You Can’t Unsee This

I mean… is it entirely wrong?

STFU Fridays

My big pet peeve right now are people complaining about the ongoing availability of Telehealth services. I’ve heard it from a couple doctors, some family members that are nurses, and a hell of a lot of people on social media that work in a variety of areas of healthcare.

The complaints run the gamut, but very few of them have actually boiled down to actual serious reasons related to health. Most of them are things like “the wifi never works,” or “I cannot figure out how to do audio,” or – my favorite – “patients take it as an opportunity to spend too much time discussing their issues, because they’re in the comfort of their own home.” The audacity. The audacity of patients wanting to actually be able to have conversations with their doctors without being herded out like cattle.

The. Audacity.

I can certainly see there are some issues that are harder to address over Telehealth, like a rash or something that really does require a hands-on, fingers-up approach (barf). But there are so many things that can be addressed over Telehealth, and with the rapid expansion of it due to COVID it not only makes it safer for people while the pandemic still rages, and it gives access to people to see their doctors that otherwise do not always get to go.

For myself, I am a mom with very little support system, at times (most of the time). Because of this, I am rarely able to see my doctor; once a year if I’m lucky. The pandemic opening Telehealth, though, has allowed me to have regular visits with my primary care physician and really start addressing my allergies and asthma in ways I could only dream of doing with my 5 year old in tow at the office. Both issues are now much better off in terms of their management than they have been in over a decade (think about that for a minute), and I am able to see my doctor more frequently to do this simply because all I have to do is log in to Zoom. I don’t have to fight with my kid to wear his mask or stop opening and closing drawers, I don’t need anyone to drive my older kids to their school and sports activities… I can literally do the appointment from anywhere. This has been an absolute game changer for me, and I am certain it has been for others.

So to the people complaining about Telehealth without understanding the circumstances under which it really and truly has changed lives, and possibly lengthened them? Well y’all just need to shut the fuck up. Quit being lazy, quit being stubborn, and start remembering why you got into healthcare to begin with.

(And again, I recognize the instances where a hands on approach really and truly is needed… this is why both modalities need to be available.)

…on that note of availability, I do have to say that if appointments were more readily available in person, Telehealth may not be so widely needed still. Four times in the last couple of weeks I have called and been offered in person appointments literal weeks from the time I made the call. The Telehealth visit over Zoom? The next day.

Have a good weekend, everyone! That is… if weekends are a thing for you…

It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like F&ck This

Sorry for that whole censorship ‘o’ the title thing, but a lot of times blog posts won’t make it into email boxes if they have swear-y words in the title.

Fortunately that doesn’t apply to the content. So here we go.

It’s beginning to look at a lot like FUCK THIS. That has been going through my head over and over, AND OVER, again for about three or four weeks now.

I don’t know about you guys, but Christmastime is a combination of magical wonder and complete and utter bullshit for me. I have been screwed over, stressed out, raked over the coals, and that was just in the prep leading up to the *big day.*

Some of it didn’t even have to do with the holidays, either.

  1. Thankless Thanksgiving

I wanted to do that thing on Thanksgiving that yuppies do, where they go around the table and everyone says something for which they are appreciative. We don’t pray, and the other adults in our house have a hard time being grateful and complimentary; so I just thought it would be a good time to set a better example for the kids, you know?

I was too buried in mashed potatoes and mixed emotions to even remember to have everyone do it.

The thankful part of Thanksgiving – unfortunately – went largely unrecognized. This isn’t to disregard the sincere and kind comments made by our guests; I’m really just referring to the 25 times I had to ask the people that live here “is it good? Is the turkey moist? Do you guys like the sweet potatoes?” …only to receive grumbled “it’s fine”s, or to notice that many of the dishes I lovingly prepared went largely untouched.

Which was fine. We had enough leftovers for me to spend the day after Thanksgiving turning all of it into freezer meals that fed us for roughly 9 days.

2. Who has time for hurt feelings, though, when medical stress descends upon you?

We’ve had some medical situations that sort of pumped the brakes on the rest of life, anyway.

My oldest daughter – almost 16 years old – had been having weird pain symptoms for some time, and because she’s a woman, naturally, every doctor we had seen prior to the last two months has dismissed her as “just another chick complaining.” She’s had three, main things going on – simultaneously: migraine headaches, severe abdominal pain, frequent and unexplainable “sports injuries” (in bilateral joints). We’ve been blown off by doctor after doctor after doctor. “Just a chick with migraines.” “Oh obviously you are playing too much tennis and not resting enough!” “Cramps are normal.”

One doctor at UCLA Women’s Health – a woman, younger than me no less – had the audacity to look me blank in the face, say “believe it or not, pain is actually common in many women that experience periods.” Then she asked me to leave the room and asked my daughter what kind of birth control she was really there for.

So in the last couple of months, it’s all sort of gotten worse. My daughter has hardly played any tennis or worked out at all, and yet she’ll still feeling pain in her knees or her shoulders as if she’s been training 6 hours a day. Her migraine headaches have gone from once a week or two, to Imitrex every day. And a few weeks ago, she started having the abdominal pain she got intermittently, which she describes as barbed wire being wrapped and pulled around her waste and back (those of you familiar will immediately think endometriosis, I know…); well that’s been happening almost daily now, and so badly we’ve wound up in the urgent care, the emergency room, and a solid two weeks of one doctor’s visit after another.

What has made the situation all the worse is this: everyone is a fucking asshole.

Healthcare in this country is total garbage. And I’m not just talking about the expense of it.

I made an appointment with one specialist over 100 miles from our home. We got halfway there and were going to be a few minutes late for the paperwork check in time (but still on time for the appointment), so I called, only to find out that the person who made the appointment never actually scheduled it. We turned around, defeated.

In a startling turn of events, when it was time to figure out the migraine situation – in late November – I learned that there is exactly one neurologist in the entire county that sees children. And he isn’t taking any new patients right now. One. Apparently kids don’t have neurological problems where we live, this is just too perfect of a place, right?

Luckily I found a phenomenal physician in LA County, we just have to drive 57 miles each way to see. Every four weeks.

(But wait…the migraine maintenance medicine he prescribed makes her so groggy and sleepy she can’t even do her schoolwork.)

What else…

  • A kid in the ER one night threw up on me.
  • Over 6 different people have suggested that birth control will resolve everything (it won’t, in fact birth control makes migraines worse and if she really does have something like endometriosis, birth control or any hormones for that matter are not the answer).
  • We hit our out of pocket maximum, and yet everyone is still collecting the money up front, leading me to be owed over $4,000 now at this point in refunds, reimbursements, and “hey this is YOUR share of the medical expenses.”
  • For pain, someone gave her Naproxen, and even though she has no problem with Ibuprofen, with the Naproxen, she broke out in over 20 canker sores inside her throat and mouth.
  • I asked the nurse practitioner at our primary care physician’s office to send her for abdominal ultrasound, just to be sure…sure, sure, no one thinks her pain is anything legitimate, but can we just check? The ultrasound came back with her left ovary literally swarmed by ovarian cysts. (The nurse called to tell me the news and suggested I put her on birth control, even though one day prior we had discussed just how that was not a solution and would only worsen her migraine headaches.)
  • In response to the news that my teenage daughter, who has been experiencing pain in some way or another for at least six months now, to the point that she is unable to function in her normal life on many days, was going to have to start having tests and seeing specialists to get a handle on what is going on, my husband asked me when the budget would be freeing up for him to get some things preventatively done on his commuter car.

The good news is that we are – hopefully – finally getting to a point that we are going to be taken seriously. Why? Because finally the neurologist suggested I just take her to my OBGYN practice. They are old men and they don’t really deal with menstrual disorders, but they won’t blow her off and they will advocate on her behalf to get good care.

3. It’s beginning to look a lot like fuck this

And then there was Christmas. Because of everything going on, Christmas was a scurry in the last couple weeks to make magic. I think I slept about two hours a night, while the rest of the time baking like crazy, ordering gifts on Amazon, and – finally, in a moment of desperation – paying my 16 year old (who is too nonfunctional to do much else) to wrap the majority of the gifts.

I did manage to take the kids to a light show, like we do every year; although – lesson learned – my dad can’t go in the future because he just rushes everyone through it, complaining about how cold he is and ruining the evening with his griping.

When the real FUCK THIS came up, though, was about a week before Christmas, when I attempted to take my kids to the Polar Express train ride out of Fillmore and Western.

If you are in Southern California, you know that one of the priciest and – supposedly – magical Christmas experiences is actually to take a ride of the Fillmore and Western Polar Express. Everyone shows up in their Christmas pajamas, there’s lights and music and they act out the movie/book in front of you as you take a train ride and sip hot chocolate. Everyone gets a bell; it’s fun.

We had never been, and I decided with everything shitty going on, it would be a fun break one evening for my kids. So we attempted to go, and the bad news is that my 3 year old – who gets startled pretty easily – was getting on the train with me, and a man behind us started yelling to his kids who were ahead of us. It scared my little guy, and he started to cry.

Not like a screaming tantrum crying though. A basic cry. It was honestly so loud in there, my other two kids didn’t even know he was doing it.

Nonetheless, we were sitting in the front of that car, and had barely even sat down; he was still crying and I was starting to calm him down, when the train employee came over me and told me I should take him off the train to calm him down.

I understood, but I also didn’t. Like I know my kid, and I know that I can calm him down before the train leaves. We still had 30 minutes, and literally no one could have noticed what was going on. I also knew that if I did take him off the train, there was no way I would get him back on. When a toddler cries for a calmer situation and immediately gets what he wants, instead of learning to self soothe and adapt… well, come on…

Still, I understood that the lady was just doing her job. Right? And I don’t like the thought of being one of those people that ruins the experience for everyone else with drama; especially at an event for kids. So we got off the train, and I – obviously – couldn’t get my little guy to go back on. The train left, without us.

So I emailed customer service, and this is where it gets really annoying. I told them what happened and just asked if they could maybe send us the bells. At the end of the whole thing Santa gets on the train and gives everyone a bell. My kids just really wanted their fucking bells, and I paid for them, you know?

I got an email back from them not apologetic. Not saying I could have my bells.

I got an email back saying it didn’t happen. That what I said DID. NOT. FUCKING. HAPPEN.

At that point, I just gave up and gave in. Christmas became fuck this. I did the gifts, the day. All of it with as big of a smile as I could manage. I made Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning brunch, and we did all the things and I’m sure that it is a fact that my kids had fun.

But I was also just done.

The terrifying part is that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas is just the start of it for us. Now we have birthday after birthday after birthday, Easter…Moms have it hard you guys. We don’t just do it all, we bear the mental and emotional load of it. We are the figure it out-ers, we don’t just have to take our kids to the stuff, we have to figure out how to make it all work and advocate for them and make sure everything is where it needs to be so that things don’t get worse.

But also, we do it all because we want to. And that is where being a Mom is the weirdest and most emotionally conflicting job of them all.

So if you had happy holidays that resembled the most picture perfect scenario you could ever imagine in a Hallmark movie or quaint Christmas card hanging on someone’s mantle, I am genuinely happy for you. If you’ve had it rough this season, I feel you also. Or, if you are like me, and it’s a mixed bag of negatives and negatives, but also positives and unbelievably happy children – in spite of it all… well, I am right there with you in the trenches, my friend. This is a weird place in life to be. It’s beginning to look a lot like fuck this, but also fucking bring it.