Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dancing Naked in the Living Room Window

Writing is a craft I've honed since childhood. It's one of my artistic expressions, like my music. It's my passion, my greatest love, my purest source of self-proclaimed talent, if I can lay claim to any. Ever since I was a little girl, I've written short stories, stock-piled memories, poems, journal entries, and the like. It's always been an outlet for what's going on in my complicated brain. It's just that now it's out in public for the whole world to read, and criticize (and stalk!).

Lately, though, I feel I have lost sight of my art in an effort to appease or dampen the temper of someone who is obsessively following my blog's every word. I find myself censoring, editing and flat out deleting posts that had creative merit behind them purely out of fear of retribution by another party--someone who has absolutely zero power over me anymore. Someone who's opinion of me means nil.

And it's not Chris.

Am I capable of seeing virtually every visitor to the blog, what pages he/she read, where the reader started and stopped, and if my posts are being emailed to outside sources? Yes. I've made that abundantly clear in other blogs. I hate having to police my site like this day after day. Yet this particular reader persists in checking in on the blog multiple times a day to see if anything new has been posted, and I'm quite honestly tired of it.

I installed the blog tracking software because I was afraid of Chris. But that fear has literally transposed into the back of my mind, for I no longer fear he'll come after me personally, physically. Through a lot of cognitive behavioral therapy, I've learned simple tasks like going into the alley at night alone to take out garbage without worrying if Chris is going to emerge from behind the dumpster and attack me because of something I've written about him. I highly doubt Chris, at this point, would physically harm me again. (After all, he did promise he'd never do anything to permanently physically harm me, and to date, he hasn't. Temporary wounds, however, were fair game.)

Honestly, I'd rather have one engaged reader who checks into the blog regularly than a dozen curious onlookers, searching for a lynch pin. I've written deeply personal posts about my mental illness, struggles with addiction and substance abuse, my family and friends, medical problems and about my life in general that are all MY stories. Not all terribly riveting posts, unless you have some vested interest in my ramblings.

Rhythms from the Offbeat Drummer is my intellectual property. The ideas and words herein belong to me. They are, unless quoted from outside sources, my own opinions and feelings.

Some blog readers have met me with constructive criticism indicating that they prefer my blog to be a cohesive, character, story-driven piece of prose, as opposed to a sequence of random (I hate that word) thoughts strung together with no theme. Sometimes I'm able to do that; other times, not so much. My brain's not wired to tell fantastic stories at great length with moral overtones, though I can do that; rather, it's (by virtue of my insanity, partially) wired to display snippets of dialog, which I have a knack for remembering verbatim, and I can remember things that happened 20 years ago but not what I had for lunch 2 days ago. I can go into great detail about a certain subject if I focus on it long enough, but not if I'm writing while I'm manic, in which case, you get the non-linear strands of witty and charming, if not a little scatterbrained material.

I want to be able to dance naked in front of the windows again, unafraid of what the neighbors will think about me, in the uniquely Annie way that I do. I want the freedom to express myself artistically without abandon, which I honestly feel I've been holding back since I lost my job, out of fear. Totally unnecessary. Those who love me encourage me to keep writing, and to pay no attention to the person obsessed with my blog. I am earnestly trying to do that. But imagine how difficult it is to be yourself around someone when you're nervous about what they're learning about you? Anyone of us would be a little more than paranoid. That's an unusual sentiment for someone offbeat like me, who typically doesn't give a shit what other people think about me OR my eccentric lifestyle. Yet I found myself censoring my writing, which is WRONG.

So let's open the curtains back up and commence our usual ridiculousness.





Wandering Uterus? (Another Great Name for a Band.)

The ancient Egyptians believed that psychiatric disorders in women were caused by a "wandering uterus." Interfering with her other organs, the uterus would produce what the Greeks subsequently termed as "hysteria" in the woman's mind. Later, Greeks would come to believe that hysteria could only be cured by the woman inhaling strong-smelling herbs or substances to "drive" the uterus back into it's proper place. Nowadays, "hysteria" is meant to refer to any physiological symptoms that probably are the result of psychological processes in both males and females.

Naturally, modern medicine rejects the idea that the uterus "wanders" anywhere but still, it holds a unique place in women's anatomy as being one of the major components that separate women from men. It's where we grow our babies. It's from where we shed our menses for upwards of 40 consecutive years on a monthly basis. It regulates a bunch of our female hormones. It's part of what makes us uniquely female.

So what's one left to think about when faced with having to have a vital organ like the uterus removed? A wave of conflicting emotions, that's for sure. On the one hand, the argument is cheered upon, as it means the woman no longer will have to deal with a monthly period, which, guys, gets really old really fast after the onset at adolescence novelty wears off. It's a costly pain in the ass (or thereabouts) that is accompanied by erratic waves of emotions and hormone fluctuations. It's especially annoying the closer your edge towards menopause, when bleeding becomes more irregular--I was getting 3 periods a month, leaving me with only one week's grace per month--and thus, the onset of natural menopause is frequently something a woman sort of looks forward to, the hot flashes notwithstanding.

When it happens *naturally,* note. So, like not when you're 39, like me.

On the other hand, some might say it's tantamount to a man being castrated. Sure, female sex organs aren't all external--the uterus can't be seen by passersby. You can't tell, by looking at a group of women, who has a uterus and who doesn't. But it's still an essential part of womanhood.

And while my fair uterus has served me well, providing for me the greatest miracle my body ever produced--my son--it's time the organ and I parted ways.

My OB/GYN must have asked me a dozen times, "Andrea, are you SURE you're done having kids?" and yes, I was sure. I was done after Luke was born; my body just didn't know it yet. I miscarried before Luke, was lucky enough to have Luke, and could have no subsequent offspring, even with the aid of fertility drugs, after Luke.

I'm facing a hysterectomy dead in the face right now. If I elect not to have the surgery, within 6 months to a year, I will have full-blown uterine cancer, which would NOT be cool. It's an aggressive but slow-growing cancer, and my cells, as I asked my doctor to stage them, are at a stage 3 of 5. But as I understand it, it's one of the, in the annals of cancers to get, best cancers you can get because it's largely self-contained to the uterus. It typically doesn't travel to other parts of the body, such as thy lymph nodes. But already having had cervical issues and a good chunk of that body part removed, I'm more than a little apprehensive about finding out that I have yet more "girl-area" problems.

I'm taking a huge risk to my health waiting until the planned date of the operation, which is May 14th, because I was determined to finish my Abnormal Psychology class prerequisite for my doctorate program. I didn't want to be yet another semester behind in school, though everyone tells me I should put my health before my education. Yet they go hand-in-hand. The sooner I an earn my PsyD, the healthier I believe I will become overall. I'm not working, so the thought of sitting home going literally mental is not terribly appealing. That being said, Abnormal Psych will be a challenging class--just based on the amount of material we need to cover during the course of the semester and all the projects/assignments the professor threw into her 13-page syllabus. ("...I haven't got time for the pain....")

The doctor seemed okay with me waiting 4 months to have the hysterectomy, but definitely no longer than that. She wanted to do it now, and I had to make a case for waiting. Others in the know advised me to have the surgery right away and I, quite honestly, don't know what to do. I'd like to get a second opinion of either another OB/GYN or an oncologist, to see what he/she might have to say about waiting versus having the surgery now, and what my ultimate safety will be if I decide to hang on until Spring; specifically, a week after I turn 40. I better have one humdinger of a freaking birthday party because the FUN. IS. OVER. on the 14th of May.

As I've mentioned previously, my OB/GYN isn't optimistic that she'll be able to do the hysterectomy laprascopically, which would only require a 2-week recovery period. There is such a build-up of adhesions and scar tissue from my c-section with Luke 12 years ago, that she fears she'll have to re-open the c-section scar, dig around and *find* my uterus to remove, which carries with it a 4-6 week recovery time, during which you can do nothing--no driving, no shopping, no taking care of your kid, no cooking, no laundry, zip. Zilch. Zero. (Had I still been working, I'd have to take an unpaid medical leave, after which they'd have to give me my job back, but alas, that's all unnecessary now.)

All things considered, I'd rather recuperate from surgery in May, when at least I can go outside and get some fresh air amid my loafing around; whereas, if I elect to have the surgery now, thought safe(er), it's not a good time of the year to be cooped up in the house for upwards of a month. I've already forewarned my band that they'll be without a drummer for most of half of May and all of June. Craig is on-board to help out with Luke, who will be wrapping up his school year and out of extra-curricular activities by the middle of May, so that's good. And school for me wraps up on May 11th, so mazel tov.

The other big question is whether or not it's a sound idea to leave the ovaries in or to have them removed as well. I just like the name of that operation: an oophorectomy. Leaving the ovaries intact will allow me to go through menopause when my body's good and ready, which could be anywhere from 10-15 years from now. Having them proactively removed would cut the chance of developing ovarian cancer, which is often found too late, and would liken me to the body of a 55-year old woman. I'd need to take estrogen replacement therapy, which carries a whole other set of risks/complications not limited to illnesses such as breast cancer. I've been told that if the bad cells are confined to the uterus, I will not need either chemo or radiation after the hysterectomy, depending on what the pathology finds once they do the hysterectomy. So that's a bright side, at least.

So there are a lot of conflicting feelings going on here for me. 1) Keep the uterus and die of cancer? 2) Get rid of the uterus, live, but develop ovarian cancer and die? 3) Remove both the uterus and ovaries and be totally stripped of my womanhood but live? I don't know how to feel about any of those choices and it seems the key men in my life with whom I'd like to talk about the whole thing are being awfully tight-lipped, which is frustrating, especially the one from whom I want an educated medical opinion.



Monday, January 23, 2012

Must Be a Slow Day at the Office...

The gang at Balderdash & Verities is checkin' in on company time again...tsk tsk.

Once via phone (oh, but that tiny print is SO hard to read, so annoying) at 3:06, but see, I hadn't posted anything all day and now at 4:13 pm using the company IP address. Things must be wrapping up for the afternoon, with only one doc working, you get that afternoon boredom lag thing going on, it's almost the end of the day, not everyone's looking around....just checkin' in with the Offbeat Drummer....well, my internet was out most of the day, which prevented me from posting anything of breadth and tremendous wit. And I had a LOT of psychology homework to read for tomorrow, which I'm taking a brief break from right now, as I sip tea and take another dose of Norco because my freakin' tailbone winces in pain every time I cough, because I have pneumonia, which is clearing up smoothly. Had to take 2 more Lomotil too, since it's been one of THOSE days as well. Fortunately, I have a plentiful supply from my primary care physician.

The nice old ladies at church just dropped off a bouquet of leftover Sunday church flowers to my house. Kind of them, but where shall we put them, given the house is in upheaval due to bathroom remodeling? They're amazingly well-preserved, like a, say, dead body at a funeral home, another favorite stalking haunt, I've come to discover.

Tonight, I shan't be home, as I'm dining with one of my best gal pals, the irreplaceable Super Juls. We'll be in Uptown Park Ridge in case you want to follow me there and keep tabs on me in person. If you do, pick up the tab. Unemployment doesn't pay terribly well, and you know me...I don't eat much anyway.






Sunday, January 22, 2012

Five Management Practices That Kill Employee Productivity

Visit http://bit.ly/yD8k14 (you'll have to cut/paste the URL, sorry) for some great tips and information on how *not* to gaslight your employees as a supervisor.

By Marissa Brassfield, this article is concise and basic enough for even the most idiotic of supervisors to comprehend. It's about team-building, not destroying, and how to do it effectively. This would include, but is not limited to, spending half your work day stalking your former employees on their personal web sites. Though unemployed at present, I highly recommend these practices and wish they were adhered to even in the smallest of companies. It's not just about big corporations. While you're all at it, perhaps a poster in the common eating area about the Heimlich Maneuver just in case someone eating an apple, let's say, chokes on company time and nobody knows what to do, you know, so the EEOC doesn't come in and fine anyone unnecessarily.

Brassfield writes:

"Effective leaders set their teams up for success. This requires that they avoid any management practices that could potentially kill employee productivity. Inept leadership styles come in all flavors, from the disorganized or forgetful boss to the extreme micromanager. Here are five practices that are guaranteed to sink your workers’ efficiency — and the alternatives to supercharge it."

*I found this particular tactic very important, as I had experience with it....**

**1. Fearmongering

Fear is a powerful motivator, but managers who regularly threaten job security and employees’ livelihood run the risk of paralyzing their team. Employees who are afraid to lose their job may bow under pressure, waste company time looking for jobs “just in case” or gossip with coworkers — all activities that kill morale and decrease productivity.

Instead, cultivate a culture centered on trust, respect and engagement. Such a work environment encourages growth, learning from one’s mistakes and effective communication. Engaged workers who aren’t afraid of being fired can relax and focus on doing their best work. Similarly, disengaged workers can destroy team morale from within.




Don't Even THINK About Putting Up A Site About Me Like This, Freaks!

A fellow courageous blogger whom I respect highly, Natasha Tracy (natashatracy.com), is encountering a HELL of a fight from a site that was put up specifically to hurt and badger not only her PERSONALLY but also the already misunderstood and miss-and-falsely-judged bipolar community online.

Natasha, like me, blogs under her real name. She is unabashedly unafraid, and I have nothing but praise about her blog. It's been a life-saver for me. She's won awards online for her healthcare information and her heartfelt posts about living with bipolar disorder.

Instead of sympathy, empathy and understanding, we who live with bipolar and struggle on a daily basis are teased, looked down upon, modeled as "crazy," and that's not only by the professional community--our own families and friends are capable of gross insensitivity as well.

Natasha's fight back is located here: http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/01/hatred-towards-the-bipolar-community/ Natasha says, "Bipolar hurts. Bipolar is pain. Bipolar is, at times, unbearable pain. Anyone who would make fun of that isn’t funny. They are sick. And I am tired of their sickness."

We refuse to divulge the URL of the hatred site. The last thing it needs is more fodder for making fun of bipolar patients.

I was and continue to be the recipient of enough flack and misunderstanding about my condition from people I know. I don't need to take part in a site that promotes hatred of bipolars, when we're not asking for the moon. We're not asking to be treated any differently than anyone else. When we're manic and/or depressive, we're not begging for sympathy. We just wanted to be treated normally, within the realms of reasonable accommodation in the home, the workplace and socially.

**And as a sidenote, to whomever Googled "Miklasz Affair Boss," you're REALLY on the wrong track, there, pal. At 6:41 in the morning? Who wakes up and has my personal affairs, legitimate or illegitimate on their minds other than someone who's clearly sick in his/her own head? That's starting to fuck around with me and MY friends, and that's just unacceptable. Just like I will not stand for hatred towards the bipolar community, I will stand solid against being even remotely accused of having an affair with anyone I may or may not have worked for.

I can't conclusively prove that it was my usual Ms. Blog Stalker who performed the search, for the ISP was hidden, but the person was directed to a blog I wrote about the fact that I indeed do have an APPROPRIATE, solid FRIENDSHIP with one of my former bosses, point blank, and what became of our Christmas gifts to one another ("If I Fell," 12/30/2011). To he and I, it's no secret nor should it be. We are not ashamed of our friendship. We aren't overt and gooey about it, but we certainly deserve no flack as a result. All water under the bridge at this point, since now we're free just to be friends without the hassle of protecting our professional relations, which was always paramount in our friendship, and doesn't have to be a constraint we worry about anymore. The blog was entitled "If I Fell" and included the Beatles' video as a flip on words--because I'd fallen down the stairs recently, fracturing my tailbone, which the practice asked me about the night they fired me and I said that it hurt. A lot. It had nothing to do with falling in or out of love...with anyone.

The blog above "If I Fell," called "I Got the Blues," (also 12/30/2011), referenced a Rolling Stones song that my best male friend had sent me that he dedicated to me, my Tatus, and loosely, to my ex-boyfriend, Chris. He wanted to make 3 things clear: he wished we were together and was feeling down that we weren't and he had the blues as a result, he was wishing I was safe in the arms of a guy "who will bring you alive," (my Tatus, who does, as a friend) and "won't drag you down with abuse," (like my ex-boyfriend). That is all.

HA! What just popped up on Pandora? Animotion's "Obsession." Perfect end note right here.

Again, visit natashatracy.com for the Bipolar Burble and take a stand for those of us whose voices are not being heard about the facts and fallacies of living with bipolar disorder, and if there's something you're dying to know about me and my life, just fucking ask me. Quit googling and searching and nitpicking my life to death.




Saturday, January 21, 2012

"I Refuse to Be Discouraged..."

I Refuse to Be Discouraged

I refuse to be discouraged,
To be sad, or to cry;
I refuse to be downhearted,
And here's the reason why . . .
I have a God who's mighty,
Who's sovereign and supreme;
I have a God who loves me,
And I am on His team.
He is all wise and powerful,
Jesus is His name;
Though everything is changeable,
My God remains the same.
My God knows all that's happening,
Beginning to end.
His presence is my comfort,
He is my dearest friend.

When sickness comes to weaken me,
To bring my head down low,
I call upon my mighty God;
Into His arms I go.
When circumstances threaten
To rob me from my peace,
He draws me close unto His breast,
Where all my strivings cease.
And when my heart melts within me,
And weakness takes control,
He gathers me into His arms,
He soothes my heart and soul.
The great "I AM" is with me,
My life is in His hands,
The "Son of the Lord" is my hope,
It's in His strength I stand.

I refuse to be defeated,
My eyes are on my God;
He has promised to be with me,
As through this life I trod.
I'm looking past all my circumstances,
To Heaven's throne above;
My prayers have reached the heart of God,
I'm resting in His love.
I give God thanks in everything,
My eyes are on his face;
The battle's His, the victory is mine;
He'll help me win the race.

Author Unknown

My Route To Help. Another Route for You to Stalk!

Today is my 47-month sobriety anniversary. You know what that means next month, don't you? The big 4 years!!! You'd have to go back away's in my blog (which I'm sure at least one of you will) to find the counter I snapped into the blog that counts how many years, months, days, hours and seconds it's been since my last drink. It's always fun to see. I think that blog was called "But Who's Counting?" or something like that. Anyway...

The UK-based blog to which I contribute has it's own URL now...


This is strictly a drug/alcohol/recovery web site for those of you who are following up with my recovery stories, articles and reviews I stumble upon regarding treatments, experiences, et al. After all, recovery and addiction are two of my passions, what I am making a career out of...my calling from God above...to help out people who were in my situation.

A lot of my articles on My Route to Help will just redirect you back to this blog site after you read my drug and alcohol related posts, so for those of you who are obsessed with me, I've just given you another avenue by which to stalk me, which I can, naturally, still track. Even on smartphones! I know, on smartphones, the type is so hard to read, and when you blow it up, it's all messed up with the blog background, so sorry for that.

And you have to click "continue reading" to read the whole article..only the 1st paragraph is shown on the author page...just trying to make things easier for ya'll!

Seriously Another 1 hour, 3 minutes and 50 seconds reading 16 of my blog posts tonight from your other computer, presumably at either your other job or your house? Plus 3 visits from the smartphone? Must be one slow life...



Friday, January 20, 2012

Luke vs Larry Hagman in The Growth Battle




Sequentially, the photos of Luke on his 10th, 11th and 12th birthdays at TGIFridays...no fair on his 11th birthday, because he was leaning on one knee on the bench, but look at how tall he's getting! And he's losing that "little boy" look in his face and is looking closer to a teenager (not to mention acting like one). "Big 'Dallas' fans, are you?" the manager asked us this year. "No," I said, we just always take his birthday picture next to the Larry Hagman picture. It's a tradition," I answered. The manager thought we were nuts. "Is that a 'Dallas' t-shirt you're wearing?", he asked Luke. Luke said, "Uh, no, it's DOCTOR WHO." "Oh, old or new?" "New," Luke said. (As if this manager had a semblance of a clue.) "Heh." And we walked away.

People keep telling me Luke's starting to look more like me and less like Craig. But I'm sorry, I still think he looks exactly like his father, and nothing like me, except for his hair and eye color, and totally my personality (hoping to God he doesn't get the crazy-nutso-addict genes activated during his lifetime; otherwise, he's totally cool.)

Craig's girlfriend mentioned they're bringing "Dallas" back to television, and that Hagman will reprise his role as J.R. Ewing. "He got a new liver!" I told my mother. Hagman is a recovering alcoholic like me. Normally, alchys don't get new livers after cirrhosis, so apparently money and fame CAN buy you a second chance at life...






For Christopher...


You pretended to be a noble man,
A rescuer of tortured souls.
But yours was not a selfless plan,
Your quest was actually rather bold,
You are in fact a very selfish man,
And your heart is empty, dark and cold.

You told them that I am crazy,
That I'm an evil thing who lies.
Then you told them you're amazing
You even let them see you "cry".
But I know what your game is,
And I'll not let you fool them twice.

You see, I have a plan in place this time,
And wisdom strengthens my resolve.
I intend to lay it all on the line,
My whole story must be told.
So I'll not sit alone in fear and cry,
I'll show my courage, I will be bold.

Your past success was in fooling people,
They were shown a gallant knight in armor.
Now my knowledge and understanding is deeper,
And I can expose you for what you are.
This time I won't be meek and feeble,
I'll prove that you're a tin-foil-clad retard!

(A fun but genuine tribute to the Facebook page "Sometimes your knight in shining armor is just a retard in tin foil", AND to the ex's of all those women who can relate to that statement };-D
Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last" and Licensors Nodtronics Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nothing is Real. And Nothing to Get Hung About.

Luke stopped at home to pick up his stuff for Daddy's for the weekend, and was exuberant to rush into the house and find me a) here at all and b) awake in the dining room. Despite my best efforts to shout "STAY AWAY FROM ME!" he hugged me with tear-jerking enthusiasm, saying that he'd written a note on a piece of paper, having given it to his teacher, to pray that I wouldn't have to go to the hospital today. He doesn't like to admit it, but it scares him a lot when I take my all-too-frequent trips to the hospital, and believe me, I narrowly escaped it this time. He said he needed an extra-big hug when he left with The Other Grandma (the Jack Daniel's slinger) for the weekend. Thank GOD I don't have to take care of a child this weekend and can recuperate in relative peace, as every time I cough, I wince in the pain of my busted tailbone. One. Hot. Mess.

It started out with a little case of the sniffles a few days ago. Now I have bacterial pneumonia. My oxygen saturation was at 90% on room air today, which isn't terrific, but it was enough air flowing through the lungs not to require me hooked up to oxygen. Stosh asked me *how* I felt, given he said I "didn't look all that bad." (High praise, since I was in my pajamas and didn't do my hair and was wearing my dorky hat and had glazed over eyes. I had to point out how swollen and icky looking my right eye still looked from last week's me vs. bathtub whacking pass-out incident.) I told him I felt like shit. He listened to me, and said, "You're right. You sound like crap." But I must say, since the 103 fever broke into the 99's, and the cough got baby-shit green productive (TMI), and the antibiotics and steroids are starting to work, I feel marginally less-like-death. I've been up since 5:00 am, when I woke up and heard my lungs creaking like an old door, barely able to breathe until I reached for my albuterol inhaler in the dark.

I have a dinner planned with Super Juls on Monday night, that I hope to at least be 75% for, and school Tuesday, therapy later in the week...just so much on the agenda that I don't have time for this. I had a grand plan of going back to my favorite AA meeting tomorrow night with my high school best friend, and we set up child care and everything for her baby with my mom, but I'm too sick to make it, so alas, it'll have to wait until the next weekend I have neither Luke nor band. I should be on a plane checking in on my sick best male friend, who's in trouble, and I can't do that either. I feel helpless.

Ma and I spent the morning at the hospital/medical offices building dodging anyone and everyone who might be associated with the HQ of Balderdash & Verities, who at this point CLEARLY have absolutely NOTHING better to do than nitpick the fine-haired details of my life and loves. I just want to go to grad school and raise my boy and get healthy and be left alone to get better, not to be made worse, either physically or psychologically. Pneumonia is sidetracking me now, and appointments with my Stephen minister had to be cancelled, I haven't been able to practice my new drum tunes for church (partly because of how much it hurts to sit on my drum throne and partly because of the pneumonia), blah blah blah.

Granted, the head of HQ did say that I was the most interesting character to ever walk through the doors, but really, am I *that* interesting? To me, anyway, it's all just semantics. It's just "stuff." It's over. Move on. Instead of turning this into a giant pissing contest of who did whom wrong first and whose sin was worse than the other's is irrelevant. I'm quite busy rebuilding my life AGAIN and trying to get where I want and need to go, and I left there with one true friend, who I want in my life forever. That's about it. My former so-called superior spent 1 hour, 24 minutes and 31 seconds on my blog on company time this morning, followed by another 7 minutes right before lunch. That's just bullshit.

Some might accuse me of cross-obsession about this particular person who is stalking my blog. Why did I employ blog-tracking software to begin with? Because I was scared of my ex-boyfriend. It's a natural component of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Chris was many things, but dumb was not one of them. If he's still reading the blog, he's at least, and it's not difficult, figured out how to browse it anonymously, or at least from an IP that my host doesn't recognize and I can't take the time to research. Quite frankly, I'm still scared of him and what he's capable of, and I wish to GOD I could warn any woman in his path about what a jerk he is.

I'm not boasting when I say that I firmly agree that I was, in all likelihood, the most interesting character to ever work for Balderdash & Verities. But that's exactly what I am: a character. the main character in a years-long battle with life.

This blog, Rhythms from the Offbeat Drummer, could be an online diary of sorts. It could be a play-by-play of my entire life, out there for the whole internet to read. Sometimes there is a point to the story and sometimes, ultimately, the point is nothing at all. The stories are vibrant, colorful, vivid and imaginative, well-told and quoted. But what in this entire blog, on this giant websphere, is truth and what is fiction? What is conjecture and what is factual? What is balderdash and what are verities? I have a degree in creative writing. Hence, only I know.

Yes, my real name is Andrea Miklasz. What I write, what I express, is my own personal creativity and opinions. Those of you who read me regularly and are my close friends can easily and readily separate the bullshit versus the truth. Those of you who *Think* you know me well will have to guess.

Through insider information, I found out that personal internet use at Balderdash & Verities has been totally banned, and that if certain parties want to read my blog, they'll have to do it at home and clock out of work, or do it on their own, not the company's time, and that no one at the company has the right to spy on a former employee's personal life. Clearly broken down, my blog stalker spent an additional 31 minutes on my blog at her 2nd job last night, emailing more of my posts to people and reading my missives (including one I wrote about actor Daniel Craig in 2008 or something-whoa going back in the archives, I see!). I can't stop her from spying on my blog at her 2nd job or at home, though I can track those as well, but at least I feel free to write again, without worrying about being blackmailed. A small victory for me and a larger victory for personal privacy of bloggers in general, who want to be read but don't want to be harassed.

Hooray for personal privacy and a large victory for the little blogger girl!

I was assured that no one at Balderdash & Verities was out to get my on anything, and that calms my soul and re-opens my heart to posting my thoughts and feelings again, instead of drowning in a sea of doubt and fright of "Oh my, what will they find next to use against me?" The answer is nothing. It is all none of their business.

Now back to our regular story telling! :) :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shouldn't These Two People Be *REALLY* Pissed Off At One Another?

The pros/cons of listening to the "70's Lite Rock Radio" channel on Pandora: They play a lot of cheesy oldies that I admittedly do still enjoy, and it's sometimes a nice mind-numb'er after listening to the more intricate melodies of the self-designed Flaming Lips channel I created. The bad part? Ok, you can either "thumbs-up" or "thumbs-down" any given song. If you thumbs-down it, Pandora won't play it again. But you're only allowed, through licensing and copyright laws, to thumbs-down like 5 songs every hour or two, after which Pandora apologizes but tells you "you're sort of stuck here until the song's over...either change the channel or go to the bathroom or DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE WITH YOUR LIFE INSTEAD OF DICKING AROUND ON THE INTERNET."

I made the mistake of "thumbs-upping" "Escape: The Pina Colada Song" by Rupert Holmes. It's a song I used to roller skate to in my basement when I was a kid. It's a gooey, sentimental wonder that admittedly makes me lose ANY shred of punk street credibility I had going on, but whatever. I heard it today, and took the time to actually listen to it. I analyzed it a little in my mind. Here, take a listen for yourselves:

I was tired of my lady, we'd been together too long.
Like a worn-out recording, of a favorite song.
So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed.
And in the personals column, there was this letter I read:

"If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
If you're not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain.
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.
I'm the lady you've looked for, write to me, and escape."

I didn't think about my lady, I know that sounds kind of mean.
But me and my old lady, had fallen into the same old dull routine.
So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad.
And though I'm nobody's poet, I thought it wasn't half-bad.

"Yes, I like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
I'm not much into health food, I am into champagne.
I've got to meet you by tomorrow noon, and cut through all this red tape.
At a bar called O'Malley's, where we'll plan our escape."

So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place.
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face.
It was my own lovely lady, and she said, "Oh, it's you."
And we laughed for a moment, and I said, "I never knew"..

"That you liked Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne.
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.
You're the love that I've looked for, come with me, and escape."

"If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
If you're not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain.
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.
You're the love that I've looked for, come with me, and escape."



1. The couple is lying in bed...she's asleep; their dog, Bingo, is happily wagging his tail lying betwixt the seemingly happy couple, and he's looking at her like, "Enough of you and your string of pearls, Leather Face, I'm gonna scope out riot grrls in the paper and if you wake up, well, at least I've used the cover of the NY Times Book Review section as a distraction. If I have to hear about what's on sale at Trader Joe's one more fucking time or how our dry cleaner couldn't get the wine stain out of my white shirt, I'll drown myself in a tub full of bourbon."

Listen, I know all about being tired of your old man/lady after too many years together, and I'm all about following your bliss and if you meet someone else who knocks you out, do what you WANT, not what puritanical society thinks you SHOULD. Some relationships either burn out or just fizzle to a complacent friendship, especially once your brood is all grown up and the kids don't need Mom and Dad to take care of them anymore, which admit it, was half the reason you were married and tolerated one another that long to begin with. That's nobody's fault, per se, and it doesn't happen to everyone, and maybe I listen to too much John Lennon, but that's just my opinion.

2. Assuming they're still even *having* sex, wouldn't it stand to reason they would both *already* know they enjoy making love at midnight, with or without the "dunes of the cape?" Oh wait. Neither of them has watched "Annie Hall" in 20 years. Never mind.

3. The husband/partner takes out his own personal ad. Aren't they now fighting over who gets the personals' section first to check on their respective ads when the paper comes in the morning and they're having their coffee and kissing one another farewell for the day? Oh wait. They stopped THAT bullshit 15 years ago, when they were too busy carpooling and working and walking Bingo to enjoy quiet morning moments together. Never mind.

4. Her personal ad declares a distaste for yoga practitioners. His personal ad reveals that he eats like a pig and snarfs down champagne. I'm not sure that's what she was looking for, but what the hell? She is so out of sync with her fella that she doesn't already know what he likes? *I'm* a lot more simpatico with men's tastes and tendencies with men I've never lived with. Let's face it , honey, this has DEAD SHARK written all over it.

5. So he's at O'Malleys, after essentially telling her in his response to her ad that he wants to cut the crap and get it on with her. Now, if I were the guy, and my wife didn't know I was already looking for a new partner, her appearance at the bar where I said I would meet my soon-to-be affair partner would SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF ME. But Holmes' Lothario remarks about the blessed discovery of seeing his wife at the bar, and they glibly retort back to one another "Aw, it's YOU!" This is the big point of discontent I have with the story line of this song. This is where I envision the two of them ripping one another's lungs out for planning on cheating on one another.

6. And what, now she's "his own lovely lady?" Just weeks (presumably) before, he was trying not to sound mean, but that he and his old lady's fizzle had fuzzled and it was time for him to seek out some new excitement without her. He's not mad at her for placing the personal ad in the first place, and she's not mad at him for responding to a (lie) single woman's personal ad.

7. We never find out what happens to the couple after their meeting in La-La Land. Keep in mind, this song was written long before the term "friends with benefits" was coined. This was more in the wife-swapping or key-party era for those into such kink outside of their main relationships. But if that were my husband, and I actually gave a damn anymore, I'd make sure that when he touched the feel of the ocean with his glug of champagne, I'd put cement boots on him and cast his sorry ass away to be eaten by sharks. If I didn't give a damn, I would've just left him at O'Malley's and wished him good luck, whilst going home and starting to look for apartments on Craigslist.

Call me crazy, but if I were part of this couple and I wanted to maintain my relationship with my husband, I sure as hell wouldn't want to get caught meeting HIM on a blind date in a bar where HE is looking for a hookup. It just sounds so fucking complicated, you know? They need therapy or to get a separation/divorce, point blank. Because if he scoped out one babe in the papers, chicky, he'll scope out another one, most likely when he's drunk on champagne and you're at work.

It's too bad the song ends before you can see if they ripped one another's throats out and speed dialed their respective divorce attorneys after they got back home. The most knowledge that was garnered for them as a couple through this experiment was for each one to find that a) they both like Pina Coladas (eeew, coconut!) and making love at midnight. My best to them if they succeed under such strained and unusual conditions. Did they ever forgive the other for the attempt at cheating?

What the fuck?

SOPA Breaks the Internet

On the topic on censorship, I'd just like to say █ █████ ████ ███ ████ ██ ████████ █ █████ ████ ███uckin██ ██ ███████████ ██████████ ██ ████ ████ █████ ███████ █??████ ██ █ ██████ █ ██ ███████████ █ ███████ █ ██ ████████ █ ████ █████therless███ ███████ █████ ██ lene██ ███reading my blog for 19 minutes███ ███████ ███████ ███ ██ ██ ██ards█████ ██ █████ ███CKING!!!█ ███ ████ ██ ████████ █ █████ ████ ██████ ██Balderdash & Verities ███████████ ██████████ ██ ████ ████ █████ ███████ ██ght?!

This About Sums Up Today.

Rescue Me

I'm supposed to take my rescue inhaler every 4 hours as needed, 2 puffs. But whaddya do when you have intense shortness of breath, a 103 fever, you make loud noises in your lungs when you exhale (rattles) and your doctor is booked for the next 2 days? Back at Balderdash & Verities (my new nickname for the medical practice), we'd advise the patient to go to the immediate care center or, if it was really after hours, the dreaded ER, unless they waited for a call from the doctor (which I am now). I know what'll knock this out of me--a strong antibiotic, a week's worth of Prednisone (a steroid), and lots of rest. My cough is productive, so I don't want a cough suppressant. I can never just catch a cold like Luke does....colds go right to my lungs and I have asthma and I smoke, so that's a whammy of ick stacked against me and I end up like death within a quick shot of time. Had I been working, this would've definitely been a sick day. But alas, I'm offered the luxury of staying home in my multiple clothing layers left alone, except for my mom, who is so germ-a-phobic, she handed me a cup of soup with gloves on.

Poor Luke. He was extra love-a-riffic this morning. I woke him up at 7:15am, and told him to please be a good boy this morning and get ready for school because I was really sick. I told him how high my fever was, and I could barely move. I got his clothes out and he got up like a trooper, didn't dawdle and got ready for Grandma to take him to school. "Is this my fault?" he asked me, because he had a cold all last week. "No, honey, it's not your fault," I sympathetically replied. "I'm asthmatic and I smoke, so any cold I get goes right to my lungs," I told him. (I was TOO SICK TO SMOKE THIS MORNING. That's pretty fucking sick.) I was falling asleep on the couch as he got ready for school, so when he left he kissed my forehead and said, "I hope you feel better, Mommy." I thanked him and he worriedly left for school. He's coming home in less than an hour and I hope when he at least sees me upright (for the moment) that he'll be reassured that I'll be ok. My fever went down to 100.4, which is better, but I still feel like crap.

Depending on how late Stosh calls, I might end up at Immediate Care tonight. That would suck, but I'd get a breathing treatment out of it, which would be nice. Every time I cough, it hurts my broken tailbone. This is so not-pleasant.

I had no idea this was coming on, apart from the slight runny nose I had over the last week, that I thought was either a) just being out in the cold or b) a little cold from Luke. I had no idea it would transform into such a severe case so quickly.

I felt fine at school last night, which, by the way, turned out to be a total bust. The class patiently waited half an hour for the professor to show up, only to be stranded. A student went down to the office and asked what we should do. We were instructed to all write our names on a piece of paper that we were in attendance, and come back next week, turning that sheet into the office, so we all did. Got an email from the professor this afternoon that she "transposed" her class days, thinking she had class on Mondays and not Tuesdays, and apologized for not being there last night. She still assigned the first 2 chapters of the book to read for next week. Great. Between that and her 13-page syllabus attached, this is one tough cookie. But come on, the only prerequisite for Abnormal Psychology was to get a D or better in Intro to Psych, and I got a 99%, an A. I should do just dandily. Poised and ready to go to school last night at a campus I've never attended, I arrived an hour early, parked strategically near the smoking-friendly area, walked up the stairs and magically, my classroom was right there. It couldn't have gone any more smoothly. Well, except for that whole no-professor bullshit. That wasn't cool. But I got caught up on my texts for the early evening while waiting, and while one student was busy perusing the textbook, I leaned over and said out loud, "You know, I *have* half of what's in that book, just sayin'." Already labeling myself as the class lunatic. That's ok, I came out to my class as an alcoholic during my oral presentation on Antabuse the 2nd week of Intro to Psych last spring.

Despite my coy sort-of-warning, my blog stalker (see "I Love My Blog Tracking Software, Part 3"), who is too dense to apparently realize that I'm watching her, still checks in on my blog like 4-5 times a day, which seems excessive, doesn't it? I write a lot, but sheesh, give me a chance to do an update already, sister. I've chalked it up to either a) she's really, really dumber than I gave her credit for being in the dumb department, knowing I'm tracking her visits, or b) she's doing it just to fuck with me and be a bully and creep on my blog. She's over at Balderdash & Verities and I honestly would hope she had better things to do than creep on cute pictures of my nephew, pour through comments about my Luke birthing story or whatever-the-fuck it is she thinks she's looking for or wants to incriminate me with. My cousin Paul was right, the internet is free and public and I have no right to police who reads my blog or anything, but I know who this particular person is, and frankly, she's icking me out. And she KEEPS Googling my name misspelled. I don't know what's the most irritating about the whole situation--her creeping or not being able to get MIKLASZ down after spying on me since the first week of January. Seriously, today alone there were 7 visits from the office ISP to my blog, the longest being a 19 minute visit. Hmm, well, when we'd get caught staring out the window of the office for 20 seconds, we'd get into trouble, but I guess since she's in charge, it's ok for her to spend half the work day (and you'd think they'd be swamped without me--I guess I was that expendable!) creeping on my blog.

Most people think I should be a lot angrier at my Tatus than I am, given he was one of the kingpins who worked to get me fired on a technicality, and the more I think about it, it was sort of a gang-up, minus the one guy who had the issue with me in the first place, who magically had thrown his back out that day and wasn't in the office to give me the boot. Had he been there, I probably would've had it out with him, if the shock had worn off, and I would've defended myself a lot better than I did at the gang confrontation with all the doctors, my Tatus included.

But I'm not mad at him. I wanted to go to school and get my doctorate and do what I was meant to do, not stay there for the rest of my life in a go-nowhere position and this was the time and opportunity for me to leave and be forced into jump-starting my REAL career. Instead, I miss him fiercely, though we talk pretty regularly, though we haven't seen one another since that awful night, when I flat out asked him if he still loved me, and he told me he did, but that he was disappointed in me and thought I had my shit together more than he thought I did. An unfair statement to make, since in the historical annals of Annie Having Her Shit Together, I'm about at peak performance right now. Time is flying in January and it's looking like my Tatus and I won't have until February to get together, despite our best efforts at scheduling, when we're getting together to celebrate my 4 years of sobriety with dinner and my first tattoos at some point when he's not on a men's retreat with his church. A men's retreat for Catholic guys? Sounds like a lot of beer drinking and ice fishing and a chance to get away from the missus for a few days, I don't know. I wonder how much of the Bible will get employed. None of my business; I'm just curious. I'm holding him to the promise of never abandoning me and still being my friend. I took those sentiments very seriously.

It was a simple lack of or miss-communication that I couldn't have any refills of a mild, innocuous diarrhea pill that's more effective when over-the-counter Immodium doesn't help your atomic diarrhea that's the bottom line at Balderdash & Verities. I researched the drug in question, Lomotil. You'd have to take like 30 at a time to get any kind of buzz off them, and the other inert ingredient in Lomotil, atropine, would give you a heart attack in the meantime, so the drug is marketed as nearly abuse-resistant. I found that on the internet in 5 minutes. The doctors I worked for didn't know that off the top of their heads? I guess when you get your medical degree in Guadalajara, like the one with the thrown out back...

I have some meager profit sharing due me, and I'm having trouble getting it out. This-broker-needs-to-talk-to-this-accountant-then-call-me-back bullshit. So I wait. I was only vested for a few months, so I'm sure I don't have all that much saved in it, and I could honestly use the dough to live off of now, as opposed to rolling it over into an investment, even given the hefty 10% tax from the IRS.

It was great at Luke's birthday dinner at TGIFridays on Monday night with me, my mom, Luke, Craig, his girlfriend, and The Other Grandma, who is fucknuts. After being told she wasn't welcome in my home until she apologized to my son for yelling at him when he was coughing and had no control over his actions, she didn't show up to his kids' party on Sunday. At dinner, we were forced somehow to sit next to one another, whereupon she decided to order a Jack Daniels on the rocks just to irritate the fuck out of me. Had she ordered a more socially acceptable drink like a glass of wine, I wouldn't have seen it as a big deal at all. But no one else was drinking. It was a 12-year old's birthday dinner. Don't think her gesture went unnoticed by either myself or my sharp son: he came up to me as I was getting my coat on and said, "How about Grandma's gratuitous cocktail?" and I just shrugged. I texted my best high school friend, also a recovering alcoholic, to tell her what was happening, and she just responded, "Bitch." Exactly. The whole dinner was tense, though when I'm out with my ex and his girlfriend and Luke, I do just fine. I really like the girlfriend, it's just The Other Grandma that drives me crazy, because she's bipolar and refusing treatment, relying on voodoo shrinks and new-age seminars that don't seem to be working terribly well. We started talking about her Twitter account, where she keeps up with other fans of American Idol winner Lee DeWyze's life and garbage, and tweets to him like she's a teenager in love with David Cassidy. Luke asked her how many followers she has, and she said something like "28." "And who are they?" Luke asked. "All 'Lee People'," she said. She can't tell that I, with my full, real name, am following her on Twitter and laughing hysterically at her posts? Silly, silly woman. Maybe she can't see I'm a follower since my Tweets are protected and secured, and only people given permission by me can see what I tweet (you think I swear a lot here and on Facebook? Fuck.)

The upshot of the TGIFridays experience was that we got Luke's annual "How Tall Am I in Comparison to Larry Hagman" photo, as seen here. He was measured at the doctor on Saturday, where I took him only to find out he indeed had a cold and there was nothing I could do about it, and he's officially 5'3" at this point. No wonder he's got growing pains in his knees. Big fella, our Luke's gonna be.






Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hire This Young Man To Model..



I'm a little bit biased because I'm his aunt, but I totally think my nephew, Jake, who is 19, should be modeling for J Crew or something. He's just so damn photogenic!

Hey, Cindy Crawford was originally from De Kalb too!

Hire this young man--he needs a new set of wheels!


Monday, January 16, 2012

With No Disrespect to Martin Luther King, Jr, BUT....

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

How does that explain my careening down an entire flight of stairs? It sure as shit wasn't a leap of faith. I thought I was awake and just hunting for the light when I slipped and missed the step and fell down the whole flight of stairs. My doctor argues that I passed out again, thereby breaking my tailbone. When I knocked my head on the tub, THEN I KNEW I blacked out, because the only thing that woke me up was the head bash. Otherwise, I was clueless.

Oh, if it's faith, I've got plenty. People at church keep calling me Job. "You're Job." "Read Job." My girlfriend said that Job went through all this horrible shit (she didn't say "shit," I'm paraphrasing) yet never lost his faith in God. I haven't lost my faith in God, either. If anything, I think God is being really fucking obvious with me in twisting my life into a new path, albeit a difficult and challenging path.

My best male friend is on a very dangerous and daunting path right now, and I'm trying my best to love him and support him without compromising my own health and stability. What started out as a silly, random but valid little argument about my family spiraled into drunken calls at 3am (his drunkenness, not mine), arguments on a grand scale and more ick than I care to delve into in this medium. Suffice it to say, he and I have been through the Heaviest of Shit together since the inception of our kinship, and this test of our love for one another is a) huge and b) drama I don't need right now and c) it'll be a miracle if we come through this both with our friendship, our romantic entanglement aside, intact.

Tomorrow, school starts. That's a very good thing. Unemployment is rolling along. Sweet. Pretty soon, I'll file my taxes and get some dough rolling into the camp, not that I'm not capable of surviving until then. My Tatus agreed to accompany me to a tattoo parlor. I reunited with my best high school friend. Tonight, I'm celebrating not only that my son turned 12 today, but that I fucking survived to see it happen, when the odds were immeasurably stacked against me time and time again.

I don't have to deal with the the multiple, constricting verities and balderdash of the medical practice stressing me out anymore, and can concentrate on my studies and career, my health, my kid, my sobriety and AA, my writing & music and my therapy.

So, MLK JR, I'll keep taking those leaps of faith, now enhanced by a nightlight in the bathroom that illuminates the hallway, and I'll refresh my knowledge of the book of Job, but I'm not giving up just yet.


Reflections on Luke's 12th Birthday



Today, my son is turning 12. This is his last year of childhood and next year, he'll be a teenager. An adolescent. Oof.

Craig, my ma and I spent the evening of January 15, 2000 at my Aunt Pat and Uncle Jerry's house for dinner and to go through some hand-me-down baby clothes (onesies, useful stuff) from my cousin. I honestly thought I'd have the baby that night, the contractions were so strong that we were timing them. I remember being on the floor, hunched over my aunt's ottoman in pain. But the contractions went away. It was a Saturday night, so I didn't go get checked out at the hospital, plus I wasn't due for another 2 weeks, so I chalked it up to Braxton-Hicks contractions and went back to my meatballs.

That baby REFUSED to move out of the breech position, with his head cramped into my rib cage for MONTHS. The OB kept telling me the longer I was pregnant like that, the less the chances were that the baby would turn and be head-down and I'd be able to deliver vaginally. I guess I know where Luke gets his stubborn streak from.

So on January 16, 2000, Craig and I decided we'd get out for one more "date" before the baby came. The nursery was ready, the bag for the hospital was packed, and I was dying to see the movie "Magnolia," by one of my favorite directors, Paul Thomas Anderson. Craig and I went to the 12:30 showing of the film, and I inhaled some popcorn and purchased a 44 oz vat of Coke.

The film is 3 1/2 hours long. I was sitting uncomfortably in my theater seat, unable to get into a pleasant position. The contractions were starting again, but I didn't want to alarm Craig during the movie, and I damnit, wanted to see how this film ended, so there we sat. I was fidgety, and going "ooh" and "aah" quietly to myself. The film finally ended and we were leaving the theater.

"Craig, we need to call Dr. Kismartoni NOW." "Why? What's wrong?" Craig asked me. "I think I'm in labor," I said. "Labor! I thought you were just bitching like you always do!" he replied. We didn't have cell phones back then, so we went back to our apartment and had the doctor paged. We got the bags and headed to Resurrection.

On a Sunday night, it's not chaotic at the hospital. The security guard, who was this enormous African-American woman, got me a wheelchair and she said, "You're gonna have a baby!" I said, "No, I'm going home. I'm just here to get checked out." "You' ain't leavin' this hospital until you have that baby, honey," the guard told me. Was it THAT obvious?

Even the OB nurses knew I wasn't leaving the hospital this time, though I'd been in for OB checks numerous times during my pregnancy. "What do you plan on naming the baby?" one asked me. "Lucas," I said. "And do you have the car seat ready for Lucas?" she asked. "Um, yeah...." "Good." She spunkily then went to page my doctor as I breathed through the increasing contractions.

Dr. Kismartoni met us in the OB ward and did a final ultrasound to confirm the baby's position and felt my cervix for dilation. I was 1cm dilated, 80% effaced and in early labor. The baby was in a double footling breech position with both feet caught in the birth canal at zero station. There was no way he was going to come out vaginally, so I was prepped for a c-section, which we already assumed I'd have anyway.

I told Craig to call Ma. He returned with bad news. "Your mom can't come to the hospital now. She's making a meatloaf." "MAKING A MEATLOAF!!?!" I said. "I'm HAVING THE BABY." Craig told me to calm down and assured me my mom would be there as soon as the meatloaf was done baking. I was out of my mind nervous and will never let my ma live that meatloaf down.

I remember the c-section vividly, though I was pretty drugged up. I spent most of the time chit-chatting with Dr. Rock (yes, that was his name), the anesthesiologist, and Craig remembers there being an inordinate amount of blood involved. They lifted the baby out of me at 7:28 pm and he let out the signature wail of "What the fuck is going on?" and thus was born Lucas Alexander Bechtel. They wrapped him up and briefly showed him to me as I lied on the operating table and I remember my first words to him, which were "Oh, look how cute you are!"

Craig and Luke, and by that time, Ma (the meatloaf was done), had gone away to get Luke cleaned and warmed up, and I asked Dr. Rock for an extra shot of Fentanyl because I said I was feeling pain, when in reality, come on. I'd spent the last 9 months clean, the 3 months prior to getting pregnant clean, and goddamnit, if there were narcotics I had access to, I was asking for them. So I did.

Dr. Kismartoni told his team of residents and med students to take a good look at my baby's position, at my body, that they'd "not see this again for a very long time." Apparently, a double footling breech is one of the weirdest and rarest presentations a baby can assume (which is only fitting for Luke). He was little--6 lbs, 6oz, and 18" long, 38 weeks' gestation, so just about full-term.

They finished sewing me back together, after showing me my uterus, that they'd taken halfway out of my body to massage and contract it back to normal size (the same uterus that I'm having removed because it's growing cancer). I was in recovery and they brought Luke to me and told me to try and feed him. Just having taken a breastfeeding course the week prior to his birth, I thought it'd be a breeze. It wasn't. Breastfeeding was a clusterfuck in general, and within days of his birth, my son was a formula-fed baby and still managed to grow up to be a healthy genius, so spare me the lactation, breast-is-best lecture.

Moved into our private room in the hospital finally, my mom spent some time with us and bid us farewell so Craig, Luke and I could rest and adjust to our new family. Craig was exhausted. The trendy thing at the turn of the century was "rooming-in," where, instead of your baby being in the nursery, looked after by the nurses so you can get some fucking rest, the baby is kept in your room with you, even if you've had a c-section. Once the anesthesia wore off, I felt, every time I moved to pick up the baby, that I was being ripped from stem to stern. Half the time, some nurse or doctor would come in and move him, so that I couldn't reach him when he was crying. Craig eventually had to go home, then had to go back to work, and I was in the hospital from Sunday until Thursday.

The day we were discharged, the nurse came in and said, "Where are his clothes?" and I got up and showed her the outfit I'd picked out months before to plan to take him home in, and I had his hat and (comparatively) giant snowsuit ready, and the aforementioned car seat basket was ready, and I told the nurse to dress him. "YOU dress him, you're his mother!" she insisted.

"I don't know how." I had no practice with babies. I didn't babysit babies when I was younger. I didn't know what to do with a newborn. I'd just started getting the diaper thing down. I couldn't even feed him properly--how was I supposed to dress him?

Sorry, Luke, if I twisted you around too much, buddy, but I got the outfit on you, and the hat and snowsuit, and took your newborn jaundiced, yellowed little body home to our apartment. I think Craig drove 5mph home to our house just 5 minutes away from the hospital, but once we were home, apart from the breastfeeding and jaundice problems (nothing a little natural sunlight didn't cure and a few honkin' bottles of formula), we settled in together, all 3 of us, as a family.

Amazingly, my best girlfriend, Kate, had called and left a message on our answering machine to check up on me at exactly 7:28 pm, the very moment Luke was born. We've always been astonished at that coincidence.

Things have changed a lot as the times have, and Luke's been through hell and gone with me in the 12 years--divorce, rehab, financial struggle, illness, you name it, but that child still loves and maybe even more importantly, respects his mother (and father).

We're sitting beside one another right now--Luke's building one of the big Lego sets he got for his birthday, and I'm writing, as usual. I'm trying to listen to music and he keeps interrupting my groove with his off-key, voice-is-changing melodies and annoyingly tapping his bare feet on the hardwood floor. (Please, Luke, if you think you have the signature Miklasz rhythm, we have work to do.)

"Quit posting things about me on the internet!" he says, as if he's entitled to an opinion.

"Why are we staring at one another?" he says. I don't know why we were looking at one another. "We have the fuck-ugliest couches in the whole world, you know that?" he tells me. (We've been over this 100 times. Yes, my son swears in front of me and only me, unless he swears with his friends, I don't know. But it's part of our vernacular, it works for us, and he's an otherwise very polite person to other people.)

"What's the difference between a burp and a belch, oh shit!! Where'd that Lego piece go?" he says. Yes, he's my child. But he's not my little boy anymore. He's a young man.

"Just the Two of Us" by Bill Withers, befittingly plays on Pandora.

At TGIFriday's tonight, we'll take our annual "How Much Taller Is Luke Than Larry Hagman' Cowboy Hat?" photo to see how much taller he's grown in a year, which has become an annual tradition the last 3 years, at dinner with both sides of the family.

Happy Birthday, Luke, and Happy Birthing Day to myself. Our future is ripe with possibilities and opportunities that we'll stick together for. He thinks I'm weird for blogging about his birthday and I think he's weird in general. But we're a good weird together. Luke is literally the one thing in my life I have managed not to utterly fuck up in some fashion or another.

Luke is gentle, a pacifist, an intellectual, an artist, a lover of knowledge. He's a fascinating person in which to engage in conversation when he opens up, being a little on the shy side, like both of his folks.

He asks me why I don't play with him more. Why I don't build Legos with him. I explained to him that I have spatial orientation problems and find Legos really aggravating to try and build, while he can barely look at instructions and build a 300-piece set in an hour. When he plays video games, they make me nauseated, so I can't watch them for any length of time. So at this stage of his life, we don't have much in common with one another to "play." That's kinda shitty, and I wish I could figure out more to do WITH him. We'd planned this summer to go to MA to visit Kate and my cousin Paul, but with me losing my job, I don't know that will happen. We can only hope. I hate to disappoint my son.

I hate to disappoint my son about lots of things, but I think since I got sober, I've been doing a damn good job of raising him right. I look forward to his teen years to watch him blossom into an even more unusual, unique individual....








Ripple

My Tatus sent me a quote from this song on Saturday night, in between my band practice and playing for the church service. I was feeling low, and he'd read my blog about how I felt about leaving the medical practice, and it was, he said last night, from the Grateful Dead song, "Ripple." He said it's largely thought to be a song about faith. Just at the moment I needed it most.

I'm sending this out to my best male friend, who's also going through some really heavy shit right now. I didn't mean we couldn't be friends because you're drinking. I was trying to employ tough love and tell you, "Come back to me when you're sober." I didn't mean for you to get so hostile and angry towards me. I love you and want you to succeed and be healthy. If I have to fly down there to help you get your act together, I'll do whatever it takes.

Thank you and love you, Tatus!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What the Fuck is This, Anyway?

This is my newest dorky hat. I launched a discussion on Facebook today as to WTF animal it might be. Guesses have ranged from a deer to a bumblebee to a funky lady bug with a bear face to a wingtailed raccoon. Your guesses are most welcome....

HYSteroscopy + HYSterectomy = Annie is HYSterical.

I hadn't made my follow-up appointment about the D&C I had 3 weeks ago, and I hadn't heard from the gyno what the pathology results were, so I assumed they were fine.

But she wanted to tell me in person as opposed to doing it over the phone. That's never a good sign.

"What did the pathology show?" I asked.

"Well, I was quite surprised," the doctor said. "It showed you have complex endometrial hyperplasia with atypia."

"Uh....what is it and what do we do about THAT?" I asked.

She then proceeded to tell me that I had a large growth of aggressive pre-cancrous cells in my uterus and it needs to be removed--a hysterectomy. She also said it was growing rapidly, and that full-on uterine cancer develops in 3-5% of patients who present with my condition, a risk that, she said, was actually very high to chance and leave alone when it can be cured with a hysterectomy.

It certainly explains the highly abnormal bleeding and whatnot, which wasn't just early menopause, as she previously thought. Still, the doctor said that I don't present as the typical patient that has this condition--that it's normally seen in the obese (um, not me), or in women with other hormonal problems going on. Me, the medical mystery.

She wanted to do the hysterectomy right away, but I begged and pleaded with her to see if we could wait until the middle of May, when my Abnormal Psych class will be over. She said, "We can wait 4 months, if it means that much to you. We can't wait 6 months. We can't wait a year, or you will have uterine cancer. You won't make it."

That all scared the shit out of me more than whacking my head on the tub when I passed out the other night (now, as a result, I have a big, swollen black right eye with a scratch going across above my lid--how dainty!).

They're leaving my ovaries in, so that I'll go through menopause naturally, which is fine, as long as, they said, I was cool with not being able to have any more children (hell yes, I am). Are any of us not looking forward to never having a period again? Shit, what a ridiculous question. I honestly want a second opinion about the ovaries--ovarian cancer is such a tricky motherfucker and by the time they find it, it's usually too late. So I'm debating the leave-the-ovaries-in idea.

The idea is to go on laproscopically, much like my gallbladder surgery, and do crazy shit like take my uterus out through my belly button or something. (I don't understand how on Earth they do that, frankly, and don't want to know.) But my gyno is not optimistic that the easy route will be used, which would only require 2 weeks of recuperation, like a c-section in terms of activity level (no driving, no shopping, no school, no work, et al). Because of the massive overgrowth of scar tissue I have as a result of having Luke via c-section, my gyno thinks she'll have to reopen the c-section site and go in to remove the uterus, which requires 4-6 week of recuperation, much longer. Thank God I have a compassionate ex-husband who helps me take care of my son, a mother who is very helpful and capable, and a 12-year old kid who's more or less independent who will all cooperate to assist in my recovery and not upsetting the Miklasz apple cart. At least I don't have to worry about taking a medical leave of absence from work anymore, right?

The prayer chain at church is so wacky. They'd put in the online stream that I was having the hysteroscopy, which was done during the D&C, but that threw the general church crowd into a panic that I was having a hysterectomy at the time. I remarked on Facebook that there was no need to panic, that it was just a test. Well, now they can panic. Or convince me, somehow, not to panic. Because the operation's in May and I'm already panicking. I just really, really want to get the Abnormal Psych course taken care of. I'll try not to die in the meantime, God willing and the creek don't rise....










Friday, January 13, 2012

Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning's End

Romans 12:6-21:

6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Love

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you;bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
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My Stephen minister and I talked about the above referenced passages this morning with regard to my future and the question she raised, that she penned on a napkin: "WHO IS ANDREA?"

I had time to think about leaving the medical practice and what that all truly meant. I received the grace of several friends, people who know me and my character very well, who all came to the same conclusion; a conclusion I had not honestly thought of.

Had the status quo gone on with me working at the medical practice, where I was quite content, I would NOT have followed what is God's plan for me and for my life. I loved my job and was very satisfied, though admittedly stressed out at times. I was very good at what I did there and forged solid relationships. But everyone who knew I was pursuing my doctorate asked me the same question: "When are you going back to school?" "Are you taking any classes this semester?" and I would chalk the "no" up to being too busy working to take classes. Or that my health was too poor. Or that I was taking some time to clear my head after Christopher, et al.

God talks to us through our loved ones and friends. I believe that. A good friend from Knox pointed out, with compassion, knowing how much I loved my job and what a bummer it was to lose it, under such sucky and mismanaged circumstances, that it was, after all, just an interim position. I took the job after looking for a job for 2 years. I was just on the cusp of functionally bipolar when I was hired in 2009. I needed to earn enough money to support myself and my child, though we had moved in with my mom, who helped us out a a lot. I knew back after finishing rehab that I ultimately wanted to be a substance abuse and addiction psychological counselor as a career. I didn't want to be a part-time medical receptionist for the rest of my life. I honestly and truly deserve better than to be the low-woman on a totem pole as I approach middle age. I'm too educated to stand at a fax machine and mindlessly transmit documents for hours a day. I appreciate the second chance at a normal life that the medical practice provided me, but in truth, I deserve to be and want to be a doctor of psychology.

Had I not gotten the kick in the ass God delivered last week, I'd not have enrolled in Abnormal Psych for this semester. Bad enough I was made to feel guilty by people at my practice for having taken half a day off to attend an open house at the Adler School last month. I never understood it; the other girls in the office were taking classes (working towards an associates and a bachelor's, respectively, not a doctorate like me), schedules would be accommodated every semester, yet when I enrolled in school last year and the notion was proposed that I would have to re-arrange when I left one night a week, it was a big fucking inconvenience. So I dropped one of the two courses I planned to take and went only for the class that met on Fridays.

*I* was flexible and changed my hours to work around the other girls' school schedules, even at the cost of missing out on things with my son, or with my church, and had to schedule everything I did on Fridays if possible, my only day off, unless I had a doctor's appointment that had to occur during my work week, which admittedly the practice was alright with. They were very patient during my multiple operations and hospitalizations in 2010, though it wasn't like they could let me go for being sick, though mention was made of me taking a medical leave of absence until the Gods of Medicine Above could figure out what the fuck was exactly wrong with me (which they STILL haven't, but Stosh had some good ideas and directions to follow when I talked to him earlier tonight).

In fact, during my exit from the practice, one of the doctors ASKED me why, between the hours of 11am-1pm, I'm so out of it. Evidently, he missed the letter that went around from the endocrinologist that indicated that a 5-hour glucose tolerance test showed that I have reactive hypoglycemia. Especially odd, given he'd written me my original Rx for glucose testing strips. It's origin and treatment is still unknown. The best solution the doctors could muster was to eat 3 times a workday, in small, protein-rich, low-carb bits, after a drug the endo tried me on got me even sicker. (After my talk with Stosh today, he decided I need to force myself to eat every 2 hours and check my sugar before I go out and drive anywhere.)

I'm trying to, but having a hard time forgiving the practice for drug testing me yet not checking my glucose during the epic attack on my birthday. No one knows why I have pain when I eat food or why I want to pass out half the day. No one at the practice knew how many days I'd spend a decent portion of the workday in the bathroom vomiting or having the trots and worked anyway. Instead, they teased me about food and skinniness and said "I wish I had whatever Andrea has so I could be as skinny as she is" when I was seen eating a jar of baby food at the lunch table because it was all I could digest. They'd offer uneducated and unsolicited opinions about what I should eat and when, and prodded me about the medications I took, which frankly was all none of their goddamn business but I was upfront about anyway. God, help me out here.

Surely, the unpredictable nature of my medical condition frustrated my employers. It frustrates my mother, my son, my friends, my physicians, everyone. But few give consideration to how much it frustrates ME. I'm the one living in this body. At least the physician at my practice who is my friend fought to find me specialists who might be able to help me, even if their attempts proved fruitless. My mother is so worried about my ability to drive to school that she is willing to schlep Luke with her and hang out in Skokie for 3 hours while I go to class every week. (The Adler School I can get to via train.)

The hypoglycemia/passing out/et al situation is spiraling totally out of control, and I'm not even using narcotics or sedatives a lot of the time. The fall down the stairs was NOT sleepiness-related or hypoglycemia-related. That was an unfortunate accident of me being clumsy in the dark. I'm starting to wonder if I have narcolepsy or a brain tumor or something. Last night, I fell asleep at the computer in the office, just dicking around, not doing anything important. But Ma told Luke to keep an eye on me so I didn't fall out of the chair or anything. Luke's a night owl, so mind you, he's usually up later than I am. Anyway, Luke woke me up in the office, told me I'd passed out at my computer (when, I don't know) and ordered me to go to bed. I told him I'd go to bed as soon as I'd gone to the bathroom.

I went down to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. I honestly don't know how long I was on the toilet, as I only had to pee quickly, but somehow I fell into a deep slumber ON THE TOILET. Luke didn't come to check on me until he heard a loud thud. The loud thud was me hitting the ground and totally banging my head into the ceramic bathtub. (That fall did wonders for my broken tailbone,I assure you!). Picked myself up, dizzy and unable to focus, with a horrible headache. Blood was pouring out of my mouth from where I'd bitten my tongue so badly in 2 places that I nearly went all the way through my tongue with my teeth. I didn't lose consciousness after the fall and the head slam, at least until I went to bed very shortly thereafter. I didn't want to worry or awaken my mom, so kept it sort of hush-hush. I had not taken my nighttime dose of Estazolam, my anxiety med that helps manage my Generalized Anxiety Disorder and my insomnia, yet, nor had I taken any narcotic painkillers that would've made me drowsy. It was more than just being stubborn and not wanting to go to bed. It's a clusterfuck.

But I totally digress.

Getting back to the question on the napkin asked by my Stephen minister, "Who is Andrea?" I wrote down the following: a survivor, a student, a mother, a friend, a child of God, a drummer, a mentor, a writer. I'm also a daughter, a sister, an advocate, among other admirable traits. Most importantly, I'm *not* what I told my mom I was the night I lost my job, which was a loser.

My Stephen minister asked me then to write down who I will be in the future. I wrote such things as "Dr. Andrea Miklasz, PsyD," "a success," " a helper," "a wife" and a "a servant." I'll also be an inspiration, a leader, still a mother, still an artist, still a loony, recovering alcoholic.

I do and will continue to miss some of the people I worked with at the medical practice. The head physician at the practice, who accompanied me to clock out my final time held me closely, told me that he knew I was a good person, apologized for the way things were ending and hoped I'd be able to take care of my child. I expressed my gratitude in his sentiment and was indeed just always grateful to HAVE a job given the economy. That doctor also told me a long time ago that I was the most interesting character that ever worked at the practice, which was something I always held dear. He knows my heart, God knows my heart, and everyone, including me, know I realize I'm not infallible and am prone to naivete and acts of sheer flightiness, if nothing else.

Perhaps I indeed swore too often and too loudly at work. Perhaps I slammed the phone down a couple of times out of utter frustration. Perhaps I lost patience with foreign home health nurses whose accents rendered them incomprehensible. Perhaps I called people by their first names instead of addressing them as "Mr." or "Mrs." Whomever, but that was because these patients knew me and preferred to be called by their first names. A lot of them called me "Annie" instead of "Andrea," which is my hallmark for friendship, though in the office I was always called "Andrea." But I enjoyed my time with the patients the most, even the days when I swore if I saw one more walker or wheelchair, I'd scream.

I see this all as OPPORTUNITY. I jump-start my real career, to have more time to get my health in order, to work towards what makes my heart soar. What thrills my soul. Following my bliss, not treading the water in a go-nowhere job. It'll hurt financially for a good long time, but we'll survive: my mom, Luke and I.

My future is exploding with possibility. It's happening.