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Dear 12-Year-Old Me

Dear 12-year-old me,

It’s just after Labor Day, and you’re about to start the worst two school years of your life. I don’t say this to discourage you, but to let you know things will get better.

42-year-old Trish with original art from Bob Eggleton.

You’re all excited now, about to start a new school—junior high-turned-middle school due to academic reorgaization—a fresh start. You’ll learn new things, which always excites you. You were accepted into the band playing drums!

You’re nervous because your one, dependable best friend isn’t going to this school with you. At twelve, you’re uncomfortably aware it is due to the fact she lives in a lower-income neighborhood and has some very different life situations and that there’s nothing either of you, at twelve and thirteen, or your families can do about it. You’re worried you’re going to drift away…and you’re not wrong. But you’ll reunite. You’ll keep your promise that she’ll be your maid of honor at your wedding. You’ll drift away again, and reunite again… and your 42-year-old self writing this is making a note to call her.

But this school year’s fresh start isn’t going to work in your favor. While you live in the right neighborhood and you’ve got the brains and ability, you’re not like most of the kids that are here. Most of the kids here have more money than you, and therefore are cooler. Most of the kids here are the ones that picked on you, shunned you (unless you could give them a test or homework answer) in the earlier grades. The other kids you’ll most remember are the ones that got placed in this high-testing school due to measures trying to help people, like your best friend, who are in lower income neighborhoods and have less access to good schools with lots of technology, swimming pools, new books, strong drama and music options, and award-winning teams in sports and academics. You have a general understanding of this at twelve, and you are glad more people are getting better educational choices, but you don’t understand the social implications of this yet.

Dear 12-year-old me, you get your first lesson in racial bigotry during these years.

You seek friendship from these new kids who are different from the ones you know and know you can’t trust, and while you’ve gotten on your report cards comments like “can’t read people” and “lacks good social skills,” you don’t really know what to do about that, so you set yourself up for a world of hurt and rejection because these kids don’t know you’re not like the other jerks who look like you, have a similar skin tone, and who look at them like they don’t belong there. They wonder, like how you often wonder, if your attempts of friendship aren’t some trick that will hurt them worse later. Unlike you—and this you don’t know yet—the consequences of them falling for tricks like that can be even worse than you’re broken heart and shattered feelings.

Hearing this isn’t going to lessen the sting of that girl shouting at you to stop following her group, threatening to kick your ass if you come near any of them.

You have nowhere to sit during lunch. You spend two years of lunches hiding in the band room. At least you end up the lead drummer from all the extra practice time.

Sometimes you’ll have temporary friends. One, we’ll call her Ja—, is a girl who has a mixed-race couple for parents. When she’s “black” enough, she can fit in with that table you can’t go near or you’ll get your ass kicked. It’s like being “cool” enough, to your comprehension—but much more complicated. She confides these things to you during one of your shared music-room exile lunches; you’ll remember it thirty years later. If she talks too long about the things she has in common with you, like reading fantasy books and comics or watching certain movies or imagining faraway lands, she is banished back to the music room with you. Sometimes you take turns singing your favorite pop songs into the microphone on the empty practice stage. When you break your ankle, she helps you carry your stuff for two weeks. You won’t remember seeing her again after these two school years.

Outside of those spare moments, everything else is mental and emotional torture. Even the places you once found joy and sanctuary, the classrooms and classwork, will betray you. You can never seem to score as high as the students who can afford better clothes, and many of the teachers like their answers better than your creative ones. You get a terrible pre-algebra teacher who will ruin most of your future math experience by convincing you that you’re terrible at math. (You’re not.) You’ll get your sacred reading books confiscated—and you’ll commit your first act of theft by stealing one back from the teacher as you leave class. The only good thing you’ll recall is reading The Left Hand of Darkness for the first time and having a crush on Estraven. You’ll wish you could remember the name of that English teacher decades later.

Dear 12-year-old me, you’ll try. You’ll save up pet-sitting and paper delivery money and ask for just one present for Christmas, because it’s expensive: A Starter Jacket. You have no idea what that is, really, except not having one was part of someone’s insult to you and one thing you figured you had the ability to change. You know nothing about college sports, and you feel like a fool trying to figure out where to buy one and how to pick one when the store clerk asks what team you support. You settle on Georgetown because it’s got a dog on it, and it’s a navy blue color that you like.

Wearing that coat is not the miracle you hope; you’ll quickly learn that you need to know the right lines and words and answers someone who wears a Starter jacket would say. And you have no idea what those magic lines, words, gestures, etc. are. Not at all. No Starter jacket, no United Colors of Benetton, and no Gap clothing (when it fits you) makes a difference. No matter how hard you work and save to look the way you’re expected to look, you will never look right. You’ll never, ever fit in with these people. You’re weird, you’re “too” smart, and your fat, and those facts give them the social allowance to ridicule, hurt, and erode your self-esteem in ways you’ll feel for decades.

Dear 12-year-old me, I’m sorry you go through this.

Things change, though, and as shitty as it sounds to you at twelve and thirteen, this suffering becomes a reminder to be kind, to be loyal to those you love, to be the smile or say the compliment that might be the one thing that gets another suffering person through their day. You decide you never want to be the cause of the levels of pain you felt; you decide no one deserves to be abused like that, and that everyone deserves a chance to escape that kind of abuse and bullying. You decide that you want to be the person that will make the kind, forgiving, and welcoming choice—even if it means you’ll get hurt again. Because what if your choice did make a difference for someone suffering, for someone who is acting out because they are in pain, for someone whose brain works differently and doesn’t realize they’re causing pain?

You get hurt. A lot. But it becomes your choice, your agency to be in that position.

It still fucking hurts. A lot. And you question why you are the way you are, and you have moments of cruelty when you’ve been hurt too much or when you’ve given too much and there’s nothing left…when there’s less than nothing left…to feed your soul. You’ll have moments of missing something—a social cue, a subtle request for help—that will hurt someone because your brain was focusing on something else. You’ll fail at helping others because you’re overwhelmed. You’re still human. (Despite the daydreams of possibly being fey or magical…after all, we were adopted and enough of our favorite books opened us up to that possibility!) You still keep trying, keep deciding to try to be the person you want to be.

You’ll find other people, people you admire and respect, who have made similar decisions based on similar circumstances. In fact, some of the kindest people you will meet will share that they had even worse experiences in bullying, in abuse, in trauma. And yet, they choose to be loving people, open to getting hurt again for the sake of not hurting another.

This becomes such a pattern that when you think of having kids you fear who they might become if they don’t experience the pain you’ve gone through. You question if compassion must stem from the experience of pain—and yet, you don’t want anyone to have to experience those levels of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual pain, much less potential kids you’ll love.

Dear 12-year-old me, what you go through these two years works its way into your writing. Because we do write. And we do get published. That was the #1 Dream after all, and we stuck to it.

I am going to be a writer! I am going to have a job where I write!

How many times did we say that growing up? More than my 42-year-old mind can remember. And people called us stubborn like it was a bad thing.

I stubbornly held onto that writing dream. For so many years.

Dear 12-year-old me, yes, the next two years are going to be horrible—and while you’ll think of them as the most horrible, there will be other significantly horrible and shitty years. But you’ll be better prepared for them. You’ll have an even better support group. (And you’ll realize you were lucky you did have supportive family—many of your other friends who were bullied and abused did not, or their family was their abusers.)

Dear 12-year old me, things are going to get better. So much better.

The underfunding of the Springfield schools will mean that your high school will be so overcrowded that the population of geeks—people like you—will find each other and befriend each other. You’ll discover Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, DragonLance, Forgotten Realms, Tarot cards, pendulums, scary movies, and slumber parties. You’ll be an editor at the school paper and get whatever hall passes you need to avoid situations where you were separated from your friends. You and your friends will all volunteer to help in the library, making it even more of a safe space for outcasts for years. You will have friends that you will still regularly speak with in thirty years—their children will call you Auntie Trish! Because most of the group you’ll befriend is also neuroatypical, you’ll help each other figure out social expectations that mystify you.

You will re-learn enough confidence to dump the guy who wouldn’t support your dreams and go away to college.

You’ll make you “fresh start” in college so much better. You’ll wear a quirky hat that will get the man you’re going to marry to notice you. And you’ll let people you just met drag you to a party for a movie you’ve never heard of—The Rocky Horror Picture Show—hosted by that future husband. You’ll make the connection of sanctuary for geeks and outcasts, and you’ll gird your courage to ask if anyone plays D&D.

You will realize you’ve found your people within that first week of classes. You will be friends with them for decades, and their children will also call you Auntie Trish!

That cute guy who hosted that party is going to ask you to marry him that following April, and you’ll say “Yes,” and by the end of this very month, 42-year-old me and him will be celebrating twenty years of marriage.

But that’s not all.

Dear 12-year-old me, you’ll travel the world—and some of that will be tax deductible because of your writing career! You’ll have published three books written for kids like you, now, to remind them that they still have some power in a world where everything feels wrong. You’ll have won prizes for poetry and short fiction! You’ll help over a hundred other writers achieve their dreams by editing their novels. You’ll have a wait list of months for people who want you to edit their novels!

Dear 12-year-old me, it gets even better.

You know those unicorn and dragon pin-ups you pulled out of magazines to put on your walls? You’re going to meet those artists. You’ll buy prints from them that they will sign, to you. You’ll buy prints for your beloved husband from them. You’ll buy original freaking art that you saw them offer because you know them well enough, you’re friends with enough of their friends, to get these kinds of messages! And you’ll buy these things with money you earned from your writing and editing.

You know those DragonLance and Forgotten Realms books you own an entire bookcase full of? You’ll meet so many those authors, and they will sign things to you, in person. You’re going to invite one of them to write an intro in an anthology you edited. And she will say yes!

(Also, you edit freaking anthologies! Your name is on the cover as an editor who put it together!)

Oh, and you remember all those kids’ books you saved? You’re going to invite a prominent author from those into that very same anthology. And she will say yes!

You’re going to be on panels talking about writing with those authors you’re reading right now who will help you get through the most awful years. You’ll be on panels with the editors of those authors. They will treat you like a peer. They will say you make good points and have good ideas.

That shelf and a half full of R.L. Stine books you adore? You’re going to be in an anthology with him!  And that anthology: it’s a tribute to all those Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collections you checked out over and over from the library. You—you—made it into that. With a story inspired by working with horses.

Oh yeah, you also will have a horse. Yep. Your own horse. That will happen. You’ll work rescuing horses for ten years before you adopted her. Her name is Calico Silver, and she stays at a stable full of amazing people who get you and who you get. Your barn family is as special as your writing family.

So you see, 12-year-old me, you’re heart’s going to get broken a lot; you’re going to be made to feel like less than trash, not even human; you’ll question your worth and you’ll cry thousands of tears, so many your eyes run angry red dry. But you’re stronger than you think. You’re stronger than all of those who hurt you, than those teachers and staff who let them hurt you, can even imagine. That weirdness, that curiosity, that stubbornness, that day-dreamy-ness, that empathy and kindness you develop—those are all strengths. And they will lead you to be the person you truly want to be, a person you’re proud to be.

The thing is, 12-year-old me, you’re going to forget what I’ve just told you. You’re going to forget it a lot. While school and life get better, there are still going to be bullies, there are still going to be people who don’t see your value or worth, and every time you encounter people like that, advertisements that insult you, stories where people like you are the punchline…all that pain is going to come tumbling back–exponentially. All that insecurity. All that self-doubt. Whenever you have a moment where you feel you screwed up—even if you didn’t really, but just think you did—all these experiences are going to hit you hard, just about knock you down, and you’ll feel just like you’re hiding, alone, in the music room all over again. A piece of trash fallen out of someone’s backpack: Forgotten and useless at best; stomped on for amusement at worse. Thirty years later, as much as I’ve told you how much better our life gets—and I haven’t even listed everything—if I’m being honest, I have to tell you that it still hurts. It still affects us.

I don’t know if it will ever go away; our friends who are older still admit to suffering similarly.

But we have better tools to deal with it. We have more friends, real friends. We have a husband and his family on top of our own. We can write a letter to our thirty-years-younger selves to acknowledge that pain, honor it, and remind our 42-year-old selves what we’ve accomplished, why we are valuable and worthy, why we should be proud of who we are.

Dear 12-year-old me, you are loved, you are strong, and you are valuable. In what you will do and in who you are inside of me now, you matter. We will keep growing, keep choosing kindness and empathy in the face of abuse, and we will work toward a world where maybe more people can learn to be compassionate without having to experience the pain to understand why.

Your author pic with your horse, Calico Silver!

Health, Post Surgery Update

Content Warning: Lots of talk about Poop and Puke.

Image from MedicalXpress article on gut bacteria.

After nearly three weeks of doing fantastic post-surgery, meeting or exceeding all my healing benchmarks… this week happened.

Some background:

In my twenties, I was lactose intolerant. I did the Lactaid and other digestive thing for a while, then did a full cut for a short period, introducing milk products back very slowly over time. It worked and since then, I’ve been able to eat milk products in moderation—including ice-cream—without any digestive issues. In fact, I found, the whole fat had less impact on me than lower fat options.

Also, my stomach has never gotten along with most artificial sweeteners, but being an at-home cook and generally preferring less-processed type foods, that hasn’t come up much with this exception: If I ever got constipated (not a common thing till perimenopause hit), I could go to Starbucks and get a skinny iced latte of some sort. Problem solved usually within the hour. Small doses didn’t bother me… like a single packet in an iced coffee or tea (as they dissolve more readily than sugar), but more than that… Hello, toilet.

Back to the current post-gastric-surgery life.

After gastric surgery, a person is on a strict, limited diet of high protein and little-to-no carbs or sugars.

And liquid for the first two or three weeks.

So, one must live on a lot of protein shakes with artificial sweeteners. Some milk-based. And broth or “strained cream soups.”

Fortunately, my husband made me a lot of bone broth, which is delicious and high protein. And while I do like many sweet things, I have gotten away from a lot of sweet over the years in my weight loss / attempts at hormone and brain chemical balancing journey. So I was splitting my required intake of liquids and protein with soups and the shakes and food / water additives.

Also, for the majority of post-gastric-surgery patients, constipation is a major concern. In fact, in our orientation preparation meetings, it came up almost as much as unplanned pregnancies (another big thing, albeit with even more significant life changes).

I had absolutely no problem with constipation. I was going easily the day I got home. In this case, artificial sweeteners FTW!  (I hadn’t even begun any dairy yet!)

The second week passed easily, except for the fact this ADHD foodie was BORED, BORED, BORED, BORED with the limited tastes and textures. And, in case you don’t know this about ADHD brains, boredom ticks off all the same chemical triggers as a dangerous situation. The hubby did his best by making me different homemade vegetable juices as were allowed on the diet, which changed some of the flavors, but it was still torture. I was mixing and matching all sorts of stuff to alleviate the dread of boring food. When the doc gave me permission to move forward to the next stage of soft foods, it came as physical relief.

The next stage of soft foods: yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese. All dairy. All low fat. Even the Greek yogurt, which was already naturally lower carb.

I was not thinking of my past food issues; I was just happy I got some change in texture and flavor.

Half a week into this phase, I was getting bored again. For anyone who’s eaten Wooldridge cooking, you absolutely understand why. We cook with flavor, texture, appearance, and diversity on the plate.

So I started mixing and matching… and my portions were going up, which was good and expected.

Then came last Friday… I started off with a little too much coffee in the morning, or so I thought, and that set me off. I had some soup and felt better. But then I had a phone appointment and would be traveling, so… Every. Other. Meal. was portable, which meant it included artificial sweeteners and / or some amount of dairy.

Yyyeeeeeeeaaaaahhhhh…

That was a bad idea.

To explain more of the science behind what was to come of all these things added up, here’s a little bit more information about gut flora. This article is more medical, as is this one, and this one is more in laymen’s terms.

In shorter blog explanation: Food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies—as well as non-food based food allergies—are both affected by and affect the gut flora / gut biome. Long, continued exposure to the allergens or cause of sensitivity / intolerance decrease the “good”* bacteria in the gut. At all times, our body has a mix of healthy/positive/ “good” bacteria and “bad”* bacteria that, if unchecked, can bloom and make us unhealthy. Much like the Force, there needs to be a balance between the two.

Me consuming a lot of artificial sweeteners and then throwing a lot of lowfat dairy on top of that upset that balance. So the “bad” bacteria bloomed and settled in my lower GI track.

And made my life utterly miserable.

I wasn’t keeping in food or water, the two big things necessary post-surgery.  I managed to control the symptoms through two pre-recorded panels for DragonCon, but after that my body was like, “yeah, we’re done.” 

I didn’t want to go to the ER, so I tried as many of my go-to remedies as possible for if I eat bad food or if I’ve got some gastro-intestinal infection. They worked in a limited way. Adding pediatric electrolytes (with REAL sugar) in limited quantities to my water helped me keep the water in. But too much would set me off. And while I could usually keep broth in, even high-protein bone broth wasn’t enough to get me to the protein levels I needed. (60 grams a day.)  I was doing better for a while, but thank goodness a friend told me to still check in with the sugeon, which I’m glad I did then as I ended up on the phone with the surgeon’s office every other day this week….

Shortly after my first call with the surgeon’s team, I got worse and was back to barely keeping water in. But I wasn’t throwing up, so I had hope it would pass.

Well, that changed too, and I was back on the phone and got myself an appointment to give a stool sample. I’ll spare you the details.

In short, the sample confirmed an infection, so antibiotics it was.

If you remember from the last post about my journey toward this surgery, I mentioned the issue of antibiotics and the gut biome… so I was less than thrilled I had to resort to them, but I was in agony. The pain was as bad as when I was in the ER for the kidney infection while I also had the massive fibroid. Only, instead of grinding and pounding, this pain is roiling and feels like being stabbed below the belly button with giant knitting needles. I was spending long swaths of time literally sitting, rocking, and groaning in pain. Unable to do anything else.

When the nurse practitioner warned me that the first antibiotic they’d try was “not readily tolerated by many people,” I quickly learned that was code for “will be the most vile thing you’ve ever let cross your tongue.” Metallic, sour, and bitter, it was all the all the flavor sensations that make a person pucker and gag.

Puckering and gagging is not exactly what someone who’s already trying not to puke needs.

I made it through the first day, then had the Worst Night of all the symptoms. Come morning, I couldn’t finish anything and when I finally tried to take the antibiotic again, my body was like: “Oh. Fuck. No.” And, after a valiant attempt of meditation and deep breathing to fight the urge, I puked up that chalky, disgusting tablet within ten minutes.

I called my surgeon’s office back and got a new antibiotic. Pill one has been consumed and kept in, as has two cooked shrimp.

I keep reminding myself that I did get a fair amount done, and the week wasn’t totally lost: I did my DragonCon panels; I finalized the single document of Wicked Women for layout; I got invited to and submitted to an anthology; I got invited to and filled out the form to mentor on the Writer’s Track for DragonCon; and I wrote some words on my novel.

But the feeling of having lost a week in healing, the feeling of being helpless to the point of asking the Husband-of-Awesome to work from home / drive me places / do stuff I normally do, the still sick and pained feelings—those are still there. And I need to be compassionate to myself about that.

Let it be said, though, The Husband-of-Awesome has WELL earned his title for the next twenty years of marriage!

As an additional note, I have not told a lot of people how sick I’ve been. I always have a hard time doing that, especially if I don’t want to worry folks. But I’ve probably ghosted a few people or not responded because I’ve simply not had the energy. One of my good friends was talking about her daughter blaming herself when a friend ghosted her…and I know I and many of my other friends on the neurodiverse spectrum have those same worries. “What did I do? Did I accidentally hurt someone’s feelings without knowing? Are they mad at me?”

This is very much part of the issue the late, great Robin Williams spoke of when he said, “Every person you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

Be kind to others; be kind to yourselves.

Now to go, rest, and continue to heal.

* Bacteria are simple organisms without the concepts of “good” or “bad.” We classify them as such based on how they make us feel / affect our health. As cute as I can imagine the illustration, there’s no bacterium swimming around a stomach with a twirly mustache going “Mwahahaha! Ultimate pain is my ultimate goal!”

** Also, this is not the place to make a stand against artificial sweeteners or dairy products. Neither are inherently bad or good either, and I know plenty of people for whom those products have been boons to their health. Every body has a different set of needs.

Where I’ve been, What I’ve Been Through, and More Surgery

So, yeah, it’s “been a minute” (to borrow a Southern phrase I learned in said “minute”) since my last blog post. Sorry. But this one is the whole explanation why!

Back in 2017, I shared this post about surgery I had to have because of a big ole fibroid making my life super, extra, mega miserable. That’ll give you a few more background details.

Where to start…

On Monday, August 3, I went in for a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG). I wanted a hysterectomy due to all the hormonal awfulness, bleeding, and other crap that had been plaguing me for… almost 30 years. My OB-GYN said no; I was too obese.

Needless to say, I was pissed.

You see, and pretty much every fat person you or I know will back me up with similar experiences, I have a bunch of other medical issues—particularly hormone related, but also ADHD—that have been causing the obesity. Yet the doctors have been treating my fatness as a cause for the issues. One of the biggest symptoms of estrogen imbalance? WEIGHT GAIN AND OBESITY.  But no, “If you just lose weight, it will fix itself.”

Those of you with more delicate sensitivities, ignore the next line.

Fuck that fucking bullshit fuckery!

Losing weight is not a means to fix existing hormone imbalances or neuroatypical issues. The weight is there because of those issues! If the issues don’t get addressed, you know what? YOU WON’T LOSE WEIGHT!

Unfortunately, added weight also exacerbates the issues.

So you get this fan-fucking-tastic cycle of a flare-up of issues causing weight gain, weight gain increasing flare-ups / symptoms, flare-ups / worse symptoms causing more weight gain.

And then there’s outside issues that exacerbate that—like stress.

Of course, having ADHD and bleeding heavily every month also increase stress…

You see where this is going, right?

So, why did I not go find a second or third opinion and a surgeon who’d do the hysterectomy anyway, which had a good chance of helping with the weight loss?

A few reasons…

1. Quite simply, I was exhausted. I was exhausted from fighting with medical professionals, I was exhausted trying to argue about yet another weight thing, and I was exhausted from all my symptoms. (Pain, hot/cold flashes, bleeding, brain fog, forgetfulness, fatigue, anxiety, depression, rage…)

2.  My OB-GYN is actually a good doctor and the conversation didn’t stop at being too obese for a hysterectomy. She gave me a bunch of resources and research on how the VSG also affects hormones and a variety of other things.  Here’s one, and another.

3.  I have a fantastic psychologist for my ADHD who I was referred to for weight loss. She is also a wealth of information and will even pull up academic and medical journal articles for me from her JSTOR account!  She also empathized with my frustrations and helped me work through those too. On top of that, she (and my also-fantastic integrative doctor my PCP referred me to) introduced me to the studies about gut flora and how that affects obesity, and how the VSG also does the equivalent of a hard reset on gut flora.  (More on that shortly!)

4.  I have some amazing and supportive friends who have also had gastric surgery who helped me through the anger and societally-programmed guilt of needing surgery for weight issues. Who also have access to lots of research and information on top of their personal experience.

So here’s another fun Trish fact that most people don’t know (I swear this is related!): When I was a baby, I nearly died of salmonella shortly after birth, so my system was flushed with a massive broad spectrum antibiotic. And then I spent a fair amount of my childhood sick, getting prescribed antibiotics, and getting fat. Part of the illness was undiagnosed allergies and asthma… and as I got older, got my first period, I got a lot of UTIs… leading me to need the Kill All The Things antibiotics whenever I got sick because your regular run-of-the-mills wouldn’t work… and I was allergic to penicillin.

Now… y’know what they do to animals to make sure they’re fat and have a high fat content throughout their muscles?

The pump them full of broad spectrum antibiotics from a few days after they’re born and onward!

You see, lots of antibiotics change the gut biome, causing obesity. And once that’s done while it’s all developing… there’s little chance of not being fat. Because it ruins a person’s (or animal’s) gut flora! (I told you’d I’d get back to this!)

Now, let me clarify something, and pay close attention:

Antibiotics! Are! Not! Evil!

Antibiotics have saved billions of lives and the world would be worse off without them. This is not going to be a rant against Big Pharma and antibiotics. (Maybe I’ll rant about Big Pharma later… but my Adderall is still working!) Had Baby Trish not gotten a big ole thing of broad spectrum antibiotics in 1978, 42-year-old Trish would not be writing this now. However, in the 70s, there wasn’t the finesse in antibiotics that there is now. Also, it was kind of a thing in the 70s, 80s, and into the 90s to prescribe antibiotics to fix everything.

And because I’m a research kind of nerd, here’s an article about early-antibiotic use and obesity, and here’s an article on antibiotics in meats and their effect on animals (and potentially humans, but that’s also not within the scope of this post.)

Over-prescription of antibiotics is a problem. But also not the main point of this post.

The main point is this:

Due to a not-uncommon mix of medical problems, many exacerbated by medical professionals treating weight like a cause rather than a symptom, three of my doctors suggested I had a three or less percent chance of losing weight on my own—if I made losing weight my full time job!

Once again, for those in the back who equate obesity with stupidity, laziness, lack of trying, a character flaw, etc:

If I made losing weight my FULL TIME JOB, I had a less than three percent (3%) chance of losing weight.

So I decided to go with the sleeve gastrectomy. All the research I’d done showed that it held significant promise to fix a lot of my ongoing issues by resetting both my hormones and gut flora. (Hysterectomy would only affect my hormones… but it’s not off the table if this doesn’t fix the hormone issues!)

I didn’t say much of anything to anyone about it because the surgery carries a stigma. “Why can’t you just lose weight on your own?” (See above research.) “Couldn’t you just try harder?” (See above research.) “Just don’t eat so many donuts!” (I had had exactly two donuts in two years prior to two days before my surgery), thank you very much! Also, see above research.) “Maybe drink fewer sugary beverages?” (I drink water, coffee, and tea… and often the coffee is with little to no sugar, as is the tea. Also, research!) “Are you sure you want to do that to your body?” (My body is doing way worse to me. Also RESEARCH!)

It’s exhausting. If you aren’t fat, you have no idea how exhausting it is already to have to deal with people ranging from wanting to be (ignorantly) helpful with (uninformed) good intentions to full-blown raging, shit-spewing assholes.

/sarcasm/ No, I’ve never tried to lose weight by adjusting my food intake, watching calories, exercising more, trying A-Z diet… Not once has it crossed my mind. Thank goodness you suggested that; you may have changed my life. /sarcasm/

Every. Damned. Day.

It was just easier to not talk about it. It was easier to just tell my family and friends who I knew would be the good kind of supportive. (As opposed to the thinking-they’re-supportive-but-actually-fat-shaming.) As I mentioned above, I was already exhausted from the symptoms of all this. I just couldn’t fathom dealing with having to talk to a bunch of non-medical persons who have no idea of my health history questioning my decision. And that exhaustion, as you all might expect, has just been ramped up to all new heights since it struck 2020!

So, I decided this, for sure, right after DragonCon last year, after chatting with one of those aforementioned fantastic friends. And thus began my odyssey of going through my hospital’s Weight Center. For the second time.  As I tried the non-surgical program back in 2012 and managed to lose 20 lbs in a year, which outside of college, had been the most I’d lost in the shortest time ever. Until I was diagnosed with ADHD, and then getting the right prescription of Adderall and getting some cognitive behavioral therapy that matched how my brain worked had me lose 25 pounds in 6 months! (See how actually treating the cause makes a fucking difference?)

Going through the program again was frustrating… I already knew how to and was tracking my food, my food triggers. I already ate 80% of my food home-cooked, mostly from scratch, with higher ratios of healthy proteins, vegetables, and fruits as opposed to processed carbs. I already averaged between 6k-10k steps a day. I had a horse and worked out with her. I spent a lot of time outside doing work. I could hike for hours. I parked in the furthest spots so long as it was safe to do so and/or I wasn’t running terribly late (the lateness being an issue that has also, in fact, decreased since the ADHD diagnosis and treatment!) I was sharing tricks about awesome things you could do with zucchini and avocado that the nutritionists hadn’t heard of; I was giving homemade salad dressing recipes that impressed the nutritionists; and I expounded on the virtues and inclusion of fermented foods and easy home ferments.

I had done this alllllllll before… but I went through it again. It wasn’t until we got into the post-surgery diet that I really started having to learn stuff, and thus my ADHD brain was sated with an onslaught of new information.

In any case, as this is getting to be a very long blog post, I went through the program…had the surgery put on hold due to COVID-19 chaos…was getting worried as Scott does have another stint of extended work travel coming up sometime…

And then finally got offered the August 3, date… with two weeks’ notice, since they did actually listen to my concerns on timing and offered me someone else’s cancellation date.

Lemmetellya… prepping for all that, rearranging my editing and writing schedule and deadlines, making sure I had the time off to heal, making sure Scott could get the time off…that was an adventure and a half.

But it happened!  And it went well!

So now I’m here on my liquid diet for the next two weeks, then a very, very slow introduction to regular foods… and I am hoping so hard that this does fix all the other (medical and health) things that are wrong with me!

All the other things that should’ve been fixed if medical professionals had listened to me and dealt with my issues (torturous periods, in particular) instead of either gaslighting me by saying “it’s normal; you’re overreacting” or assuming my fatness was a cause rather than a symptom. 

It still pisses me off that I had to have weight surgery because weight treated like a cause rather than a symptom.

I still want to scream, “IF YOU JUST LISTENED TO ME AND DIDN’T JUST SAY ‘IF YOU JUST LOST SOME WEIGHT’…”

But retroactive fury doesn’t fix anything for me. Maybe it will for others.

Keep fighting. Do your research. If you’ve got kids who get periods, treat them seriously. Don’t treat menstruation like a taboo topic. Believe them if they say they are in a lot of pain, if they think they are bleeding too much.  Be their advocates! Teach them to know their bodies and advocate for their health.

Unless more and more people start doing this, it will continue to be a problem. My mom taught me to be a good advocate; she went into every doctor’s appointment with a list and didn’t leave until every question was answered. I continue that habit. Still, it happened to me. Unless more people accept that “being fat” can be a symptom, not necessarily a cause, people with any extra weight are going to get substandard health care. Start changing that with your kids now. Start changing that with yourself now.

It will cut down on a lot of people’s suffering.

Until I manage to post again… be good to each other! ❤

National Poetry Month, April 22

It’s Earth Day… and also would have been my parents’ anniversary, so we have trees and love for y’all today.

The photo was taken on a rainy, drizzly day (much like today) at Meiji temple in Tokyo, Japan. I knew I needed to write a poem or something with these trees when I took the picture in 2012. Better late than never!  Both are called “Dancing Trees.”

Poem and photo are raw and rough; I’ll edit them later. Please do not copy or share the photos or poems I’m posting. I am not finished, and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!

National Poetry Month, April 21

It’s Easter for those who practice many of the varying types of Christianity. So, I figured I’d use one of the gravestone pictures I have. This was at the Glasgow Necropolis in Scotland, and I was saddened to see all the trash thrown into this tomb. As for the poem, I really don’t like this at all, so it may end up completely thrown away (take or leave the rim shot) or mostly rewritten. But we’ll see. Calling the both “Trash Tomb.”

The poem, like all of what I’m posting, is in its rough draft form, though the picture has been tweaked. My aim for the month is composition; I’ll edit later. Please do not copy or share the photos or poems I’m posting. I am not finished, and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!

National Poetry Month, April 20

Another Scotland picture. This one was at Traquair House, where there were lots of random peafowl just wandering around. I really wanted to play with this photo because of the colors—even with the peacock not displaying. The poem…well, should be self-explanatory if you can read it around the corner of the page. Both are called “Not on Display.”

The poem, like all of what I’m posting, is in its rough draft form, though the picture has been tweaked. My aim for the month is composition; I’ll edit later. Please do not copy or share the photos or poems I’m posting. I am not finished, and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!

National Poetry Month, April 19

Sometimes you want to help people you can’t help; sometimes you want to fix situations you can’t fix.  That’s what inspired this poem… “Heroes and Monsters.” I had a hard time working a picture to fit it, but I finally settled on one of my Scotland photos, which I called “Lost Lamb.”  While Scott and I were hiking to some really cool castle ruins, we saw this lamb bleating from a cliff and it’s mom (we figured) bleating back; both looked stuck. They were well out of our abilities to help, but we took a picture of them. By the time we got back from the castle, we saw both (we think) back on the grass with the rest, so that story had a happier ending than the poem… but not every story has a happy ending; not everyone can be–or wants to be–saved or helped.

The poem, like all of what I’m posting, is in its rough draft form, though the picture has been tweaked some. My aim for the month is composition; I’ll edit later. Please do not copy or share the photos or poems I’m posting. I am not finished, and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!

 

 

National Poetry Month, April 16-18

Deadlines, always deadlines…

So y’all get a Three-for Thursday. 🙂 I still wrote a poem for each day; I just didn’t get to post about them.

4/16

Actual deadline day, so we went for a kinda haiku. Definitely needs work, but the photo is from Kamakura, Japan. I was able to catch one of the golden eagles that hang around there diving for a fish.

4/17

This is from Meiji Temple in Tokyo, Japan. There was a raven on the tori, which looked really cool. It was a super foggy, rainy day, so it took some cleaning and cropping to get the photo to a place where I was okay with it…

I’m also watching American Gods, so Odin’s Ravens decided to poke their beaks in and make this cross-cultural. And about warrior sacrifice and corpses.

I call the pair “Munin at Meiji.”

4/18

This pair is more whimsical and based on American soil…and from Arisia, where I got to go to an Absinthe Tasting room party. There’s a long history of absinthe and artists, so that’s where I went.

Poems and photos are rough and raw; I’ll edit and fix them up later. My April challenge is about the creation, not the finessing. Please do not copy or share the photos or poems I’m posting. I am not finished, and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!

 

National Poetry Month, April 15

Well, there was a SNAFU posting, so apologies if this is a double. Augh… Anyway…

Squeezing this in as deadlines squeeze in on me. Photo was taken at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, one of my favorite places. Photo is titled “Butterfly without a Flower;” poem is “Butterfly on Stone.”

Enjoy!

Both poem and photo are rough and raw; I’ll edit and fix them up later. My April challenge is about the creation, not the finessing. Please do not copy or share the photos or poems I’m posting. I am not finished, and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!

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