We Have To Feel It To Heal It

Why do we feel the need to hide our struggles and present ourselves as having our shit together? Why do any of us feel the need to appear more put together than we really are?

We are emotional creatures, and we were born to express emotions freely and openly. But somewhere along the way, many of us learned to repress our emotions in order to fit in, earn love, or to be accepted. We hide our struggles because we learned throughout childhood and adulthood that showing signs of struggle is a bad or uncomfortable thing.

As infants and toddlers, we didn’t hesitate to show signs of struggle. When we were tired, hungry, upset, or blew out our diapers 💩, we cried or threw tantrums to communicate that we needed help. As young children in school, we raised our hands and asked for help from our teachers if we didn’t understand something.

But at some point while growing up, we become conditioned to stop asking for help and we start to hide our struggles. We stop raising our hands in class because we’re told we ask too many questions. We stop asking our parents for help because they told us to figure it out for ourselves. Increased expectations from our family, friends, employers, and even ourselves feels like mounting pressure. We’re so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing that we paralyze ourselves and do nothing. We fear that negative response of not receiving help when we need it or our feelings being dismissed.

I grew up in a home where the motto was “Children are to be seen, not heard.” There was little emotional expression tolerated, let alone accepted. No one validated or helped me process difficult emotions in a healthy way. Anger was met with anger, fear went unacknowledged, and there was plenty of shame to go around. My parents didn’t model how to deal with difficult emotions, as they seemed to struggle with that themselves. When those emotions surfaced, I felt ashamed of my failure to be a “good girl.” Trying to hide the pain from others and myself, I built walls, put on masks, and soldiered on.

The truth is, we all hide our emotions occasionally. We pretend, avoid, and deny uncomfortable emotions as a defense mechanism. We do this most often with difficult emotions like guilt, shame, fear, or anger. When we experience events that emotionally overwhelm us and we’re unable to process what is happening, we hide them deep inside us where others can’t see them. And we end up hiding them from ourselves too. Yet, they’re still there. These unresolved emotions get trapped in our body where they build and fester. They drain our energy, which leads to burnout, and we become emotionally imbalanced. They undermine our overall wellbeing.

No matter what our struggles are, there are people who can and want to help. When we share our struggles with those around us, we give them permission to voice their struggles too. We may never know just how life changing that permission may be to someone. They may be feeling alone, overwhelmed, or even at the end of their rope, and we can help by giving them an opportunity to receive our understanding and support. The moment we make ourselves vulnerable, we give others permission to do the same.

The bottom line is, we’re human. We’re all imperfect and we all struggle. No one has their shit together all the time. No one has a perfect life and no one feels happy, confident, and positive all the time. Struggling is a normal part of life. We have to feel it to heal it.

Acceptance Is The Key To Be Truly Free

Acceptance is imperfect. It’s difficult and messy, but ultimately leads to a sense of freedom. I’ve had a lot of painful experiences in my life that I needed to accept. Choosing acceptance has been crucial in helping me move past my feelings of fear and frustration when life throws me a curve ball.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with a life threatening allergy, a mast cell disorder, hereditary angioedema, and my asthma rapidly worsened. I was in and out of the hospital every few weeks, on and off the ventilator most of those hospitalizations, and unable to completely care for myself. My husband became my caretaker and our home became filled with adaptations. From grabbers and shower chairs, to hand rails, canes, and a basket filled with medications that would put Mommom’s pill basket to shame. Everyday there’s 31 pills to take, plus 3 nebulizer meds every 4-6 hours, 2 different types of insulin, 2 inhalers, 1 injection for osteoporosis, and a partridge in a pear tree.

My career as a medical techologist in the blood bank came to a screeching halt. My life threatening allergy alone made me a liability that no employer wanted to take on. Hearing a judge declare that there is no job I am eligible for was like getting punched with a forearm shiver. My illnesses initially caused so much loss and disappointment. I was dealing with the fear of exposure to my allergy, the shame of unemployment, and the guilt of not being the active wife, granddaughter, and friend I wanted to be. I didn’t want to accept that this would be my life. A life without a career. A life revolving around my medical care. A life where I was no longer independent. A body I no longer recognized. I wanted to go back to the way things were and patch the life that I knew back together again. I felt like accepting my illness was accepting defeat.

So how did I move from a position of resistance to one of acceptance? How can we find some wiggle room in situations that may feel utterly suffocating? Chocolate and chicken nuggets help, but what really grabbed me by the short hairs was realizing that if you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer.

All human life is fragile and sickness doesn’t discriminate. Pain is inevitable for all of us, but life is constantly in a state of flux. We hurt, we heal. We struggle, we grow. Things get hard, then things get easier. If I were Jerry Seinfeld and my friend had just thrown $20 out the window, I would end up finding $20 in my coat pocket. I would be Even Steven.

My daily life is a well choreographed ballet of organized chaos. Every meal, medication, breathing treatment, finger stick, and insulin injection has to be perfectly timed. Even mundane tasks like washing laundry, cleaning dishes, taking a shower, and watering the plants have to be balanced with my medical care. Any deviation can cause a setback in my health. Then the dance pivots and it’s a race against the clock to see if we can manage my illness at home, or the ballet stops and we have to go to the hospital.

I have learned that acceptance is not defeat, resignation, or giving up. It is an acknowledgment of the truth. By making peace with our reality, we remove the sting of our emotional suffering. This gives us an opportunity to become unstuck and make the best of the hand we are dealt. Once we accept our situation, we can move forward with greater courage, determination, and strength.

There is so much beauty in the world to balance the pain. When we accept what is and enjoy what we can, peace becomes possible, and then we are truly free.

Waiting For the Other Shoe to Drop

Your day is going along a little too well and you don’t trust it. You just know something bad is going to happen. And then the shit hits the fan. Right on cue. 🙄 I refer to this as the fuckening. Some people call this “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” It can be disheartening to feel like we can’t catch a break.

I will be the first to admit that I expect a fuckening WAY too often. If I have been out of the hospital for a while, I start to worry about how I am likely to end up back in the hospital at an inopportune time. If we have plumped up our savings, I wonder if we’ll have an unexpected large expense that will reduce our nest egg. If we have a car or home repair to make, I expect something else to break needing repair or replacement, If I am flying on an airplane and I pee right before boarding the plane,I just know that I am going to have to pee again when the drink cart is blocking the way to the toilet.

Life changes constantly and there is a rhythmic dance between joy and pain. In one moment our situations can shift so drastically that we feel like we’re falling ass over teakettle. Expecting that every day will be wonderful and flawless is both naive and unrealistic. But anxiously awaiting some sort of tragedy is not beneficial to our wellbeing either.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop is this tricky way of depriving ourselves from feeling good now because we are nervously anticipating something bad will happen in the future. It’s almost as if we are inviting something negative into our life to neutralize the positive feelings. Life will bring cycles of suffering and beauty, pain and happiness, crisis and comfort. We do our best while riding these waves of feelings, trying not to get stuck in a pattern of overwhelming stress.

So can we avoid the chaos? Noop. Not a chance in hell. But here are some techniques to help quiet the nagging voices that suggest disappointment is lurking around the corner.

Realize that worrying is pointless

We need to accept that we can’t possibly prepare for all potential situations. There are umpteen thirty-leven possible challenges that could happen in life at any given moment and there is no way to anticipate all of them. Don’t waste your time worrying about “What ifs.” Time is nonrefundable. Use it with intention.

Stop downplaying yo’ self

When you downplay your own accomplishments and abilities, you are perpetuating the belief that something negative is going to happen. You don’t want to brush off your victories as “being lucky” or “they’re no big deal” when you put in the hard work. Instead of worrying about whether or not you are good enough, start trusting in yourself and believe that you have what it takes.

Focus on the present

The beauty of being present is that, by definition, you can’t be anywhere else. When you choose to be in the moment, thoughts about possible bad things happening in the future may enter your mind, but you can kick their asses to the curb.

Be Logical

Sometimes our thoughts can run away from us, going full steam down a hill that we know isn’t logical or helpful. Learning to accept that sometimes life is uncomfortable can reduce the fear of the unknown.

Our lives are in flux and it is inevitable that something unfortunate will happen at some point. We don’t know when or where, but worrying about things won’t make them go right.

Purgatory of Indecision

Sometimes in life there is a pivotal moment when you know that you just can’t keep going on the way you’ve been living. Something’s got to give and you have two options: shit or get off the pot. Choosing between making a change or staying where you are can feel daunting, so you find yourself trapped between the two, in a purgatory of indecision.

The prospect of change requires us to take an honest look at ourselves and do things we might be afraid to do. We have to take a leap into uncharted waters, unsure if we’ll sink or swim. This can easily entice us to stay in our comfort zone. But if we can’t bring ourselves to change, we risk living a life of misery, dysfunction, or regret. You may feel like you can’t stay where you are, but you’re too afraid to move forward. You remain stuck in this purgatory of indecision.

As a teenage girl and into my twenties, my plan was to become a pharmacist. I loved math and science, I wanted to help people, and it would be a secure, stable career. I started working as a pharmacy technician a few months after graduating from high school and continued this while going to college. After I completed all the prerequisite courses, I applied to a few pharmacy schools. Imagine my surprise and utter disappointment when I read rejection letter after rejection letter. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t accepted. I had excellent grades, a good PCAT score, and pharmacy experience. It seemed unfair. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Why wasn’t I good enough to be accepted? How could I have failed? What in the hell am I going to do with my life now? I had busted my hump for years to meet my goal of becoming a pharmacist and now it was being flushed down the shitter.

One of the pharmacy schools I had applied to sent my information to the University of Maryland Department of Medical and Research Technology, so they sent me information about their program. When I read through it and saw Blood Banking as a specialty, I had that “Aha!” moment. I had a special interest in Blood Banking after I needed a blood transfusion during surgery to straighten my curved spine in 2004.

I was still working as a pharmacy tech after getting rejected by multiple pharmacy schools and saw the direction the pharmacy profession was going in. I didn’t like that insurance companies dictated so much of patient care. They’ll cover one type of insulin but not another similar insulin. They won’t pay for this asthma medication but they’ll pay for an alternative. And they change their mind every year on what list of medications they choose to cover. I don’t believe an insurance company knows better than a patient’s doctor what medication works best for the patient.

So what do I do now? Do I keep trying to apply to other pharmacy schools or pivot and apply to med tech school? I decided to get off the pot and apply to med tech school. It provided the same reasons I wanted to become a pharmacist. I loved math and science, I wanted to help people, and it would be a secure, stable career. Plus, I had this personal connection with Blood Banking after my blood transfusions. I was both excited and relieved when I was accepted into the program and worked as a Blood Banker for 11 years after graduation.

The purgatory of indecision is an awful place to be. It is fraught with doubt, shame, anger, and overwhelming amounts of fear. Despite that, sometimes it still isn’t enough to push us in a particular direction. Our fear acts as a dysfunctional voice that eventually grows louder and can become the only one that you hear. Fear, along with self-doubt, whispers “you’re not good enough” or “you can’t do anything right.” It may even convince you that you’re inadequate, unlovable, or a failure. It can feel like there is a constant tug of war going on inside of you.

If we choose to not listen to that dysfunctional voice, then we can subdue it. When it says we aren’t good enough, we can choose to believe that we are enough. When the voice tells us we can’t do anything right, we can choose to know that we are doing the best we can and that is always right. When that pesky voice taunts us with feelings of inadequacy or failure, we can choose to have trust in our own potential. And when the dysfunctional voice tries to convince us that we are unlovable, we can decide that we are worthy of love.

We don’t have to remain stuck in unsatisfying situations. And we don’t need to make big changes all at once in order to live fulfilling lives. Change can be scary and uncomfortable as fuck. But small shifts can lead to huge transformation over time. The way out of the purgatory of indecision is to simply get started and to keep on going.

Tell That To Your Face

“How are you?” “I’m fine.” We say it all the time. It’s short and sweet. Like strawberry shortcake. But far too often it’s not true. It’s written all over our faces that we’re not actually fine. I don’t know about you, but my face ALWAYS gives away that I am not okay even if I say I am.

So why do we say “I’m fine” if we don’t really mean it? We want others to think everything is working out great for us because we’re afraid of the shame, embarrassment, and judgment that might come if people knew that we don’t have our shit together.

We’re hoping to convince ourselves and others that everything really is okay. But pretending that we don’t have any problems, difficult emotions, or conflicts is a façade. It seems easier to simply avoid certain problems, traumatic memories, and difficult feelings. However, avoidance isn’t a good long-term strategy for our well being. Often, the longer we try to ignore things, the bigger the problems become. So, why do we deny our problems or pretend to be okay when we’re not?

We pretend to be fine in order to avoid conflict. We fear that by sharing our true feelings or opinions, someone might get upset with us. This can create anxiety or at least feel uncomfortable. We use “I’m fine” to shield ourselves from painful emotions. Many of us grew up in households where we weren’t allowed to express our feelings of anger or sadness. We were told “I’ll give you something to cry about,” “suck it up,” or “get over it.” We were punished when we expressed our feelings or our feelings were ignored. As a result, we learned to suppress our emotions.

We also deny our problems and feelings because sometimes they’re overwhelming. We don’t always know how to articulate what we feel or how to solve our problems, so we try to ignore them. We don’t want to be difficult or to be a burden to others because we fear that might push people away. It feels safer to pretend we’re fine and to be a dependable coworker, cheerful friend, or a laid-back partner who doesn’t complain.

I’d rather be honest and authentic and disappoint some people than to exhaust myself trying to keep up the façade of perfection.” -Crystal Paine

If you’ve ever felt like you had to hold it together in order to put up a front for others, just know there is freedom in expressing your true feelings. Many people put on a proverbial mask to avoid showing their vulnerability and potentially making others feel uncomfortable. If you’re not accustomed to opening your heart to people, start by sharing one thing you’re thinking or feeling but may be tempted to keep inside. Opening up to others will allow you to be yourself, and from there you’ll see who’s willing to accept what you have to say without judgment. You can also offer support to others and let them know you’re happy to listen with an open ear. Giving people room to share pieces of themselves lets them know you’re there for them and they can be honest with you.

Many times when we avoid sharing our feelings with others, it’s because we haven’t processed our emotions. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel, without judgment, and learn to recognize when you’re lying to yourself. Stop telling yourself you’re “fine” when you’re not. Keep it real. You’re not going to be honest with others if you’re not being honest with yourself.

We tend to beat ourselves up when we do not respond, act, speak, or think how others believe we should. We put pressure on ourselves to meet everyone else’s expectations without truly acknowledging our own needs. It’s a heavy burden to hide behind a mask and pretend that everything is hunky-dory. There’s power in being vulnerable and sharing your authentic self with others. You don’t have to hide, pretend, or feel bad about not always being positive. You’re not weak, you’re human, and you never have to apologize for that.

Judgy McJudgerson

I am my harshest critic. I’ve held myself to ridiculous standards, pushed myself to be and do more than what’s feasible, and beat myself up over minor mistakes. We judge ourselves while navigating an emotional landmine, all in an attempt to avoid feeling shitty or wrong. So why do we judge ourselves?

1. We have an idea in our heads of who and where we should be in life.

In a world with impossible definitions of success and constant exposure to everyone else’s accomplishments, it’s easy to convince yourself you’re failing or falling behind. You might believe you need to be the best in your career field. Or you feel pressure to be married with 2 kids by a certain age. Perhaps you thought you would be finished with school or run your first marathon by now. Yet we supply an endless feed of social media posts to try and prove we’re living “our best life.” The truth is there is no right time frame for these events. Happiness in life isn’t dependent on achievement, status, or social media posts.

2. We tend to base our self-worth on our successes and failures.

We think we have to prove our value through achievements and worry that our mistakes will define us. I grew up seeking approval and praise when I succeeded. As a child I desperately wanted my parents to recognize when I did something right or good. At the same time I felt ashamed if I fell short of my own or other people’s expectations of me. I thought that if I failed or made a mistake, it was because I couldn’t do anything right.

This thought process creates a cycle that can only be broken when we learn to separate our actions from our identity. It’s a practice, not a one-time shift in thinking. We need to recognize that sometimes people make bad choices or have bad moments, but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad people. Good people still make mistakes because we’re human beings and no one is perfect. We are deserving of understanding, compassion, respect, and empathy.

3. We think we’re not good enough.

Maybe you developed this belief because it seemed nothing you did growing up was right. Perhaps your parents were hard to please or they constantly compared you to someone else. I know many people who have suffered from the emotionally abusive question of “Why can’t you be more like so and so?” Maybe a friend, colleague, or partner directly told you that you’re not good enough.

Some toxic people are so obvious that they can be spotted a mile away. Others are a bit more subtle. But all are destructive. Emotional abuse has become somewhat normalized, because it’s a pattern people repeat based on what they experienced growing up. You don’t have to repeat the patterns of emotional abuse that were shown to you.

4. We have bought into societal stigmas.

We live in a judgmental world and we tend to buy into societal stigmas. As a result, we judge ourselves harshly. Questioning these stigmas can feel like swimming against a current. We need to learn to give less of a flying fuck about what other people think of us and in general.

If you always tell yourself you’re a failure, then you allow your insecurities to hold you back from doing new or challenging things. You get caught up in a vicious cycle of your beliefs influencing your behavior, which then reinforces your beliefs. For example: When I was younger, I feared people wouldn’t like me, so I put up walls and made it hard to get to know me. This felt safe to me because if people didn’t know me, then they couldn’t hurt me. But this meant that I didn’t give anyone a chance to get to know and like me.

Overcoming self-judgment is hard and it’s not something we can do overnight. It may take years to recognize and change our beliefs and patterns. It might even be a process of two steps forward and one step back. But we can remind ourselves that we are enough and that we are doing the best we can.

Be Careful What You Say And Do Because It’s Not Always About You

We’ve all said something shitty to someone in the heat of the moment. And afterwards you may have instantly regretted it. Ok I will admit there have been times I didn’t regret it. There have been certain people I loved telling to fuck off. I spewed every hateful expletive I could muster together in one run on sentence. I didn’t regret it. I had no remorse over it. In fact, I found it oh so gratifying. I walked away with a shit eatin’ grin on my face like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.

When we judge and criticize others we are usually driven by fear or our ego. But underneath the surface we all have feelings and emotions. This is why becoming more self-aware is so important. Just as when a pebble is thrown into water and causes ripples, our words and actions affect other people, who in turn affect those around them, and so on.

Our ego causes us to put up walls around ourselves. We become closed off to others and afraid to show who we truly are. We fear we will be judged or rejected. When we are open, we are vulnerable and risk being hurt by others. If we are aware that their hurtful words or actions in the moment are unconscious, then we can try to stop our impulsive reactions from taking over.

Hurtful actions and comments stay in our memories for years, so it’s imperative that we bring awareness to ourselves. Everything we do and say to people has an effect on them. Sometimes we know right away. Sometimes we may never know. Often we never realize the full extent of the damage. We need to stop hurting others just because we instinctively allow our ego to take over in a fleeting moment. We can’t take back those words or actions. We can only apologize and make an effort to do better in the future.

When you are personally attacked by someone, you can choose to diminish their comments or actions. You can become aware that they are in pain and that is why they’re behaving this way toward you. Our default response is to get defensive and angry. So you instantly react and shout back at the person for attacking you first. This only leads to escalating hurtful comments without actually resolving the problem. These words then stay with each person and they can carry them inside for a very long time.

It’s very easy to judge and criticize someone when we don’t know what they’re going through. The only way we can know what someone is going through is if they are open and honest with us. We can achieve that through less judgment and criticism so people don’t let fear keep them closed up and guarded.

We are not robots, we are human beings with feelings and emotions. Sometimes we unconsciously let our ego take over us. Don’t beat yourself up over it. We can’t control what we will feel in the moment but we can decide to acknowledge those feelings when they first arise. Judgment and criticism only separate us and prevent us from bonding and sharing with each other.

Next time you find yourself judging someone or criticizing them, stop and think. Become aware. Be conscious to your words and actions to yourself and to others. Be open and honest and expect the same in return. Be the change you want to see in the world.

No Is A Complete Sentence

We’ve all been there. Your roommate always eats your Oreo cookies and drinks your soda. Your mother in law snoops through your nightstand. Your father states in front of you on your wedding day that one of the guests is “the most beautiful woman in the room.” 😭 Your sister forgets her wallet when you go out to eat together. Every. Single. Time. Your coworker keeps asking you very personal questions. That creepy guy at the gym always farts as you are doing squats. You feel like they are overstepping boundaries but hey, what can you do about it? 🤷‍♀️

Setting boundaries sometimes means having awkward or painful conversations with people about relationship dynamics that are hurtful to you. The thought of actually having these conversations can elicit anxiety and a great deal of fear within us. Being able to set boundaries around our time, resources, and bodies is an essential skill for maintaining our mental health and building healthy relationships with others. But setting boundaries can also prompt very real and intense discomfort for both the boundary setter and boundary receiver.

You might be wondering, “How can I set boundaries when I am afraid of hurting someone I care about?” Or “How can I set boundaries while letting the other person know that I genuinely care about their feelings?”

Some boundaries act like shields by protecting us from others’ unwanted behavior. They are verbal expressions of self defense that repel unwanted physical touch or protect our time and resources. Examples include “Don’t touch me like that,” or “No you can’t borrow $20,” or “I can’t volunteer next week.” Typically, they are clear-cut variations on saying “no.”

Some boundaries feel less like self defense and more like letting go. You detach yourself from old habits and relationships that are no longer healthy for you. Imagine a box that is filled with various things belonging to different people. You reach down and pick up only the items belonging to you. Don’t pick up other people’s items because they don’t belong to you. You only carry your stuff out of the box and nobody else’s. Leave behind your mother’s guilt, your sibling’s debt, and your friend’s insecurity. This type of boundary is especially challenging because many of us have become used to carrying everyone’s stuff out of the box. We become so accustomed to assuming the role of caretaker or problem solver for other people, that we don’t provide enough care toward our own health and happiness.

Setting healthy and transparent boundaries includes three steps:

  1. Acknowledge your fear or discomfort around setting the boundary to the recipient
  2. Express the “why” behind the boundary
  3. Communicate a clear, direct boundary to the other person

By vocalizing your fear or discomfort around setting the boundary, you acknowledge that you’re initiating a difficult conversation that can elicit mixed feelings⁠ for both of you. This can also help the recipient understand that you have taken their feelings into account.

By expressing the “why” behind your boundary, you inform the recipient that your boundary is not an attempt to control their behavior. Instead it is an attempt to protect yourself. You can also express your desire for honesty and openness in the relationship, which conveys a genuine intention to keep your relationship healthy.

In order to set boundaries that will allow our relationships to grow in new and healthy ways, we need to face the fear of uncomfortable conversations head on. Ultimately, we can’t control how others will respond to our boundaries. Even if we state them with the utmost compassion, the recipient may still feel hurt, insulted, angry, or confused. And that is okay. It is our responsibility to communicate our needs in our relationships because it is impossible for other people to read our mind. You cannot expect people to give you what you need in a relationship if you stay quiet. If we avoid these crucial conversations, we create conditions in which resentment, anger, and frustration can fester and ultimately explode. This is almost always more devastating to the relationship than the boundary setting conversation would have been in the first place.

You don’t have to pretend to be stoic or flawlessly confident in order to set a healthy transparent boundary. You can say what you need to say by gently, but assertively speaking your mind. You don’t have to accept things that are not okay with you and you don’t have to say yes when you want or need to say no. It is possible to set boundaries without being cruel, tactless, or judgmental. We owe it to ourselves to set boundaries in a compassionate way in order to live a healthy life.

Looking Fear in the Face

Have you ever battled with a step stool and lost? I’m not ashamed to admit that I have. 🙋‍♀️ Okay, maybe there is a little embarrassment. 😬 After an unexpected hospitalization recently, I had to take a short break from blogging. But now I’m back so let’s get after it!

I needed to buy a taller step stool in order to take down the curtains in our living room to clean. We have 9 foot ceilings downstairs so our current step stool wasn’t tall enough for me to safely reach the curtain rods. The only stool tall enough in the store was made of metal and plastic. But there was a wrapping around the metal handle that was possibly made of rubber and could contain mercaptobenzothiazole. For those of you new to my blog, I am HIGHLY allergic to this chemical. So I VERY CAREFULLY held the step stool by the metal sides while wearing my gloves. But when I attempted to pull it out of the back of my truck to carry inside the house, I lost my grip and the rubberized handle fell on my forearm. Of course it would fall on an area of skin that didn’t have a protective barrier of clothing or gloves. FML! 🙄

Within minutes I was having an anaphylactic reaction. I immediately used my EpiPen, took benadryl and extra prednisone, did a breathing treatment, did an IV treatment for the tongue and throat swelling, and called my allergist. We were able to get the reaction under control for the time being. The next morning I woke up feeling worse and the reaction rebounded. That means my allergic reaction reoccurs without an additional exposure. This was nothing new to me. All of my anaphylactic reactions to mercaptobenzothiazole have resulted in rebound reactions within 24 hours. I treated myself again with home meds, breathing treatments, and another IV treatment for throat swelling hoping to avoid a trip to the hospital. But this time it wasn’t helping. My voice was becoming more hoarse, I was choking on food, and my skin was fiery red. So G took me to the hospital. That’s the last place I wanted to be. 😒

Thankfully the emergency room staff brought me back to a room immediately and started treatment. After some nebulized epinephrine, IV antihistamines, IV steroids, and breathing treatments, I was starting to improve. But within a couple of hours I rebounded again. So here comes a shot of epinephrine in my arm and more IV antihistamines. Again I start to feel better and my swelling really starts to go down. They even allowed me to eat some applesauce and a fruit cup after several hours. So now I am thinking the worst is over and that I am out of the woods. Oh Amy, haven’t you learned by now that your body is an ass hole?!

After 1st round of hospital treatment. Face still swollen and the nebulized epinephrine whitened the skin above my lips.
After 2nd round of hospital treatment. Swelling going down but chest still fiery red.

Several hours later things changed at the snap of a finger. My reaction rebounded AGAIN, this time worse than before. My throat was swelling so fast they were discussing intubation. Please! For the love of God! I don’t want to be intubated! I’ve been intubated in the past for anaphylactic reactions and it’s complete and utter hell. 😞 There aren’t enough cuss words in the universe to describe how I feel about it! I gag and fight to pull out the tube, so then I end up getting restrained. The medical team gave me another shot of epinephrine in my arm, more IV steroids, more IV antihistamines, more nebulized epinephrine, and humidified oxygen.

After 3rd round of hospital treatment I was put on humidified oxygen.

Three different doctors talked to me about consenting for intubation but I refused. For no reason other than fear. I know I can be a stubborn jackass at times, but I was scared shitless. I begged them all to give the meds a little more time to work. The scariest part to me wasn’t the idea of them shoving a tube down my throat and a foley catheter up my hoo-ha. I’ve done that more times than I care to count. It’s the thought of being sedated and not being able to stop someone from causing another anaphylactic reaction because they wore gloves containing mercaptobenzothiazole while taking care of me. Due to coronavirus restrictions, no visitors are allowed in the hospital-especially for immunocompromised patients like me. I can’t have G there speaking on my behalf or stopping people from coming in to my hospital room wearing the wrong gloves. Despite me providing signs about the gloves and wearing medical alert bracelets about my allergies and glove requirements, someone ALWAYS misses them and comes in to my room wearing the wrong gloves. I know that no one would intentionally wear the wrong gloves to cause a reaction, but the consequences are still the same.

Thankfully the extra epinephrine worked in just enough time that I was not intubated. Woot woot! I was kept on humidified oxygen for a while, and after a couple of days in the hospital I was discharged home. Who would have thought that a step stool could have kicked my ass? Step stool-1, Amy-0. 😳

Don’t Fake It Till You Make It

Keeping up with the Joneses never did anybody any good so why do we feel the need to do it? It’s easy to get caught up in what others are doing or who we think we ought to be. But eventually you will get tired of putting up a facade.

“Faking it till you make it” suggests that by imitating confidence or success, you can exude those qualities. We all have feelings of uncertainty, self-doubt, or fear of being stereotyped. It’s easy to look at self-assured people and wish to be like them. But no matter how much you “fake it” you can find yourself with more self-doubt than when you started.

We identify the “in crowd” and then try to act as if we are one of them. “Faking it” has negative effects on our perceptions in the long run. We appear superficial and phony, come across as insincere, and don’t receive the social acceptance we desire. When we focus on surface qualities like fashion and popularity, rather than internal qualities of self-worth, we end up dwelling more on our shortcomings. Posturing only provides us with temporary satisfaction. As time goes on, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, or insecurity start to develop. You anticipate situations in which you fear you may not be valued and this can lead to more self-doubt in the long-term.

We shouldn’t try to cater to what we think other people want because it’s impossible for us to know exactly what they want. After all, we aren’t mind readers. Instead, we should be seizing opportunities to demonstrate our real, unfiltered selves. If you struggle with self confidence or showing people your true self, you might prefer to remain inconspicuous. But trying to conceal yourself will never improve your confidence level. And if they don’t like the real you, who the fuck cares? Contrived confidence is fake and sticks out like a sore thumb. I have found that authenticity and transparency earn you greater respect anyway.

Choose to change yourself rather than trying to change how others perceive you. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to be perfect. Life is never perfect for any of us. If you peel away the mask, there is beauty underneath all of the unrealistic expectations. You will need to challenge your fears if you are going to break free from “faking it till you make it.” Swallow your fear and have the courage to be your genuine self. Being courageous does not mean you aren’t fearful. Courage is doing what needs to be done even when you’re scared shitless. So fold your fears into paper planes and turn them into flying fucks!