I’ve seen many posts on social media where a teacher or parent posts a picture asking you to share so people can see how far an image travels. It’s easy to forget that what we post on the Internet becomes public as soon as we hit “enter.”  There is no taking it back like in a conversation. Our words take on a life of their own.

Someone asked me why I don’t call my children by their given names when I post. Easy…they have an expectation of privacy. This little blog occasionally draws an audience and while I write mostly about myself, sometimes I do write about my kids.

I do think about what I write here. I read it several times before I hit “post.” I think through who I might offend. Whether  those offenses are worth speaking my mind. Nine times out of ten, I hit “post” because I’m writing what I feel at that moment. The tenth time, well, sometimes it is better to just let things go and hit “delete” instead.

Today, a social media friend posted about sex. I refrained from commenting, mainly because I feel the individual can post whatever they want on their page. As I read the comments, I was thinking about those pictures I mentioned above. Did this person really think through what that post meant?

It’s a public-setting post. Anyone who wants to see this person’s proclivities is welcome too. The person invited others into their living room and, um, their bedroom. One person commented about how some things should remain private. That person was quickly attacked by people who accused the commenter of “judging” and telling the page owner to shut up.

I guess I’m old. I agree that some things do not need to be publicized. This is very different from “stifling” people’s rights. If you want to put it out there, that’s your choice. But you also have to accept the consequences. That includes people stating they don’t agree with you. You gave up the right to clam indignation. You also expose yourself to countless ramifications, including future opportunities that could evaporate because people don’t agree with your posts.

So, your choice to post about anything you want. My choice to press that “unfriend” button when I no longer tolerate your posts. I’m allowed to make that choice. It’s not a judgment. It’s a choice the same as the one you made to post about your sex life. Don’t get yourself all up in arms. Accept that posting has consequences. Accept that when you post about adult topics, you open yourself to adult criticism.

And keep those pictures in mind before you hit “enter.” Your words will travel around the world several times before you blink. They may go places you never imagined. You are opening a window, or a door, into your life with each word you post. If you want privacy, don’t post unless that’s your plan. Then don’t complain when people make comments about your choices.


I’m not a criminal

One of the sucky things about chronic illness is how misunderstood the process of disease is by many people. People get colds. Maybe they get a week-long stomach bug or an upper respiratory infection that last a month. Then, they bounce back. People cope with over the counter medications that relieve the symptoms so they can function, They are able to go on about their day, albeit with some discomfort.

Disease is a process. You get sick, have symptoms, figure out how to make your life better and move on. When you have a chronic illness, it’s the same except we never reach the “better” stage. It just keeps on going. Some days are better than others. Some days are so awful that getting out of bed is a challenge. Unless you’ve lived it, it is very hard to understand just how debilitating illness can be.

Debilitating. That is the key here. I use a variety of techniques and medications to allow me to function. Some days, it’s just some routine medications…insulin, Synthroid, nausea medications. Other days, I need more interventions to carry on. These may include anything from hot/ cold packs to ibuprofen to prescription medications. I know some use “borderline” illegal drugs (I live in Colorado), but I choose not to. All my medications are supervised by my care team. We all know what I have in my possession, how I take it and why.

Courtesy of the DEA, some of my medications have become more difficult to obtain. Thirty day supplies, no refills, national drug registry. I get it. American has a drug problem. In the process of solving that problem, I fell like I’m living in a police state. I know some people who have to show up for random urine testing or pill counts. There is so much fear by doctors that their licenses will be comprised, patients are treated like criminals.

Let’s be clear here. The medications I use are prescribed, monitored and discussed at great length by my care team. If I need anything stronger than Toradol, I go to a hospital for pain management. My process is so transparent that my care team has no concern about my medication usage.

But, the government does, Without even looking at my medical history, the government is making decisions that make it difficult for my care team to help me manage my disease processes. I’m spending thousands of dollars going to the emergency room because it’s the only place I can go for heavier duty pain management. Soon, I’m sure the emergency room will start struggling with pain management for me.

Drug seeker. Addict. Head case. Drama queen. These are just a few of the labels that have been used  in the past to describe me. Not potassium deficient (causes cramps and heart attacks). Not chronic illness known to cause pain (gastroparesis). Not acute injury unrelated to illness. I broke my wrist and was denied pain meds because of my “history.”

It shouldn’t be a crime to provide appropriate pain management for chronically ill patients. I don’t need palliative care. I do need some extra help sometimes. That’s not a crime. Telling me to take aspirin when I have a compound fraction in my wrist is inappropriate. If a “normal” person had a broken wrist, they would be prescribed something stronger. Because I am no longer opioid naïve, I’ve been labeled.

My life is complicated enough that I don’t need my doctors to be afraid to help me manage my pain.This goes for anyone suffering chronic pain. I’m all for non-medicinal (hot/cold packs, stretching, etc) solutions, but there is a point where options are limited. After 13 years of living with chronic illness, I get the concerns. I also need people to understand that this is my life now and it includes some heavy-duty pain medication sometimes.

I’m not a criminal. I’m a human being in pain. I need to be able to function. Being bedridden is not an option for me. Stop making me feel guilty on top of feeling sick. I have enough physical and psychological issues related to illness that I don’t need judgment.

Your challenge: Have honest conversations with your doctors. Consider what level of pain management, if any, you truly need. Don’t ask for more than you need. Please don’t judge those of us struggling with chronic illness. We’re doing the best we can. Most of all, remember that many of us have been ill for a long time and have a pretty good idea of how our bodies work. Help stop the stigma and stereotypes we fight every day. Thank you.


Label this

Hi! Thanks for stopping by! Would you like something to drink? Tea? Coffee? Soda? How about a snack? Popcorn? Chips? Candy? Maybe something healthy like an apple? Oh, you’re on a diet. You only eat vegan. You don’t consume caffeine. Is that apple organic?

I find myself pausing at moments like these. You came here looking for something. I offered up options. You turned me down, questioned and judged me in a split second based on this exchange. I’m a caffeinated, junk food addict. Period.

Well, you’re right on some days. I do like my caffeine and I certainly like my popcorn and potato chips right next to my Snickers bar. But does that really mean I’m an addict? Did you just lump me in with a group of people who absolutely cannot live without “something?” That’s a heck of a label to put on someone who enjoys treats periodically.

The way you label people marks them forever. Yet, everyone does it. Got a speeding ticket? Insurance company now says you are a high risk driver. Don’t look like the body mass index chart says you should? You are obese. Wore the wrong clothes to work today? You are out of touch.

Do you feel judged yet? Because I do every day. I think through a decision a hundred times. I’ll read this post for the next few hours before I hit publish. I’ll make sure no one has the opportunity to see me as less than. My car is perfectly suburban. My house is mostly clean in case someone drops by. My social media posts are mostly vanilla. My clothes are neutral. It’s a lot of effort to go through just to avoid a label.

I’m sure someone will still look really hard to find a chink in my coat of neutrality. It’s no wonder over 50% of Americans have some type of mental health need. Between being judged and holding onto that superiority complex, we’re a collective mess. Since we **need** instant gratification, here’s your pill.

But, what if there is no pill? What if you are living with a chronic illness? What if you’re neurodiverse? Ahhhhhh!!!!! What should I do?

I know. I’ll educate others about the damage labels cause. I’ll write about how nouns were designed to give distinct meaning to objects. I’ll talk about the fact that the English language lends itself to labels so readily. And, just for fun, I’ll give you this link so you can understand how the English language is supposed to work  :

A tree is a tree. A table is a table. A person is a person. Any descriptors are actually observations. It’s an apple tree, because it produces apples. It’s a dinner table because it seats four or more. . It’s a person because it looks like one. Stop.

That’s right. The correct label for me is person. Because that’s what I am. No more, no less. You can put all the adjectives you like under that diagramming line, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m a person. Adjectives are judgments.  Artificially assigned tags that seek to clarify the noun. I don’t need clarification. Person will do just fine.