The Girl With The Gallbladder Bruises


12/23/2017. Affinity Medical Center Emergency Room. Massillon, OH
“Don’t come back here if you are in any more pain.”

That was what the emergency room doctor told me, in front of my husband, after he told me my gallbladder looked fine.

Me: “But the woman who did the ultrasound said my gallbladder has stones in it.”
Dr. McNasty: “She did?”
Me: “yes…stones.”
Dr. McNasty: “Well it was fine. Just schedule an appointment with a surgeon, but don’t come back here if you are in any more pain.”

12/24/2017 Aultman Hospital Emergency Room Canton, OH
Me:….so long story short I’m not supposed to go back to Affinity, and I’m having another attack.
Nurse: That was completely uncalled for.
Me: (pacing the tiny room because I am in an incredible amount of pain) I know, I am shocked he said that. I’m confused and really upset. I am not a drug seeker you can see it in my file. Dr. McNasty prescribed me Percocet but I’ve taken one and it’s made me sick, along with this attack. (fun fact, only ever took one Percocet out of the 12 he prescribed me. Percocet I DID NOT ASK FOR, by the way)
Doctor: We can keep you and you can get your gallbladder out tomorrow but it’s Christmas so it’s a skeleton crew.
Me: I’d rather be home with my kids, I will schedule an appointment with a surgeon.

Christmas night I have a terrible attack, but I rode it out at home, boss style. (There may have been whining and rolling around my tub like an Orca but there is no proof!)

Make an appointment with a surgeon for a consult for January 8th.
Attempt several times to reach a patient advocate at Affinity. They need to understand how unprofessional and rude their ER doctor was. Left messages. Radio silence.

Drove to Aultman Hospital Emergency Room, Canton OH at 4 a.m.
I was in horrific pain, worst than my labor and kidney stones (and I have a high pain tolerance)
Am admitted within an hour and a half
The surgeon I was supposed to meet with on the 8th shows up and says “we are doing this today”
Got my gallbladder removed laparoscopically that afternoon
Never had one bad nurse, rude doctor, no one made me nervous or made me feel like I wasn’t supposed to be there.

Am healing well. Thankful to the surgeon I had never met before who took his time off to come in and remove my gallbladder.
Finally received a phone call from Affinity Hospital, Massillon OH from someone who wants to talk to me about what happened. Missed the phone call, could not get through when I called back.

I have dates and times, but nothing compares to the mental issues I was starting to face. I have several mental illnesses and they were all coming out in full effect as I battled this pain. Being dismissed was incredibly disheartening and made me feel like I was overreacting to the pain. And that I had done something wrong by going into the first E.R. Then my anxiety kicked into overdrive, I ended up having several panic attacks as I battled the pain at home. They would also occur when I was waiting for the pain to come back. I was mentally disintegrating while my body rejected every gentle bland food, even water.

So melodramatic, you may be thinking. When someone like me, who suffers from severe anxiety on top of BP and Major Depressive Disorder, gets dismissed it tends to start invading your mind. Little tendrils of self-doubt.
“Am I overreacting?”
“Is this pain in my head?”

“Is this a symptom of something far worse?”
“Is this ever going to end?”

It becomes a Merry-Go-Round of mental trash.

The fact was: the gallbladder needed to be removed, the pain was not in my head, and the people at the first hospital were, pardon my language, douchebags.

The writing on this post is terrible. I am on some pretty intense pain meds, and I’m still healing. Healing pretty darn well! When I come down from Unicorn World maybe I can come back and lay this all out in a well-written post. For now, you get The Girl and Her Organ Removal Scars.

Also, I will update when I hear from Hospital #1 and their opinion on Dr. McNasty.

Has anyone else been dismissed when their body was telling them something is super wrong here? I’d love to know. Share in the comments.

My Heritage: A Woman Undefined


Grandma with my son, 2008

Daily Prompt: Inheritance

My beloved Grandmother died in 2009, three weeks before my youngest daughter was born. I will never forget the emptiness I felt as I walked my body, heavy with pregnancy, down the aisle of the church. I was following her casket. I was walking into hell as she was floating away to heaven. I was the last person to see her awake and alive. Everyone else saw her hooked up to machines as her body gave out. She had been in the hospital for her heart and had been planning to come home soon, but it wasn’t meant to be. The day before she died I sat in her hospital room and watched her sleep for a bit. I sat there feeling the baby kick and squirm while she lay there in a peaceful rest. When she woke up she told me she didn’t feel good, but she hadn’t been feeling well, so I chalked it up to what had been going on. I had come to bring her my son’s one-year pictures, to hang on her bulletin board. I remember hanging the pictures of my blond haired, blue eyed boy so she could see his sweet little face. We laughed about her desire to have a great-grandchild with dark hair. She told me she was coming home and I believed her, she told me she couldn’t wait to meet Elise. She never did. I live every day wondering if I could have stopped her body from giving out. If I had said something, would she had lived? It is a guilt that everyone tells me I shouldn’t carry, but it was part of my inheritance.


Fuzzy Wuzzy

I had my little girl a few weeks later, hair black as coal, wild shoots, and curls. Like it was as shocked as she was to be in the world. She had gotten her wish, but missed seeing it by days. My little girl has my Grandma’s big, luscious full lips. A trait no one else has, we often say that Grandma kissed Ellie on her way up to heaven and gave her a gift. Ellie’s inheritance.

She has given me something else, too. I’ve had it a long time but it has gotten bigger and stronger as I’ve aged. My mental illness. Grandma wasn’t well for most of her life, but they didn’t treat the problems the same as they do today. Mental illness left untreated, especially bipolar disorder, worsens with age. When my Grandpa died in 2005, her tether to reality got cut. That’s when her illness came out in full force, without the love of her life to keep her grounded she felt she had nothing. She would sit in her chair for hours, rubbing the fabric to nothing, as she reminisced about the same few stories. Over and over she would tell them, to comfort herself, or to keep memories alive I’ll never know. It was obsessive, and I started to see the mania for her actions and her stories. I would sit and listen to them no matter how often I heard them because I loved her. And because I had no idea what was waiting for me around the bend.

photo (9)

True Love

After she was gone, I learned she had been in the hospital several times when my dad and aunt were young. Then one day I, too, found myself where she had been. Held prisoner by my own mind, unlike her I was lucky enough to receive a diagnosis. It was five years ago this November that I learned I was bipolar. Five very long years of medications and relapses from self-harm and suicidal ideations. Three hospitalizations and hundreds of doctors visits. Five years of trying to be a good wife and mother. Losing friends because I’m sick, reconnecting with old friends because they understand. I am lucky to have the support of my family and team of doctors. I owe so much to my psychiatrist, we have worked together all these years to keep me alive and thriving. I had been sick before the diagnosis came, but in November of 2012, it finally had a name. This was my inheritance.

Her love was strong, her laugh was tinkling. When I was little I thought she was the most glamorous woman I had ever seen. She would let me sit at her vanity and coat my face with her expensive makeup. She would set my hair in curlers, draw me warm baths. I always felt safe and loved after she and Grandpa would tuck me in when I spent the night. She would lower the blinds and turn on her collection of music boxes. Sometimes I can still hear “musical dreamer” in my head. I cry for her, I miss her all the time. My baby is 8, time tells me she’s been gone too long. When I’m sick I wish for her chicken


Saving the world in heels

noodle soup. during Christmas, I miss baking cookies with her. On Sundays, I miss our old family dinners. I know she would be devastated to learn how sick I am. I know she would tell me everything was going to be ok and then force me to eat something because she was an old Italian woman. I see her face in my daughter’s and it comforts me. As they say, grief is the price of love. The price of love for me is carrying this illness that we both had/have to live with. This is my inheritance.


Old Italian Woman living her best life!

Her love lives on, which was always more important than what was “wrong” with her. There was so much right. She was amazing, and she survived with bipolar disorder. So will I. This is my inheritance.

The Aristocrats


Our flawed brains ordain us as elegant beings
Synapses misfiring, like broken shooting stars
Our wholeness ebbing and flowing like the tides at sunset
A graceful dance between what is and what should be
Gliding in our minds haunted hallways
Misfortune named disease whispers our name
It can bring us to our knees, begging for sweet mercy
Somehow, its careless cruelty is deafening to the irrelevant
So we are always sure to carry ourselves as sovereignty
Dignity is our gift and your curse
We are not well, a truth
Only a slight tear in our universe separates us from orderly
We are like well-oiled doors that develop a sudden squeak
Or a clock that suddenly stops keeping perfect time
A slight stumble, unasked for value lost, but not useless
Like the tired hands of an elderly person
Beautiful with their impurities, sacred from their story
Still blessed with a painful but triumphant epoch
The majesty comes from the struggle
For who else can carry this burden than the bent?
Average we will never know
For our hearts beat in time with the Unknown

Daily Prompt: Elegance

Manic Menagerie


I take my pills, I talk it out,
but that’s not what it’s all about
My brain’s on fire, my brain’s a zoo,
my brain’s a messed up roiling stew
Depressive here, manic there,
when’s the last time I’ve washed my hair?
I’ll wilt and shudder, I’ll pace and mutter,
I’ll prove that I’m a fucking nutter
Bipolar costs you, bipolar cost me,
bipolar sure as hell doesn’t come for free
I lost my friends, I lost my looks,
I lose myself inside of books
I make a world just for me, I create a place no one can see,
I make a world where I’m free
Sometimes there’s blood, sometimes there’s gore,
sometimes I don’t wanna be here anymore
Pills make me sick, pills make me mad,
without my pills, I’m too damn sad
Razors cut and hot glue burns, my gut twists and my gut turns,
too many scars for the girl who refuses to learn
My body twitches, I’m always cold,
I never do what I am told
Bipolar’s always here, sits haughtily on a throne,
I’ll live to be 109 and it’ll never leave me alone


Book Review: Is A Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz

Is a worry worrying you? If you are my 8-year-old daughter the answer is yes. If you are me, the answer is also yes. Ellie loved all the whimsy examples of worrying, and I loved watching her laugh away her worries. From the book: Suppose, just suppose, one hundred elephants come to tea and you discover you don’t have any tea bags. uh, oh. What will you do with a herd of thirsty elephants? Now, that’s a worry! But you can get rid of that worry by offering the elephants lemonade instead. Mom, she said, we can make lemonade if we don’t have anything to drink!
What I love about this book is the different coping mechanisms written in a way that kids can understand. After each “worry” we talked about what we would do to make that worry go away, along with the suggestions in the book.
The illustrations were both fun and colorful and made the story a beautiful read. I would recommend this book to anyone with a child or children who are worriers or have issues with anxiety. It addresses a hard subject in a relaxed, gentle way. This is a gem in the world of Children’s Literature.

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine (and Ellie’s).

Long-Term Benzodiazepine Therapy, or: Why I’ve Chosen To Take Xanax For 5 Years

pexels-photo-576831Xanax, also known as alprazolam, is a Schedule IV (4) drug. According to the DEA, A Schedule IV drug is classified as having “a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.”  So what does that mean for someone who has been taking a Benzodiazepine Class Drug for 5 years?

It means I am physically dependent and adapted to Xanax, my use of Xanax is not rooted in a psychological desire for it. I do refer to myself as a controlled drug addict, not because I mentally crave the drug but I am under the influence of it. It’s how I choose to classify myself, and myself only. I have never referred to other benzo users in any such way. 

My starting dose in 2012: One 0.5-milligram tablet twice daily, afternoon dose as needed.

Current Prescription: 2-milligram tablets, one tablet by mouth 3 times daily.

If I forget one dose I start getting ill almost immediately. I become nauseous, sweaty, dizzy and nervous. A very strong headache will begin and my hand tremors will be more pronounced. I start displaying the serious symptoms of benzo withdrawal in a very short amount of time because well…that’s what’s happening. I do everything I can to make sure I never miss a dose. I also only take the three pills allotted to me each day. Every month I get a script filled for 90 pills, and I take 90 pills in a month.

Have I ever screwed up? So bad. Once there was a mix-up with the prescription. I was sure I could make it through the weekend without my pills. I lasted one day before I was crawling in circles on my bed. I was sweating, keening, twisting and yanking the sheets in my hands while I writhed in pain and begged for help. I remember apologizing to the nurses at the hospital for my hairy legs (no one cared) while I did laps around the bed on my hands and knees. The awesome women got my blood pressure, temperature, and the reason I was there out of me while I flopped around, croaking and mewling inhuman noises. I was in severe alprazolam withdrawal, and I needed benzos inside of me pronto. Not my finest moment, but one of the more interesting ones. *Important note: my husband drove me. No one was in danger except me. Never attempt to drive while in full withdrawal. Call for a ride or use 911.*

I am med compliant, meaning I take all my prescribed medications as directed. I never change doses or stop a drug without consulting my psychiatrist first. Countless medicines have come and gone, but along with Oxcarbazepine, alprazolam has been part of my daily drug regimen for 5 years.

So why choose to take a Benzo for so long? Why become physically dependent on such a controversial medication when there are so many adverse side effects and possible consequences? 

  1. I have a great relationship with my psychiatrist – I have been seeing Dr. B since 2012, he was the doctor who finally properly diagnosed me. He helped me claw my way out of the living hell I was stuck in. If I have concerns about a medicine we discuss it, and he respects my bodily autonomy. Open communication and trust, without them it would be pointless to continue seeing him all these years.
  2. Risk vs. Reward – With any medicine I choose to take I have to weigh all the options of the long-term consequences. With Xanax, it may be permanent short-term memory loss and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s (to name a few). An “everyday” medicine like Ibuprofen may lead to liver disease. The therapeutic benefits I get from taking my meds (and sometimes Ibuprofen) outweigh these risks. Leading me to…
  3. My anxiety is debilitating – I not only have Bipolar Disorder but Major Depressive Disorder, severe anxiety, including social anxiety, OCD, and chronic PTSD. My mood stabilizers and antidepressants can only do so much. I know I am the most important cog in the machine, I have to put in the most work. I cannot rely on medications to “fix me.” They are a bridge helping close the gap between me and total madness. 
  4. I can only tolerate stress until my levels become unhealthy – I suffer from intrusive thoughts and compulsions. My intrusive thoughts are, at times, never-ending. My mind never stops churning, and the combo of medicines (whatever incarnation) can’t seem to slow it down. Compulsions get in the way and make living a normal life more difficult. Xanax helps slow my reactiveness to unhealthy thought patterns, which can lead me down very dark paths.
  5. Xanax helps me stop and breathe, calm down, and order my thoughts. It has greatly reduced the amount and length of panic attacks. It helps, along with combination medication therapy, to keep my mood stable for long periods of time.

Over the last 5 years, I have learned amazing life changing coping skills for my anxiety. I don’t rely on my “tabs” to get me from A to B.  I have had multiple episodes of mania and depression without having to up my dosage of alprazolam. Sometimes we go a year or more before a dose change is needed. I am very aware I am continuously building up a tolerance to the medication. This issue lands on my Risk vs. Reward list. It is worth it to me, for now, to continue using Xanax long term.

Things that people should know but for some reason oftentimes don’t or choose to ignore: What is right for me may be very wrong for other people. It is extremely important to never take a benzodiazepine without a prescription. Never give someone a pill, you don’t know what kind of reaction they will have. Never take more than you are prescribed, the risk of overdose is real and it can happen quickly. Never drink or do other non-prescription drugs with your med. Impairment happens quickly on Benzo’s when a person first begins taking them. Always use caution when making decisions that could affect you or the people around you. Keep your Benzo’s locked away from kids, teenagers, and company. If you lose your prescription or if it’s stolen it cannot be refilled until your next refill date. Always use caution when telling people you are on this kind of medicine, it is hard to spot someone addicted. 

One more thing: Here is an interesting explanation on how Benzodiazepines work in our brains. 


If you or someone you know is addicted to Benzos or Opiates call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), call your doctor, a loved one or friend, or go to your nearest emergency room. You Matter.