You Searched For: rheumatoid

If you have a choice, don’t get rheumatoid arthritis. Or testicular cancer. I heard that one sucks too.

A series of things that should be separate posts but they aren’t:

1.  Paraphrased conversation between me and my rheumatologist yesterday:

Me:  My feet are ouchie.

Him:  That’s because you have a degenerative disease, dumb-ass.

Me:  Yes, but I thought I’d be better by now.

Him:  I think you don’t know what “degenerative” means.  Let’s up the chemo drug that makes your hair fall out  to 10 pills at a time and if that still doesn’t work then next month we’ll start doing IV therapy and self injections.

Me:  Yay!

PS.  That “yay” was sarcastic.  I know it’s hard to see sarcasm on paper but probably the context should have given it away.  

PPS.  Honestly, I’m fine and can still totally function.  It just feels like when you’re wearing really uncomfortable stilettos that are two sizes too small and you can still pole dance but you know you aren’t as effective as before because you keep grimacing but you’re trying to at least grimace “sexily” except you know it’s not working because that stripper with the bullet-holes in her thigh is getting bigger tips than you.  And that’s exactly what rheumatoid arthritis feels like.

2.  For those of you that are new, Nancy W. Kappes is a paralegal from Indiana who never comments but sends me these long, fucked-up emails that are shockingly similar in tone to the emails I send to my idols who never respond to me and now I know how it feels to get an email screaming about failed abortions and Jesus-Christ trucker hats.  (It feels awesome.)  (That’s not sarcasm).  And Nancy fans keep yelling at me to share more of her letters so here are the latest two (starting with her take on Cinco de Mayo) and I swear to God she is real and not me and might even come to the Blogher People’s Party in Chicago so stop doubting me, non-believers:

CHACHACHACHAJENNNNN

Hey! A Holiday celebrating mayonnaise. I’m gonna totally protest and eat some Miracle Whip. Once for a party, I filled this huge piñata with M&Ms. Just plain ole colored M&Ms. Lots of fucking boxes of M&M’s. Like tons of M&M’s. Okay, so the kiddies are blindfolded and the grown-ups sneak off to smoke crack watch their little faces light up. Elizabeth (who would grow up and be a rugby star—all 95 lbs. of her—but she could run like her mother, and once she grabbed those tree-trunk legs of the other players, you had to saw her head off to get her to let go.) Anyway, she’s about 7 and a twee little thing, but she takes that stick and knocks the motherfucking piñata into the next county. Okay. So now we are knee deep in GODDAMNED UNWRAPPED M&M’S AND THREE DOGS AND EIGHT KIDS START GOBBLING THEM UP AS FAST AS THEY CAN. Fuck me running, no one told me the shit had to be fucking wrapped. So there’s dogs pooping up huge rainbow turds and the kids are all eating a % of 1/1,000 (one being the number of M&M’s and the other being the amount of dog hair.) Then their Guatemalan housekeeper who has wet her pants and passed out laughing gets on the phone in her room where she no doubt  was laughing her ass off to her friends in Guatemala about  the fucking-dumb-ass gringo who totally didn’t wrap the candy. Muy loco chica!!!

So the hell with it.  I’m drinking jello-shots tonight.

Gotta run. I’ve scheduled a conference call with Life, God and Jesus at 4:00pm. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

Nancy W. Kappes

Paralegal

**************************

HOLY MIGHTY FUCKING BALLS, JJJJJJJEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENNNNN!

Come to Indiana where all the viruses, bacteria, people with an I.Q. in double digits, anything interesting, moved out long ago with all of the goddamned fun. When I would take the grrlz to school in the am [driving 145 mph--we looked like our faces had been put in one of those 90-mile an hour wind tunnels; Claire used to claim her face didn't return to normal until 3rd period] we would pass “Conner Prairie” and, yes, it is as hokey as it sounds—makes Rock City look like the Louvre. One bleak, cold, pitch dark morning in winter, there was an atypical lack of joviality and witty banter until we passed C. Prairie and Elizabeth bellowed, “You stupid shit-heads! What the hell kind of drugs were you on when you decided to stop here?” We still don’t know. People say “Oh, but it is such a great place to raise your children”. Bollocks. It’s difficult for tha grrlz to get products for their meth lab. 

Okay, so this thing that is in Chicago in July or whatever—no wigs! Roller wigs! HA! Totally like your photo! How motherfucking awesome would it be to look out over a crowd of people and they are all totally wearing roller wigs! Sweet! Actually, if I wasn’t a lazy bitch, I would make some for you to pass out, but maybe a shit load of the Jesus Christ hats where we cross out Jesus Christ with a fucking sharpie and write in“The Bloggess.”

Well now I cant get this goddamned font off my computer. Motherfucker, I hate these things.

I cant stand this fucking fontits like Letters to God.or some Readers Digest shit. Plus, considering the content, isnt that an oxymoron?

Nancy W. Kappes 

Paralegal

 

3.  Neil Gaiman direct messaged me on twitter.  Seriously, that happened.  And yes, sadly, it happened because he read my post about strange-looking guys I’d totally do if I wasn’t married but still…NEIL-fucking-GAIMAN, y’all.  I own 27 of his books.  Swear to God.  Then I told my friend Laura that Neil Gaiman had DMed me and she was all “NEIL DIAMOND DMed YOU?!?” and I’m all “No.  Neil GAIMAN.”  And she’s all “Oh.  Who?”  Then I drowned her in a fountain at the mall.  

4.  I’m going to spend the night on an aircraft carrier with a small group of internet-famous people next week, including Guy Kawasaki and some guy who was on Dancing with the Stars.  I think he also invented the internet.  I’d write about it here but all those people probably have google alerts set up for when people mention their name and I don’t want those people to find this blog before I meet them because I’m the only non-famous, weird girl going and I plan on pretending I’m someone else.  Like maybe Neil Gaiman.  So instead I’m gonna video blog about it later today or as soon as I can figure out how to work this new fucking computer that is trying to destroy me.

5.  Neil Gaiman, y’all.

Comment of the day:    Mmmmmayonaisse. Europeans don’t refirigerate it and they put it on their fries. That’s all I really know about them and also where my curiosity ends. ~MayoPie

There’s a moment.

Several weeks ago I had surgery to stitch up a hernia in my stomach.  It was supposed to be very simple but the recovery for me was horrific.  Worse than labor, or gallbladder surgery, or stepping on a floor made of loose LEGOs.  I had complications and developed a seroma, which is a “tumor-like collection of serum from damaged blood and lymphatic vessels after significant tissue disruption or trauma.”  It sounds worse than it is but it hurts like a bastard and I’d end each day exhausted and teary and unable to take complete breaths without flinching.  I might need more work done to fix it but they often go away on their own so my doctor decided to wait.  So we’ve been waiting.  And this weekend I was able to walk around and leave the house.  And Monday I could sit up from laying down without wanting to scream.  And Tuesday I felt almost normal for several minutes at a time.  And today, if I’m not moving, I feel good.  Really good.

The point is…today I feel okay for the first time in what feels like ages, because time – when coupled with pain – drags by so slowly.  I still hurt, but more like someone punched me, or like other people probably feel when they do too many sit-ups.  I can finally sleep without waking myself up thinking I’m being stabbed, and I can completely forget the pain for several minutes at a time.  That sounds small, but if you’ve ever pushed through pain that doesn’t stop for weeks at a time then you know the blinding relief that comes with a few minutes of peace that doesn’t accompany the nauseous dizziness of narcotics.  There’s a moment when you feel aware of the absence of pain, and that simple moment is such a wonder that it’s practically euphoric.  And you remember what it’s like to not hurt.  What it’s like to live.  And it is so beautiful there aren’t words for it.  It’s so incredibly easy to forget what it’s like to breathe when you’ve been holding your breath for so long.

It’s the same thing that happens when I come out of a rheumatoid arthritis flair-up that puts me in the hospital.  It’s the same relief I feel when I pull myself out of a depression that lasts longer than a week.  After a while you forget exactly what it’s like to feel good again, but then when you come out the other side, it’s dazzling.

I’m writing this to remind myself of the light.  Of the dazzle.  Of the fact that it’s worth trudging through the muck because the way out is so much better than you can remember.  It’s like the first shower after a week in the woods, or the sun on your skin after a month of night.  I’m writing this because I know I’ll be in dark places again and I’ll forget how wonderful it is to emerge.  I’m writing to remind you that if you’re struggling now, it will be good again.  It will be so much better than your lying, forgetful brain remembers.  And I’m writing to tell you that if – right this moment – you are healthy and well then you should stand up and do something wonderful to celebrate it.  Go walk barefoot on the grass.  Treat yourself to a good book.  Call or visit someone you love.  Make plans for a trip.  Eat a chocolate ice cream bar.  Enjoy the sun.

And if you don’t see the sun right now, keep trudging.  It’s there.  It’s blindingly magnificent.  And we’re waiting for you.  Promise.

Just remind me of this the next time pain or depression lies to me.

Deal?

I am tremendously easy to please and I’m not getting credit for it.

Conversation between me and my husband:

me:  My feet hurt

Victor: Your feet always hurt.

me:  Because of all the ass I’m kicking.

Victor: *raised eyebrow*

me:  And also because of my rheumatoid arthritis.

Victor: That sounds more accurate.

me: And I might need new shoes.

Victor: *sigh*

me: And a piggy-back ride.

Victor: Hmm.

me: And a step ladder so that I can get on your back, because I don’t think I can  jump that high anymore without both of us getting injured.

Victor: Mmm.

me: I’d settle for a wheelbarrow.

Victor: Huh.

me: Not the thing we did in elementary P.E. where you carry my legs and I walk on my hands.  I mean a real wheelbarrow.  One that you could push me in.

Victor: Hmm.

me:  It’d be like a wheelchair.  But whimsical.

Victor: No.

me:  But we’d need to fill it with pillows, or sedated cats.  And some ziploc bags filled with frozen margaritas.  And some maybe streamers  to make it festive.  And a flare gun for whenever you leave me in the middle of the grocery store and forget what aisle I’m on.

Victor: I wouldn’t call it “forgetting.”

me:  But I’m not sure you can bring a gun in a grocery store, so maybe some just roman candles and a lighter.  And some sort of bullhorn.

Victor: You know, they have these cool new things called “benches”.  You just sit your ass  down on them when your feet hurt.

me: Oh my God, you are so mainstream.

Victor:  You keep saying that like it’s a bad thing.

me: I’m just saying, keep the wheelbarrow idea in the back of your mind.  In case you want to surprise me by being awesome one day.

Victor: With a wheelbarrow?

me: Yeah.  With a wheelbarrow.  Most girls want diamonds and fancy summer houses.  I just want a goddam surprise wheelbarrow every now and then.  You are incredibly lucky to have me.

Victor:  That’s what I keep trying to tell myself.

Two years ago

Two years ago they hadn’t found a way to treat my rheumatoid arthritis.  Two years ago I was a usual visitor to the emergency room when my pain would get so bad that only narcotic injections would stop it.  Two years ago my vacations always ended in wheelchairs, I took drugs that made my face unrecognizable and made clumps of my hair fall out.  Two years ago I was obese, because my meds made me swell up and because just walking across the room made me want to scream.  Two years ago I thought that I was a burden on my family because I spent more time in bed than I did out of bed.

A year and a half ago my doctor got approval to start monthly injections.  They worked.  They don’t work for everyone.  I pray that they continue to work.  I was able to walk.  I was able to move.  I was able to live.  I lost 46 pounds.  I got rid of the steroids.  My hair started to grow back.  The pain that used to be a 9 is now a 2.

Yesterday my doctor looked at my x-rays and said that some of the deformation we thought would be permanent had healed.  And she said a lovely word.

“Remission.”

It’s a lovely word for two reasons.  One, because I remember the pain…and in the place where that pain was is a space left for gratitude.  And two, because it gives me hope.

10 years ago my mental illness got so bad that I finally got help.  At first it was worse, then it was better, then worse again.  Now I fluctuate, waiting out the darkness, reminding myself that depression lies and that it’s a medical condition that I never asked for, quietly battling with tiny demons in my head…until it suddenly passes and the drugs kick in or the seratonin settles or the demons get bored and then HALLELUJAH I’m alive again and things are good and I remind myself that this, this, THIS is real and this is worth waiting for each time.

One day I know that they’ll will find a cure for whatever it is in my head that randomly and unexpectedly clouds things up and makes life turn into a pale, cardboard imitation.  One day they’ll find a cure.  A drug that works.  A shot that makes the demons go away.

A remission.

And I cling to that.  Because that, my friends, is a beautiful word.

PS. I wrote a week ago about how I’d been diagnosed with a severe b12 deficiency that might be causing some of this depression.  I’m on pills and shots and massive amounts of other pills to help the b12 work and I feel okay today after a week of slight craziness.  14 pills a day isn’t ideal, but I’m worth trying every option.  You are too.  Keep breathing.

Hush now

PPS.  Back to silly, cat-focused ridiculousness tomorrow.  I just needed to write this.  Thank you for listening.

Where I am right now

If my head wasn’t in a weird place I could make this funny, but right now I’m sort of messed up and it feels like lying not to write about it.

A few weeks ago I decided to get a head-start on the litany of exams that come around when you’re 40, so I had a thousand (12) x-rays, and eleventy billion (6) blood draws, and one (1) weird boob exam.  The mammogram thing wasn’t that bad and was way less uncomfortable than when you swallow a Dorito wrong.  (That’s my baseline for pain.)  It’s just weird to have another woman curiously man-handling your boobs, but I suggest just realizing that this is what she’s chosen to do for a living, or maybe just pretend you’re in college again.

I spent more time in hospital gowns this week than I did in actual clothes and I didn't even get any good drugs out of it.

The nice thing about the mammogram though was that I got to fill out a form with boobies drawn all over it and I had to mark any scars I had, and I have one right under my right boob from when I was stabbed and when the mammographer looked at the form she was like “YOU WERE STABBED IN THE BOOB?”  And I was like “No, I was stabbed under the boob.  By a doctor.  During emergency surgery.”  And then she just looked at me like that didn’t count, but it totally does because either way, someone stuck a knife into me on purpose.

Long story short, I don’t have breast cancer.  Yay!  But they found some other growth in my neck that’s causing abnormal labs and probably needs to get biopsied.  Not quite as yay.  But I had the same growth 10 years ago and got it biopsied and it wasn’t cancer then and eventually it just went away, so I suspect it’s a silent twin that’s just swimming around in my body and fucking shit up.

The good news is that my rheumatoid-arthritis-miracle-drug has not only kept me out of a wheelchair for the last year, but the damaged bone deformation is healing and my bone-density is now crazy high.  That’s a good sign, but I suspect it also means that my bones are enormous and are making me fat.  Thanks a lot, bones.  You’re a bunch of assholes.  But the upside is that when my doctor points out that I’m still a bit overweight I can blame the fact that I LITERALLY just became big-boned and that she’s giving me mixed messages.  (I know people with RA are going to ask what I’m on and it’s monthly Simponi injections.  There are lots of side-effects and they’re expensive and don’t work for everyone, but they work for me.)

There were also the expected number of blood diseases and clotting disorders and auto-immune diseases that popped up, but at this point I’m sort of collecting those sorts of things, so nothing majorly upsetting.  The thing that did bother me though was something that technically shouldn’t have messed me up as much as it did.  Turns out I have a severe b12 deficiency.  They don’t think it’s pernicious anemia (which is a terrible problem with a very fun name) but it’s enough that they immediately started me on injections and pills and a warning that this level of b12 deficiency often causes delirium, which explains a lot.  Technically it’s a good diagnosis, because it would explain my chronic fatigue, and it can cause depression and symptoms of ADD, and multiple miscarriages, and of lots of other things I’ve struggled with, but it’s also strangely upsetting to find that one damn vitamin might have been what’s been making me miserable for years.  And more upsetting is the fact that I still feel exactly as exhausted as I did before we started the treatment, so God knows if this will even work or if it’ll just be another bullet-point in my list-of-shit-that’s-wrong-with-me.

I should be happy that things weren’t worse, and relieved that I have the resources to diagnose and maybe fix the problems, but today I’m just sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I can’t find a way to end this paragraph.

I blame the delirium.

I’m coming out of this. Eventually.

Me: I’m having a nervous breakdown.

Friend: I’ll bring the wine.

I’m not sure which wine pairs best with a nervous breakdown, but at this point I don’t really care, because wine.  That seems like a sentence fragment but it’s not.  “Because wine” is a full sentence and is also an answer to just about anything you could ever ask.  “Why should I leave my house?”  “Why am I crying at an insurance commercial?”  “Why do my cats all have mustaches drawn on them?”  BECAUSE WINE.

In fact…why does this post exist?  Because wine.

And also because I’ve been fighting through a bitch of a wave of depression for the last several weeks and I’ve been slogging through the days and going through the motions and waiting for this shit to finally break.  I’ve been forcing myself to leave the house as much as I can and congratulating myself for showering and moving and breathing, but it’s still hard as hell.  I’m not alone.  In the last few weeks I’ve gotten tons of comments and emails and tweets from people all feeling equally helpless.  And that sucks.  It sucks for them, and it sucks for me and it sucks for every person out there who can’t just fix us.   There is, however, one bright point about getting those messages from others sailing their own rough waters…I can – without doubt- tell them that depression is lying to them and that things will get better.  And then I have to admit that the same thing applies to me…even though at the time I’m fairly sure my emotions are dead forever.

And then, just as quickly as it came, it starts to lift.  Yesterday I felt human again for almost two hours.  It’s amazing how much you’re missing in a depressive state until you start to come out on the other side.  It’s like breathing again after being underwater for far too long.  The depression is back again now but I had an hour this morning when I was me again.  And a few minutes ago I called a friend to come over to visit.  That sounds like a stupid, small thing, but it’s not.  It’s big.  It’s huge.

When I’m in a depression I want to write about it, but I usually can’t.  I’m too overwhelmed and paralyzed and exhausted.  I end up writing 100 angsty drafts that never see daylight and I convince myself that no one cares.  It’s not true.  People care.  They care about me and they care about you.  If you’re feeling alone, you aren’t.  Millions of people struggle with suicide and depression and mental illness.  We keep taking pills.  We keep talking to shrinks.  We keep each other alive.  We remind ourselves that depression lies.  We keep breathing.  And eventually the clouds metaphorically part and – as if by magic – we get a blast of normalcy and remember how amazingly wonderful it can be to feel life instead of suffer from it.

Yesterday I started feeling life again, and it felt wonderful.  And I’m writing this to remind myself that it does pass, and that the miasma surrounding you now won’t always cling to you.  It will pass for me and it will pass for you.

Keep breathing.  Keep living.  You are worth it.

PS. This seems unrelated and maybe it is but I’m including it anyway because wine.  A few years ago my blog posts were peppered with humorous stories about my severe rheumatoid arthritis.  I’d be bedridden for weeks at a time.  I was in and out of hospitals.  I spent most vacations in a wheelchair.  It took many years and lots of different meds and doctors before they finally found the particular drug that cured my symptoms.  It isn’t perfect and it’s crazy expensive and involves a lot of injections and constant work, but (knock on wood) I haven’t been in a wheelchair in over a year.  I had started to think that my whole life would just be random weeks of pain and that I’d end up hobbled and miserable, but then we found that one drug that worked for me.  And if there’s a drug out there that could save me physically then I have to believe that one day there will be one that could save me mentally.

I’m holding out for that miracle.  Stay here and keep me company.

PPS. If you’ve found something that works for you, feel free to share it.  For me, it’s music. This song has been on replay for me all week and it helps.  Maybe it’ll help you too.

Oh. What?

In the last week ten people have sent me this article because it “made them think of me” and they thought it might be helpful for my health. The article starts with “A dose of parasitic whipworms cured monkeys with chronic diarrhea.

So, yeah.

In their defense, the article does quickly move to the fact that the sick-monkey worms were also helpful for auto-immune diseases and I do have two of those, so fair enough.  In related news that is not quite as funny as diarrhea-monkey worms, my rheumatoid arthritis has gotten much better in the last year because I started taking a monthly “injectable tumor necrosis factor blocker“, which sounds like it would be awesome because it’s a “tumor blocker” but the side effect is that it can give you extra cancer, which is just rude.  Also, it can kill you and it makes your urine weird.  Surprisingly, I am not being paid for this endorsement.

In other not-funny-but-possibly-needed news, I have lost 30 pounds, but in my defense (because I don’t take compliments well) it’s mainly because depression makes me unhungry.  So, thank you for the sweet comments about the weight loss but it’s actually just because I’m too crazy to eat properly so I feel like I shouldn’t be allowed to benefit from those compliments.  And also I’m still technically overweight so I’m still allowed to make fat jokes.  I just wanted to clarify.

Also, I had something really funny to add here but I can’t write it because Victor said it felt vaguely racist and so I called my friend to ask her if she thought it was racist and then Victor was all “You’re calling your black friend to ask if something is racist?  THAT IS TOTALLY RACIST” but technically I was going to call all of my black friends and do a poll, but then I got distracted and now I can’t remember what the joke was.  Way to ruin it for everyone, Victor.

If it's Tuesday this must be New York

My book comes out today!  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BUY IT.  For the next week and a half I’ll be on book tour so please, for the love of God, come see me so I’m not alone.  Click here for details on the tour.  Today I’m in New York.  I’ll be posting here when I have time but I’m also posting some of my favorite posts from the past 5 years.  This one was from 2009…

So  tonight I was walking my dog and  thinking about what I should blog about this week because most of the posts in my draft folder are kinda half-written and don’t really have an ending and I was thinking that maybe I should throw myself in front of a car because that would at least give me something to write about and then I thought “Wow.  There’s something really wrong with me.  Maybe I need more meds”, but then I didn’t even have to maim myself because

I FOUND A MUSHROOM SHAPED LIKE A BOOB.

Probably the sexiest mushroom ever.

Probably the sexiest mushroom ever.

Fucking for real, y’all. It’s like God was all “Damn, what’s with the deathwish, bitch?  I already gave you rheumatoid arthritis.  That’s not enough for you? So selfish.”  And then He’s all “You know what?  Fine. Just throw yourself in front of a car.  I’m out, dumbass.”  But then He remembered my granny who is awesome and God-fearing and prays for me all the time and He probably sighed all grudgingly, like “Damn it. I totally owe Granny.  Fine. I’ll give you this one.”  Then, BAM! Boobie mushroom.    And now I don’t even have to throw myself in front of a car.  In fact, I think I could probably never post again and this blog would still considered successful just on the merit of this one boob God left on my lawn.

It's like when you see the Virgin Mary in a tortilla except instead it's a boob on the ground.  Either way, I'm pretty sure God wanted me to profit from it.

It's like when you see the Virgin Mary in a tortilla, except instead it's a boob on the ground. Either way, I'm pretty sure God wanted me to profit from it. Please send me a dollar.

PS.  I took like 18 photos of the boobie mushroom and the whole time my neighbor was giving me this look like “The fuck?” and so I started also taking pictures of my kid and the mailbox and random shit to throw him off because I didn’t want him to notice the boobie mushroom because I was afraid he might have a blog too and post about it first.  So yeah…I do think there’s probably something wrong with me.  I mean, my neighbor doesn’t even speak English so even if he does have a blog we probably have a different audience.  There could be some cross-over with my bilingual readers though so I don’t think I’m completely overreacting.

PPS.   You know what?  Fuck him.  His granny didn’t go to church every Sunday for 70 years so her granddaughter could find this boobie mushroom.  I am totally going out to smash it right now so he can’t put it on his blog, which may or may not exist.

PPPS.  Okay, I didn’t do it.  Partially because it felt wrong to destroy a boobie mushroom that God made.  And also because when I was little I heard that if you squash mushrooms, fairies will attack you.  Mostly that second one.  I’ve probably revealed too much about myself here but you know what?  Doesn’t even matter:  Magical .boobie. mushroom. It’s kind of so awesome I could write anything here and no one would even notice.  It’s like peeing behind the Pope.  Most of the people there are too into the Pope to notice and if they do notice it’s probably because they weren’t paying enough attention to the Pope.  It’s like a Pope test.  If you’re distracted by a little urine you lose your turn with the Pope and have to go to the back of the line.  If I was the Pope I’d have someone peeing behind me all the time.  That would be awesome.

PPPPS.  This may be my last post ever because where do you go from here?  I’m totally like Eva Peron right before she got cancer.

Comment of the day: You should totally throw a thin white t-shirt over it and water it. Oh, wait, I forgot.  I’m a lady. Don’t do that. That’s offensive. ~ harmzie

The end. And the beginning

I know I said I was going to give away five red ball gowns as part of the #travelingreddress project, but I am a tremendous liar who can’t be trusted. That’s why instead today I’ll be mailing out nine red ball dresses to women around the world. The tenth will be just as beautiful, but will be smaller and hopefully a bit more magical, as it will be going to Alice:

Amazing pictures already pouring in from women across the globe in their red dresses. In fact, some have improvised using just a few yards of material to make amazing portraits. Ball gowns are flying across the country and photographers are furiously offering free sessions, and honestly I may have cried a little.

A few minutes ago I got an email telling me that I’m a final nominee for a Health Activist Award. I’m not sure if it’s for my work with rheumatoid arthritis or with mental illness but it seemed to require some weekly chats or such and I immediately felt both proud and panicked and quickly emailed them:

I’m not sure if i was chosen because of my rheumatoid arthritis or my mental illness issues but the latter sort of keeps me from doing web chats or phone calls or any of that. My anxiety is just too strong right now for me to take on anything else. But I’m so honored. If you’d rather give it to someone less crazy than me though I totally understand. I just have to take care of myself a bit more and that means saying no when I want to say yes. I hope you understand.

After I sent that out I expected to feel bad, like a failure for not being the activist others might see me as, but instead I felt…comforted. Because I’m finally learning that I have to be my own activist as well and take care of myself.  And sometimes that means saying “no” when every fiber of your body says “yes”.

Sometimes a no is a yes.

Sometimes a battle is the triumph.

Sometimes a dress is a hope.

PS. Tomorrow I’ll be back in my usual old irreverent, biting satire as usual. The drugs should kick in any minute.  Promise.

UPDATED:  I won, in spite of myself.  Literally, and figuratively.  How perfectly bewildering.

 

Comment of the day: When you said “Ball gowns are flying across the country”, the first thing I thought of was looking up in the sky and seeing scores of victorian dresses flying through the air. And a small child, who is walking down the street with her mother would look up at the sky and ask: Mommy, what are those things? And the mother would smile, look down and say to her child: That’s hope. ~ Plaidfox

The James Garfield Christmas (And Hanukah) Miracle Returns. Sort of.

This post is going to be crazy-ass hard to follow but it’s probably worth it, so buckle-up, buttercup.

Last year my lovely readers accidentally forced me to save Christmas by making me let them buy Christmas presents for children who might not have had any otherwise.  It’s hard to explain, so instead I’m going to send you to a link explaining how a giant, taxidermied boar’s head (named James Garfield) led to strangers donating over $40,000 to other strangers in what was probably the most baffling and profanity-filled Christmas miracle ever.  It was awesome.

This year I’ve had a lot of people ask if I’m doing the accidental-Christmas-miracle again this year and my first reaction was a resounding, “Oh, hell no.”

And that’s still my reaction.

But here’s the thing…almost all of the people asking if I’m doing the Christmas Miracle again this year are the people who were helped last year.  Except that this year they want to give back, because they were so moved by the way strangers reached out to help them last year that they want to pay it forward.

Holy crap, you people make it difficult to be all hard and grinchy.  And I suppose that’s why I love you. Grudgingly.  And completely.

But here’s the problem:  Last year I was so completely overwhelmed and exhausted that I found myself in a stress-induced rheumatoid arthritis flare-up that made me want to cut off all of my limbs.  And then I’d just be a torso.  No one wants that.

Tons of people have offered to help, but honestly the whole thing sounds suspiciously like a plot to make me lead some sort of annual charitable, good-will organization and I think I speak for all of us when I say that that is a terrible idea.  My skills are much used in buying giant metal chickens, and harassing Nathan Fillion It’s what I do.

So for the last month I’ve been thinking about what I could do to still help people while not actually having to do any work whatsoever.  And I think I have it.  Lightly organized good-deed doing.  Like, almost not organized at all.  Practically chaos, really.  Which is, I think, what you’ll all agree that I excel in.  So here’s how we’re doing The Second (and possibly last) Annual James Garfield Christmas (and Hanukkah) Miracle(s):

Miracle # 1:  Right now there are more more homeless children living in shelters in the U.S. since the Great Depression.  There’s an organization called Project Night Night that donates over 25,000 free Night Night Packages to homeless kids each year.  Each package contains a new security blanket, a children’s book and a stuffed animal, all nestled in a new canvas tote bag.  The organization needs at least 750 bags right now.  They’re $20 each, and you can sponsor a Night Night Package for a child by clicking here.

Miracle #2:  Toys for Tots.  Every year Victor and I donate a shitload of toys in my parent’s name. We take pictures of the donation and then give the pictures to my parents and thank them for teaching me the importance of giving to others.  End result:  Kids get presents and my parents feel awesome for raising me right (even though a horrible side-effect is that they haven’t gotten a proper Christmas present from us in a decade.)  But they’re cool with it because they’re not assholes.  My point is that you should consider doing this for your parents, because if they make you feel crappy about it they’re terrible people and don’t deserve proper presents anyway.  Moving on.

Miracle #3:  The Heifer Project.  Basically it’s about giving livestock and training to families around the world, because llamas are awesome.  Or something.  I don’t know.  I get confused after I see the llamas.  But I do know that they do amazing work and that you can buy a share of a goat for $10.  Which is great because you’re helping a family in need and you also get to tell your horrible aunt Frieda (who made you feel fat when you were 12 and won’t stop asking why you aren’t married yet) that for Christmas you bought a share of a goat in her honor.  The ass end.  Merry Christmas to everyone concerned.

Miracle #4:  This one is closest to last year’s bonanza, but I’m also shining a blinking “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK” sign here because this one takes some trust.  There’s a website called Wish Upon a Hero.  The premise is that anyone can post a wish for something they need.  Sometimes people ask for encouragement, or for cards to cheer up a sick kid, or for clothes, toys, food, whatever.  If you’re someone currently in need of help, sign up and make a wish.  If you want to give help to someone in need then sign up and go here to find the kind of wish you want to grant.   It can be as simple as a word of encouragement or winter coats for children.  Your choice.

Miracle #5:  Just by reading this far you have already donated.  Tonight I’m donating $1,000 to the places above in the name of “You and everyone you know.”  And before you think this is totally selfless, please know that the $1,000 came from my online store, so technically  this money came from you anyway.  That’s why it is entirely ethical for you to tell friends and family that this year instead of giving out gifts you’re just giving to charity.  And that way you can use the money you would have spent on crap-for-people-who-don’t-need-more-crap on something more useful instead.  Like mortgages.  And pie.  And goat asses for bitter aunts who need to learn to mind their own damn business.

The fine print:   If you’re inspired to donate, please feel free to leave a comment telling us what you’re doing.  I loved seeing that stuff come in last year and I know it was inspiring to others as well.

If you leave a comment asking for help you can link to your Wish Upon a Hero post, but please don’t leave your email or contact info in your comment or it won’t get posted.

If you want to share a link of another charity that you love, or links to resources that people can use if they need help please do so.

And finally…thank you.  Thanks for listening, and for caring, and for reading this far.  

We’re all in this together, people.  

UPDATED:  I just bought a llama.  In a shopping cart.  Technology is weird.  And awesome.