May 2012


This is a shout-out post. Thanks for all the support: family, friends, strangers. It really means a lot. Some may think it goes unnoticed but I assure you it does not. Thanks to my brothers for talking about everything from Dad and family stuff to the latest computer games. Thanks to my mom who is home taking care of everyone but herself. Thanks to my cousins, who have been through this to a degree and offer love and hugs from around the country. Thanks to my boyfriend for putting up with me and my sometimes immobile self, for skipping our dancing ritual just because I can’t go (even though you don’t need to bring a partner and he could go himself), for getting me roses and chocolate and strawberries for my birthday. To my friends who exemplify the “friend in need is a friend indeed” idea, for taking midnight phone calls. To my coworkers who listen to me and nod and keep my spirits up. To my boss for concern and email checkups to see how I am doing, how my dad is doing. To the random followers I’ve accumulated through WordPress and Twitter.

Sometimes, it can be easy to forget. You’re so wrapped up in your own world, and it can get dark and lonely there. You want to talk to everyone as much as you want to shut everyone off. But there is a lot of love in this world, despite daily news headlines. Thanks for the support, even if I can’t always acknowledge or understand it right away. It’s the little things. It always is. So thanks.

I think I owe more money. I don’t think I should, since I’m paying for it with my own card. I have claims. I “may pay” some. I don’t understand. Send me a bill.

I actually have lots of claims. I’ve been to lots of doctor visits and had lots of various tests done (old doc seemed a rather big fan of blood tests). Do I suddenly owe money on them? The website (as many websites that we know involving money <ahem>SallieMae<ahem>) didn’t clarify things one bit.

Whatever. I’m sure if I owe money they’ll let me know in no uncertain terms. Right. Right? …

On the plus side, PT went really well today. Could be on the short road to recovery! Of course, I feel a little worse after he tried loosening me up, but hoping it will ease up with lots of stretching.

There is nothing certain or steady with cancer. One week seems fine, and the next week – bad reactions to the radiation treatment, plans changed, people taken aback, hurt, angry. All the times people said, “it’s the best cancer to get” come rushing back, teasing at the outskirts of your mind.

You know, it’s interesting. I was just reading about how the United States Preventive Services Task Force put out their final recommendation: against PSA tests. PSA tests are currently the only test we have to detect the presence of prostate cancer. Under “Screening for Prostate Cancer” on their website, the statement seems an innocently simple one:

The USPSTF recommends against PSA-based screening for prostate cancer.

And, I know that they do this based on science and facts. They reviewed 3,000 comments on the draft before coming out with the final recommendation. As almost anything that has a “United States” in front of the organization name these days, conspiracy theories ran rampant on the Internet. Most common was that it was a ploy by insurance companies to pay less, and second to that was that it was an evil Obama plan in which he uses the death panels in Obamacare to rid the nation of people he doesn’t like (sound familiar)? News flash: Obama’s plan is a) being contested in court and not actually implemented anywhere and b) does not have the Nazi-like death panels everyone flipped about.  The USPSTF is actually an independent body, so does not have to answer to the Federal Government. In response to the first idea, Dr. Virginia Moyer issued an editorial addressing concerns and explaining in plain English why they decided what they did.

Some critics of our recommendation have suggested that we based our decision on an urge to cut costs for insurance companies and government programs such as Medicare. Cost is not a consideration in our evaluation of the scientific evidence. Our mission is to improve the health of all Americans by sharing evidence-based recommendations with them and empowering them and the clinicians who serve them to make informed decisions.

Basically, they figure prostate cancer moves so slowly and people get so freaked out about the idea of cancer that they make poor decisions that drastically affect the rest of their life. Nothing to do with cancer is fun, no matter what treatment you get or don’t get.  Dr. Moyer also says

Cancer is a frightening word, but not all cancers are deadly. Prostate cancer is rarely aggressive enough to cause death within the course of a man’s natural lifespan. Three-quarters of men older than 80 and a third of men between ages 40 and 60 have cancer cells in their prostate, and yet men have only a 2.8 percent lifetime risk of dying from the disease. Currently, there is no way to know which men have a cancer that may benefit from treatment.

This is all well and good, but I still think that getting a routine PSA so you have a regular baseline for prostate-specific antigens in the blood is a good thing. That way if they start to increase rapidly, you can make an informed decision about next steps. I do think that part of the problem is that people are so misinformed about their own body and the world of medicine that they don’t question anything. Yes, starting radiation treatment the day after you have an elevated PSA is probably more harmful than beneficial. But knowing it, and going through the motions to determine for sure it’s cancer…doesn’t seem harmful to me. And of course, the stories, the non-science. Reactions from men and their family members: “PSA test saved my life! saved my dad’s life! saved my husband’s life!” In some sense, as I processed the articles and information, I was glad this came out, became news. Because that means people will talk. They will talk about it, to each other, to their doctor, to their families and friends. And that means more pondering, more questioning, and, ultimately, better decisions. Honestly, though, the time and money could be better spent trying to identify and research better tests instead of slamming the public with this recommendation. “Currently, there is no way to know which men have a cancer that may benefit from treatment” – ? For real? So…stop doing PSA tests but we have no better option? (By the by, I don’t want to misinform – they do not particularly comment on having PSA tests after cancer treatment, and in reading between the lines, it seems they’d recommend it). So that fear, that not-knowing – that is what drives people to get treatment. As well they should.

My dad, from my perspective, did everything right. Got several tests, got another opinion, confirmed the cancer, and slowly began treatment. I think he, and his doctors, made the right decision to go ahead with treatment.

Last week, everything was fine. No, not even last week – Monday. I got copied on the email about the car my family rented to get into and around DC while they visited. Talked to my mom Tuesday night about calling me when they landed so I could finish up at work and meet them. And really, that was what was going to be in my next blog post. It was called “Family Is Coming! Apartment Tomato! (or is it tornado?)” and only said:

They arrive tomorrow!

Which is fantastic – at the end of a rough rough week they will be here to hang out with and do everything and nothing with.

But I have to clean, get a few special groceries, remember to wrap my mom’s belated Mother’s Day present, finish extra work so I can take the WHOLE weekend off, work crazy hours, and look semi-presentable and ready to dance (because how could I possibly bring them to DC and not go dancing?) at least a few dances, with my neck being how it is, and, and, and…plan things! And…

Well. What else is family than accepting of messy (almost 24!)-year-olds and their apartments.

Still. Clean like mad!

And now…

I got a call from my brother. “Family’s not great, need to talk to you about it.” I was just leaving the office and about to go through the tunnel, so I asked to call him back a bit later when I got home. He said, “Yup, that’s fine. Basically, Dad’s not doing so well with the radiation and don’t think he’ll be able to go. One of us <static> will have to stay here with him. But yeah. Call me later.”

I called when I got home, after running through all of the things in my head that could be wrong, those “best cancer to get,” no-big-deal reactions I got when I first started telling people about it. And you know, maybe, at the end of it all, it isn’t a big deal. Maybe they’ve gotten over it simply, easily, and forgotten the fear, stress, and wondering they went through while it was happening. Maybe they didn’t.

After some cell phone technical difficulties, my brother called back. Now, I know my other brother knows some of what is going on as well. We’ll talk more later today. Thing is…

Cancer isn’t my dad’s biggest issue right now. His diabetes is – he began stress eating, feeling bad about himself and his situation (who wouldn’t?) and eating crap. Sugar sugar sugar, and that, combined with the cancer and damage to his body the radiation does, has to do to rid him of cancer completely – that is deadly. But he’s angry. He’s scared. And refuses to admit that the sugar is actually a huge part of the problem. His blood sugar levels have skyrocketed. Now everyone’s upset, he’s eating more chocolate, and apparently wants to prove the doctors wrong. A very dangerous game to play. This is no game. Nothing about this is easy. To my dad – please try to stop. The only thing your whole family wants is your health. That’s it. Love and love and love. We’re full of it, but I don’t know if you can see that. Remember your positive image of cancer. You were so excited it was positive from the get-go, that while going through radiation you already knew you’d beat it. Remember. You can do this. We can do this.

This weekend, as of this writing, is still up in the air. I have no idea who is coming, who is not coming, if I’m going up there to do what I can….what. And I’ve had my own stressful/scary week – and people keep telling me: you can’t help others unless you yourself are okay. And I’m not. Stress from a doctor appointment Tuesday kicked my neck back into high gear and now it hurts to walk, and swallow, again. That was to make sure I don’t have cancer. It’s one of those slim-chance things: there’s no history of that kind in my family, many people have the same examination, but there is that little chance. That 1% or less that when the results come back in two weeks, I will be thrown yet another tomato. I haven’t cried in a doctor’s office since I was like 7, when a doctor told me, showed me, chided me about how drastically below-average my height was – for being too short. By the time I left this exam on Tuesday, I was so emotionally exhausted I was useless for the rest of the day. I lugged my big bag with a giant binder and notes around DC, catching trains and buses here and there, and did not open it once.

If this is all grief – we’re at the denial stage. I’m scared, myself. If my dad doesn’t kick it in gear and start eating the healthy meals his family is making him, instead of stuff that is high in sugar, things will continue to slide downhill. It will get worse before it gets better, or it won’t get better.

Okay, okay, possible drama queen alert. But right now, it just feels like life is falling apart.

Screw you, cancer. Screw you.

I started physical therapy for my neck this week. I am paying for it all on my own, which means May in general is getting really expensive. But it reminded me of a tidbit of advice I’d forgotten to share in my earlier post.

When you get a job that has benefits, look through everything carefully before deciding on which plan you want for health insurance. Many insurance companies have something called a Flexible Spending Account, or FSA. It allows you to set aside some amount of money that is not taxed and you can only get at for medical reasons. Often, this comes in the form of something akin to a pre-paid credit card. So, for example, that co-pay for the doctor’s office? The amount you have to actually pay the pharmacy for your prescriptions? Try to add up all of the things you think you’d like to have money set aside for. Look at the list of items your insurance provider will cover within the FSA. Sometimes this includes Tylenol, ice packs, contact lenses and/or solution, etc. Basically, whatever number you come up with, add a little more for unexpected costs like getting sick, when you’ll need a little more. This amount, over the year, will be taken from your paycheck. So, you get paid a little less but you know those things you need are covered. It’s a sweet deal if you work it the right way. Just remember to use it all – usually what you haven’t used by the end of the year goes up in smoke.

Unfortunately, I did not enroll in mine this year (bad timing), and it would have been nice to my own monthly spending if I had.

As for physical therapy, it is only covered (in part) after I reach a certain deductible, which is more than the total sum of all the PT sessions.

Tom-ay-toh, tom-ah-toe. I’ll deal with it. Just means I can’t save much this month.

I’m sitting here before you tonight having just made the final click of “Pay” for my student loans – ever. At least, I hope so. I’d be way more excited if I hadn’t been so confused by Sallie Mae’s interface. And also when that lovely amount clears my bank account…

So, college graduates: first of all, congratulations. You’ve worked pretty hard to get to graduation, and here it is. Well done. And hey – the world isn’t even going to end this year! You must have worked some magic through your years of:

  • classes
  • finals
  • mid-terms
  • frenzied 6am course registrations
  • stressful housing lotteries
  • great people
  • annoying people
  • people you were friends with 3 years ago and awkwardly aren’t anymore
  • friends you made yesterday and didn’t have a clue you’d get along with so well
  • parties gone right
  • parties gone wrong
  • parties you don’t recall
  • cool discussions
  • boring lectures
  • lectures that ended too soon
  • quad parties
  • impromptu snowball fights
  • boys
  • girls
  • too many all-nighters
  • one or fifty one-nighters

It’s all led up to this. This one day – no, couple of hours. A shiny piece of paper. All yours. First things first: it is totally natural to feel “kicked out” of college upon graduation week. Hey, maybe you want to peace and leave everything behind. But most of you don’t. This has been your community, your home, your life for 4 years and now everyone is scattering like the wind they arrived upon. Feel it. It’s okay.

My advice to you? Here goes. It is not comprehensive but it’ll do for now.

  1. Get a job. Skip to 10.
  2. Buy a suit.
  3. Breathe.
  4. Smile.
  5. Keep applying.
  6. In the meantime, keep busy.
    • Do anything -sitting. Pet-sitting, baby-sitting, house-sitting.
    • Try local stores for full or part-time work this summer.
    • Take an online class to keep your brain up.
    • Can you tolerate children? Be a camp counselor. Overnight bonus: you may not get paid a lot but they cover food and shelter, which is a plus.
    • Do something you love, or have always wanted to do but never had the time.
  7. Take a good, hard look at your resume.
    • Look up resumes in your industry. Read articles on how to tailor yours to meet that. Keep it short and relevant. Use action-packed words, not passive ones. Use keywords from job postings. Draw out any leadership roles.
  8. Keep applying.
    • When you start feeling really desperate (you’ll know), stop. I tried going the Government route. Did I automatically apply for 50 “Administrative Assistant” jobs anywhere in the country? Yes. Did I really want to be an Admin Assistant? Not in the least (personally). Was I willing to move anywhere at all? Not really. When I realized what I’d been doing, I stopped to take a step back. Did I get the job(s) I wanted? Nope. I re-started the whole thing with a focus on what I wanted and what I’d take for awhile.
    • Leverage LinkedIn and Monster. I got recruited by my current company that way. Join groups in areas you’re interested in working in and browse job boards and discussions. Join discussions. Do the same for organizations you’d love to work for. HR has their tentacles out, and one may snatch you (and even if it’s across the country or world, getting those messages alone feels nice).
  9. Work your connections: family, friends, old bosses. Can you do anything? Do they know of anything? Send your snazzy resume out. Repeat steps 3-9 until you reach 10. Roughly. (Or, go to grad school. Which I did not do, so cannot speak to.)
  10. Job goal complete!
  11. Find a place to live.
    • Living with others is cheaper but less private.
    • Living alone is expensive but all yours.
    • If you have time, think about all aspects of the potential place.
      • Accessible to a grocery store? Public transportation? Pharmacy? Hardware store for those first few weeks?
      • Safety: would you feel comfortable walking home after a fun night at the bar? What kind of access controls does the building have?
      • Commute time. You will spend most of your time at work – don’t opt for a heavy commute if you can help it, especially starting a new job. As noted in Tuesday’s post, it can be exhausting.
  12. Allow yourself to change. For some of you, this will be easy. For others, maybe not. You’ve learned a lot in college, changed your opinion based on new information, discussed world issues, but it doesn’t stop here. You will learn much more about yourself, your opinions may change a dozen more times, your lifestyle will likely change drastically. This is life. Let it happen. For me, a big lesson was about becoming “corporate.” I’d firmly believed that for myself, I’d never choose that life. Desks and cubicles, meetings, managers. Get me outside! But for most of us, life doesn’t work like that. And that’s okay, too. I’d thought, at first, “I’ve become one of them! Part of the machine!” and while that may be partly true, it’s not a bad thing. I make a good living sitting at a desk all day interacting with all sorts of people and participating in long meetings. I learn every single day. I meet new people. I set limits, and work to achieve a life/work balance. I look up events, both during the week and weekends, and do my best to catch a few now and then.
  13. Have fun! Never forget this part.
  14. Be confident: in yourself, in your opinions, in your skillset.
  15. Learn to cook and make your own lunch and dinner. It’s better for you (and cheaper) than skipping out to the local fast food chains and food courts. Trust me.
  16. Try to live without regret. You don’t get these years back.

That’s what I’ve got for you, for now. College may have been the time of your life – but the rest of your life can be, too. Go get ’em.

What are you most excited for? Least? What else do you want to know about “post-college” life? If you’re in “post-college life” what would you tell this year’s graduates? Throw a tomato back and I’ll try to get to it. 🙂

Are unpaid internships worth the frustration of not getting paid? Are unpaid internships “immoral,” as one article says?

There has been a lot of (revived) debate in the past week or two about the concept or worth of unpaid internships for college grads. Full disclosure: I’ve never had a completely unpaid internship: I’ve either gotten paid or gotten a living stipend. But I did live at home with my parents for one.

Are Unpaid Internships Over? (N0.)

Time says the unpaid internship is over. I disagree. The unpaid internship is far from over. The opening of this particular article draws us into the plight of a young woman who has had seven internships:

In August 2011, when Diana Wang began her seventh unpaid internship, this time at Harper’s Bazaar, the legendary high-end fashion magazine, she figured that her previous six internships – at a modeling agency, a PR firm, a jewelry designer, a magazine, an art gallery and a state governor’s office – had prepared her for the demands of New York’s fashion world.

First of all, why seven? The thing about internships is to pick them well, and then stop when it’s good for you. I mean, at first glance, that looks great: wow, she’s been able to land seven internships! For starters, it is in your best interest to get at least one or two paid ones. People, especially college grads, simply cannot afford to do seven unpaid internships. Also: you are worth more than that. It’s okay to turn down unpaid internships, to say “no” when you find out you’ll get nothing to live on. Three internships, between college courses, is great, and I’d suggest leaving it at that if you’ve gotten that far. As for during the school year, your focus should really be on not falling asleep in class. If it fits with your schedule, is educational, and doesn’t leave you scrambling to keep up in the school you’re paying a bucketload to attend, go for it during the semester. Otherwise, cool it.

As it turned out, Wang’s internship was just like many of the thousands of others: unrewarding in terms of both pay and marketable experience — not to mention the lack of a job offer.

That sucks. But, without knowing particulars, my word of caution and response to this is: do your research. Don’t take an internship for the sake of taking an internship. Study the organization or company, and the job description. Ask about it in the interview. What should you end up with when you finish this internship? Does the program lead to potential job offers? Every job you get, think: how will I put this on my resume? If you might as well be working at a grocery store, skip it and move on (and in late spring, start thinking about applying to a grocery store). Thanks but no thanks. Applying for internships is much like applying for jobs in this age: you will get far more rejections than acceptances. Far, far more. Keep counting. You’ve got to become an application machine. Keep a file of your writing samples, information many online applications ask for so you can do a copy/paste, and knock out cover letters customized to the organization. Yes, it is hard work, but so is the internship (hopefully in a good way), so it’s worth it.

As for the suing, both by Wang and the interns at Fox, I support them. If those were really their experiences, then that’s absurd. But I disagree that everyone ever must get paid, no matter what. Again, ask the right questions. Maybe these laws need to be reviewed, but if an internship passes the test, it’s legal and both parties are aware of it:

As more internships sprouted across the country, Congress passed a number of laws regulating them, including the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which specifically lays out a 6-point test, still in use today, for hiring unpaid interns:

1. The internship must be similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
2. The internship must be for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees;
4. The employer derives no immediate advantage from the intern;
5. The intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the internship; and
6. The intern understands that he or she is not entitled to wages.

From the article, it sounds like the internships described did not follow all of these points, specifically 1, 2, and 4. I’m in no way blaming these individuals for taking these internships and then suing. I think this needs to be brought up, and students made much more aware of the facts. Then they can decide for themselves. But, be careful. Like jobs, schools, …  almost everything in life – all internships are NOT created equally.

Then there is this piece:

Then in March, another intern sued, this time a 25-year-old film student named Lucy Bickerton, who interned at “The Charlie Rose Show.”

“It’s so ingrained, especially in the film industry, that you pay your dues,” Bickerton says.“You keep your mouth shut and are thankful for anything that comes your way.”

I’m not in the film industry. I’m not sure if that’s true. But I do know one thing: you do pay your dues. Jobs are things you have to work for. You have to work very hard. The internship that led to my current job was exhausting in all capacities. I worked 50 hour weeks until they stopped allowing overtime. Then I just had to get everything done in just 40 hours. It was totally sink or swim. I was too tired, every day, to cry from the stress (most of the time). Luckily, none of those breakdowns happened in the office. Do I work for a terrible company? Of course not; I wouldn’t have accepted the job offer if it was. But my company holds its employees to high standards, and it pushes people. I have gained incredible work experience and opportunities from being there. I work with great people and know that I’m valued. You don’t have to be thankful for anything that comes your way, that’s up to you, but don’t expect to slide by. 9-5 is gone. I’d love to bring it back, but I can’t.

Bickerton says so many college students entering the workforce think internships will automatically lead to jobs.

Newsflash: internships do not automatically lead to jobs. That’s all I have to say about that. I had 4 throughout my “intern” career.

Are Free Internships Immoral? (Whoa. No?)

According to The Atlantic, work is work and free internships are immoral. First off, calm down. If we’re going the “immoral” route, I’ve got a laundry list pages upon pages long of things that are immoral. Unpaid internships is not really high on it…or there.

This article opens with a careful mix of story and hard facts:

This summer, millions of students — some graduating, some between school years — will spend the summer working. Some will work at restaurants and on retail floors, where working is called “working.” Some will work at think tanks and non-profit organizations, where working is called “interning.” Estimates put the number of unpaid interns every year between 500,000 and one million. So, in a country where working for free is mostly illegal, a student population somewhere between the size of Tucson and Dallas will be working for free, in plain view.

Interning is an actual thing, different from “work” or “jobs” in more than the name. According to Dictionary.com,

Job is defined as: a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price: She gave him the job of mowing the lawn.

Internship: any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession: an internship for management trainees.

I do like the “mostly illegal” line though. True, but with the exception of internships, specifically unpaid internships, which have laws from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 in place to manage them. The author, a former member of the “unpaid intern nation,” now says: “I’m coming down in the second camp: Unpaid internships aren’t morally defensible.”

Again, the “moral” thing is weird to me. Let’s dig deeper.

If you have worked in the Washington, D.C., research or non-profit sector, you know that often the roles of an intern and, say, a research assistant overlap. The reason that companies pay one and not the other is that they know they can get away with it. A 19-year old student has little bargaining power, especially if she wants to work in an industry where unpaid internships are the norm. (“If you don’t pay me, I’ll go to that other magazine that has better muffins,” is not a strong negotiating stance.)

Yes, that’s a terrible negotiating stance. Research assistant and intern roles likely do overlap. Is one getting paid because they’ve had one or five of these internships and know a lot more than the intern? Or perhaps they are in grad school and have no choice if they want to stay in their program without going into even deeper debt. Or maybe, in some instances, they are doing the exact same thing, have the exact same experience, but only one of them is getting paid. That is an issue. That needs to be brought up and handled with an appropriate level of confidence and professionalism.

The broader effects of unpaid internships are (a) a tendency for employers to take advantage of young labor by offering the currency of experience in lieu of actual currency,

Yes…but as the author repeatedly points out, these internships – this experience – is crucial nowadays for college grads to get jobs. So, yes, sometimes “currency” comes in the form of experience. Just note my advice above and don’t go overboard on the unpaid internship thing. It’s not worth it (in my opinion).

and (b) a widening of the social inequality gap as lower-income students are implicitly barred from this so-called  “educational” experience, which is their gateway to full-employment in the field of their choosing.

This is a good point. Not being a lower-income student or worker, I’d like to see if any of the following make a difference.

  1. Take internships nearby so you don’t have to leave home. This is much easier in big cities, where many socioeconomically disadvantaged tend to reside. Plus.
  2. Call everyone: can you stay with family somewhere else? Your best friend’s parents? A cousin? An aunt? Just for the summer. Offer to cook twice a week, look after small children or pets when they want a break, clean.
  3. Remember that you are worth paid internships, too. Go get ’em!

This is not my area of expertise. This will be a longer fight. But never say never.

So, those are my two cents. Take it or leave it.

Have you had an unpaid internship? How did it go? Leave a comment or submit your own blog post.

Up on Thursday: my advice to college grads. I was there two years ago.

I actually thought awhile on whether to bother posting this, as it revolves around yours truly in every sense. But life, friends, has thrown me a mid-sized tomato and so, here it is.

For several weeks – almost months – I’ve increasingly developed more and more neck pain. I don’t recall anything in particular happening to me; perhaps I slept on it wrong or strained it somehow. For nearly a week, it’s been in fairly constant pain. Minus the few hours I’m able to sleep, since, if I’m just slightly too much to the right, I wake myself up with a severe pain on the right side of my neck. It’s now gotten to the point where the simple act of taking a step hurts: the pressure of stepping down shoots a jolt right up to my head. I’ve learned to walk lightly, slowly, carefully. But it doesn’t solve everything. Some think it’s stress-related, even though I haven’t a terrible amount of things to be stressed over – minus the fact that my neck hurts always. Some have joked it’s pre-stress: summer is my company’s crazy season, and now that I’ve been through one I know what to expect. But…I’ve been through one, and managed. Late nights, super-focus, dinners at the office or near it….but managed.

Then my throat started hurting. It began to hurt to swallow, and I had terrifying moments when I didn’t think an Advil would even make it down. I envisioned running downstairs, trying to call 911 – choking on a pill. Friends told me to calm down, chill out, remember that’s it’s just a scary symptom. You wouldn’t believe how real it feels, if that’s true. I have spent the past day drinking Throat Comfort Tea by Yogi, which I’ve used before. It’s definitely helped some. Once you get used to the weird taste (I’ve become a pretty regular black tea drinker, thanks to my boyfriend), it’s actually pretty good (psst: Thanks Dad! I wouldn’t have tried it if you hadn’t mentioned it!).

Well, why didn’t you see a doctor? A chiropractor?

Well, I thought it might go away. When I realized it was not, I did go to my doctor. He didn’t say a whole lot, ordered a thyroid blood test, and mentioned my tonsils looked a little red, and I might have some sort of infection. There are just so many. I mostly stared at him, because none of this really helps me. On the plus side, I got the results back and they are normal. On the downside, it took me out of work for an entire morning and bit of afternoon, after an hour-and-a-half wait in the waiting room. He also is mailing me a referral for a physical therapist, so now I have to find one of those.

Among other things, this plus the waiting time plus the fact I live an hour away now via public transportation, this has convinced me to find a new doctor who has fewer patients and is near my apartment (Mom will correct me, I’m sure. Is it less or fewer?). She cannot see me until next week. Another appointment, another couple hours sans-work. It’s not that I’m obsessed with my job (I think), but we all hold ourselves to very high standards, and are incredibly deadline-driven. A few hours off can mean a late night the night before.

In the meantime, I’ve bought a new pillow, which I now prop carefully on another pillow. With the right arrangement, I can have a little lift under my shoulders and much more under my neck. Unfortunately, this allows me to only sleep on my back, and I’m pretty much a sleep-on-her-side kinda gal. Believe me, I tried in fits and twitches last night. I don’t sleep well on my back, but if I sleep on my side my neck feels even worse in the morning. Or so I think; I haven’t made it more than several minutes on my side. One thing has led to another and my jaw, which has a frequent habit of getting crabby when I’m stressed, is painful, too. Actually, it feels as though it’s sticking out further, which does make talking slightly awkward. I’ve heard myself merge/stumblewordstogether without meaning to. Talk about embarrassing.

picture of the aromatherapy neck wrap I bought, as a polar bear

I have the polar bear one. (Thanks Amazon for the image)

I also bought a Dreamtime Endangered Species Pampering Polar Bear Neck Wrap (no joke). It was pretty much the only thing Whole Foods had and I don’t have a car.

The only mildly tricky things left are:

a) obviously figuring out what is wrong with me and fixing it

b) seeing if the new doctor agrees with my  (now) old one and if she’ll give me a referral also

c) seeing if the new doctor agrees with my (now) old doctor on a test I have an appointment for in a few weeks, and what to do about it

I think it does have something to do with my chair-desk-monitor setup, both at home and at work, but not sure exactly what or how to fix it. This morning seemed like it was going to be a breakthrough: I was walking without much pain. But it didn’t last long; by 11am it was pretty much back. So…there is my life-thrown tomato for the moment. I can’t even begin to explain to you how awful it is to be in pain most of the time and even when doing things like walking around. It’s pretty awful. Hoping to get it resolved soon.

<Sigh>

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