Monday, August 10, 2015


On Tuesday, I had an appointment with an oral surgeon. The appointment was kind of a disaster for many reasons, but there was one incident that stood out particularly for me as problematic and anger inducing. When I got to the appointment, I was asked to fill out a basic medical history which asked if I had ever been treated for mental health issues. I checked yes because I have been treated for generalized anxiety disorder. It is mostly under control now, though I still have bad days. However, there was a time where it very much was not. When the oral surgeon asked me why I checked the box, I said "I have an anxiety problem." His response to me was "Oh, just like everyone", with a tone of voice that was offhand and dismissive.

I was taken aback. He wasn't taking me or my anxiety disorder seriously. I felt annoyed and embarrassed. Because I once had a fairly impressive panic attack during a surgery where I was kept awake and couldn't stop thinking about how I could feel the knife cutting into my shoulder, I soldiered on and explained how my anxiety had caused me to obsess about things to the point where I become paralyzed and can't move forward. He went on to ask intelligent questions about medications I had taken, their side effects, and why I was no longer using medication to treat my anxiety. We discussed whether I should be put under or given nitrous or if I could handle being awake.

His initial attitude stuck with me and left me feeling kind of disgruntled. He wasn’t the first person to be dismissive of my anxiety and I'm sure he will not be the last; I just wished he’d been a little more respectful.

On a different day, the story would end here with me just feeling a little bad about the interaction, but trying to mentally move past it. When I returned to work after my appointment, however, my husband told me that a friend from high school had been found dead that morning and that there was a strong possibility it was a suicide. I am sad that this person is no longer a part of the world, and that his pain was so bad that this was his way out. As the week has gone on, and my husband and I have talked about our friend and how saddened we are by his passing, and memorial posts are filtering up on our Facebook pages, I've slowly started to get angrier and angrier at this oral surgeon. There is still a lot of stigma attached to admitting to mental health problems like depression and anxiety that makes it very difficult to get the care and help that someone may desperately need; so how dare this man who is considered a medical professional make me feel like I need to prove that my anxiety is not normal, everyday anxiety before addressing whether it would affect my treatment.  

If one of the most important tenets of being a doctor is “first, do no  harm”, then medical professionals like the surgeon I saw Tuesday need to remember that tone counts. To treat a patient effectively, doctors need the patients to tell them what is wrong. This can include any number of physical symptoms, feelings, and behaviors that are uncomfortable to talk about or have a stigma attached. I am not going to be treated effectively if I’m unable or afraid to talk about my symptoms because I don’t think the doctor is going to believe me or take me seriously, so it’s important to be attentive and empathetic. Don’t make me feel like I can’t tell you what you need to know, otherwise we are going to leave the office still in pain; possibly in even worse shape than the way we came in.

At the height of one of my worst bouts with anxiety I would hide in my bed all day obsessing over minor incidents. I would stay in bed until just before my sister came home from school. Then I would jump in the shower, get dressed, make my bed and eat something so that it wouldn’t look like I had been in bed all day and pretend to be okay.

I was afraid.

I was afraid that my mom and dad would get mad at me for wasting my day; that they wouldn’t believe that I couldn’t make myself stop worrying about these nothing things. I once spent two days agonizing over having to reprint a couple of flyers at work. My boss didn’t care that I needed to reprint a couple flyers and part of me knew this; so why was I still worrying about how I “fucked up” two days later? I had paralyzing anxiety about big things too, graduate school in particular. If I didn’t get out of bed, I didn’t work on assignments. Most of my classmates in library science were English majors for undergrad; I had been a business major and hadn’t read nearly as much literature, so I always worried I was inadequate.

Then there was the really big question; was this the right major/career path for me? I had decided with three classes left in my undergrad that business was not for me; for graduate school I had gone back to an old dream of being a librarian. But what if this wasn’t right either? My parents had instilled me with a very strong work ethic, particularly in regards to school and work. I was afraid that if I told them that my terror over the future was leading me to spend most of my day curled into a ball in bed, they would think I was making excuses to prepare them for poor grades, even though I was maintaining a 4.0 average at the time.

The level of fear and sadness I was carrying around was overwhelming, and I knew that a lot of the anxiety was disproportionate to the cause of said anxieties. I worried that telling someone would make me sound like a crazy person; in my mind crazy people did not get taken seriously. Most of the time, I did a pretty decent job hiding what was going on inside my head because I didn’t want to be belittled for my feelings. I was afraid that people would look down on me and I would lose all credibility; that once someone knew about my constant crippling anxiety whenever I was worried about something, even if it was a legitimate concern, I would be told I was overreacting, just because it was me. I won’t lie, this has happened over the years, but I’ve been lucky. The majority of the people who tell me I’m overreacting are not people whose opinions I really care about.  Having those feelings in the first place, however, made it harder for me to get the help I needed.

I have absolutely no memory of how, but eventually my mom found out how depressed and anxious I was, and sent me to the doctor to seek treatment. I went to a therapist my primary care physician recommended, and was prescribed anti-anxiety medication which I took for many years. Now, in light of our friend’s death, I can’t help but think what if my mom hadn’t sent me to the doctor? What if the first doctor I had gone to had been as dismissive as the oral surgeon was on Tuesday? Where would I be? Had I encountered the attitude of the oral surgeon back then from a doctor it would most certainly have confirmed all of the feelings of inadequacy that my excessive anxiety was giving me. I would not have pushed back and I most certainly would have thought twice before bringing it up to anyone else again.

My friend moved away several years ago and between one thing and another we had drifted apart over the years. Based on when we were kids, I can tell you that he was good at hiding his feelings and that he could be extremely self-destructive, but I also know that he had sought help in the past as well and was able to cope with help. I don’t know if my friend tried to seek help again in his final days, but I am going to wonder.

If you are experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts please try to seek help. The Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day 1 (800) 273-8255.

Also with special thanks to Jonathan A. Desoto for writing advice, editing, proofreading and moral support. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Book Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradel

This book chronicles the life of Eva Thorvald, a woman who becomes one of the greatest chef's in the country that runs a pop up dinner night. Only one short part of the story is told from Eva's point of view; most of the story is told from the point of view of people she interacts with and not always people she interacts with in a very direct way, like the mother of an old high school boyfriend that enters a baking contest where Eva is a judge. This allows the book to make some statements about food and dining as well. 

To me the most interesting things in the book are the day to day lives of the characters. The author does a great job showing all the different personalities and lives of various characters. I wanted to know more about everybody and sometimes was sad that I didn't get to learn more about what happened to various characters. The character that remains the most elusive by the end is Eva herself as the narrators become further removed from Eva's day to day personal life. I know this book is supposed to be all about the food and there is definitely a lot said here about foodie culture and cooking and it's definitely interesting in that respect, but what really made this an enjoyable for me was the people.

The advanced readers copy was sent to my library by the publisher.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Book Reviews: Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti

I received this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. Voracious consists of essays where the author talks about a book she's read, how that book affected her as a person, what was going on in her life when she read it and a food from the book that really spoke to her. She then provides a recipe for that food. 

I really enjoyed reading this book. It brought back warm memories of reading some many of the same iconic titles as a kid or watching the movies. The essay on witches reminded me of watching Witches with my dad and being so traumatized by Anjelica Huston's portrayal of the lead witch that I never read the book; convinced it would be way too scary. I like that she provides context like that in her essays; like who gave her the book and why and how it made her feel. Her explanations of why the titles appealed to her have given me the impetus to try some books that I had always totally dismissed as being completely not for me before. 

The food all sounds amazing (minus some of the meaty things but that is a reflection on my not eating meat not on the writer's recipes.) She provides vegetarian substitutions when she can/it's necessary and I cannot wait to try making some of these things; especially Where the Red Fern Grows Skillet Cornbread with honey butter and The Aenid Honey Poppy seed cake. I'm a little bit intimidated but her directions are pretty explicit so I feel like I got this. 

I will also admit to having been stupidly excited upon reading the acknowledgements to see that the writer spent some time writing at The Anchored Inn in Brooklyn, where I spend most of my Sunday afternoons after practice. I love the food at the Anchored and it kind of just gave me an extra warm fuzzy.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Book Reviews: Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Micheline Helsing (yes she's a descendant of that Helsing) can see the auras of the dead.  Her family and the families of Stoker and Drake run a worldwide organization that tries to keep the world safe from vampires, zombies and ghosts.  Micheline is part of a crew with three others: Oliver, their tech geek, Jude, who can predict death and Ryder, a force to be reckoned with.  Micheline is the last of the Helsing line after a horrible attack that led to death of her brothers and mother many years ago.  Then her and her crew are infected with a curse known as a soul chain.  To save herself and her crew, Micheline will have to run from the organization and her powerful father.

A friend of mine brought this book back from a conference for me. Initially I wasn't going to read it because I thought it was straight up horror, but once I actually read the description and realized that it was about the descendents of Van Helsing, Stoker and Harker running a paranormal investigations type organization I totally got behind it. 

I thought the premise and world building within the organization was very clever and I enjoyed learning about the way the mirrors and camera worked. I would like to have known a little more about how society outside of the organization was run but that was more me being nosy then feeling like something was missing. I admit to being relieved by the lack of love triangle  as well.  Everyone had their own love interest, and although the road for Micheline and Ryder will hardly be smooth at least there was no competition for affection getting in the way of the story.  

I did not see the ending coming at all.  It was sad and gut wrenching and lovely. The book stands alone but there is room for a sequel as well, which also gives me warm fuzzies.  All in all a fun and interesting read.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Reviews:Falling Hard (Roller Girls #1) by Megan Sparks

Annie and her father move from London, England to her father's small home town in Illinois where her father plans on opening a cafe.  While searching for a place to fit in at high school Annie makes new friends (including artist best friend Lexie)and tries to decide whether her gymnastics replacement should be cheer leading or roller derby.

This was a nice coming of age tale that most tween girls will be able to relate to in some way.  There is a small love triangle forming but as the book is part of a larger series that was not the focus of the book and is in fact left hanging only partially formed.  The real focus of the book is Annie's journey to finding a place for herself and her new love affair with roller derby, which I thought was a nice change from other realistic fiction books I've read for this age group.  Annie has a nice relationship with her father and I thought the author did a good job with both that relationship and Annie's relationship with her mother.  

As a Non Skating Official who has worked with women's, men's and junior roller derby leagues I will say that the roller derby is fairly accurate.  The drills, amount of work and athleticism required were accurate although their timeline for passing a skills test and playing in a bout was a bit expedited.  The author also did a wonderful job illustrating the camaraderie that develops between those involved in roller derby and the sense of welcoming and openness that teams try to foster.

The relationship Jesse has with the players and team which may surprise people from other sports is accurate for the way roller derby officiating currently works.  The book was also written during the last rules set (for those that aren't derby familiar; in January a major revision to the rules of roller derby came out.)  That being said it was only one or two references and I don't think it would keep a reader from going to a game and being able to follow what's going on.

There was one disparaging comment written about men's and women's roller derby being different games because men don't wear fishnets.  I know not everyone is a supporter of men's roller derby however I found the comment demeaning to both men and women's players.  The sport is about more then fishnets as the rest of the book spends a lot of time proving and while I believe there are differences in how the men play vs how the women play I thought the comment was unnecessarily disparaging of everyone.  

E-book copy provided by netgalley.

~Danger Prone Daphne, NSO

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Reviews: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

Parsefall and Lizzie Rose work with Grisini, a foreign puppeteer who unbeknownst to them has amazing powers. Both Lizzie and Parse are orphans that he has adopted and is teaching to run puppet shows. One day they go to Clara's house, a rich young girl, to perform for her birthday. Clara is quiet and reserved. She is only surviving child of a cholera outbreak in the Wintermute home. As such you can imagine her parents heartbreak when she disappears the day after the performance. Lizzie Rose is quite sad as Clara was quite nice to them. What follows is an adventure as the children try to break from Grisini only to get caught in someone else's trap. 

I really enjoyed this. The children were interesting and smart. The true villain was very bad (and the witch clearly not as bad as she wanted to be). The descriptions were lovely (or horrible), the author did a wonderful job making you feel like you were there and the historical detail and information on how puppets work were lovely. While I was expecting some things what actually happened to Clara was quite a surprise; along with how strong she really was. I really loved the ending of this one.

My only complaint was an audiobook complaint. I felt like the voices the reader gave Parse and Lizzie Rose were too grown up sounding for them. Clara and practically all of the other characters felt so perfect otherwise that it was almost unsettling.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Crafty Kids: Tie-Dye Butterfly

Since for March Crafty Kids I did a caterpillar craft, for April I decided that it would be fun to make a butterfly.  First I tripped over this and thought it was pretty much the greatest thing ever.  I also found another version that included a clothes pin for the butterfly body which I had left over from the caterpillar craft.  Unfortunately the link for that craft has since been deleted so I can't post that piece of inspiration.  

I did cover the tables with plastic table cloth before hand, had lots of napkins on hand and I was able to get inexpensive spray bottles for tiny fingers by shopping in the travel section at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  The kids loved the project and two grandmothers ended up asking me if they could make butterflies too which was great.  The coffee filters didn't take long to dry although I admit to speeding up the process by hanging clothes pinning them to my desk handles so they would dry even faster.  I had coloring sheets on hand for the kids to work on while they waited for their butterflies to dry.  


Coffee filters
Spray Bottle w/ water
Pipe Cleaners
Clothespin (optional)
Magnet Tape (optional)

1.  Color your coffee filter with markers.  Make crazy patterns but remember that everything is going to blur a little bit.  (Note:  If the markers you’re using are drying out the colors will not run as much later)

2.  Lay the coffee filter on top of a plastic tablecloth or layer of paper towels and spray 2-3 spritzes of water on to the coffee filter.  Allow coffee filter to dry.  (You can leave it laying flat but it dried faster when I hung it to dry.)

3.  (Version 1)  Pinch the coffee filter in the middle and use a clothespin to keep it pinched.  Fluff the wings if they look too scrunched.  Wrap a pipe cleaner around the top of the clothespin leaving the ends free to bend into antennae.  If you want to turn this one into a magnet you can put a strip of magnet tape on the back of the clothespin.  

(Version 2)  Pinch the coffee filter in the middle.  Fold the pipe cleaner in half and stick the pinched coffee filter in the middle.  Twist the top of the filter a few times leaving the ends free to bend into antennae.