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A letter to the ER doctor who believed me.

(Typed, printed, signed, and ready for mailing tomorrow morning.)


My name is Jenn. I don’t know if you remember me, but I remember you. I also don’t know if you receive thank-yous very often – something tells me probably not, since you work in a chaotic ER. And I’m sure written thank-yous are even less frequent. But I feel what you did for me is deserving of a thank-you – if I knew of your schedule, I’d come to the ER personally to find you and deliver this in person. But I don’t, and something tells me hospital staff would write me off as a stalker if I called asking for your schedule, so a mailed letter it is (I do hope it reaches you).

On April 19th, 2016, at exactly 10:00am, I suffered a third spontaneous ulcer perforation. If you remember me telling you, or took a look through my patient record, you may know my first happened on February 18th, 2013, at 2:42am. The second was on August 1st, 2015, at 7:31am. The exact times may come across as a bit OCD, but that’s the thing with a crisis – every detail stands out and etches itself upon your memory.

So when the intense, crippling, breath-taking pain hit Tuesday morning last month, I knew. It took me two minutes to get from the bathroom, where I had been brushing my teeth, into the bedroom. To my cellphone. To plug it in because the battery has discharged to 12 percent. To dial 911. To dial a second time because I accidentally hung up the first time. To fight back the pain long enough to clearly state my name, address, nature of emergency, and request for an ambulance.

Time crawled from that point in time, 10:02am, until you walked into the room two or so hours later. In those two hours I was loaded into an ambulance, deposited into the waiting room at your ER, taken to triage and asked if I was constipated, abandoned a second time in the waiting room, and then finally put into an actual room in the ER. A few minutes before you came in a nurse came by with a urine specimen cup and requested a sample so they could check for kidney stones. I repeatedly insisted on the diagnosis being an ulcer perforation, and begged for a doctor, pain relief, and a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis. She was pretty skeptical.

But you weren’t. You believed me. You didn’t feel skeptical (or at least, you didn’t show it if you did). You didn’t criticize. You didn’t dismiss. Instead, you took me at my word, especially when I rattled off both my surgical history and the increasing list of removed internal organs. You could have easily insisted on doing a thorough verbal and physical exam. You could have insisted on a list of diagnostic tests. But instead, you jumped right to my request: a CT scan. And then you were quick to get the results. And quick to contact my surgery team at {BARIATRIC SURGEON’S HOSPITAL}. You condensed an anticipated two to three hour ordeal into less than 30 minutes.

And for that, I am writing to say THANK YOU. I know that as an ER doctor you probably see many patients who are exaggerating or altogether lying about symptoms in order to score drugs, attention, or both. I know this not just from news articles and statistics, but how I myself have been treated (because let’s face it, it’s not common to deal with a 31-year-old healthy-appearing woman who has gastric ulcers AND ovarian torsion AND endometriosis AND polycystic ovarian syndrome AND a history of ulcers AND not one but two – now three – ulcer perforations AND degenerative disc disease AND a need for spinal fusion due to one disc that is compressed and leaking and another that is almost completely obliterated. I can’t tell you how many times I have been treated with disdain, disbelief, disrespect, and dismissal because of my complex and convoluted medical history – and crazily-colored hair, colorful makeup, and a penchant for lots of glitter and lots of jewelry is just the icing on the This Woman Has Got To Be Full Of Shit And Just Wants Narcotics to Abuse cake.).

Thank you. Thank you for believing me – or at least believing me enough to put aside your questions and judgments long enough to humor me for my request for a CT. Thank you for then immediately following up with the results of those CT – so it wasn’t just a case of you ordering the CT to shut me up and then not following up until you had made me wait for a prolonged and unnecessary amount of time. And thank you for then immediately jumping on the horn with {BARIATRIC SURGEON} and arranging a prompt transport to {BARIATRIC SURGEON’S HOSPITAL}.

Since I’m writing this to you, you have accurately deduced that I made it through. I had surgery that day, about an hour and a half after I arrived at {BARIATRIC SURGEON’S HOSPITAL}. There was a bit of a SNAFU there that involved them dumping me into their waiting room as well, mistakenly thinking I was having chest pain which resulted in me finally screaming I wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything unless it involved more pain medication and an OR, and in that order. But after 10 or so minutes of confusion and chaos, {BARIATRIC SURGEON} was in my ER room and plans were quickly put into action, and it wasn’t long after that when I was in the blessed OR begging for anesthesia.

I was hospitalized for four days, which seems to be the average after an ulcer perforation. But the surgery went smoothly, was performed laparoscopically and did not require the insertion of a drainage tube or a gastric feeding tube, and my recovery has been slow but steady. Unfortunately, this third ulcer perforation destroyed the six and a half year old gastric bypass I have worked so hard to make a success (I had surgery in 2009, hit my goal weight “range” of 160-170 in 2011, and have successfully and consistently maintained that 180 pound loss). The reasons… well, for various reasons I won’t name the doctor who I may have named to you in the ER that day. But there is a medical professional, and his apparent penchant for using Toradol in patients who have a known and repeatedly voiced and written history of ulcers and ulcer perforations, who is responsible for this. But I am doing my best to let go of my anger in order to focus on moving forward with recovering, both physically and emotionally. I will be having a complex gastric bypass revision to gastric sleeve surgery on May 2323, 2016. This surgery will remove the permanently damaged and vulnerable area of stomach pouch/small intestine connection, and revise my entire already-revised digestive system from a gastric bypass to a gastric sleeve. {BARIATRIC SURGEON} firmly believes that this, barring any further use of Toradol or other fun ulcer-inducing drugs, will fix me for good. I’m very happy to hear this, and even though I am dreading another surgery – especially just four weeks after the last one, my fourth in a year’s time, my 11th abdominal surgery in all (can someone please get me a punch card? I think I’m due for a free t-shirt, or at least a travel mug), — I am also very excited to close this hellish chapter of my life (tentatively titled, Three Years of Ulcers and the Physical Hell They Induce) and move on to a happier, less-painful, less-stressful existence.

I will end this very long (sorry) letter with another heartfelt thank you: THANK YOU for being an amazing doctor. While our interaction was rather brief, please know you made an incredible and significant impression on me (and I have shared this impression with every doctor I have talked to since), and I will be forever grateful for your respectful, compassionate, and prompt treatment.


Filed under General

What To Do When You Get A Rash!

Viral Rash from influenza
photo credit: Care_SMC

It can be frustrating when we notice that we have developed a rash on our arm or leg. A rash may occur for a number of reasons, but it’s mainly down to something irritating your skin. You need to consider what you have touched which could have resulted in the inflammation. It might not be anything serious, but there are a few things you can do when you get a rash.

Get it checked by a doctor

If the rash disappears after 24 hours, then you might not need to do anything about it. Keep an eye on it, but if it continues to irritate you or appears to be getting worse, it’s time to see the doctor. Book in for an appointment and then let them examine the rash. They will be able to tell you what might have caused it, and then they will decide if they should send you on for further tests. They might not be able to do anything to help as it might go in its own time. But it’s worth getting it checked out so you can stop worrying about it. If it’s a kid you should make sure you go check it out sooner rather than later. Make sure you ask them if it’s hurting them and you should keep an eye on it to see whether it’s spreading.

Wash the rash

One of the first things you should do when you notice that you have a rash is to clean the area. By doing this, you can stop it from getting any further inflamed. It will also remove anything in the area which may be causing it distress. Make sure you feel around the rash to ensure nothing is inside your skin. If by washing it, it’s irritating it further, you should stop immediately. After cleaning it, you should see if it starts to look better, or take further action if it gets worst.

Use concealer

If you have figured out that the rash is nothing serious, you can cover it so that it can be concealed till it disappears. It’s never attractive going out with a big rash on your arm or leg. It’s especially frustrating if you are heading out for a big night out. Therefore, you can use concealer to hide the rash; just make sure that it doesn’t irritate your further.

Do the meningitis test

You should ensure that there is nothing seriously wrong with you when you notice yourself or someone else has a skin rash. One of the most serious diseases that’s important symptom is a skin rash is meningitis. This disease is life threatening so if you have a fever, headache and a skin rash with spots you need to go to the doctor immediately. One way people check if its meningitis is by doing the glass test. It can be done by putting a glass against the skin and seeing if the rash fades. If you can see the spots through the glass, it could be meningitis. Remember the glass test is not accurate, so if you do suspect it’s meningitis, you need to go to the hospital immediately.

Get some cream

If the rash is becoming itchy, it might be time to get some cream which you can use to smooth on the rash. It will instantly cool down the skin, and is particularly useful for rashes which have been caused by heat. You may want to get some cream which has been prescribed by the chemist, as they will be able to recommend ones which will stop you irritating it further.

Leave it a day or two

The most important thing you can do when you get a rash is just to keep an eye on it. A lot of rashes are because our body is trying to protect us to fight infection. If you need to, you can take photos of the rash and then the next day you can take another picture and then compare if it’s got worse. You may be able to solve it at home without going to the doctors.You can read about how you can stop inflammation on sites such as

Check your soaps

One of the top reasons people get rashes is because a product has irritated their skin. You should consider what you have used recently which might have caused the rash. As it says in this article, a lot of the time it can be down to a new soap in your home. Think back to the last few days and whether you have used a new lotion, soap, or detergent that could have irritated your skin. It might be worth throwing it away to ensure that you don’t get any more rashes. You should tell your doctor about it as they will be able to check if you are allergic to it.

Could it be a food allergy

Another reason why you might get a rash is that you have experienced a food allergy. You may have an allergy you know about and should consider whether that food has somehow passed your lips. Perhaps you have been to a restaurant, and they could have added it in your food. If you don’t know if you have a food allergy, it’s worth going to the doctors and seeing if there are any foods you should be avoiding.

Bathe in baking soda

A lot of people have not heard of the next thing which can help when you get a rash. Baking soda is an excellent way to stop that rash from irritating you. Put a cup of baking soda in the bath and then you can take a soak in there which will soothe your skin and reduce the rash.

Stop scratching

The best tip we can give you if you get a rash is to ensure you don’t scratch the area. It can be so easy to do when you get an irritable rash, and it gives us a moment of relief. But the more you scratch, the more you will make it worse, and it will irritate it further.
Remember always to get rashes checked out if it lasts a couple of days.

Filed under Articles

I just discovered matte lipstick and now I’m obsessed.

At first glance you’ll probably notice two things about me:

  1. I like bright colors (especially hot pink, silver, and neons)
  2. I like glitter

When it comes to makeup I typically go all out in the eye department, go more subtle with blush, bronzer, and highlighter, but then almost always skip lip products altogether, and here’s why:

That leaves lip balms, in both tinted and clear – and for the past several years, these have been my go-to when it becomes glaringly apparent that bare lips don’t really fit in with the rest of my made-up look. But balms are now boring me, and haven’t met my needs for the perfect nude and perfect “whoa!” colors.

Fast forward to two weeks ago: I discovered matte lipsticks, and after the first swipe I was in love.

matte lipsticks

A matte lipstick is a pigmented color that has a flat finish – unless you get a specialty cream or satin matte, don’t expect any sheen or shine with a matte color. You’ll get pure color with a flat, muted finish. Additionally, the chemical makeup of a matte lipstick almost always means it’ll stick around much longer than a traditional cream will.

The downside to matte lipsticks, as I’ve read and am also finding out firsthand, is that they’re somewhat drying, and they do nothing for your lips in the moisturizer department. So while you’ll want to apply a matte lip product to bare, moisture-free lips, it’s also important to pamper your lips in between matte lipstick usage.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to my new collection of matte lipsticks. I’ve yet to determine if these are the creme de la creme, but so far I’m happy with the colors, feel, and longevity of these babies:

NYX Liquid Suede – Sway (#LSCL06)
NYX’s Liquid Suede Lipstick was my first foray into the matte lipstick world. Picking out a matte lipstick was on one of my many mental to-do lists, and while at Target NYX’s colorful display caught my eye, and I quickly fell under the spell of NYX Liquid Suede’s Sway. Sway is lilac with a pop. I was slightly put off by the tube application – I couldn’t help but think of the stickiness and gloppiness of a lip gloss. Fortunately, Liquid Suede glides on relatively smoothly. I say relatively because Liquid Suede does go on smoothly, but it begins drying almost right away – so don’t falter in your application or you’ll end up with multiple, uneven layers.

NYX Liquid Suede’s Sway is fucking gorgeous. And, with a quick application the resulting look is a dream: vibrant color with a perfectly matte finish. No bleeding around the edges, no rubbing away from the middle, and minimal creasing. For a liquid formulation, NYX Liquid Suede is surprisingly easy to work with, and the result is amazing:

NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick - Sway

NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick - Sway

COVERGIRL Katy Kat Matte – Cat Call (#KP06)
COVERGIRL’s Katy Kat Matte Lipstick was my second matte lipstick purchase. Since my first was such an outrageous color (see: PURPLE), I wanted a more toned down but still perky everyday lip color. In the store (Walgreen’s), Katy Kate Matte’s Cat Call looked more warm/red toned than it did on my face. I’ve learned very quickly that I need orange undertones in lip products, and Cat Call most definitely has a blue undertone. Still, color-wise, it’s pretty, and not so pink that I can’t pull it off – I just need to take care to skip blush, and go for a cooler and more subtle eye shadow (such as nothing more than a smudged silver eyeliner).

Application-wise, Katy Kat Matte does tend to glide on more like a traditional lipstick, and its finish does lean a bit more towards a cream, as its demi-matte finish would suggest. And as its finish also suggests, Katy Kat Matte does feel a lot like velvet, though it is most definitely shine-free.

COVERGIRL Katy Perry Katy Kat Matte Lipstick - Cat Call

COVERGIRL Katy Perry Katy Kat Matte Lipstick - Cat Call

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream – San Paulo (#SMLC08)
I went back to NYX for my third purchase. This time I was on the hunt for a nude, and I was determined to stick with warm-toned shades, in-store lighting be damned, in my quest to find a nude that compliments my skin tone. I came away with a NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in San Paulo. NYX describes this color as “plummy pink”, but I’d liken it more to a muted reddish sienna – in the tube, anyway. On the lips, it is disappointingly more pinkish.

NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream is very similar to Liquid Suede, though there’s definitely a creamier finish – and a bit more smudging and color transfer. The wear time isn’t as great, either. Still, it does better than a lipstick in terms of longevity and lack of bleeding, so I’ll keep it in rotation.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream - San Paulo

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream - San Paulo

Jordana Modern Matte Lipstick – Matte Tease (#04)
Jordana’s Modern Matte Lipstick was my fourth matte lipstick purchase. This was another impulse buy at Walgreen’s, but for $2.99, how could I say no? I’m also happy to report that this color, Matte Tease, is a definite must-have nude if you’re looking for a shade just a tad lighter than your natural lip color. It has the perfect warm undertone, too – no risk of a coral-tinted nude hue here! Berry’s more like it.

In terms of application and feel, Jordana’s Modern Matte Lipstick is more matte than COVERGIRL’s Katy Kat, but there’s still a slightly creamy finish. The wear time and lack of transfer, however, is excellent, so I’ll take the creamy finish and run with it.

pictures coming soon!

Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color – In the Flesh
My final attempt at finding the perfect nude matte-finish lipstick attracted me to, ironically, Wet n Wild’s MegaLast Lip Color in In the Flesh. While Wet n Wild’s website does not advertise this particular lipstick or shade as being a matte, the display at Walgreen’s did, and so I went with it.

The results: the perfect neutral nude that goes perfectly with my lips and my skin tone. And, the matte finish is just about perfect – perhaps not quite as matte as NYX’s Liquid Suede, but definitely matte enough, with minimal cream or shine and very little in the way of color transfer.

Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color - In the Flesh

Filed under Product Reviews

Another letter to the doctor who almost killed me

(Yes, I actually sent this. Dan’s next appointment should be…interesting.)

My former PCP has messaged me and now Dan multiple times to inquire about how I’m doing – presumably not so much out of concern for me, but to make sure I didn’t drop dead (unfortunately not, much to the disappointment of him and I’m sure even some “family”) and won’t sue (mum’s the word for now).
I decided to respond:

Since you messaged me and now Dan, and since you will have the misfortune of seeing me again because I refuse to abandon Dan with his ongoing medical issues, I decided to go ahead and message you back. As I’m sure you’re aware, since I didn’t have the chance to contact Hershey to have you/LGH removed from all medical records before the spontaneous ulcer perforation on 4/19, I survived. It was excruciating, terrifying, and rage-invoking. I shouldn’t have had to suffer this last August, let alone a second time in April. At least I didn’t wake up to a feeding tube or a drainage tube, though I was in the hospital for four days.

And the fun isn’t over: these two Toradol-induced ulcer perforations have so wrecked my stomach pouch that Dr. {BARIATRIC SURGEON} was very frank with me in the OR before putting me under: without an immediate revision to a gastric sleeve, I WILL perforate again. It isn’t a matter of if, but when, and time-wise, within a matter of months or even weeks.
On May 31st, just six weeks to the day of the last surgery, I will be undergoing a 6 to 8 hour surgery to remove the scarred mess that is left and revise my entire gastric bypass to a gastric sleeve. I was a gastric bypass success, you know: 6.5 years out with a maintained loss of nearly 180 pounds. Thank you for destroying that, and putting my life at risk not once, but twice.

I’m still dealing with post-op pain, and of course the back pain is back with a vengeance and I will have to continue to suffer with that until I am finally cleared to have the spinal fusion surgery that I should have been having a week from today.

I’m struggling with nutrition because Dr. {BARIATRIC SURGEON}’s emergency but temporary repair involved stitching the perforated ulcer shut and wrapping layers of fat and muscle around it to keep it secure until she could get me back in — 5/31 was the soonest date she had because of the complexity and duration of the surgery. The result: I’m restricted to liquids and very mushy soups. I’m full after one or two bites. Even with very tiny sips and tiny bites, I still throw up. I’ve lost 25 pounds, and have another three weeks to go, then the surgery, then its strict dietary restrictions. Ironic that a former morbidly obese person would now struggle to keep ENOUGH weight on, don’t you think?

There’s a doctor — a fellow, really — at Hershey whose name is Dr. D, but I call him Dr. Wait and See. He’s a nice doctor with a nice bedside manner, and I’m sure he’s well-qualified, but he made what could have been a fatal error with me last August: upon my transfer via ambulance from LGH’s ER to Hershey’s, he came in and suggested admitting me for 24 hours of observation – his exact words were, “we’ll give you a PCA pump for the pain while we wait and see how the perforation progressed”. I lost what was left of my mind at that point and threw such a screaming fit that an actual surgeon was paged, and he took one look at my vitals (plummeting BP, sky-high heart rate, not to mention I was writhing on the bed in agony) and had me in the OR 15 minutes later. But needless to say, being told to “wait and see” for a fatal condition that would have probably killed me, or at the very least sent me into multi-system organ failure, within 24 hours during the “wait and see” period has led to me giving that doctor a nickname – Dr. Wait and See.

There’s also Nurse Gummi Bear, who was more concerned with stuffing his face with gummi bears than putting more Dilaudid in my IV and paging OR for transport. I didn’t even care about the gummi bears – surely he could have eaten them with one hand and done the medicine administration/phone paging with the other. This was after arriving at LGH’s ER and being put into the waiting room for nearly an hour. The same happened when I was transferred from LGH to Hershey, which is downright ludicrous when you consider that before the transfer the attending ER physician, Dr. {ER DOCTOR} (bless him for immediately believing me and not wasting anytime in ordering a CT, grabbing the results, and contacting Dr. {BARIATRIC SURGEON}) had obviously contacted Hershey to arrange the transfer – so surely they knew of my diagnosis!

Likewise, you’re now on the list – Dr. Toradol. Like I said before, I hope you think of me every time you see, write, or administer that medication. Was your license and reputation worth this ongoing nightmare you have put my family and I through? Put yourself in my shoes for even a couple of hours and you might be able to better understand my vitriol. I have suffered and am continuing to suffer. My husband is suffering. My children are suffering. My entire life is falling apart.

See you at Dan’s next appointment. Don’t worry – I’ll be on my best behavior. I can be surprisingly civil even with people who have literally put me in harm’s way.

Your former patient who refuses to die

Filed under General

Wanted: Oxycodone and Xanax oil diffuser

Current status: having a complete breakdown over the pain I’m in, the quality sleep I can’t get because of the pain, the weariness and exhaustion I just can’t shake, and the 6-hour surgery I’m terrified of but wish I could have sooner than May 31st because the sooner I recover from that the sooner I can have the spinal fusion surgery I so desperately need.