Thursday, October 2, 2014

New Blog

This process of moving from Blogger to WordPress has been a long one!  I still have a long way to go, but I'm finally satisfied enough with how it is shaping up to share it!!

Come visit me on WordPress:  Productive Boredom

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why I Haven't Blogged

I knew there was a bit of a time gap since my last blog post, but I had NO idea it has been almost two months.  Time flies when you're watching Netflix and doodling.

Yes, as shameful as it sounds, that is exactly what I have been doing when I haven't been at work.  You may think I'm kidding, but I'm not.  I have discovered the wonderful world of Zentangle and I'm afraid I'm almost obsessed with it.

Zentangle is a form of doodling.  Apparently, it's also a form of meditation.  I came across some examples of it on Pinterest and have been hooked.  For my birthday, I received quite a few gift cards to my favorite place in the world: Barnes and Noble.  I purchased a sketchbook, brush markers, three Zentangle books, a drawing book, and a bunch of other stuff.  (Yeah, I had a lot to spend and I LOVED every penny of it!)  Probably no coincidence that my last blog post was 4 days after my birthday.  Sorry about that.

Some people say that multitasking is not really possible.  I beg to differ.  Here's what I've watched on Netflix:

Trailer Park Boys - All 7 seasons, the movie, and Live from Dublin
Dexter - All seasons
Behind Bars - All available episodes
I Almost Got Away With It - 3 episodes
American Horror Story - Season 1, Season 2 - 9 episodes
Orange is the New Black - 2 Seasons
The Office - 2 Seasons
Derek - 5 Episodes
The Andy Griffith Show - 4 episodes
Psych - 5 episodes
30 Days - 1 episode
Wilfred - 2 episodes
Ron White (A Little Unprofessional)
House, M.D. - 2 Seasons

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
The Family
The Lorax
Undertaking Betty

Seems like a lot of Netflix, and yes, I agree.  I can't just sit and watch Netflix, though.  Some people knit while they watch television, some do crossword puzzles, maybe even Sudoku.  I used to do Sudoku until I started doing this:

And this is why I've neglected my blog.  To learn more about Zentangle, Google it!  Try it.  You'll like it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Beginning of My 32nd Year

One of my coworkers was telling me about a woman she met on a flight from Arizona to Rochester, Minnesota.  Just 40 miles west of La Crosse in the small town of Fremont, Minnesota, Martha Johnson is still running The Fremont Store at the age of 98.  As she was telling me about her flight and about a trip she and her boyfriend took to the store, I felt compelled to meet this woman.  So, last Friday morning, on my 32nd birthday, I hit I-90 knowing it was going to be a memorable day.

When I took exit 242 and began looking for Fremont Store Road, I expected to become lost in the middle of nowhere.  With the help of Google, I at least knew what the store looked like.  A little over a mile down the country road, the store stood on the left and I almost drove right by it.  I parked to the right, between the store and a little yellow house, which I assumed belonged to Martha.

A bell rang as I opened the door and walked into the smell and warmth of a burning wood stove.  Martha was wearing a leopard print blouse and looked very similar to how I imagined her.  She was standing next to her walker with a broom, sweeping the uneven floorboards.

I introduced myself and explained how I heard of her and the store.  Within minutes, I was helping her put the pile she swept up into the trash can.  She invited me to have a seat, so I pulled up a folding chair that was beside a card table with a cloth checker board on it.  Martha took a seat in an old antique rocking chair behind the register and just across from me.  I had not even been in the store five minutes and I felt as though I had known this woman for many years.

The Fremont Store had been running for 158 years and visiting with Martha on Friday felt like stepping back in time.  Our conversation reminded me so much of my Great Grandma Grace and the times I spent with her in her little house back home in Wausau.  Just like when I would sit with Grandma, I listened intently and occasionally asked questions.

My eyes wandered around the store as she spoke of her husband (now deceased), her children, and her small town life.  The shelves were stocked with candy, potato chips, snacks, and candy bars. There were also everyday household supplies like garbage bags, laundry soap, and paper towel.  A variety of sodas and beverages were in the cooler beside an old refrigerator with a sign listing all of its contents.

The door opened and the bell rang several times in the two hours I sat and visited.  A middle-aged woman in jeans and a heavy flannel shirt came in.  She introduced herself as Mary, a neighbor from 'down the road', as she made a pot of coffee.  Mary sat down and joined us for the rest of the time I was there.

Two men came in and they looked like they could be father and son.  They had obviously never been to the store before because they didn't know it is a self-check-out establishment.  Martha has macular degeneration and is losing her eyesight, so customers open the register and make their own change.  They paid for their candy bars and Mountain Dews on the honor system and after witnessing this, I immediately felt very silly for having locked my car before coming in.  

Shortly after they left, another gentleman walked in.  He was an older man and within two minutes of his entrance I learned that he was a farmer from 'south of La Crescent'.  This was his first visit to the Fremont Store.  He chatted for a while, paid for his soda, and left.

Martha made sure to tell everyone about the guestbook to sign by the door.  "Mary, you sign it, too!" She said.  Mary replied, "Martha!  I come in here every week and you have me sign it EVERY week."  I left before Mary did, but I'm willing to bet that she signed the guestbook again.  Martha just doesn't seem like someone you can easily say no to.

My first attempt to leave, I picked out a few candy bars and a root beer for the ride home, checked myself out at the register, and then sat back down.  Martha told me about her son who had muscular dystrophy and helped run the store, how she fell outside behind the store last year, and about the heart attack she suffered.  "I'll never go into a nursing home," she said.  I believe her.

When I finally said goodbye, I turned the music off in my car and began driving back to La Crosse.  I spent the next 40 miles thinking about some of the things she had said that took me back to my childhood.  To the time when I had all of my grandparents and two great-grandmothers still living.  

"These days, you have to schedule an appointment to see your relatives.  We used to just show up.  Didn't matter if you were hanging laundry, you just took time to have a cup of coffee and visit."  This was our upbringing.  We never called first, we just showed up in Grandma Judy's kitchen.  Dad would drink coffee with Grandma and Grandpa while Shannon and I would play "secretary" at the desk at the top of the open staircase.  Sometimes, we'd sneak into Grandma and Grandpa's bedroom and try on Grandma's high heels or braid the curtains.

When I started 6th grade, the school was right across the street from Grandma Jean and Grandpa Larry's house.  Sometimes I would miss the bus on purpose just to be able to go over and visit.  Grandma would always feed me and if Mom or Dad didn't come get me, they'd drive me home.

When I made it back to La Crosse, I wanted to keep driving.  Alone with my thoughts and memories of simpler times I've lived through without realizing in the moment that they were simple times.  This woman I had only spent two hours with certainly created a legacy.  If I learned anything from the visit, it is that in the time I have left on this earth, I have my work cut out for me.    

It may not be as common to just pop in on people anymore, but I know now that there's an incredible woman ready to visit between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM everyday at the Fremont Store.

Visit The Fremont Store on Facebook!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Another Edition of The Dating Chronicles

Maybe I'm watching a little too much Dexter, but I stood a guy up this week.  My gut instinct was telling me that there was a strong possibility I would end up bound and gagged in a car trunk and my remains would turn on somewhere along the Mississippi River.   There are just certain things that you shouldn't put in a text message to someone you've never met.  Like, wear a dress, heels, and nylons.  And, I have something really special planned for you.  And, an invitation to hotel room to go along with this just made me feel a little uneasy.

A dress and heels?  Really?  I like jeans and a sneakers.  I can run faster that way.  He said he was in town on business and lives two hours from here.  Just have to wonder what kind of business when he has all of this extra time to text and play on online dating sites.  And, an invitation to a hotel on the first date?!  I'm guessing he doesn't do hotels like I do.  Fairly certain we wouldn't be in separate beds eating vending machine junk food and watching reality television.        

The night before we were supposed to go out, he was texting me asking me to meet him for a drink.  I was already in yoga pants and tucked nicely in bed.  "No" may be a difficult word for me, but when I'm comfortable and in yoga pants, NO rolls off my tongue like the F word rolls off Debra's tongue on Dexter.  (Another Dexter reference for you.)  I spent an hour texting him NO!  An hour that I could have spent watching Dexter, or writing in my journal about how much I LOVE being single.  This dude had already become a thorn in my side before we even went out, so I didn't feel so bad about shooting him a text saying I wouldn't be meeting him.  And, I'm not washed up on the shores of the Mississippi, so I think I made the right choice. 

One week from today I will be 32 and I don't feel any pressure to get married, so why am I putting myself through all this?  My biological clock doesn't care.  In fact, my uterus and I had a talk and she's in no hurry to have a miniature human move in.  In fact, she's the one encouraging the adoption option.  

Then it hits me... maybe this guy was completely normal?!  Maybe he's one of those hopeless romantics and here I am just talking to my uterus.    

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I did the unthinkable.  Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 1:15 PM was the last time I've had a Diet Coke.  It didn't stop there.  In the last week, I have only had one cup of caffeinated coffee.  Not going to lie, the first few days were pretty brutal.  Not only was I going through caffeine withdrawals, I was working 12 hours shifts and unable to take any type of headache medicine.  I survived and I'm still employed, so miracles really do happen.

If you are friends with me on Facebook, or know me at all, you know that my world has been revolving around caffeinated beverages for a while.  I actually trained my brain to think that it could not function for an entire 12 hour shift without the stuff.  Or, maybe my brain trained me to think it couldn't make it decaffeinated?  It reached a point where I would wake up in the morning feeling like my body was trying to register on the Richter scale, so I figured it was time to do something.

Easter Sunday, I landed back in the ER.  My blood pressure was normal, heart rate was only slightly elevated, and no fever.  Another virus.  My body was doing that metabolic acidosis stunt again, so I received two more liters of IV fluids.  They scheduled a follow up with my physician for last week Tuesday.  The same day I quit caffeine.

It's a beautiful thing when your doctor opens up the door to the exam room, shakes her head and laughs.  That's how you know you're a frequent flyer.  In the process of trying to figure out what is going on, she ordered another 24 hour lab with a list of things I had to avoid for 48 hours before the test and during the test.  So, I decided that if I had to give up caffeine, now would be the time to do it.  And, I did.

I can't say that I've seen or felt any of the benefits of giving up soda and trying to eat better, but it's only been a week.  The body is probably going through a state of shock right now.  Understandable for someone who has a food pyramid that looked like this:        

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday's Mental Health Moment

Anyone who knows me knows that I love children.  This probably explains why "Kid President" is my favorite YouTube personality.  I adore his outlook on life and could spend all day watching his clips.  If you haven't yet watched any of his videos, take Monday's Mental Health Moment as the opportunity to do so.  Enjoy!

Kid President: How to Change the World

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday's Mental Health Moment

Let's talk about my favorite topic today: Journaling.

I began writing and keeping journals in elementary school.  I can still remember my first diary.  It was blue and had a cheap gold lock on it.  The key was tiny and bent every time I unlocked the diary.  Eventually, I lost the key and just broke the lock off.  I don't remember what I was writing about in that little book, but I remember using colored pens and practicing my cursive.  Third grade in Mrs. Weller's class, I looked forward to two things: Cursive and Mrs. Weller playing guitar for us.      

Early on, I learned that writing was an outlet and served a very therapeutic purpose for me.  Even though my only publication was in a literary magazine published through my college, I consider myself a writer.  Not a professional writer, but a writer at heart.  I've written fiction, poetry, essays, research papers, a literature review, songs, book reviews, and non-fiction.  Keeping a journal probably my favorite form of writing because I can put whatever I want on the page.  There are no rules.  I can even misspell words, use incomplete sentences, run-on sentences, and not care.  (Not much different from this blog, huh?)  It is something I find to be relaxing and I often write in my journal right before I go to sleep at night.  

What are the benefits of keeping a journal?
(These are just a few of my personal benefits that I have found through my writing.  I'm sure anyone who keeps a journal could come up with their own list of benefits.)

  • It is a tool that helps me reflect on the day before I begin a new one.
  • I use it to set and assess goals.  They say that when you write down a goal, you are more likely to accomplish it.  I have found this to be true.  
  • When I pass on, my journals and writings will be something I leave behind.  I wish my grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even my parents kept journals.  
  • I've been in many different mindsets and my journals reflect that.  I can look back on my writings and see how many struggles I have gone through and how I came through each one a better, stronger person.  
  • It's cheap therapy! 
  • When I journal, I tend to be more motivated to accomplish things.
  • Eases stress and allows me to vent about whatever I want to vent about.  Sometimes there are burdens on my shoulders I don't want to talk to another person about.  My journal is non-judgemental.    
  • I use my journal as a reminder to stay focused.  To stay positive.
  • It's a record of things I don't want to forget.  

So, you've never journaled before?  How do you start?

First things first, you need a journal.  It can be anything.  A notebook, a calendar (yes, people journal in calendars), a journal, a sketchbook, a photo album.  This is your baby.  Find something that works for you.  My favorite place to find a journal is Barnes and Noble.  They have a huge selection, but some can be a bit expensive.  Try shopping online.  

When I studied abroad in Belize, we had to have a journal.  It was an ecology course, so they wanted us to have sketchbooks instead of lined journals.  In addition to journaling, we were supposed to sketch some of the things we were observing.  This was three years ago and this completely changed the way I journal.  I no longer buy lined journals.  I like the freedom of having a completely blank page to fill.  These are the sketchbooks I purchase and you can find them in a variety of colors at Barnes and Noble.    
8x11 Sketchbook
$9.95 at Barnes and Noble
*As a personal preference, I avoid spiral bound journals and sketchbooks.  They come apart easily and the pages tend to fall out.

I work in Inpatient Behavioral Health and one of my favorite groups to teach is a group on journaling.  Unfortunately, most of my journals are in storage and I don't think I'd be comfortable bringing them to work to show patients the endless possibilities of journaling.  So, I started one that I could bring to use as a demonstration journal and I am having a blast with it!  Here are a few sample pages:

A few things I do in my journal:

  • When I journal about the day, I always put the date somewhere on the page.  
  • What I write (Not always all of these in one entry... just some ideas of things to include):
    • Something that made me laugh
    • Something I learned
    • An event that occurred (a holiday, a current event, a birthday, a storm etc...)
    • Something I could have done differently
    • Something kind someone did for me
  • Write lists!
    • Lists of "Favorites"
      • Favorite Songs
      • Favorite Movies
      • Favorite Places
      • Dream Travel Destinations
      • Favorite Places I've visited
      • Favorite Useless Facts (I have way more of these than anyone needs!)
      • Favorite Restaurants, Foods, Beverages
      • Favorite Summer Activities
      • Favorite Winter Activities
      • Favorite Apps
      • Favorite Websites
      • Favorite Coping Skills
      • Favorite Unhealthy Coping Skills 
      • Favorite Childhood Toys
      • Favorite Memories
    • Accomplishments
    • Goals 
      • Include steps to achieve them!
    • Positive Words to Use More Often
  • Make a page of favorite song lyrics
  • Go somewhere and just make observations of what you see! (At a park, a coffee shop, the mall)
  • Write down quotes that you hear throughout the day
  • Make a page of your favorite quotes from movies
  • Make a timeline of your life so far

I'm sure this is the first of many journaling blog entries I post.  In the meantime, go unleash your inner writer!!  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday's Mental Health Moment

I was thinking about thinking.  Do you ever do that?  Well, I went to my trusty little buddy, Google, and learned that the mind can process anywhere between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts in a given day.  At first I thought, there's no way I can think of 70,000 things in a day.  And then, I thought about this some more.  The last few days I have been paying closer attention to everything that comes and goes through my mind.  Although, I don't have the patience to sit and count every thought I have, I am fairly certain I believe these numbers are accurate.  At least for me.  As I have been carefully observing my thoughts, I decided to share with you what I've noticed.

My thoughts are not full sentences.  Well, unless I'm practicing a conversation I plan to have with someone.  Or, I re-think a conversation that has already taken place.

A mental eye roll counts as a thought, right?

I make sigh, grunt, and groan noises in my head.  (For example: arg, uh, oh, DOH, grrr.)

When I laugh quietly to myself, I actually mentally say "Ha ha ha" sometimes.  

I'm guessing that at least 75% of the "thoughts" that enter my mind in a day are just one or two random words at a time.  

Random song lyrics occasionally pop in my head.  Okay, not occasionally.  Frequently.  Very frequently.  

There is absolutely, positively no coherent flow to what goes on in my head.  If my thoughts were written down in a book, it would never be on the New York Times Best Seller list.  Here's why:

Chapter 1
Just kidding.
Once upon a time....
Chapter 1.  Yes.  Chapter 1.
Where are my keys?
1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9... KEYS!  9th pocket.  Always one of the last pockets. Ugh.
Wait.  Snow?
(Will Ferrell pops in my head and he's dress liked Elf)
Melissa.  Focus.
Skip ahead to Chapter 10.  I'll fill in the rest later.
Hm.  I'm shedding.
HELLO, COFFEE!  Mmmm....

Yes, my mind works in goofy ways.  A few weeks ago on the blog I talked about mindfulness.  Our minds are pretty powerful and we spend a lot of time in our 'headspace'.  Sometimes our thoughts aren't always silly, funny, or maybe even pleasant.  It's probably unrealistic to think that all 70,000 of our daily thoughts can be upbeat, but I challenge you to make sure there's more positive than negative going on up there.  It's also completely okay to quiet your thoughts and just let that space be vacant for a moment.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday's Mental Health Moment

Last week Monday was April 1st.  I played an April Fool's Day joke on everyone and no one noticed.  I'll try harder next year.

As I was driving to Barnes and Noble this morning, the Mental Health Monday blog was on the back of my mind.  Trying to come up with a topic to focus on has proven to be a challenge.  I couldn't concentrate on any one thing.  Mostly because I downloaded new music and having my own karaoke party in the car took priority.

When I finally arrived at Barnes and Noble, I walked in with my laptop bag all set to chug some coffee and blog about mental well being.  If you are familiar with the Onalaska Barnes and Noble, you are probably well aware that the folks there are pretty stingy when it comes to wall outlets.  In fact, there is only one in the cafe area.  Of course, someone had herself planted right beside the one outlet, but was not using it.  Typically, this would send the Melissa into a silent meltdown.  The MacBook I have belongs in a museum and has a battery life that lasts about as long as a goldfish out of water.   I handled "my spot" being taken over like a champ.  I ordered my grande white chocolate mocha with a peanut butter cookie.  Then, I walked across the store to a group of tables near a wall outlet and settled in for some hardcore blogging.  

As soon as the laptop had a pulse, Facebook magically opened when I hit the "FB" link on my navigation bar.  After all, Facebook is how all great work is put on the sidelines.  Within minutes, the window cleaners arrived and began washing the windows directly behind my chair.  To my left was a clear view of the register counter and I spent too much time analyzing how the store could be so organized, yet behind the counter looked like teenager's bedroom.  To my right, the International Travel section started whispering to me and a Travel Ireland book was the loudest.  You're Irish, Melissa.  Pick me up.  Read me.  What blog?   

What blog? was right!  I gave up, packed up, and within an hour, I was in a fetal position on the couch in a sound sleep.

That's when it hit me -- NAPS!  Sometimes, you just need a nap.  How someone can crash for almost three hours after a venti (yes, they screwed up and my coffee was larger than I ordered) mocha?  There is no explanation except that sometimes, you just need a nap.

Today's Mental Health Moment Summed Up:

If the opportunity to nap comes knocking, you go to that door with your favorite stuffed animal, flannel pajamas, and your blanket and give it a big hug.    

Monday, March 24, 2014

Grandpa Joe

My first wave of ailments and illnesses began 15 months ago.  I know you have all been on the edge of your seats wondering when this was finally going to happen.  Well, here we are.  

Monday, March 24th, 2014.  

A day for the record books. 

I'd like to introduce you to . . .


Melissa's Very First Bedsore!!

(Yes, I named my bedsore after the Willy Wonka character!)

I didn't want to show off too much Melissa, but this little fella is located on my right hip.  So, you can pull your head out of the gutter -- that's not my rear end!

You can all carry on with whatever it was you were doing.  Let's hope that Grandma Georgina, Grandma Josephine, and Grandpa George don't decide to make an appearance!

Monday's Mental Health Moment

If you're on Facebook or some other social media site, you probably notice people complain about Mondays.  What is it about this particular day of the week that gets our undies in a bundle?  When I was in school, I hated Sunday nights because they lead to Monday mornings.  Like so many others, I despised Monday.  Maybe now that I work a different schedule and I'm not a Monday through Friday 9 to 5-er, Mondays are a bit different for me.  Unfortunately, for many others, Monday can cause quite a bit of irritability.

Sure, the alarm clock goes off and you're probably still in weekend mode.  "Just one more day" echoes in your head as you smack that snooze button like it's a fly on the dessert you're about devour.  A high percentage of workers arrive late on Monday -- more than any other day of the week.  Monday is also considered "heart attack day" because more heart attacks occur on Monday than any other day.  

Come on, Folks!  Chill out.  Monday is not that bad!  It's an opportunity to start a brand new week.  If you're staring at the clock counting down the days until Friday, that's sad.  You're missing out.  Make Mondays fun!  Here are a few ideas on how to do that:

  • Treat yourself to something!  Many people order out on Fridays.  Maybe Monday would be a better day?  Who doesn't like a delivered meal right to the workplace?  And, you wouldn't have to spend time packing your lunch on Monday morning, which could give you a little extra time to read the paper, watch some funny YouTube videos, or sing your favorite wake-me-up-song into a spatula! 
  • I don't believe that refrigerators were made to be naked.  Go buy yourself some funky magnets and keep a list of "Things to Look Forward to Today".  Sometimes when we wake up and already have a negative attitude about the day, the only thing that may come to mind is "Leaving Work" or "There's a 2% chance that class could get canceled".  If you can't find anything better than that to look forward to, keep thinking!  
  • Make a playlist on your iPod or burn a CD (if people still do that these days) specifically set for the Monday morning drive!  Songs should be fun and upbeat, or whatever puts you in a good mood!  Here are just a few of my favorite drive-to-work tunes:
    • "Find the Beat Again" - Sugarland
    • "It's a Sunshine Day" - The Brady Bunch
    • "Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey
    • "Get Down" - Audio Adrenaline 
    • "Good Day" - Jewel
    • "Man in the Mirror" - Michael Jackson
    • "Outside My Window" - Sarah Buxton
    • "Walking on Sunshine" - Katrina and the Waves
    • "When There's No One Around" - Garth Brooks
    • "Wouldn't It Be Nice" - Beach Boys
    • "Blessed" - Martina McBride
  • Remember last week when I talked about Me Time?  Schedule yourself a Me Time session every Monday!  
  • On average, people don't smile on Mondays until 11:15 AM.  That's ridiculous!  Smile, people!!!  First thing when you wake up!  
Make your own list of what you can do to improve your Mondays!  They really aren't that bad!  You have between 51 and 53 Mondays in a year!  Go make them count!!!  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

This is Sick!

I think I have mentioned this before, but when I look at the traffic that comes to my blog, it's mostly to my posts about my visits to the ER.  I find this interesting.  Mostly because it is probably my least favorite place to visit, the amount of money spent there could fund some pretty incredible vacations, and I never leave there feeling like I'm leaving Disneyland!  Actually wait... I think when I left Disneyland, I felt exhausted, sore, and completely broke.  Maybe, at a later date, I will explore how the ER is like Disneyland.

I bring up what we are now calling Emergency Services because I had another visit there yesterday.  Apparently, when you work in a hospital, people know when you are functioning at your normal level of goofy.  With a blood pressure of 135/93 and a heart rate of 127, I was escorted over to the new Emergency department.  Now, they must know me pretty well because had I not been "escorted", Melissa would have got in the car, bought an ice cream cone, and then found the nearest couch with a Dexter marathon rolling.

Of course, as soon as I was called back, my blood pressure was 120/80 and my heart rate was within normal limits.  Don't get me wrong, this is awesome being normal.  Remember, I am now a "frequent flyer" and "one of those patients", so we tend to lie about symptoms, seek medications, and just come to the ER for shits and giggles.

The nurse was a little short with me and I can't really blame her.  "What brought you in today?" is a question that has appropriate and inappropriate responses.  I may have provided a few inappropriate ones.  My legs and my coworkers made me.  (Because, as I mentioned...I would have just played doctor and diagnosed myself with Netflix withdrawal.)

So, I was escorted to an exam room.  I work for the hospital and I am pretty excited that the Get Well Network is now available in all of the rooms.  Unfortunately, I didn't really feel like playing around with it, so I did not help boost their usage numbers during this visit.  This visit was short and sweet anyway, which is good.  

Now, I don't always take/post selfies, but when I do, I'm usually rocking some sort of strange fashion.

Like the one of me wearing my 5-year-old niece's jacket:

Or, the one where I match my attire to my goldfish crackers:

Or, the one where I live by my grandma's motto - If you've got it, flaunt it!

And the ones where I find apparel to try on:

And then ... there are these...

Who takes a selfie in a hospital gown and posts it on social media?  Pretty much everyone with a camera these days!  No shame, right?  I just remember what a hit my Christmas letter was this last year and thought, hey... just in case I don't get to Disneyland, a Mary Chapin Carpenter or Lori McKenna concert, or travel somewhere besides the ER in 2014, I should be prepared.    

Upon exam, the doc - who I should add stitched my lip back in June of 2011 - determined that this is probably just a virus because of all the swollen lymph nodes and glands.  Within 45 minutes, I was dressed and out the door with orders not to work, to rest, and take in lots of fluids given my dehydration history.  And, he mentioned something about coming back in if I get worse.  There was also something about a follow-up, but selective hearing only caught part of that.  The part where he said, you might want to.  I'm kind of thinking at this point maybe instead of a follow-up with my doctor, I should just start planning a Celebration of Life gathering.  It's actually not a bad idea.  There's a lot celebrate.  Just not my health.

So, another weekend of water and gatorade, Netflix, Ibuprofen, napping, and more napping after a week of doing much of the same.  I'm guessing I'll finish the fifth season of Dexter and maybe achieve my first bedsore or something.  It's quite shocking I haven't had one yet.  I'll work on this.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bloody Blood Sugar

Is there some kind of chemical reaction in the brain that occurs from just hearing the word sugar?  Really, when someone says sugar or Kit Kat, there's a small dose of excitement that warms my heart.  Like one of Pavlov's dogs, I'm all set to salivate just from the word sugar.

When all of my health issues started last summer, I began having frequent issues with hypoglycemia.  For those of you non-medical folks (like myself), this is when your blood sugar drops too low.  Anything lower than 70 mg/dL is what is considered low.  (Don't ask me what that whole mg/dL stuff is.  From my chemistry/biology days, I have a rough idea, but trying to explain it could be disastrous for all involved!)  There are some fantastic (sarcasm right there) symptoms that go along with this.  For me, I've had the blurry vision, uncontrollable shaking and weakness, headache, sweating, and heart racing.

This isn't something to mess around with, or so some have told me.  I did have one physician tell me that someone of my height and weight shouldn't be too concerned about low readings.  Nevertheless, I invested $250 into my pre-diabetes starter kit last fall and started checking my blood sugar fairly regularly.  Keep in mind, without a diabetes diagnosis, this is all out of pocket.  Insurance hasn't covered any of it.  Each test strip I use costs $1.75.  (Each time I check my blood sugar is one Kit Kat and a can of Diet Coke at Kwik Trip!)

Checking your blood sugar can get old.  This is especially true for someone who is not labeled with any type of diabetes.  I quit checking after the physician told me the low readings were normal and he did not feel there was any reason to be concerned.  It didn't take me long to learn what my low version of normal is and what my abnormal version of low is. I don't start experiencing the symptoms until my blood sugar is in the low 60s.  Back in the fall, I was having readings in the 40s and that was where we ran into some trouble.  Over time, these things cleared up, or so I thought.

A few weeks ago, I was at work and had taken my morning break and ate breakfast.  Within an hour, I was experiencing the oh-my-god-I-need-lots-of-carbs attack that should follow a meal that closely.  After having three of these episodes in one day, I decided it was time to start checking the blood sugar again.

I've been doing this checking thing off and on for seven months.  Do people ever get used to this?  I can't even remember how many tubes of test strips I have gone through, but EVERY TIME... this is what I look like:

The entire process is quite an experience for me.  First, you prep the needle in the little poker machine thing (lancing device).  You put the test strip in the meter.  And then, you press the lancing device against your finger.  This is the part where I look at something to distract me.  Sometimes it's the wall.  Sometimes I cross my eyes when I squint them shut.  And then, I tell myself, "C'mon you pansy!  Press the dang button!!"  And the CLICK sound is the worst part of the entire experience.

I can't figure out why this is such a big production.  I've handled three arterial blood gas tests like a champ, a few failed IV attempts, countless blood draws, and the stupid finger poke kills me every time.

Moral of the story:  I don't really have one.

I need a Kit Kat.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday's Mental Health Moment

Today is Monday.  I bet you thought I forgot that last week I started this whole "Monday's Mental Health Moment" thing.  I didn't.  In fact, I started thinking about it last week.  Not only is it Mental Health Monday in TheOtherMelissaMcCarthy's blogland, this is also the 100th blog post.  That calls for a list.  

Today, we're going to talk about something near and dear to my heart: Me Time!  Everyone needs Me Time.  If you are one of those people with kids, a significant other, a job (or several jobs), school, pets, and countless other obligations, you may not even know what I am talking about.    As defined by Melissa, me time is time spent doing something you enjoy.  It should be something you do for yourself.

In honor of the 100th blog post, I should have made a list of 100 me time activities.  I didn't.  I stopped at 71 because I'm ready to go to bed and enjoy 8 solid hours of me time.  Your homework can be to come up with the other 29.        

71 "Me Time" Activity Ideas! 

(#1)  Take a walk.
(#2)  Read a book.

(#3)  Treat yourself to a coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or whatever you like.

(#4)  Plan a vacation.

(#5)  Go for a massage.

(#6)  Hop in the car and go for a drive.

(#7)  Write in a journal.

(#8)  SING!!!!

(#9)  Sudoku.

(#10)  Have I ever told you about Barnes and Noble?  You should go there.  They don't kick you out for loitering.  Trust me on this.

(#11)  Play a musical instrument.  If you don't know how to play one, take lessons.

(#12)  If you have no desire to play an instrument, go find some live music somewhere.

(#13)  Ride a bicycle.

(#14)  Go to your favorite ice cream shop and get ice cream!  (The Pearl here in La Crosse is my personal favorite.  I recommend the cotton candy ice cream!)

(#15)  Take yourself out to dinner.  Go alone.  I dare you.

(#16)  Make a to-do list.

(#17)  Take a nap!

(#18)  Have you heard about Netflix?  It's amazing how fast 4,500 hours of a television series can add up.  I hit the end of a television series and I always think to myself, "That was some incredible me time!"

(#19)  Take your dog for a walk.  

(#20)  Refer to #19: If you don't have a dog, go to the humane society and adopt a dog.

(#21)  Refer to #19 and #20: If you don't have a dog and don't want/can't have a dog... sorry about that.  You can go to Petco or PetSmart and look around.  They let you do that, I think.

(#22)  Refer to #21: While you're at Petco, watch the fish.  I've been told that can be relaxing.

(#23)  Refer to #22: If you have a lot of me time on your hands, you could name all the fish.

(#24)  Just about every device you buy these days comes with a camera.  Go out and take pictures of stuff.

(#25)  Find a spot you like and watch the sunset.

(#26)  Explore the wonderful world of Craigslist.  There is some interesting stuff on there.

(#27)  Watch funny YouTube videos!  Like this one: 

(#28)  You are never too old to color in a coloring book!  Ever.

(#29)  Write out some handwritten notes to people!  A handwritten note is something that can make a person's day, so you're kind of hitting two birds with one stone on this one.

(#30)  Walk around the mall and watch people.  Just don't be creepy about it.  People don't like that.  

(#31)  Listen to music.

(#32)  Watch another funny YouTube video!  Like this one: 

(#33)  Google stuff.  Just not your ailments.  WebMD gives everyone a brain tumor or cancer and me time shouldn't be stressful.

(#34)  Crossword puzzles!

(#35)  Watch a favorite movie!

(#36)  Refer to #35: Go to the theater and see a movie!

(#37)  Write in a journal: Make a list of your favorite moments you've had in life!

(#38)  Jump rope!

(#39)  Get a pair of binoculars and go explore the great outdoors.

(#40)  Refer to #40: You could also spy on your neighbors.  Not recommended, but it's a possibility.

(#41)  Read the newspaper.

(#42)  Watch another funny YouTube video!  Like this one: 

(#43)  Take dance lessons!

(#44)  Do Yoga!

(#45)  Call someone you haven't talked to in a while.  Yes, I said CALL.  Facebook and text messaging  cannot replace the sound of a human voice.  

(#46)  Go to Starbucks and get a birthday cake pop.  You won't regret it.

(#47)  Start a blog!

(#48)  One Word: PINTREST!!!

(#49)  "Word Chums" is an awesome game you can download on your phone/iPod/tablet/etc.  Try it out!

(#50)  Go to a store like Michael's or Hobby Lobby and find a project!

(#51)  Go to the grocery store and buy one of those "naughty" items you never buy.  (We'll talk about why we don't label food as "naughty" in a different blog entry!)  My go-to grocery store favorite is Ben and Jerry's ice cream or Oreos and milk!

(#52)  Speaking of eating, have you ever tried a Kit Kat?

(#53)  Watch another funny video!  Like this one:  

(#54)  Look through old photo albums.  If you weren't around in the days when pictures were actually developed into prints, look through photos on your device.

(#55)  Refer to #54: If you're looking through photos on your device, upload them to Walgreens, Target, or Shutterfly and order prints!  Then, make an album or a scrapbook.

(#56)  Look up cheesy jokes!

(#57)  Research this day in history!

(#58)  Write a poem.

(#59)  Read poetry.

(#60)  Go to a museum.

(#61)  Plant a garden.  Weed a garden.  Do something in a garden.

(#62)   Mow the lawn.  (This is not something I ever do.  There are people out there who actually enjoy this.  I am not judgmental.)

(#63)  Go to a sporting event!

(#64)  Take a canoe or a kayak out on the water.  If you don't have one, you can rent one!

(#65)  Do pottery!

(#66)  Learn to knit.  Apparently, there are lots of YouTube videos on this, too.

(#67)  Paint something.  Just don't do vandalism or anything.  Unless that's what you're into, but again, definitely NOT recommended and don't you ever say it's something Melissa told you to do.

(#68)  Go test drive your dream car.  Unless you're not licensed to drive a vehicle.  This one isn't for you, then.

(#69)  Refer to #68: Go-karts!!!

(#70)  Find a rock climbing wall.  What you do once you find it is entirely up to you.  Some people are into that sort of thing.  I'd rather sit on the bench and watch.

(#71)  Watch another YouTube video!  Like this one:  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Post #99

It all began in September 2010 when I was taking a journalism class and one of our assignments was to create and maintain a blog for the semester.  As it so happened, I took a "sabbatical" that semester and did not finish the class.  I did, however, keep the blog.  At that time, I called it The Seventh Year Senior.  Once I finished school, it didn't seem appropriate to keep it and instead of starting yet another blog (I have several), I just changed the name and kept rolling.  I'm somewhat disappointed that I haven't been a more regular blogger because I thoroughly enjoy it.  With 48 months of blogging, I should have done a little better than averaging two posts each month.  I won't beat myself up considering I spent most of last year working diligently on a memoir.

This, my friends, is post #99 on the blog.  I think it's only appropriate we celebrate by taking a look back at previous blog entries.  At least that's kind of what I did for you.  Here are some things I found amusing enough to share again.  Enjoy!

50 Melissa-isms from the Blog

I should be proud of myself for coming this far.  Unfortunately, my arms are too short to pat my own back.  With a quick flick of my leg, I can kick my own ass, though. 

I’ve never had an autopsy done, but I assume the Y-cut would be much less painful than the drive from Wausau to La Crosse for the first day of my senior year of college. 

It was difficult, but I have successfully completed a full week of attending every class.  That doesn't necessarily mean that I was present, but my body sat in the chairs, my head nodded occasionally, and my notebooks were opened making it appear like I gave a hoot. 

I even speed sometimes.  Just not to class.

I want to wear my pajamas all day and skip showers, skip meals, and drink coffee until I'm practically a peeing coffee pot.

I have the sleeping schedule of an infant, the patience of a toddler, the acne of a teenager, the wrists of a retired interpreter, and the memory of an Alzheimer's patient.

I called my chiropractor and apparently they don't do attitude adjustments. 

I had to learn to pick and choose what to put my entire heart into and what to completely blow off.

I don't do anything half-assed.  School skipping was certainly no exception.

Before the super duper senior can become nice and cozy in the pajamas that won't be removed for a month, the recliner needs to be positioned perfectly.

So, as I was sitting in the admissions office I was looking out the window staring at a cemetery.  Life is short.  Or, long.  Depending on how much of it you've spent applying to colleges and collecting credits.

For some reason, this thought makes me happier than a fly on a shit pile. 

We started the day off with cartoons and juice.  I believe we watched Penguins of Madagascar.  That has to be one of my favorite cartoons right now.  A few episodes of Spongebob followed and I was ready to throw a pineapple at the television.  So, we shut it off and played with Play Doh.

Seven years of college and I can't figure out how to use Shannon & Mark's coffee pot.  I am going to go give it another try, or else today is just not going to be pretty.

It's not that I have been sitting on my ass-ignments doing nothing.

I did not forget to brush my teeth this morning.  I simply chose not to.  Toothpaste and coffee don't mix.  My apologies to anyone who comes into contact with me today.

Well, I must leave now to go tour an animal research facility.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself.  I will behave myself. 

On another positive note, I signed the lease for my new apartment.  I haven't seen it yet.  I'm picturing dark paneling on the walls and orange shag carpet.  Picture the worst and be surprised.  That's my motto.

Seven years of college and I have finally narrowed down my "what I want to be when I grow up" list to three pages.  (Front & back, single spaced!)

I don't get it.  You go to school and bust your ass to get educated and to reward you, they dress you up in a cardboard hat and a curtain.

It took me about 45 minutes to decided whether it was Tuesday or Wednesday today.  And then I realized that it doesn't matter.

As part of my sit-on-my-ass fest yesterday, I looked at job openings.

I'm feeling like a puppy that just left obedience school and has forgotten everything it learned.  That's right, I'm going to pee on the carpet... chew on every pair of shoes I come across... beg for treats... and when I run outside, I'm not going to come back until I'm good and ready to come back!

America is about to lose Oprah, tornadoes have swept across the country, the new bachelorette gets her heartbroken early in the game, soap operas are going off the air, Lance Armstrong is accused of being one of those medically-enhanced athletes, gas prices are still keeping America driving instead of biking because we can't risk declining trends in obesity, and the only glimmer of hope we can cling to is that THE PACKERS ARE STILL THE SUPERBOWL CHAMPS!!!!

Okay, so I have accomplished a lot in my 29 years.  Once I got a hang of that potty-training stuff, I was pretty much unstoppable.

I'm used laying around doing nothing and I'm actually pretty good at it.  I'm also really good at napping, even though it never used to be something I enjoyed.  Now, all I have to do is pretend I'm in a lecture, and I'm out like a bear in winter!

They say to prep you should read newspapers like The New York 
Times.  That shit is boring.  I read the Onion and Facebook status updates.  Tell me I'm not ready for grad school!

In the meantime, I should probably get myself a cup of coffee and a copy of the New York Times.  If I get a puppy, it will need something to piss on.

AND. . . I am $15.37 richer today thanks to all the people that have digitally downloaded my music over these last two years.  I think I'll put it toward my next CD. With only about $1,984.63 more to go, I should be able to put something special together by the time I'm 102.  

Tomorrow will my mark my 30th year in this world.  How cool is that?  I've been watching friends and former classmates turn 30 for the last few months and completely understand why entering this next decade of our lives is somewhat terrifying.  Growing older is a scary thing.  So is the idea of Ben & Jerry's discontinuing Chunky Monkey or Half Baked, so it's important to keep things in perspective: Aging Is Not That Bad.

One day last week, I drove to three different McDonald's restaurants at 5 AM trying to hunt down an iced mocha.  Seriously, why are they cleaning their McCafe machines in the morning?  Luckily, the third time was the charm.

When I'm not doing all of that, I'm mentally swearing at the heat and humidity that has embraced us this summer and gaining incredible amounts of muscle mass at Anytime Fitness.  I just never realized how squishy muscle was, which makes me wonder if I'm doing it wrong. 

Actually, 2013 is going to be a fantastic year.  After seventeen (long) months of sending out resumes, cover letters, and filling out countless applications (over 200), I finally landed a career in my field.

When I look at my blogger tracker thing, almost 90% of my traffic on this blog comes to my blog post about going to the ER to have stitches removed.

Within a minute or two, the nurse came around the corner.
"Are you Melissa?" She asked.
"Yes." I said.
"Nope -- it's not the actress!!!" She said loudly to let the other nurse know. 

Within ten seconds, my eye was twitching and started spewing water, the clamp was pushing everything upward, and the doctor thought I was crying.  It was a beautiful moment that needed a camera crew.  No, not really.  It was awful.

Sat with my phone up to my ear for five minutes while in a daze. Thought I was dialing someone, but finally looked at it and my e-mail was open instead. And then I tried to swipe my debit card through the pen holder at the post office today. TWICE!

My eyes were crusted shut this morning and I sound like I've been a pack-a-day smoker for 20 years! It would be in everyone's best interest not to comment on my hair today.

First things first, I don't have a dog.  My friends do, so I wasn't just some strange creeper with a camera that showed up at the dog park on a random Saturday afternoon.  Although, it is probably much more acceptable to be dog-less at a dog park than child-less at a playground.  People call the cops on that sort of thing. 

The socially awkward of this group was without a doubt... Wookie.  I don't even think Wookie knows whether he is a dog or a donkey.  If I had my way, Wookie would forever wear a pink tutu and I'd change his name to Grace.

Just another day in the life. . .  when I get those normal test results back, we'll go celebrate.  And by "go celebrate" I mean we'll just leave our pajamas on and take a nap until I qualify for assisted living, a nursing home, or cooler space in the morgue.  

Hopefully Santa's elves are good at making these [glucose test strips] because he'll have to sell Rudolph to pay for a pack of 25.  They aren't cheap.  Nor are they something someone would open on Christmas morning and be so excited that they leave a yellow puddle of joy behind.  Except for Melissa.  She'd do that.

You should not get someone test strips for their blood sugar without stuffing their compression stockings FULL of Kit Kats.  Christmas isn't Christmas until someone's blood sugar is 450 and they are passed out on the couch with A Christmas Story playing in the background.  

If you can, give yourself a hose-down before you go seek medical treatment. 
And, yes, I wear granny panties, but I prefer to call them either granny undies or granny grundies because "panties" is my third least favorite word in the world. 

There are certainly things I like to keep private, so I put those things on my blog because I know no one reads it.  The rest goes on Facebook.

"My bladder is ginormous" never lets me down in a bar.  And I've been in three bars this year.     

As much as I'd hate to die before the age of 137, I have accepted that it could happen.

Test drive a car before you buy it.  Apparently, this is common sense to some people. 

I like to spend quiet time with myself.  Googling more junk to pack in the trunk of my cerebral cortex.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday's Mental Health Moment

I am ashamed of myself.  I have let 2014 carry on without posting anything on my blog.  In an attempt to be a more regular blogger and possibly put my number of "followers" into the double digits, I decided to be unique like other bloggers.  I'm going to start a weekly post called Monday's Mental Health Moment and, you guessed it, I'm going to post it on Mondays.  I know Melissa very well and I'm guessing that next week Tuesday, I will wake up and say, "UGH!  Melissa!  You forgot to blog yesterday!"  We'll cross that bridge next week.  In the mean time...

Monday's Mental Health Moment:
Melissa's Mind-fullness

Where I work (which is Inpatient Behavioral Health - we no longer refer to these as 'psych wards' and 'mental hospitals') we talk about mindfulness quite a bit.  If you are not familiar with it, basically it's being present, or what some say is being 'in the moment'.  I was first introduced to this term in 2007 at a table in my dietitian's office when we talked about mindless eating versus being mindful at mealtimes.  Not being mindful when eating usually meant that I was inattentive to the purpose food was serving for me.  Instead of enjoying meals, I was thinking about exercise and how I'd burn off the calories, the crap day I had, the school papers that were due, and the list goes on and on.  Mindless eating was the only way I had ever taken nutrition into my body.  Mindfulness taught me to focus on food as fuel and completely changed the way I eat and why I eat.  

So, that is mindfulness in a nutshell.  If it's not something you're familiar with, I encourage you to explore it more in-depth.  It is not just used for food/mealtimes, but it can help with daily stressors and many of the patients we see find this to be beneficial.

There is mindfulness, and then there is Melissa's Mind-fullness.  It's being in a different kind of moment.  Melissa's definitely got a mind full.  I can tell you that a cockroach can live for 13 days without a head.  I know that in the time it takes to drive from Wisconsin to Alaska, you can listen to John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" approximately 928 times.  The actor who played Charlie Bucket in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" is a veterinarian.  Kickstart contains 5% juice and has 92mg of caffeine.  An elephant that doesn't matter is irrelephant.  And things like this float through my mind and occasionally shoot out of my mouth.  All day.  EVERYDAY.  This is mind-fullness.  

When the mind is so full that it hardly has time to take a breather.  Some call this "racing thoughts" or "mania".  No, not Melissa.  I call it normal and even sometimes entertaining.  I like having a mind full of junk.  It kind of reminds me of my car after a 60 day stretch of below zero temperatures.  It's too cold to clean it out, so when spring finally comes, I find all this crap I've collected through the winter.  Basically, my mind could be featured on an episode of Hoarders.  

How does one deal with a mind full of stuff?  Oh, there are lots of strategies that keep me balanced and functioning at a healthy level of abnormal.  


I intend to dive more into relaxation and meditation on this blog at a later date.  Some people seem to enjoy quiet music, nature walks, the beach, or reading a book for relaxation.  Lately, my relaxation has been Netflix.  Binge-watching, actually.  I'm halfway through season 3 of Dexter and I started it last week.  How watching a show about a serial killer is "relaxation" is something I can't really explain all that well.  Like I said, keeping that level of abnormal as healthy as possible.  

Me Time

I like to spend quiet time with myself.  Googling more junk to pack in the trunk of my cerebral cortex.


If you're one of the 9 people who follow this blog, you know I've been sick a lot since the end of last summer.  Exercise is not really something I've been doing much of, but I used to.  When I would exercise, I found that time hitting the pavement running was a good distraction.  All that stuff my mind was full of found a closet to hide in while I focused on more important things.  Like, how much I hate exercise.  

I'd love to finish this, but I've had to pee since I started this blog entry and now I'm becoming quite uncomfortable.  After I go take care of that, I'm going to spend some quality time with Netflix.