One week post-op and I’m happy to report that the growth is benign and has left the building! I’m recovering, but a terrible patient. More than once I’ve needed to be reminded to take it slow. How humbling. The doctor noted that I will have a little scar on my neck where the incision was and apologized for another circular scar I will have where they had to cauterize a vein to stop the bleeding. I told him that in the grand scheme of things a scar was minimal and I was going to count my blessings. It will take time for my chemistry to recalibrate, so I’m doing my best to be patient for that. Overall, the surgery was a success
I was fully crying as I spoke on the phone with my mom. My day was ruined. I was beside myself. I’d spent hours on the phone being transferred and belittled by Kaiser operators and admins.
After several years of getting nowhere with my primary care doc about my stomach pain and extreme constipation (you may remember the TMI blog), I spoke with my new Latina gynecologist about my issues and she immediately referred me for a colonoscopy. But now here I was pleading with all the gatekeepers for an appointment with a GI doc before the procedure to discuss my issues. They ran me ragged with “no.”
A simple referral to talk to the GI doc that was all I was asking for. With a family history of Crohn’s, IBS, and Celiac it seemed like a reasonable request. But I was getting nowhere. They were just going to do the colonoscopy and tell me the results. My primary care doc’s nurse said they’d get back to me. I contacted my gynecologist for a referral.
A week later they got back to me. The gynecologist’s referral had gone through. As I spoke with the GI doc, we discussed my symptoms and my medications. I also mentioned the supplements I was taking. Peri-menopausal for several years now, I take calcium and some other things to address what I thought were other perimenopausal symptoms: brain fog, sleep disturbance, and memory loss. The GI doc ordered some blood work. That afternoon her office called me. They were referring me to an endocrinologist and wanted me to make the appointment ASAP. I did. I was right, something was very wrong.
I sat on the paper covered hospital examination bed across from the handsome bespectacled black doctor whose name was Dr. Thomas. “You have a condition called primary hyperparathyroidism” he said. “You have a tumor, most likely benign, on your parathyroid gland which causes your body to leach calcium from your bones and dump it into your bloodstream. You’ll need surgery ASAP. You’ve most likely this tumor for a while.”
He explained the effect of the growth on my parathyroid and how it explained all of the strange symptoms I had, including the extreme constipation I’d embarrassingly been struggling with for years to no avail. It also explained the severe brain fog, and the memory loss I’d been trying to cope with. For years I’d felt like my brain was broken and was mourning the loss of my memory and my ability to think clearly. It seemed like my perimenopausal symptoms were on steroids. I felt both relieved and enraged.
I was so mad at my primary care physician for blowing me off. She’d been dismissive and casual with my concerns, handing me a stupid pamphlet on how to deal with hemmroids which is a wonderful side effect of extreme constipation. I looked at Dr. Thomas and calmly said, “I’m a college educated, professional, English speaking, Caucasian American citizen, and I’m not afraid of challenging authority. If I couldn’t get someone to listen to me, I can’t imagine how someone who does not have all those social privileges gets treated by this system and what kind of subpar healthcare they’re getting. This is an epic fail.” He calmly nodded his head.
I went home and deleted my primary care doc from my online Kaiser file. I went to the pharmacy to pick up the medication Dr. Thomas prescribed that was supposed to lower the calcium levels in my blood. The guy at the pharmacy gasped as he rang me up. “That will be $500,” he said. “For 30 pills?” I said. He tried to run it again and see if it was a mistake. It wasn’t. “That’s $65 of pills a day,” I calculated, incredulous. Turns out the California Covered Kaiser plan I signed up for which included a few a visits to the doctor and was for relatively healthy people sucked. I’ve since paid $2000 for these pills since it’s taken 8 weeks to schedule the surgery which is $20,000 and scheduled for December 6th.
I realize this is a downer of a blog and very personal, so on the positive side…. which is what I’m trying to focus on, is that after I spend $7, 000 out of my pocket the insurance pays the difference. Car insurance is so much easier to understand and with lower deductible.
It feels important to share this with you because:
- It’s a reminder that you have to be an active advocate for your health and your healthcare. Don’t let the system make you feel like you’re the problem.
Don’t let the system profit at the expense of your well-being. Don’t let them cut costs by cutting back on referrals while they profit from big pharma by pushing their flu shots. I’ve been offered a flu shot at every turn. They even wheeled into the pharmacy and offered me one while I was waiting in line. I’ve since learned that Kaiser docs are discouraged from making referrals. I bless my gynecologist who listened to me, empathized with me, and referred me for a colonoscopy and to the GI doc.
I can’t even imagine what would happen had she not put in the referral to the GI doc. The colonoscopy would have come back normal and I’d still have extreme constipation, continued bone less, memory issues, kidney pain and brain fog, until things got worse. A friend of mine just shared with me that they discovered her daughter had this same condition after she almost died of complications of a kidney stone.
- Take the time to read and understand your healthcare plan.
I’m not sure if I would have done better paying a higher premium. It may end up being about the same amount of money. But if I had paid a higher premium, I would have a better plan and could have paid the $7,000 over 12 months, instead of needing to pay it all in 2 months, in addition to my monthly premium payments. So make sure you really understand your healthcare plan as you renew it this month.
Bottom line friends, other countries have socialized medicine—free healthcare. I have a client whose relocated to the UK from the USA and is currently enjoying exceptional free healthcare. I’ll figure out how to pay my $7,000 bill, but for some people $7,000 would break them. And furthermore, is it reasonable for an individual to have to pay $10,000 a year for healthcare and for a plan that skimps on referrals? That was a rhetorical question!
On the positive side, which I also want to focus on is my prognosis. People with my condition have had positive results with surgery. After they cut out the growth, with the exception of some bone density loss, I should go back to “normal.” And for that, I am most grateful!
Please hold me in your thoughts and prayers on December 6th and know with me an easy and successful surgery and a speedy recovery.
Thank you and remember to follow your inner compass and take back your life!
I took her arm as we climbed the steps of the Rialto Bridge. She was still getting used to her high heels. It was a beautiful spring evening in Venice, Italy. The warm night air was peppered with a crisp ocean breeze that drifted inland from the Adriatic. The lights from the ristorantes danced on the canals. We sat at a table alongside the Grand Canal, watching the gondoliers beckon tourists to glide across the mirrored water in their shiny black gondolas. She was dressed fashionably in a white blouse, black skirt, tights, and a shimmering pink Venetian scarf.
It was the first time in her life that Patricia had appeared openly as a woman.
It was also the first time she’d packed only women’s clothing for a trip. Having come to Italy to attend my Seduce Your Muse workshop, Patricia was publicly claiming and proclaiming that she was a woman who was ready to set herself free from the man’s body she had spent four decades hiding in. Through our work together, she had found the courage to free herself from society’s norms and her false identity as…
Lately, I’ve been so thankful for the people who are willing to share deeply personal content on Youtube.
I don’t mean drama. I don’t mean for attention either. I mean people who are willing to put themselves out there and discuss embarrassing topics so that other people can learn.
Okay, so here goes. I’m in peri-menopause.
That time in a female-bodied person’s life when they experience a cessation of menses and lots of hormonal changes that impact almost every area of their lives.
The cessation of hormones associated with menopause leads to sleep disturbances, horrible night sweats, (not night sweets which could be delicious but also impact other problems), like weight gain. Metabolism slows down. It reeeeeaaaaaaallllllly slows down!
Then there are the hot flashes, constipation, a need to pee frequently (like pregnant women), depression, irritation, vaginal dryness (which also leads to irritation), changes in ability to orgasm (which leads to even more irritation and depression), memory challenges (what was I saying again)….well, you get the drift.
Now instead of watching Netflix or reading a book when I have a moment to myself, I’m watching Youtube videos on dealing with constipation and learning how to do Kegel exercises. Fun times!
When I’m at my best I can laugh at this phase of life.
However, there are times when all these changes, coupled with my eyesight becoming poorer, overwhelm me and I seriously just want to cry and stay in my room where I can privately practice my Kegels.
I don’t know how the generation of women before me kept all of this on the down low. This phase of life sucks. Maybe it wasn’t as bad in the past. I don’t know. All I know, is that I’m grateful that so many people are not keeping these challenges on the down low.
Quite the opposite.
They are posting their solutions to these challenges on Youtube.
I want to commend these individuals for being brave, bold, audacious in the name of helping others.
While I consider myself all of the above, there are certain topics, like all those above, that I still find embarrassing. These folks courage, gave me the courage to write this blog.
I hope this will also empower you to seek out the answers to the questions you have and to open up discussions. Reach out and share. Let’s not suffer in silence. Let’s empower one another.
One of my favorite videos that followed a video on colon health, was this guy giving advice to newbie gay men on how to care for and groom themselves. This might be offensive to some, but I was really struck by how much care this guy was giving to addressing personal, and perhaps embarrassing, content so these newbies could have a good experience. It was so sweet (and BRAVE!)
Here are some links to some of my favorites which will be especially helpful for the new moms, “women in that phase of life,” and anyone who is feeling a little backed up.
They’re all rated PG.
The More You Know….
12 Things Your Stool Can Tell You About Your Health
The adorable Niki Sky in her flannel pajamas walks you through her toilet tricks in 9 Constipation Health Hacks That Really Work!
How to do Kegel Exercises to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Kegel Exercises Made Easy–This one is tailored to new moms who are dealing with incontinence. I just loved how sweet this lady was and how comfortable she was sharing these tips with other moms. Brave, I’m telling you!
No one had ever walked on the moon until Neil Armstrong did in 1969 changing how we viewed the world.
The idea of female astronauts seemed ridiculous to many people until Sally Ride traveled into space in 1983. Nine years later, Mae Jemison, became the first African American female astronaut to travel into space and work on the Space Lab. She says, “The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up.”
Are you ready to wake up and make your dreams come true?
Many people don’t go after their dreams because they give reality too much credit.
What do I mean?
Reality is a construct. It’s a limitation we put on ourselves.
No one imagined anyone could run a mile in 4 minutes until Roger Bannister did. Since Bannister accomplished this feat, thousands of other male runners have followed in Bannister’s footsteps. The current world record holder is Hicham el Guerouj who ran a mile in 3:43 minutes proving that existing limits can be broken.
Many people said they never imagined they’d see marriage equality in their lifetimes. I would say it was just that lack of imagination that slowed down the process. In the 1970s several same-sex couples began asking for marriage licenses at county clerk’s offices and filing law suits for the right to marry. However, it wasn’t until June 2015 that the United States Supreme Court finally ruled that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry. Why? Because it took that long for a majority of people to be able to see it as a reality.
As you may know, I was a passionate advocate for marriage equality. It was a dream of mine I was committed to bringing to life. I envisioned a world where LGBTQ people had the same right to the American dream as everyone else. The right to marry and have a family of their own creation. I was willing to work for that dream and help people envision that dream coming true.
When we envision creating something new in our lives or in the world and we work towards it we are creating with the Universe.
Our ability to imagine, believe and think outside the box of reality is what allows us to shift our perceptions of what’s possible and to shift the world!
Your dreams are important!
What dreams do you want to see come true?
Do you want to find love? Travel to other continents? Write a book? Start a business? Create a family? Retire early? Move to another city? Embark on a new career?
Don’t get caught up in the obstacles. Yes, there will be obstacles, but be unstoppable.
- Be willing to be ridiculous!
- Be Bold
- Dream big!
- Have fun!
- Believe in yourself.
- Believe that your dreams can come true.
- Be flexible.
- Don’t give up.
- Find someone whose made that dream come true?
- Find someone whose succeeded in a similar venture?
- Keep seeing your dreams come true. Visualize it.
- Share your dreams with those who believe in you too!
- Take the steps needed to move in the direction of your dreams.
- Be ridiculous, audacious, brave and courageous!
- Follow Your Heart!
In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,
Bueller cautions us that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
I agree. This is why I recommend mental health days, weekend getaways and vacations to my clients, including those that they take by themselves.
We are more present when we’re traveling. We are more awake. Our senses are heightened, so we are more connected to our body and less in our head.
As Bueller suggests we don’t want to miss our lives and getting out of our ruts/routines can allow us to see the world with fresh eyes. Traveling can shift our views of reality and what’s possible. Taking a vacation is literally about setting your self free.
Go on Vacation with Yourself
Once or twice a year, go on a vacation by yourself for at least two nights. Pick a destination you feel drawn to. This is about enjoying unstructured time that you structure as you go. You should be completely free to determine your schedule.
During your vacation, do only what you want to do.
Don’t make any plans before arriving unless they are things you really want to do and that require advance planning. Otherwise, show up first and decide later. Don’t plan on meeting anyone. If you can swing it, limit your contact with loved ones to a “Yes, I’ve arrived” call and no more than daily emails to let people know you’re safe and so you know all’s well on the home front. There will be plenty of time to share when you return.
Get Yourself Out of Routine
The point is to get yourself out of your routine and disconnect you from social approval and social obligations, which will allow you to check in with yourself. This is your time to break free and listen to yourself—a time to tap into your internal compass. During your sojourn, listen to your intuition concerning what to do or not do, when to get up, when to go to sleep, when to eat, what to eat, and how to spend your time.
Bring a journal with you. Reading material is optional. If you do bring something to read, make sure it’s not going to distract you from connecting with yourself. If it’s something contemplative that allows you to go deeper within yourself, that’s perfect. If it’s someone else’s memoir, leave it behind unless it’s related to something you want to do.
Don’t drive unless you have to.
Driving keeps you in your head and out of your body and senses. In fact, many of us tend to go into trance states when we drive. Take a train or a boat.
Create opportunities for walking so you can slow down and get into your own rhythm.
Walking will keep you more present. Meander, going wherever you feel like going. Give yourself lots of room to roam. Also, make sure there are places you can be out in nature, as well as places you can sit and be still, such as gardens, beaches, boardwalks, hiking trails, park benches, and outdoor cafes.
The more grounded you are, the more connected you are to earth and your own body, the better.
On my trips to Italy, I wander through the streets to different squares and neighborhoods. Depending on my mood, I might stop at a café, or I might sit by a canal or the ocean, or in a quiet courtyard or garden. I give myself lots of time to just be, with no agenda except to feel the edges of myself and enjoy my own companionship.
We need time to be our own best friend, and we need time to be with this best friend because it creates solidity.
Did you know that being afraid to FAIL is the # 1 obstacle that keeps people from following their hearts?
We are afraid of social rejection, not having enough money, looking stupid, getting hurt, not being physically safe, and we are especially afraid of failing!
Even if you fail—you’re failing forward!
Failing forward means that even if you’re not getting the outcome you desire, you are still moving towards your dreams. You are still learning and investing in your growth and mastery.
No one wants to fail. However, if you never try, you’ll never know. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician to run for office, ran for San Francisco city supervisor three times before finally winning. Each time he ran, his number of supporters grew. Each time, he empowered other LGBT people to come out of the closet. He failed forward.
The same was true with the marriage equality movement. There were multiple losses, but with every loss, as people continued to share their personal stories, the movement gained more and more supporters for marriage equality. Finally, the poll numbers showed that the majority of Americans supported equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
This is what failing forward looked like for my client, Andy. Andy was afraid of putting himself back out in the dating world. His failing forward took the form of asking women out on dates and learning how to create meaningful connection. His first attempts were met with rejection. Eventually, he became comfortable asking women out and facing his fear of rejection. He built his confidence and met a woman who became his girlfriend.
We all have automatic physical reactions to threats to our well-being. In moments of perceived danger, the fight, flight, or freeze aspect of our nervous system is activated. For example, when we see a snake on a hiking trail our hearts beat rapidly, our bodies fill with adrenaline and we become hyper-alert. We take action to make sure we are not bitten. This is good fear.
Good fear can keep us safe and alive, helping us identify threats in our environments. Good fear can get us to run from an attacker, get out of the way of a speeding car, or protect ourselves from an attacker.
Unfortunately, human societies are filled with amorphous threats, and some of our reactions to them are counterproductive. For example, fear can get us to engage in behaviors that are unhealthy and selfish. Overeating or using substances to numb our feelings is one way our response to fear can harm us. Fear can get us to push people away or to hoard money or belongings because we are afraid we won’t have enough.
Bad fear can create a sense of competition and greediness and we can become restrictive emotionally and financially not engaging openly with the people around us.
Fear can be used to manipulate us.
Many of our fears are not our own. They are conditioned in us by social, religious, and corporate agendas. You may already be aware that mainstream society is focused on keeping you obsessed with safety and security. For example, car commercials, insurance commercials, cold and flu commercials, all designed to get you to buy products by creating a sense of fear in you. This can be true with the news and political agendas as well.
Fear can create pain in the absence of any real source of pain.
Fear can cause us to project danger on to something that cannot harm us. This is where the acronym False Evidence Appearing Real is apropos. We see a snake. Our hearts race. We sweat. We look for our escape. But what if we discover that the snake is just a twisted stick? We just expended all that energy for an illusion.
Fear can keep us from taking action.
Fear can have a paralyzing effect on us keeping us from pursuing our dreams, making changes in our lives, even leaving a bad situation because we fear the unknown or that we could find ourselves in an even worse situation. Fear can keep us from taking advantage of opportunities for growth and change. Fear can keep us focused on mere survival when we have the ability to thrive and expand.
Where is fear stopping you from taking action?
What causes you fear in your life?
What are your responses to fear?
Is fear triggering you to engage in unhealthy ways of reacting or coping?
In what ways do you feel manipulated to feel fear?
Are you aware of any fear projections you have?
Take some time to put fear into perspective and take your life back.
Does your life belong to you?
Now is the time to reclaim your life, instead of letting it belong to everyone else.
We are constantly getting bombarded with other people’s agendas for us. We’re brainwashed on what to eat, what to buy, what soap to use, how to view our bodies, and more.
Now is the time to tap into our own inner compass, our heart. Now is the time to connect with our essential nature. When I do this my life is exponentially more satisfying. I am living more authentically, authoring my own life.
Lao Tzu the ancient Chinese mystic who preceded Jesus and Buddha talked about Tao Te Ching, which translates to The Way, and means living life in harmony with nature and following the heart’s guidance. Practicing the way, puts you on a mystical path.
Would you like to walk the path of the mystic?
Would you be willing to get still and listen to your inner guidance?
Would you be willing to meditate as part of your daily life to clear the clutter of the world from your brain?
Would you be willing to let everyone else’s ideas of what your life should look like go?
Would you be willing to be free?
Now, is the time to follow your heart and let the Universe support you.
It might sound corny. It did to me once, until I realized what a powerful and satisfying way it is to live.
Walking the path of the mystic and being present in the here and now means your actions will be directed from a place of centered, grounded inner knowing.
When you are present and grounded, you will make better choices and you will see greater synchronicity when you do.
I’ve found when I’m on this path I can trust that what I need will be there for me every day, rather than spending time worrying about the future or the past.
Are you willing to be free? Are you willing to let go and be here now?
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”—The Lord’s Prayer
One of the biggest obstacles to experiencing ourselves as the loving person we are is our inability to forgive ourselves. We feel guilt and shame for mistakes we’ve made. We beat ourselves up for situations we handled less skillfully than we might have wished. We incriminate ourselves for the people we’ve hurt—whether accidentally, unconsciously, or intentionally. To fully love yourself and unleash your courageous heart, you must be able to forgive yourself.
We also struggle with forgiving others. Perhaps you’ve been betrayed. Maybe someone hurt you, stole from you, lied to you, or was unfaithful to you. It may feel hard to forgive in such a situation. However, not forgiving will rob you of your energy and keep you stuck in the past. You won’t feel good or hopeful about life.
Not everything we approach openheartedly is going to work out as we expect.
Not everyone we open our heart to is going to treat us as we wish.
Most of us will experience disappointment in love, and likely we’ll disappoint others.
However, if we can trust that everything we go through is an opportunity to learn—an opportunity to know ourselves as the loving person we are, and hence to be compassionate to others, forgiving their mistakes and accepting their decisions as we would want them to do with us—then our load will be lighter and our path will be easier to walk.
One year my inner gypsy awakened and I wanted to learn how to dance the male parts of the flamenco. I was drawn to the music, to the flair, and to the strong rhythmic beats. While, I didn’t suddenly feel called to put on a bright red polka-dotted dress and wear a flower in my hair—if I had, I would have!
Answering this call of my heart took me to Sevilla, Spain, where I witnessed some of the world’s best Flamenco dancers boldly take the stage, mesmerizing audiences with their sensual moves and fierce foot stomping and stamping.
It was a gruelingly hot summer night in Teatro El Gallo (The Rooster).
The blades of the box fans scattered throughout the theater whirred on high in a futile attempt to cool the patrons. Seated in the front row, I more than once felt the spray of sweat coming off the feverish bodies of Flamenco dancers proudly pounding out bohemian cadences from faraway times.
My heart pounded in my chest, my soul awakened by these ancient rhythms with a deep longing, a nomadic desire to wander, to embrace life’s passion, to savor each moment.
I silently vowed to myself that I would ensure that my life was colorful—that there was life in my life.
The decision to follow my heart to Sevilla helped me make a deeper commitment to myself to be authentic, bold, fully engaged.
The next year I traveled to Venice for three weeks, to begin writing a novel. Let’s just say I didn’t know anyone at that time that would take a three week vacation to Europe to write a novel. Everything about that was audacious in my life at the time.
Authenticity is audacious!
During my visit I had a great time imagining the scenes unfolding in the various campos and canals.
As part of my research, I met with Shaul Bassi, a writer and professor of literature at the University of Venice. I had come across his name on an article and sent him an email. He agreed to meet with me over cappuccino. Thank goodness, he spoke English. He was only one of three people I was able to converse with during the entire three weeks.
“All our dreams can come true,” said Walt Disney, “if we have the courage to pursue them.”
I had no idea that meeting with Shaul would prove to be a date with destiny. Thanks to him, two years later I was back in Venice on an all-expenses-paid trip to study Italian culture and the Jews of Venice (the topic of my novel).
Following my heart had paid off in spades. I had a month in 2008 to continue writing my novel, as well as to meet new friends and experts on Italian art, Yiddish, the Venetian Jewish Ghetto, and Italian music.
One morning, I walked the labyrinth of cobblestone streets flanked by high walls with cascading trumpet vines, their reddish-orange flowers drinking in the sunshine.
The still waters of the canals, occasionally rippling like a movie’s dream sequence, added to the surreal radiance, mirroring back the beauty of this ancient city.
The echoing voices of an angelic choir flooded my ears as Palestrina’s 16th Century Magnificat Primi Toni played on my iPod.
Seduced by the hauntingly familiar tones, the magnificence of this Renaissance city, and the warm sun on my skin, I breathed in the damp air and my heart wept tears of joy as my soul celebrated.
Emerging from the narrow streets into the middle of the spacious campo, I longed to spin in circles like a whirling dervish taking in the divine opulence of the moment—a complex merger of humanity’s best offering with the exquisite marvels of the divine.
Yes, I was following my heart.
Three years after this, I returned to lead my first Seduce Your Muse™ creative writing retreat.
All of this unfolded because I followed my heart in the first place.
You never know where your heart will lead you.
When you feel the tug of your heart or hear a call from your soul, follow.
Let the path of your heart unfold!