Friday, December 14, 2012

You Drive Me Crazy, Part 2

**Disclaimer: I am in no way defending the actions of these people.  Obviously what they did was wrong.  My intent here is to bring mental illness issues to light as they relate to violent crimes.**

Shortly after the Aurora, CO movie theater shootings back in July, I wrote this about the public and media assumption that perpetrators of violent crimes are inherently mentally ill, crazy, or just downright insane.

Go read that link before continuing.  Seriously.

Ok.  In light of the recent mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut in which 20 children, ages 5-10, and 7 adults, including the shooter, were killed, I feel the need to expound upon my previous points.

Mental illness is not a prerequisite characteristic for mass shooters/murderers.  Mass shooters can be sane or insane, as we shall see below.  (It also bears repeating for the umpteenth time that, as stated in the link above, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violent crimes rather than perpetrators.)

In the interest of fairness to those who claim all mass shooters simply must be mentally ill, I decided to do a little calculation based on this info provided by Mother Jones.  The chart below is a watered-down version of MJ's info and indicates the location and date of each shooting, as well as whether any signs of mental illness were evident prior to the shooting.

Setting aside the fact that there are way too many events on this list to begin with, nearly 40% of these cases show that either the gunman did not present signs of mental illness or it was unclear (and, yes, the vast majority - if not all - were gunmen).

I will grant you that the majority of perpetrators on this list did, in fact, show signs of mental illness prior to their attack.  However, with the stigma attached to mental illness in the United States, treatment is not available or feasible for some - including, possibly, some of these attackers.

Let me give you an example.  Almost no one in my real life knows about my anxiety and depression.  I am lucky enough to have health insurance, expensive though it may be, but my copay to see a mental health professional (psychiatrist or psychologist) is 50% higher than my copay to see a "regular" doctor.  Although psychiatrists can prescribe medication (psychologists cannot), their services are not available in all areas, and often (in my experience) they will insist your regular doctor prescribe your meds.

This means I would have to pay the regular doctor, the psychiatrist/psychologist, and then pay for the meds I need.  All this treatment would cost over $100/month, and that is something I simply cannot afford.  So I skip the psychiatric treatment and just see my regular doctor and hope the meds work.  To sum up, not everyone has access to these services and not everyone who has access can afford it.


This is why it really grates my last nerve when people insist that mass shooters must be mentally ill.  Clearly, the evidence shown above proves that NOT ALL MASS SHOOTERS/MURDERERS ARE MENTALLY ILL.  And, in the cases where it is true, Americans must start considering society's responsibility to maintain both physical and mental health of all citizens for the benefit of the community at large.  How else can we keep tragedies such as this from happening?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why Texas won't secede. EVER.

So there has been much to-do in the media lately that Texas is petitioning to secede!!!11!!eleventy!!!  The petition currently has 102,148 signatures (as of 5:30pm Central on 11/14/12).

First, some math.  

The population of Texas (according to a quick Google search and as of 2011) is 25,674,681.  Even if we give the petitioners the benefit of the doubt and assume they are all from Texas (which they are not), there are still 25,572,533 Texans who have NOT signed the petition.  If you're more of a percentages kind of person, those who HAVE signed the petition constitute .4% of the population.  Yes, less than 1/2 of 1%.  That means that 99.6% of Texans have NOT signed the petition.

So although the Obama Administration has pledged to address any petitions that reach 25,000 signatures on the White House petition website, the petitioners by no means constitute a majority of Texans.

Secondly, some facts.

Rick Perry, he who fairly recently hinted that he might support Texas secession, doesn't support the Texas petition to secede.  If even Rick Perry knows which side his government bread is buttered on, maybe the petitioners should rethink this whole secession thing.

Additionally, we should consider if secession is actually treason.  Article 3 Section 3 of the United States Constitution states:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

So it appears that, since the petitions are advocating PEACEFUL withdrawal, these requests are not technically treasonous.

Moving on, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (sounds pretty authoritative, right?)...well, let me just put the direct quote:

And did further declare in the same proclamation THAT IT IS THE MANIFEST DETERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT NO STATE, OF ITS OWN WILL, HAS A RIGHT OR POWER TO GO OUT OF OR SEPARATE ITSELF FROM, OR BE SEPARATED FROM THE AMERICAN UNION; and that, therefore, each State ought to remain and constitute an integral part of the United States

When was this proclamation issued, you ask?  Shortly after Texas's LAST attempt to secede.  This is part of the Presidential Proclamation that declared peace between the U.S. Government and Texas in August 1866, after the conclusion of the Civil War.  So in order to be readmitted to the Union, Texas (and the rest of the South) HAD TO AGREE TO THESE TERMS.

Finally, just a note to all those advocating secession.  You may think you don't rely on the federal government, but you do.  Social security?  Medicare?  Interstate highways?  Education subsidies?  Farm subsidies? FEMA?  Do any of these sound familiar?  If you're that hell-bent on seceding, you must consider the pros AND cons instead of just going off half-cocked (as we say here in Texas) because the election results hurt your feelings.

Consider the math.  Consider the facts.  Texas will never secede.  EVER.


UPDATE (as of 9:20am Central on 11/19/12): In the interest of fairness, I'm updating the math. There are currently 114,990 signatures on the Texas petition, many of which are not Texas residents.  However, the updated percentage of people who HAVE signed the petition is .45% - meaning, 99.55% of people still have NOT signed it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

An hour or two in the life of...

I thought I'd be able to update my blog on a regular basis, but grad school has been keeping me VERY busy (hello, no updates in over two months).

Additionally, Fibromyalgia (aka the Bane of my Existence) has been rearing its ugly head even more than usual.  Previously, I had been having back pain, with occasional pain radiating to my legs and arms.  I had very minimal "fibro fog."

Fast forward two months.  Now I have constant pain in my back and hands, with near constant pain in my legs and arms (and, beginning yesterday, my feet!).  Fibro fog is an everyday occurrence.  All events, bills, doctor appointments, etc. MUST be put in my calendar or I WILL forget.  I have told my husband (and counselor) countless times...I've been adjusting to my physical limitations (albeit slowly), but my mind used to be a veritable Rolodex.  There was nothing I couldn't remember.  The loss of my mental abilities has been most frustrating and depressing.

And the latest and greatest addition?  Complete and total disorientation upon waking up in the mornings.  Can you imagine the panic and anxiety that comes with that?  I mean, I literally cannot remember what day it is or even where I am.  It takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to adjust to my surroundings, check what day it is on my phone, check my calendar to see if I have anything planned for that day, etc.  Then another 30 minutes to 1 hour to literally get out of bed, check if my hands can grip my toothbrush and/or hairbrush.  If I can, then I can go ahead and start my day...if not, I have to attempt to stretch my hands so I can at least get those two items accomplished.

And this is all before 9:00am or so.  To compile a complete DAY in the life of, this post would probably be thousands of words long.

People always tell me how strong I am.  I'm not strong.  I'm weak.  I can't take care of myself.  Just because I can tolerate an excruciating amount of pain on a daily basis (6-8 average on the Mankoski scale) doesn't mean I am strong.  It just means I am unable to live any other way.

Monday, September 3, 2012


I renewed my awesome domain,, today.  It's been 2 years!  Hopefully I will be able to keep it for a long time to come. :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Risking it All by Jennifer Schmidt

  • Name: Risking it All
  • Author: Jennifer Schmidt
  • ISBN: 9781612131177
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publisher: The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
  • Publication/Expected Publication: September 13, 2012

Memphis and Kennedy have been best friends since college.  Memphis is the consummate ladies' man, and Kennedy has been in a relationship with Ian Brooks for the past two years.  Brooks has become less and less attentive, so Kennedy agrees to go to Alaska with Memphis - as friends - for work.  Things quickly move out of "friend" territory.

Torn because she never officially broke up with Brooks, Kennedy returns to Vancouver early.  Brooks seems penitent enough after his recent mistakes, but still Kennedy doesn't break up with him.  The remainder of the book details Kennedy's decision between Memphis and Brooks.

I generally appreciate a book that deviates from the tried-and-true romance storyline, and I enjoyed this story for the most part.  The length of time it took for Kennedy to ultimately decide between the two men put me off a bit, but overall the story was very entertaining.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Trouble in Texas by Katie Lane

  • Name: Trouble in Texas
  • Author: Katie Lane
  • ISBN: 9781455515714
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication/Expected Publication: December 18, 2012

This is the fourth book in the author's "Deep in the Heart of Texas" series.  I have not read the other three, but this book stands on its own.

Elizabeth Murphy is the local librarian who recently inherited the nearby house of ill repute, "Miss Hattie's Henhouse."  Although Lizzie wants to sell, the three "hens" who still live there refuse to leave.  They have their hearts set on reopening the Henhouse.

Branston (Brant) Cates comes to town to attend his brother's wedding (the circumstances of which are probably covered in one of the first three books).  He decides to stop off at the Henhouse, believing it to be abandoned.  There is a legend that his grandfather was killed there, an event which sparked the "Cates Curse."  The three old hens drug him and hold him captive so he won't report them to the police.

Thus begins a series of events almost as unbelievable as it is comical.  Will the hens be able to get Lizzie and Brant together? Will the Henhouse reopen? What really happened to Brant's grandfather?  Almost as entertaining as the story itself are the "Henhouse Rules" included as the start of each chapter.  I would recommend this book to people looking for light summer romance reading.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Friday, August 17, 2012

More Mood Music...

[Trigger Warning on the video: Violent Imagery, dead/dying animals and humans]

"Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything.

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt.

I wear this crown of shit
Upon my liar's chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stain of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here.

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way...

Song to fit my mood lately...

"Breathe Me" by Sia

Help, I have done it again 
I have been here many times before 
Hurt myself again today
And, the worst part is there's no one else to blame 

Be my friend 
Hold me, wrap me up 
Unfold me 
I am small 
I'm needy 
Warm me up 
And breathe me 

Ouch I have lost myself again 
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found, 
Yeah I think that I might break 
I've lost myself again and I feel unsafe

Be my friend 
Hold me, wrap me up 
Unfold me 
I am small 
I'm needy 
Warm me up 
And breathe me 

Be my friend 
Hold me, wrap me up 
Unfold me 
I am small 
I'm needy 
Warm me up 
And breathe me  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

When it rains, it pours...

The last month or so has been absolutely...strange.  Let me give you a general breakdown of what happened:

  1. Unemployment claim denied.
  2. Mother-in-law diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently had a mastectomy (diagnosis and surgery within a week of each other).
  3. Sister going into labor about 3 weeks early and giving birth to tiny little daughter who is still in NICU.
  4. On the same day as #3, we were visiting MIL and had to take her to local ER due to a drainage pump issue.
  5. Health insurance cards from husband's new job came in two weeks late, meaning I had to postpone my doctor's appointment until tomorrow (originally had planned to go last week).
  6. Grad school messed up my application (and subsequently fixed it within 2-3 business days).
  7. Financial aid messed up my aid request due to #6 (and then subsequently fixed it within about 12 hours).
  8. During a freak storm, a tree fell ON OUR CAR (still drive-able, just lots of dents and scratches). The apartment complex next door (where the tree fell from) has been giving us the runaround about getting it fixed.

This is why, with the exception of a few book reviews, I have not had many substantive posts lately.  I have been trying to cope with all these events while being low on LOTS of medication (see #5).  Hopefully starting this weekend, I will have more important things to say.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sacrifice of Passion by Melissa Bourbon Ramirez

  • Name: Sacrifice of Passion
  • Author: Melissa Bourbon Ramirez
  • ISBN: 9781622669400
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publisher: Entangled Publishing
  • Publication/Expected Publication: June 15, 2012

[TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, Ritualistic animal cruelty]

There is a lot of drama contained in this relatively short, action-packed book.  Twelve years prior, Delaney and Vic had abruptly split after an unfortunate misunderstanding.  They had agreed to meet and elope - Delaney showed up, but Vic did not.  Believing Vic had found comfort in the arms of another woman, Delaney left and didn't return for twelve years.

Delaney's therapists had encouraged her to revisit her past in order to exorcise her demons.  Her inability to reconcile Vic's no-show along with her rape just hours before their appointed meeting had led to many sleepless nights.  What little sleep she was able to get was plagued by sleepwalking.  Upon her arrival back in her hometown, an old curandera warns her to be careful of the local chupacabra or she will end up dead.

Worried that her sleepwalking may actually mean that SHE is the chupacabra, Delaney seeks help from Vic and they begin to rebuild their relationship.  There are many obstacles along the way - not the least of which is Vic's 11-year-old son by the "other woman" - and readers are left wondering until the end who the chupacabra truly is.

This book is recommended for those readers who like mystery wrapped up in their romance.  At first glance, it may seem there are too many story lines to keep up with, but everything ties up nicely at the end.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Long Journey with Fibromyalgia, Part IV

Part I
Part II
Part III

It wasn't until my primary care physician (PCP) referred me to a rheumatologist in early 2011 that I officially received the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.

Let me be clear...there is no medical test for Fibromyalgia.  It is largely a clinical diagnosis wherein the patient and doctor(s) have to go through a process of elimination of other possible diseases and disorders.  It is often referred to as a "trash can" diagnosis - meaning, if the symptoms don't fit anything else, doctors will just call it fibromyalgia.

I had all the tender spots commonly associated with Fibromyalgia, so the rheumatologist started me on Lyrica.  Unfortunately, Lyrica gave me severe migraines.  So it was off to Neurontin, which just flat out didn't work.  After those two attempts, the rheumatologist seemed to lose interest in treating me.  Or maybe I was just being stubborn in not wanting to subject myself to more poking and prodding.

But it was at that time that I decided I would rather live with the pain of fibromyalgia than have to deal with more doctors and tests and waiting and expenses...none of which provided answers, by the way.

This break went on for several months until I moved to go back to school.  Stay tuned for Part V.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Klonopin Lunch: A Memoir

  • Name: Klonopin Lunch: A Memoir
  • Author: Jessica Dorfman Jones
  • ISBN: 9780307886972
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication/Expected Publication: July 17, 2012

If you're living in a humdrum marriage and have ever wondered what it would be like to take a walk on the VERY WILD side, this book definitely delivers.  With a husband whose understanding/indifference defies reason most of the time, the author is able to explore the world of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll with the help of her gritty guitar instructor.

I think I can speak for everyone who reads this book when I say that the author, Jones, could have benefited from some therapy.  Her severe mood swings throughout the book lead the reader to constantly wonder what on earth she was thinking as she began this journey.  She succeeds in alienating most of her "old" friends as well as her husband and is only brought back to her senses by the most extreme of circumstances.

Jones is not a sympathetic character by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, she regularly acknowledges her own "bitchiness" and stresses the saintliness of her long-suffering husband.  This book is captivating in that the reader wonders just how far down the rabbit hole Jones will go before finally pulling herself out.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let It Go: A True Story of Tragedy & Forgiveness

  • Name: Let it Go: A True Story of Tragedy & Forgiveness
  • Author: Chris Williams
  • ISBN: 9781609071271
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Publisher: Deseret Book Company
  • Publication/Expected Publication: July 30, 2012

If you are not a Christian, this book will probably not interest you.  The author is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  When tragedy strikes his family (in the form of a drunk driving accident), he depends on his faith in God to see him through those trying times.

It was hard for me to enjoy the book because it was so laden with Christian and LDS terminology and sentiments.  Nearly every page credited the author's Savior with feeling the need to connect with so and so, or to talk to his son about such and such, or write his thoughts about a certain topic.  I respect people's religions, and I admire what the author has had to overcome; however, I must admit that if this had been marked as "Christian" in Netgalley, I probably would not have requested it.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Friday, July 27, 2012

If you want to see what else I'm working on...

...take a look at my new site, Virginia's List.

My goal for this site is to rate businesses on their accessibility for people with disabilities (PWD).  I am aware there are federal and/or national laws regulating accessibility; however, meeting the letter of the law does not always guarantee accessibility in practice.

Check it out and feel free to submit ratings.  You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Enchanted Truth by Kym Petrie

  • Name: The Enchanted Truth
  • Author: Kym Petrie
  • ISBN: 9781608323685
  • Genre: Short Stories
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
  • Publication/Expected Publication: September 18, 2012

This short story is a charming update to classic fairy tales.  Although couched in the language of the past - with carriages, petticoats, etc - it is easy to see how the tale could be applied to people of today, regardless of age.

The story begins with our Princess meeting her assigned Fairy Godmother.  Rather than granting her the Prince Charming she believes she so richly deserves, the Fairy Godmother instead bestows upon the Princess a stuffed frog.  She instructs the Princess to put a list of all the attributes she desires in a mate in the frog's pouch.

The Princess promptly pushes the Fairy Godmother's advice (and frog) aside and resumes her normal activities.  However, after a particularly horrific date, she decides to give the "frog list" a try.  Six pages later, she is finally done.  As she continues to date frogs, she adds more and more attributes to the list.

The story ends with the Princess reviewing her list and realizing her "Prince Charming" has been with her all along, so to speak.

Although a little cheesy or a bit campy, this story would be a great read for people struggling in the dating world or having perhaps just re-entered it.  It masks its moral in the guise of a modified fairy tale ending so that it's message of self-respect isn't preachy or overbearing.

I would definitely recommend this quick read for people (age 13+)!

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Serpent's Bite by Warren Adler

  • Name: The Serpent's Bite
  • Author: Warren Adler
  • ISBN: 9781590060445
  • Genre: Mystery/Suspense
  • Publisher: Stonehouse Press
  • Publication/Expected Publication: September 4, 2012
Wow.  I read this book in about 6 hours or so; it is so unlike any other book I have ever read.  Although written in the third person, there are point-of-view chapters for the three main characters throughout the book.  There is also one point-of-view chapter for a key player at the end of the book.  This provides some great insight into the psyches of these clearly disturbed individuals.

George Temple has been estranged from his children, Courtney and Scott, since his wife's untimely death.  Desperate to bridge the gap before he "shuffle[s] off this mortal coil," he reaches out to his children in the hope to recreate a memorable family camping trip through Yellowstone.  Courtney and Scott - both in their late 30s - agree to the trip in the hopes of milking their father for more money to support their perpetually failing enterprises.  George - referred to as "Temple" or "Dad" throughout the book - has even gone so far as to hire the guide (or outfitter) from their original trip, Harry McGrath.

Their trip begins awkwardly, not just because of the estrangement, but also because Harry has provided only one assistant - Tomas - instead of the two George had requested.  As the trip progresses, dark motives as well as dark secrets are revealed.  Past transgressions haunt one sibling, but not the other.  As Harry becomes less and less reliable, the reader is left wondering: just how far will Temple's children go in order to secure their financial future?  Who will make it out of Yellowstone alive?


[Trigger Warning for Sibling Incest]

Given the codependent - not to mention incestuous - relationship between Courtney and Scott as well as their apparent careless disregard for their father, I found it hard to be on their side.  Their points of view (especially Courtney's) made it very clear their only motivation in attending this dysfunctional family reunion was to attain more money. 

Even though I found their motivations distasteful, I was still fascinated by the insights the author provided.  Courtney (and to a lesser degree Scott, until the end of the book) have no qualms about offing dear old daddy in the name of gaining their substantial inheritance.  I have to admit I was wondering if (and how) the author would be able to wrap this story up.  I was definitely not disappointed!  It had all the marks of a genuine Shakespeare tragedy.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Friday, July 20, 2012

You Drive me Crazy...

**Update 12/14/12: There has been another shooting, this one at an elementary school.  I have published a Part 2 to this post in relation to that incident.**

Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy,
But here's my number, so call me maybe?

I have struggled with mental illnesses for the majority of my life.  Severe depression and crippling anxiety have become my constant companions in the roller coaster ride of my life.  I have had a couple of nervous breakdowns.  I have contemplated suicide.  I am what you would probably call certifiably crazy.

Mental wounds not healing,
Who and what's to blame?
I'm going off the rails on a crazy train.
I'm going off the rails on a crazy train.

As a certifiably crazy person, you know what irritates me?  Someone commits an act of violence, and they are automatically assumed to be mentally ill.  After the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the shooter was assumed to be a crazed nutjob even before they had a suspect in custody.  Indeed, Jared Lee Loughner was later determined to be schizophrenic and found incompetent to stand trial (as of the date of this post).  But why the sudden rush to judge his mental capacity?

I remember when, I remember
I remember when I lost my mind.
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions have an echo in so much space.

Early this morning, I was awakened by a series of notifications going off on my phone informing me of the tragic shooting that occurred at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  And again, people - whether in the halls of government or on the internet in venues such as Facebook and Twitter - are automatically pinning the suspect, James Holmes, as crazy.  According to CNN, the governor of Colorado "said the attack was the work of a 'very deranged mind.'"  Why the sudden rush to judge his mental capacity?

Insane in the membrane,
Insane in the brain!
Insane in the membrane,
Insane in the brain!

The simple fact of the matter is that mentally ill people are more likely to be victims rather than perpetrators of violent crimes.  This study produced the following results:


Nine studies, including 5195 patients, were identified. Prevalence estimates of criminal victimization ranged from 4.3% to 35.04%. Rates of victimization among severely mentally ill persons were 2.3-140.4 times higher than those in the general population. Criminal victimization was most frequently associated with alcohol and/or illicit drug use/abuse, homelessness, more severe symptomatology, and engagement in criminal activity.
[emphasis mine]

Society (particularly US society) has made great efforts to "other" mentally ill people.  Just like with other conditions, mental illness occurs over a spectrum.  There are people like me, who, 90% of the time, can appear and function like the "normals."  Then there are people who, 90% of the time, have to be supervised to make sure they don't hurt themselves or others.  And there are thousands of degrees between.

Anymore, anymore, cannot take it anymore,
Gotta get away from this stone cold floor.
Stone cold crazy, you know.

When you automatically associate violent criminals with mental illness, you imply that ONLY people with mental illnesses could perpetrate such violent crime.  You "other" mentally ill people by implicitly asserting that "normal" people could never do such a thing...surely one of the "crazies" must be responsible.

Just remember - when you denigrate one mentally ill person, you are denigrating us all.  And we will speak out.

Crazy...I'm crazy for feeling so lonely...
I'm crazy...crazy for feeling so blue.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Long Journey with Fibromyalgia, Part III

Part I
Part II

 So, my husband and I sped towards the hospital.  The pain in my chest was so bad, I was pretty sure I was having a heart attack.  I was able to walk into the ER under my own power (nearly crying at this point), but couldn't do much after that.

They ran the typical EKG or EEG to rule out a heart attack (which it was not).  And yet the pain wouldn't subside.  I was sent back out to the waiting room - at which point I *DID* start crying (I refer you again to the note in Part I about my rare fits of crying).  People stared at me, but I didn't care.  I was THAT WOMAN...the "crazy" woman in the hospital leaning on her husband crying her eyes out because of some invisible illness.

I finally was called back to a room and was introduced to that wonderful, fabulous, and blessed drug named "Morphine."  If I had a firstborn, I would have sold him/her at that point for ANY level of pain relief.  Morphine took my pain from a level 12 (on a scale of 1-10) to about a 7.  During this time, they ran several other tests...many of which I didn't remember due to my new-found love affair with Morphine.  I do remember what I believe was a CAT scan.  A kinda creepy tech dude injected some purple dye in my veins, which (frankly) made me feel like I had peed my pants (I did not).  Then a large circle machine made some loud noises and briefly interrupted my drug-induced bliss.

After about 8 (yes, 8) hours in the ER, a doctor finally came to deliver the news.  "It appears you have a blood clot lodged in your lung.  We'll be admitting you to the hospital so we can get that thinned down and make sure it doesn't move to your heart or lung."  This condition, in case you were wondering, is called a "pulmonary embolism."

This began a six-day stay in the hospital.  A normal INR (which measures how the thickness of your blood) is between 2.0 (thicker) and 3.0 (thinner).  Mine was 1.0.  Through a series of shots I had to give myself in the stomach (yes, you read that correctly) and a six-month course of blood thinners, I was finally able to get my blood thickness back into the "normal" range.

But how could this have happened?  What could I have done differently to avoid this pulmonary embolism altogether?  Remember that 300 mile long road trip I mentioned?  What about the fact that I was living a pretty much stationary lifestyle due to my mysterious back pain?  Road trips and failure to regularly exercise help contribute to blood clots.  So do hormonal birth control methods.

So what was the pulmonologist's plan for me?
  • No more hormonal birth control. Ever.  It is now officially contra-indicated for me.  This includes any birth control method that includes estrogen...from the Pill, to the Ring, to the IUD.
  • When taking road trips, stop every two hours and walk around for 15 minutes.  Never mind that pesky "not being able to stand or walk for longer than 10-15 minutes."
  • Exercise more.  Again, never mind that pesky "not being able to stand or walk for longer than 10-15 minutes."

So after having unexplained back pain for a couple of years and now a pulmonary embolism, I still had no explanation as to WHY all this was happening and no reasonable plan of treatment.

What else could be done?

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Long Journey with Fibromyalgia, Part II

Part I

 In October of 2009, my husband was hospitalized for 10 days.  His blood oxygen level was below 90, which is why he was admitted.  The doctors ran scores and scores of tests, and eventually *tentatively* diagnosed him with pneumonia - a disease to which he has always been prone.

I was unable to be there for him as much as I wanted during his hospitalization because I came down with a case of...wait for it...WHOOPING COUGH.  And the last thing you want to do to someone who most likely has pneumonia is expose them to whooping cough.

We both recovered - a little worse for wear - and so ended 2009.

As 2010 began, I became increasingly frustrated with the medical community, who could find no cause for my back pain.  This was back pain so severe, I often couldn't stand for more than 15 minutes at a time.  Back pain so severe, even my ergonomic desk chair sent shooting pains throughout my back.  Back pain so severe, all I could do upon returning home at the end of my 10-hour work days was lie flat on my back on either the couch, the floor, or the bed.

My husband stopped asking me to help cook and clean and became seriously worried.  He begged me to go to doctors, but being the stubborn person that I am, I refused.  I was paranoid that doctors would think I was pill-shopping or that I was making up the pain for sympathy.  Worst of all, I was afraid I was actually crazy.  If doctors couldn't find a diagnosis, WHERE WAS THE PAIN COMING FROM?

My marriage began to suffer.  Not because my husband doubted me!  My husband believed that I was in pain and tried to do everything he could to make me comfortable; however, at this point he was having to do all the housework plus work 40-60 hours per week (depending on if they allowed overtime that week).  But just because he believed and supported me doesn't mean that he wasn't also exhausted, frazzled, and at times resentful.  Who could blame him?  I certainly couldn't.*

And then we took the Great Disastrous Road Trip of Labor Day Weekend (GDRTOLDW) 2010.  We rarely visit our families, largely due to financial constraints.  But my parents and his mother live in relatively the same geographical area, so we decided to spend Saturday at my parents' house and Sunday at his family's.  It was disastrous for a number of reasons (which may or may not be discussed at a later time), but for the purposes of My Long Journey with Fibromyalgia, the most important part is that the complete round trip was approximately 330 miles.

The week following the GDRTOLDW, I noticed a pain near my left collarbone.  I wrote it off as one of those weird pains you have when you get older...maybe some heartburn, maybe I pulled a muscle there or something.  By Monday, 9/13/10, the pain would not go away.  It hurt to reach out for a pen.  It hurt to type.  It hurt to button and unbutton my pants and shirt.  I powered through the work day, but when I got home I could barely move my arm without crying (see Part I's note about the rarity of me crying).

My husband was working from home that day.  I told him what was going on and said it would probably be best if we went to the Emergency Room.  I remember clearly that we had to wait until his shift was over to leave.  He actually got stuck on a call and ended up telling the person on the phone that he had to take his wife to the Emergency Room and needed to end the call.

He helped me down the stairs and we sped towards the local hospital.  Little did I know the drama that would unfold over the next few hours.

Stay tuned for Part III.**

*I maintain - and will continue to maintain - that my husband should be nominated for sainthood and be given every award and medal on the planet.

**I can't guarantee that I'm listing the treatments I received in the exact order I received them (thanks fibro fog!).  I know I was going to PT while still working at my former workplace, but I can't remember if it was 2009 or 2010.  So please excuse any inconsistencies.  The big points are accurate, I promise. :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Long Journey with Fibromyalgia, Part I

If you've read previous entries and/or follow me on Twitter, you know that I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  Fibromyalgia is believed to be caused by overactive nerve endings sending unprovoked pain signals to the brain.  This means fibromyalgia patients feel pain even when there is no apparent cause.

And let me tell you, it sucks.

I first began to experience pain in late 2008.  It started as what I can only describe as a hitch in the right side of my back.  I distinctly remember being at my (now former) workplace.  I was walking toward the break room when it suddenly felt difficult to walk.  It felt like if I could just pop SOMETHING (I don't know what) back into place, I would be able to walk fine.  But no matter how I twisted and turned, the pain remained.

I went to the doctor in January of 2009 and told him I had experienced some strange back pain.  Without asking any further questions or even doing a physical exam, the doctor prescribed Vicodin and Soma.  I cried* to my husband as I left the doctor's office because the doctor didn't even listen to me.

The pain continued, and the doctor kept filling the prescriptions; however, he never thought it pertinent for me to follow up with him.  My life became more and more sedentary.  We lived on the second floor of our apartment complex.  I could no longer help my husband with the chores or even navigate the stairs to take our dog on a walk.

I went to the dreaded "annual exam" (ladies, you know what I mean) in March or April of 2009 with a different (female) doctor.  She asked why I had been on Vicodin and Soma for so long.  I mentioned the back pain.  She sent me to get x-rays and sent me to a Physical Medicine & Rehab specialist.  This specialist told me I had arthritis in my back and sent me to physical therapy.  I diligently went to PT once a week for several weeks, even though it only made my pain worse.

In the summer of 2009, I began to suffer from insomnia as well.  I chalked it up to strange sleep patterns provoked by attending my brother's Marine Corp graduation in San Diego and flying straight back to Texas for the birth of my first nephew.  This all occurred within 72 hours and required crossing three separate time zones.

My mantra became (and has remained), "It will get worse before it gets better."

And indeed it did.  Stay tuned for Part II.**

*Most people don't believe me when I say I'm not a crier.  But I'm not.  My husband will even verify this.  If I am crying, then one of two things have probably happened.  (1) I have run out of my anti-depressants. (2) My pain is at a level 9 or higher (on a scale of 1-10).  There are other times I will cry - the idea of my "little" stepdaughter heading off to high school this year, for example - but those are more rare occurrences.

**I can't guarantee that I'm listing the treatments I received in the exact order I received them (thanks fibro fog!).  I know I was going to PT while still working at my former workplace, but I can't remember if it was 2009 or 2010.  So please excuse any inconsistencies.  The big points are accurate, I promise. :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Feminism will be Intersectional and Inclusive...

...or it will be bullshit.

I read Post Secret every Sunday.  Sometimes the secrets are funny.  Sometimes they are irritating.  But this one just made me sad.

[Image Description] Grayscale postcard.  White person in the center of the card dressed in (what I guess is) a 50s-style grey hat with veil and black overcoat with high collar.  There is a red stripe of color across their eyes.  Red hand-written words to the right of the person state: "I don't have the courage to tell my feminist friends I have an eating disorder.  I am a total hypocrite.  I feel like a failure." [/Image Description]

My first experience with an eating disorder was as a family member of an anorexic.  It was hard for my high-school brain to understand why she just. wouldn't. eat.  I loved her and wanted her to get better, but I didn't understand the disease aspect of eating disorders and stood by helplessly as she got worse and worse.  Eventually, she got the treatment she needed.  She is now a fully-functioning recovering anorexic.  She works in a nursing/rehab center and has a family of her own - something she feared would not be possible due to the havoc anorexia can wreak on one's body.

I just want to tell the person who wrote this secret: My feminism will be intersectional and inclusive, or it will be bullshit.  My feminism will include people of color (POC), white people, fat people, thin people, rich people, poor people, people with eating disorders (ED), people without eating disorders, GLBTQIA people, cis people, the list goes feminism will include EVERYONE.  Or it will be bullshit.

If you don't feel comfortable discussing this with your feminist friends, please discuss it with your doctor (if you have one).  There are several online resources as well, including the National Eating Disorders Association.  Hell, if you happen to see this post, and you want to email ME specifically, I will be happy to talk to you (as a feminist, a friendly ear, or both).

Just remember, feminism that excludes groups of people IS. NOT. FEMINISM.

My feminism will be intersectional and inclusive, or it will be bullshit.

Friday, July 6, 2012 ZONE!

Let me start out by saying that I have been trying to post this since we got home from the fireworks display at about 10:00pm TWO DAYS AGO.  First, my video camera was giving me hassle.  Then YouTube was all, "We can't handle the awesomeness of your video.  Also it is over 15 minutes long."  Finally, at long last, I can regale you with our Fourth of July adventure.

In San Marcos, there is a river that runs out of a spring-fed lake.  I couldn't remember if they shot the fireworks over the river or the lake, but my husband said he thought it was the river, so we headed over in that general direction.  We ended up parking near the new (grossly oversized if you ask me) Texas State University football stadium.

[Image Description: Facade of Texas State University football stadium with bobcat logo lit up.  A tree is blocking most of the facade except the very top.  /Image Description]

The fireworks show started nearly on time, which was a pleasant surprise.  Normally, they keep us waiting 10-15 minutes before starting, but this year we waited less than 5.  Here is the (18 minute long) video of the fireworks display if you care to watch it.

[Video Description: 18 minutes of fireworks going off.  I'm not as experienced with video descriptions as I am with still image descriptions, so if someone can provide some pointers, I would greatly appreciate it. /Video Description]

As I was recording the show, I felt a couple of rocks or pebbles hit my ankle.  I thought the super annoying kids behind us were throwing things at me, but after the smoke cleared - LITERALLY - we discovered we had been struck by falling firework debris.

Lest you think I'm making a big deal out of nothing, allow me to present the evidence:

[Image Description (left to right): A US dime for scale purposes, a fuse that hit my stepdaughter, and three pieces of firework debris, increasing in size, that hit both me and my husband. /Image Description]

Thankfully, no one was injured, nothing caught fire, and no vehicles were damaged.  As we drove back to the apartment, we saw even more debris (and an unrelated BBQ fork) in the road as well.  Who knew fireworks could be so dangerous even when viewing them from a "safe" distance?  I couldn't help busting out with "Highway to the Danger Zone," much to the chagrin of my husband and delight of my stepdaughter.  That's just how I roll. :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Of Dogs, Cats, and Martian Mutants

I have always wanted to be a writer.

I remember clanking out the intro to a rather...imaginative story on my dad's old Windows 95 computer. (You know, the one with the blue background and no font options?)  But I digress...This world-changing intro focused on an animal so scroungy, so scruffy looking, that you couldn't tell whether it was a dog, cat, or some mutant from Mars.  An ingenious concept for a 10-year-old, I thought.  However, shortly after I had begun the masterpiece that would catapult me to the heights of fame along with Carolyn Keene and Dr. Seuss, it somehow vanished (read: was deleted) from my parents' computer.

When I was 13, our English class was assigned to read Z for Zachariah.  In case you are not aware, Z for Zachariah is a book with a post-apocalyptic setting.  The main character and her town survived the nuclear holocaust due to the unique valley in which they lived.  It appeared to have its own weather pattern or system that kept out all the nuclear radiation that destroyed the rest of civilization.  After finishing the book, our next assignment was to write a sequel to the book.  What happened to the main character? (I'm trying not to give too much away here in case you've never read the book.)  Most people in the class agreed my sequel (also lost on the Windows 95 machine) was the best.

As I grow older, I find myself having great ideas and wanting to form story lines, but something always holds me back.  What if it's a waste of time?  What if no one likes it?  And then I doesn't matter if no one likes it.  What matters is that I do it and I like it.

So I believe I will begin trying my hand at writing again.  I put it on the internet, so now I have to do it. :)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Poor People =/= Animals

So this darling gem has been making the rounds on Facebook:

[Image description: clipping out of a newspaper that reads: "submitted by Billy Fleming.  The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever.  Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, ask us to "Please Do Not Fee the Animals."  Their stated reason for the policy is because animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.  This ends today's lesson." /image description]
I'm going to set aside the fact that the second person who posted this asinine tripe on my feed used to be on food stamps.  Yes, you read that correctly.

I'm also going to set aside the fact that ALL humans are technically animals, because the comparison in this case seeks not to measure how similar all animals are regardless of evolutionary status, but to equate sentient human beings with wild animals incapable of caring for themselves.

So I'd like to make this very clear:



Every human on this planet has at one point been dependent on someone or something else to provide their food for them.  Whether it was the government, a parent, a guardian, or any other variety of providers, human beings do not come into this world capable of providing for themselves. (Ask any newborn...oh wait.)

As humans progress through childhood and adolescence, they develop the abilities necessary to care for themselves.  In late adolescence into adulthood (earlier for some people), humans begin to enter the workforce in an attempt to provide from themselves without the help of the government, parent, guardian, or other provider.

And this is where the disconnect occurs.

Many people (mostly conservatives) believe that having a job means you shouldn't need or be eligible for food stamps.  But with increasing inflation and stagnating wages, dollars don't stretch as far as they used to.  If you make the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hr) and work full time with no sick days or vacation, you will make just over $15,000 in one year

How would you fare in your area on that kind of wage?  The brains over at MIT have made a handy calculator that you should check out.  For my area, making minimum wage is considered below the living wage marker, although not quite at the poverty line.  And living wage only takes into account the BAREST of necessities.  Food, shelter, clothing, transportation.  What about a phone or internet access so you can find a job that pays better?  What about medicine or doctor bills?

So the next time you consider berating someone for being "on the dole," consider this.  They could have been struck by this disastrous economy.  They could be working a minimum wage job and contributing their tax dollars to the very programs they are drawing from.  But, and this is the most important part, POOR PEOPLE ARE NOT WILD ANIMALS.  Providing poor people with assistance when needed will help them become contributing members of society.  And, really, isn't that what EVERYONE wants?

Monday, April 16, 2012

An Open Letter

Dear Everyone in the Front Section of the #10 Bobcat Stadium Tram at approximately 3:30pm CST on 4/16/12:

Go fuck yourselves.  Seriously.

I realize you've all had a long day of classes and studying, as have I.  I sympathize with the tired look in your eyes, knowing that the end of the semester is less than a month away.

What I can't sympathize with is your refusal to recognize that (in a full to capacity tram) I might need to sit down.  Sure, the three or so miles between the campus bus stop and the commuter parking lot don't seem far.  But to someone with shooting pains throughout their leg - and carrying TCOA btw - three or so miles might as well be three hundred.

I don't want special treatment.  I'm not saying TCOA gives me a special pass to tram seating.  What I am saying is that one day you will be in my situation.  Maybe not the exact situation...but a similar one.  And I can only hope that, when that day comes, the people around you will show more compassion to you than you showed toward me today.

P.S. Seriously.  Go fuck yourselves.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Princess Cutie Utie's journey continues...

Yesterday, I ventured out to a couple of local shops to see if I can find a carrying apparatus so Cutie Utie could accompany me both to the Bowl-A-Thon and the War on Women rally on April 28.  I found something perfect, and it was on sale for $5!!!  I should have thought to get some glue and glitter to make the "YES" and "NO" more visible.  Cutie Utie may be carrying her own protest signs in the future!!

[image description] Pink knit uterus with eyes and a smile wearing a tiara with purple stones "lounging" in a small denim bag with the English word "YES" in large print surrounded by the word "yes" in foreign languages in smaller print.  The denim bag has a silk-ish strap in various shades of blue. [end image description]

[image description] Pink knit uterus with eyes and a smile wearing a tiara with purple stones now "modeling" the opposite side of the small denim bag.  This side of the bag has the English word "NO" in large print surrounded by the word "no" in foreign languages in smaller print.  The denim bag has a silk-ish strap in various shades of blue. [end image description]

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent...

If you follow me on Twitter, you are probably aware both that I have fibromyalgia and that I purchased my first mobility aid last week, The Cane of Awesomeness (TCOA).

Behold, The Cane of Awesomeness!
[image description] An offset walking cane with pink roses on it and a very comfy black handle is propped up against a black leather loveseat.  Caption reads: "Behold, The Cane of Awesomeness!" [end image description]

Based on things I'd heard and other blogs I read (primarily the awesome Renee over at Womanist Musings) I attempted to mentally prepare myself for all the strange looks, nasty comments, and general nosiness that comes with an otherwise seemingly healthy relatively young (age 31) person gets when they start using mobility aids.

What motivated me to get TCOA was the Texas State University-San Marcos Campus.  There are so many hills, inclines, and stairs on that campus that, even with the few railings available, I was in excruciating pain by the time I got home after class each Monday and Wednesday.  I had a particularly dreadful Monday last week, and by Wednesday I had TCOA.

Now, I prepared myself for curious questions from my classmates.  After all, they had just seen me on Monday with no cane.  Many of them were genuinely concerned for my health and wanted to assist me in any way possible, so I was happy to answer their questions openly and honestly.  A simple "My fibromyalgia is really acting up," followed by a brief explanation of fibro if necessary, was more than enough to explain.

Today, I was in search of some sort of carrying apparatus for Princess Cutie Utie that could possibly attach to TCOA.  I wanted to make sure she could represent her fellow uteri both at the Bowl-A-Thon this weekend (donate here if you want) and at the War on Women Rally on April 28.  My first stop was at the Paper Bear, which usually has very interesting and unique items.

As I was looking around, a lady said "I like your cane."

Me (kind of surprised): "Oh thank you."

Lady: "It's much nicer than mine.  That's why mine is out in the car."

Me: "Oh really?  I just got this one at the CVS over by Wal-mart."

Lady: "Really??  It looks so comfortable for something you'd get at CVS!"

Me: "I know, right?  The handle is super comfy."

Lady: "It is just so cute...I might go check those out!"

So that was a nice, positive exchange I had with a total stranger about my cane.  I thought maybe having TCOA wouldn't be so bad.

And then, after finding a super cute carrying apparatus for Cutie Utie at Bada Bling, I was walking back to my car.  The sidewalk between Bada Bling and my car was angling downward, which is generally easier for me to walk anyway.  I still used TCOA but I was able to walk faster than I had going the other way.  About halfway to my car, I noticed a lady walking diagonally across the street towards me.

As she reached my side of the street, she said (in a condescending tone): "Wow, you sure can move fast with that thing!"

Me: ...

Like, what do you even say to that?  "Thanks"?  "Yeah, that's what I use it for"?  "Downhill is easier than uphill"?  "Shut the fuck up, you condescending douche"?  I basically just mumbled something or other and continued to my car, but what she said really rubbed me the wrong way.

I had hoped to be somewhat prepared for comments like these based on other's experiences, but I guess usus est optimus magister (experience is the best teacher - hey I learned that in my Medieval European history class!)

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Story of Princess Cutie Utie

Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess named Cutie Utie.

Look at her!  Isn't she beautiful?
[image description] Pink knit uterus with eyes and a smile wearing a tiara with purple stones and caption reading "Look at her! Isn't she beautiful?" [end image description]

Princess Cutie Utie was a benevolent ruler, who believed in freedom and equality for everyone throughout her realm.

But then one day, the Big Bad Wolf decided that Princess Cutie Utie and her loyal subjects did NOT need freedom and equality.  The Big Bad Wolf said that he and his friends knew more about reproductive rights than Cutie Utie.  The Princess found that difficult to believe since she, herself, was a reproductive organ and was well informed on her own rights!

The Big Bad Wolf and his friends wanted to implement rules such as the Quartering Act, which required uteri to house fetuses (fetii?) against their wishes and without regard for their own health.  Or the Unreasonable Search Act, which required doctors to insert magical wands into uteri without their consent for no conceivable medical purpose.

The actions of the Big Bad Wolf and his friends made Princess Cutie Utie very, very sad.  But those actions also made our beautiful princess angry.

Very, very angry.

Princess Cutie Utie called upon all her subjects to rise up against the Big Bad Wolf and his friends.  She refused to give up control of her realm.  She wanted everyone to be able to make their own decisions without consulting the Big Bad Wolf.  She demanded that freedom and equality be restored to all her subjects without delay!

The author of this story regrets this is an unfinished story at this time.  Princess Cutie Utie continues her fight to this day, but all readers can rest assured that one day she WILL be victorious!  Stay tuned...

Donate to my team for the National Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon here.  The Princess would want you to do it.

[Author's Note 4/30/12: After discussion with a couple of friends, I have edited this post to be more inclusive by removing references to "persons with uteri."  I apologize for any offense I have caused.]

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In Honor of Valentine's Day...

Everyone has an adorable story about how they met their significant other.  Mine is more hilarious, but still adorable, and I will never let him live it down.  Ever.

I initially met my now-husband (Frank) through work.  He was my boss.  However, we did not begin dating at that time.  I was married to someone else at that point.  (Note: I always love the looks I get at this point in the story.)

I worked there for a little less than 6 months.  About a month after I quit working there, my now-ex-husband and I had a huge blowout during which he said he wanted a divorce.  Blessed, blessed magic words.  Texas law requires a 3 month "waiting period" between filing for divorce and finalization.  Ex-husband filed at the beginning of March 2004, so our divorce was final on Cinco de Mayo of that year.  I did a lot, and I mean a LOT, of drinking during those months.

I was fairly young at the time - I had just turned 23 - and none of my friends had gone through a divorce.  But Frank had.  I still had his ICQ (yes for real) from when we worked together, and I messaged him to see if I could ask him some questions about the process and what to expect.  We started emailing back and forth and during spring break (I was in my final semester of college) I asked him to come over to the apartment I was sharing with a roommate at the time.

I bought a couple of bottles of wine (see aforementioned comment about drinking) and we shot the breeze and drank.  A LOT.  We kissed a little.  And then (here is the part he will never live down) he went outside - I assumed to smoke a cigarette - and DIDN'T COME BACK.

At first, I was really worried.  Had someone abducted him?  Had he gotten lost in the apartment complex?  Did he get hit by a car?  Was he in the hospital?

Then, I started getting paranoid.  Did I smell bad?  Was I terrible kisser?  Were my jokes so terrible that he just LEFT??

I tried to call him a few times, but no answer.  So I sent him an email just basically asking if he was ok since he left without a word.  He called me the next day apologizing profusely, saying that lately when he drank a lot, he would just wander around. (His friends later confirmed this...eccentric behavior.)  So he had helped me down 2 bottles of wine (maybe 3) and then somehow wandered back to his apartment.  (I should probably note we didn't live too far apart from each other.)

He said he wanted to hang out again that evening, and I decided to give him another chance.  Unfortunately, one of his co-workers (a woman who had a HUGE crush on him) had an "emergency" that night and he couldn't make it.  Again, he apologized and begged me to reschedule.  One more time, I agreed.  He showed up, didn't wander off, and we had a great time.

And we've been pretty much inseparable ever since.