Tag Archives: poverty

Whine and cheese basket…beggars can’t be choosers?

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So, this post will probably be all over the place. I’m on a healthy dose of NyQuil right now for a nasty cold. Fair warning. I tried to ward the cold off with garlic soup, apple cider vinegar, a neti pot, and high doses of zinc and vitamin C, but it came on anyway, starting in my throat and moving its way down into my lungs. I think that if I had not used those things, I would be feeling a lot worse right now. I have to admit, I have also been keeping a steady regimen of pseudoephedrine, dextromethorphan, and ibuprofen going through my system along with the natural remedies. I have still to find a natural medicine that will stop me from coughing and open up my sinuses enough to allow me to sleep through the night (suggestions welcome!).

On a seemingly unrelated note, last week I was shopping at Earth Fare because I had a wicked curry chick’nnn salad craving. I’m mostly trying to avoid fake meat, because it is kind of creepy, but there was no talking myself out of this one. If you try to talk yourself out of something you’re craving for a week and you still want it every morning when you wake up, just get it. The craving isn’t going away.

There was none on the salad bar (forsoooooth!!), so I bought a few ingredients to try to make the deliciousness myself at home (I’ll put up a recipe and a picture as soon as I can connect my camera to the computer…it turned out great). I was feeling good about making good choices and buying fruits and vegetables, and as many organic products as I could get. I spent $29 altogether on various items, which would make about ten meals with the other things that I had at home already. That’s pretty good, right? Then…after being in the store a while, and counting up the price of my groceries, I began to get a guilty feeling about shopping in a specialty health food store. I could have saved several dollars if I had gone to the local discount grocery store, where all of the produce and cereals scream “genetically engineered” at me as I look at them. I could also have saved $1.50 on peanut butter if I had gotten it at the discount grocery, where I would have been unable to stop myself from reading the food label and finding “high-fructose corn syrup” and “hydrogenated vegetable oil” as the second and third ingredients, after peanuts. With the money I was about to spend on all this organic, animal-product-free, minimally-processed food, I could be buying 58 boxes of “2 for $1” macaroni and cheese, or 100 packs of conventional, chicken-flavored ramen noodles. Nutritionally, ramen and mac and cheese are pretty much null, but economically, those items would make more meals out of the $29 I spent.

Then I thought to myself, why am I not allowed to buy healthy food, just because my financial situation sucks big time right now? I held up my end of the bargain and busted my ass all through school; it’s not my fault the economy sucks. I still need to be healthy. How am I helping myself financially by knowingly allowing my health to suffer, by eating food that is barely food at all? What I don’t spend on food, I eventually will more than pay back in medical bills after I have a heart attack or get breast cancer at the age of 35. So I bought the damn organic groceries. And I liked it.

Since Wednesday night I have had a cold that makes me feel like Satan is kicking me in the face, chest, and teeth pretty much all the time. Which makes me wonder, what good were those antibiotics I just finished? And is this cold something that was caused by taking these antibiotics? Is this something I picked up at work? Did the antibiotics weaken my immune system? Because I feel worse now than I did when I had that supposed raging kidney infection. I’m also wondering if I ever did have a kidney infection at all, or if the CRNP at the health department just thought she’d err on the side of caution and throw me a bunch of antibiotics because I was at the health department, where people normally go to get rid of syphilis. Arrgh.

“You need to go to a doctor!” my friend told me yesterday. I probably do…simply for the reason that I have called in sick two days this week, and I get the feeling that having a note written on a doctor’s letterhead would be more effective in convincing my boss not to fire me than my simply coming in and explaining that I was too sick to stand up for more than five minutes at a time. The manager I spoke to today said, “Ohh-k?” when I called in and told him my situation…with an intonation in his voice that said, “Didn’t you just call in sick yesterday?” I also had had to drive up there earlier today to pick up my check, because today is the utility company’s cut-off date. I’m sure that word got around that I had been there earlier, and I’m sure that that fact could be used against me. Never mind that the job is so low-paying that I barely miss having my lights cut off every month. In the case of last month’s utilities, I had to miss two hours of work so that I could go to a church charity and beg someone to pay my utility bill for me. Literally. I literally begged them. And then I went to work feeling guilty for being late, at which time one of the managers reminded me that I’m still in my 90-day probationary period, and that I can be fired at any time. Thanks for that. Sincerely, that was just what I needed to hear right then.

Have I mentioned that the company I work for has more money than God? Why is God having to make up for what this company doesn’t pay its employees, then? If they paid me enough for me to cover my bills and get health insurance, I wouldn’t have to live in fear of them firing me. Seems kind of backward, does it not? Every time I come in a few minutes late due to babysitting issues, health issues, or some issue related to me needing to pay for something (like a flat tire, or gas) and being unable to, I have to feel shame, as if it’s my fault that these things are happening in my life, and that it’s my negligence that is causing them to happen. But it’s not my negligence. It’s life. People get sick. Tires wear out. Gas ain’t free. If both heads of the household have to work at the same time, a babysitter must be procured. Life costs money. And minimum wage is not enough to live on. I guess that’s the point I’m getting to. I’m tired of feeling like I’m the one who is failing when I am unable to stay on top of life and keep it running smoothly, due to a lack of money. And I’m tired of feeling guilty about things like flat tires, or my inability to find a babysitter who is willing to work for free three days a week or more, or wanting to be healthy just like people who have good jobs and health insurance. I know that this is true for millions of Americans right now.

Do you ever wonder how a store is able to keep its prices very low, when stores that carry the same items seem to be charging twice as much for that item? It’s because the stores that have cheap products don’t pay their employees a living wage, and they expend a lot of effort trying to see to it that they are able to keep everyone who works in their stores on part-time status with limited benefits and low wages, in order to maximize their profit margins. What they don’t pay their employees is made up for by the taxpayer in the form of food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8, and other welfare programs. These types of megabusinesses also drive smaller, hometown businesses to bankruptcy by undercutting their prices and stealing their customers, since they’re saving so much on overhead that they can afford to make less money off the same products. Think about that next time you go shopping.

*end rant*

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nuts eggs raisins candy easter basket

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Hello. This is an introductory post with some backstory; it will be long, and it will be real. If you’re offended by names of parts of the female anatomy, cuss words, or bodily functions described in lay terms, run screaming now. Vagina.

First off: I am overweight. I know this, and I’m not going to try to attribute this fact to some bullshit like glandular problems or an inexplicably underactive metabolism. My metabolism is slow, but that’s because my ass is usually attached to a couch, car seat, or desk chair. When I do get out and do things that do not require ass-to-couch contact, I do them slowly so as to avoid raising my heart rate or increasing my respiration. I don’t care for that.

I have poor eating habits. I know that I eat food that is terrible for me. Earlier today I was thinking this as I ate Little Debbies and felt the waxy “icing” that creates the airtight seal around the cakes lining the roof of my mouth with a film that did not go away immediately after I finished eating them. I developed poor eating habits as a child; unaware that there was any difference between eating 200 calories of Little Debbies and eating 200 calories of watermelon, and preferring the taste of greasy hydrogenated oil, sugary refined sugar, and high fructose-y high fructose corn syrup all whipped together with ingredients that have too many Xes in them to be made out of food, I chose the latter, and continue to do so when the notion strikes, even though I know better now. All you have to do to get to a Little Debbie is open the cellophane…opening a watermelon requires that you cut it open, remove your portion, and return the rest to a covered container of some type and put it in the fridge when you’re done. That’s like, fifty times more effort.

Sometimes I tell myself that today will be the day that I change the way my brain works and stop being so lazy. Then I get tired thinking about it. Mainly because I’m tired all the time. Probably from eating bullshit and not sleeping. I also smoke electronic cigarettes, which have a million times more nicotine in them than regular cigarettes (approximately). Nicotine is a stimulant, and if I smoke one of these things at night, I may get to sleep, but there will be a period of about three to four hours throughout the night when I am lying there, eyes closed and trying not to move, hoping that my brain will turn itself off and I can snag another ten minutes of REM sleep before the sun is up and it’s a lost cause. Alternatively, when I’m not sleeping too little, I’m sleeping too much. Twelve hours a night, with a possible nap in the afternoon from around four till about six. It’s terrible, right? I know.

I am getting to a point, I promise. Just not quite yet.

There was a time in my life when I was as…robust…as I am right now. But after a decades-long and hellish teenagehood full of name-calling and death-threats, I lost over 100 pounds and got into the best shape of my life over the course of two years, and stayed more or less healthy and in good physical shape (my actual shape was what most people would consider “out of shape,” but underneath what was left of my formerly flabby ass was pretty much a muscular figure) for about four years. Then I had a baby, and within six months had lost all of my baby weight, plus ten pounds. During this time, I was basically a vegetarian, with soy being my primary source of protein. I rarely ate red meat or full-fat dairy, never touched fried foods and stayed the hell away from sweets. I went to the gym occasionally, walked to the store instead of driving, hiked, swam, danced…I was an outdoorsy person and would occasionally break into a run for the hell of it. I never tried to measure the distance or anything, but I’m pretty sure I could run about a mile or so. That’s a pretty big deal for someone who wore a size 20 dress in 6th grade.

But alas…a size 20 would now be my “skinny jeans.” I don’t know what or where or how, but gas station deli food became not a guilty pleasure, but a major component of my diet. No longer does one measly little pint of Ben and Jerry’s last me through two months of estrus-related chocolate cravings.

Speaking of estrus, have I mentioned that I’ve been on my period since August of last year? August of 2011 to April of 2012…yup, that’s roughly nine months of bleeding out my vag. I stop for a week here and there some months, but mainly, no, I just bleed out the vag. I Googled the symptoms I’m having. WebMD and others have provided a handful of undesirable possible diagnoses. None are anything I’d like to have…some of the top answers I’m getting are fibroid tumors, cervical cancer, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Of all three of these, I’d like to believe that it’s PCOS. PCOS is fairly common in women with my weight and reproductive system-related issues, and ovarian cysts are a side effect of the Mirena IUD, which I had for two years. “I’d like to believe that it’s PCOS”…it’s hard to believe that I’m saying that. Right now I can’t allow myself to entertain the thought of anything worse.

Why not go to the doctor? Well, I had planned to. I guess I also should mention that I have no health insurance. I understand that if I were to be diagnosed with cancer, it would be hard for me to get health insurance, since cancer is considered a pre-existing condition (the Affordable Care Act could change that, but wait for it…I’ll get to that in a minute, too), and money is tight. My original plan was to get a good job after my college graduation in December (HA! Silly me), then get insurance and go to the doctor, where he or she would tell me what was wrong, and it would be fine because the condition was discovered after I already had insurance. After three months of searching for a good, desirable job, it became apparent that I would not find one, so I decided to lower my standards and get any job. Any job is better than none, and any insurance would be better than no insurance.

After two weeks of screening and interviews for a job I thought might be passable as something I could see myself doing for a while, I was hired. Finally! I thought. With this much effort put into the hiring process, they really must take good care of their employees. Uh huh. As my new boss was putting my information into the computer, I learned that I was to be working part-time, not full-time, for $7.35 an hour. (I had wrongly believed that no matter how low the pay was, surely no one got paid less than $8 an hour anymore. That’s just cruel and unheard of.) Here is a lesson learned: I had read all these job hunting and interview “tips” about how it’s considered bad etiquette to discuss pay before a job offer is made, and since I had no other prospects, I didn’t want to blow it. I had already used up almost an entire tank of gas and eight hours of my time on all of the interviews I had to give to get this job. It took me an entire seven-hour shift to get that money back, after taxes. And it takes me nearly an hour’s pay to get to and from work every day. Screw etiquette.

So I thought, to hell with it, I’ll get the beshitted part-time employee insurance and go to the doctor…well, if I didn’t need to cash my check immediately for paying bills, I would post a picture of one so that America can see what “$147.74” looks like printed on a check, in case they don’t already know. While doing the mandatory counseling about my health insurance options on my company’s website (after watching the mandatory anti-labor union propaganda, of course)–and taking the test that followed (I guess this was so that we could all be sure that I have a deep understanding of my insurance options as an underpaid part-time employee), I learned that health insurance would cost me about 1/5 of my check every week, and that since I am not working full-time, my insurance does not qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, meaning that should I choose to take this insurance, it will only pay for $10,000 worth of coverage per calendar year, at which time my insurance will begin covering the next $10,000, and so on. Also, if I do have a pre-existing condition, I will have to wait up to six months to get any coverage whatsoever. Point me in the direction of the nearest Discount Hysterectomy House, I guess.

Edit: it occurred to me that some might wonder why I don’t sell my computer, if money is such an issue. I’ll answer now, so that I don’t have to in the future. This computer has paid for itself in the amount of income that my husband brings in with his hobby of writing programming code in his spare time. Without a computer, we would not have that extra income. I’m also working swing shifts, meaning that I open one day and close the next, open then close, close then open…which makes it hard to find a second job when you have a different schedule every week. I suppose I could work during those hours I spend every night lying in the bed doing nothing…but instead I spend most of the time that I’m not at work applying for other jobs.

So anyway, now I’m waiting for an appointment at the county health department for an exam. Maybe I should have done this sooner…for the first couple of months, I thought I was just having one of my typical irregular periods, or that my hormones were still working themselves out from having my IUD removed two years earlier (although, I did think that any hormone-readjusting should have surely been finished by then). For the next couple of months, I thought that if the bleeding hadn’t stopped by Christmas, I should probably worry. Well, tomorrow is Easter. The word Easter came, according to the Venerable Bede, from the name of the goddess Eostre, in whose honor feasts were/are held by pagans at the beginning of the spring equinox. Eostre (or Ostara) represents rebirth and renewal, and, interestingly, is also where we get the word estrogen. And my estrogen is still effed all the way up, and my body apparently is trying to rebirth something by cranking out my eggs all day every single day. I have a suspicion that this may also have something to do with genetically modified food, since the food is genetically modified to get big and reproduce as quickly as possible in order to maximize profits, but I still have research to do on that, so I’m holding my tongue on that one for now.

Most of the “home remedies for PCOS” Google searches I’ve done have returned advice about changing your diet to one that is primarily plant-based, and incorporating more exercise into one’s daily regime. Of course, having been on every diet from Susan Powter’s Stop the Insanity to Atkins to Slim-Fast (and occasionally the Slim-Fast/Dexatrim combo…it was the 80s. Yeah, that’s a different story), as soon as I decided to do this, I said that it would be after Easter dinner. There is no getting around that. If I tell myself that I’m going to go to the in-laws’ and eat tofu and fruit salad instead of ham and deviled eggs, I’m setting myself up for failure. I tried to tell my husband about my plans while I was grocery shopping for, among other things, nuts, eggs, raisins, and my daughter’s candy and Easter basket, and it went like this: “I eat nothing but crap, and I have to start eating better. After tomorrow, it’s nothing but healthy food forever…GAAAHHD, THAT’S A LONG TIME!!” And he laughed, because he knows that every spring I eat healthy food for about two months, then I go out for beers one time and get a hangover, and it’s sausage city for the next month. Some people are addicted to crack; I’m addicted to sugar and grease. One meal of steak and chocolate cake and I’m off the wagon. Thank god that I have managed to instill good habits in my kid so far…she hasn’t even thought about digging in the closet for the Easter candy, and she’d rather have strawberries than french fries. She’s really a smart little person…she always gives me positive reinforcement when I cook vegetables for dinner, and lectures me about how fried foods and cookies are “sometimes foods.” I wish I had known what she knows when I was her age.

know that what I put in my body affects my health–one of the main ways I lost all that weight earlier was by living by the motto, “you are what you eat,” eating only whole or minimally-processed foods, and cutting out white sugar and flour (wouldn’t it be more appealing to feel like a crunchy carrot than a floppy, sloppy Whopper?). After a car wreck that nearly killed me, I healed my body by listening to it, and giving it what it needed, whether it was kale or sweet potatoes, or an occasional shot of chocolate. I know this sounds like a bunch of hippie shit, but for reals, that’s what I did. I didn’t diet, and I think that’s why I succeeded then, and why I fail when I try to restrict myself now. I also walked everywhere I went, or otherwise kept moving for the better part of the day (this part will be challenging, since I also had no husband, kids, or obligations which would require me to get to and from a place in a small amount of time…it was no problem for me to walk to town with a backpack, hit the library, go to the store, take my time shopping, and walk home afterward. Now I count walking inside the grocery store as part of my exercise). So I’m going to do that again.

In closing, I guess that what I’m getting at is that I’m going to be keeping this blog as a journal while I try to treat my PCOS or whatever with a plant-based diet and exercise. I don’t know what this blog will be or what it will turn into, but hopefully it will help me to stay focused, and hopefully I will track some major progress in my health along the way. If anyone has made it all the way to the end of this ramble, I thank you. My next posts will probably be shorter, have pictures, and some interesting rabbit food recipes that I’ve found, as well.