Sunday, February 22, 2015

Back to feeling a little more like me


Back in September I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The diagnosis came as a shock, and not too much of a surprise all at the same time. I wasn't mentally prepared for the diagnosis, but came to accept it with time.
In October (after the midsingles conference) I began to take the prescribed medications for the illness. I had postponed the medications since some of the side effects would have been hard to decipher from my real life problems while handling the last conference details (mood swings, extreme emotions, depression, etc.). I needed to know if it was conference stuff bothering me, or the medications. (Thankfully I never felt that way about the conference!)
As soon as I began taking the medications I started to feel better. My body didn't hurt like it did before. The aches and pains went away so fast it felt like magic. Unfortunately, the magic came with the downside of accepting that if the drugs were working, that it meant I really did have fibromyalgia. (They aren't painkillers per se, but instead mess with your brain chemistry and the inflammation of nerves.)
For about 2-3 months I enjoyed living like a real person again. I could be more physical, work out, take the dog for a long walk, etc., without the threat or misery of fibromyalgia pains after the fact (or during it).
And then January hit. I started to notice the weight gain a few days after Christmas. It wasn't too severe at first. But my pants fit a little snugger than I liked. I blamed it on holiday treats, even though I really hadn't indulged much. (While I do love chocolate and will overdose on it, I'm really not that into sweets otherwise. There is very little sugar in my diet.)
By the second week of January, when my family went on the cruise, there was no denying it. I had suddenly gained another ten pounds. Just boom! There it was! Clothes that fit me the day I packed for the trip I couldn't even pull on by the end of the trip.
I knew everyone just thought I had gained the weight slowly and normally. After all, nobody really sees me very consistently to know better. But I knew something was wrong. You don't gain that much weight that fast. It's not right.
Well, then the whole kidney stone thing happened. And my weight gain wasn't my highest priority. But in the days between doctor's appointments I kept hearing different nurses take my weight. I noticed my weight jumped another ten pounds in just one week. I barely even ate anything that week. (But I also barely moved. I lived in a ball on my couch riding out the kidney stone pain.)
Then one fateful day I woke up and realized nothing, and I mean nothing, in my closet fit. Not even my baggiest sweatpants could be pulled up over my stomach. It was a little terrifying. I didn't even look like me in the mirror. I kept thinking how I looked like Monica (from "Friends") in the fat suit. I stood on the scale and discovered I weighed 30 lbs more than I did around Christmas. I had gained 30 lbs in under a month. More like 2 weeks.
Not good. Not good at all.
I did my own internet research and contacted my doctor. The doctor really didn't believe me. She told me to cut out sweets. Uh, I never eat sweets. My internet research told me I was experiencing a very rare side effect of one of my medications. Other people described it the same way I did. It felt like I had a "basketball of water weight" on my stomach. I'm not exaggerating when I say I looked 9 months pregnant. In fact, I had a very important meeting I had to attend during that time. And since none of my clothes fit, I had to go out and buy something. And yes, I bought maternity pants. They were the only option for getting pants that would accommodate my freakish belly.
I also went into hiding. I didn't let anyone see me if I could avoid it.
And immediately started the weaning off process for that drug.
Within 48 hours of backing off the drug (Gabapentin or Neurontin, if you are curious), the water weight literally started to just fall off of me. I magically started to shrink. As fast as I gained the weight, I lost the weight. Which, just for the record, was not a pleasant experience. That's a lot of trauma for the body to go through.
It takes a few weeks to wean completely off these drugs. You can't go cold turkey because they mess with the brain's chemistry, and can cause seizures, among other things.
I've been off the medications for a little over a week now. My body is almost back to normal. I still have a good 10-15 pounds I'm going to have to lose with hard work (and less magic). But thankfully the scary water weight is gone, along with the "fat suit" look.
Things are a bit of a downer because going off the drugs meant going back to feeling the fibromyalgia pains. And let me just say, they suck. I can feel every joint, every knuckle, every stupid little finger, toe, limb, etc., on my body.
But on the bright side, I'm not feeling "stupid" anymore. One of the side effects of Neurontin is becoming forgetful, or fighting through a strange fog to process things. It's hard to explain what that feels like. I know I am smart. I know I can learn things quite quickly. I remember details quite well. But under the influence of this drug, I've struggled to learn a basic computer system at the store. I can't remember even the simplest of things. I've never lost my keys, phone, etc., before. But on this drug, I've lost them over and over again. I've made simple mistakes, or left things at home, repeatedly. It's that feeling of "I know I walked into this room for a reason" but ten times worse, and it never goes away.
And on top of everything else, I haven't been able to write one decent thing since starting the medication. Not one article, page in a book, etc. I've barely even posted to social media. And mostly because I couldn't get my brain to formulate any decent thoughts.
There was a constant struggle in my mind over what to do - be in pain, but be smart, or, be on the meds, and be "stupid." I always knew I was going to choose the pain over stupid. But my doctor convinced me that my problems would go away if she upped the dosage. It was the higher dosage that specifically caused the freakish water weight.
So now I'm back to my more natural state. No more drugs. And in just the last 10 days medication free, I've written several pages in a new book, submitted a course abstract to a local college (and got accepted to teach it!), one article, and other things. My brain is back online and I can think again! It's amazing how fast I lost and regained my ability to process and think like that.
But yeah, now I'm also back in pain. Not so crazy about that part.
There are other medications I can try. Insurance won't cover much of the cost. Supposedly they won't have the same negative side effects, but we won't know until we try. And I really don't know if I want to risk it. I have too much happening in the next few weeks and months with promoting my book, writing articles, and teaching some classes, to suddenly "not be smart" again. But then, can I endure the physical demands of the upcoming opportunities without the medications?
Fibromyalgia is a non-discriminating bitch.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sharing the Gospel through Social Media is LAUNCHED!

It's official! "Sharing the Gospel through Social Media" is LIVE! 




I'm hoping to see it pop up on a couple of other key sites in the next few days. And really hoping that it got picked up by Deseret Bookstore. So if someone out in the Jello Belt sees it in a bookstore, would you please take a picture of it (with you in it would be great) and send it to me??

Monday, February 02, 2015

Sharing the Gospel Through Social Media


It's official! My new book, Sharing the Gospel Through Social Media, is published and here!
This book was published by Cedar Fort Books and will be sold in bookstores around the country, and online.
Heed the prophets' call and learn how to use your social media skills for good! This comprehensive guide shows you how to kindly and respectfully spread the good news of the gospel through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, your blog, and in many other ways. Perfect for leaders or the everyday Saint, it will help your whole family become modern member missionaries!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Friends" vs Real Life and Friends

I haven't blogged much lately (well, for the better part of the past year I suppose) because I've lost interest in talking about my private life so publicly, and I write more on my Author Page on Facebook now.
But lately I have felt like writing a few things, so maybe the blog will rise again.
Or not.
This week was very unusual for me as I had kidney stone surgery (sort of). A few weeks ago, right after our family cruise, I thought I had severe back pain. And I probably did have actual, regular back pain (from traveling and riding a horse in Mexico with the worst saddle I've ever seen). The back pain was bad enough that I didn't recognize the symptoms of kidney stones until it was too late. I was in so much pain I decided to go to the E.R., which required either an ambulance or a friend to take me, as I was in no condition to drive. I texted everyone I could think of who wouldn't be at work at that time, and found one wonderful friend to take me. Even as I waited for her to pick me up, I debated calling an ambulance. But ultimately didn't take an ambulance because I was worried I wouldn't be able to get to the door fast enough to let them in.
These are the real problems of being single and living alone. How to keep from dying alone in your own home because there was no one else around to open the door for you. As it was, it took me nearly 30 minutes to slowly move across my bed to reach my phone to call for help.
I've been watching "Friends" a lot on Netflix for the past few weeks. (Being bedridden from kidney stones and then the surgery will do that to you.) Sure it's a sitcom and far from reality. But I think sometimes all these silly TV shows that glamorize single life do a huge disservice to actual singles. Life isn't like it is on "Friends" where everyone is buddies with the cute guys/girls across the hall, and everyone comes and goes and eats each other's food. I don't know my neighbors' names. Believe me, as I was sobbing in pain, praying for a miracle that someone, somehow would know that I was in need of help at that moment, I wracked my memory trying to think of a neighbor's name I could yell out to get help. But the truth is, I could probably recognize one guy who lives on my floor, but I've never asked his name. But of the other 2 apartments, and presumably 5 other adults who live here, I have no idea what they look like, or what their names are. (I don't even really know that 5 people live on this floor.)
And it has always been like this. I never know my neighbors or anything about them. They are just people who could afford the same amount of rent I can, and need to live in the same area. We have nothing else in common. We don't even speak the same language.
On "Friends" they do everything together. They hang out in the coffee shop. They spend holidays together. They go on vacations together. Again, sure, it's a sitcom, and it's all fiction. But the truth is, when I want to go see a movie, and invite friends, it takes a week's notice, and 50 text messages for all of us to agree on something.
I had little to no expectations for my friends to be able to drop everything and come assist me after my surgery this week. I have been grateful for the few friends who have made the time and effort to come over and help me out. (I really was bedridden all of Tuesday and Wednesday. Today I was able to shower on my own, and I think by the end of the day I will be able to walk my dog.) I know my friends love me and would help me if they could. But the truth is that life is nothing like it is on TV. Friends can't make time sacrifices like that to always be there for you. When you are single, your job is to look out for yourself. You don't have the luxury of assuming other people will be able to help you out.
Part of me finds this all a bit ironic and funny. Because I definitely get the impression from non-singles, that they assume that since I have no family to tend to, that when they need help, I should be able to drop everything and be there for them. (And I often do.) But when a single person needs help, it can be far more difficult to find someone to give the help.
I'm grateful for the system my church has in place to provide help and compassionate service when needed. Yesterday a woman from my congregation that I didn't know showed up with dinner for me, and took my dog out for a big walk. (The dog came home one very happy pooch, which is good, because help isn't coming to walk her for a few more hours today.) She didn't know me. She just knew I needed help because of our compassionate service system. Next week she is having surgery, and I've signed up to repay the favor by assisting her. (Although there is no expectation that I should do so. I did it because I want to.)
If it weren't for the compassionate service through the church I don't know how I would get by this week. I know my mother wishes she could be here. And my sister has offered to come help me (but she lives over an hour away without traffic, and has a full-time job, plus goes to college at night, so it's hard for us to work it out).
Single life is not what it ever appears to be like on TV or in movies. Singles aren't a codependent happy bunch of people who do everything together. They are floating, independent ships, looking for a comfortable place to anchor and find reserves and supplies.
As for the rest of my story and situation, I did have surgery on my kidneys on Tuesday. I'm recovering as well as can be expected. I have high hopes that tomorrow I can leave the house (for a job interview). I also have high hopes that I will be able to sleep for more than 3 hours before the painkillers wear off and the pain wakes me back up. Sleep would really make me happy right about now. I do expect to return to regular life by Monday. We haven't completely solved the mystery of my kidneys yet, and that situation is far from over. I expect there will be another surgery next month, but I'm going to push that off for as long as possible. I have no desire to "recover" from another procedure for a good long time. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Religious Liberty and the Right to Free Speech


"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Religious liberty and freedom has always been one of the most important Constitutional issues for me. I believe in, defend, and love all of the Bill of Rights. But the rights to free speech, freedom to worship, and freedom to exercise religious liberty (which are all greatly dependent upon each other and intertwined at their cores) are most important to me.
On January 27, 2015, my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held an extraordinary press conference on the subjects of defending and upholding the right to religious liberty and nondiscrimination.
In the attached transcript, you will find this awesome quote from Elder Jeffrey R Holland, "Accommodating the rights of all people—including their religious rights—requires wisdom and judgment, compassion and fairness.
"Politically, it certainly requires dedication to the highest level of statesmanship. Nothing is achieved if either side resorts to bullying, political point scoring or accusations of bigotry.
"These are serious issues, and they require serious minds engaged in thoughtful, courteous discourse."
In the same press conference, Elder Dallin H Oaks said, "It is one of today’s great ironies that some people who have fought so hard for LGBT rights now try to deny the rights of others to disagree with their public policy proposals. The precious constitutional right of free speech does not exclude any individual or group, and a society is only truly free when it respects freedom of religious exercise, conscience and expression for everyone, including unpopular minorities."
Many people make the mistake of thinking that just because someone disagrees with one's point of view, that they must tear each other down, or block their rights. As you can read in the attached transcript, and see in your own life, the right to religious freedom (and the intertwined right to free speech) is often challenged and blocked by those who disagree with them on matters of sexuality. For instance, if the Mormon Church doesn't condone gay marriage, it must hate all gays, according to LGBT advocates. And as a result, many of those advocates wish to block or harm the right to religious freedom and their associated right to free speech. (For the record, if you read the transcript, the Church makes it blatantly clear that they help support anti-discrimination laws for all people, including LGBT.)
Aren't we all entitled, granted, and ensured the right to free speech, and to freely exercise our established religious beliefs?
Earlier this week I took an "interview test" for a potential job with an organization that will remain nameless, but I greatly admire and respect. They work to defend religious liberties.
Part of the test was to read about an actual religious liberty lawsuit and write a press release and talking points. (DISCLAIMER: I don't know how I did on it. I'm sure there are many qualified people for this position. I know I didn't do my best on it do to passing kidney stones and painkillers at the same time. I have many irons in the fire right now as I job hunt. But this particular job is a unicorn of sorts for me. It's a cause I'm passionate about, and work I enjoy doing. That doesn't happen very often.) Back to my point- the case they had me read was very controversial. (And I'm sure that was by design.) It involved an ancient religion that still practices live animal and blood sacrifices. On one hand, it is hard to defend animal sacrifice. Most people find it distasteful and horrid. And I'm one of them.
But does this established, ancient religion have the right to worship where they believe, and what they believe? Yes. We all have the Constitutional right to religious freedom. I could waste my time here and defend and explain how/why animal sacrifice is not as wretched as it may seem at first. (How is a sanitary sacrifice of a rabbit where all meat is eaten, any better or worse than shooting a rabbit for sport?) But that's not my point.
My point is that if you believe in the rights of free speech and religion, you do not get to pick and choose who gets it. It is universal. It is a right given to everyone, including those you disagree with.
Elder Holland summed it up best, "We must find ways to show respect for others whose beliefs, values and behaviors differ from ours while never being forced to deny or abandon our own beliefs, values and behaviors in the process. Every citizen’s rights are best guarded when each person and group guards for others those rights they wish guarded for themselves."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Big Surprises!


I'm back from a big family vacation. We went on a cruise from LA to Mexico. It was a wonderful time, with lots of new things to do, lots of family time, and new experiences.
But I think we can all agree that the best part of the trip was the biggest surprise of the trip- my brother proposed to his girlfriend! (And she said yes!) They have been dating for at least 3 years, so she already felt like a member of the family, hence the reason we invited her to join us. We even included her in the professional family pictures we had taken (before he popped the question). (We took most of the pictures with her in them, and a few without.)
We had no idea he was going to propose (even though we had all hinted that we hoped he would do it on the cruise). He never let on that he was going to do it. You should have heard the screaming, laughing, and crying when it happened. And it wasn't all just from our family- there was a line of people nearby, and they all clapped and cheered for the couple as well.
It was so fun and unexpected to get to be there for the special moment.
And we are all so glad that our new "fiancee-in-law" was there with us to start building our new family memories with her.
Welcome to the family, Madi!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Blog Tour Coming- Want to participate?


Erin Ann McBride and Cedar Fort Publishing & Media are pleased to announce the “Sharing the Gospel Through Social Media” blog tour, which will run from February 21-March 3, 2015.
If you’re interested in participating in this blog tour, please email Cedar Fort or visit their blog at http://blog.cedarfort.com/blog-tour-sharing-the-gospel-through-social-media/ to sign up.
About the book:
Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ has never been easier. This book was written to help bishops, ward mission leaders, stake presidents, stake public affairs directors, mission presidents, and every day member missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, learn to navigate and appreciate the potential of social media in their missionary efforts. Explanations, ideas, and strategies are provided on how to incorporate Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other networks into Mormon missionary efforts. This ebook makes it easy for even social media beginners to effectively share the gospel online.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Devotional

From my scripture study or daily devotional reading tonight. I thought it was beautiful and perfect.

... These scriptural virtues are intertwined, interactive, and interdependent. We are to be:

1. Meek and humble—not self-concerned, dismissive, proud, seeking ascendancy. Blessed are the meek because they are not easily offended. Besides, those who “shine as lights in the world” have no need to seek the spotlight! (See Philippians 2:15.) The world’s spotlights are not only fleeting, but they employ inferior light!

2. Patient—not hectic, hurried, pushy.

3. Full of love—not demanding, dominating, manipulative, condescending, or harsh.

4. Gentle—not coarse, brusque, and vindictive.

5. Easily entreated—not unapproachable, inaccessible, and nonlistening.

6. Long-suffering—not impatient, disinterested, curt, easily offended. There are so many people in the Church, brothers and sisters, waiting to be offended. And it doesn’t take long. If one has a chip on his or her shoulder, you can’t make it through the foyer, so to speak, without getting it knocked off.

7. Submissive to God—not resistant to the Spirit, counsel, and life’s lessons.

8. Temperate (self-restrained)—not egoistic, eager for attention and recognition, or too talkative. In your life and mine, the great moments of commendation and correction have come usually in one-liners.

9. Merciful—not judgmental and unforgiving. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall know the caress of causality as their forgiving mercy restores others to wholeness! Though God is perfected in the attributes of justice and mercy, we read that, finally, “Mercy overpowereth justice” (Alma 34:15).

10. Gracious—not tactless, easily irritated, ungenerous.

11. Holy—not worldly.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Who's the crazy girl now?


Just when I think my life is dull and boring, the Universe likes to prove me horribly wrong. What craziness am I to today?
-Proofing my book, "Sharing the Gospel through Social Media," that comes out February 10th. (Published by Cedar Fort Books.)
- Planning a dear friend's wedding- WITH LESS THAN 2 WEEKS' NOTICE! The crazy girl will have a less than 3 week engagement. But then maybe I'm the crazy one for taking on her reception with just 2 weeks and no money to pull it off!
- Christmas, because you know, it's Christmastime and all
- Working part-time
- Writing another book that I'd really like to have finished by Dec 31
- Working for 2 different clients on book editing, formatting, and marketing stuff
- All that other life stuff!

All of my books are free on Amazon



All of my books that are currently available are free on Amazon Kindle December 11-15. If you haven't downloaded them yet, now is your chance. 
Links and reviews of each available book below. 



"This speedy read tells one young go-getter's adventures as she works in the ad/tech world for a woman who is in the running for the Worst Boss Ever award. It had me holding my breath and flying through the pages wondering how (and if!) Anne Marie was ever going to escape the stinging of this Portuguese Man o' War. Fun novella-length story--not a lot of depth, but just a great beach or airplane read." 



"I love these books and I can't put them down! I read the first one in two days and laughed, was in awe of the suspense, and felt smarter by the end of it. Definitely ideal for Book Club Books and summer beach reading!" 

But if you get "This Just In!" don't forget it's the second book in the series. You'll want to get "You Heard It Here First" as well!


"I had read articles by this author for Meridian Magazine and always enjoyed her sense of humor and down to earth take on modern life, so I jumped at the chance to read her book. It was fun and fast from start to finish and left me wanting more. It is rare to find a "clean" love story that isn't preachy in any way. Who says being moral and honest has to be boring? Not Erin Ann McBride! I have already purchased the next Haley and Cam book and hope there will be many more in the series."


If you've already purchased or read one of these books, have you left a review on Amazon yet? Reviews of self-published books really do make a huge difference in sales for the author. Please take a minute to go leave a few stars and comments for me!

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