Misogyny in Health Care


Recently I met with the best breast reconstruction plastic surgeon in Salt Lake City, Utah to discuss a breast reduction. She specializes in breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, so it’s pretty safe to say she knows boobs.

I have been contemplating a breast reduction for at least 10 years. I’ve always been well-endowed in the chestal region, and everyone assured me that after I stopped nursing babies, they would deflate like a balloon and I would be left with two wrinkled raisins on my chest. Only that didn’t happen. Like about a 1/3rd of all mothers, my breasts have only gotten larger as I’ve had more children. What started out as a 34 D in my first pregnancy has become a 34 FF. Yep, I just dropped my numbers on y’all.

My sister had a breast reduction the summer before her senior year in High School (sorely needed) and wasn’t able to exclusively nurse her babies because of it. Because of her experience I wanted to wait until I was completely done having children and done nursing them before I pursued this option. Since the hubs had a vasectomy and we have 4 little offspring ruling our lives, it’s safe to say this womb is now closed. The milk factories have shut  down. It’s time to reduce the number.

The reasons why I would like a breast reduction are:

  1. None of your business but I will tell you anyway.
  2. Even though my breasts are NOT grossly large and disproportionate to my frame (and I’ve been told I carry them well many times – thank you, I spend a lot of money on good bras) I have severe neck and shoulder pain. I see a chiropractor twice a month to alleviate this and have seen one for 10 years now. I see a massage therapist twice a month, to deal with constant knots in my shoulders. Last Saturday when I saw him he said, “Marisa, what on earth did you do to your shoulders?” Nothing. I did nothing. They are always like this.
  3. I do the stretches, massages, stem treatments, adjustments, icing, and Ibuprofen that my chiropractor and massage therapist recommend to me every day. There is not a day where I’m not hunched over my computer where I don’t stop every 2 hours to stretch out my shoulders. And I’m in still near constant pain. I keep a tennis ball at my desk that I use to rub out the knots in my shoulders so that I can keep typing without crying. I have a high tolerance for pain, and I’m at the point where my tolerance is low.
  4. Like I said in #2, I buy really expensive bras. I can’t go in to Target or even Kohl’s and buy a bra off the rack. Nope, mostly I shop online from specialty stores. And the bras I buy are the exact opposite of cute. Function over form. It would be really nice to not have to spend $80+ on a bra that was comfortable and didn’t further worsen my back pain. AND don’t you even dare get me started on swimming suit tops.
  5. My posture is atrocious. Big chested women are not keen on keeping their shoulders back when their breasts already draw a lot of unwanted attention and comments. Also, it really hurts to keep my shoulders back and my spine straight when I got these big bags of flesh/fat/milk ducts/sin tissue weighing me down.
  6. I would like to wear a button up shirt for once in my life without it gaping. So sue me.

However, when my surgeon submitted the pre-authorization to my insurance it took them 3 weeks to get around to telling me that their doctor , who has no specialty in this area, and who is also a man who doesn’t have to deal with breasts, decided my surgery wasn’t medically necessary.

Good for you. I’m so glad a man with no expertise who gets paid a lot of money to deny claims has decided whether my quality of life is worth paying for. I’m glad he decided that the immense back/shoulder/neck pain I feel every day isn’t worth solving.

In 2011 the hubs had a bone impingement in his right hip. He wasn’t in excruciating pain all the time, but it was uncomfortable. The square joint was causing tears in his labrum and severely lessening his flexibility in his joint. The insurance didn’t even think twice about covering that surgery or his 6 weeks of physical therapy. It would have worsened and he would have had to have it addressed sooner or later, but it wasn’t a surgery he had been contemplating for over 10 years. No one ever stopped in the street to catcall him over his square hip joints. He didn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on comfortable pants. No one assumed he was a slut because of his square joints.

BUT I guess when it comes to a man’s comfort, well the insurance will just bend over backwards to make sure that’s taken care of. We can’t have a man suffer, while women are just expected to suffer. I mean, we push babies out of us sometimes with little to no medication, so what’s constant neck and shoulder pain for a woman? Nothing.

However, I’m not going down without a fight. I’ve already contacted the necessary doctors who are going to do their part in appealing this decision. I’ve already called my insurance and wrung ever little bit of information out of them that I can. I know my rights and they are hoping that I don’t and that I won’t raise a fuss. They don’t know me at all. They will rue the day a man with no expertise decided my breasts weren’t uncomfortable enough for me to live with a little less of.

Thing is, I pay over $500 a month for the privilege of having this insurance. Shouldn’t I get something out of it? Shouldn’t I say if this is bothering me my word should be good enough? Especially when uneducated people are making medical decisions for someone like me who deals with this every day.

I will have this surgery. I will get out of pain. And no one is going to stop me.

They will rue the day.

They don’t know ’bout me.

I will not go gentle into this good night.

Eff the Patriachy that has men making medical decisions for women. Eff it.

If a man’s testicles hung down to his knees, the insurance would approve in a heartbeat to get that taken care of. Why is it any different  for a woman?

Because misogyny in the Health Care System.


Medical Marijuana and the LDS Church

Medical marjiuana.jpg

On Friday, February 5, 2016 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints opposed a bill in the Utah legislature brought forth by Senator Mark Madsen that would make Utah the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. citing unintended consequences that could come with use of the drug.

And I am angry.

I grew up being taught that the LDS church was politically neutral. Every election season a letter is read over the pulpit in every Ward in the United States written by the First Presidency emphatically stating that the church keeps out of politics.

However, this past legislative session in Utah has proven that the church’s long-claimed stance of political neutrality is false. Most people outside the state don’t understand how one religion, no matter how prominent, can have such an effect on state policies. But it does. Most of the state legislators identify as LDS and as any LDS person will tell you, when the prophet speaks, you listen, and you do as you are told. Obedience above conscious.

The reason for opposing medical marijuana?

Unintended consequences.

You mean like people suffering from chronic, debilitating, and painful diseases getting relief?

You mean like people who do suffer those painful diseases not becoming addicted to the opioids their doctors prescribe because that’s all doctors can do legally?

You mean like people being high all the time on THC? NEWFLASH – these same people are high all the time. On opioids.

And because they are having to ever increase their opioid use with no legal proven alternative available, it is leading to some patients becoming addicted. Utah has an insanely high opioid usage rate as well as heroin rate. The Utah Department of Health has noted that Utah has an experienced a more than 400% increase in prescription drug use injuries and death in the last decade. An average of 21 Utahns die a month due to prescription drug overdoses. Utah ranks 8th highest in prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Marijuana isn’t the drug you should be worried about, LDS church.

Heavy opioid use for chronic pain also leads to liver damage, digestive difficulties like not being able to keep food down and chronic, and bowel damaging, constipation.

I’m sure the LDS church leaders believe this is a moral issue, so I have to ask…

What’s so moral about letting people suffer?

No one has ever overdosed on Marijuana.

I could see if this were legalizing recreational marijuana use why the LDS church would be opposed to that and taking a strong stance against it.

But this is about medicinal use in oil form. Mormons love their medicinal oils. I’m sure if doTerra was pushing this, all the prominent MLM owning Mormons would jump at having it legalized.

Luckily Senator Madsen is not kowtowing to the incredible and inappropriate overreach of the LDS church into state politics. He has proposed 8 amendments to the law that he hopes will alleviate concerns to the Bill.

Anecdotally, when my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer in August 2007. She opted for chemotherapy treatments to extend her life and it was awful. She threw up constantly. She couldn’t keep any food down, thereby becoming dehydrated. She was in constant pain. Her doctor prescribed for her Marinol to help increase her appetite and deal with the nausea chemotherapy caused. Marinol is one of the cannabinoids.

I wish I could sit down with the leaders of the LDS church and describe to them what it was like to watch my mom suffer an absolute nightmarish hell during her last 3 months on this earth. I wish I could tell them what it was like to sit with her in her hospital room watching her writhe in pain, wake up and look at me with panic-stricken eyes that reminded me of a wounded animal, and beg me, BEG ME, her second daughter, someone she called “girl baby” and nursed at her breast until I was 15 months old, BEG ME to go find someone to kill her. Please tell me how you would feel to have your mother, a light and sunshine to everyone she knew, be suffering so much she begged you to find someone to take her life.

You know that scene in Terms of Endearment when Debra Winger is in the hospital dying of cancer and her mother, Shirley MacClaine, goes and screams at the nurses and demands they relieve the suffering of her dying daughter? Yeah, that was me.

Please tell where the dignity is in letting dying people suffer when oil from a plant…A PLANT that God planted in the ground.. can alleviate suffering? Why are those who aren’t suffering constantly asking others to do it when they have no idea the pain that is involved?

On another anecdotal note, I’m old enough now to have several friends who suffer from various chronic, painful diseases:  Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Anxiety, Erytohmelalgia (or Mitchell’s syndrome), and numerous other autoimmune disorders. THC has been proven to alleviate the pain and other symptoms that these debilitating and painful diseases cause. Prescribing people who are suffering ever-increasing amounts of opioids is unconscionable, and I would argue, ammoral.

So I’m begging the leaders of the LDS church to do the right thing. I was always taught growing up in church to do the right thing and let the consequences follow. I was taught to be honest in my dealings. I was taught to put the pain and suffering of others above my own comfort. Please LDS church, practice what you preach. Again I ask,

What’s so moral about letting people suffer?

Grief and Getting Through

I’ve had a lot of loved ones recently suffer the loss of someone they love. Whether that be a parent, child, grandparent, friend, significant other, etc. My heart breaks for them because I know this pain too well. I’ve been living with the loss of my mother the past 8 years and I wanted to share what I have learned.

Several months after my mother died I attended a grief support group. Everyone in the group had lost someone significant to their lives and it was healing to be with people who knew exactly how I was feeling and it was healing to be able to support each other in our collective grief. One particular night the Social Worker who was leading the group told us that we had to find our “new normal.”

I felt an instant wave of anger at that statement. I didn’t want a “new normal.” I wanted my old normal back. I wanted a normal that included a living mother to help me navigate life and motherhood. I wanted a normal where my kids had a relationship with both their grandmas. I wanted a normal where it didn’t feel like my heart was hemorrhaging at every moment of the day.

Eventually I realized how kind that Social Worker was when she talked about a new normal. Because I didn’t have a choice. Life was going to give me a new normal whether I wanted it or not.

I learned that my new normal was going to be like if someone cut off my right hand and I had to learn how to write and function with my left hand. It’s not easy. It doesn’t feel natural. It’s against my gene’s predetermined hand dominance. But eventually I learned how to write with it. And it was sloppy and messy at first, but over time, it got easier.

And although it’s easier now, it’s not perfect. Every happiness that has come to me since my mother died has been bittersweet. She’s never going to be here for all the births, weddings, birthdays, happy occasions, accomplishments. She’s never going to be able to be a grandma to her grandkids, four of whom she will never meet. She’s never going to call me again and recap American Idol for me while I pretend to be annoyed. I’m never going to cry to her again when someone is mean to me. She’s never going to cheer me on, root for me, or tell me how much she loves me again.

And that’s okay. It’s not fair. It’s not what I want. It’s never going to be alright. But it’s okay.

Despite the bittersweet, there has been joy. And when I do have those happy moments or we as a family have welcomed a new member or enjoyed a family gathering together, we feel her with us in Spirit. If I can’t have her here on earth, I’ll settle for guardian angel.

So my new normal has become honoring her life. I do this by living the best life I can. By being happy with what I have. By helping others as much I can. By raising grandchildren to be people she would be proud of. By making others laugh. By being kind to strangers and children. By leaving the world a better place for having lived in it.

Like she did.

Toxic People

A little over three years ago my supervisor was a Marriage and Family Therapist. He had done therapy with individuals, groups, and families for more than twenty years and always had really good insight in staff meetings. We all learned a great deal from him on how to communicate effectively and efficiently with each other in the office, with clients, and others in our private lives.

Unfortunately at that time I was having conflict with someone in my life that I was trying to make right. I went to my supervisor on many occasions for advice, but it wasn’t until I sat down with him during a performance review that turned into a pseudo-therapy session that I finally gained some insight to how to fix the problem. He was giving me some very good advice about humility and forgiveness and I was soaking it all in. I felt like I was finally getting the answers I needed. Then I shared with him all the things this person had said about me and done to me.

He stopped.

He sighed.

He said to me that he never liked to badmouth another person. Having worked with him for more than five years at that point I knew that to be true. But then he said something that changed my life, it set me free, and I surrendered to the fact that nothing I ever say or do was going to matter from that point forward. He said to me:

Marisa, some people are too toxic to have a relationship with.

I’d like to say that my life changed instantly and it was all made better after this. I took in what he said, but I didn’t listen. I still believed that if I was just humble enough, fell on my sword enough, said I was sorry enough, I could fix it. It wasn’t until I tried one last time, thought things were better, only to step in the proverbial dog pile again did I realize how true his words are.

Some people are too toxic to have a relationship with.

Once I finally realized this, once this little piece of enlightenment had finally taken root deep within me, once I surrendered to the notion that there is nothing I can say or do to make things better because it’s really not about me at all, I was set free.

Recently I came this article titled, “10 Toxic People You Should Avoid Like the Plague,” on Inc.com written by Lolly Daskal and I found it incredibly insightful and helpful for me. I hope you find it helpful as well.

1. Toxic arrogance

There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence inspires; arrogance intimidates. Arrogant people always know best and feel superior to others. They will never celebrate your confidence because it interferes with their arrogance.

2. Toxic victimhood

One of the most dangerous people you can have around you is the perpetual victim. Perpetual victims look at their own issues and mistakes and always find others to blame, from their unreasonable boss to their unloving parents. They never take ownership of their own lives.

3. Toxic control

Controlling people know everything and the best way to do anything. They’re usually very insecure beneath it all, but as long as they’re around you’ll never get a chance to voice an idea or do anything yourself.

4. Toxic envy

Those plagued with jealousy are never happy with what they have, and they aren’t capable of being happy when good things happen to you. They can’t appreciate it when others achieve or move forward; they feel that if anything good is going to happen, it should happen to them.

5. Toxic lies

As long as there are people, there will be people who lie. But chronic liars are harmful because you never know what to believe, so you can’t count on their promises or their word. They will lie to you about others, and they will lie to others about you.

6. Toxic negativity

You probably know someone who’s always angry and resentful, suspicious of everything. Negativity destroys relationships, and spending time with negative people makes you feel they are sucking the life out of you.

7. Toxic greed

So much of our culture tells us to want more, achieve more, earn more. And to a degree that kind of desire and ambition can be good. But it turns toxic when people want it all–what’s theirs and what’s not–and when having, rather than doing or being, becomes the focus of their life.

8. Toxic judgmentalism

There is a big difference between making a judgment and being judgmental. Judgments are objective and based on discernment, while being judgmental is just about criticism. Judgmental people are always quick to jump to conclusions. They are poor listeners and communicators.

9. Toxic gossip

Gossipers see themselves as having a deep conversation about someone, an exchange of information. They do it to elevate themselves above their insecurity, and there’s no distinction between speculation and fact. Few things are more destructive than gossip.

10. Toxic lack of character

When someone lacks integrity and honesty–when cheating, lying, manipulating, gossip, and greed are part of the norm–there are few things they won’t do to get their way. If they decide you’re an obstacle to them, they’ll come after you with everything they’ve got.