The First Lady Of Leisure

The life and times of Arielle

Getting My Voice Back

I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since my last post.  I guess having a doctor molest me during an exam brought up some issues I had buried deep down and I’ve had to take some time to work through them.  I honestly hadn’t even realized I had let so much time go by without a post until my new therapist pointed out that this blog has been an outlet for me, and by making my last post about the experience with the doctor and not posting after I had allowed him to take my voice from me.

I wish I had an update on the report I filed with the Department of Professional Regulation.  Unfortunately, it is a government office in Illinois so it will be awhile before I get an answer.  I assume nothing will happen to the doctor.  At best, I expect my claim to be filed and stored till another claim one day comes in, because I guarantee I wasn’t the only victim of this jerk.  I did get a letter from him a little over a month ago indicating he could no longer treat me, but gave me a 30 day grace period where I could come in for one more groping.  I assumed from the letter that Dr. Handsy got a visit from a sheriff asking about my file.  He probably denied my version of the events, and he will probably get away with it.  That’s how our justice system treats people who commit sexual assault.  Particularly when they are respected members of the community.

I know I am not alone in having several scumbags take advantage of me.  Even when I’ve reported it, they have not suffered consequences for their actions.  Meanwhile, women like me are faced with a lifelong struggle to deal with how  they were violated.

So, this is the first step in getting back into my blog.  I didn’t even celebrate it’s first birthday which seems almost like missing my child’s birthday.  Totally unacceptable, and I promise to make it up to you next year.  How would the First Lady of Leisure celebrate her anniversary?  I feel like mimosas on a rooftop deck and having brunch would be about right…then I remember I have kids and that usually means 18,000 trips to the buffet to get what they need while my mimosa sits and gets warm.

Since this is the Jewish High Holidays, a time of reflection on the past year, it seems like as good a time as any to take back my voice…return to my happy place where I can talk out my everyday problems as a mom, wife, PTA event planner, and person who at times suffers from debilitating anxiety…but all of those things and more make me the person that I am, the good and the bad, and I guess that is ok…

Skin cancer screening or gynecologist exam?

It has been about 6 year since I went to a dermatologist for a skin cancer screening.  I happen to be very fair and burn easily.  In my 20’s I spent summers in the sun without sunscreen, and more than once had sunburns so bad that I had blisters.  Yeah, I was dumb…and after a friend was recently diagnosed with a small spot of basal cell carcinoma I figured I  should get a once over by a doctor.

I assumed I would be in a gown and the doctor would have to give me a look see, but I got a little more than I bargained for.  After doing a check of my back, legs, and arms, the doctor asked me to stand up.  I was wearing my bra and underwear under a paper gown.  He asked me to turn around and bend over.  He then said he was going to pull down my underwear and proceeded to pull apart my butt cheeks.  I thought it was odd, but figured maybe he is just doing a standard check.  He then asks me to turn around.  He then pulls my underwear down a little in front and with both hands cupped the sides of my vagina.

I’m pretty sure you cannot see vagina skin cancer by cupping a vagina, but I’m not a dermatologist…he then pulls my bra down enough to reach in and cup each breast but did not appear to be looking under them.   While it felt clinical as it was happening, I thought it was really odd and I was not comfortable with what had happened.  The doctor then casually makes some notes on his computer, tells me to stay out of the sun and sends me on my way.

I could not shake the feeling that my exam was not normal.  The last time I saw a dermatologist for a skin exam the doctor barely touched me, and certainly did not get into private regions.   I asked a few friends who have had “complete skin cancer checks” and none of them had an exam like mine.  I questioned family, including my father in law doctor, and they all said it was not a normal exam.

Was I molested by my dermatologist?  I was hoping one person, or one google search would tell me that another dermatologist does that type of exam…while there are types of skin cancer you can get on your vagina, he would not have seen it in the way he examined me, and again, I have no issues that would require him to Donald Trump my pussy.

I should also note that no one else was in the room during my exam.  You would think if this was a “normal” exam, this doctor would want a nurse or PA in the room to avoid women feeling like something wasn’t quite right.

I took some advice and reported the doctor to the Illinois Department of professional regulation.  As far as I know, they will investigate my complaint.  Assuming he has no other complaints like mine, nothing will happen and the case will be filed away.  If there are other complaints, then I have a feeling it would be a much bigger deal.

I should also point out that this is not the first time I have been inappropriately touched.  There was an incident in college that will have to wait for another blog post…mostly because I am not ready to share that with the whole world yet…but I had another brush with a toucher about 8 years ago.

I used to ride the bus from my condo to work.  For those familiar with Chicago, the bus would go express from Michigan Ave. from Oak and up Lake Shore to Belmont.  Once day I was sitting with a large purse on my lap reading a book.  A man sits next to me and begins to rub my leg.  My brain processes this as maybe he thinks its his leg?  Maybe he doesn’t realize he’s doing it?  Whatever, I scoot slightly closer to the window next to me.  The light leg rub continues…so I get up and change seats.  Fast forward a few days, the same guy sits next to me and does it again!

I get up and tell the driver what happened and asked if maybe they could just kick him off the bus when we got to Belmont?  The driver says he has to call the police who would meet us at the next stop.  As we proceed, a women in her 60’s tells me he did the same thing to her and she knocked him on his ass!  She had a CTA warning that had been issued on the guy folded in her purse.  She was waiting to see him again and agreed to press charges with me so I wouldn’t be alone.

We get to the next stop and the police are waiting.  They ask everyone to leave the bus from the front and tell the man he’s going with them.  The other woman and I go with the police to the station and another squad car brings the guy.  After giving our statements, we go on our way.  A few months later we have our court date, and in spite of being here illegally, having a history of being arrested for touching women, several alias, and being an all around creeper, the guy got off (slight pun intended) and walked out of the court room right after us.  Several years later I got a call from the DA because the guy assaulted a 13 year old girl on the bus and asked if I would testify if they needed me too.  Never had to testify, and I don’t know the outcome, but that showed me how flawed our system is.

If I was to call the police and tell them what happened with the doctor yesterday, he would of course deny any wrong doing.  If he has no other claims like mine on file then it would be my word against a respected professional who has been successful in his field for 36 years.  Who do you think would win that case?  It would be rationalized that he was “doing his job”,  and I’m a silly housewife who misjudged the situation.  I really want to believe that…someone please tell me that this was a normal dermatologist exam…that your doctor totally cupped your boobs because thats how you test for areola cancer…yeah I didn’t think so.  This is what I get for taking the time to shave my legs from the knee down for my appointment…

Anxiety is a Mother…

Last Thursday I was at my daughter’s school for Literacy Night.  While sitting and talking with my daughter’s friends mom I began to feel light headed.  Figuring it was the start of a panic attack I grabbed Sylva and went into the hallway.  Typically, a panic attack for me is tingling in my toes, clammy hands, rapid heartbeat, and light headed.  This was only light headed and that scared me.  I made my daughter go to a different part of the school where there were programs but much less people.

After sitting down against some lockers for a few more minutes I sent my husband a text saying something along the lines of “I’m dizzy, something wrong, come get me”.  At this point I also call a friend who I knew was close by at the school to come stay with me in case I passed out.  My concern was that I was going to pass out at my daughter’s school when all the parents and kids were there…and my daughter would be scared for life.

My husband drove me to the emergency room, and my amazing friend took care of getting Sylva and my car back to my house after the program ended.  After a bunch of tests, the doctor told me I had a UTI and was dehydrated.  So after a bag of IV fluid the doctor wrote me a prescription and discharged me.  As I was leaving I noticed his prescription was for a medication I can’t take.  I walked back to where he was sitting and questioned why he would give me this antibiotic when my chart says I’m allergic.  He responded “Oh, I’ll go ahead and give you something else, better safe than sorry.”

I wake up the next day and my head is really cloudy, and my anxiety kicks in because I don’t know why I’m feeling this crappy.  So of course I consult with my father in law.  From previous posts, you know this is the only doctor I trust.  He tells me it’s a virus and I need to let it run its course but to come in and he’ll run my blood work for every possible problem.  While there I also left a urine sample because I was convinced the ER doctor wasn’t even looking at the right chart leading him to initially prescribe a potentially fatal antibiotic.   I should note that I also thought this because another patient’s lab orders were in with my discharge paperwork.  Malpractice and HIPPA violations all in one day!  Turns out no UTI, and nothing else wrong with my bloodwork so my father in law says he still thinks it’s a virus but to go see an ear, nose, and throat doctor.

Monday morning, I go to see the ENT and he informs me my left ear is 90% obstructed and my right ear was 100% obstructed.  He works his magic and cleans out the ears and notes post nasal drip which confirms a virus but says the ears clogged combined with the virus could cause dizziness and cloudiness.  Great, but I’m still feeling cloudy and anxious and it can take 2 weeks for the virus to leave, so on Tuesday I see my psychiatrist.  I haven’t seen him in several years, but apparently my brain needs a tune up.  I go on a low dose of Paxil…but that takes 2 weeks to reach its maximum potential.

I wake up yesterday and I start throwing up.  Then I get dizzy again.  My father in law told me to get to the er because I was dehydrated again.  Fantastic…head back to the er that misdiagnosed the UTI.  I get the IV and actually had a doctor confirm that my lab results from the other night did not indicate a UTI.  At this point the head of the department comes in and made sure she checked every possible reason why I was still feeling dizzy…confirmation of the same, that it’s a virus and I need to let it run its course.

So now here I am almost a week in, knowing this virus can take another week to clear up.  In this last week I feel like I have undone years of therapy and all the work I did to get back into a good place mentally.  When Sylva was a baby I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia.  I wasn’t able to leave the house to walk around the block without having a panic attack.  I let it get to the point where I was fetal on my bed begging my husband to check me in to a psych hospital because I felt like I lost my mind.  It took 4 years of sometimes twice a week therapy till I clawed my way out of the darkness and back into the light.

Over the last week, I have found myself slipping back into that dark place.  How can a virus knock me down?  I can’t drive my daughter to school because my head is so cloudy I can’t concentrate or focus.  My amazing friend who drove Sylva and my car home from the program last week has been nice enough to also take her to school every day this week.  I don’t like to ask for help, and I don’t have many close friends.  I have my childhood best friend who is my soul sister, and I have never really needed anyone else.  I have always had acquaintances, but never a group of people I felt I could really open up to, let alone ask for help.   I consider myself to be majestically awkward, I say inappropriate things, and I have a hard time really opening up to people…especially when it comes to my mental health.

So here I am, one more week till this virus is out of my system, back on Paxil but that will take 2 more weeks to kick in, and feeling like I’m sucking as a mom this week…and probably next week too.  The rational side of me says it’s just a virus, but my brain is talking much louder and its happening in a very physical way.  So it’s back to therapy I go…I’m doing 40 minutes of meditation every night, and I’m going to sleep as much as I can this weekend.  I will find my way back to the light again…maybe not as fast as I’d like, but to quote the Beatles, “I will get by with a little help from my friends…”


Opinions are like assholes…

It’s been about a month since my last post, and quite a bit has happened.  I spent Christmas at Disney World, where all the children are tired and cranky, and the parents have spent thousands to be miserable and arguing about where to go.  We went with my husband’s parents, and his sister’s family.   Our plan each day was to hire a guide and use fast pass.  We got to the parks when they opened and saw as much as we could before lunch.  After lunch it was back to the hotel for naps, then dinner at one of the restaurants, and then back for bed.  So we didn’t get to do all the rides, but we also didn’t have to wait 104 minutes in 80 degree heat with 4 kids under the age of 7…seriously, some of the rides had over 100 minute waits.

At one point I asked our guide how often he sees happy parents at Disney.  As he proudly told me it was his 40th day straight going to the park he also said “Disney brings out the best in people, and the worst”.  According to him, the number one thing he sees people fighting about was where to go.  He said “you usually see one person holding the map and the other person snatching it out while saying they know where to go”.  Add in the heat, overpriced food and drinks, hour plus waits for rides that last only a minute or two, all while surrounded by other people who also emptied their bank accounts to give their kids some fucking magic at Christmas!

That’s not to say there aren’t really amazing memories being made when your child gets to meet their favorite princess who they think is the real deal.  Or when you get the photos back from your FastPass and you find gems like this (I am the one clutching my baby while crying…)

This was taken on the Snow White inspired 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride.  It was one of our first rides on the first day.  Thanks to the guide and FastPass we managed to walk right through, and somehow didn’t see the actual ride as we entered (or no way would I have gotten on).  Mind you, you only have to be 30” to ride, but it was still a variation of roller coaster and I felt like I was going to die as you can see in the photo…funny now…but at the time you would have thought I was on Tower of Terror.

After a few days at Disney, the rest of our trip was spent in the Ft. Lauderdale area which was pretty relaxing, beautiful weather, and amazing views of the ocean.  Then it was back to Chicago after New Years and back to the realities of life.  One of which is obsessively checking my social media accounts.

I should note that I rejoined Facebook over the summer after a 6 year break.  I seriously should have waited till the presidential election results were in, and I may have reconsidered rejoining.  My feed has been constantly filled with peoples political views.  Some I agree with, some I don’t.  Some have surprised me by what the “like”…some seem to blindly like every news story that appears to have anything to do with the political group they align without ever looking into the facts behind the headline which is sad and makes me want to not see anything they do, like, or say (but I need someone to show me how to do that function).  I almost miss the totally annoying “My husband is the best husband and father” posts where the wifey brags about how her husband let her sleep in while him and the perfect kids tip toed around cooking her breakfast to serve to her in bed…

Instead all I am really seeing is essentially two very divided sides.  One was going to be disappointed.  Whichever side lost was going to feel cheated and was going to take to the streets and social media to try and change the inevitable outcome.  I get it, it sucks when your team doesn’t win.  For some “millennials” this is the first time they didn’t get the prize they feel they earned for participating.  For others, its fear, fear that rights will be taken away.  Rights that were granted because of the choices, sweat, and tears of those who came before us.

At the same time, our democratic process picked an individual to be the 45th President of the United States and we are stuck with him for the next 4 years.  In the meantime, if I disagree with your political views, I promise I won’t be that person who goes off in your comments…but if you are one of those hot headed people, I thank you, because reading the comments is really the only reason why I’m even still on Facebook…

What’s the worst that could happen?

As a person with sometimes crippling anxiety and a brain full of otherwise useless knowledge, I have become a worst case scenario thinker.  For example, last week I was explaining to a friend that I only wear 100% cotton when I get on an airplane.  The rational being that if the plane crashed you wouldn’t want to be in synthetic fibers because something like polyester would actually melt from a fire and fuse to your skin making for a much worse recovery.  Her response was something like “who cares what you are wearing, if the plane crashed you’d be dead”.  My useless knowledge bank reported back that you actually have over a 90% chance of surviving a plane crash…I also noted that if I was ever in a plane crash with her I would have to drag her frozen in fear ass off the plane.  In reality, one in every 1.2 million flights crash, with odds of dying one in 11 million. Your chances of dying in a car or traffic accident are one in 5,000.   So, even if you have the bad luck of being on one of the one in 1.2 million flights that crash, you still have a 95.7% chance of surviving.  This is the kind of information I have carry with me.

I once heard that in extreme moments our brain recalls memories that can be helpful…this is why you hear of people jumping into action and not thinking, simply just reacting.   Seriously, think about someone who sees something like a burning car on the side of the road and stops to pull survivors to safety.  If that person took a moment to think, the rational side of them would never walk towards fire/possible explosion to save another person that they don’t even know.  Yet, as the approach the car it is likely a memory from a news story or movie that causes them to break the window when the handle doesn’t open the door.  Something they remember also tells them to get away from the car with the survivor…seriously in every movie I’ve ever seen, the car on fire will explode.

This memory recall is probably why in spite of my anxiety, I am actually really calm and collected during actual emergency situations.  I spent several years as an agoraphobic who couldn’t leave the house without a panic attack, but I have no doubt that if I saw a flaming car on the side of the road I would know exactly what to do.  In case you were wondering, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says 33 car fires are reported every hour in the U.S., and 18 percent of all reported fires occur on a road or highway and involve a motor vehicle.  Yeah, 33 every hour, wtf?!?  Then again, there are over 200 million drivers in the US so maybe 33 per hour isn’t so bad.

All these statistics and wintery weather did have me wondering something…how many people die each year from icicles.  Beautiful to look at, but basically they are just giant ice daggers waiting to fall and stab you through the eye.  Mind you I live in Chicago, we get a lot of snow, and around once a year we hear about someone walking downtown who is hurt or killed by an icicle that falls from a skyscraper.  So yes, I have a warped mind, but I also live somewhere this is a present danger.  For example, In 1994 a man was killed by an icicle described as being “the size of a microwave”.  In 2011, an off duty paramedic was hit and  woman’s back windshield was shattered from icicles falling off Willis Tower.  The stories go on and on…and not just in my city.  If you google “people dying from icicle” the majority of stories are either Chicago or Russia.  Apparently, in the US there are 15 related icicle deaths each year, and 100 in Russia.  Though I should note that statistic kept popping up in my search as coming from the Death in Society Research Foundation…and while I think I am very qualified and totally want a job there, I can’t actually find an organization with that name online.

That said, it seems my thirst for useless knowledge continues…and now I’m wondering how many people die each year choking on a donut.  I mean, I totally get eating too much fatty foods can cause heart disease (614,348 deaths per year in the US), diabetes (76,488), and kidney disease (48,146) but what about actually choking to death on a donut?  I guess there are some questions I will never know the answer to…

*Side note: In previous posts when I gave a statistic or talked about some medical condition I would include a hyperlink but I blended it with the rest of the post so you would have to click the stat or name of the disease but I didn’t highlight it in any way.  This time the links are noted with underlines and a different color.  Which do you prefer?  Comment below!

Prematurity Awareness Day

Today is Prematurity Awareness Day, a day to raise awareness for premature birth.  As I sit here typing this, my 3 ½ year old is happy, healthy (minus a stomach bug currently wreaking havoc), and you would never know that she spent her first month of life in the NICU.  While a month seems like a long time, there are many babies who need to take up residence for much longer, but with this extra time, millions of our children are saved each year.

About 12 weeks into my pregnancy I was diagnosed with placenta previa.  I vividly remember the doctor explaining that the placenta was covering the cervix, it’s very common and usually corrects itself, and the best part “nothing can go in your vagina”.  This meant no sexy time with the husband for the duration of the pregnancy…which was fine because that asshole got me pregnant, barfing all day every day, gaining weight by the second, all while chasing a toddler.

I naively assumed I would be one of the “normal” women whose placenta would correct itself.  I should remind you that in previous posts I described my bout with Bell’s Palsy a few months ago, and I am currently at the tail end of a Shingle’s outbreak…I’m anything but normal…more like a lightning rod!

Besides the every 15 minute sprints to puke in the bathroom, and verging on being diabetic, the pregnancy was as normal as they got for me.  As the pregnancy progressed, the doctor said we would schedule a c-section at 35 weeks because the placenta previa wasn’t correcting.  However, at 32 ½ weeks I began to bleed, A LOT.  After taking a minute to just repeat “FUCK FUCK FUCK” a few times, I collected myself, called my mother in law to get to my house as fast as possible, and I got my 3 year old ready to run out of the house while trying to hold my shit together.

When I had my first daughter I picked Northwestern’s Prentice Hospital specifically because they have an onsite NICU and while I figured I wouldn’t need it, I didn’t want to risk being separated from the baby if something happened.  It helped that at the time I lived 4 blocks from the hospital.  This time however, I lived on the far north side of the city, and this was at about 8:30 AM, prime rush hour traffic.

After my mother in law drops me off at the hospital, I get checked in and the rest of the day is a whirlwind.  Basically, the bleeding stops, I’m getting ready to go home, then whoosh, bleeding starts again.  The husband arrives, we are told its time for a c-section.   I am so eerily calm that it starts to freak out the nurses…and I am super pumped to get my tubes tied so I am NEVER in this position again.

Remember when I said I puked all day, every day?  That even continued in the fucking surgery.  And since the nurses didn’t already think I was a wackjob, as the doctor began the surgery, I asked “Did you just cauterize me?”  Yeah, I was noting out loud that I smelled my own burning flesh…

Then the morphine kicked in and I felt like I was probably going to die, I accepted my fate, told my husband something wasn’t right…next thing I remember is looking at my husband and asking “Is the baby ok?”  and he said “Huh?  You just saw her.”  It was a long day…and while Macey was tiny, she was pretty healthy, and just needed the time to grow and learn how to eat.

In retrospect, it wasn’t that bad, many have it much worse, but I still like to call that period “Groundhog Day”.  For the next month my life was the exact same thing day in and day out…don’t get me wrong, I am grateful I was in that position.  I was fortunate enough to have access to my in laws condo just blocks from the hospital.  My parents and in laws split watching my toddler, and as a stay at home mom, I had the ability to be with my baby every day.  Most premature babies have working mothers.  This means that any maternity leave they get, would easily be used up during the time in the NICU, before the baby even goes home.

Every day for the next month I would spend 8-12 hours at the hospital pretty much just holding my tiny baby, chatting with other moms, and the amazing nursing staff.  My husband would come to the hospital after work to be with the baby, have dinner with me, then it was sleep at back to the NICU in the morning.  As the tubes started coming out, she was eating on her own, and getting stronger.  Then after 4 weeks, we got to take her home…she was only 5 pounds when we brought her home.  Now 3 ½ years later, she shows no sign of having been a preemie.   Even though she still won’t sleep through the night, I love my little NICU graduate!

Mayor Emanuel Please Free Our Playground

On October 15th, the Office of Mayor Emanuel sent out a press release announcing the completion of his Chicago Plays program.  This 3-year program is described in the press release as:

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Park District General Superintendent Michael Kelly today announced the completion of Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! playground initiative, which built or renovated 327 playgrounds across the City so that every child in every neighborhood is within a 10- minute walk of a world-class park or playground”

This is a great program in theory.  There are many neighborhoods that do not have the green space my neighborhood has.  We are blessed with a 40 acre space in the city with green space and other multi-use facilities.  There is a nature preserve, gymnastics center, park district building, trees, fields, and lots of wildlife.  Seriously, my city kids see deer so often they don’t think it’s a big deal anymore.  Yet, here we are with a fence still up around our “new” playground, but in an effort to deter people from playing they added a sign that says it is still a construction area and to call 911 if you see someone inside the fence.  Can you imagine that call to 911?


911 Operator: 911, what’s your emergency?

Good Samaritan: Yes, I’d like to report a mother and her child playing on the playground.  Please send all available units immediately the little one is running.  I repeat, the little one is running.  You are looking for a young male heading north towards the slide…


We began the summer with two playgrounds in the large park district run area by our house.  The park director told parents on the last day of classes in June that the older playground would be demolished and turned into green space.  The other, playground which was still working fine would be replaced.  The old playground was originally slated for demo in October, but for some (probably political) reason it was fenced off September 1st, 5 days before Chicago Public Schools started classes.  That’s right, we ended our summer with a fence around our neighborhood playground.  Oh, and by fence, I mean large fence panels being held up by sandbags, with a large gap that backs up to a field of stinging nettle.

This is one area of fence.  Held up by orange sandbags.


As time has gone on, the new equipment has been installed.  It’s been almost three weeks since the wood chips went in and the playground looks complete.  Two weekends ago a group of teenagers breeched the “secure fencing” and a swing broke.  On Wednesday of last week, there was a party van that pulled up filled with what I was told were from the group of big shots donors (one is the red spot in the above photo) who helped finance the park.  They walked around the playground playing with things, taking selfies with their phones, and in general patting each other on the back for a job well done.  All the while shooing off children who walked in through the portion of fence they left open.

The park director said the park was supposed to open last Friday, but they have to wait for the mayor to do a ribbon cutting.  Why would he do a ribbon cutting a few weeks after he called the project complete?!?  And why is the fence still up around our playground?!?  Another sign on the fence indicates the park will open mid October…maybe they mean of 2017.

My kids wanted to see if the playground was open after dinner last night.  As we walked over you could see people playing through the field of stinging nettle, but the fence was still up.  My 6 year old is a rule follower, and she was very upset to see people playing when she has heard for almost 2 months that the fence is there for a reason and she can’t play inside it.  She was also upset to see that a second swing has broken.

Again, in June we had 2 playgrounds, and by September 1st we had zero.  We now have one, but it’s already falling apart…this is the “world class playground” the mayor talked about in his press release.  The press release also says:

“The program invested an average of $135,000 in the construction of new playgrounds at each park location for a total cost of approximately $44 million, allowing for a broad investment in capital projects throughout the city.”

So, the city now has 327 new or rehabbed parks, but how many of them are still behind fences?  And how many are only a month old and already breaking?  Considering the fact that the swings take the least amount of materials to build, shouldn’t they be the least likely to break at the beginning?  The giant slide, with play castle topper has thousands of pieces, and probably IKEA level directions.  How can that monster pass inspection if the swings clearly can’t?

In the end, everything in Chicago is political.  While my alderman, the mayor, and their minions are patting themselves on the back for all these great parks, we are left with crap equipment behind a crap fence.  On the upside, every weekend that passes, more children learn about stinging nettle as they walk through it to get to the new crap playground.  And seriously Mayor Emanuel, take down the fence before the sandbag breaks and a kid gets hurt when a fence panel falls on them.

And to the other parents in my neighborhood, if the fences are still up next weekend I say we all get together and simply move them to the side of the park district building.  I’ll bring a cardboard cutout of the mayor, a red ribbon, and scissors for a tasteful dedication ceremony.

This is a picture from May, of my youngest on the swings, with some of the old equipment in the background…unlike the new park, these swings worked.


I can feel my face again!

A month ago the right side of my face went numb.  As described in a previous post, I was in the early stages of Bell’s Palsy.  Fortunately, with early drug intervention, I was able to stop the progression of facial paralysis.   I was however left with slight paralysis on my lower right jaw and numbness on the entire right side of my face.

At the end of the first week, I was still a side talker, but I could force a very unnatural looking smile with a delay on the right.  At the end of week 2 with the help of daily facial exercises, I was able to lift both sides of my mouth at the same time.  I was also still experiencing numbness on that side.

Here we are a month later and I would say I am 98% back to normal.  The numbness is still there, but not nearly as bad as it was the first two weeks.  I am still grateful I caught it early and that I demanded the doctor listen to me even though I wasn’t “presenting” with full blown Bell’s Palsy.  As a reminder, in my previous post I described almost being discharged without treatment because the doctor felt since I could close my eye it wasn’t Bell’s Palsy…apparently in her medical education she wasn’t taught about the progression of diseases just their end result.  In the end, I am recovered, and hopefully we have one more medical professional who is humbled by her (almost) fuck up…

UPDATE: Water Heater Rocket Science

I never expected my legacy would be water heater reform, but I have learned some things in the last few weeks that are blowing my mind.  To begin with, consider the fact that every home and business has a hot water heater of some type otherwise they clearly would not have hot water.  Now consider the fact that 40 years ago water heaters were built to last 20-30 years.  Current water heaters now have a life of 8-10 years.  We have advanced in so many areas of technology and science but somehow instead of improving the product they make them like pieces of crap with shorter shelf lives so that we the consumer are forced to purchase them again and again because silly us, we have grown to enjoy hot showers and clean clothes and dishes.

So let’s flash back to August 21st after my blog post when I finally had a repair guy come out from Four Season Plumbing.  He informed me that the “computer” on the water heater was probably out and they could order it.  So we order it and on August 25th a new repair man shows up, installs the part that would have cost $600 (part and service call fee) and absolutely nothing happens.  So my 4 year old water heater is dead.  We order a new one from Four Seasons and it was installed the same day.  Meanwhile we spent over $2500 replacing an item that should have lasted 8-10 years.  It should be noted that because our house doesn’t have a chimney to vent through we need a special motor on top of our water heater which costs an extra $750.  How many of you even realized that hot water heaters vent through the chimney?!?

Fast forward to August 30th when I got an email from someone at Service Experts indicating they read my blog post and would like to look into my issues.  In the meantime, I do my research.  I take photos of my mother in laws water heater also installed by Service Experts because it has a giant sticker on it that says “24 hour emergency service 847-419-0909” which is the number I had called for service and was told they only install water heaters not repair them.


I also found this on their website:


Notice how they say they can repair water heaters, that leads me to my conversation with the General Manager (here on referred to as GM) of my local Service Experts.  Here is the breakdown of our conversation:

  1. When I asked when they stopped doing repairs and started doing only installation the GM said “you can’t really repair a water heater”.  According to him when they stop working they can’t be fixed they need to be replaced, “that’s why you have a warranty” he said.  So when they came out for a service call in 2012 to repair my water heater, they didn’t repair them at that time either.
  1. When I spoke with the apparent “after hours” employee I had asked if my water heater was still under warranty.  I was confused because there was a yellow sticker on it that said “6 year contractors warranty” and she informed me that no, we only had a 3 year warranty and it had expired a year ago.  GM told me that again I was given the wrong information because that water heater we replaced actually had a 6 year warranty which WAS STILL GOOD FOR 2 MORE YEARS!!!  GM was suprised that Four Seasons didn’t notice the water heater was still under warranty.   But he peaked my interest as to why they didn’t notice if those stickers are some sort of industry standard.
  1. GM asked me to call four seasons, his competitor, and ask why they didn’t tell me my warranty was still good because Service Experts techs are supposed to look and let a customer know even if the warranty and water heater were through another company.

So I called Four Seasons, twice.  It sounded like this was not an issue they were willing to pass along to a manager, given that I really just wanted clarification.  However, both people that I spoke with indicated that if the water heater wasn’t installed by Four Seasons it’s the customer’s responsibility to check, and that techs “can use their discretion” in looking into it.  Now let me clarify, had it been a parts issue, and I knew my warranty was still good, since I was not using the company that installed it, I would have had to order the part direct from the manufacturer, then Four Seasons could install it.  As a consumer, this is a very confusing process for an item that is ultimately meant to be disposable.

Ultimately, Service Experts wanted to make things right, and sent me a check for a little over the amount I paid for the new water heater (purchased from their competitor). Really though, at the end of the day, my situation is resolved because someone happened to read my blog from corporate and reached out to me.  However, this doesn’t change the fact that as a country we are producing very shitty water heaters.  Water heaters do have parts that can sometimes be replaced.  Service Experts says that based on local code they aren’t allowed to repair them…but Four Seasons is allowed to…so who knows what’s true and what isn’t.  What I do know for sure is that we all use hot water.  It so deeply enmeshed in our daily lives that we don’t even think about it till it stops working.  At least now I know my water heater is meant to be a piece of shit and it will be replaced by another shitty one in 10 years.  I made a point of getting the extended 10 year warranty this time…and I used a magic marker to write on it the date of installation, as well as 10 year warranty.  See, this old dog is learning some new tricks…

Ummm, I Can’t Feel My Face…

I’ve had a fun virus last week, but I never thought it would turn in to the disaster that I experienced today.  Around 11:00 a.m. I noticed that my lower right jaw was starting to tingle and go numb.  The average person would find it odd but would probably not jump into action.  Knowing several people who have had this, I immediately knew I had Bell’s Palsy and called my father in law (who is a doctor) and he told me I needed to get to an ER immediately because he agreed it was likely Bells Palsy.  In previous posts I have said he is the only doctor that I trust, and this experience solidified it for me.


So within 20 minutes of my initial symptom I was in the ER.  I didn’t realize they would have to rule out a stroke so I was surprised to hear my room number called over the loud speaker followed by a code and a number I didn’t understand.  10 different people swarm my room doing all kinds of tests and checking my vitals.  The highlight being when the nurse putting in my IV decided to do the blood guy a favor and fill vials for him.  Unfortunately, she forgot to close off the valve before inserting the first tube.  She gasps as blood begins to pool around my arm….and because I have a terrible sense of humor I start cracking up.  Blood is finally drawn, pool of blood cleaned up, and I am taken to get a CT scan to rule out a stroke.


About an hour later the nurse comes in and informs me I’m being discharged because I wasn’t having a stroke.  Mind you my face is still numb and I cannot move the lower right side of my mouth and it was getting worse.  Not as noticeable when I talk, but very prominent when I smile.  So I FaceTime my father in law to ask what I do and he said to get the doctor back in because once he saw my face he confirmed it really was Bell’s Palsy as we suspected all along and that I needed to start the course of treatment to stop it from spreading.  The doctor came back in and said I wasn’t presenting for it, but when I smiled she realized she was wrong and I was right.  To be fair, most people do not seek treatment till one side of their face is fully paralyzed.  Onset is usually when a person is sleeping and they wake up looking and thinking that they have had a stroke.  I vividly remember my cousins husband being diagnosed 15 years ago and him telling a story that his jaw felt funny when he was brushing his teeth before going to bed but not thinking much of it till he woke up fully paralyzed on one side.  This story was what I thought of the moment my jaw began to go numb.


Had I gone home and not started treatment this would have happened to me.  Doctors can intervene with heavy doses of steroids and another medicine but you have to catch it in time, though the full facial paralysis on one side can happen after just 12 hours, it typically peaks around 48 hours after the onset of symptoms (interestingly it can only affect you on one side at a time).  I had the meds in my system within 3 hours of the first symptom.  If you seek treatment in the first 72 hours and are given the proper medication, you greatly increase your chances of fully recovering.  Since I got early intervention, the paralysis did not progress beyond my right jaw and partial cheek, and the minimal paralysis that I do have should improve over the next 4 months till I am back to normal.  I shouldn’t have any long term effects, but I am very lucky.  If you ever feel numbness in your jaw seek treatment immediately and don’t let them send you home, demand the doctor come back and check for Bell’s Palsy.  I will be fine, and for the next 4 months I can blame my resting bitch face on my partial paralysis!

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