Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Signs of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Anemia is a lack of hemoglobin. The most common cause is an iron deficiency. I have been an iron deficiency anemic my whole life. The simplest solution is to increase your intake of iron through dietary changes or to take iron supplements. The cause of this iron deficiency varies. It can be due to: menstrual bleeding, ulcers, the use of NSAIDS like aspirin or ibuprofen, childbirth, breastfeeding, blood donation, endurance training, caffeine and poor diet. Unfortunately, the symptoms for iron anemia can be categorized for at least two other conditions each. Over the years, I have come to isolate which symptoms usually pan out to be an iron deficiency for me.

  • Extreme fatigue - If I take a 2-4 hour nap and I still feel exhausted, or if I sleep through the night and am still sleepy, I classify that as extremely fatigued.

  • Pale skin - As a woman of color, this may present itself differently. I find that I get dark circles under my eyes that are not cured by water or sleep. Also, If I get a pimple or mosquito bite, there is immediately a black mark left behind, even if I don't pick at it. I also seem to bruise easily.

  • Weakness- During roller derby practice I find that I can't skate nearly as many laps as I could when I am not anemic. Unfortunately, the endurance training I go through in practice is also lowering my iron levels.

  • Shortness of breath - Just walking two blocks to my child's school can wear me out.

  • Headache - These headaches feel like migraines for me. They can literally knock me out.

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness - This isn't just when I stand or sit. This is simply turning my head really fast, once, from left to right. I also notice vision changes. Television and other moving images become blurry.

  • Cold hands and feet - No matter how hot it is, I get the chills. This is usually my first sign.

  • Fast heartbeat - This can sometimes feel like a panic attack or having too many espresso shots in my coffee.

  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch - I'm all but obsessed with ice when I'm anemic. I know it's reached a dangerous level when I am eating the ice and not drinking the liquid.

  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia - I tend to lose weight when I am anemic because I don't have an appetite anymore. All I want is ice. When I do eat, it's red meat but usually only one serving a week. This is usually when I take an iron supplement. or go see the doctor.

  • If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away. These could also be symptoms of even more serious illnesses than anemia. Anemia itself is pretty serious. You may wind up needing a blood transfusion after childbirth or during a simple surgical procedure that normally wouldn't call for it. Better to get in front of it now than to put it off.

    3 Simple Ways to Combat Mansplaining in the Workplace

    Mansplaining is a portmanteau of the words man and explaining. It is when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending or patronizing manner.

    Most incidents of mansplaining takes place at work. This is particularly frustrating due to the codes of conduct most companies have in place. When mansplaining happens at a social gathering, a woman is free to speak her mind without fear of losing her income or feeling the glass ceiling fall even lower than it was before. To put it simply, a woman can clapback at a mansplainer at the family barbeque but not at the office. Here are three simple ways to clapback without backlash at your job.

    1. "Don't interrupt me. It's unprofessional."

    This is one has been the most successful for me. It has resulted in me being treated more like a supervisor than a subordinate, by my own supervisor. The reason is the buzzword "unprofessional". No one, especially not a misogynist, wants to be called unprofessional. A chauvinistic male operates under the belief that he is inherently more professional and intelligent than his female equal. To infer that he is being unprofessional immediately puts an end to their interruption, mid sentence in fact. This also effects those around you. People will become more respectful about interrupting someone because they don't want to be the unprofessional one. Sometimes interruptions are necessary, but there is a polite way to do it. People will realize that because of you, and your workplace will improve in respect to mansplaining.

    2. Remove emotions from the situation.

    Male chauvinists believe that women are too emotional. They think that we take everything personally. Any disagreement with them must be an emotional outburst, as far as they are concerned. So let's dumb it down for them. Instead of saying words like rude, disrespectful, or inconsiderate, use words like unprofessional for the reasons stated above. A phrase that often works for me is, "Your behavior is inconducive to our company's core values".  This is highly effective because the person must stop what he is doing to evaluate your statement. What are the company's core values? Which ones am I violating? Imaging the impact this statement has when members of your corporate departments are present. What image is he creating for the company or organization by being rude and disrespectful? Essentially, you're telling the person they are being rude and disrespectful without using those exact words. Why do we need to avoid those words? It's simple, emotion.

    The determination of someone's rudeness is based upon your opinion. Opinion involves emotion. For you to ascertain that someone is rude, you would have to feel insulted or offended. This also involves emotion. Telling a male chauvinist that he is rude or disrespectful will cause him to dismiss anything you say as a gusher of emotion not worth his time or acknowledgment. So, keep your objections emotionless, factual, and refer to the company's mission statement and core values for support.

    3. Womansplain

    Yes, womansplaining is a thing, but what man would bravely admit to it? It is essentially the same as mansplaining with a mere gender role reversal. Once at a business meeting a man interrupted me to mansplain. I was feeling petty so I responded, "Woa, someone didn't make par at the golf course this weekend." It was rude, disrespectful, and condescending. Everyone in the room laughed. Immediately this man had to make a decision. Would he become the overly sensitive person he once accused me of being and complain about my comment? Or would he call me out on my behavior in one of the other two ways I have previously suggested? He chose to become emotional. He went on about how great his golf game was and attempted to get back to his mansplaining. But as I said before, I was feeling petty. So I womansplained him again. "Easy there. There's no need to be so emotional. Calm down." He was livid. He called a meeting with my supervisor for sexual harassment. There was only one problem, He had done the same thing unchecked almost every single day to every woman in the office. So, my supervisor informed him that he would pursue a vigorous investigation and ensure that everyone who was found in violation of the policy would be disciplined. He opted out of the complaint and a truce was called in that meeting. He had a more difficult time changing his behavior. I, on the other hand, became Wonder Woman at the office.

    Male or Female, no one likes to be interrupted. No one likes to be disrespected or stereotyped for any reason, including gender. So don't assume that all men are sexist and that woman are not at all sexist. Standing up for yourself is quite effective, as is standing up for others. This includes a person of the opposite gender. If each one of us makes an effort to create an environment of respect, we will all spend less time dreading our work days.

    Monday, May 9, 2016

    Transgender Hysteria

    Before Bruce Jenner became Caitlynn, before orange became the new black, and before people started caring about who was in which bathroom, I married a man with waist-length hair. He was, and still is, a gloriously handsome man with hair straighter than the ruler we used to measure it. Never once had he been mistaken for a woman. Years later, I had a son with that man. In keeping with his father's tradition, we allowed his hair to grow long. Even as an infant, no one mistook my son for a girl. Perhaps it was the clothing. He was usually donning the finest three-piece suit since they were cheap for his infant size. But over the past 24 months, all of that changed.

    No one questions my husband about being a woman or a man. He is clearly a man. But there isn't any inquisition as to whether or not he was born that way. However, since the debate over whether or not to have transgender bathrooms emerged, we experienced a new problem. You see, I also have a daughter. My spunky little Mini-Me is notorious for saying she doesn't have to go potty 150,000 times before we leave the house. The moment we arrive at our destination, she has to potty, whether there is a potty or not. This made Mother's day particularly difficult.

    My five year old daughter has no income or a driver's license. Therefore, when the time came to purchase a mother's day gift for me, she had to tagalong with her father, and point to her gift choice. Like clockwork, she walked into the store and demanded to be escorted to the potty. I should also state that she refuses to use public restrooms unchaperoned. That's not a complaint. We always have to go into the stall with her because the loud sudden flushes terrify her. So there they were, father and daughter faced with the decision of choosing the men's or women's restrooms.

    "I wasn't going to take her to the men's restroom because of the urinals. Besides, she will take one look at the men in the room and will hold it until her bladder explodes." he explained.

    So he decided to take her to the bathroom with which she was most comfortable, the women's. Being the boss that she is, she staked her claim on the handicap stall and pulled her father by the hand towards it. He was swiftly intercepted by a middle aged woman in the restroom.

    "What the Hell do you think you're doing?!" she shouted, startling my daughter.

    "I'm taking my daughter to the potty."

    "This is the LADIES room, you know. Being a little bold aren't you?"

    "I'm not taking my daughter to a men's room with penises swinging like a tree vines, if that's alright with you."

    "But you're a man!"

    "Look lady, don't flatter yourself or anyone else in here. I have no desire to see what ANY of you have going on. I'm here to let her pee. It seems to me, you're done. So why are you still here?"

    Naturally, when my husband shared this story with me, I was ready to find this meddling woman and go off on her for scaring my baby girl. But I chose to listen to him share his experience instead.

    "It's ridiculous." he told me. "We go to the bathroom to piss, shit, and wash our hands. Why do we need a bathroom monitor? My baby girl almost had an accident at a different store because a man stood outside the bathroom refusing to let me take her in. He said his mother was in there washing her hands. Really??"

    He was angry and frustrated. So was I, but there is nothing we could do about it. Prior to the whole bathroom debate, no one would say two words to us about taking our children to the bathroom with which they were most comfortable. Now, we have several near misses a week due to the pee-pee dance and bathroom monitors. How is this fair to us? We're not perverts trying to film under the stall doors for the latest edition of Girls Gone Wild. We're not transgender people seeking to relieve ourselves without facing discrimination. We're parents, trying to get our children and their tiny bladders to the nearest toilet on time. But we have been caught up in the transgender hysteria.

    There is also the issue of my son's hair. As I said before, my son has long hair, the same as his father. It's waist-length and wavy. When he was younger he was never mistaken for a girl. But then something interesting happened. He passed to the 3rd grade, which meant clothing style preferences and video games. It also meant the start of bullying. My son is an African-Native American in a predominantly white school. So when he wears two braids, he is made fun of for looking "like a girl". So my son chooses more masculine attire in hopes in appearing more like a boy than a girl. Its not that it's an insult to him to be feminine, but it's not who he is. My son was able to deal with the bullying thanks to the zero tolerance policy and his father sharing his childhood experiences.

    The same could not be said for rude people on the street.

    "Your daughters are beautiful."

    "Thank you, but this one's a boy." I'd say, gesturing to my son, who is practically my height. He's in the fourth grade now.

    "Well he looks like a girl because of his hair."

    "Lot's of men have long hair." My husband interjected.

    When my son started third grade, that would have been the end of it. The person would look at my husband and then at my son and realize their mistake. They would typically apologize and make some remark about his facial hair growing in someday and all would be well. But now my son is passing from fourth grade to fifth grade, right in the middle of transgender hysteria. The conversations begin the same way, but not they end like this one with a female Trump lookalike.

    "She looks like a girl."

    "Well HE'S not. So I would appreciate it if you would respect that."

    "Just because you want her to be a boy, doesn't mean SHE will ever be one."

    I had an Ally McBeal moment, envisioning slapping her across her orange face and shoving her down on her knees before my son shouting, "That's a factory original penis!" But that would likely involve trauma and Child Protective services. So I dismissed this woman as an idiot a split second before I heard my son speak.

    "I was born with a penis lady. Not that it's any of your business, you perverted bigot."

    Was that my son? Mama was proud. Orange Face, dropped her jaw and stuttered through an apology. There had been a few people nearby waiting on their coffee orders who seemed to have overheard the interaction. They applauded and she quickly ran off leaving her coffee and croissant on the counter.

    This seems to happen exponentially more frequently now that the country is openly transphobic. My son now feels the need to overcompensate, not to prove his masculinity, but to try to divert any accusations that he is a girl "pretending" to be a boy. I have always understood when people have said that they felt like they were born in the wrong body. I've been referred to as an ally. I never anticipated, however, my son feeling the need to go out of his way to prove he is not transgender. Again, he wasn't offended that they thought he was transgender. He was offended that they couldn't see him for who is.

    Now, I'm a helicopter mom. I will probably still be accompanying my son to the restroom when he is 18 years old. I trust no one around my children. So when my son heads to the men's room to potty, (he hates when I say that), I go with him. I could care less about a man copping an attitude. I'm going in with my son to protect him. If the men's room is full or filthy, I escort him to the women's restroom. And yes, I stand guard there too. I will break a cougar's neck if she comes at my baby. That's just me.

    Something interesting happens when I go to the men's room with my son. And by that I mean, nothing happens! The men do a double take and literally continue their "business". No one cares. Do you know why? Because they are there to "piss, shit, and wash their hands". My husband says the only issue he notices is that there is always that one man who hangs around until they leave, to make sure nothing is happening to my daughter in the stall that shouldn't be. My husband actually appreciates that. As do I. In the women's room, however, there is so much nosiness and meddling. I don't understand this hysteria. If I had it my way, all bathrooms would be gender neutral like at the local gas station or porta potty...only cleaner. All bathrooms should have baby changing stations, and urinals should have privacy walls. If I had it my way, people would mind their business while doing their business. I mean seriously, piss or get off the pot. Don't be a self-appointed bathroom monitor either. The last thing I would want to do is regulate a bathroom knowing full well, someone is about to take a shit and stink the place up. I'm afraid of the funk and filth of public restrooms, not the gender assignment of its patrons.

    It's interesting how people are discriminating against my family and labeling my son as transgender, all in an attempt to discriminate against actual transgender people. They are attacking and victimizing the very people they are claiming to "protect". Although frustrating, these experiences are not making my son bitter. In fact, he is learning through incorrect assumptions about him, the kinds of struggles transgender people experience. In an ironic twist, transphobic bigots have created another LGBTQ ally.