Jun 15, 2009

A Rant, a long time coming

I am no stranger to doctors. I am no stranger to the look they give my tattooed body while I am at their mercy. I am however sick of it, especially now.
For about three years (the same amount of time I've spent on and off addicted to pain medicine) I've been to a plethora of doctors for my neck/shoulder pain.
They've told me I was depressed and added to my anti-depressant. This year alone, they have prescribed Cymbalta, Lyrica, Neurontin and Ibuprofen in ridiculous amounts. I have tried them all and ugh..they make me feel horrible and do not help with the searing/burning/electric pain that shoots from my neck into my shoulder.
My last appt. (last week) the Dr. finally gave in and ordered an M.R.I.
I got the results and it appears that I've had a bulging disk in my neck for a long while, and now it's complete with some sort of tear in the tissue.
I went from no one believing this pain was real, to "You'll need surgery, to repair the tear at least." I was relieved. To have surgery?! No, to be believed. To not be made a joke of. I cannot believe it came to this for someone to believe I was truly in pain, not truly in search of medication. I can't help but wonder if the treatment would be much less invasive, had they listened in the first place.
I live in a place, that regardless of how you carry yourself, how polite and respectful you are or the good you may do for others is shadowed by having many tattoos. I have a Celtic knot on my left wrist and a baby turtle (for Zoe) above that. I have two orchids on each side of my upper chest. One for my sweet aunt that died, and the other for one of the sweetest men I ever knew Ron Capone (you can google him, he won the fifth Grammy ever given to a producer. He produced the Shaft theme song, and Dock of the Bay with Otis Redding,You can hear his voice at the beginning of the song on youtube. He used to be a great friend to me) I have giant fairy wings on my upper back, to symbolise the urge I've always had, to fly away from all this. I also have a large unicorn on my side, from my love of the movie, 'The Last Unicorn', as I have related to that movie for many years.
I suppose my point is, I have NO negativity etched into my skin, no evil or ugly beings anywhere on my body. It's flowers and baby animals and butterflies and sun, moons and stars. Things that are beautiful to me. To others it is a lifetime of 'marking' myself and self mutilation. They are entitled to their opinion, but not entitled to deny me true medical help, due to their opinion, of how I look.
I know this is not the case a bit further north, west even. Even in Dallas and Houston TX, I fit right in, no one gawking at 'the tattooed woman', maybe a lot of questions, but not rude ones.
My mother used to believe that others were only curious, and saw me as she did, and perhaps I was a little too sensitive about it. When we went to Jefferson, the way I was looked at and stared at made her angry, and she threatened to ask the next person who sat, arms-crossed gawking, if they wanted an autograph. She finally understood what I go through every day, when I leave my little bubble.
I usually take it in stride. I ask God to bless those that choose to judge others so harshly, based solely upon the way they look.
Since my bulging disk diagnosis, I have been depressed. I have rolled over in my head my begging of the doctors to take my pain seriously, and looks they give me, and seeming relief at me leaving their office.
Let me tell you some of the physical aspects of this. I have days, where I must lay flat on the floor for hours at a time, to quiet the burning spasms radiating around my neck and shoulder. I have lifted groceries only to have a white searing pain go down my spine and cause me to drop them. I've been accused of being lazy when I couldn't get all the housework done. I was depressed then and I could not explain to the people around me, that there was something wrong, that wasn't going to just go away. They knew I had seen doctors about this, but there feelings on it coincided with the Dr's. If they thought it was all in my head, most of the people around me did too. I became dependant on pain pills, because it was the easiest way, to not hurt, and get things done, pick up L.O. and have people have faith in me again. It became my secret at times. It has really affected my life.
All this, and the death of my precious girl in the middle of it all, seemed more than I was capable of. I beat myself up about, but took, the pills, did my motherly, girlfriendly, housekeeperly duty. That was fine, for everyone but me.
So, now it's been brought to light. I have appointments and lab work and probably surgery. It was never just in my head, and I want to scream,"I told you, why couldn't you have only listened?!.
So, no deep sea fishing for me this year. Maybe no beach either. I may miss out on all the things that take me away from my area of the world where I can be me, and at peace. Wedding plans for K and I? On hold.
Basically, when I got my tattoos, I believed that by the time I was older, the stigma attached to them would disappear. It did not, and I'm so angry that I have to be discriminated against.
I've never committed a crime/stole from anyone/not taken care of my child/ren/ never been a drug addict, and yet, I may as well have, all because of the color of my skin. While I'm fully aware, that I was not born with my tattoos, but I can't change them now. They are completely legal, yet you're treated like a criminal around here.
My surgeon called just now. I have an appointment on the 7th of July. When I asked the nurse about pain management until my appointment, she said my family doctor would arrange it. I called them and asked about it. They haven't called back. when she does I feel like her response will sting.
Alright, I've ranted long enough. I really wanted to ask a question from some of you guys, my friends. How are the heavily tattooed people looked at/treated in the area you live in? I would love to know that there is hope for fitting in somewhere on this earth.


Penny said...

I don't know how everyone here views the tattoo issue. Where I live is deep in the heart of the conservative Bible belt, so it's hard not to notice when someone is heavily tattooed (sp?). I know I'm guilty of staring, because tattoos are so intricate, just glancing isn't enough to figure out the design. I've never been rude to anyone with them. (Lord, I hope not.)
Except maybe with my own kid, because while you said yours weren't evil or ugly... hers are! She was going through an awful period when she got hers. We were battling depression and self-multilation. (I say we, because I was right there fighting with her.) She was 18 and still living at home when the first two tattoos appeared, and I freaked out when I saw them. The first was a gothic fairy in B&W, pretty for a poster, but on your shoulder and with nipples?!!! The second was the word "psycho" in Chinese symbols on her lower stomach! After two hospitalizations for suicide attempts, and as her MOTHER, I did NOT want a permanent reminder of that time. To me, it was if she "branded" herself and, in a way, she did. The next tattoo was a hummingbird on the top of her foot. (I didn't have a big problem with that one.) The worst was yet to come. A HUGE green gargoyle monster on her other shoulder with horns and a halo?! Now, everywhere we go it's like people can just take one look and she's "labeled." I know EXACTLY how your mom felt! I still see my beautiful daughter, mother to my beautiful grandson, but the world sees a troubled girl. Including doctors, employers, and a lot of others. And yes, she was on drugs and was living a really messed up life when she got the tattoos (Thank God! that part has changed!) Now she regrets getting hers, but will probably never be able to afford to have them removed. She is probably always going to be discriminated against, by some, because of some really impulsive behavior three years ago. I try not to judge others with tattoos, because I hate it when others judge her. That was one of the reasons I reached out to you to begin with-- your comment on the Riggs' blog about being discriminated against at church.
I am really glad you found a doctor that took you seriously--- and diagnosed you. I pray that everything goes fine and you'll get to a place very soon where you won't need any pills to make it through the day! God bless!
PS I'm sorry this is SO long! =)

Anonymous said...

I'm not "heavily" tattooed but have 3 - the one most recent of Sam's footprints and name on my left upper arm. I can't say I've ever noticed but we live in a mid-sized city and they're pretty acceptable here. Plus, people where I live as a rule are fairly polite and most wouldn't dream of saying/doing anything derogatory - they may think it but I haven't had any stares or different treatment. I do however hide mine @ work and for occasions where I feel needed.

I'm sorry people are such idiots but happy they've taken your pain seriously. I can only hope it gets better for you.

PS - Penny above - I know this sounds crazy but has your daughter considered covering up some of the tattooos she deoesn't like with better art? It's a cheaper way of getting rid of bad ink.

caitsmom said...

First, I am so glad to hear that they believed you and you have some course of action to relieve yourself of your physical pain. As for tatoos and how people in my corner of the world view them . . .. I don't know. I'm sorry. But, for what it's worth I love that you chose images that express your love. Beautiful. Peace.

Steve+Marie Douglas said...

I emailed you this morning not knowing what you had already blogged today!!!! WELL I have no tattoos BUT MY brother & Hubby do!!! I DO NOT BELIEVE IN JUDGING PEOPLE FOR THEIR CHOICES!! I SAID I IN YOUR EMAIL & I WILL PAST IT HERE " I KNOW JESUS LOVES YOU, Tattoos & All"
Remember the Bible says God looks at the heart, only He can judge you.
I am so sorry you are in so much pain & then on top of that for the doctors to take it so lightly, all the while you & your family are the ones dealing with the pain.

If it is okay I can ask our ladies group to pray for you. :)
email me @ stv.mre@gmail.com

Jennifer Ross said...

I think the doctors must feel pretty stupid about not looking further into your pain. That would almost put a smile on my face, because it makes them look very ignorant and judgmental!

As for tatoos, I have a huge sunshine on my right sholder blade. It has five colors in it. The outside of the sun looks like flames. One time I had a shirt on that covered everything up but the flames. A guy thought it was a dragon, which I took offense to, because I wouldn't put anything "bad" on my body. I was seventeen when I got it, and I was not living a real wholesome life. I do feel judged for it now, but I am what I am. I have done bad things in my younger years, and I also grew up. To answer your question, I do believe that I am looked down upon when my tattoo is showing, but that's the person's problem.


Lea said...

Your tatoo's sound amazing and beautiful and well though out.

Glad to hear someone is FINALLY listening to you! I had a slipped disk in my neck years ago and although a little different than your diagnosis.... it was extremely painful!! I think I have a little bit of an idea of what you are experiencing. Just what you need!

Sending you love.

margaret said...

Lindsay, where I live in Canada, well Canada in general is a pretty tolerant place. I live in a small city, population around thirty thousand and I believe there are ten tattoo studios here. I'm hoping not to offend with my opinion but I believe the level of intolerance is related to how far south you live. The south in general has been a pretty intolerant place for hundreds of years. I dated a beautiful black man from Florida once, he had been sent by his company to open a business up here and he was amazed by the fact that we could walk down the street holding hands and no one looked twice. He told me if we were in Florida, that people would be making comments, or targeting me as a "ni**er lover"...how awful is that???!!! I have spent time in LA and while I found it beautiful and genteel for the most part, I did see some things that made me feel uncomfortable. It's your geographical area I'm sure of it...But don't worry, you are definitely taking the right approach to it all. You are a beautiful woman, inside and out. Don't let people crush your spirit because they are uncomfortable with the way you express yourself. Hold your head high and make people acknowledge you as a brave, powerful woman. And screw the ones that won't...Love you.

angie said...

your tattoos look amazing, in my opinion. i have a tattoo, and i live in suburban philadelphia, where noone looks twice at a tattoo, or a full sleeve, or two. i live on a very normal street with middle class folk, and i can say that of the six houses to the road, three of the women (mothers)have tattoos, and they are church-going pta attending parents.

i am so glad you are finally being listened to, and frustrated that you have gone this long without proper medical attention. so frustrating to have such a debilitating injury and the judgment along with it. with much love.

Lynda said...

I do not understand why ANYONE would make a big deal out of it??? Its YOUR body, do as you please? Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal to me because I'm not into controlling every single person I come in contact with? I don't know. If I seen them, I probably would look, and maybe even stare, but not because I thought you were disgusting or whatever but because I would interested in what the tats were of, what the meaning was behind them. At Wal*Mart (of all places) yesterday I seen a woman with a picture of her baby on her back. I probably stared at it for five minutes, because I realized that she too lost a baby. I wanted to just reach out and hug her and tell her she wasn't alone, but my shyness stopped me....and I didn't. Point is, your tats are a tribute to people and things that are important to you, who cares what anyone else thinks?

Larns said...

It really upsets me when people judge the book by the cover. I only have one tatt on my back-but i am dieing to get heaps more-i dont look at them like self mutilation...trust me i personally know what that is! It's art...i checked out your art site and i wish i'd mentioned how 'hot' you look in that pic! I love tatts! Yours are bright and beautiful and colourful! I love em!!! As for drs...they are so smart yet so dumb arent they??? It's like you have to shop around for a decent one. Sometimes it feels like you have to barter with them just to get the treatment you should've got in the first place like your scan....I hope you can get things sorted-I dont know how you have coped with both physical and soul pain.
Sending love!
Love Larns

Larns said...

P.S. have you seen some of those 'suicide girls' sounds dark but they have the most amazing tatts...
Love Larns

Natalie said...

I'm so sorry you've been suffering through such pain. Thankfully, you may know find some peace!

I am sorry for the way you have been judged. My brother has a tattoo that wraps from one shoulder, around his back and stops at the other shoulder. It is amazing and beautiful. He was a tattoo artist for quite a while in L.A. He has one on his low back as well. I am from the South and I understand what you mean about the looks. My brother is the kindest, gentlest soul and never judges anyone, yet he is constantly judged by others.

All I can say is that people can be very critical and narrow-minded. Count yourself blessed that you are not that way, that your heart is open and full of love.

This upsets me because I am from the South. Those judgmental, ignorant people you are referring to, give us all a bad name. There are many kind, tolerant, open-minded and intelligent people in the South. Unfortunately, the ones who are not so kind shape how others see us. I am often judged by others who think they know me based on limited knowledge. It sucks, and I'm sorry you have felt this in your life.

Thinking of you, and wishing you all the best!