Christina Ruotolo

Monday, August 19, 2013

Akuna Matata

The one thing I am not and will never be is conventional. My name is Christina and I am proud to say I will not conform. I would rather birth books than babies. They pay better and most of the time, they don’t talk back. I have decided after years of being a nanny, I love kids and they are the purest form of joy a mother can have in her life, but I am selfish and not afraid to say I don’t want to give-up my sleep, my time, my time to write, to love, to cook and to just be. Kids take all that you have and I would rather write a novel. This is not wrong. This is honesty. I would rather make love than wage war. Making love is much more effective in ending a stand-off. I would rather be nestled in my sweethearts’ arms, than out dancing at clubs having other men try to pick me up. I’ve been with my soul mate for 14 years. He makes me feel love every day, a deep beautiful love that makes my insides warm and alive. He is where my heart resides. I can turn on some music and dance with him and have a great time. He makes me laugh and no guy at any club can do that. I will read and re-read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy of kinky sex and bondage and I don't care who thinks it is “beneath me” or “something I should think twice about.” Those books were fantastic to read and brought more love, sex, laughter and security to my love life, all that from just a few books. Way to go E.L. James. I would rather perform other people’s marriage ceremonies than get married myself. Marriage is a wonderful thing for anyone else but me. Why ruin a good thing? Walk away when you want, not when the lawyer you paid $10,000 tells you to. When you have worked, managed and arranged and performed as many weddings as me, you can live vicariously through other people’s weddings. Don’t get me wrong, I still cry most of time when the bride and groom give their vows. It’s a beautiful thing. Always will be! I would rather work four small jobs than one big, boring one. I may get around in the job world, so call me a work slut. That’s OK with me. No desk will ever hold me hostage again, unless I am writing my novel. I used to work a job that may have paid the bills and given me health insurance, but I hated every minute I typed away at a keyboard. Every strike of the keys, took away a little bit of my soul. I said no and now have never been happier; I am now uninsured but my soul is whole again. I would rather work part-time at the bookstore on Sunday, working a job that brings my heart peace and joy, than sit in a pew at church listening to things I don’t necessarily believe. Books feed my soul just as much as prayer will. I still have faith and pray regularly, I just don’t need a church to do it in. Why, you ask will I not conform to what society and my church tells me to do? Because I can and I don’t care who disapproves. I may be poor and have a life where my hand is in more cookie jars than I can count, but that just means more opportunities for me and my future. I do what makes me happy. I follow my dreams, I believe in love, long-term commitment, writing and working a job that brings me the purest kind of happiness, like glacier water in my soul. It’s pure and right. I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me I am in love or a bunch of money in the bank to tell me I am worth something. When you have love and you feel happiness in all the veins of your heart, the rest will fall in to place. Don’t conform. Be yourself and when you are, no one can bring you down or make you feel bad. You have to take risks. Stop being scared and stop trying to do and be what you think others want you to be. BE YOU. BE YOUR BEAUTIFUL SELF! Remember the saying from the movie The Lion King, “Akuna Matata?” It means no worries, so adopt this philosophy and when you stop worrying so much, you will start living. I am lucky. I am happy. I am in love. I am blessed. I feel free. I have a plaque on my desk that says it all, “Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build you wings on the way down.” Take the leap and see what happens next.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Today I am introducing guest blogger, Maria Grego. We went to high school together way back in the mid-nineties in Burlington, NC. Go Bulldogs! Maria posted this recently on facebook and it inspired me to carry on any way no matter what pain I have, Her post is emotional and heart-felt and true for those suffering with chronic illness. Let it be the wind in your sails today, so keep calm and carry on. Thanks Maria for letting me share your story. Here is a little background on Maria's story: I guess bout how I got blessed with chronic illness. I was coming home from work a lil early on 11/19/09--3 yrs ago almost--I was driving on the interstate and the car in front of me went right ( I was in 1st lane, by the divider wall) and before I knew it--there was a dually truck tire on a rim in front of me--I braced rather than turned (first responders said if I turned I would have flipped & almost surely died) and first hit the rim & tire, then went over it....the force was incredible. Seriously--I had a very spiritual moment. I felt 2 hands on my shoulders pushing down & 2 hands on my chest pushing back. I believe it was my parents...I felt the imprint of those hands for hours. So the accident tore out everything under my car. Totaled. I was worried I couldn't work the next day. The guy responsible was driving a car hauler, for a dealership. They pressured me not to get a police report even though I had called 911. I was in shock. They promised to help me & I believed them. At the time--adrenaline & all--I didn't know I was hurt. I went home. Thanked God I was alive. Stared at my kids thinking I almost died. The next day I could barely move without crying. I repeatedly went to E.R. I requested MRIs...they did xrays. Said I had sprained muscles & whiplash. I finally went to my doctor who knew me for 20 years....he ordered MRIs...days later he called me personally & said I needed to be very careful. I had multiple ruptured discs (4!!!) and multiple herniated discs (8!!!) My neck & back hurt. From my neck to my low back. Just about every other one is damaged. I have had cervical anterior diskectomy with fusion on 2 ruptured discs--I also have degenerative disc disease now which has accelerated since my accident & causes all my joints pain. I have continually torn my right rotator cuff (the muscles in my neck try to support my head but if I sit up or stand too long, it tears my rotator cuff. I have PTSD from my accident. Panic attacks. Nightmares. I have found out I am allergic to most common anxiety meds: ie, xanax, valium, throat swells up & I get hives. So--beyond a therapist I have to get myself out of panic attacks. It sucks. The doctor can't perform anymore surgeries on me to correct any more discs because of the degenerative disc disease. My spine is getting worse everyday. I rest as much as possible cuz of the pain. Also I hope to extend my mobility as long as possible. Besides a total spine replacement surgery--I haven't heard any other options. And that scares the crap outta ME!! I am sorry I wrote such a whiney cry baby just needed a lil info but its hard to explain in short....Now, I have just been granted disability. Thankfully I worked enough to just make enough to provide for myself & my 3 kids ( whom I almost never get child support for) took 3 years to get it--even though I qualified I was denied due to a mistake on the governments review. Well, now I have a lawyer for my accident. The other party actually gave a statement & admitted they are at fault. Not only did their tire come off--the mechanic who works for the dealership didn't tighten down the lug-nuts, so it is negligent. I am in pain, for the rest of my life. I can't pick up a gallon of milk. I can only lift up to 4 lbs!! I can't bend over, push a grocery cart, reach above my sucks plus my PTSD....I don't know if they are going to get away with injuring me. I have prayed to get some kind of compensation...I'm living off of less than a third of what I used to make---and its the government paying me disability--not the responsible my disability is from my past jobs, not their insurance. I don't know--the stress of it all is a lot sometimes too much. I refuse the morphine & methadone they try to give me cuz If I take it I can't drive & who would take care of my kids? So I take the weakest form of pain pill-just enough to help me move without crying from pain. Keep Calm and Carry on by, Maria Grego I am 1 of those people who never asks for help---mostly because I am so independent. I would rather do everything myself. I have always been self sufficient. I used to work 2-3 jobs, it's just how I am. Keep calm & carry on. So when I actually do ask, the fear of rejection & depending upon another person, makes me feel weak....I'm sure that is caused by asking & relying on someone & then being let down. That is why I only ask for help when there is no other way possible. Keep calm & carry on. Since my accident, I have been having to ask my kids to help: to do laundry, or push grocery cart, etc...I hate being weak. I didn't ask for this. I did nothing wrong. It was someone else's fault. I am constantly in pain. I refuse to give up. I am hopeful not hopeless. I keep calm & carry on...what else can I do? I carry my injuries like a badge of courage. I earned them. I fight everyday to not give up. I have friends with 1 or 2 herniated discs who complain more than me. I know people who gave up & quit walking because of 1 herniated disc! Keep calm & carry on. I just had to get this off my chest....It's frustrating to hold it in--and if you are really my friends, then you will understand I don't want attention, I just want to know you heard me. You have kept going. You didn't give up, either. So let's keep calm & carry on. Together ♥ thanks ♥

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Best Invention Ever!

When I am stuck in the bathroom for one of my triathlons, I usually turn to the old stand by, a magazine or book to pass the time. I used to get a lot of magazine subscriptions and the money was well spent. I read alot of them this past year, and last year I decided to get subscriptions to magazines like Time and National Geographic to actually learn things instead of just reading trashy gossip magazines. I am so tired of hearing about J-Lo's backside, Ashton's break-up and the Kardashians, even my ass is tired of hearing about them all.

I decided that I would finally cross over to the other side. I bought myself a Nook Tablet for Christmas. I raced home, opened the box and downloaded a boat load of apps, like Angry Birds, Scrabble, Solitaire, Poker, Showtime, Netflix and a whole bunch of great books.

I was now armed with a whole new arsenal of things to do when stuck in the bathroom. I was so excited, when I found myself stuck in my first bathroom visit with my new Nook, I wasn't sure what game I wanted to play first, so I started with Angry Birds.
Thirty minutes later, I had been done in the bathroom a few minutes earlier, but I was so engrossed in my angry birds game, and now totally addicted to this game. I actually didn't get up right away because I was in the middle of my game. I scored over 60,000 points during my first bathroom trip and now I'm totally addicted to my Nook. I can now play games, watch Showtime, Netflix movies or read a book, all in the comfort of my bathroom.
Totally AWESOME!

My magazines are now collecting dust and maybe so is my brain from the seven hundred games of Angry Birds I have already played, but I am happy to tell all my IBS friends and my Fibromyalgia friends who are stuck in bed, that there is a God and he loves us, so he helped develop the Nook. It's our new doctor's assistant.

I take it everywhere I go and it's great for all the times I am stuck in the doctor's waiting room, wondering why all the magazines are five years old or wondering why there aren't any at all, and I feel special because I have a Nook. So, I suggest for all you out there suffering or those unable to leave your bed due to chronic illness, that you buy a Nook.

It was money well spent and now even though I still frequent the bathroom multiple times a day, It's not as annoying as it used to be. I was talking up the Nook so much to my other sick friends, that I think I could make the next commercial for the Nook and tie it in with chronic illness. So here goes my jingle.

If you're feeling kind of shitty
And your stuck on the john
Pull out your Nook
And turn the tablet on

Watch a little Showtime
Play some Angry Birds
Make a bet in Poker
Or read Shakespeare's words

Order a Netflix movie
Play a game of solitaire
The Nook is so versatile
You can take it anywhere


OK, so that was extremely corny, but you get my point.
The Nook is great and I can't wait to play some more angry birds later.

The Pooper Scooper

It's been a while since I last blogged. I've been really busy with three jobs and school and the new book I co-authored just coming out, that I have been to pooped to scoop on my poop, so I'm here to say it's a new year and with the new year, lots of new "shit" will happen to me, good and bad.

So get ready because I'm back and I can't wait to tell you all about it.

Hold onto your toilet paper, because 2012 is going to be the best year ever.
Let the great shit tales begin!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Have You Ever?

Have you ever been told that you would never be able to do a particular job, task, or meet a goal? Was it because you were told you just weren't good enough? Was it because you were told that you were not smart enough to accomplish the goal? Were you told that it was because of your illness or were you told this because they knew you would end up doing the task better than them?

In Sixth grade math class at the private Catholic school I attended, I accidentally put too many 0's past the decimal place. My teacher marched me out of class down to the fourth grade math class, where she stood me in the front of class and proceeded to tell them I was stupid. Yes, that actually happened. To this day, math has been a struggle and everytime I get frustrated, I just think back to that time in math class when I was told I was stupid and I get mad. I want to get even. I want to prove to them that I am smart.

In eleventh grade English, I was told by the teacher, that I would never be a good writer, that I would never be good at English and that I should just stop now. Yes, this happened too and so once again I set out on another journey to prove them wrong. I went to college and graduated with a degree in English Literature. I wanted to wave that flag in her face like a proud six-year-old.

I started to do whatever people said. I did jobs with 150% vigor and worked multiple tasks to show that I can handle it, that I can do it no matter if two chronic illnesses were stamped on my forehead. I never said no. I always said yes to working any event, or being a volunteer in my community. I was not in just one community group, I was in three and on the board in one of them. I worked walks, political events, fed the hungry, raised money for cancer, diabetes, and did whatever was asked of me.

My problem is, I go to the extreme proving people wrong. I decided that one college degree was not good enough, so I got four. Sometimes when people ask me why I have so many, I am truthfully telling them that I love school and I love writing and why not get four degrees. But, there is this small place in me that after all these years, I can confess to and that is sometimes I do things because people tell me I can't do them.

I was able to pass a math class, with a good teacher and a tutor. I went to college and succeeded and I am now in Graduate school. I have two chronic illnesses and climbed a huge ass mountain. Day-after-day, I am reminded that there are some things I can't do no matter what and I get mad and there I go again trying to prove to people I can do what they say I can't.

This past week, certain things were said to me about things that I can't do, or were advised that I should not do and that they had no place to even say I can't do. I wanted to prove them wrong. I wanted to duel them right there, pull out my sword and fight to the death. But, I just listened and drew back my advancement for a fight. I knew that I would not win that battle.

After mulling over the conversation in my head a hundred times, I realized something profound, that I should have relaized a long time ago. Life is filled with obstacles and boundaries. They affect your personal life, your job and in our world as a whole and they will be an ever present reminder that we are human. Humans are not perfect, we make mistakes. We put too may 0's past the decimal place and we fight to feel we are worth something and not worthless. This is not wrong to think about.

Some people, like me suck at math. Some people can't climb mountains, some people with IBS or Fibromyalgia can't enjoy vacations, some people are insecure and that is ok. I will be ok. You will be ok. I have to look at each obstacle in life as a building block, a baby step toward something greater and I don't have to overcome those obstacles for a boss, a lover or even a friend. I have to overcome obstacles for ME and me only. I can't keep worrying that you will look at me and be mad that I did not do something you thought that I should know how to do, or something that I should already know how to do.

I will live each day for me, and not try to prove to you that I have to do it this way. If I can't do something, that's ok. I just can say no, I can't do that or no, I don't want to do that and that should be all I need to get through life's obstacles. I will stop trying to prove to people that I can do things. If you tell me I can't do something or I know I can't do something, that's ok.

Reality is realizing that no matter what, life happens and there is no need to go to the extreme to tell the world you can accomplish something. Today I was sick, my Fibromyalgia the culprit and I couldn't do a damn thing about it but sit lifeless on the bed or couch. I was not mad anymore. I realized this is my life and I no longer have to prove anything.

Sometimes you will not be able to pass the test, meet the goal or accomplish the task, no matter how much elbow grease you add to it. No one ever said life was easy. Do what you can, enjoy it and learn. I am learning not to not take things personally and if it can't be done, don't swell on it, just move on. Life is to short.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fight For It!

On May 12, 2012, American's all over the world celebrated National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. Over 2,500 people per week will be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. The numbers are rising every year. At first they thought it was all in our heads and now we have a voice that is heard. We are not crazy. We did not invent this condition.

Approximately one in 50 Americans are estimated to have Fibromyalgia, or between 3 and 6 million people in the U.S. (American College of Rheumatology, 2004)
About of 50% of people with Fibromyalgia have difficulty with or are unable to perform routine daily activities (Health Central, 2009),
30 to 40% of Fibromyalgia patients have to stop working or change jobs (Health Central, 2009), and people with fibromyalgia are hospitalized about once every 3 years (CDC, 2009)

Three weeks ago after several months of weight loss of ten pounds, I underwent an Upper Endoscopy where I was told I developed non-cancerous benign fundi stomach polyps and gastritis and now have added yet another medication to my already growing daily regiment of pills. It was a depressing day, but I realized that I am not alone.
This past week, I spent two days at doctor's offices and over $100.00 for doctor bills (Thanks Mom) and was told that things are getting better. But are there? With Fibromyalgia, today may be a good day, and tomorrow may be a good day; buy next week may be five days of hell.

Having Fibromyalgia is a crapshoot. But the more people that support the National Fibromyalgia Association, the more people stick together and get the word out about this chronic illness, we can fight back, we can win. We can live better lives. We can do more things. We may not be able to climb mountains, but we can conquer the hill.

This I believe. This is how things change. I believe that Fibromyalgia and IBS WILL NOT define me, WILL NOT Confine me and WILL NOT deny me the chance at a happy life. Don’t let your illness stand in the way.

Raise your hands in the air and fight, fight back for freedom from chronic pain. Fight for long walks on the beach and dancing in the club. Fight for it. It’s worth it.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Holy Cabot!

Some people dream about dying, being chased, chocolate, sex, drugs, and God only know what else. Well I have food dreams. I have dreams about milk and cheese and ice cream. I dream that I am cooking and eating Fettuccini Alfredo, gooey cheese filled Lasagna, Baked Brie on crackers, creamy mac and cheese and eating an entire tub of cherry vanilla ice cream.

Why do I have such dreams? Because I am lactose intolerant and can't eat dairy. It's a travesty. I mean I'm Italian for Goodness sake. It's kind of my birthright to eat cheese. That's what Italians do. They eat cheese and drink wine. I can do neither. Sometimes I feel Like I'm a "fake Italian" and my Grandma is rolling over in her grave right now saying "Oh Mio Dio." (That means oh my goodness in Italian). She used to own a bakery in Rhode island and when we would go up to visit, we would get to help her make the famous Whandi's (light pastry dusted with powdered sugar), prune Danish and my favorite butter balls. I could eat a whole paper bag of those cookies and only later would I realize that a buttery cookie in becomes a buttery cookie out.

And worse my daddy grew up on a diary farm. Can you believe that? His baby face graced the glass milk jugs. My daddy played with cows daily, won prizes for his cows in fairs and even at one time wanted to be a Vet. Milk was not only a staple in Ruotolo family meals, but it was what put food on the table back in the 1950's, and I can't drink it, not one little sip. If I did, I would be chained to my bathroom for hours in a milk-induced agony that I hope none of you experience.

A few weeks ago the coffee shop I think accidentially made my raspberry latte with milk instead of soy. It was a painful evening to say the least. I realize that even though I can't eat cheese or dairy, I still find myself scanning the cheeses at the specialty market or drooling over yogurt, which now comes in a shit load of delicious flavors. Bummer. I find myself in lala land over the triple cheese pizzas just waiting to be taken home and baked to a golden delicious masterpiece of cheese heaven.

The other day during my two hour shopping trip to Wal-Mart, I was pushing my cart past the cheeses stopping briefly to say hello and buy my boyfriend his usual sliced Kraft cheese and there is was bathed in glorious light from the heavens. It was Cabot Cheese and I remembered at that very moment that a few weeks ago someone told me that Cabot cheese was lactose free. I grabbed a brick of sharp white cheddar like a person who has not seen food in weeks and scanned the contents and right there in beautiful sensual letters it said "Lactose Free." I wasn't sure if I wanted to cry or scream to the heavens "holy fucking Cabot." There is a God and he loves me. But it was Wal-Mart and I thought that was innapropriate so I quickly dialed my mom's cell and blurted out the good news. I grabbed just one brick because though it said lactose free, I was still skeptical. I went home and I must have held that brick of cheese in my hands for minutes thanking the heavens and cows in Vermont (strangley my mom's home state) for making this glorious brick of love.

It took about a week before I have an evening free to test my heaven brick of Cabot for the true lactose test. I was going to make pizza and layer on the cheese thick enough to make a golden, delicious pizza that I had dreamed about. I also needed to make sure that I was not planning on going out anytime soon just in case Cabot was wrong. I watched like a two year-old waiting for Santa to come as the Pizza baked in the oven. I added pepperoni and mushrooms and watched as the moments ticked by on the clock and twelve minutes later, I pulled out my masterpiece pizza. It looked incredible and both Craig and I devoured it. It was delicious and cheesy and almost orgasmic, yes I said that. I was in love with cheese. I was in love with Cabot. It was a moment I had been waiting for for so long that I could have napped afterwards because the experience was so intense.

About 45 minutes later as I was still reeling from my pizza experience, my stomach starting making funny noises. I knew what it was saying. It told me "what have you done to me?" And a few minutes later and for the next forty-five minutes, I was once again sitting on my porcelian throne in pure pain and agony. I was in so much pain I thought I might cry and I once again talked to my stomach apologizing for giving it the Cabot cheese and I promised that I would never, EVER do that again for as long as I live. My earlier moments of cheese bliss were replaced with bouts of toliet hell. It was awful and now I have to go back to my dreams, for that is the only place that cheese and I will be one again.

I wish they make epi-pens for lactose intolerant people like me. Now that's an idea!