More On The Red Knots…

Last week after posting my Shore Girl Troubles blog, a birding friend of mine posted this article on the importance of the Eastern Shore for the Red Knots.  Seems these guys are having all kinds of troubles.  Here’s a short video clip and the full article can be found here.

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Diversity Vs Hypocrisy: It Can Be Rough Being A Shore Girl #Mondayblogs


My plate has been full lately and my chore cup runneth over, folks. Every time I think things are settling down I take on a new project or event. I haven’t had time to write and I almost thought my inner dialogue had gone on hiatus until this morning. This morning I heard the voice clear its throat and say…

“Are you diverse or are you just a hypocrite?”

Yeah. That is exactly what it said to me.

I know this question has been brewing under the surface for about two weeks now and I know exactly what caused this to boil to the surface. I have all these elements of my past and my soul that melt together and become who I am. I’m a bird watcher. I’m a nature lover. I’m a waterman’s daughter (and also a farmer’s daughter). Look deep enough in my genetic history and you will see that I come from hunters and decoy makers. I’m the granddaughter of small business owners and now the wife of a small business owner. I am an employee of a corporation.  I’ve always known that this makes an interesting combination, but what does this melting pot of genes amount to at the end of the day?

This past week, I’ve been helping my husband at his new shop. The shop is located less than five miles from where I grew up so it’s great to see so many familiar faces. There are also people that I don’t remember but I’m sure I met them along the way as a child. One of those faces belongs to Mr. Brady.

As I said above, I am the daughter of a waterman. This profession goes on back for generations and generations. As a general rule, there were three things that I could almost always find when looking at old census records for my Eastern Shore lineage. The men worked on the water, they couldn’t read and they couldn’t write. Most of them dropped out of school and headed for the boats at a young age if they went to school at all. That’s what they did in those days. Now, I didn’t drop out of school but I can tell you that I did my fair share of labor. I was a small child but I was mighty and I had a great work ethic instilled in me from both of my parents and my maternal grandparents. Are you old enough to push a broom? Then get to it. Before I finished out middle school, I had made motel reservations, cleaned toilets, made beds, vacuumed, gardened, raked, harvested nuts and berries, drove a tractor, drove a truck beside a potato digger (which was a huge promotion from picking up the straggler potatoes behind the digger that got missed). I’ve helped pull in gill nets, baited crab pots (I was probably never very popular with the boys because the smell of bunker is hard to wash off), signed and dug clams, been the lookout for VMRC when maybe we weren’t doing something terribly legal, I’ve scaled gigantic drum fish with a garden hoe, and I’ve sworn I was going to freeze to death while being sprayed with saltwater from crab dredges in the winter. Other girls my age were learning how to apply eyeshadow and curl their hair while I learned how to work hard, take care of myself and that living off the land and the water was a tough job that didn’t necessarily put food on the table (and when it didn’t … you ate chewy old conch – BLEH!)

I realized I was a hypocrite a few weeks ago when I was part of a discussion about chicken houses. I tell you no lie when I say I want them to stay out of my county. I worry about how they will disrupt our environment here on our tiny peninsula. Of course, I’m a complete asshole because I do eat chicken. Over the years I eat smaller and smaller portions of meat and we do have at least one vegetarian dinner a week. The chicken I buy in the store is approved by the’s standards of humanely raised chicken. Since I have no plans to ever becoming a strict vegetarian, buying humanely and eating less is my way of finding a balance. Our food sources deserve our respect.

Then, I went to a No Offshore Drilling party. This wasn’t an event a sought out myself. My very good (and lucky friend!) Gay asked me to be her date. Trust me. I totally saw the irony as we were all parking our cars in front of a giant blowup oil barrel. I’m going to say 99% of the guest drove, including myself. Even if I rode a bike, guess what greases that chain? This is another moment of hypocrisy for me. I know the oil has to come from somewhere, but I don’t want it off of my coast. Our birds, our marine animals, and the livelihood of many of our jobs depend on our waters not becoming anymore polluted than they already are. 75% of the party was mostly socializing and eating (which may I mention they served hamburgers and hot dogs. Is it wrong that I assumed that a No Offshore Drilling party would serve vegetarian plates?) followed by fifteen minutes of informative ‘why offshore drilling is bad’ video. Again, you don’t have to show me pictures of oil drenched pelicans to get my vote… however they finished up the video with ‘Wind Turbines Will Save The World’ (okay they didn’t specifically say that). Wait. You came here with your giant blowup oil barrel to tell me you want to put giant wind turbines up our coast in the Atlantic Flyway which will surely kill migrating birds? They lost me there. Thanks for the free wine, but I’m not jumping in that parade. Note: As we approached the house the driveway was lined with balloons to signify that you were at the right place. I said to Gay, “They do realize that balloons are dangerous to sea life, right?”

I was able to get away and go to this party because my baby starling was finally eating worms on his own. I’ve continued to help out with baby birds here and there this year. Last week the starling graduated to being outside fulltime and then this week we began to see less and less of him for mealworm handouts. He hasn’t stopped by since Thursday I believe. Even though I feel great about a successful rehabilitation of a baby bird, I know there are people in the birding community who frown upon this. Starlings are not a native species and are quite invasive. They take nesting sites away from indigenous species and have caused severe decline in numbers for such birds as the Eastern Bluebird. Efforts have been made to eradicate the European Starling from this country and have failed. I’ve seen the comments online. A helping hand should not be extended to this creature. I ask you though, how can you say you love birds and then turn your back on a baby that couldn’t control that he was born here? I find that I sort of fit in with mainstream birders until I say how much I love the starling… or the brown-headed cowbird… or a vulture. Yeah, that last one really freaks people out.


Finally, I come back to my encounter with Mr. Brady. We were talking about my fondness of Kiptopeke State Park and he asked if I went for the beach. I smiled shyly and said, “I like birdwatching.  I love being outside in the woods. The trails are great there for walking and seeing birds. I know that makes me a nerd.”

What at first I thought was Mr. Brady gathering his thoughts on how to be kind to this girl who was obviously a geek was actually Mr. Brady gathering his thoughts on a subject that he perceived we would not see eye to eye on. You see, Mr. Brady is a waterman and this time of year he is fishing for horseshoe crabs. It’s been a long time since I ran barefoot along the docks of Oyster and Kings Creek, so I’ve missed out on a lot of legislative changes over the years. One of those changes has been restrictions on the horseshoe crab industry. The Red Knot pit stops at the Delaware Bay to feed on its journey between the wintering grounds in South America and the breeding sites in northern Alaska. Overfishing of horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay (where an estimated 90 percent of the entire population of the Red Knot subspecies C. c. rufa can be present on the bay in a single day) has reduced the amount of horseshoe crab eggs for the Red Knots to eat and therefor contributed to the reduction of their population. The laws put in effect to protect the horseshoe crab population for the Delaware Bay have also been implemented in the Chesapeake Bay area.

Listening to Mr. Brady tell me about the restrictions from his perspective reminded me of being a child. I was probably eating a super nutritious breakfast my dad bought me at Shore Stop – a hot dog and a Pepsi – surrounded by men eating the same thing. I’m petting someone’s dog – maybe our dog Willie or maybe Marty Spady’s dog Rambo. They were all discussing new laws for crabbing and how the government is trying to kill the waterman. My eyes bounce back and forth among this army of men wearing white waterproof boots until I am distracted by a bird caught in a crab pot sitting on the dock. I run off to remove the bird and free him. Even then, I was trying to find the balance between life and nature.

I gave him the response that my brain refers to on several subjects. “There has to be a balance.”

I’m not sure if he fully understood what I meant when he left that afternoon. I got up from the desk and we waved to each other as he pulled out of the parking lot. Like other birders, I want to fight for the survival of the birds. Like a Shore girl, I want to fight for another endangered species… the waterman. He’s disappearing all the time. A profession that was at once plentiful is now dwindling more and more. The way of life I knew as a child has been decreasing every year. There’s got to be a way to save him, too.

That’s me, folks. A melting pot of contradictions. A Buddhist just wanting to find a way that everyone can live in harmony, man and nature.

You tell me.

Diverse or hypocrite?

FullSizeRenderCobb Island near the old Coast Guard Station circa de 1989 – from left to right: my sister, my dad (note the white waterman boots) and me. The Coast Station was later moved to Oyster, Virginia.  I’m probably excited about birds.

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When You Ask God For A Sign #Mondayblogs

When you ask God for a sign…

He may indeed answer. I’d like to tell you that this was one of those examples that the clouds parted, the sun shined down and the angels started singing. It wasn’t. It wasn’t like that at all.

I feel like I need to step back and make a confession. For the last year and a half, I have spent some of my time in a fantasy place. When I get stressed out or emotionally bogged down by something over the last eighteen months, I close my eyes and go to a magical place of escape. I go to Buttercup’s.

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Buttercup’s Old Fashioned Bakery. A place of sweets, but not too sugary. There’s lemon blueberry cake, vinegar cake, war cake, tomato soup cake, lemon zest cake and even the occasional slice of hummingbird cake. It smells like the delicious combination of butterscotch scones and the Bird Watcher’s coffee from Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company. While using a mason jar to cut out tea cakes, I’m singing some song from the fifties – perhaps Pasty Clines’ Walking After Midnight. I’m rocking a dress that was probably donned by a housewife of the time. In this make-believe world sometimes I’m alone, but occasionally my mom is there frosting red velvet cupcakes and my sister Madison is decorating sugar cookies to look like birds. Here recently I also hear Madison say, “Do you need a vacuum for that cheese?” The three of us snicker and The Beatles’ Love Me Do comes on the radio. One of my coworkers walks in the door and says she is so glad she found a shop that serves cake with no frosting.


If Buttercup’s was real, it would be here. In this little building that I have known my whole life. It sits on the outskirts of Cape Charles’ town limits. Before this building was the imaginary land of Buttercup’s Old Fashioned Bakery, it started out as a Pure Oil Gas Station. As automobiles began taking over as the most popular form of transportation, gas stations started popping up all over the United States. By the late 1920’s, oil companies began to realize the importance of branding and therefor developed architectural plans that would allow drivers to recognize their particular product. Pure Oil began building their gas stations to resemble English cottages.

I’m not sure when its doors were closed as a gas station (presumably when Cape Charles began to decline from the bustling busy town it had been) but over the years it has had times of vacancy and times of business. The last thing I remember it being was a gift shop and that may have been when I was a teenager but I’m not for certain. Let’s just say it’s been a quiet dark time for this lovely little building.

Oh, but in my head how that building has been a happening little place. I only let a few people in on my secret little hideaway from real stress. The beau, one coworker, my sister Madison and of course my mother. One day, as her car passed by the lonely retired shop she told my stepfather, “That’s where Buttercup’s is going to be.”

“There? It’s too small.” Obviously, my stepfather was dreaming bigger about our delightful desserts.

The secret of Buttercup’s almost escaped one day at work during a charity Santa Paws photo session. I had set up the backdrop and had Santa (one of our doctors) come pose for some test shots. I turned to hook my camera up to my laptop. The building was the background photo for my desktop and I had thought nothing of proudly displaying it.

Santa spoke up and said, “I’ve seen that building before.”

“This one?” I pointed at Buttercup’s. “It’s just outside of Cape Charles. It used to be a gas station and even a bar once. Rumor is they didn’t card.”

“It looks very colonial. I could almost imagine pies in the window.”

I stopped what I was doing and stared at the photo. I’m so glad Santa couldn’t see my face because I had been imagining pies and cakes in those windows for fourteen months at that point. I sighed and went about the business of being ready for Santa’s next two hours of holiday well wishes.

Last Sunday morning when the beau uttered the words that may have changed my life forever I was still drowsy enough I hoped I was still asleep and it was a terrible nightmare. He held up his phone to display a picture posted on Facebook that I will never forget.

“What happened?”

“I don’t know. It doesn’t say.”

I held his phone in my hands for a long time watching my life slip away. “I guess that’s a sign. I kept asking God for a sign. I think God just said stop being a silly dreamer.”


That afternoon in the pouring rain (how appropriate – if someone drove by blaring Love Hurts it would have been absolutely perfect) I went to see what was once Buttercup’s. I couldn’t take my eyes off the debris that at once was a structure who had lived through horrible hurricanes and nor’easters. All it took was someone driving a Honda to miss the stop sign across the street and my dreams were shattered. I pulled away before things got ugly. I didn’t want the police to be called out to come collect me from sobbing in what was either a puddle of rain or my tears.

Almost a week later, I visited the building again but this time with mom and Madison.

“Oh dear.” One of us said.

At first, we just took it all in. I had never actually seen the inside of the building so the collapsed window offered a look in on something that I could only dream about. “Ed was right. It is tiny. I guess it was good to see this. It wouldn’t have worked anyway.”

“It’s tiny, but it would have worked.” My mother peered in and pointed towards two small rooms. “Are those bathrooms? What I would do is knock down that wall and only have one bathroom … like a family bathroom. You could have your counter right here.”

I was smiling at this though I’m not sure if it was because my mother was talking about knocking down walls while we were leaning over an exterior wall that had been creamed a week earlier or if because I could still see a bakery counter displaying all of those yummy creations we had discussed.

We slid along the side of the building to look in the larger section of the old gas station which turned out not to be all that much larger.

“You’d probably have to use this whole area as your kitchen. You might have room for a little bit of seating.”

“Madison!  It could be open concept like a Japanese sushi bar.” I said this while nudging my sister with my elbow. She was also grinning, but as with me it was hard to speculate why.  It was either the crazy notion of still thinking this could be a functioning business or the idea of sushi.

“You could dust your face with flour every morning.” Mom’s determined gaze dropped and she announced, “I’m pretty sure there was a floor in here back when it was the Sportsman’s Inn. When I moved here this was a bar. They didn’t card and they would serve anyone. That’s all I’m saying about that.”

We circled the building several times discovering details we’d never noticed before.  After fifteen minutes of fascinating finds we stood back and took in the magnificent beauty of the little tiny brick structure. People rubbernecked the whole time we were there and continued to do so as we enjoyed those last few minutes of fantasy living.

“I’m sure this will end up in that gossip column in the Cape Charles Wave.”

I giggled, “Three redheads of various shades were seen sizing up the old Sportsman’s Inn.”

“It has good bones, Mel. This could really work.”

“I feel like if it was going to work now, it truly would take a lottery winning.”

“Well, I plan to buy a lottery ticket on the way home. I have a Buttercup’s to buy.”

As much as I have loved veterinary medicine over the last seventeen years, I know if mom won the lottery and bought me that little place I wouldn’t turn her down. Ever since Presleigh died, my job hasn’t been the same to me. It hasn’t been the only contributing factor, but it probably is the biggest one. Now I find myself dreaming of dreams unobtainable and little shops who are likely past the point of return. Making Buttercup’s a reality would cost a fortune so for now I’ll continue to dream. Dreaming is free and that is something I can definitely afford.


The not-so-imaginary staff of the imaginary Buttercup’s Old Fashioned Bakery … also known in other various dream worlds as Marsha Mello’s or Mello Out.

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How I Survived A Month Without Pooing

Just when you thought my bladder was the only problem!


I knew that my routine was abnormal for most people but it had become the new norm for me. I don’t think I was a daily poo-er until after high school. I’m not sure what changed that caused me to get on this frequency. Was it my lifestyle? It could have very well been. Nightly partying can lead to many strange habits. However, it was most likely my obsessive compulsive tendencies that pushed me to the twice a day poo or even the occasional three times a day poo. When traveling with coworkers for conferences I could tone it back to the daily poo until recent years. Stress, OCD and personal hygiene scrutiny had taken over and I pooed more than anyone I knew.

I did regard it as a problem but had no intention of correcting it until I made a connection between it and my health. After an evening pooing, I got out of the shower and realized that my face and scalp were bright red and itching. After a little deliberating I came to realize that it wasn’t actually the shampoo but the conditioner that had cause me to break out.


What did you think I was talking about?

Yes, I meant shampoo the whole time. That’s what all the cool people call it. “No Poo” What did you think I meant?

Oh, right. I could see how that would be a bit confusing.

As we were…

Over the course of the last two years, I have been suffering from allergic reactions. Sometimes I know what caused it, sometimes it’s a mystery. A coworker has joking speculated that I will be allergic to air next and to be honest I’m not so sure that isn’t a possibility.

The night I realized that my new conditioner was lighting my head and face on fire I decided it was time to get my obcessive hygiene regimen under control. I began searching the internet for homemade shampoo and conditioner regimens because you guys know I love a good hippie recipe. I also knew that I had to stop subjecting my body to the continuous oil stripping. No matter how gross it is to think about (oily skin, oily hair… bleh!) your body makes those oils to protect you. My body was probably exhausted from constantly trying to protect me. That’s when I discovered the No Poo Movement.

I thought I could really get on board with this! The No Poo Movement meant less chemicals on my body and less chemicals in the environment. Women ranted and raved about how fantastic they felt and how healthy their hair and scalp were. I watched YouTube videos and most of these women had hair that looked clean and fresh. No yucky hair there!

There seem to be several ways to go about the No Poo. Some no poo-ers wean themselves off of shampoo slowly. Some do what is called the CO method which is conditioner only. There’s the baking soda wash + apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) rinse. The most frugal of them all is the WO method – water only.

I wanted to go cold turkey and do the water only method. As someone who had been shampooing it up twice a day, this didn’t happen too long. Your body apparently has a mindset on providing you with all the oils you need no matter how much you fight it. When you stop shampooing your body doesn’t understand how to kick it out of overdrive. It takes a while for the feedback system to learn not to be so crazy. With my head quickly achieving slip and slide conditions – I knew I had to try the baking soda. There was no way I could try to CO when my conditioner had set my head to blaze!

I mixed up my baking soda wash and my vinegar rinse then hit the shower. I don’t know about you but I felt that this had all the potential to go scientifically wrong. Don’t you mix baking soda and vinegar to make the volcano in science class?

My head didn’t foam up probably because I rinsed like a mad woman between the two steps. However, after the vinegar rinse I realized that my hair was doing what all the blogs warned you about. It was on its way to feeling like straw. Oh, it was so awful! I can’t explain to you how it felt. It still felt kind of greasy yet at the same time it felt like I had been lied to my whole life and that Scarecrow was really my father and he’d let the Uncle Tin Man come over and condition my hair. Dear Holy Hell, what a mess.

I battled on though despite this horrible feeling. I tried doing a honey rinse in between and that seemed to help a little. I kept reassuring myself with blog after blog.  It will take time for your hair to adjust. Be patient. I took pictures that I was sure one day I would look back on and say, ‘And you thought this was an awful choice! Aren’t you glad you trudged on through the worst of it? Yay, no poo!”


A week in trying to convince myself it wasn’t so bad. Cody doesn’t look so sure.

After weeks of creatively trying to figure out how to cover my head, I finally gave up. My hair felt gross, it smelled weird and it was impossible to comb or brush. I had bought the boar hair brush to help work the good oils through. Unfortunately, my hair was so out of control that combing and brushing just broke it off by the handfuls. This was not the happy scene the blogging world had shared with me.

As my hairdresser lowered the chair over the shampoo bowl this past Thursday, I broke the news to her as she began to work water through my hair. “Sharron, I have a confession to make. I haven’t shampooed my hair in a month.”

You’d think that she would have made a horrible face full of shock and disgust, but that didn’t come until I told her that I had been shampooing twice daily. Seems in the hair world over shampooing is scarier than my entry level dreadlocks.

An hour later, I was clean and detangled. I still can’t believe I made it a month without shampoo. I so badly wanted to be part of that world that doesn’t use chemicals on their mane but it turns out I need some occasional suds on my head. It has taught me that I can indeed make it without shampooing my hair every single day (or even twice a day). It also taught me that a guy I knew in my gangsta teenage years was wrong, I did indeed have a hair type for dreads. I learned that my obsessive compulsive demons are right where they have always been … in my head. Despite all my worry about how gross my hair was, Sharon insisted that if anything my hair had felt powdery and not greasy. Plus she swore she couldn’t smell anything foul in there either.

If you are pondering the no poo lifestyle, give it a try. It wasn’t for me but there seems to be tons of people out there who are overjoyed with their new found regimen. For the rest of us, it’s a choice between feeling clean or feeling right and sometimes you have to pick feeling clean. I mean really, how can I go on saving the world one birdie at a time if I spend all my time brushing oils from my scalp to the ends with a boar hairbrush?


 A day after my shampoo intervention.  Shout out to Sharon for being brave enough to stick in hands in my no poo mess!

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The Better Bladder Book: Why I Read It #MondayBlogs

“And how long have you been experiencing these symptoms?”

“A year in August.”

That was on Halloween. I spent my favorite holiday sitting in a doctor’s office explaining that I had ignored my body’s complaints for fourteen long months.

There was a noticeable pause between the doctor’s busy note taking and my answer. I assume other people come running in long before that. That’s not how I roll though.  “Look, if it was my dog I would have brought him in right away.  I tend to put off things when it comes to me.”

“Are you getting up to urinate at night?”

“Yes. Anywhere from three to five times a night.” When you do the math you will realize that by the time I finally would get settled back in for some good sleeping I’d be back up again peeing.

“Do you feel like your frequency has increased during the day?”

“Oh yes.”

“How often?”

I took a deep breath. A whole year of not really talking about it makes it hard to really talk about it. “Well, yesterday I got up at 5:30 am. By the time I was clocking out for lunch I had already urinated twelve times.”

The doctor nodded. “Can you describe how you feel when this happens?”

“I feel like I’m going to pee on myself. Sometimes it is sudden but other times it’s a constant burning thought in my mind that I just have to pee like I haven’t gone all day long. Sometimes I do have a fair amount of output. Other times I feel like I’m going to explode and nothing. A tiny little drizzle of urine all for nothing.”

My bladder was taking over my life. It was interfering with my job, with my social life, with travel, with outdoor activities. If I’m by myself birding that’s one thing because I will gladly pop a squat behind a bush. When I’m in a group of strangers, not so much.

After a recent road trip to my grandparents I finally hit a point of exhaustion with my bladder. A four hour trip to see them became a nightmare when we had to stop at a gas station every forty-five minutes. What I had learned about my bladder was that it no longer liked being trapped in cars, but it especially did not like being trapped in cars if I was a passenger. Driving (and in particular driving by myself) I could sort of manage but when someone else has control of the wheel (and bathroom breaks) my bladder would have a full blown meltdown.

Without any of the super invasive testing, a tentative diagnosis of interstitial cystitis was made and I was prescribed a medication. At first I was very excited. I was afraid that I was going to be assumed as a crazy person with no self-control. When my problem was quickly addressed with a pill, I was really stoked.

Unfortunately, I was less stoked when I picked up the medication and it was going to cost me almost $200 a month – that’s with my insurance. The stokedness continued to fade as I read the side effects. Number one side effect – alopecia (hair loss). Over the last few years, I’ve had these weird symptoms (add the cystitis to the list) and many medical professionals have speculated that I am hypothyroid and at times I have the TSH level to confirm it. I just don’t have those levels consistently enough. One of the symptoms  is that my hair has started thinning. I’m not talking male pattern baldness or anything but I can tell a difference. The outer edges of my eyebrows are starting to seem less existent. As you can imagine taking a drug that was going to cause my hair to disappear more seemed a little less than ideal.

Did I mention that I also had to take the medication three times a day?

Was I willing to be bald, broke and wait months to see results if any?

No thank you. That sounds more miserable then having to pee every 45 minutes.

I tucked the medication away on top of my refrigerator and decided I wasn’t ready for this road to urinary freedom … not yet at least.

My annual exam with the OBGYN came around a month later and I decided to open up to her. She flipped over the lined exam sheet where I’m sure you are supposed to take notes and used the back to jot out things that could have looked like the next big Super Bowl play. She looked at everything I had told her about my declining health over the years and we both agreed my body was a mess.

But… she listened to everything I said and she said she wanted me to be better.

I sighed with relief. We came up with my options and number one on the game plan to better health was not a drug (to my relief – no pun intended). It was physical therapy with a pelvic floor specialist.

“Don’t be weirded out.   Lots of people get weirded out when I recommend this. It’s not as weird as it sounds,” my OBGYN told me.

“Are you kidding me? I have to pee more than once an hour. Now that’s weird.”

She was right about lots of things that day, but she was definitely spot on about the weirded out part. Lots of people were a bit apprehensive about my upcoming therapy. I just kept repeating, “I have to get better. This may be the best way for me to start being normal again.”

This is where Sara Smith enters my life and I am thankful every day that she did. Yes, with pelvic floor therapy there is some awkward pants-less appointments. There are also appointments where you are doing yoga poses and squats (relax your pelvic floor and tone your toosh!) She also made me feel like some of the things I was doing wasn’t totally out of the realm of normal.

Did you know…

…a well hydrated person should have to urinate every two hours?

…the bladder holds one to two cups of urine?

…when urinating your stream should take at least six seconds?

She recommended some really scary things, like drinking eight glasses of water a day. She was right about me. Like many people with cystitis or other bladder problems, I started taking in less water to help reduce how much I needed to urinate. It didn’t really help at all and in fact probably made things worse by making my urine more concentrated and therefor torching my delicate little bladder some more. It took a few days of getting used to it, but it did make the sad little organ feel better and really didn’t change my frequency.

Just like the other medical professionals, she asked me when it had all started but then she asked me if I could think of anything that had changed that August. Was there anything that could have egged this on?

Yes. I did indeed remember the week I started getting up in the middle of the night to pee.

It was an exhausting week at work. I think by the time it was said and done I worked well over fifty hours and most of those days I did not get a lunch break. I initially said it was that exhausting week that prompted my sudden need to get up in the middle of the night every other hour to visit the bathroom.

That wasn’t all of it though.

That week of endless emergency surgeries, empty stomachs and long hours I worked alongside a relief employee – someone who is hired as a sort of substitute. Most of these long hours I was with this particular person and the kindest thing I can say is that this person and I do not see eye to eye. I generally get along well with most people, but this particular person stressed me out so horribly that I would do anything to get away from them for just a few minutes.

I would go to the bathroom because it is the only place in a work place that you can lock yourself behind a closed door, breathe and pray that the week you are experiencing will soon end. That week with that person, I taught my bladder that the best way to deal with stress was to pee. My body learned quickly and had no intention of looking back. Stressed about being out of town at a conference – let’s pee a lot. Stressed that you are on a long car ride – let’s pee a lot. At a work meeting and you aren’t sure what’s going to be discussed (as far as you know it could be a bladder intervention) – run and hide in the bathroom to pee. After realizing the correlation between that week and my bladder, I started taking notice to what my bladder was doing. Every time stress began to creep in I could feel my muscle begin tensing up and my bladder began to react in the best way it knew now. The anxious feeling would hit and I’d need to run to the bathroom.

The road to recovery has been an interesting one. I was also told to explore foods that could be trouble causing. My food Satan: Oats. Who would have thought, right? I’d been forcing myself to eat oatmeal in the morning for almost a year. When I dropped the oatmeal to have blueberry-celery smoothies (both foods have anti-inflammatory bladder soothing properties) I began to feel so much better. I was sure it was the smoothies making me feel better. A granola bar a week later and I soon realized it was the absence of the oats!

I’ve quit coffee and soda but do occasionally treat myself to coffee (at most once a week) and I only breakdown and have a Coke in the face of a horrible headache… but honestly since getting my diet on tract I rarely have a headache anymore.

I started myself on a regimen of glucosamine, chondroitin and Claritin. I’m not an MD so I can’t tell you to take it, but I do think I have received benefits from it. It may be all in my head, but hey! Whatever it takes to not run off all the time to the potty.

Sara recommended that I read this book and like every recommendation she passed on to me, this was very helpful. The book covers lots of lifestyle and food changes you can make. It also covers a lot of those areas to make you realize you may not be as abnormal as you think … and you are not alone. The book is great. If you have bladder problems, I think it is a wonderful guide to bladder health.

As good as the book was, it was never anywhere as detrimental as the time I spent with Sara. Hands down, she was the best thing that happened to my bladder. I think I’ll probably always be a little wonky (in many perspectives) but I have come such a long way because of her therapy and support. Just the other week I went on a trip to help a bird bander catch sparrows in our local marshes. Let me tell you, before Sara I would have totally blown this trip off and said there was no way my bladder would handle hours wandering marshes in hip waders. I was brave and I went. I made it three and a half hours without having to pee. Yes, me! The girl who could barely hold it every thirty minutes on a bad day.

I hope I continue to have a well behaving bladder. I’m sure overtime I will learn to trust my bladder more and get back to a completely normal life without fear of it throwing a tantrum. My advice to you is to get help. You may have to tell your story to a few people before you get to the place you need to be. Once you’re there, you’ll know … no matter how weird anyone thinks it may be.

The Better Bladder Book by Wendy Cohan


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Happy Endings : Stella #Mondayblogs

Knock, knock, knock.

Are you guys still there?

I know! I haven’t been around in a while. I think the wrath of winter finally won and I spent the last month or so in a mental fetal position. More on that in blogs to come!

I figured that the first order of business is to share some news.

Some really good news.



About a year after her rescue, Stella finally has a place to call home! (Did you miss out on Stella’s story? Read the first blog about her – Meet Stella)

It’s been a long year for everyone who loves Stella. Her discovery, her surgery, her move to the Norfolk SPCA and finally … home!

Information has trickled down to me third hand so I have some basic details. When I read the email I skimmed through the important facts. Stella had gone on a home trial a week before the email was sent out. Rightfully so, the SPCA didn’t want to get her fan club excited over an adoption fail. Her new dad had checked in a week later and things were going great. She obviously adored him. He was already making progress on some of her behavioral issues.

I ran around work telling everyone I could find. Our girl finally obtained what we had been wishing for her, a home where she would be loved. She has someone who will care for her, protect her and help her over her little ticks – surely things that came from a former life of neglect.

There are lots of people that need special thanks in this situation. First of all, the absolutely wonderful Jack Huh opened his heart and his connections to get this girl somewhere that she could be adopted. Without Mr. Huh’s time, incredible efforts, and constant worrying for Stella (true story, I’m sure his continual concern over her welfare has probably taken years off of his life!) she would still be living at our animal hospital becoming more and more of a neurotic mess.

The Norfolk SPCA – we are forever indebted to you for giving Stella a safe and stable place to live, grow and thrive. Thank you so much for keeping your promise that you would not give up on Stella. Stella was a hard case from the minute Jamin laid eyes on her in the ditch near him and Emmy’s home. Not every shelter could open their facility up to such a dog and all the baggage she brought with her. Your program and facility will always be in my heart as the place where Stella got her life back.

And to the man who adopted her. I don’t know you or your name, but you have restored my faith in a bad situation coming full circle and that peace can be achieved even after the most miserable existence has been lived. If you could have seen her that first night on the side of the road, you wouldn’t believe it is the same dog you have now. Every day has been a victory for Stella, although I’m sure none of her days have compared to the one when you took her home. I hope this blog post will find you one day and you’ll know how many people you have made happy by your simple act of kindness.  Thank you. Thank you so much for giving our girl the chance she needed to shine.

To learn more about the Norfolk SPCA please visit their website or their Facebook page.

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I See London, I See France #Mondayblogs

I have a notorious and lengthy bad relationship with underwear and its proper placement. Thankfully there is only so much photographic evidence available. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristmas Morning 2002 – That is my brother’s Christmas underwear on my head. So much for potty training with those things. 10398514_57472255381_5448980_n

March 2009 – That’s me on the right, joyfully peering over inappropriate placement of underwear.

April 2011 – Not only am I wearing a pair of underwear over my jeans but I am also wearing a bra on my head. I’m a real winner. Ain’t no shame in that game!

And again, April 2011 – These photos were taken in a bar… and that my friends… is me dancing on a bar with underwear over my pants. Who knew making an ass out of yourself could also be lucrative? Count those dollas! For the first time, I might be able to put this weird habit towards the greater good. In less than two months, my coworkers from the animal hospital will be rallying together again to participate in the Run For The Animals Marathon. Some of us hope to beat our times from last year, some of us dream of coming in at the front of the pack…. Me? Well, I hope I get to walk that six miles with that bright red pair of bloomers over my pants! 10947255_10152604856430382_8661537753403909868_n That’s right! Me and these skivvies will be strutting it the whole marathon over my pants (fans of this public embarrassment have suggested blue pants so I look like SuperMan) if our team can double the donation money! Last year we raised $450 for game day! If we can bring $900 to the table that chilly morning in April, I will wear these where the whole world can see them! Want to help me out? We have two upcoming events to raise money – an ‘Everything’s A Dollar’ bake sale on February 21st from 8:00 am to noon and a $15 Paw Wash on March 28th. All money raised will be donated! For an added bonus – because I didn’t buy these red britches to sit in the closet- we will be holding a raffle at the Paw Wash with tons of great local gift certificates and items AND my amazing neighbor Roxane Ward will be holding a jewelry show that day. These events will be held at my animal hospital in Painter,Virginia! Can’t make it but you’d like to make sure I’m going to strut my stuff in the drawers? You can use our GoFundMe account! I can’t tell you how many people said that they wish they had an extra $900 because they’d donate it all to see this happen. Hopefully in two months I’ll be able to share some fantastic race day photos with you… of the marathon, my team and of my red hot undies!

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