Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Upon realizing you are literally riddled with auto-immune disorders, it’s important to take care of yourself.  I believe Oprah calls this “Self Care.”  It’s when you shirk all normal obligations, i.e. going to work, in the interest of say taking a bath.  I’m real into Self Care for this reason.  So when my friend, Ilya, suggested we adventure over to a Korean Spa, I was interested.

Korean Spas are an LA institution…well, technically they’re a Korean institution but just like everything else, LA stole this idea and now it’s ours.  Fuck you, Korea.  I’m very familiar with White Person Spas.  This is where you spend gazillions of dollars to be treated like royalty despite the fact that you live in a studio and drive a 2001 Daewoo.  I’ve frequented White Person Spas by borrowing money from my parents and reminding them that my spine is fusing together.  I didn’t realize how different a Korean Spa would be and I was not prepared for my experience.  I’m gonna be honest, they tried to kill me.

There were several red flags I should have taken into consideration upon entering the Korean Spa but I was so excited by the prospect of being naked and rubbed that I ignored my finer instincts.  For starters, the entrance to this hovel was adorned with plastic flowers.  Nothing depicts cheap unsophistication like a plastic flower.  They’re horrifying.  Next, they made me pay up front.  Not a good sign.  After stealing all my money, these clowns gave me two towels reminiscent of those found at a homeless shelter and a hair net.  A HAIR NET!  I went to college for one reason only, to never have to wear a hair net in my daily life.  I should have turned around at this point but this particular spa was said to have the only natural hot springs in LA, known for its restorative powers and I had just been on disability for two months so restorative powers definitely seemed to be in order.  I continued on with this process and I regret it.

I walked into the locker room (disgusting…obviously) and got naked.  Typically this would be the point where I wrapped myself in a fluffy robe but instead I draped myself with a scratchy towel that barely covered my jadge.  I decided to keep my underwear on in the interest of being modest.  I didn’t have a robe but I still had my dignity.  Next I was greeted by an old Korean woman wearing a black bikini with a skirted bottom.  I was alarmed.  She clearly didn’t speak English but I was able to quickly determine that she was yelling at me and now I was scared so I got in line and followed her to what can best be described as a horse stable.  I entered an all tiled room that was divided by glass walls but had no doors.  Each stall was adorned by a plastic table, several shower heads, and what can only be described as a mop bucket.  I was panicked.  At this point, my new Korean friend and I had a little chat:

Terrifying Korean Woman: Gimmie your towel

Me: Aggressive

TKW (pointing at my underwear): What are those?

Me: Underwear.

TKW: Take them off

Me: No

TKW: Do it.

Me: Ok

TKW: Lay down.

Me: I’m naked and scared and you’re being very rude

TKW: *maniacal laughter*

I laid down and tried to wrap my head around the fact that I was nude in a horse stall and had just handed my underwear to a stranger.  I had expected pampering but instead received physical brutality.  Ilya was in the stall next to me and the entire thing was reminiscent of Schindler’s List.  I thought I might never see her again and started to recall all the good times we shared.
I was face down at this point and had to use my other senses in order to determine what was happening.  I heard a lot of water and finally the terrifying Korean woman placed a towel over my bare ass.  I thought that was nice until I realized that she was literally beating me to death through a surreptitiously placed towel.  For the next hour, she randomly placed this towel all over my body.  Occasionally, she would dip the towel into the mop bucket and it would be soaked with what I have to assume was the water she used to launder her bikini skirt. 

In the meantime, I was getting sporadically splashed with water from the stall next to me where Ilya was getting a “scrub.”  At the time, I thought she was drowning.  This was not the intimate experience I had anticipated.  I have never equated an intimate experience with hoses and mop buckets.  Also, my intimate experiences typically have a door and lack an aging Korean woman. 

As I was imagining my happy, intimate experience place, I realized I was being slapped by the Korean.  Apparently she wanted me to turn over so that I would be face up.  She wasn’t even pretending to massage me anymore.  She was just hitting me.  When I tried to speak up, she put a mask all over my face.  I believe this was an attempt to blind me so she could focus on rubbing my boobs for the next 20 minutes.  It didn’t even feel sexual.  It felt like she was trying to remove them from my torso.  Finally, she washed and conditioned my hair.  It seemed to me like this was her apology for beating me and then ineffectively fondling me.  I started to like the Korean woman at this point and then worried that I was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  Just as I was envisioning how happy the Korean and I would be together, she ripped me off the plastic gurney, handed me my underwear and sent me on my way.  I was crestfallen.

The thing that’s confusing about a Korean Spa is that you may end up inadvertently falling in love with your captor.  Also, it’s not as relaxing as they say it is.  Also, my spine is still fusing together. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Good Grief

I have a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis and the last four months have been intense.  The first two months, I became riddled with lupus and was forced to go on short-term disability.  The last two months, I have returned to work and little else.  Prior to all of that, I spent ten glorious days in Cedars Sinai hospital and then several months and years after that trying to come to terms with a disease I cant even be really sure exists.  I certainly cant pronounce it, and that strikes me as half the battle.  If I cant pronounce my disease, how can I be expected to overcome it?  

Having a crippling spine disorder is confusing.  One day I was watching the Superbowl and the next day I was in the hospital after which I was told that my spine was fusing together.  My first reaction was denial.  I believe thats one of the five stages of grief, but in my case in seemed like practicality at its best.  I meanyou cant just believe someone when they tell you your spine is fusing together.  Even after seeing pictures I thought, Oh pleasethat could be anyones spine.  Whos to say its actually mine?

The next stage is anger which was easy for me to pinpoint as anger is the only emotion I have an actual grip on.  I was angry when my doctor told me that the solution to spinal fusion is a weekly injection. I told him that he should Suck My Dick©, reminding him that I had spent my entire life not being a heroin addict and wasnt about to start shooting up now.  Even more enraging was his insistence on these needles which eventually just resulted in me getting lupus. 

This is where bargaining came in.  I reasoned that if my doctor could find me an injection that didnt give me lupus, I would stop insisting that he Suck My Dick©.  This worked!  I now get two non-lupus inducing shots (so far) once a month and take 10mg of Methotrexate (actual chemotherapylets not even get into it) once a week.  16 pills and 2 shots a month doesnt seem all that bad.  It was just enough to launch me into the stage of grief I enjoy the most called depression.

love depression.  If youre me, depression means you eat as much pasta as you want while catching up on all your favorite TV shows.  To me, depression is akin to vacation, and I have loved every second of it.  When I first got diagnosed with my fake disease, I insisted on working through it.  I made lots of proclamations like, I AM NOT MY DISEASE! and I HAVE COURAGE! and IM NOT GONNA LET SOME WEIRDO SPINE DISORDER KEEP ME FROM LIVING MY LIFE!  Right around my last proclamation is when I got lupus at which point I stopped living my lifeLiterally. 

Depression is hard to climb out of BECAUSE I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!  Whats better than sitting around thinking about yourself all the time and listing the ways in which you have been wronged by the world and more so the medical community?!  The only thing that could make this better would be copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, but Im totes sobes meaning I dont drink or do drugs meaning I have more to be depressed about!  Woo-hoo! 

But its time.  Acceptance is the last stage of grief.  Im depressed just thinking about acceptance, and I can see how this might be a backslide for people.  Its time for me to rejoin the living.  Its time to refocus my energy on my old problems.  Whats the point in focusing on fictitious diseases when I could be obsessing about my weight?!  Ive wasted so much time focusing on Ankylosing Spondylitis that I almost totally forgot about my morbid obesity!  I should start trying on pants!  Nothing pulls me out of Disease-Depression© like pants.  Or my acting career!  Why spend precious time concerned about the bevy of auto-immune disorders I have when I could be gripped by the hopelessness of being an actor in Los Angeles!  I mean it is terrible!  Or money.  I literally have zero money.  Yet Im squandering my time focusing on how tired I am from having lupus!  It definitely seems like acceptance is the key.  I miss my old problems.  I pray to God my car breaks down on the way to work tomorrow so that I have something new to worry about.  If God cares about me at all, Ill soon be faced with an unwanted pregnancy or the death of a loved one.  If history is any indication, Ill probably have a new disease by the time Im done writing this.  But Im not going to let that get me down.  I have to focus all my energy on how Ill likely always live in a studio apartment and will never, ever be thin enough to wear pants. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Have Legs

Let’s review the facts:

Fact No. 1: God hates me.

Fact No. 2: I have a fucking weirdo, made-up disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis which is also known as Bamboo Spine because your spine inflames and then fuses together...exciting.

Fact No. 3: I have to give myself a shot every week (actual needle that I’m forced to jam into my thigh) to cure this fucking monstrosity.

Fact No. 4: The shot accidentally gave me something called Drug-Induced Lupus.

Fact No. 5: I started a new shot.

Fact No. 6: That shot gave me Drug-Induced Lupus too.

Fact No. 7: I’m on disability until I can get my fucking act together.

Fact No. 8: None of this is making me skinnier which is typically the silver lining when becoming ill.

Fact No. 9: I literally hate everyone.

I guess the good news is I don’t have any money.  Wait…no.  That’s not right.  I have legs?  I think it’s important to review your appendages when faced with life’s challenges.  Every time I come back from a doctor’s appointment I like to check-in with my senses and appendages as a sort of self-help routine.  “I have legs, I have arms, I can see, I can hear…”  This placates me until I remember that lots of people have those things and none of their spines are fusing together.

I recently had to meet with my doctor again.  He is a literal monster.  Like many doctors, he doesn’t seem to fully understand the emotional ramifications of the things he says.  He sticks to the facts with no regard for how a recovering alcoholic, chubby Midwesterner with no life skills might misconstrue those things to mean “you’re going to die.”  He says things like this:

“The solution is simple.  You’ll just give yourself a shot of painfully burning medicine every week.”

“Weird…you have Lupus.”

“Don’t be scared, but we’re starting you on chemotherapy.”

You can imagine how I reacted to that last bit of information.  “I have legs, I have arms, I can see, I can hear…”  The new drug I’m starting is called Methotrexate.  He keeps calling it chemotherapy which makes me think I might finally get skinny in which case I take back everything I said about God.  He’s a delight and answers prayers.  But this theory has yet to be proven.  I’ll believe that God cares about me if my ass gets smaller.  My doctor wrote down the name of my new medicine and then wrote beside it in all caps: DON’T GET PREGNANT.  I have to admit, I was alarmed.

Me: Don’t get pregnant ever or while I’m on this medicine?

Dr: While you’re on the medicine.

Me: Why?

Dr: Methotrexate is often used to induce abortion.

Me: Um…

Dr: And to treat cancer.

Me: Um…

Dr: You might experience some nausea.

Me: Because the drug you’re giving me is looking for the fetus to kill?

Dr: It’s nothing to be alarmed about.

Me: Really?  Cause it seems like you’re just prescribing me abortion medicine at this point.

Dr: Don’t be scared.

Me: Right.  Nothing scary about cancer and abortions.

Dr: You’re doing great.

Me: I hate you.

There are only two things I’ve managed to do correctly in my life 1) not be an intravenous drug user 2) not accidentally get pregnant and then abort unwanted fetus.  In a gripping twist of fate, I’m now forced to shoot myself up every week and am just blindly taking abortion medicine despite not being pregnant.  I MEAN IS THIS A JOKE?!  How fucking dare that doctor tell me not to get pregnant!  I MEAN…I GET IT!  I’VE BEEN NOT GETTING PREGNANT SINCE I WAS 15!!!  YOU DON’T HAVE TO TELL ME NOT TO GET PREGNANT.  IT’S THE ONLY THING I’VE BEEN DOING RIGHT UP UNTIL THIS POINT YET SOMEHOW I’M STILL BEING FORCED TO EXPERIENCE THE EPIC STOMACH PAINS OF A SHREDDED UTERUS!!!

So that’s where I’m at. It clearly makes sense.  I don’t have cancer yet am taking chemotherapy.  I’m not pregnant with any of my horrible ex-boyfriend’s children yet am taking abortion medicine willy-nilly.  And I’m still too fat to wear pants...obviously.  It’s times like these that I like to think about my appendages.  They bring me great hope.  "I have legs, I have arms, I can see, I can hear.  I have legs, I have arms, I can see, I can hear..."