The Commute: No. 4

Jan 11, 2018

“I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last.” — Jeannette Rankin


Vindication. In case men are wondering, this is how you apologize to a woman you harassed (with complete, unsparing honesty).

Making Me Blush. I finally broke and bought this Day Market Tote from Everlane.  It’s everything I ever hoped it would be.

Golden Latte Fever. Why the turmeric health craze is bad for Indian farmers, and what one woman is trying to do about it.

Great Lengths. If you have any occasion to wear it, this Reformation dress is jaw dropping.  Also, this floral dress in knee-length is incredible.

China Post. How online clothing stores like Romwe generate millions in revenue without ever making a single item.  Hint: It’s not repeat business they’re looking for.

Winter Blahs. If your skin is less than awesome this winter, this Becca Backlight Primer is a must.  So luminous, so dewy.

Fight for Yourself. Three years ago, I started having a pain in my chest.  Sharp, persistent, fluttery.  I went to three doctors.  Law school stress, anxiety, being emotional about a recent breakup.  It was nothing, it’d go away.

One night the pain got so bad, I went to the ER.  $6,000 worth of tests, and I had no answers.  The doctor insisted, “It’s school stress, I went to med school.”  But this wasn’t f**king stress and I knew it.

12-hours spent in a medical text book later, I found the answer.  I was anemic.  So anemic that my heart was working double overtime.  I went to the doctor, and my sheepish GP confirmed my diagnosis.  I wish I owned a t-shirt that said, “It’s not stress.”

Serena Williams had blood clots in her lungs, and no one would listen until she insisted.  This is not uncommon; a NICU nurse died the day after her daughter was born because her doctor dismissed her concerns.  Doctors have a bias towards women regarding pain.  You have to fight for yourself and be your own advocate because you can’t always trust that you’re being taken seriously.

What I’m Watching. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon.  So cute.  It makes me want to buy all the rainbow-colored vintage Pyrex.

What I’m Wearing. This chic tortoise barrette.

What I’m Cooking.  Kyle and I may try the Keto diet.  I bought this cookbook.  We’ll see.

{image found here; this post contains links that generate commission for the author}



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  1. KF says:

    My BF loves the Keto diet and had a lot of success re: weight loss with it. Be prepared though that if you go on it, once you eat off it may majorly affect your wellness (stomach trouble) / weight. He fluctuated pretty majorly when he deviated.

    • Kate says:

      If you weigh yourself every day (as I do) you’ll notice your weight fluctuates a lot in general. Particularly if you’re a woman. Weighing myself every day has been really revelatory, actually; I now know I’m going to get my period two or three days in advance because my weight spikes.

      But deviating from keto eating doesn’t result in weight gain — it results in water retention, and water weighs a lot. The reason you see really dramatic loss in your first few days/couple weeks on an eating plan like keto is that you’re losing bloat. I hate when people dismiss that as “just water weight” — it’s still weight. If you have a cheat meal, your weight will reflect that, but it’s not possible that one meal or even one day of off-plan eating will cause you to gain actual fat. You’ll notice that within a day of returning to your scheduled programming the weight has disappeared again.

      All this to say keto was wonderful for me, but I also kept track of caloric intake while I was doing it. That way when I was ready to start putting some carbs back into my diet I was already used to tracking intake and was able to avoid relapsing into bad overeating habits.

  2. Madeline says:

    Your story about being anemic and ignored makes me furious. And scared. Thank you for the reminder to be my own greatest advocate and to trust my gut.

  3. Jess says:

    My husband works at Mayo clinic, and even there I’ve had to completely advocate for the health of myself and my children. It’s your health, and your right to seek help, and if your doctor is a total jerk, ask for a different one. And then file a complaint. A lot of doctors suffer from what I call “big head” syndrome, and if we don’t tell the institution that doctors have terrible bed side manners or whatever it may be, how will it get fixed?

  4. Courtney says:

    I’ve been looking at the Madewell tote for sometime, but these Everlane ones are gorgeous. Are you familiar with the Madewell tote enough to give a brief comparison?

  5. CB says:

    How do you style the tortoise barrette? I’ve seen cute barrettes popping up more and more but don’t quite know what to do with them!

  6. LIZ says:

    I just started Keto, and I was super skeptical at first, but I’m a believer now! The first 2-3 days are the hardest. Drink a lot of Smart Water to get electrolytes and if you get a bad headache or lightheaded, put a tsp of salt in a some water and chug it and you’ll feel better instantly! I used to get so hangry – seriously, had to eat every 3 hours. Those hangry moments are gone and I just eat 3 meals now – no snacks. I’ve also seen improvement in my stomach issues. It gets a lot of hate for being hard to maintain long-term, but I don’t find it that limiting.

  7. jjc says:

    Love “Mrs. Maisel” so funny and timely

  8. Monica T says:

    Wow, that story on Shopify is fascinating. But why are we making things no one wants to buy, just because it’s so easy to sell them? This is madness.

  9. LL2328 says:

    Omg yes on the health story. I had MULTIPLE doctors tell me that there was nothing wrong, even though I was complaining of ongoing gyn issues. I literally had one doctor insist I get a psych consult, tell me it was because I was having too much sex, and accuse me of making a mountain out of a mole hill because I burst into tears after having just lost my aunt to ovarian cancer and being scared that I may have the same thing. The next doctor I went to (a woman) quickly saw something was wrong and immediately tested my white blood cells, which turned out to be through the roof. It’s crazy how often women have to fight to get heard by medical professionals.

  10. Anna says:

    The keto diet works because you end up eating fewer calories when you cut out an entire macronutrient (carbs) and fats tend to be filling. If eating a really high fat diet is enjoyable and sustainable for you, then def try it, but you could also just eat fewer carbs without going full keto and still lose weight. Or just go to or another calculator to figure out how many calories you should be consuming and track your food on MyFitnessPal or LoseIt. Seeing what I eat (and what’s in it) and understanding why certain diets have worked in the past for me has been super helpful. I was actually just listening to a really interesting debate yesterday in the Sigma Nutrition podcast about super low carb diets like keto and insulin sensitivity. I def recommend checking it out, and that podcast generally for really good, albeit dry nutrition info.

  11. Penny says:

    Oh my goodness – your anemia story is so scary. My version of this was post partum. I had some stitches & after what should have been enough time to heal, found myself in extreme pain. I was examining the situation in the mirror and noticed something looked off about the scar. It was stinging, raw sort of pain. I was terrified I would never enjoy sex again.I went to 2 male OB gyn’s. The 1st told me I had a “cosmetic issue” & I just needed time to adjust. The 2nd recommended time & possibly some steroid injections. Finally after a couple months of this, I went to a female OB. *Immediately* she’s like “oh you have some granulated tissue, this sometimes happens with a c section scar &, more rarely, vaginal stitches.” She removed it right then (with a silver stick of some sort). She also gave me an estrogen cream to help with the scar healing. I couldn’t believe it was that simple & so angry I had been told my pain was a “cosmetic issue”. Sex life went back to normal 🙂

  12. Brit says:

    My husband and I did the Keto diet for nearly all of 2017, and we had great results with weight loss but we gave it up this year. It’s so limiting with foods that aren’t really bad for you: ie, fruits. You can’t have bananas or apples, and berries only in very limited quantities. It’s generous with eating things like cheese, cream sauces, meat – but after 10 months I just wanted more fresh fruits and veggies. We’ll stay low carb, but keto isn’t a forever-lifestyle diet.

  13. Orla says:

    Sorry to hear about your experience re: healthcare, in Ireland the majority of GPs are male. I complained about extreme bloating and pain with PMS for five years and each time my GP would say ‘There is nothing I can do for you’. When I switched clinics, aged nineteen, my new doctor was appalled that no one had ever examined my stomach. It took another six years before I was referred to a gynecologist, despite the fact that I had been prescribed codeine since the age of 14 for pain. It turns out I have PCOS, and each time the pain was so severe that I thought my stomach would burst open, that was cysts rupturing.

    I am a firm believer in speaking openly about this, we need people to hear us, especially when our doctors don’t!

  14. Bettina says:

    Wow, your anaemia story sounds like no fun at all and I’m sorry you went through this. I can’t believe the doctors you went to were so careless. I had an episode of autoimmune haemolytic anaemia last year, where basically your immune system destroys your red blood cells. If I’d been dismissed by doctors, I would’ve just collapsed at one point. Unbelievable.

  15. Lauren says:

    Glad you’ve figured out your health scare and took yourself seriously! Thanks for the reminder. I actually often remember your admonitions to do regular breast exams. Thanks for keeping us honest at work, in fashion, and for life.

  16. Erica says:

    Would love to hear more about how you manage your anemia, Abra. I was recently diagnosed and have had a hard time getting consistent advice from my doctors.

  17. E says:

    Glad you continued to advocate for your health. I fought for years for a diagnosis for my chronic pain – was handed opioid scripts by many doctors despite me saying I don’t tolerate them well and wouldn’t take them, was repeatedly told to exercise more, was denied care for being considered “drug seeking” despite never filling pain med scripts and explicitly stating I wouldn’t, had a series of serious ligament injuries I believed to be related to this issue that many doctors dismissed as me being paranoid. Turns out I have a rare form of hip displasia that was only diagnosed when I began PT without a referral which I paid for out of pocket because no one would believe something was wrong. Was told post diagnosis that had I “exercised more” or gone about my life and had a baby I likely would have injuried myself so gravely I could have lost the ability to walk. After having to re-learn how to walk and spending 3 years in PT 5 days a week, I am finally pain free most days, down to PT once a month, and have found some forms of exercise I can do. It felt like no one, not even my family at times, believed my pain was physical.

    I work in women’s health and cannot tell you how many times I have seen women struggle for proper diagnosis due to clinicians’ sexism, body-shaming, or behavior-shaming.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  18. HeatHer says:

    Hmmm. Obviously you are researching the keto diet, so you know or will know that it requires a very low level of carbs to stay in ketosis. If you are not used to limiting your carbs, this might feel really extreme to you and you might get easily frustrated, especially if you are not used to tracking your carb intake. If you decide not to go all out with the keto at first, you might consider experimenting with tracking your macronutrients so you develop a good idea of how many carbs are in what foods, and seeing if reducing your typical percentage, along with ensuring you’re at a caloric deficit, gives you the results you are looking for. Good luck with whatever you decide. Change is hard!

    • Belle says:

      They lost me at the blood testing. I have a lifelong phobia of needles. I can’t imagine poking myself with one.

      • Kate says:

        Who told you you have to test your blood? I lost 50 pounds on keto without a single needle. There are some hardcore weirdos who will tell you you have to measure the ketones in your blood but those people need a hobby.

  19. OrlY says:

    I only go to female doctors for exactly that reason. I recently experienced the same symptoms you had, as well as extreme lightheadedness at work. My ob/gyn not only immediately tested and diagnosed me as anemic, but also said I had been “too patient” with my symptoms. Quite a bit different that the male doctors mentioned here who accused their patients of complaining.

  20. Kathleen H Lisson says:

    Yes! Thanks so much for dedicating space on the blog for this important issue. A tip I give to all my clients (I am a lymphedema therapist) is to wear no makeup to the doctors office. Doctors will look at you and see that you look healthy and dismiss complaints. Let your sallow complexion and tiredness show through.

  21. Lisa says:

    Wow your comment about fighting for yourself on health stuff hits home. 2 years ago I suddenly had no appetite. By the time whatever was wrong was said and done (and after a full week of debilitating strep throat, 3 trips to urgent care and 4 different antibiotics, one of which I believe fixed the problem causing my lack of appetite too) I hadn’t eaten in three full months and had lost 25 lbs. And do you know the only thing my GP could think it was – I must be pregnant! I wasn’t, either time she asked me, then insisted on testing me. Then, earlier this year I almost died from an overdose of insulin from my later recalled insulin pump patch. My husband took me to the ER and they did a great job checking my blood pressure every 15 min all night long but didn’t manage to think to check on of my blood sugar (the whole reason I was there- dangerously low blood sugar) until my endocrinologist came by in the morning.

    What I’ve learned from these experiences – doctors are not necessarily as smart as you think and it’s entirely possible they don’t know what’s wrong with you or (in the case of my diabetes) know as much about your body and your condition as you do. If you think something is wrong and are being told otherwise, trust yourself and do your own research. Not saying all docs are uninformed or untrustworthy, that’s definitely not true, but I also don’t think it’s wise to blindly trust someone.

  22. JDS says:

    I commiserate with and wholeheartedly second your “Fight For Yourself” post. First of all, supreme kudos to you for doing the deep-dive and getting sh*t taken care of. My mother is a medical professional, but despite her own training she’s had to staunchly reassert her credentials against some of her own physicians and specialists. When it comes to my own health – and I am *not* a medical professional, but did study molecular & cellular bio during my college years – I’ve had to be extremely firm with my PCPs and other specialists. At times, they’ve advised me in ways that contravene both my own academic background and my mother’s (some going so far as to say, “Why aren’t you being treated by your own mother then, if she’s an expert?” – which violates AMA guidelines, btw) and attempted courses of treatment that would have exacerbated my condition (in this particular case, it was an allergic reaction that triggered a really bad eczema outbreak).

    In addition to self-advocacy regarding symptoms, I also recommend taking up space. PCP and specialist visits are getting shorter and shorter. It is the patient’s prerogative to ensure that every minute of the 15-30 minute visits are totally focused on how the patient is feeling and what s/he is experiencing. Otherwise, your health will be doomed to the rushed doctor’s impressions rather than real observation and evidence.

    Thanks for always having something thoughtful to share. I appreciate the effort you put into your posts.

  23. Ashley says:

    Proofreading… this is how you apology

  24. Kate says:

    Oh my goodness. That article perfectly describes my current experience with anxiety. I’ve tried therapy, supplement, and prescription meds all to no avail. What have you done to treat your anemia? I just ordered an iron supplement because I can’t wait another minute for something that could be so life changing, but want to make sure I’m handling this properly. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

    • Belle says:

      You have to see a doctor to figure out what kind of anemic you are. I was both iron and folate anemic. The iron anemia is fairly easy to fix. Folate anemia, where you don’t get enough b-vitamin, is harder.

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