Don’t Let Life Get In the Way!


by Stacey Anter

Library Detective


Have you ever wanted to do something but just never found the time to do it? That’s life getting in the way. Whether it’s learning to play the guitar (or other instrument), writing a novel, losing weight and getting healthy, learning to paint, starting a business, or going back to school to get that degree you’ve been wanting, it’s hard to find the time when you spend all your time looking for a job because you’re unemployed, or if you have a job (or two or three), a family, and other obligations. As Old Blue Eyes used to sing, “That’s Life!” Well, with the New Year knocking on our door, it’s time to open it and see what it has in store for us in 2016. Make a New Year’s Resolution to follow your bliss! Do whatever it is that you’ve been longing to do but just haven’t for whatever reason.


Me? I’m finally getting back to writing fiction. I let life get in the way and I’ve put off my writing (including this blog, unfortunately) and I focused on other things that I needed to do. But no more. I am resolving myself to writing the stories that I’ve had in mind for quite a while now. This past November was NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and in an effort to inspire myself into writing again, I decided to sign up our library to be a Come Write In center for local NaNoWriMo’s.  It was last minute and the Municipal Liaisons were able to add us to the list to get the word out, and we are looking forward to next November when we can do more.


If you’re not sure what you would like to do or try, check with your local library. There are so many things going on: book clubs, guest speakers, art classes, job search support, computer classes, yoga classes, craft programs for adults and kids, literacy volunteers, sign language classes, the list goes on. There are also DVDs and audiobooks that might be of interest.. Learn a new language on the Mango Languages. Destress with adult coloring. Watch a movie or a television series. Listen to music. Ask us about OverDrive, Hoopla, and Freegal. We can teach you how to use your new ereader, or mobile  device, or you can borrow one from your local library.


In case you’re interested in finding out more about setting goals, you can check out some books on the topic. Here are a few: Achieve Anything in Just One Year: Be Inspired Daily to Live Your Dreams and Accomplish Your Goals by Jason Harvey; Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals by Heidi Reeder, PhD.; The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals With Soul by Danielle Laporte; Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day by Sam Bennett; The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau. There are also lots of books and DVDs on various topics of interest such as learning to play guitar, writing a novel, starting a business, etcetera.


Ben Franklin once said, “The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” So, what are you waiting for? Pursue your happiness! Follow your bliss! Open that door and head toward your next goal! If you don’t see me for a while, I’m busy writing my novel.


I call myself the Library Detective because I can find the answers to any question you can think of, or at least I can point you in the right direction. To find out more about goal setting, visit your local library; there are more Library Detectives there, too.


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Every Day Is Migraine Awareness Day If You Suffer From Migraines



by Stacey Anter

The Library Detective



Yes, I know that June was Migraine Awareness Month. Yes, I also know that it is now the end of July. But, there’s a reason for my tardiness: Migraines. As someone who suffers from Chronic Daily Headaches and Migraines, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to spread the awareness, even if I completely missed the Awareness Month celebration. However, Migraine Awareness Week is September 6-12th, so I’m actually early for that one.


Migraines and Chronic Daily Headaches are not an obvious thing to see like other medical conditions. Many suffer from this form of chronic pain in silence, and it’s not just because of the sensitivity to light and noise, but it is very real. As a matter of fact, many tend to doubt the truthfulness of someone who says they have a migraine. Some people think that we’re just faking to get out of doing something, or because we want a day off from work. And as a result, migraine sufferers, or migraneurs, feel guilty when we are forced to miss work, social activities, or other responsibilities because of a migraine. But, we shouldn’t feel guilty. According to, “Migraine is not just a headache. It is the most disabling of all neurological disorders and ranks seventh among all causes of disability worldwide.”


My favorite resource that really helped me understand about migraines was The Migraine Brain by Dr. Carolyn Bernstein. She is the founder and director of the Women’s Headache Center at the Cambridge Health Alliance.  Because of her book, I learned that migraines and chronic daily headaches are very common, and they also vary greatly depending on the individual. For example, many people get auras but some don’t. Some people get visual auras, but I get olfactory auras, meaning, I smell things that aren’t there. One day, I figured this out because I couldn’t get the smell of dryer sheets out of my nose. Another time, it was “old lady perfume” (perfume is a trigger.) Another time, it was doughboys. So migraines and their causes, symptoms, auras, etcetera, depend on the individual. Different people get migraines for different reasons. Dehydration, weather changes, hunger, and hormones are just a few.


If you or someone you know suffers from migraines and/or chronic daily headaches (I know, I sound like a commercial for a new medication), check out these other resources and see a neurologist/specialist if you haven’t already. Here are just a few books that you could turn to for more information: Migraine: Identify Your Triggers, Break Dependence on Medication, Take Back Your Life: an integrative self-care plan for wellness by Sharron Murray, MS, RN; The Migraine Solution: A Complete Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Pain Management by Paul Rizzoli, Elizabeth Loder, and Liz Neporent; The Woman’s Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches From Puberty to Menopause by Dawn A. Marcus, Philip A Bain.


There are many websites dedicated to migraines and chronic headache awareness, such as M.A.G.N.U.M: The National Migraine Association at ; ; The National Headache Foundation ; and there are many Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn Pages dedicated to Migraines as well such as Migraneur Misfits. Just do a search on any social media site for a list.


I call myself the Library Detective because I can find the answers to any question you can think of, or at least I can point you in the right direction. To find out more about Migraines and Chronic Daily Headaches, visit your local library; there are more Library Detectives there, too.

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Catch Up on Downton at the “Li-bree”


Stacey Anter
The Library Detective

Now that the fifth season of Downton Abbey has arrived from across the pond, you might want to catch up if you haven’t already. Naturally, many libraries in Rhode Island have all four previous seasons, and they are still quite a hit, so try to check them out as soon as you can. You may have to put your name on a list, but it’s worth the wait. The new season originally aired in the UK in September of last year, and we have been ever so patiently awaiting its American broadcast, which began last Sunday, January 4th.

After watching the first episode of the new season, I thought I would share some Downton Abbey related items that you can find at the “li-bree”, as Lady Edith says. There are quite a few books specifically focused on Downton Abbey. The World of Downton Abbey, A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey, and The Chronicles of Downton Abbey are all by Jessica Fellowes, the creator’s niece. For some juicy tidbits about the making of the series, there is Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey: The Official Backstage Pass to the Set, the Actors, and the Drama by Emma Rowley. If you’d like to know what it’s like to be on staff at Downton, read, Downton Abbey Rules for Household Staff by Justyn Barnes. If you tend to drool at the food in each episode, here are a few cookbooks: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary’s Crab Canapés to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding by Emily Ansara Baines; Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey’s Elegant Meals, and Edwardian Cooking: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook, both by Larry Edwards.

In the non-fiction section, you can find out what life was like as a kitchen maid in Below Stairs: the Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey” by Margaret Powell. Want to read another memoir? Read Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor by Rosina Harrison. If you love the beauty and grandeur of the castle, read Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon. There is also a DVD called “Secrets of Highclere Castle” that is a fascinating PBS program. For those with an interest in history, Downton’s first episode begins with news of the sinking of the Titanic, and continues on with the First World War, which is the era discussed in Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis. For more history, you might also enjoy The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy by David Cannadine, which covers British history from 1880 to present, most of which he focuses on the period of time with the most changes, between 1880 and 1930.

Perhaps you are in the mood for some fiction stories set around this time in history, or maybe even just something similar to the world of Downton? If fiction is your cup of tea, try these titles: The Maisie Dobbs mysteries by Jacqueline Winspear; While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax; The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst; Remembrance by Jude Devereaux; The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguo; Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford; The Luxe by Anna Godbersen; Lady Catherine, The Earl and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon; The House at Riverton by Kate Morton; Howard’s End by E. M. Forster; The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean; Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy; Fall of Giants by Ken Follett; The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt; Charity Girl by Michael Lowenthal; The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton (completed by Marian Mainwaring); Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh; A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd; The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin.

When asked where Lord Grantham was on Sunday night’s premiere, Lady Edith said that he was “in the li-bree” (meaning “library”.) I rather like that pronunciation of the word, as I much prefer it to the common mispronunciation, “liberry.” From now on, I think I shall call my place of work “the li-bree,” and myself, “the Li-bree Detective.”

I call myself the Library Detective because I can find the answers to any question you can think of, or at least I can point you in the right direction. To find out more about all things Downton Abbey, visit your local library; there are more Library Detectives there, too.

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Preserve Your Family Stories

By Stacey Anter

The Library Detective

In memory of Peter Stone, a decent and extraordinary man who taught me the value of never giving up and preserving life’s stories.

In memory of Peter Stone, a decent and extraordinary man who taught me the value of never giving up and preserving life’s stories.

I realize that this is December, but November was National Lifewriting Month and Family Stories Month, and I need to tell you a story (excuse the pun). About ten years ago, my husband and I were close to a neighbor of ours: Peter Stone, a veteran of World War II who was legally blind. Peter had a gorgeous, loveable and very friendly black Labrador retriever seeing-eye dog named Cadbury. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Peter and Cadbury. The two of them were inseparable. Cadbury even made the news as being the only dog with a health club membership, invited into a local gym to use the treadmill. Whenever we saw Peter and Cadbury going for a walk, and he would always be outside no matter the weather, we would stop to talk to them and it was a pleasure to do so every time because we got to know Peter in a way that few neighbors do.

Many war veterans are usually quiet about their experiences during their service basically because it is a painful time to remember. But Peter took part in an important time in American History, and for some reason, he was ready to share his memories with us. My husband is also a history buff and Peter felt comfortable sharing his history with us. We began sitting with him, his wife, her pet bird and Cadbury in their apartment, recording Peter’s stories in hopes of publishing a book, which was Peter’s idea. Peter even hoped we could write a sequel once the first one was done. Well, the holidays came and went. We both got busy with work and other obstacles of life and we never really got a chance to resume our talks. Soon after, Peter passed away, buried with full military honors, and now Cadbury is retired, living with Mrs. Stone, which is what we had hoped so that he wasn’t separated from his “mom.” We are so very thankful to have known him and we want to continue with plans to immortalize Peter’s stories in some form. We are also regretful of not continuing to record the rest of Peter’s memories, but we do have about three cassette tapes of Peter’s voice, which we are now in the process of digitizing for preservation.

The holidays are a time for family gatherings and sharing family stories. Older generations have a plethora of knowledge to give those who will listen, so don’t be afraid to listen because life is a continual learning experience. All you need is an open mind and maybe even a tape recorder or video camera. As the Chase’s Calendar of Events states, November is the “perfect month to start telling and saving family stories.” For starters, you might like to go online and visit This is an excellent web site for more information on saving family stories and perhaps even displaying them in a scrapbook. Books, journaling tips, scrap booking ideas and templates, and email newsletters are available. Writer’s Digest ( is a great source of helpful tips on writing of all kinds. You can check out such books as Creating Your Own Heritage Album by Bev Kurschner Braun. Another good choice is Writing Family Histories and Memoirs by Kirk Polking, and Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs by Maureen A. Taylor.

Don’t just think about writing your family stories. Writing your own life story is also important for passing on your knowledge, experiences and sense of humor. Reading autobiographies give us a sense of the writer’s personality, and it makes us feel as if we know that person even if we never met. There are many books for personal writing, including, You Can Write a Memoir by Susan Carol Hauser, Write From Life by Meg Files, and Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach. You might also like to visit the Soul Food Café at for tips and support for journal writing and more. And naturally, you would benefit in all ways possible by visiting for personal life story writing tips, and there is a link to a magazine called Personal Journaling.

I call myself the Library Detective because I can find the answers to any question you can think of, or at least I can point you in the right direction. To find out more about preserving family stories or writing your autobiography, visit your local library; there are more Library Detectives there, too.

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Be Thankful it’s National Novel Writing Month


Be Thankful it’s National Novel Writing Month
By Stacey Anter

In this life, there are so many things to be thankful for: Family, Friends, Health, and etcetera. When you get frustrated and stressed out from the daily grind, you must remember to always return to what makes you happy and fulfills your spirit, whether it be sketching, sculpting, playing your guitar, singing, writing, blogging, walking, jogging or whatever. The speaker at a workshop I attended asked what we wanted to do if we knew we couldn’t fail, and at least half of the audience answered that they wanted to write a novel. I am quite sure that there are many of you who have aspirations of becoming a novelist or writer, and so I am here to tell you: Go For It! November is National Novel Writing Month!
From November 1st to 30th an organization nicknamed “NaNoWriMo” (National Novel Writing Month) challenges writers to write a novel in a month. “Write a novel in just a month?” you say. “How can I write a good novel in only 30 days? You must be dreaming.” Well, the point is to writewritewritewritewrite enough to finish a 175-page or 50,000-word novel by midnight November 30th, regardless of how good it is. (Editing and rewriting is for later.) It’s good practice for getting yourself in the habit of writing everyday. NaNoWriMo says it’s a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.” You can sign up with NaNoWriMo for a competition of sorts, or you can simply use it as a private goal for yourself. Either way, you win by becoming a novelist. Check out for more information.
One of the best resources for writers, month after month, is Writer’s Digest. Whether you enjoy writing fiction, such as mysteries, romances, fantasy, science fiction, screenplays, or non-fiction how-to, inspiration, informational, books or articles, this magazine is one of the best for all kinds of writers. There are so many books suggested and sold by Writer’s Digest for aspiring writers. For more information, a glimpse into the magazine, the bookstore, visit their website at . You can check our magazine database for articles on writing, including articles on fanfiction, which is writing fiction based on television shows, movies, books, and other creative media. Writing fanfiction stories can be great practice for future novelists, and perhaps even lead to a publishing contract. Did you know that Fifty Shades of Gray started out as fanfiction based on the Twilight series? Visit for inspiration and entertainment.
For aspiring non-fiction authors, one book that I wholeheartedly recommend is The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell. Since attending a library conference where these knowledgeable ladies spoke about freelance writing and how they decided to write this book, my drive to write has been renewed after lying dormant due to the daily stress of work and life. I was so jazzed up, that not only did I buy their book and highlight key points and important sections, but also I soon found myself subscribing to their email newsletter, thinking of magazine markets and article queries. The Renegade Writer is one of the best resources I have found that shows you how to break into freelance writing, and how to successfully break the “rules” you learned from other experts. (Rules are made to be broken, after all.) Formichelli and Burrell are two goddesses of the freelance writing world, and no matter your background or expertise, these ladies prove that you can do anything that you put your mind to and be a success. Check out and for more information and plenty of inspiration. A third goddess is Jennifer Lawler, the author of Dojo Wisdom for Writers, among other titles found at . Lawler’s latest Dojo book inspires and motivates writers with a martial arts mentality. When Lawler and Formichelli, along with Formichelli’s husband, Eric Martin, also a freelancer, spoke at Cranston Public Library in October, their wisdom encouraged me to persevere and be patient with my writing success. Another useful resource is, The Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches, and Proposals by Moira Allen. The business side of writing is just as important once your novel is written. Whether you’re writing a novel, a how-to book, or a magazine article, you’ll need to query or pitch it to a market in order to get it published, and this guide shows you how.
Naturally, there are some resources absolutely necessary for every writer’s bookshelf. First and foremost, a writer needs a trusty thesaurus and an unabridged dictionary. But there are also some resources that could definitely come in handy from time to time. For example, the Writer’s Digest Flip Dictionary by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph.D. can help jog your memory or guide you towards those technical and not-so-technical-but-on-the-tip-of-your-tongue terms. Without a doubt, no writer should be without a grammar/punctuation/style handbook such as The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, or The Little, Brown Handbook. Whether you are a Stephen King fan or not, Stephen King On Writing is a great resource for inspiration and writing advice written by a master storyteller. There are also some great books about Plot, Conflict, Action and Suspense, Character and Viewpoint, and more available from Writers Digest Books. If you’re online, you can always find information and inspiration. Some of my favorite websites and newsletters come from WritersDigest ( ), WritersWeekly (, and WriterAdvice ( just to name a few.
So, what are you waiting for? Go for it! “Get That Novel Started!” (Yes, that is also the title of a book). If you’ve ever dreamt of being a novelist/writer/author, then this is the month to start. Make a promise to yourself that you’re going to a) participate in NaNoWriMo, or b) sit down everyday and simply write even when you can’t think of anything to write about at the moment. If you write, words will come. If you decide to take on this task, I say to you, “Good Luck and Godspeed.”
I call myself the Library Detective because I can find the answers to any question you can think of, or at least I can point you in the right direction. To find out more about NaNoWriMo, or writing fiction or non-fiction, visit your local library; there are more Library Detectives there, too.

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Do Your Own Homework Before You Vote!


By Stacey Anter

The Library Detective



It’s October already! School is underway and kids are now well into doing their homework. But it’s also homework time for us. We need to do our homework before voting in the General Election. Even if you’re not interested in politics, it is still very important that you have your say. One way we can change things that we don’t like is to vote. Do your own homework! Find out what each candidate stands for, what they promise to do once in office, and don’t forget to check their past record. Does the candidate have any experience in doing what needs to be done, whether in the private sector or in the public? If the candidate held a previous office, what was their voting record like? How did they vote? Did they vote for what you wanted, or for what you are against?


In order to research candidates for office, first visit the Secretary of State’s website ( Here you will find a copy of the election ballot for your district. You can also register to vote or update your voter registration. However, the deadline in order to vote in the November 4th election has passed. If you haven’t registered to vote, do it now so that you are ready vote in the next election. You can find out the basics, like who our current legislators are, where to vote according to your home address, what to do if you are disabled, or are physically unable to go out to vote, if you are on active duty and are overseas, voter guides, and much more. You can also declare your candidacy for office.


Once you know who your candidates are, you can research them online, usually by visiting their websites, such as Allan Fung ( ) and Gina Raimondo ( ). For local elections, such as for RI General Assembly, visit the State of RI General Assembly website ( I also found some websites where you can research voting records of legislators and their positions on many issues:


Rhode Island Votes Look up local legislators’ positions

Project VoteSmart Facts about legislators and their votes, positions, speeches, and funding (local and national)

GovTrack.US Tracks US Congress voting

US Senate Go to Legislation and Records

US House of Representatives

Library of Congress –THOMAS Bills and resolutions, activities in congress, etc (Replaces LOC –Thomas) Legislation and congressional record.


Another important thing for which you should really do your homework is the list of questions that are posed on the election ballot. For example, one very important ballot question is Question #3 – Constitutional Convention. “Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the Constitution?” Knowing what the questions are before you are asked to vote on them is so very important because you don’t know what a Yes or a No will result in unless you research the issue. Be Informed. And if you’re not sure, find out.


Whatever you decide, go out and vote!


I call myself the Library Detective because I can find the answers to any question you can think of, or at least I can point you in the right direction. To find out more about voting, elections, and the Constitutional Convention, visit your local library; there are more Library Detectives there, too.




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Meet Roxanne; September is Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month


by Stacey Anter

The Library Detective


September is Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month and I would like to share with you what I have learned from my friend Roxanne Beretta. Roxanne is a Lifetime Member at Weight Watchers and, until recent cutbacks, she was also a Weight Watchers employee. She is quite an inspiration, not only for her weight loss success story, but also for her courage and strength in living with IC. Here is an interview I had with Roxanne, and I thought I would just share her words with you instead of trying to sum it all up because I think it is important to know about her weight loss journey as well as her IC story.


Stacey: What made you join Weight Watchers?

Roxanne: I joined Weight Watchers on January 4, 2001. I had been carrying around an extra 25 lbs before I had my son, in August 2000, so by January 2001, I was carrying an extra 50! I had had enough so I wanted to learn to eat right and lose it – for good.


Stacey: How much weight have you lost and how did you do it?

Roxanne: I lost 55 lbs. (although currently it stands @ 50) eating healthy meals and making better choices for snacks.


Stacey: When did you start working for Weight Watchers?

Roxanne: I began working for Weight Watchers in October 2002. I had reached my Goal weight in September of 2001, and became a Lifetime Member. Weight Watchers then contacted me a year later and asked if I’d be interested in working for them.


Stacey: How do you keep your weight off?

Roxanne: I keep my weight off by continuing to eat healthy meals, and exercising. *Having IC forces me to do both as well*


Stacey: What struggles have you experienced in your weight loss journey?

Roxanne: I have struggled a little bit over the past ten years. In 2003, I began to gain some weight back and struggled to find my motivation. When I became pregnant in 2004, I had re-gained 13lbs. I then dealt with a miscarriage, and a roller coaster of emotions for the next few months. In January 2005, I had to re-focus and re-group if I wanted to stay employed; so I lost 20lbs.


Stacey: What do you usually do for exercise and how much?

Roxanne: I was always a walker and used my gym frequently before marriage/motherhood. However, when I joined WW in January 2001, I began walking on my treadmill 3 days per week for a half hour at a time. My son was an infant (5 months) so I had to squeeze in exercise when I could. That spring, I began walking him in his stroller on the bike path and would walk every day – sometimes twice a day for ½ hour – 1 hour. When I re-gained weight and had to re-lose it in 2005, I increased my walking intensity (added hills to my routes) and revisited my gym. I used the elliptical and weight machines about 2 times per week. Then in October 2006, when my new treadmill arrived, I decided to run. It was tough at first, and I only focused on running 2 minutes at a time. By December, I was running 3 miles! I felt I had finally found something I could do at my own pace, in my own time, and pretty inexpensively. I was hooked. From 2007-2011 I was running 5 days per week for 5 miles (or more) per day. I also did the elliptical 2 days per week and weight trained for 3 days. I kept that up until my knee injury/surgery in December 2011.


Stacey: How many 5Ks have you done? When did you start doing them?

Roxanne: I ran my first 5k in September 2008. I had set that as a goal on New Year’s Eve. I began training myself to run outdoors (instead of on a treadmill) in April 2008 while on vacation in Florida. There was no treadmill or access to any exercise equipment; so I just laced up my sneakers and hit the road. However, when I returned home, it was a very rainy spring and summer, so I wasn’t able to run outside very often. The Thursday before the 5k (CVS Downtown 5k) I ran 4 miles outside, so I felt (and hoped) I was ready! I ran the 5k that Sunday in 29:22 and was very pleased with my time. I loved the energy of the crowd and the feeling of accomplishment at the finish line. I was determined to do that again!


Stacey: How did Pavement Pounders come about?

Roxanne: However, in March 2009, I was battling something – I didn’t know what exactly, but my Gynecologist was referring me to an Urologist for testing. So while I battled that, I kept putting off doing a 5k until I felt I could. But as the months wore on, I realized I just had to try it whether I felt up to it or not. So I signed up for the Rhody 5k in June 2009. I didn’t know if I could make it or not, but I gave it my all. I did finish the race and my bladder held up, and the pain was manageable, so I felt great. A week later, I ran the Gaspee 5k and managed to push through the pain. I underwent a cystoscopy in July 2009, which indicated I might have Interstitial Cystitis (IC for short). I would have to undergo a hydro distention at Women & Infants in November for it to be diagnosed. It was, on November 9, 2009. I ran my next 5ks in August & September 2009 (the CVS again) then recruited Susan Costello to join me for the Gloria Gemma 5k in October. Together we did it, along with about 12 people from Weight Watchers (members). We decided to form a team and name it “Pavement Pounders”. I chose the name because it represented us – we pound the pavement, and the pound also represents the pounds lost! Our next 5k was the Jingle Bell 5k at Roger Williams Park in December 2009. It was less than a month after my surgery and diagnosis; and we had a team of 87 join us! I have personally run [well over] 23 road races, and the Team has participated in [more than] 28.


Stacey: When were you first diagnosed with IC?

Roxanne: Monday, November 9, 2009.


Stacey: Could you please explain what exactly is Interstitial Cystitis? What happens to you?

Roxanne: Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a bladder disease that affects both men and women. Women are four times more likely to get it than men. It affects any age, race, religion. I was diagnosed at the age of 42. Most women are diagnosed between the ages of 24-35. I always had frequency issues as far back as 6th grade. I knew I urinated more than anyone else my age; as I was the one who had permission to just go to the bathroom whenever I needed to in school, without a hall pass. Symptoms vary from person to person. Most deal with frequent urination, urgency, burning urination, blood in urine, pelvic pain, vaginal pain (ie like stabbing), swollen abdomen, fatigue, lower back pain. I deal with all of those, but my issue is mostly the frequency, burning and pelvic pain. I am affected every day. I only had one symptom free day since being diagnosed. It was June 22, 2010. When I awake each day, the first thing I feel is the pelvic pain. Kind of like cramps, or aches in my stomach, hips, lower back and pubic area. Some days it’s noticeable others it’s unbearable. Food and emotions are triggers for me. Once I get out of bed, I urinate, usually it burns; I eat breakfast which is always an egg w/ American cheese and 1 slice of gluten free ham. I do not have any other breakfast options that are IC friendly for me. So I’ve eaten this same breakfast for 3 years. I usually urinate anywhere between 16-28 times per day, on a “good” day. If I am in a flare, it can be as many as 50 times per day. What happens with an IC patient is our bladder lining is deteriorated. The lining in a normal person’s bladder is what prevents acid from hitting the bladder wall. In an IC patient, the lining is gone, or has holes in it, which lets acid hit the bladder wall, which then causes irritation and histamines. There’s when the pain begins and the frequency starts. If, for example, I were to eat a food that isn’t IC friendly, it can cause my bladder to spasm, and the results will be pelvic pain, frequent urination, burning, bleeding. It can last for hours to weeks. Nothing coats the bladder (like Pepto Bismol coats the stomach); so we are stuck trying to deal with it. There is an IC Diet List on the ICN.Network; which is what we are usually first given by a doctor. On it is a three column listing: Bladder Friendly Foods, Ok to Try Foods, and Caution Foods. What happens is, a patient must do an elimination diet. When I was going through the diagnosis process in the spring of 2009, I only ate foods that were listed on the Bladder Friendly column — One food at a time. So I ate an egg for breakfast, for lunch, and for dinner, for 3 days. If I didn’t flare, I knew it was an ok food for me. It is very time consuming and unrealistic. Most of us give up on it and just try to figure out what our trigger foods are. We know enough to avoid caffeine, acidic foods, chocolate, and alcohol. I only eat a bland diet. Things like black pepper, condiments, fruit, are off limits. I cannot eat many foods due to having Gluten intolerance too (Celiac) so my IC Friendly Food List is extremely short. I eat the same lunch: lettuce, cukes, egg, cottage cheese w/ chicken breast. Sometimes I can change it up (pork, beef etc.) and dinner is always a challenge too. I have not gone out to eat in over a year. Doing so requires a lot of planning and asking a lot of questions.


Stacey: How do you manage the pain of IC?

Roxanne: Managing IC pain is a challenge as well. It all comes down to reducing the stress in life, and watching food intake. Advil can help with the pelvic pain. I use a heating pad for my spasms. [At the time,] there [was] only one medication for IC patients – it’s called Elmiron. I was given a prescription in Nov 2009 but never took it because of the side effects. I felt I had frequency issues more so than pain (which is what Elmiron is for) so I never started it. I prefer to try natural methods. I tried something called Cystoprotek, and Desert Harvet Aloe – both are natural pills that are supposed to help with symptoms. Neither worked for me. They increased my frequency and burning. Many of these types of products do, because they contain soy, or another bladder irritant. Doctors often prescribe pelvic floor therapy. I went to 3 sessions in 2010 and my insurance didn’t cover it, so I received a bill for $735.00. Needless to say, I never continued it.


Stacey: How do you keep up your exercise routine having IC?

Roxanne: Which leads me to my real pain management technique: Exercise. I know that many IC patients can no longer exercise due to the pain and frequency. However, I refuse to give up. My Doctor and I both agreed early on that I would continue to run and do whatever felt good while I still can. He was not so supportive in the very beginning, but then he realized that I was able to run through the pain without causing any additional damage to my bladder. He said once you have IC, you really can’t make it worse. Only if you drink excessively, eat all the wrong foods, etc. but that exercise wouldn’t harm my bladder lining. So I manage my pain best when I’m active. I love to exercise so in order to be able to do it, I am forced to eat right, sleep when I need to and drink enough water. (Water is very important to an IC patient – we must drink to keep our bladders “healthy” – so I always run with a little water bottle). There have been days when exercise is impossible. (this week has been like that). I usually try to fit it in first thing in the morning, but since spring 2011, I haven’t been able to, so I try to fit exercise in when I can. I always hope for a better tomorrow. I have been able to ride a bike again (3 weeks now) so I do that when I feel up to it.


Stacey: What do you do when you have an IC flare up?

Roxanne: When I have an IC Flare it is always different and unpredictable. I have had situations where I’ve been stuck somewhere. (ie last summer I went into a flare at my physical therapy appointment in Providence after riding the recumbent bike for 10 minutes). I had to stay there while I went through it (very embarrassing, but the people there were so nice!) I had to pee every three-five minutes, and I was doubled over in pain. They let me use the bathroom all night and placed a heated pad on my tummy. My appointment was at 6:00pm (flare began at 6:15) and I couldn’t leave until 9:15pm. I couldn’t leave the building because I had to keep peeing. I couldn’t drive because of the pain. It was awful. I’ve only had about 6 flares that bad – where I was out somewhere in public. Otherwise they happen at home. Last summer I ate cherries (they were listed on the Ok to try list) and I bled and had urgency/pressure on my bladder for 12 days. When I tried honeydew melon last September I was in severe pelvic pain for 4 days. Once I rode my bike in my neighborhood and when I finished, I had severe pain in my back, stomach, vaginal area for a full week. So each flare is different. The main thing is, it’s a total nuisance and unpredictable. As an IC patient you learn you cannot plan anything or think you’ll do that “tomorrow”. There’s no putting anything off if you’re ok – in other words, if I feel good right now, I’d better run, because I may not be able to tomorrow.



Stacey: What is the most important thing that you would like readers to know about you, WW, or IC?

Roxanne: I guess I want people to know that even though IC can be challenging; I’m lucky that I worked for a company like Weight Watchers, which required me to work very short hours at a time. I have yet to find another job that would allow me that. I miss working full time and having a “profession”, but having IC and working with the public has enabled me to meet many nice people whose lives have not only touched mine, but that I have touched theirs. I don’t think I would be handing IC too well if I hadn’t had a weight-loss journey first. I think I realized through that, that I am strong when I have to be. I have learned to find my inner strengths and utilize them. I have many weaknesses and that can be pretty humbling, but I think that having IC has made me more sympathetic to people. We all have some sort of challenge. – Losing weight has made me aware that some things can be changed, others can only be managed. I will not give up (although some days I really want to).



Roxanne is an inspiration to anyone who suffers from chronic pain. I suffer from chronic daily headaches and migraines, and I personally know that when you have chronic pain of any kind, you are afraid to exercise for fear of increasing the pain to a debilitating level. Roxanne has proved that exercise may actually help the pain, at least for a little while. Of course, if the pain does worsen, it’s time to take a short break, and that’s okay.


Here are some resources that you can check out for more information on Interstitial Cystitis: The Interstitial Cystitis Survival Guide: Your Guide to the Latest Treatment Options and Coping Strategies by Robert M. Moldwin; The Better Bladder Book: A Holistic Approach to Healing Interstitial Cystitis and Chronic Pelvic Pain by Wendy Cohan; Along the Healing Path: Recovering From Interstitial Cystitis by Catherine M. Simone; Overcoming Bladder Disorders: Compassionate, Authoritative Medical and Self-Help Solutions For Incontinence, Cystitis, Interstitial Cystitis, Prostate Problems, and Bladder Cancer by Rebecca Chalker and Kristene E. Whitmore. Naturally, you can visit the IC Awareness website, , IC Help website , and the IC Network


I call myself the Library Detective because I can find the answers to any question you can think of, or at least I can point you in the right direction. To find out more about Interstitial Cystitis or chronic pain visit your local library; there are more Library Detectives there, too.

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