Sep 21, 2013

Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month - Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover (or a Person by Their Appearance)

In honor of Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month (one of my many chronic illnesses), I wanted to share a comment I came across on FB that shows the depth of the pain and desperation this disease can create in sufferers. While I myself would never resort to ending my life over IC, there are many who feel that desperate, and many who have taken that step to end their pain. All the more reason why a cure is so very crucial. Here is what IC sufferer Tara had to say about her life with IC (click photo to enlarge):

Most women living with IC also suffer from other chronic illnesses such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, autoimmune conditions, thyroid dysfunction, etc. (I myself am dealing with all of these conditions). Just one of those illnesses is enough to bring a person to their knees. Add in all of them together and you have a recipe for immense suffering and struggle to get through each day.

We're not looking for sympathy. We're not trying to complain or be whiny. We just want understanding and compassion and to create awareness. We want to speak out so that others who are just starting on this difficult journey have somewhere to turn to for help.

You have no idea how much being understood makes a difference when you are dealing with chronic illness. I received a sweet message on FB from one of my friends not long ago who had a temporary injury and she wrote to tell me how hard it was to go about enjoying a weekend out with her family while in pain. She said you would never know by her photos how much she was suffering and it made her realize what I live with each day.

When someone "gets it" like that, rather than judging you, looking down on you, or thinking you're overexaggerating or being lazy...there are no words for how much it means.

This past weekend, my husband and I traveled to NYC to see our favorite band Blue October perform. Matt had called ahead about ADA seating and we were told to get to the door 30 minutes early and to tell the doorman that we needed an ADA seat.

When we arrived and approached the doorman, he looked me up and down, then gave me the, "But you don't look sick" stare. My fellow chronic illness sufferers know exactly which stare I'm talking about. He began to question me in front of the large crowd of people standing in line and my husband had to start listing off my illnesses in front of everyone to get him to finally believe us (somewhat). It was humiliating to say the least.

As we were led to the upstairs balcony, the doorman made it known that he was still suspicious of me by taking me all the way to the back of the upper floor and placing a chair down, saying, "Here. I'll have you sit back here." Kind of like, "If you think you're getting special treatment with this seat, think again. You're paying the price for it by getting a crappy view."

His suspicious glares continued throughout the night, along with questions from other guests as to why I had a chair and they didn't (along with stories like, "Oh well I just had back surgery," and "I have been walking with a cane the past week," as if my chair were undeserved).

So while a cure is of the utmost importance, awareness, understanding and compassion are just as vital. You don't know if that person you're judging is grasping that last straw of desperation and your snide look may be what finally puts them over the edge. Remember that what you see on the outside is not always indicative of what is going on on the inside (and be happy about that because if the pain and suffering that accompany these illnesses could manifest in outward appearances...well, it's not something you would ever want to have to look at).

The old adage is true when it comes to invisible illness. Don't judge a book by its cover. Don't judge a chronically ill person by their physical appearance. Your kindness and compassion could mean the difference between life or death for those who are teetering on the edge of giving up their fight.

Note: Many thanks to fellow IC sufferer Cher Tushiah for starting this conversation on Facebook and helping to create awareness!

Apr 14, 2013

Review Blog,, Hijacked

For those of you who read my review blog,, please take a moment to read this important post, which I have crossposted from my new site, It explains how my old domain has been hijacked and the steps I am taking to try to recover my content and identity. Thank you!

Photo Credit: ivanpw

If you're a blogger with your own domain, let me issue a STRONG warning to you: Do not ever, for even one second, allow your domain to expire. There are bad people out there waiting to snatch up legitimate domains for very bad purposes.

I was under the mistaken impression that my domain,, was set to auto-renew. I had not updated my site for a few months and someone watching knew that my domain might become available. They bought it up the second it became available to them.

My loss, true, and I was ready to accept that and move on. However, I still had control in the beginning of the Google Apps portion of the domain...meaning I still received all emails directed to

Before I was even aware of the domain expiring, I began receiving confirmation emails for dozens of identities being set up on LinkedIn, PayPal, etc. as well as read receipts and "out of office" notices from dozens and dozens of legitimate companies. I also received many emails saying, "Your email has been marked as SPAM. Please click here to confirm you are not a spambot," and "Thank you for registering at such-and-such resorts."

The emails were being sent out with addresses such as "criticism@soablondewalksintoareview," "," etc. I assumed they were just SPAM emails that I would sometimes get in the past and I sent them to my SPAM folder. But they became more and more frequent.

I went into my Google Apps and Blogger accounts to see if it had been hacked and it was then that I discovered that my domain had expired through GoDaddy. I immediately contacted GoDaddy and they informed me someone had purchased the domain and that their is information protected so they cannot be contacted.

Photo Credit: utnapistim

Again, I figured my loss. I bought a new domain to redirect all of my content to (the one you are reading now, However, after this domain was purchased, and I redirected my content, all of my content was still showing up on I thought maybe I just needed to wait 24 hours for the transition to fully take place. It has now been a couple of weeks, however, and all of my content is still up on the old domain.

I immediately realized that the unscrupulous person/s who purchased my domain for phishing/scamming purposes had obviously copied all of my coding and content and put it on their server. I wrote a test post via Blogger to see if it would update this new domain and not the old (thereby proving theirs is a copy/forgery and is in no way connected to my account). Sure enough, this domain updated with the test post. The old one did not. Also note that Google Friend Connect in the sidebar is not working on their site but is working on this one (because it is tied to my Blogger account).

One other giveaway...if you visit my old domain,, via a mobile device, you'll see the desktop version. If you visit my new domain,, via a mobile device, you will see the mobile version. That's because my settings in Blogger are set up to show readers the mobile version on mobile devices. Scammers can copy my content and coding but they cannot control settings such as this, so their version of my site will always be the desktop one (for which they stole the coding).


So now I am doing all I can to fight back. The hard part is, they are out of the country (a friend of mine did some digging and found out some basic info). Fighting identity theft and copyright infringement when the perpetrator is out of the country is extremely hard to do, a fact I am sure they are aware of.

I have alerted GoDaddy to the issue and am hoping they can help me reclaim the domain because of the abuse. In the meantime, I am trying strategies such as posting TwitPics and Instagram photos with a warning that the domain is hijacked since they have my widget code for those sites copied and in "their" sidebar. Those photos will also show up in the sidebar of this site as well so I have to be careful to be very specific about which domain is which.

They also have my StatCounter code copied so I am able to see all of the hits and outgoing clicks that they are receiving. Because I worked hard over the years to build up my reputation, my site is the number one Google result for certain keywords, so the scammers are now reaping the benefits of that traffic.

Most concerning, however, are the numerous PR agencies clicking "Contact Me" on the old domain, which leads them to my old email (which I no longer have any control over and can no longer read.). PR companies are emailing their pitches to who they think is me...however it is going to the scammer/scammers.

I want to offer HUGE props to Google Apps who helped me transfer all of my data (emails, contacts, documents, etc.) from the old domain before it could go into the scammers' hands. Because I upgraded to the business version of Google Apps, I was able to contact them by phone and have a special case opened just for resolving my issue. I spent hours on the phone with Google while they guided me through a very complicated process step-by-step, even taking over my computer to do certain steps themselves a couple of times.

Google saved me from losing all of my data and contacts and prevented the scammers from having access to any of that information. That account is now deleted, however, any new emails that are sent to my old address could land in the scammers' hands.

I'll keep everyone posted on how this process ends up going and if I'm able to recover my domain, identity and content back from the scammers. In the meantime, please update your bookmarks to this new domain and my email to blondeblogger AT TheBlondeBlogger DOT com. Thank you!