Empty Tubes and Tests for Days

Man, I tell you. Coming back from Santa Barbara was a great, big, freezing cold splash of reality. Wes had to leave on a series of business trips, which is normally the cue for both my kids to get all kinds of peeved about their father’s absence and take it out on me.

They did not disappoint.

Me in my giant scrubs, mere moments before yet another health professional jammed a needle into my poor knee.

Adding to the fun, I did another MRI with contrast to see why my knee continues to be a literal and figurative pain and lo and behold, it wasn’t all in my head (ha?). I have a flap of cartilage that’s collecting edema, and the microfractures I had done a couple years ago healed irregularly, which means things are all kinds of messed up in there.

Before I go in for (yet another) surgery, I’m going to get tested by a rheumatologist to see if it’s possible to determine why the cartilage in my knee is shredding like a nice mozzarella.

As if all that wasn’t enough, I’m currently undergoing testing from an endocrinologist to see whether he can figure out why I keep gaining weight despite healthy eating and exercise habits.

Just think blood tests. Blood tests for days. All the doctors are holding up empty tubes with my name on them.

It’s all stressful, and at times terrible, but I’m keeping my focus firmly on the things that are going right. Things like:

  • Wes is home from his business trips, and will be home for awhile.
  • I have friends and family who care about me and all my suddenly myriad health issues. My best friend, husband, and mother-in-law all collectively spent hours on the phone with me when I found out about my knee, just letting me feel sorry for myself and assuring me things would turn out ok. I’m inclined to believe them.
  • I’m free of deadlines for now and making progress on revisions for Bai Treason (book 3 of the Bai Hsu series). I love it as much now as I did when I wrote the first draft, which is always a good sign of a worthwhile story.
  • There’s a book blog tour of Bai Tide (book 1 of the Bai Hsu series) that’s happening now and the reviews are uniformly positive so far! Like this one, and this one. I’m always particularly gratified when people who don’t normally read my genre enjoy my books. It shows me I wrote a good story, not just a good spy story.
  • I might be getting LASIK soon because you know what? My knee may be FUBAR but damn it, there’s still hope for my eyes.

That just about brings you up to current. Rest assured, if I’m not blogging it’s probably because I’m hiding from my health woes by writing stories. Given all the feelings around here lately? Bai Treason¬†is going to end up being a goooooooood book. Trust me on that one.

Bullet Points Make Lazy Authors Look Like They Did It That Way on Purpose

A very happy 2017 to all of you! It is my sincere hope that the new year is off to a merry start for all of you. As for me and mine, I’m happy to say we gamboled and feasted our way through the holidays with almost all our nearest and dearest.

Now, I’ve been told by a few kindhearted people that I need to blog more because they find my blog posts humorous and entertaining to read, to which I say, Aw shucks! To make up for the last few weeks of nonexistent content, here’s a list of what I’ve been up to in bullet-point format because I’m too lazy to put in transitions between the points so this post will seem cohesive and intentional.

  • Christmas preparation. I never realized as a kid how mind-shreddingly hectic Christmas is for mothers. Sandwiched between mile-high shopping lists and celebration logistics are class parties, decorations to put up and take down, traditions to honor/pioneer, stir-crazy kids who are on break from school and blame you that it isn’t Christmas yet, Santa pictures to take, cookies to bake, gingerbread houses to build, cocoas to stir, and gifts to wrap. It’s exhausting. I do believe, and please do correct me if I’m wrong, that December is a stay-at-home parent’s busiest month of the year.
  • Proof.

    Celebrating the return of my red hair. I had a blast with blonde hair over the spring and summer, but man it feels good to be a redhead again. I will say this for blonde hair, though: It’s MUCH lower maintenance than red hair. “But no!” you say, “It cannot be! I’ve heard blonde is constant touch-ups every couple of weeks!” Not if you do balayage, my friends, which is where they layer the color and leave a little of the root color so grow-outs aren’t so noticeable. With my blonde hair, I could do anything to it and nothing seemed to affect the color. Red, however? Red is sensitive. It’ll wash out no matter what you do, but if you use the wrong shampoo you might as well kiss your color goodbye. And I hope you don’t have white pillowcases because your hair color owns those now. They are red, just like your towels and maybe the collars of your coats as well. Might as well get used to it.

  • The British guy slaughter. Let me explain. Wes was gone on a business trip for a week in mid-December, so I figured it would be a good time to let my heart go on with Jack, Rose, and James Cameron. I poured a glass of wine each night for three nights and watched Titanic, the end of which, as always, saw me ugly-crying as I realized that yes! Her heart DID go on! She did all those things she promised him she’d do! As I dried my tears, I texted my best friend and described what I was doing so she could mock me because, come on. Who wouldn’t? When she finished laughing at me, she recommended I watch Atonement next, followed by The Painted Veil. For those not familiar with these films, they’re both excellent but, and this is a tad spoiler-y, they end tragically in the deaths of some truly likable British blokes. I think her aim in this was to see whether a middle-aged woman could, indeed, become dehydrated from crying at movies over the course of a week. As much as I enjoyed the quality of these movies, they did not, for some reason, prompt additional tears from me for reasons unknown. Maybe I was all cried out after Jack’s untimely demise? Who knows? All I know is that, for a week last month, it was very dangerous to be a British guy on my TV screen. They were seriously dropping like flies.
  • Medical mystery solved! Longtime readers will remember my years-long struggle to lose weight, with every attempt usually ending in either futility or injury. Well, the injuries have been mostly addressed and repaired, but the futility? That was a major issue. I gain weight like no one I’ve ever met (I gained ten pounds in four days, once. For no reason) and no amount of dieting or exercise can make me lose it. Well, my doctor has figured out why and, with any luck, the medications she has me on will start resulting in weight loss soon. If they don’t? Well, there are different meds. By hook or by crook, it looks like 2017 should finally be the year I finish losing the baby weight I packed on over four years ago. Here’s to finally looking like the gym rat I’ve grown to be!

That’s enough for now. Welcome to the new year, my friends. I hope it’s freaking awesome for all of you.

New Year, New Post

That title really says it all, doesn’t it? Once a year is my new blogging goal. If I can do that, I reckon it’ll satisfy the five of you who still check here for new content. Oh, don’t mind me. I’m only kidding. I know there’s three of you.

Wow, though. What haven’t I been up to since my last post?

Look at this cake. LOOK AT IT.

Look at this cake. LOOK AT IT.

In December, Wes and I celebrated ten years of marriage by renewing our vows in front of most of our nearest and dearest. We threw the kind of holiday party we’ve always wanted to throw, and I realized that the one thing that’s been missing in my life up until now is Cards Against Humanity. Between CAH and the champagne I had for dinner, it was an exceptionally merry evening. My best friend baked an incredible, decadent, fancy-pants cake for us, and there was laughter and festivity at our house until after midnight. For old folks like us, that was quite late and I woke up the next morning feeling approximately one million years old. I was a dessicated, dried-up mummy and the only thing I could do all day was lie on the couch and doze. If that’s not indicative of an excellent party, I don’t know what is.

1After our party, Wes surprised me with a four-day trip to Seattle wherein we stayed at a lovely hotel, went out for fancy dinners, and walked around downtown amid Christmas finery like two people with nary a care in the world. And we were! Life is going really well and we were delighted to celebrate our tenth anniversary wherever we went. We found an amazing coffee shop in Pike Place Market called Ghost Alley Espresso which, for those in the know, is tucked into the corner under the stairs leading to the infamous Gum Wall. I had the best espresso of my life there, and the proprietor is a lovely lady with a knack for crafting de-freaking-licious latte concoctions. We found a little bakery next to our hotel called La Belle Epicurean and there was no shortage of delightful confections to sample there.

3We also had an encounter that sounds like something out of a dream. We were walking through downtown when we passed a guy walking an Irish Wolfhound (If you’ve never seen an Irish Wolfhound, they’re huge!). We said hello to the guy and the dog, after which we played ping pong at some tables set out on the sidewalk for some reason, but I couldn’t pick up the ball for some reason because my gloves were too slippery. Doesn’t that sound weird? I also may have eaten the tiny pumpkin cheesecake we bought from the Confectional down in Pike Place Market that I promised I’d save half of for Wes, and that made his face look like the picture on the left.

Us standing in front of the strangely inexplicable trash sculpture at McCaw Hall.

Us standing in front of the strangely inexplicable trash sculpture at McCaw Hall.

Then, for our grand finale, we went to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker, followed by a midnight viewing of Star Wars. Because we got to the theatre fifteen minutes before the movie started, we got to watch the movie from almost the front row, but we didn’t care because we both enjoyed the movie so much. The Nutcracker was dreamy and fun, Star Wars was not a huge disappointment (which was really all we were asking for), and we came home exhausted from way. too. much. fun.

Suffice it to say, we thoroughly celebrated ten years of matrimony in the highest of styles. Here’s to the New Year, and the next ten!

Facebook Detox

Something really cool has been happening to me this year. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I turned thirty, or had major surgery and its accompanying abundance of recovery time, or if maybe years of eating non-organic food has finally caught up with me, but something is definitely up and I’m really enjoying it.

I took a break from writing earlier this year, mostly because I was totally burnt out and needed some space. Once I got a little distance from writing, I realized there was a lot about being a published author that was making me miserable at this stage of my life. When you’re chasing two school-age children around, doing the nonstop hustle-for-sales and self-promotion schtick gets really annoying, really fast. I enjoyed the book sales, though. That was definitely cool.

Anyway, as I started to wean myself onto a simpler life, I started noticing that Facebook was irritating me more than entertaining me lately. The endless clickbait articles, unsolicited opinions, and pictures of people I never see started feeling…pointless. I realized that, once I got some distance from the Dopamine reward system of likes and comments, there really wasn’t much I was getting from my relationship with Facebook so I disabled my account.

It’s been almost a month now, and I don’t really miss it. I’m grateful, actually, to be rid of something that commoditized my life in order to figure out how best to make money off me. Plus, with the upcoming election coming up I’m thinking I got out just in time to still think fondly of my casual acquaintances.

The nice thing is, I’m much more likely to text the people I want to stay in touch with and ask them how they’re doing now. I think before I just kind of assumed Facebook would tell me what I needed to know, but I think I’m likely a better friend now.

Who can say what other changes might be on the horizon? Hopefully more weight loss. I’m flogging that dead horse again, so to speak. My knee is feeling great, though, so that means it’s time to exercise again before another injury strikes.

I’m also writing again, though with the door firmly closed. A good friend reminded me of how much fun it was to write when it was just something I did for fun, and I’m happy to find out he was right when he said one day I’d write something again that was just for me. It’s a good thing I’m not planning to try to publish this one, though, because I doubt I’d ever find a publisher who’d be willing to let me shirk the social media thing out of simple preference.

So that’s the story. I can still be found on Twitter, and on here occasionally, but other than that I suppose the boring minutiae of my life will have to remain a mystery. I’m sure the dozens of people who read my updates will just have to make do without knowing how many loads of laundry I folded today…

Things People on Crutches Know

Carer and patient on crutches smlUp until May 21, 2015, I had no idea what life on crutches was like. Being possessed of a decent imagination, I could have offered some educated guesses about the various hardships and indignities of life a la crutch, but until two aluminum struts are your absolute best friends every hour of every day, you can’t really know.

That is, unless you read this post. After you read this post, you will have a true insider’s view of the crutch life. It’s the next best thing to being injured enough to need them, really.

  • The first thing you need to know about crutches is that they’re tricky to learn, especially if you’re high on painkillers while you’re trying to get to get the hang of them. You’ll probably fall a couple times. It’s really best to avoid being alone if you can help it.
  • Pants/shorts with pockets are now a necessity, if for no other reason than you’ll want your phone on you at all times in case you fall. True story: I tried to get a water bottle from the garage for myself, fell down while trying to go up the steps back into the house, and had to lay there on the garage floor yelling for Wes until he happened to walk close enough by the door to the garage to hear me. A cell phone in my pocket could have saved me a fair bit of indignity.
  • A wet wood floor is a hazard. A wet tile floor is basically a death sentence. If your crutch slips out from under you, you’re going down and, because the floor is wet, now you’re all wet too. Tiny steps are the only way to escape unscathed.
  • The palms of your hands will develop calluses and hurt all the time. The worst time is in the morning. The first crutch of the day hurts the worst.
  • You will also get burns on the side of your torso where the top of crutch rubs against you every time you walk. Fuzzy accouterments like Crutch Buddies can help, but you’re still going to feel the burn.
  • ¬†Every able-bodied person in the world is doing their best to park closest to the door. Best get yourself a disabled parking pass ASAP or you’ll be doing a lot of resenting as you sweat and hobble to your destination past a sea of people who can all walk and yet are parked closer to the door than you are.
  • Let people be nice to you. Let them open the door for you. Let them help you bring your groceries to the car. It’s okay to need help, and it’ll make them feel good.
  • Grocery shopping on crutches is a nightmare and way more work than it’s worth. Riding those motorized carts around the store, however, is a hoot. I highly recommend it, especially if you have little kids who want to ride with you.
  • If you do happen to have little kids while you’re disabled, know this: They will steal your crutches while you’re sitting down. You will be stranded until they give your crutches back. They will think it’s hilarious.
  • This might not happen to you, but it sure did to me: Your thumbs will hurt horribly, as will your wrist and forearm. Even someone brushing up against my thumbs was enough to make me suck in my breath in pain. I wince just thinking about it!

All this sounds pretty great, right? It’s not. At all. The great part comes later, when one crutchless day you wake up and realize your palms don’t hurt, and neither do your thumbs. You look at your torso and realize there are no sore red burns there, and you can walk through a narrow doorway without inching through it because you no longer have crutches to either side of you.

I’m so SO glad to be on the other side of my crutch experience. Walking is still difficult and I get tired quite quickly, but man it feels good to be using my own two feet again. If you see someone out in the wild using crutches, remember this post and try to be extra nice to that poor soul. It ain’t easy out there for crutchers.