Oh, I! I Did Survive!

Hello from the other side of surgery! As it says in the title, I survived. As surgeries go, this one was easy-peasy. Half the credit goes to my surgeon, who is awesome and in whom I trust without reservation. The other half of the credit goes to my anesthesiologist, who persuaded me to try the surgery awake but heavily sedated to avoid the horrible nausea I usually get when I wake up from general anesthesia.

True to his word, he gave me ALL THE VALIUM, so sorry to the other patients who needed it because it was all for meeeeeeee! I was aware of what they were doing to my knee, but I was so out of it I couldn’t even muster up the wherewithal to care. At one point, I felt the scope going into my knee and it freaked me out until my anesthesiologist gave me a little more something through my IV, after which I was like, “Meh. Scope in knee. Whatevs.”

And finally, half of the credit goes to the nurses who took care of me. They were on top of things and took such good care of me. I could not have asked for better care. The rest of the credit, like half of it, goes to my husband, who kept me calm and took the best care of me while balancing work, our kids, and a wife who couldn’t carry anything for herself.

Yes, I know that all adds up to more than 100%, but I don’t care. That should tell you how smooth this surgery was. Here’s what it looked like afterward:

You can’t see them through the bandages, but there are three laparoscopic scars held closed by black stitches hiding under there. I’ll get the stitches removed on Wednesday, after which I’ll hopefully be cleared to drive again and start physical therapy.

Seeing as this isn’t my first knee surgery rodeo, I’ve already begun working on my quad strength and range of motion. Breaking through scar tissue is never fun, but it gets harder the longer you wait so I’m gritting my teeth and getting on with it.

Now that I’m back on my feet without my crutches, life is just a healing and waiting game until we get word that my shiny new cartilage is ready to be installed. My surgeon says I’d scraped my cartilage down to the bone again, which is probably why I was in so much pain.

Now that I’m walking again, I’m kind of bummed that I’ll be on crutches for at least six weeks after Surgery Round Two. That’s six weeks of crutches completely non-weight bearing, mind you. To give you perspective on what that means, I lost an inch of muscle mass from my left leg in three days from non-use. Now imagine six weeks. My left leg will shrink despite my faithful application of PT strengthening exercises. My right foot will cramp up when I stand on it too long. I won’t see the upstairs of my house for almost two months as I continue to sleep in the dining room downstairs.

But all that’s in the future! For now, I’m recovering nicely from the first surgery and we’ve all agreed it was a good dry run for the big one next month. Until then? I will be gingerly walking as much as I can and doing my best to well and truly appreciate how marvelous it is to be able to use both hands to carry stuff.

Pale and Prolific

I just realized that I only blogged twice in August. Apparently that’s who I am, now. I’m just that lady who posts to her blog a few times a year. You know, back in my heyday I posted four times a week. I had A LOT more spare time back then. Seriously, I had, like, no kids and only one book in progress at a time. Simpler days.

Anyway, lest you think I’ve been sitting back on my laurels sunbathing and day drinking the last weeks of summer away, fret not. I’m pale and prolific over here.

I’m thiiiiiiiis close to being finished enough with Bai Treason to send it to my publisher, which is funny because my original goal at the beginning of July was to have it whipped into shape for beta readers by September. Instead, I started a new project and had Bai Treason in my beta readers’ hands at the beginning of August and now I’m just waiting for one last set of notes, having completed everyone else’s notes already.

Say it with me, kids:

As for that new project, I’m calling it Tranquility Land and it’s going REALLY well. Maybe a little too well. I’m 15,000+ words in already and the story is unfurling nicely. It’s actually two stories, staggered with one another, about a present-day daughter taking care of her paranoid elderly mother who suffers from dementia. The first story is told from the daughter’s perspective, the second story is set before the daughter was born and is told from the mother’s perspective.

That’s right. I have two, I say TWO heroines in this book. It’s Bechdel Test-tastic.

And always, the drum beat counting down the days of summer for me this year, is my looming surgery date on September 12. I’m feeling peaceful about it, because I worked my ass off this summer getting my writing projects in line. If all goes well, I have a real shot of finishing the first draft of Tranquility Land before crutches take over my life after surgery number two in October.

I may be a slacker of a blogger, but it’s because I’m RAZING AND CONQUERING MY TO DO LIST.

This is What Comes of Leaving the House

This dog has nothing to do with this post, I just like how annoyed he seems by what he has to put up with.

I was invited to a cocktail party Saturday by some of the wonderful people I met at ThrillerFest last week, and it was hands down my most interesting evening of the week. Now, Wes has been gone since early Tuesday morning, so my bar for interesting is set pretty low these days, but even by normal standards it was noteworthy.

To start the evening off, I did my hair and makeup alone but when it was time to get dressed my five year old daughter took over. When I told her I was going to a grown-up party, she considered all my dresses before selecting the black and white tea-length dress I bought on a whim last month. It was a little dressy for the occasion, but I went with it because 1) I’m not arguing fashion with my daughter and 2) she was so enthusiastic about her sartorial victory, only a monster would have taken that away from her.

I drove Wes’s Mustang out to Seattle for the party, which is always a dicey proposition when I’m feeling pretty because I get kind of cocky when I feel pretty and my driving reflects that. I’m telling you, you haven’t truly passed someone until you’ve passed them in a Mustang. I had my sunglasses on, my Girl Power playlist going, and I was feeling good.

I parked in an adjacent neighborhood to where the party was because I knew I could find parking there and then just took an Uber the rest of the way. My first driver was a 23-year old Chinese-American man who regaled me with stories about his mother’s intimidation techniques. When I told him about Bai, my character, and how a reviewer had recently commented that it seemed unlikely to him that Bai’s parents would disapprove of his chosen profession, my Uber driver laughed and said I’d nailed it.

Gotta admit, that felt pretty good.

The party itself was a lot of fun. Great food, killer view, and I was surrounded by stage actors and the people who love them. Actors make for very diverting company, it turns out.

My Uber driver for the ride home was a guy who’d moved here from Palestine six years ago. He holds a Master’s degree in comparative literature and says driving for Uber is the price he pays for picking that field of study. He also expounded on his views of the Israel/Palestine dispute, which I didn’t feel qualified to comment on so I just listened instead.

Do you see what comes of leaving the house, intrepid readers? You meet interesting people and get to do interesting things.

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 TreasonĀ 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.