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.

Gym, Parent, Laundry

I had an important realization the other day. I’d been feeling enormously frustrated about my weight because, for the last two months, I’ve been kicking absolute ass with eating well and exercising and have only lost five measly pounds to date. For someone with well over thirty five pounds to lose, five pounds in two months really sucks.

It’s been the weirdest thing. Longtime readers of this blog will remember I’ve lost this exact set of pounds twice before. I’m pretty good at it. It’s not like I’m a weight loss novice with no idea what she’s doing. My weight loss method is the same this time, but the results are not.

Strange, right?

'And one, and two, and three, and don't get discouraged Manatee, and four, and five...'Granted, what I have to remember is I’m still rehabbing my knee from the surgery I had back in May. My leg atrophied quite a bit from the years of pain and seven weeks of crutches, and now I’m getting stronger and muscle weighs more than fat and blah blah blah.

Still. SO FRUSTRATING.

Every morning I’d weigh myself and get profoundly dejected and frustrated. How could I be exercising so much and eating so little and still be so overweight?! IT SHOULD NOT BE PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE.

And yet, surprise surprise, getting upset about the whole thing wasn’t magically making me thinner. It wasn’t until two things happened that I stopped feeling the acidic caress of futility every morning:

One, Wes hid my scale. As much as it annoys me on occasion not to know whether I’m making progress, I’m for SURE a lot happier being in the dark about whatever lack of weight loss I’ve got going on.

Two, I realized while I was praying that I’ve been focusing on exactly the wrong thing. For years, I’ve been praying for a relief from my knee pain. For the freedom to move and exercise and even sleep without pain, and you know what? I can. And what am I doing? Complaining about the numbers on the scale.

I realized that the list of things my body can do FAR outweighs what it won’t do right now, and man, that’s significant. I’d be a fool to keep my focus on my weight when I can hug my kids, go for walks with my family, think clearly, hear, see, sing, and enjoy good health.

It’s amazing how a simple shift in perspective can make life much better!

Also, I’m now at the gym six times a week. I’m officially in danger of becoming one of those people who starts all her stories with, “I was at the gym the other day and…” because this is all I do now. Gym, Parent, Laundry. Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

Two Less-Chubby Thumbs Up

Well, I don’t know about you, but 2016 is off to a great start for me. I’m down almost five pounds since Christmas (amazing what you can accomplish when your knee allows you to exercise), my house is organized, my kids are doing great, Wes and I are clicking, life is good. Makes for boring blogging, though.

My only complaint, and really it’s a small one, is that the gym is SO overcrowded. I’m still seeing the regulars around, but now there are all these new people camping out on machines, taking up all the lockers, and taking up the stretching mat area so I have to take a mat over to the hard scratchy floor when I’m done with my workout. Boo.

While I’m tickled there are so many people trying to get healthier, I’m annoyed they’re doing it at my gym, all at the same time.

Truth be told, I’ve never understood the point of New Year resolutions. I’m assuming the people at the gym were flabby/untoned/overweight/etc. before the holidays, so why wait until January to do something about it?

Anyway, annoyances aside, life is good. Also, I’m reading a book right now that I’m obsessed with: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I’ll never write that well. Ever. It’s both comforting and a little discouraging.

How’s your 2016 shaping up so far?

Mr. Bean for No Reason

No joke, this picture sent me into a fit of giggles for, like, ten minutes. It's even sort of tangentially related to the topic of this post!

No joke, this picture sent me into a fit of giggles for, like, ten minutes. It’s even sort of tangentially related to the topic of this post!

Remember when I wrote about how Wes and I are both excited about life settling down? Well, we’re one week in to the whole settled-down-life thing and it. is. AWESOME.

I made it to the gym three times last week. I was so not-stressed, I didn’t even eat any junk food, despite its presence in my pantry. I even managed to lose 3.5 pounds (of what I’m going to assume was pure water weight but still!).

I’m getting some traction in getting ye olde promotional machine turning for Bai Tide, I wrote a couple guest posts that will appear on big writing blogs in a few months, I booked a speaking engagement at my alma mater (!), and started getting the urge to write something new again. Mmmmmm, I can almost smell that new-manuscript smell now.

You guys? This whole living with less stress thing? Fantastic. A-plus. 10/10 would recommend.

I’ve even got a goal going that I think I can realistically attain: I would like to lose fifteen pounds by my birthday. My birthday (the dreaded 30th birthday *shudder*) is at the end of May, so I think losing fifteen pounds between now and then is definitely realistic.

You see, I have hair plans, of the cut and color variety, that simply will not work with a chubby face. I mean, it’s not like I’ll end up looking like a potato wearing a wig or anything (or, um, Mr. Bean I guess), but trust me when I say that my plans will look about a thousand times better if I can drop this stress weight beforehand.

And the longer my hair gets, and the more aggressive my roots get, the more motivation I’ll have. As I said, I worked out three times last week! I lost weight! I’m feeling good about my ability to keep it off! Because 30 is coming. It’s coming for me, and I’ll be darned if I stare that beast down with a whole bunch of low self-esteem circling my waist like an inner tube of failure.