Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Done (Also Crisco for Eczema)

We survived the flu. My lungs are still gunky though, but the asthma went back to wherever it goes when it's not torturing me. (Hell?)

No issues stopping steroids (unless you count the fact that I wasn't super confident that my lungs were ready to breathe without them--fortunately they did okay). I ended up cutting the Pulmicort short because I realized if I kept taking it, my system would come to depend on it and I would have to taper and that would suck. I probably still needed it, but I took a risk and it was fine.

The kiddo faired pretty well. She was tight the first day but that was it. We were very aggressive with inhalers and nebulizer treatments though due to her classmate who passed away from asthma complications. Ostensibly they had the same bug.

The big thing was her fever literally cooked her hands. She has eczema that shows up every fall and stays through the winter. The fever made it so much worse, leaving her hands beet red and rough as cracked pavement. We had to take her to the doctor and beg for help.

(As predicted, our ped who was so amazing retired and now we're stuck with this young somewhat inexperienced ped who likes to cover their ignorance by dismissing everything I say about my daughter's health. So the visit was not a simple matter. I had to really push and advocate for them to do anything for my kid. It was like they wanted her hands to crack and bleed. And yes we need a new ped, but you know, we all had the damn flu for ten days so cut me some slack. Also swim team starts soon and I can't put her in a pool when the eczema is bad.)

After a lot of hemming and hawing the ped finally suggested we try Crisco with gloves at night. Okay. Weird, but we were game for anything at that point.

There isn't a ton of information online about Crisco for eczema so I thought I would share our experience as I know how frustrating it can be to battle with eczema.

The ped swore Crisco would work overnight. They use this remedy themselves in addition to prescription creams that my kid's hands were too inflamed to tolerate.

So we bought the Crico and some gloves, lubed up her hands and hoped the ped was right.

The next day my daughter's hands were only slightly improved. Maybe 5%. Crisco is no overnight cure for eczema.

Since her hands were still too bad for the prescription cream, we continued with Crisco at night and used Aquaphor during the day. Over the span of a week, we finally saw some improvement.

So yes, Crisco does help eczema, but don't expect a miracle. It's only part of the solution in our experience.

My daughter is now using Atopiclair during the day, Crisco at night and Aquaphor at random intervals. There's lotion in every room of the house, my purse, all the cars, her coat, my coat etc... We are also giving her Flax Seed Oil (Dr. Sears' website says this is helpful, we're not so sure but we've got 32 oz of the stuff to work through). On top of all that, I've stashed away some OTC cortisone cream. I hate to use it, but I have found that if I apply it before things get bad I can head off the worst of the eczema.

At least her skin is relatively normal now. Enough so that I'm willing to let her attend swim practice. (I'll be applying Aquaphor liberally before she dives in and hoping for the best.) While the eczema has improved, it's a tenuous situation that can backslide at any moment.

Keeping eczema at bay is easier said than done. A lot of that has to do with the fact that seven-year-olds sort of suck at follow through. I can send her to school with lotion but I can't make her use it.

I'm taking full advantage of the holiday break to remind her to put on lotion approximately every hour. There's also been a serious conversation about her responsibility to take care of her body that I'm pretty sure went in one ear and out the other.

I wonder how much Crisco we'll go through this winter?


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On the Couch

I've been sleeping on the couch for five days. I don't recommend it. Except it does allow me to mostly sit up and not bother my husband with all the hacking and nebulizing that goes on all night long.

Kiddo is sick now too. Which is alarming as one of her classmates just passed away due to asthma complications. So very sad. I've been very vigilant about her inhalers and so far, so good. It's not hitting her as hard as it has me (which probably has more to do with luck than any meds I've given her. Asthma that plays for keeps doesn't really care what you throw at it in my experience).

I didn't think she was going to get it at all. For a week, she was like "I don't feel good" followed by "Oh I'm fine" and then boom, the hammer fell.

We're hanging in there. I'm going to try not taking prednisone tomorrow and see how that goes. Yesterday, I wasn't so sure, but since then the coughing has become much looser and more productive, breaking gunk up instead of winding it tighter. Nights are still pretty bad with lots of asthma regression, but days show signs of hope.

I just wish I felt better. The malaise with this bug is as bad as adrenal insufficiency. My kiddo is a lump and I'm not much better.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Two Steps Back

Adding in more steroids. Crazy. Yesterday felt more like the tail end of things than the start of the next big step down. I thought I would be pretty much back to normal after a good night's sleep. Might not even need the full five day burst.

Ha.

So I'm now up to the full dose 40mg of steroids. Taking every inhaler I own. Round the clock nebulizer treatments. I've used up all the tools in my tool box.

I got nothing else.

Hope my body figures this out.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Super Sick, Super Fast

Well, this has been a whirlwind. The second this bug hit me, it went straight for my lungs. By 12 hours, the asthma was serioulsy flared, but my awareness lagged behind a bit. It wasn't until I had to park a billion miles away from an entrance and walk in that I realized I wasn't doing so well. Breathing and walking weren't compatible.

By 24 hours I was beginning to realize I was in trouble. It was either take steroids or go to the ER. And what ER wants  to see me if I hadn't even started steroids? So I took the steroids and every thing else I could find in my medicine cabinet. Lots of pulmicort and 20 mg of steroids later, it's not as acute. Still bad, but I don't see the ER in my future. I hope.

Yes 20 mg is a pretty low dose, but I can always take more. Steroids work pretty fast. I figured if I didn't see any relief in a few hours, I would take another 20mg, but thankfully, the lower dose is effective.

The new nebulizer should be here soon. I got that moving pretty quick.

I thought I would be devoting my day to scoring some Tamiflu as I think I may actually have the flu, but the fever broke early this morning and my main issue now seems to be asthma. It's probably too late for Tamiflu.

The bug that hit me like a nuclear bomb in 2010 was fast like this one. Very aggressive. Typically there's a lag between the time the bug manifests and when the asthma activates. This time, I got the one-two punch.

I don't think this will end up being as bad as 2010. I started all the steroids and asthma meds pretty quickly. In 2010 I played a lot of phone tag trying to get medicine. I wasn't stocked up like I am now.

Still, this is a serious flare. I'm completely wiped and there's enough fluid in my ears that I'm concerned about an infection starting up for next week.

I'm hoping to write today, but I've been up all night and am not even at 50%. I don't want to lose momentum on my book either. It's going very well and it's a story readers will like. So I'm hoping writing this will warm me up enough to take a stab at some fiction.

And tonight we have theater tickets for the Nutcracker. Somehow I will go out to dinner with my little family and sit through the theater performance. I seem to have lost some of my coping skills, though as I am not confident I'm really up for this. I used to suck it up a lot better. This time around, honestly, I just want to stay home and sleep. Or go to the theater in pajamas.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lack of Oxygen

This is my karma.

I ship my nebulizer to the other side of the country in an effort to keep my parent out of the hospital and promptly become sick.

I have a pulmo appointment soon and will request a new neb then. My unit is pretty old anyway. I guess in the interim I will make do with spacer delivered albuterol and pulmicort added to the Symbicort already in use.

To boot, I was just getting into a good groove going on the exercise, too. I cannot win. Like ever.

I also took a stab at making an appt with the pancreas specialists the GI doc recommended. This is in the system where I repeatedly have been unable to make an appt. This latest attempt was no different. Heavy call volume, please press 2 and we'll call you back....except option 2 malfunctioned.

Naturally.

I feel like my medical care is an SNL skit.

Also, I'm not breathing so well, so the stringing words together thing may be kind of loopy.

Oh and my parent is doing well. Bouncing back very fast, so fast, you would think they were 40 and I was 65. Gah. I'm glad they are recovering well, but it is depressing to see how much more resilient they are than I am. I don't bounce back and being younger seems to offer no advantage in my body.

Writing Update

I'm not sure I'll be a paid writer for much longer. The industry has continued to devolve in apocalyptic ways. My earnings are now back to what they were when I first published, back when no one knew my name and I had no idea how to market a book. If I can fall that low when I have fans, a strong marketing skill set and several popular books...well, it does not bode well.

The truth is, you can hit bestseller lists and have a fan base and still see everything you built disappear. There are no guarantees in this business.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do. A lot will depend on what actually happens in 2015. I can get by making less money (which the way things are going it will be a lot less) but I also have to make enough to cover expenses.

Most of the problem is Amazon's KU program, which has not been a boon to authors (or readers). It's complex, but basically Amazon favors KU books over all other books, so if you're not exclusive to Amazon (which KU requires) you're kind of SOL. And they cut royalties by about 30% (more in some cases, depending on the book price). So where I used to earn $2.10 per sale, with KU, it's $1.33 and declining.

If writers go with short stories or serial stories, they can make KU work for them at a 99 cent price point, but while I do  tend to write short, I'm not interested in being locked into 99 cents or in only writing short stories. There's a point at which writing becomes sweatshop labor, where I will work harder and harder for less and less. That's why I stopped pursing traditional publishing. I value my quality of life. If I'm going to work like a dog, the pay has to reflect that. Otherwise, I'll find something else to do.

Scammers are all over KU. I just saw a book titled 'All About A' that's in KU. If you look inside, all you see is AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. The whole book. That's it. And Amazon allows that to be sold and take up space on their site to compete with legitimate authors.

Meanwhile, none of the other platforms can compete with Amazon on sales volume (although with KU mucking things up royally, that may change shortly).

Further, there's a ton of saturation. Too many books. Too many writers when the number of readers has stayed the same.

And my genre may be weakening. That's my gut feeling. I could be wrong (I hope I am) but my sense is my genre isn't selling like it used to.

I would like to continue. I have more stories I want to tell, but writing may have to go back to being a hobby. I don't know.  Plus I have no idea what kind of job I want anymore.

Kiddo Update

She's really good at math. I think I've mentioned that, but I'm still stunned. Like really good at math. Like working out multiplication on her own. Wow.

And she's discovered legos. So I'm thinking she's going to be a math person. We'll see. I'm still crossing my fingers that she will find her love of reading, too.

I read over some things I wrote when she was a baby and the gifted stuff was so obvious even at such a young age. I was aware that she was ahead back then, but I didn't understand it. I still don't, but I'm learning.

She had the bug I have, but in her it was an hour long sore throat. For me, it's asthma central. Funny how that works.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ACA in Action

My parent is in the throes of a prolonged severe asthma episode. While they've had asthma for a while, this is their first bad flare. They don't have the arsenal that I do. No nebulizer. Hardly any meds and what little has been prescribed, the insurance company refuses to cover.

They finally got into a pulmonologist today who confirmed it's bad. My parent needs a nebulizer, but with the Tday holiday, has no way of getting one any time soon. The prescription has to go to the PCP and the insurance has to review it, a process, which for medications, has taken two weeks previously. (And they said no.)

The doctor is already concerned that my parent will need to be hospitalized.The inability to obtain the prescribed medication and medical equipment in a timely fashion makes it seem like a done deal.

I told my parent that they do not want to end up in the hospital if they can avoid it. I'm going to overnight my nebulizer on Friday (we already missed the last UPS truck today) as I'm pretty sure I'll be faster than the insurance company.  (I don't need it unless I'm in the middle of a flare, which I'm not.)

Meanwhile, I've urged my parent to put the word out and see if anyone can loan them a nebulizer for a few days. They need round the clock treatments if they're going to have a shot at avoiding more medical care. And steroids. And antibiotics. And everything else.

"Sit and do nothing," I advised. "You've got a four day weekend to rest and see if you can get ahead of this. If you feel worse, go straight to the ER."

"That's what the doctor told me."

"Good. Listen to them."

I was happy when the ACA passed. I recognized it was an imperfect bill, but I hoped it would lead to something better. However, right now, in practice, it is extremely flawed and serves profit before patients.

I realize some of the problem is the holiday and just bad timing, but my parent and I already know from previous experience that this particular ACA health plan denies claims as a general rule and their approval process is so convoluted and bloated, patients either give up or pay out-of-pocket (as my parent has done).  It feels like The Rainmaker by John Grisham. 'If we just say no long enough we're only out the ten bucks an hour we pay to the admins!'

The ACA serves as a money funnel to insurance companies, but not much of it is coming back to the patients.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Longest Blog Post


I think I'm finally over the chaos wreaked by the food poisoning. It really aggravated the SOD for a while and I had some significant pancreatic type pain. Fortunately, the worst of the pain is always fleeting, something for which I am very grateful, but it is alarming nonetheless.

I also made things worse by eating gluten. Sometimes wheat hits me extra hard. I suspect ingesting it so soon after the food poisioning caught my system at an unusually weak moment. So that made me sick. Instant GI symptoms with a side of asthma. Fun.

I'm usually very good about avoiding wheat, but it sneaks into my food. Usually it's not a huge issue and I head off as much of the reaction as I can with Alpha Lipoic Acid, but every once in a while, gluten hits me like an apocalypse.

Anyway, my system was still in an uproar the day of a wedding we'd been invited to. If you've read any of my previous posts, you may recall I'd bought my daughter a fancy dress for the occasion. This wedding was a highly anticipated family event, but I was so sick that day, I wasn't sure I would make the reception. I barely made it home from the ceremony in one piece. My body purged every calorie I'd ever eaten in the history of food and then I passed out on the couch, utterly exhausted.

Fortunately, things improved by evening. I made it to the reception and was even able to eat for the first time that day. From there, we progressed right into dancing. Can I just say, how awesome it was to boogie without feeling all the energy drain from my body? Especially after feeling so awful most of the day! I did a solid hour straight and I wasn't tired. I had all the energy I needed. As in, there was no deficit. I love it when adrenal glands work!

The kiddo looked adorable in her dress and she boogied down with us like a pro. Several relatives came into town for the wedding and we just had a really fabulous time. Given how the day started though, I didn't think it would end so well! I'm glad I pushed through and didn't give up.

Off topic updates...

The kiddo.

Is fabulous. She's just going through an awesome phase right now. I'm so impressed with her. This kid practices her piano without complaining. She does her homework of her own free will and is generally a delight.

She's a whiz at math. The school told me she's ready to start third grade math. For reading, she's aced all their assessments so they need to administer more to figure out her  reading level.

We do still deal with some perfectionist melt downs. She did her math homework perfectly one night and then freaked about it afterwards, clearly anxious about the new concept. I ended up doing some extra exercises with her to reassure her that she knew what she was doing. How odd is that? She's got the math down, but her perfectionist streak doesn't let her see that. Gotta love perfectionism.

The teacher asked us to come up with a goal for her learning plan and I drew a blank. I can't think of anything more I would want her to do. She's doing so great, I don't want to mess it up with any extraneous expectations. (I wouldn't focus on the perfectionism because that's really a maturity and life experience issue. And we work on coping techniques all the time already. There's really nothing to add on the P front.)  

Writing.

Eh. Who knows? Every day is different. I'm scrambling, trying to figure out how I'll make any money this month. Plus, trying to get new work done. Writing is going so sloooooooooowly. OMG. Come on stories! Why can't you spill like water?

I was invited to another secret author group. *eyeroll* At least this one is better than the last one, full of powerhouse authors (i.e. names you probably know if you read a lot) who talk a good amount of shop.

The thing that struck me was how many people I knew in the new group who never thought to reach back and bring me up with them. These are people who've I helped and materially impacted their book sales for the better. As in, half their sales strategies are innovations I came up with.

I don't get it because my first thought when I get into a group like that is 'who can I include?'  Apparently, I am strange. And also chopped liver.

It's not just my network either. I see the same dynamic in other members of this group. I've been around long enough that I know some of the buddies and super friends and reciprocal networks pretty well. It's interesting who is in the new secret group and who wasn't invited.

Well, like I have said before, there are a lot of narcissists who are authors. Eh, screw 'em. I can't even say I'm surprised anymore.

I'm working on a new marketing concept and I'm excited because I think I finally have a list of authors I want to work with who I'm pretty sure aren't jerks. Crossing fingers it goes well.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Degrees of Separation: Ebola Version

The theory goes that any one person is six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, right? Somehow we all know someone who knows someone that in six easy steps will lead to the Footloose alum.

Well, currently, I'm two degrees of separation from people with ebola.

The root cause of this is the poor policy and lack of appropriate and effective guidelines from the US government.

Containment was an afterthought.

I don't know what the US government was thinking or why they decided doing nothing was a good idea, but they screwed up. Big time.

Also, you quickly do not give a shit about how many people die from the flu each year when you actually know people under quarantine through no fault of their own. They did nothing wrong and are paying for our government's mistakes.

Further, the number of people in Africa predicted to die from ebola this year is about the same number of deaths the US sees from the flu. Ebola is quite capable of giving flu death stats a run for their money. Something, the US government is, apparently, committed to testing for themselves in a real world scenario.

Again, I ask, what was the point of the flu comparison the media has been blathering on and on about? It's like a pop science distraction. A 'Xanax-ian' propaganda that folds under critical assessment.

The other bug up my butt about ebola is the 1% is being ignored. A 21 day quarantine does NOT catch all ebola cases, just most of them. Something like 2-3% of cases won't manifest until the 30 day mark or later. (I don't have have the source for this reference handy, but I'll try to come back and link it later.)

I've been the 1% exception a lot. And I do mean, A LOT. To the point where I think it's a form of insanity to discount those outliers. It's not that they don't exist, it's just that they're a minority. There is a difference!

But see, in medicine, the patients of the 1% are ghosts. They aren't counted in the treatment plan.

The same thing seems to be happening with ebola. The majority medicine paradigm is a big problem because it's blind, it can't see anything outside the norm.

Oh well, there's nothing I can do about any of it.  All I can say is we've been pretty damn lucky so far. Let's hope that luck holds, it's the only thing we've got going for us.

***

On to other things...

Got food poisoning from undercooked chicken which has, in turn, aggravated the SOD. So that's been fun.

I'm trying to ignore it, hoping it will go away but I probably need to switch to a biliary duct friendly diet of yogurt, followed by more yogurt with yogurt for dessert.

And when I get tired of yogurt, I can have...more yogurt. Blech.

***
Writing wise...

I've seen some decent recovery in my earnings. I still wouldn't recommend publishing just now as the holidays are about to hit. As a general rule, that's a very volatile time for book sales. It's not that you can't do well, just the odds are more against you than at other times of the year. Wait for more favorable conditions is my advice.

Plus, I wouldn't be surprised if my sales went right down the toilet again. Ha. I've worked through my bag of marketing tricks, released everything I'm going to publish this fall and don't really have anything else I can do to stimulate sales so I'm kind of stuck for now.

I'm going to hoard what I have ready and publish starting in January.

I will say, brand building is going well. I'm hitting my goals earlier than planned. Same goes for that business venture I started a few months ago.

So I'm positioned well. Just need to write more books, wait for the holidays to be over and then hit it hard.

***

Kiddo wise...

The homework abruptly became more difficult. Ha. That will teach me! I just wish the teacher would've given us all a heads up that this was a 'warm-up' period. I wasn't the only parent wondering if their kid had been placed at the right level.

Also, I went to an academic presentation on Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo and I had to laugh as I spotted their perfectionist tendencies along with what I call the 'boredom of mastery' that often goes along with being gifted. The perfectionism was patently obvious in the things they wrote and said. If you know what it looks like, you can't miss it.

I had never thought of the great masters and geniuses of the past struggling with the pressure to be perfect, so the presentation gave me a new view of the world. It was interesting to see how the two artists' lives played out in an era where there was no advice on how to manage crippling anxieties or disinterest in mastered skills.

Da Vinci, in particular, actually painted very few works and was known for never finishing art projects. Woe to anyone who paid him before the work was done!  I suspect he found it dull. While his work was a revelation for others, Da Vinci wasn't dazzled. (Alternatively, he may have been tied in knots by perfectionism, but I suspect boredom is more likely as he had no problem finishing all sorts of gadgets.) He was much more interested in his inventions, he had a passion for them that drove him forward and nothing could stop him, not even the burden of perfectionism.

Michelangelo, on the other hand, what he excelled at--art--was also his passion. He was lucky. Of course, he hated painting, but suffered through it for various patrons. His true love was sculpture. And he finished his work, which says to me he had developed some kind of coping skills to get him past the hump of his perfectionism.

Ultimately, I divined no solutions for our own little perfectionist from the presentation, more the reassurance that it will all be okay. Plus, the entertaining mental image of Leonardo and Michelangelo at my kiddo's age having an epic melt down of an intensity that only perfectionists can produce. I would pay good money to go back in time and talk to their mothers. They probably were bald from pulling their hair out.

(And no I am NOT saying my kiddo is equal to Da Vinci or Michelangelo. You don't have to be a super genius to have issues with perfectionism.)



Monday, October 20, 2014

The Latest

Not much going on over here, except for following the news on ebola. Other than that, I am boring. CT scan was fine, as I predicted. My only quibble is it would've been nice to do it when things were symptomatic.

But at least there are no tumors or anything hinky showing up.

I still have upper right quadrant tenderness. All the time. It hurts to even brush against that area. Very annoying.

I don't know if it's the biliary duct spasming at such a low level that I can't identify it as spasming or what.

Anyway, life is proceeding at a normal pace, unimpeded by my health, or lack thereof. This is about as good as it gets for me.

I do have a lot of spasms, though. I wonder if it is all related? Just the other day, I had a massive spasm over the right scapula that put my shoulder out of commission for the day. Then the arch of my left foot went nuts. For no reason I can discern. My shoulder started when I tried to reach something under my desk, so I at least know what the trigger was there (although not the why of it), but my foot? I have no idea.

Writing-wise...

Last project went really well. Three weeks on the bestseller lists. Overall, a great experience.

Authors continue to be whackadoo weirdos. I'm withdrawing more and more from any social networks I've built up. Too many copycats, users and abusers. Unfortunately, I like being social (online at least) with authors and will miss the interaction as well as the outlet for my ideas, but ultimately, it isn't good for me.

I have everything I need to be successful. I don't necessarily  need anyone in my corner. It's time to focus on writing more books faster and building on what I have.

Sales continue to be bad. Things are pretty apocalyptic. Aside from my one project doing well, everything else is failing pretty spectacularly. The paradigm of success is in flux. There's not much sustainability of sales anymore. It's peak and valley, crash and burn all the way.

If you're new, keep writing, but don't publish anything just yet. Work on figuring out the industry and take its pulse in January. Plus study marketing because you can control that. If you can't market, you will never do well in this business.

With regards to marketing, I see authors whine all the time about not being able to get reviews and I have to sit on my hands so I don't type anything that will get me in trouble. If you've written 5+ books and actually have sales and a mailing list, but still can't figure out reviews? You are never going to get where you want to be. You don't know marketing, which is a choice you made. Choose differently if you want better results. You're not helpless.

Hopefully the industry will improve by early 2015. If not, we'll be seeing very few authors making a living at this. It will become more like traditional publishing in that most of the money goes to the publisher/book seller platform.

Parenting wise...

Not much going on over here. Kiddo is doing well on all fronts. She's another year older now. OMG. This growing up thing is breaking my heart. I mean, I love watching her grow, but that means she's not my baby anymore. It's not fair.

We are heartily enjoying fall right now. Pumpkin patch visits. Roasting pumpkin seed. Pumpkin donuts (for her, not me as I am staying gluten free). Leaf crafts. Planting spring bulbs. We do a lot of family activities this time of year.

As for school, I'm trying to decide if she's fudged her abilities with her teacher as I don't know that her spelling and math homework are truly at her level. She does a week's worth of math homework in 15-20 minutes. Spelling is usually too easy with the occasional word she needs to work a little harder to learn.

At the same time, I'm not looking to make things harder as that risks triggering paralyzing perfectionism that makes everyone miserable. Plus, she's not complaining that she's bored like last year. So, perhaps I will just see if I can get the okay from the teacher to stop doing the spelling homework once she's mastered all the words. She doesn't really need 4 nights of spelling exercises and we could use the extra time for other things.

Aren't you glad I figured that out?




Friday, October 17, 2014

Rationalizing Ebola


People have very strange ways of rationalizing the risk of ebola. Some things I've heard and read that have made me a wee bit frothy...

1. The flu is more dangerous and kills more people, but millions don't get their flu shots so why are you worried about ebola?

I love this one. Let me type this slowly so maybe you can understand.

I. Got. The. Flu. Shot.

So has the rest of my family. You probably got it, too, right? I mean, you wouldn't run around frothing at the mouth about how dangerous the flu was and not get your shot, would you?

I'm sorry about the millions who can't or won't get the shot, but I can't fix them. I have controlled my risk and that of my family. Unlike, ebola, there are actual vaccines for the flu that mostly work. Most of us have the means to contain the flu that don't rely upon what anyone else does (or doesn't do).

And what does that have to do with the fact that ebola is now spreading and flying the friendly skies? Does that mean it's no longer deadly? That the CDC isn't screwing up constantly? That we don't have new cases? Are you saying an ebola patient could be my roomie and I wouldn't get sick? What?

Also, go get your damn flu shot already.

2.Ebola isn't airborne, so stop worrying.

Neither is norovirus and it shuts down entire cruise ships. I understand something like 15 million people a year get norovirus in the US.

So your point is...what? It's not contagious unless it's airborne? Do unicorns exist in your magical thinking land?

3.Only one person has died. Ebola is no big deal.

They probably said that about Typhoid Mary. I mean, look, if thinking like that makes you feel better, then go for it (unless you work at the CDC, in which case, you should resign). The metric I look at is the infection is spreading and we are failing to prevent it. At the rate we're going, one death is just the beginning.

What are you going to do when the next person dies? Pretend it didn't happen?

4.More people are overweight and suffering health complications from that than will ever have ebola. Why do we worry about ebola when we clearly don't care about our health?

Reasons for being concerned about ebola include:

1. If we are sick and fighting it within our borders, we aren't going to be able to help anyone else.

2. We don't have hospital beds, equipment or training to deal with a large scale outbreak. While it's true that we have more hospitals and doctors than Africa, we don't have large scale facilities or expertise that can handle lots of ebola patients. In that sense, we'll find dealing with an outbreak just as challenging as Africa has.

3. When ebola is prevalent, your lifestyle diseases will kill you because ebola will steal resources.

4. Ebola is a destabilizing geopolitical force. The bigger it gets, the worse the politics will be. Ebola will make Putin and ISIS look like frosted cupcakes. It's not ALL about your diabetes.

5. There is no curative treatment and the death rate is very high.The good news is you won't have to worry about any of those lifestyle diseases. You'll be dead!

6. The CDC response so far has been the equivalent of having a Walmart greeter perform brain surgery.

7.West Nile Virus heralds from Africa and is now endemic pretty much world wide. We should avoid that with ebola.

Now, if you feel inspired to tackle your health issues because of ebola, that's great, but it doesn't change any of the above. We could all become marathon running vegans tomorrow and it wouldn't make any difference to ebola.

That's why we care about ebola. We can't exercise or diet it away. Plus, it's probably not a bad thing to go into your ebola infection with a few extra pounds.


5. Ebola will never be a big problem here. We have much better health care and systems in place.

Hahahaha. I'll buy this one when people stop catching ebola and flying around on commercial airlines while they're coming down with it.

So now what? Do we panic? No, that serves no purpose. What do we do? I have no idea.

If I could, I would fire Dr. Freidan who runs the CDC along with whoever else is in management. That leaves the problem of identifying an appropriate replacement though, and I'm not sure we have anyone waiting in the wings who has the right skill set.

Somehow, we have to get to a point where the CDC isn't actually exposing or infecting people. How that happens, I can't tell you.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ebola Exposes the Reality of Patient Care

I've been popping my popcorn and watching as ebola is given every opportunity to gain a foothold in the United States. I wish I could say I was surprised at how poorly it has been managed, but I'm not. This is what healthcare looks like in the US.

Hmmm. Let's review, shall we?

1. Failed to properly identify the patient as at risk and sent them home.

Yep. Happens every day. Doesn't even have to be ebola.

2.Staff lacks education on diagnosis and training to properly deal with it.

Uh-huh. That's normal too. Welcome to healthcare in America!

3. Patient says exactly what would lead to a correct diagnosis and is ignored.

Happens ALL the time. Very typical.


Dear America: How do you like your 'best healthcare in the world' now? Are you enjoying the preview of what's in store for you when you have your first big health issue?
 
Medicine is just as lethal as any disease. Ebola has found a new vector and it's our healthcare system.

I would like to think ebola will lead to heightened awareness of the many care failures patients deal with, but that's probably hoping for too much.

Healthcare is not perfect. Science isn't a magic wand. It's all fallible. It's just easier to ignore when it's not ebola. We have an opportunity here to see some hard truths, but I doubt we will take it.


Anyway, I'm surprised there have only been two infections in Texas. I expect we'll hear of more cases shortly.

                                                              

Monday, September 15, 2014

And then...I Drank Like a Vampire

Today had great potential to be nice, but then I went to the doctor. A CT scan more precisely. One where they made me drink a liter of blood colored fluid that was sickeningly sweet. On an empty stomach. Uck.

At least the Rad Tech was entertained by all my what-I-did-on-summer-vacation stories. I was quite chatty and started to feel bad about it, so I asked them if they were interested in the stuff I was talking about. Fortunately, we were a good personality match, so I nattered on and on while they stuck me with needles, filled me with drugs and took pics of my internal organs.

After that I went home and tried to decide if the way I felt meant I was going to puke a bunch of red fluid or if it was going to come out the other end. It all derailed my day sort of spectacularly. I've had CT scans before so I thought I knew what to expect, but the liter 'o 'blood' I had to slurp down was a yucky twist.

Fun times!

I imagine the scan will show nothing since things are not all that aggravated at the moment and I'm good with that. This is not the kind of stuff where you want them to find anything. I don't need an answer. I don't want a name. Weirdo-shit-that-only-your-body-does-and-it's-no-big-deal is what I'm hoping to hear. I'll even accept post-gallbladder removal adjustment syndrome< --- I made that one up, but it's a good one, don't you think?

Anyway, time for more school stories. The communication issues continue. I went to a meeting billed as an information session only to find out it was really a brawl between parents and the school board. Oy. I sat through two hours, trying to say as little as possible and wondering WTF I'd gotten myself into.

Sheesh. If they'd told me it was a 'tear down all processes, especially the ones parents like and reinvent all our wheels no matter what parents think' meeting I would have skipped it. I'm too new to be sucked into that shit. Way too new.

All of us new parents sort of huddled together in a protective circle, commiserating on all the WTFery.  But we all agreed, our kids are happy. Maybe there's hope for us to be happy too. Or at least not be in the middle of screaming matches between parents and the school.

Have you ever worked with someone who was obviously not in the right job? That's the deal with the school official who headed up the meeting. They're younger, not as experienced as the parents and not very organized. They may not know it yet, but that job is not a good fit. They need to move on. I hope they figure it out sooner as opposed to later.


On the positive, calling my friend and telling her all about the fucked up school meeting helped me drink the red goo drink without hurling. That last cup was a real bitch to get down. Ranting about that meeting had me so distracted, I didn't even taste it anymore.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Puttering

Doing okay over here. I can sleep on my right side with minimal aggravation of whatever is pissed off inside my gut. This is a rare thing and a real luxury.  Very few spasms. Little protest from my system when I eat.

Still feeling kind of tired and I'm not sure why (I've started the next pill pack which I thought would fix things). Season change maybe? Asthma flared a little bit yesterday, I assume due to the transition from summer to fall. We've had days where even my husband has a hard time breathing. Cool + high humidity = panting. At least for us anyway.

Latest book is doing well. Lots of reader response, which is an excellent sign. When people take the time to seek you out via email or friend you on FB just so they can send you a PM, you know your work is resonating. Good. Now I just need to write a million more books and publish them.

Exercise-wise, I've slowed down. I'm not doing a great job of switching up my routine to match the season. I think I'm pouting over the fact that I can't go swimming anymore.

At the same time, the fatigue is holding me back. Did a bike ride last night and just couldn't muster up the energy to go. I wasn't sore, my legs weren't tired, I just had no power. My energy is quite listless right now. My minutes-per-mile was slower than the last bike ride.

Kiddo is cute. We have a wedding coming up so she needed a fancy party dress. OMG. Shopping for that was fun! We typically stick with soft knits as she's sensitive to seams and tags and tightness and phantom things that only she can feel. I was a little bit like that as a kid, but my daughter is a whole new level of 'things are boooooothering me.' As in, The Princess and the Pea was probably written about her.

So we had a lot of discussion about how fancy party clothes are tighter than other things she wears and how you have to just deal with it if you want to dress up. I think she's on board. She loves her dress which helps.  Let's hope it carries her through and that we don't have a meltdown on the dance floor at the reception.

School-wise, I'm very pleased at what I see going on. She's reading openly instead of insisting she can't read like she did last year (her rationale being her kindy peers couldn't read yet). The current book she's selected to read is at the 5th grade level. Less than a month in the right environment and she's 'smartening up' instead of 'dumbing down'. Fitting in is very important to her. In kindy that meant denying skills whereas this year, she has to use them if she doesn't want to stand out.

She's been so good at hiding the extent of her capabilities that I find I consistently underestimate her.  I've learned the hard way to hide my work screens if she comes into my office because she will read over my shoulder and then nonchalantly ask me about the content...which is sometimes not for little kids. Urk.

Anyways, we are on an interesting journey with her, one I could have never anticipated.

And now I am going to try to work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Let Me Tell You

Right now, this very second, my GI system seems to be doing okay. I often feel like I'm being stabbed in the back and there's the occasional spasm in the bilary ducts, but mostly things are calm and functioning.

We will see how long that lasts.

And I still feel awful,but for completely different reasons. I'm delaying the start of my birth control pill so I can time everything for an OB/GYN appointment. It's my last pack and I won't be able to get anymore without seeing the OB/GYN. For some reason, I've returned to the pattern of feeling really horrible once the pill stops. Fatigue and sharp headaches are my plague now. It's not too bad when I can start the next pack as scheduled, but this prolonged gap has been particularly unpleasant.

Three more days and I will have some relief.

As a small mercy, I've given myself the week off from writing. Not work, I still have to work, but I'm not holding myself to any word count goals. I'm doing mostly admin stuff and gearing up for the launch of the next book which is done (hallelujah!).

                                                                             ***

Some mommy blogging....

Kiddo is doing great at her new school, but we have no clue what she does there. The school is awful with communication. I mean, really awful. It's making me twitch. Twice now, I've had to force myself to delete a line offering to copy edit the newsletters from my emails to the school trying to clarify various pieces of contradictory information.

Is the meeting the 8th or the 9th, because both dates are in the newsletter. On the PTA meeting, there's a date but no time or place. Where and when is that meeting?

This is not a good fit for my personality. I don't do well if I have to sit idle on the sidelines while the home team fucks everything up when I know I can fix it. While other parents may just roll with it, I'm over here frothing at the mouth and fighting not to say what I really think of all this poor communication. (The examples above are just the tip of the iceberg. OMG. How do these people run a school?!)

Eventually I WILL address it, but not until I have a better understanding of how the school works and I've developed some relationships with administration. Do you know they didn't even tell us what day school started? Or the time? I had to hunt someone down and make them tell me. At one point, I was reading through all of last year's newsletters trying to piece together the information I needed. Crazy.

And this is a gifted school...apparently run by not so gifted staff. Ha. Irony! No, the staff is fine, but there is room for process improvements. We are fortunate to be there. I think.  Time will tell and if my kiddo thrives there, we'll be around long enough for me to insert myself into the communication process so I can FIX IT ALREADY.

                                                                                    ***

On writing...

Here is a thought that occurred to me today: I'm never going to master this writing gig. I've written multiple novels now as well as novellas and short stories. I've moved 50,000 and 25,000 copies of things I've written and I still have no idea what the hell I am doing.

None.

Here's why: Once you start building up a body of work, you then have to work to not repeat yourself. You can't use the same plot twist in every book. You have to come up with new stuff. Characters need different flaws and strengths. And settings need to be different.

So, essentially, you are pretty much starting at zero. Every time.  You always have to stretch for the next book. You're never complete as a writer, not unless you actually want to rehash the same plot structures over and over again (which, no, I don't).

Maybe mastery kicks in at 30 novels or something. I don't know.

And now I have to go. Me and my fatigue with a side of headache have a business meeting with my admin. So no proofreading at all. Sorry if something doesn't make sense.



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Warming Up

Things are starting to settle down. With that said, though, the anti-depressant for the SOD and pancreatitis was a disaster. Yes, it blocked pain, but it didn't stop the spasming. which meant my pancreas remained irritated and I continued to wake throughout the night. Plus, it gave me one hell of a hangover with a side of crazy bitch.

That was the effect of just one pill (which lasted two days). I wasn't brave enough to take more than that.

What I have worked out is, I take two doses of the muscle relaxant in the evening, and combined with eating less along with never, ever eating at night, things are better. Not perfect, but I am sleeping at night. If I'm hungover from the meds the next morning, I can't tell.

I am hoping that all of this is just part of adjusting to life without a gallbladder. I do not want gastro paresis or pancreatitis. I would like it very much if this was just a temporary phase.

As the SOD has calmed down, I've had more energy. I didn't realize how much the GI stuff was costing me until it improved. It is definitely a significant drag on the body.

I almost miss the old adrenal days. They made sense. I had a system worked out for dealing with the swings from too much to too little cortisol. When it comes to the GI stuff...I got nothing.

BUT, on the bright side, I can still work. Adrenal stuff destroys me and I can't wake up, let alone do anything productive, so there's that.

Kiddo update...

She's started at her new school, and so far, it's all smiles and thumbs up. Naturally, by the end of the first week she had a cold, though, and was doing her best to deny it. If I asked her how she was feeling she would get growly with me because, I guess, she thought if we ignored it, it would go away (ha! I wonder where she gets that from?).

I finally said, "Honey, it's my job to ask how you're feeling. I'm supposed to take care of you. You're supposed to tell me these things."

At first, she crossed her arms with a loud 'humph' and gave me a death glare, but then her shoulders sagged and she said, in the tiniest, saddest voice you ever heard, "Mommy, I have the boogies."

She doesn't want to miss school and is doing her best to power through. I'm letting her as she doesn't have a fever and it's a mild cold without much congestion. Since she caught it at school, I doubt we're adding to the germ pool either.

I'm sure the bullying and the usual mean girl stuff will start sooner as opposed to later, but right now we're just happy she's happy. She had a lot of anxiety about the new school and it was tough to watch how much she struggled with it. A positive start, even one covered in boogies, means a lot.

Writing update...

1. Finishing up edits on my latest project. Trying to finish the rough draft of another and wondering when I'm going to get to all the other books I owe readers.

2.Still trying to find the editor of my dreams as well. That is a tough one. They either catch typos but not plot holes or hate what I write and my approach to pov. Or they cost way more than I can pay. Sheesh.

3. The sociopath whackjob I've mentioned in the past met their comeuppance. I thought it would come from the authors, but in reality, their complete lack of business structure, process or policy is what brought them down. People still think this person is da bomb, so they may yet rise again. Who knows?

4. Plagiarism. There's a lot of it going around as the 'get-rich-quick' crowd has crowned ebook publishing as the #1 way to become a millionaire (except it's sooooo not). Their methods involve telling people to copy books in whole and sell them with new covers. I don't get it because, not only is that the stupidest business strategy on earth, if you know anything about authors, you know they will cut you.  For instance...

Do you know how many authors....

Are lawyers? Lots.

Are bat shit insane and own guns? Loads, way more common than authors/lawyers.

Have an intelligence background and can hunt people down like a freaking bloodhound? Not many, but more than you would think and all the other authors know them.

Can hack and know all the black hat tricks the scammers do? Quite a few.

Have made a ton of money? As in $500,00 or even millions so that creating a huge legal hassle for a plagiarist isn't cost prohibitive? More than you would think. (It's still not easy to make that much money though. Not the kind of easy that you can access via a $20 guide written by someone who hasn't made their own million yet.)

Authors are not a group of people I would mess with if I wanted to steal content.  We share information and strategies and we donate to legal funds. We are not little old ladies who can't fight back.

Frankly, these internet scammers should choose their marks more wisely. Authors are not easy targets, we are cut throat and we know how to play dirty with the best of them (because that's how publishing works, and also, we spend a lot of time researching illicit/immoral activities. Between the two we have a great skill set for ass kicking). It seems the scammers are going to learn that the hard way.

It's only a matter of time before the booksellers get sued, too. (Mostly because their copyright enforcement is lax to non-existent. I've seen better plagiarism policies at diploma mills. The booksellers just end up enabling the plagiarists and pocketing the cash whenever they do shut down an account. The copyright holder is always SOL. Not cool.)


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Demoralized

Saw the GI doc to follow up my surgery from May. It wasn't a great visit. More testing followed by even more testing and then a likely referral to a specialist center as I've outpaced my current clinic's capabilities. However, there really aren't a lot of options so I'm not sure what a specialist center is going to do.

The SOD is still spasming. All the damn time. OMG. Just stop already you stupid thing.

The GI doc is replacing the muscle relaxants with whatever that anti-depressant is called that is used to treat IBS. In theory, it will make me less loopy and provide good relief. We'll see.

I now have various things going on with my liver, pancreas, the biliary ducts and stomach. All I need is for my intestines to go kaput and I'll have a complete set of medical fuckery!

And a new diagnosis is on the horizon. Gastro paresis. Isn't that another one that drug seekers like to use, ergo all patients with that diagnosis are suspect? Greeeeat. Just what I need! Maybe someone will bequeath me with a Fibromyalgia diagnosis so no one will ever take me seriously ever again.

I kind of figured the Gastro paresis was coming. My one parent likely has it. Not that they tell me, in fact, they like to keep medical stuff secret, but they've let enough slip that I put it all together. Several authors I hang out with online have it, too, and they aren't shy about discussing it. So between the two, I was not surprised when the GI brought it up.

Although, I don't think it's severe. Not yet at least. I have noticed over the last year that I get full faster and heavy meals just seem to sit and sit in my stomach. (In fact, I think last night's dinner is still in there.) I do sometimes wonder if I'm going to throw up after I've eaten, but that hasn't happened yet. Mostly I just feel ill for several hours after a meal. Maybe it's just a side effect of the pancreatitis and will improve if the SOD ever calm down. I don't know.

But the whole thing sucks.

I'm going to go edit someone's book. I need to get lost in someone else's head for a while.

(When I was a kid, teachers told my parents they thought I read through classes as a way to cope with their divorce and the bullying. It wasn't true then. I was bored. The teachers were boring and not self-aware enough to understand that. However, now? I'm all about escape from reality.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Too Relaxed

I've been taking these muscle relaxers for a couple days now and I feel high as a kite. Weeee!

All I want to do is sleep. I am totally, utterly and deeply relaxed. Limp, overcooked spaghetti has nothing on me!

I'm not sure how this medication is going to be a long term solution. There is such a thing as too relaxed, particularly if you're driving or trying to write a book. Tweaks are needed.

At least the ducts have calmed down a lot. They/It were/was spasming rather intensely about 80% of the time and now it's more like 15%. One woke me last night, but it didn't keep me up, I was able to roll over and go back to sleep.

***
Biking was going so well, I decided to find out how fast you're supposed to go if you're riding for fitness.

Suffice it to say, biking is not going as well as I thought. Wow, do I suck. I suck so bad, I'm not even going to tell you how slow I am. It's that shameful.

I am faster than I was. I've shaved 12 minutes off my time since I started in July, but I have a long way to go if I'm truly going to claim I exercise by riding a bike.

I'm going to incorporate some interval training to see if I cut my time.

Yesterday was a great workout. I did 4 miles on the bike and then swam for an hour. (By swim I mean, a few laps, running, walking, jumping etc.. in the pool. I'm not swimming like an Olympiad or anything.) Today I'm sore, but in the best way.  I'm going to miss summer.

My goal now is to figure out my winter routine. I'd like to get some snow pants for fat old people so I can walk in the snow. I really enjoyed that the few times I was able to do it last winter. It's a great workout for your legs and improves balance (imo) because the snow makes for uneven terrain. I just need better gear for it so I can get out more often.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Duct Work

I've been having some kind of  attack of the Sphincter of Oddi for the last ten days. The main issue is it disrupts my sleep with all the spasming. The first few days were also kind of pancreatitis-ish with the only relief found in being upright. I told my husband, at this point, we just need to accept that we will be buying a craftmatic adjustable bed sooner as opposed to later.

Why does sleeping upright solve all the problems?

Asthma likes it. Sphincters like it. GERD likes it. Pancreatitis likes it.

Clearly I am doing it all wrong by trying to lie down at night.

I don't know what's going on. I'm frustrated. I started taking the muscle relaxer the GI gave me before the gallbladder removal. It never seemed to do much, but I'm desperate to sleep.  It seemed to help last night. The spasms didn't stop, but they were less intense and I could sleep through them.

And yes, it does hurt. My main complaint is not pain, though. I'm more interested in sleep. With sleep all things are possible.

I have a GI appointment coming up so maybe there are other meds we can try. As usual, there are comunication issues, though. Their 'mychart' program has disabled my account and my emails to tech support have gone unanswered. I received a notification of a message in my email, but I can't log in to read it. For all I know, my appointment has been canceled.

***

I've been exercising since we returned from vacation and was pleased to find I'd retained enough muscle/fitness to not be at -50 on the fitness scale. I'm ready for 5 miles or more on the bike, but am still having issues with the seat. I bought a new one, which has offered some improvement, but it could be better. I might buy another one to try.

I feel like the Goldilocks of bicycle seats. I've got too hard and too soft covered, but I can't seem to find the 'just right' one.

The pool closed, which was a bummer. One nearby city has one week left in their pool season but a) their pool is cold as the arctic sea, and b) it has a strong current due to two massive water slides. This makes swimming either too easy or too hard. We went once and I'm not sure if we'll go back. I guess we'll have to switch to swimming at rec centers that have indoor pools.

***

Writing...

1. Finished the first draft of my latest project and starting edits today. The first hard copy is printing as I type.

2.Authors continue to be weirdos and are in full life raft mode, meaning they're gathering together who they trust most and leaving everyone else to drown. I think authors win the prize for 'most cliques in a single industry.'

I somehow made the cut into a super secret group. I don't know why though. Most everyone in the group is making so much money, they don't need anything I do.

For instance, I read through a thread where people were trying to figure out what to do with their extra money after they maxed out their retirement contributions. As in, they have so much money, they don't know what to do with it all. As I read it, I was like, these are not my people.

I am not at that level. Not even close! I could be, if I wrote faster. For every one of my books that sells well, they have 3 or 5 because they churn out full novels about once a month.

But I am slow and speed is money in this industry.


I don't like the clique shit. I'll hang with anyone and I'm big on helping out people who are still chasing success. The only social editing I do is to cut out users and abusers or people who, while perfectly nice, don't work well with others for whatever reason (which can be something as simple as their genre doesn't mesh with mine, which can make marketing less effective).


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Illness Takes a Holiday

(Note: Wonky spacing due to the fact I wrote this in gmail and blogger doesn't like that. I did what I could to fix it.)
 
I wasn't going to post. I didn't think I had anything to say, but then I compared the latest vacation to the one that came before and what a difference! Definitely noteworthy.

In March 2013 we flew out to visit family and I just about died. I struggled with fatigue and actually had a few days where I couldn't function. I had to go back to bed even though that was the last thing I wanted to do!

Fast forward to Vacation 2014 and I had none of that adrenal BS. NONE! 

I even worked while on vacation and wrote 1/3 of the novel I'm trying to finish.

It is amazing to me how sloooooow recovery is from HPA axis suppression. At least for me.

Anyway, remember how I was exercising so vacation wouldn't kill me? We did NOTHING. Mostly because it was 93F with 95% humidity 24/7. I was not prepared for a tropical climate. None of us could function as our area has had a very cold summer this year, even dipping down into the 40s at night. (See also, my pansies were still alive in July and still would be if the house sitter had watered them.) 

We were/are not used to such intense heat. We didn't even have the right clothing. I brought my jean capris which were miserable to wear in that heat. By the end of our vacation, I just wore my ratty workout shorts everywhere. 

We spent a lot of time basking in air conditioning and avoiding going outside. The lizards we saw always went for the sun,but we were sidling up to any a/c vent we could find. 

Another thing I didn't understand about tropical climates, the water during summer is as hot as you are. It doesn't cool you off. The only way to cool off is to jump in the pool and then go sit in air conditioning.

Worse, that super fancy hotel my husband and I stayed at? It was infested with smokers. I couldn't even use our ocean front balcony because of all the smoking. The outdoor furniture reeked of cigars so I couldn't sit in it. People smoked by the pool, so swimming was out too. 

The area we stayed in is a huge party haven so we had to avoid the main drag due to all the smoking. We still had a good time, though. I just didn't realize how bad the smokers were. None of the guidebooks or trip reports I read mentioned it.

For future reference, if you have asthma and your vacation destination is party central and also a hot spot for Europeans and/or Latin Americans...you will have problems. They all smoke. A lot. 

Also, hurricane season isn't just a risk of hurricanes, it means rain every day. Don't go to the tropics in the summer. Stay way north of the equator. We were rained out several times and even got stuck in some of the worst storms of the summer. We saw rain worse than any blizzard, which, naturally, we had to drive through.

Truth be told, I failed completely as a vacation planner. Ha!  Instead of a good time, we had an interesting time, which is still okay in my book. We learned what not to do and the whole adventure certainly gave us a lot to talk about.

We go back in the Spring. Let's see if I can do a better job planning that trip!

Okay, now that that's over, let's get to writing gossip.

1. I came up with a concept for a group project, and once again, people are trying to benefit from my ideas as if I don't exist. I've had to have some uncomfortable (for them) discussions with people as, at least this time, I retained leadership of the whole thing. (I'm learning!) They joined the project, then dropped out and thought they could still use my idea for their own benefit. I don't bring things to people for them to use for their own purposes. I am always cooperative and I expect everyone to conform to that (pretty well established) ethic. 

Granted, my expectations are unenforceable, but there are other factors that matter to people more than what I think. Such as all the other authors can see them being greedy and it won't look so good if they make sure they maximize their return while turning their backs on a group they had originally agreed to work with. (I phrased it much more politely but that was the gist.) That's a great way to not be invited to join any future projects as well as have your peers ignore you just in general. 

Oh, you have a new release you would like me to share with my readers? Sorry, I didn't see your email/post until too late. Maybe next time!

Reputation matters in this industry. You can get away with a lot, but eventually, a lack of integrity will catch up with you. So don't be an ass.

I don't want to have to use a contract, but I may end up requiring NDAs or non-competes going forward. I don't provide 100% of the value, but I am pivotal in making that 100% possible. My value is in spotting trends early, gathering people together and facilitating mutual success. Not everyone can do that.

In the interim, on my latest idea, I specified that this was not something for them to pass on and that participants were hand chosen, the project isn't an open call. Hopefully, people get a clue.

2. Some of the project dropouts above are driven by skeevy group politics. I don't know the lay of the land yet, but the factions are solidifying and people are getting cut. I've been cut from a few inner circles, and have, likewise, been cutting people on my end (the asshats). Sales are down across the board and people are looking for life rafts. As one of my author buddies says, this is when you find out who has integrity.

3.Sales are even worse. Ha. People are starting to panic, including the bigwigs who've made, literally, a million dollars in this biz. We shall see what the future brings. 

FYI now is not a good time to get into Indie publishing. In case you were considering it. The industry is completely restructuring and Amazon's God Complex is at Defcon 5. Wait until the dust settles.

And if you're already publishing...keep writing and try not to panic when you stop making money. The storm will pass, a path forward will appear. It's just a question of when.


By the way, there's more shit ready to hit the fan that isn't even public yet. I only know because someone broke their NDA with the mighty Zon. Even more change is coming. I feel like I'm starting all over in terms of industry knowledge. That's how big the changes are.

The good news is there is no easy or cheap replacement for authors (yet). So we're still very much a necessary cog in the wheel. Booksellers can't treat us like we don't matter without paying a price themselves. If we don't earn, neither do they. Eventually the booksellers will figure that out. Again (and then they'll forget and the cycle will repeat).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Episode of Survivor

Earlier this month, I realized if I didn't whip myself into shape, our family vacation was going to kill me. Thanks to the gall bladder removal, I had totally deconditioned once again. While I'd been walking regularly and gone swimming a few times, I hadn't exactly been getting my fit on.

But since that 'exercise or die' moment, I've been biking, swimming and walking, sometimes all in the same day. Three weeks later, I can finally see some improvement. Mainly, I've stopped having to take naps after working out. (That is not even an exaggeration. I've been pretty bummed about the face plants I've been doing into my couch. I mean, sheesh, what am I? Eighty? Apparently!)

It hasn't been easy to come back from the comfort of soft, fluffy couch potatoville. The walking was fine, but kind of pointless in terms of upping my fitness game. The swimming left me sore and lethargic, but at least I enjoyed it. I hated the biking. And I do mean hate. A seething, frothing, motherfucking, suffering succotash kind of hate.

I don't know what changed or why, but biking has just become a special brand of misery for me. The first week, I kept wishing I would crash into one of the five-gallon-bucket potholes littering the roadway, fall off my bike and hit my head. Then I could quit and not feel bad about it, right?

The last person I knew who hit a pothole while riding their bike was carted off in ambulance. I would have welcomed that.

Anyway, that didn't happen and ever so sloooowly (and by that I mean about the speed at which watched pots boil and paint dries....in rain) bike riding got easier. Not more fun. Not pleasant, but better.

Finally today, I managed a four mile ride. I'm still slow, but in larger increments. Now I hate my bike, which I think has been the problem. I need something built for taller women with a cushier ride. I can't get the ergonomics quite right between the seat height and the handle bars.

Until I get a better bike, I don't think I'll push to increase the mileage. Unfortunately, right around mile three, my cheapie bike seat starts to wedge itself up my ass. Apparently, my bike doubles as a rather sadistic butt plug. Who knew? So I'm calling it a win at 4 miles and next time I have any extra income, I'll look at acquiring a nicer bike.

The swimming I love and I'm sad there's only a month to go before the pools close. Plus, it's  a great work out and probably the one thing that most increases my strength.

I haven't lost any weight because I don't care. Fit doesn't mean skinny. Not for me. But I have toned so my clothes fit better and I'm eating a lot of ice cream late at night without gaining weight. As far as I'm concerned, those are both wins.

So this is what things look like from the upswing side of health. The only downer? My knee is still a problem. Even biking. Even swimming. Even walking. I'm trying to work up the energy to start pursuing whatever needs to be done for it, but....blurgh.

Writing update:

1. Published a new book. It flopped. As predicted. Amazon glitched, just to add insult to injury. On the bright side, at least Amazon screwed over a flop and not my next big seller.

2. My income is at a new low. Yowza. I'm now squirreling away money to subsidize my income in the fall. Look how low the mighty have fallen!

3. The industry is changing, which erodes income further (at least in the short run, long run is still TBD). Kindle Unlimited is the first serious foray into a subscription based model for books. $10 a month and you can read something like 20 books. If it's successful, it will likely reduce revenue across the board. Which is sad. I hate the race to the bottom when it comes to art. Like 99 cents is too much to ask? Or $2.99? Clearly, artists should be selling lattes. Those go for $5. I'm in the wrong business!

4. I'm writing as fast as I can, but I'm really not a fast writer. I need time to think about what I'm doing with a story. My current project, I know the entire plot, but I need to think through who the characters are and what the interplay between them will be. I may have to start the second book even just to square away some of the interpersonal dynamics.

However, this book my readers will like. I can't say if it will break out, but it should be a solid performer based on what I know of the market and the reading tastes of my fans. This is a good thing. Hopefully, Amazon and  I got flopping out of our systems with the last book.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gastropause: 'The Change' No One Talks About

Having your gallbladder removed is the equivalent of menopause for your GI tract. Gastropause is what I call it.

You are forever changed. The change can be good, bad, or somewhere in between, but you are never the same.

Also, you constantly worry about what is going to come out of your ass next. Crass, but true.

That being said, things are trucking along over here. The bile dumping has stopped. I'm off the cholestyramine powder. I still don't seem to digest fat all that well, but salad has been better received (I think).

I can eat pretty much anything I want with impunity, but I also have an increased tendency to develop what I call 'reactive GERD,' meaning food directly triggers the GERD. I really shouldn't be eating anything at night or tomatoes or peppers or other foods that upset my system.

Life is hard without tomatoes and peppers.

It hurts with them.

I have a hard time deciding what consequence I want to deal with. Eat them or don't eat them, I can't seem to commit one way or the other.

Unless I have heartburn from eating tomatoes and peppers.

Then I am full of acid driven regrets.

"You should know better," I scold myself.

"Yes, I should," I agree, shamefaced.

And then I do it all over again. I say I won't eat them, but follow through is a bit weak.

There is no hope for me.  I will forever burn with GERD.

                                                                *
Writing update: Sales are in the toilet. I'm frantically writing to get something published. Also, I'm pretty sure my readers will hate my next book. It's different in tone and subject matter, but maybe I can find new readers with it as it's still quite mainstream. I guess I'll find out if my marketing mojo can carry a book my readers are likely to feel very 'meh' about. (My husband LOVES this book by the way, but I don't have the heart to tell him that is probably a bad sign. He is nowhere near my reader demographic.)

I'm thankful my winter sales were so strong as they will carry me financially into September and cover all my genre flubs. Hopefully, I will have new books to publish by then, ones my readers will like. In the interim, I'm organizing some fun book promotions with other authors to try and bolster sales as much as I can.

The business thing is chugging along. No major news to report there.

I will be meeting a reader in real life for the first time. I'm alternating between looking forward to the meet and being utterly terrified.

Thanks to my book royalties, I am taking my hubby away to a beach resort for two nights. It's the most I've ever spent on a hotel in my life and I could not have done any of it without writing. I'm also taking the whole family (me, hubby, kiddo)  to the beach for two weeks.

I hope they will remember those sun soaked days when I'm growling at them for talking to me when I'm in the middle of writing.

Also, I hope I'm never sick again because life right now is pretty awesome. I will cry so hard if the asthma fucks up my adrenal glands again.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

All Medical All the Time

Gah. No wonder I write fiction. Real life has too many medical procedures.

Dog is going to the vet this morning. I've lifted her a few times. It's okay. Not great because my strength isn't back yet, which means the incisions hurt and my lower back twinges, but it's doable.

My husband would love to help. We both love this dog to pieces. He's not a jerk, but his boss is, so figuring out a mid-day vet appointment and the corporate politics is a huge pain in the ass.

Even if he could figure out his boss' weirdness, he can't help now anyway.

Guess who stepped on a nail right about the time they needed a new tetanus shot? For extra fun, it all went down after hours.

Yep, my hubby was in the ER until 4am last night. His day is all borked up now.

And we are all short on sleep.

Me more so than others. We are ALL tired. The kiddo from summer camp, the hubby from his ER visit. As for me, I haven't been sleeping well since surgery. I'm restless. I wake up a lot. My eyes are closed, but I'm not really asleep. And this is with taking something like a Tylenol PM. At first, I thought it was all the drugs, but those are surely out of my system by now. I read somewhere that the stress of surgery can mess up sleep so I wonder if that's it?

Either way, at this point, we're all just limping our way to TGIF.

 Musings on writing to follow...

Fear of success. I had an interesting insight recently. Let me see if I can write coherently about it. Note, no quality sleep and I've yet to caffeinate my brain this morning so this may go south quickly.

I started writing for money in a genre I didn't care about, so it wasn't threatening to me. I didn't need or want to be a HUGE NAME AUTHOR in this genre, it was just a paycheck, a throwaway. I would tell people, "I write the genre of my paycheck," and then laugh. I didn't notice any fear of success until a short story I wrote sold 15,000 copies and earned me $5,000. The next month, it sold even more. At this point, I knew I could make a living. That writing was a real thing for me.

Eeeek.

As the industry changed, I switched genres, angling myself so I was more marketable and kept going. This new genre also wasn't one that I'd ever wanted to be a HUGE NAME AUTHOR in so any performance anxiety was fleeting. Also, I didn't have a breakout book for almost a year. It's hard to worry about success when failure is looking much more likely.

(It's funny how, no matter how the writing is going, there's angst on all sides. It's never gone and endlessly morphs to fit a writer's current circumstances.)

Then things went well enough that I realized, I could probably do well in any genre. I have a voice  that people are willing to read.  More importantly, I get marketing. I know what it takes to build a brand and sell it.

I could go after the genre of my heart.

Cue fetal position.

Now, it's going to sound like I'm going off track, but stick with me. There's a point. Maybe. Honestly, I'm not so sure I make any sense. I can't tell anymore. I really just want to go to bed, but have to keep myself awake for the vet.

My kiddo is a perfectionist who falls apart at the first obstacle. Yesterday, I tried hard not to show my amusement at the fit she threw over practicing piano. In loud wails, she told herself the following things:

1. I can't play piano.

2. I will never play piano.

3. I hate piano.

She focused solely on the failure and her feelings about it. She resisted my best efforts to coax her into a forward motion that would yield a productive piano session. I guess six is too young to understand you have to move forward no matter how defeated you feel. You pick up your hand, put it on the keys and bang away as best you can. Hard things don't get better if you walk away.

She doesn't get that. Sometimes I despair that she ever will and fret about how she will cope as an adult who falls apart at the tiniest hardships. (Although, apparently, in public/school/camp she's much more composed and capable. At home, we get a version of the kiddo that has a lot in common with a tornado siren that has an electrical short. When she lets her hair down, it screams*.)

So the point is, I have to ignore any feelings about success or failure. They don't matter. What matters is doing the work.

Do the work.

Just do it. (Ah Nike, such an unsung sage.)


*Some of this is the neurological stuff she has. She can't moderate emotions as well as kids without neurological stuff. At least she keeps it together in public, but doesn't hold back at home. Usually she's so cute in the extreme, it's hard to be annoyed. Usually. And yes, we do all the parental things parents are supposed to do to guide her and give her coping skills/appropriate social behavior.