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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Incoming!

The universe will not leave my stomach alone. It's like there's a bullseye on that sucker.

I almost had to run again. Idiot parents were too busy smoking to notice their itty bitty toddler in the street. I started calling out the first time I saw the kid edging to the road and when he stepped off the curb, I went into the street, thinking 'how the hell am I going to run?'

The kid was four houses away. Even if I did run, I doubted I would be fast enough to get to the kid.

Naturally, there were cars coming, too, and they were closer to the kid than me.

Just as I was about to go for it, whoever was in charge of the kid (parents? pothead babysitter? random idiots off the street? aliens from Pluto?) finally got a clue and managed to scoop the kid up.

I noticed they didn't even set their cigarette down. How nice for them!

I know perfectly nice, intelligent people smoke. It's just that none of those smokers live on my street. I would describe my neighborhood more as a heavy user of social services (and drugs and cigarettes and stupidity).  I hold out hope that rising gas prices might someday gentrify the area, as outlying suburbs are less economical when gas is so expensive. Or that I can stay perfectly healthy for the next five years, at which point, we should be able to bail even if we have to take a loss on the house.

(Health: It can make or break you financially. The more you know, right?)

Then, one of our dogs developed a nasty eye infection. She weighs 55lbs and is so frail with old age, she has to be carried up and down stairs. So my hubby and I have been pow-wowing over how that's going to work because I don't think I can carry her to get her to the vet. Maybe once, and that's a big maybe, but definitely not the four times that's required to get her in and out of the house and the car.

Fortunately, we have some eye cream from the vet that we've been using. It was for a previous eye infection that wasn't actually an eye infection (long story, you don't care) and if we're lucky, that will clear it up without a vet visit.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to lift as many things as possible and see how it goes. Multiple bags of groceries are okay. How much of a gap is there between that and 55lbs of dog that doesn't like to be carried and goes all splayed ninja cat on you? I don't know and I'm nervous to find out!

(I met my writing goal today, which is the only reason I'm on here. So...yay?)





Incoming!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Notes from a Gallbladder Removal Part 2

My incisions are healing beautifully. Barely perceptible, bordering on invisible. If I was one to wear a bikini, I could prance off into the summer with no one the wiser. It is amazing how tiny the incisions are.

By comparison, it looks like a butcher operated on my wrist. Those scars make doctors ask me if I was bit by a rabid dog. I don't know why the default is rabid dog. Do not ask me things I do not understand. All I can tell you , is I'm happy to have ugly scars if it means getting back the full use of my hand. No complaints from me, but the contrast between the abdominal incisions and my hand is interesting. Closing up incisions has come a long way in the last 14 years.

I still have a lot of abdominal muscle pain/weakness. I have NO idea when that will resolve. Neither does the surgeon.

I feel like I am slow to recover and that I had more pain than most people experience. I do not know why that is and it frustrates me. I want to fix it.

I'm tireder than I thought I would be as well. It's not horrible, but I sure do tucker out. I'm not quite up to a full day of mommying, working and exercising yet. I get overwhelmed quickly especially on the days when digestion isn't working like it should.

It will improve with time, right? I'll just be over here tapping my toe and looking at my watch. Don't mind me!

The surgeon suggested I try life without the cholestryamine in a few weeks and I'm eager to do that.

The most interesting thing about life without a gallbladder is I can now tell how active the biliary duct is. It spasms constantly and in patterns that feel a lot like gallbladder pain. Sometimes it spasms high up in my chest at what I assume is the juncture with the pancreas. I get that sword-through-my-shoulder-blade feeling along with the pulsing of what I assume is the sphincter.

Also the duct and sphincters feel huge, like a fist or a thick python squeezing me from the inside. I know this must be a tiny piece of anatomy, but when everything is spasming size is magnified.

So now I guess we wait and see what the duct and sphincters do. Will it give me pancreatitis again?

Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction is no joke. The gallbladder removal addressed part of the problem, but it's not the whole solution.

Quick writing update:

1. I will never share any of my pseudonyms here. Thank you for asking, but no. For one, I have too many anonymous hate comments to take that risk. Two, my readers don't need to read this blog, it's not part of my brand. Three, if I tell  you who I am then I can't tell you any of the behind-the-scenes. So enjoy the gossip and peek into the inner workings of a writer's life.

2. I'm making like, zero money this month. Sigh. I have to get back into the trenches. Time to crank out the next book and hope it's a hit. I have some cool projects lined up for fall, but summer has been an unintentional dead zone and my income now reflects that. Yikes!  Time to hustle.

So I will try to be scarce on here.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Screw Ups and Successes

It is a terrible idea to run after you've had your gall bladder removed.

Ask me how I know!

The kiddo had a really bad fall and I rushed over to scoop her up and make sure nothing was broken.

It was just a quarter of a block. I ran real slow because my body wasn't even close to 100%. I could literally feel the energy draining from me as I pushed to get to the kiddo and see if we had just won ourselves an ER visit.

As a result, I feel like my internal organs have been rearranged. I was very sore for several days after that, but I don't think I popped any stitches or did any lasting damage.

Naturally, the kiddo is fine.

But still falling, tripping and sliding and very lucky not to have any serious injures; one of the falls was in the tub with a very big thud that stopped my heart. I've actually put her in a physical activity time out so all her various scrapes and bruises can heal. She's scraped both legs, both arms and her chin. Let's give all that some time to heal before we go asphalt diving again, okay?

Also....

Do not stand in the tub.

Do not stand in the tub.

Do not stand in the tub.

Especially if you're refusing to put weight on one leg because you don't want the scrapes to get wet. Just ask us and we'll help you! We're parents! That's what we're here for!

She's in a science summer camp next week. Maybe they can keep her in one piece!  As far as I know, there are no bikes, scooters or tubs there.

                                                                    ***
I started cholestryamine (how the eff do you spell that?) and it has stopped the bile dumping. Maybe, with time, my body will adjust and I can stop taking it.

It's useful but also a pita, so I would prefer to do without. Or switch to one of the meds that is a pill.

                                                                     ***
I'm supposed to be writing right now. I promised myself I would do it. Today. Tonight. Now.

And...nada. Instead I'm over here, talking to nobody.

I had my second most productive day since the surgery, though. Wrapped up some promotion. Worked out a few small ad campaigns. Made graphics in Photoshop. Thought about where I'm going in my career.

Oh, that last one was a mistake.

When I think about that, I freak a little. On the one hand, I outranked Nora Roberts earlier this year. And we're not even the same genre! Readers talk about me in the same breath as major authors in my genre.

On the other, it's weird how easy it is to outrank Nora Roberts. Maybe I caught her during a lull between new books or something. I'm still small potatoes compared to lots and lots of other authors. I'm always feeling half baked as a writer, like who the hell am I to be somebody? And then there's all the responsibility that comes with being known.

You have fans. Sometimes your fans do things and then other people think you told the fans to do that when you didn't. And you have the writers, some of whom are jealous or just plain weird. Just today I spotted an author I know who appropriated my heroine's first name and then used my hero's first name as their heroine's last name.

So, for example, my Daria Smith and Clark Winters became, Daria Clark. In the same subgenre. Any other genre, I would have taken it as coincidence, but they're right there with me, competing with a mash-up of my characters' names.

It's not illegal and probably almost no one else notices, but it's tacky as hell and is a great way to get me to pass on selecting an author for various marketing projects. Yeah, that opportunity I had to introduce you to a bunch of new readers? Sorry, pass. I don't trust you now.

Yeah, so I can't think about that stuff. It leads nowhere good: Insecurity. Paranoia. Fear of success. Got to shut the door on that shit before it gains the upper hand. Don't think about writing and publishing, just do it.


Anyway, if all goes well this year, I'll have achieved some serious numbers when it comes to mailing list subscribers, FB pages likes, Goodreads friends, Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Success in this business is in your platform numbers. The longer your reader reach, the better you will sell.

It still boggles my mind that I have made anything of this author business. I wonder if it ever becomes old hat?

On a related note, we (my business partner and I) just finished our first month in the little publishing related venture I mentioned a while back. We already have cash flow and are outperforming the two competitors we've chosen to measure ourselves against. Apparently all those post-op flubs didn't hurt us.








Thursday, June 5, 2014

Way too Slow

I spent all last night awake and feeling like I was having a heart attack. Narcotics and I are not good together. I had the same problem with Vicodin. While I previously had a few twinges here and there with the Percocet, last night was bad.

No more Percocet for me.

Unfortunately, I still have pain.

Recovery has been way slower than I expected.

I did walk 2 miles yesterday. Accidentally. I thought each pass was 1/2 a mile but when we measured, it was a mile. So I walked 2miles. It was fine, except I think it made my stomach sore.

Today I am house bound as my body decided to start dumping bile. Again.

I called the GI to see if they'll help me with that. Just to be sure there was no room for misunderstanding, I described it as 'peeing yellow fluid out of my butt' to the secretary. I'm sure she was thrilled to hear that, but I don't want anyone thinking I don't know wtf I'm talking about.

I hope it's a problem limited to recovery, but until I reach that magical day where I'm healed, I'd like to stop peeing out of my butt thank you very much.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Notes from a Gallbladder Removal

You know, one if the things 'they' don't tell you but 'they' should is...

How the fark do you wear a seat belt over all the incisions from gall bladder removal?

Or is the idea that by the time you're off the pain killers they'll be healed enough not to bother you when you drive?

I've been sitting in the back seat. The idea of a seat belt makes me cringe.

                                             ***

Hubby: Don't be a hero. Take the Percocet.

Me: I'm not trying to be a hero, I'm trying to poop.

Advil works really well until I hit the daily limit for what you can take, then I have to switch to Percocet because the pain is still significant. I thought it would be better by now, but no, not happening.

                                              ***

Speaking of Percocet, it works well this time. The last (and only) time I had it (also post-op), I just had weird dreams. This time I do get some pain relief. It destroys my appetite though. I went all adrenal yesterday and started to panic about my cortisol level until I realized that dizziness, weakness and zero appetite can be attributed to Percocet.

It takes about 12 hours from my last dose to wear off and the malaise until that point is rather debilitating. Then, when the fog lifts, I'm ravenous, but afraid to eat too much.

You should try it. It's FUN! My husband even helpfully eats food I don't dare touch (wings, nachos, ice cream) in front of me. I kind of hate wings, and nachos are iffy for me at best, but I'm so damn hungry once the Percoset wears off, I feel like an angry bear about to snap.

                                               ***

My right kidney still hurts as does my flank. I'm peeing okay and I don't have a fever so...I wonder if I got plunked down harder on one side when they transferred me from table to table while I was out. Or does the gallbladder bang against internal organs on its way out? I can't figure it out.

I know for the ERCP they seemed to have dropped me. I had a sense of blunt force soreness in my upper back, as if someone had just let me drop back onto the bed. That left me sore along my spine and across my shoulder blades. I also had a big bloody gash next to my shoulder blade that should not have happened.

The time before that, I ended up with a bloody fat lip after anesthesia.

Who knows where your body goes when you're not there?

It's not like they're going to tell you.

                                                 ***

Work-wise, things are not going well. My assistant and business partner managed to muck up some things while I was down for the count. Other tasks I assigned are equally mucked up. The latest project launched the day after surgery and it's a multi-author gig which also has not gone well.

I finally started taking the initiative to salvage my latest project last night. It's not on me to do that, but no one else was stepping up and I have no problem being bossy, especially when it's looking like I'll lose money. I booked some marketing, proposed some changes to the group plan, brought up the idea of a cover re-do and other things that may or may not save the sinking ship.

And I don't feel like writing anything. I'm hoping these blog posts will get the juices flowing again.

I've been having some neat plot bunny type dreams though, I assume from the Percocet. Maybe something will come out of that.