Monday, October 31, 2011

Boo. Oh, and NaNoWriMo is about to start.

I almost forgot that tomorrow begins the November sensation, National Novel Writing Month.  Unfortunately, this just isn't on my agenda this year.  Actually, I've never participated in NaNoWriMo and I suppose that's because I've completed a few novels and don't really see the need to push myself that way.

Even as much as I haven't participated, I can still see the importance of it.  Here's something I wrote last year about how National Novel Writing Month can benefit writers.

What NaNoWriMo Teaches Us

If you have never finished a novel, if you have always said that you wanted to write a novel but never have, then this November is for you.

For me, I'll be taking a novel I've already written, Future Past, and reworking it into something that Hadley Rille wants to publish.  I'm actually starting that rewrite today and I'm super excited. :)

Happy Halloween and happy upcoming NaNo, everyone!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Update: Post Surgery and Getting Back to Writing

I'm in a little better mindset since I wrote last Friday. I had my two week post op check-up and the surgeon said I was doing fine. I told him I still had some of the same pain and that part of my left foot was numb. According to him, that is normal. He said that I'd had a very bad rupture (and had even had a piece of my disc broken off in there) and that he'd had to move that root nerve around to get it all fixed. It was understandable that my foot was numb and I'm lucky that it was the only thing that was numb. I would eventually get the feeling back. I asked him about exercise and he said the only thing he wanted me to do was walk. He said I had a pretty big gap back there and he wanted me to continue to take it easy.  I guess I'm just paranoid that after having been in pain for so long that it might never go completely away.

I do feel like I'm starting to get better now. I still have my moments where I have to lie down but I can finally resume working. I can't sit in my computer chair for too long but at least I can do something, whether it's an article or scheduling client posts or setting up a new client blog (which is something I have to do later this week).

I have been able to sit up in the couch (with pillows situated just right) for longer than I can sit in the computer chair. I have a netbook that I use only for my creative writing so I've been catching up on some fiction this way. I finally have the rough draft of the first Barrier story ready for my test readers. Mike Underwood, the editor at Fiction Lake (another online management client of mine), hasn't had much luck finding usable stories so he's asked to take a preliminary look at Barrier. I'm a little nervous about him looking at the rough draft but he can also help me craft it into something worth selling. I'm looking forward to seeing if he'll want to use it for Fiction Lake.

And now comes the task I've been almost dreading. I have to finish reworking Future Past into something that Hadley Rille wants to publish. I'm so nervous about this that just thinking about it makes my stomach do little flops. After researching the publisher, there's no doubt that if they wanted my novel, I'd be more than happy to enter into a contract with them. It's time to roll up my sleeves and do some real work.

And on that note, let's get to it.

Peace, love, and recovery,


Friday, October 21, 2011

Post Back Surgery

It's been awhile since I've posted here or even on Facebook or Twitter. The only thing I've done online is keep my long term clients updated to when I might be able to return to work.

It's been less than two weeks since my back surgery and I must say, I wasn't at all prepared for the reality of it. I read the material, I did my own research as well, but none of it prepared me for the physical and emotional pain. A lot of people made it seem like it wasn't a big deal. This was a same-day procedure and the effects would be immediate. My brother-in-law had the same surgery, according to my sister, and he was up and about in 3 days. So does that mean I'm some sort of wimp? Or does it mean that my surgery wasn't successful? Because at this point, I'm still feeling some of the same sort of horrible pain from my spine to my hip. I'm also having some numbness in my left foot. I have trouble getting up and down; getting in and out of my bed or even sleeping in my bed is out of the question. I have to sleep belly down on the couch with pillows propping up my midsection to ease the discomfort and pain.

And then the best part of all, my husband has had to take off work to care for our children (and me half the time). I can't give them a bath, I can't tuck them into bed. And he's been doing the best he can with the house but it looks awful and there's not much I can do about it. I can't work because I can't sit in my computer chair for more than 5 minutes without hurting. I can't bend or stretch or twist. I'm just... well... here. Taking up space.

I'm emotionally exhausted and I'm tired of doing nothing. I walk around but that's about all I can do. I think what is driving me crazy the most is that I have no idea if this surgery worked or not. I was told that I'd be pain free but right now, I just can't see an end to the pain. I can completely understand now how people with constant, never ending pain contemplate suicide. I'm not there myself; just saying that I understand that mindset now.

And writing... oh my lord. This is probably the longest stretch of non-writing that I've had in over 2 years. I'm writing this post laying belly down on the couch and my arms are now aching so bad that I'm going to have to stop. So I'll sign off with apologies for my whining.

Peace, love, and prayers,


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Never thought I'd compare writing to weed eating.

I want to reveal a secret. I haven't wanted to write much lately.

I'm close to the end of the rough draft of Barrier. Although the story hasn't lost its appeal to me, I still sometimes find it a struggle to maintain my writing schedule; to utilize at least an hour after the kids are in bed to tap away at the story.

I've had quite a bit going on lately. I'm changing careers soon as I slowly phase out journalism for a degree in education. (None of which, by the way, will ever keep me away from writing fiction.) I've had back problems which I'm going in for surgery next week. I had to take my 5 year-old to the emergency room late Tuesday night and he was diagnosed with what I refer to as "walking" pneumonia. This means that they found a bit of pneumonia in one lung but it wasn't bad enough to admit him. Instead, I'm treating him at home with antibiotics and cartoons. (I've also discovered that no matter how sick one or both of my children are, they will still find a reason to pick on and/or yell at each other.) My 3 year-old has been battling a pesky cough as well so when I take my older son to follow-up with his pediatrician today, the doc will take a look at him, too.

In any case, I've been very tired lately and most nights, I've really had to force myself to write. What I find usually happens, though, is I'll reluctantly start writing and I can usually get going pretty good after a few minutes. I'll find that sweet spot, the kind of writing zone where you're really deep into your own head, watching the story play out in your mind as if you were really there.

I wanted to mention this for one reason only. I know a lot of writers struggle to find the energy to get those words down. But sometimes it's like a weed eater engine. Pulling the string to get the engine started is the hard part but once it gets started, the engine runs pretty good on its own. All you have to do is just find the will to pull that string. The rest will come out pretty easily.

Hope everyone is having a blessed week.

Peace, love, and weed eating,


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Opting for surgery.

Other than a slight discussion about the difference between a ruptured disc and a herniated disc, which is actually the same thing, the course has been laid out.  I'll be heading into surgery next Wednesday so the surgeon can cut out the portion of the disc that is pressing against the root nerve.  He assures me that it sounds worse than it actually is.  It's not like I'm having a fusion or anything terribly invasive. I will, though,  have to have some recovery time and will have to avoid sudden movements and avoid lifting but once I've recovered, I should pretty much be able to get back to my normal life.

Surgery wasn't my only choice.  I was given some options.  I could do physical therapy or do "blocks", but ultimately, there was more of a chance that I would just be wasting my time. The herniation wasn't going to magically move.  I simply just want the most definitive course of action and this seems to be it. So I'm bypassing all those things that may or may not work or help and going straight for the option that will free that root nerve.

In any case, I'm happy to have a husband that is taking off work to care for me and the kids and maybe (BIG maybe) be able to get him to pick up a vacuum cleaner and actually use it while I'm recovering. 

As an aside, one of the nurses said, "No wonder it's gotten worse!" when I told her about my long struggle trying to get a doctor to listen to me when I said it was something more serious than muscle strain.  Yeah, I'm not going to get over that anytime soon.

Please keep me in your prayers and thoughts as I go under next week.  Thank you.

Peace, love, and pain relief,


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pain in my Backside Revealed!

I finally have a diagnosis! Not that I'm excited about the actual diagnosis, I'm just finally relieved to have an answer to something that has been plaguing me for a long time.

The MRI showed mild fluid loss and a slight tear in the disc between L4 and L5 - that's in the lower part of my spinal column. But that one, while it causes some pain, isn't the worst of it. It's the ruptured disc between L5 and S1 near the tail end of my spine that is the main pain in my arse (yes, literally). The MRI shows that it is the rupture that is pressing against what they call a root nerve on my spinal column. It's why I can't bend or stoop without being in excruciating pain.

(This isn't MY MRI but an image I found that illustrates what a herniated disc between L5 and S1 looks like.

Usually disc problems come as a natural result of aging but I'm still in my early 30's so that doesn't much apply to me. There must have been an injury some time, somehow, but I can't really pinpoint what could have caused it. I just remember having to crawl across the floor of my house when I was pregnant with my youngest (about 3 or so years ago) because the pain was so horrible I couldn't walk. I remembered thinking that I might not make it through that pregnancy because I was in so much pain.

What upsets me most about it now is that I've seen 3 doctors (including my current doctor), a chiropractor, and a nurse practitioner over the past three years and not a single one of them wanted to hear that I didn't think it was a muscle strain like they said. None of them thought I knew my own body enough to know the difference between a simple muscle strain and something more serious.

Don't get me wrong. I get it. I get that when you see people over and over, people who are carrying extra weight and they say, "My back hurts," most of the time it really is a simple muscle strain. And then doctors have to contend with those who come in with complaints of back pain who are only in there for narcotic pain medication. (Which, I want to add, I haven't taken anything like that for my pain, even though my doc has since offered it. I've been very tempted, though, especially on these painful sleepless nights, but have so far been able to resist.) But as much as I understand those things, I wonder at what point I should be pissed.

They will probably try to tell me that nothing could have prevented this from getting as bad as it has but because no one ever wants to admit liability (even though I have no intention of suing anyone over this), there will never be a time when I believe that. I've been doing a lot of reading and research since my back pain diagnosis and what I discovered was that a mild herniated disc can actually heal itself over time. But there's certain things that I shouldn't have been doing. For instance, the exercises that I've pushed myself through despite the pain because it was supposed to help me strengthen those muscles that I supposedly had strained. For instance, all the jogging and running I've done, again despite the pain, because it was supposed to be good for me. Exercising by itself isn't bad. In fact, I can and should continue my walking regimen and the elliptical in moderate doses isn't bad either. But I have to wonder how much of this pain and injury I could have avoided if I'd been properly diagnosed when I first went in with back pain complaints or how much I could have avoided if they'd actually HEARD me when I said I didn't think it was muscle strain.

I can actually be pissed all I want but none of it will do me any good now. I have to figure out what the best course of action will be. My doc has already referred me to a neurosurgeon and I will drive 2 to 3 hours Monday to go see him.

Opinions are like...

Yeah, and everyone has one, even when it comes to something like back pain. I talk to one person who knows someone who knows someone who has had multiple surgeries on their back and they are still dealing with pain, albeit a different kind of pain from what they originally went into surgery for. I talk to another person whose daughter-in-law's stepmom's aunt had surgery and has been just fine ever since. And others, when you say that you have a herniated disc, they look at you funny as if you're making a huge deal out of having just pricked your finger with a thumbtack. "Oh, well, you really DON'T want surgery for that," as if my pain is so miniscule that I can just go on pretending like nothing is wrong. And yet other times I feel like I did when talking to the doctors, like no one believed that I was in actual debilitating pain.

I'm trying to not let any of those things deter me from my own research and from any preconceived notions before I talk to the expert. Ultimately, this is a decision that I will have to make myself.  And I will make it as an informed and educated individual and not based on hearsay.

I will keep y'all updated.

Peace, love, and wellness,