No Más, No Más

micky shadow

That’s it. I have officially reached my limit. I can’t take anymore so I declare myself done.

Finis.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this little blog, late February or was it early March? Back when my main concern was the needless excruciating pain I’d experienced after total knee replacement; aka: The good ol’ days. 

Since then, this world of ours has gone to hell in a hand basket due to a lot of things but especially, one in particular that has been out of our control, to wit: a new coronavirus, one humanity has no immunity from, nor cure for; one which has caused 155,145 deaths worldwide as of yesterday morning. . .

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

See the source image

The best way for people to stop the spread of this virus is to stay away from each other. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you’re running out of food or gas and need to venture out, or if you happen to live in close proximity to a lot of other human beings. . .

Major Slum Areas in Top Ten Cities of India

That’s a slum in Mumbai, but there are places in the United States trapped in that same sinking boat. NYC comes to mind, of course. We’ve seen what happens when a bunch of people live in a relatively small area: Covid-19 has a field day, to wit:

https://www.nbcnews.com/4f307420-66a7-4701-b8f5-ddbf1cfd4226

But there are things people can do to stop the spread, even in places like NYC, right? Stay home. Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when you must venture out. Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds. Don’t spit on the ground, don’t stand within 6 feet of anybody else, get tested if you have symptoms . . . I could go on but I won’t, for a few reasons.

First of all, those precautions are posted online everywhere. Second, for some, those precautions are moot. They don’t have a home. They don’t have access to running water or soap, they don’t have access to tests, they don’t have access to treatment, they live on top of each other in slums and inner cities…

Thirdly, what’s the point when there are so many people right now in this country who think those precautions are pointless, or a threat to their freedoms or worse: that their president ‘s call for the “liberation” of states like mine–Michigan, U.S.A.–from the “tyranny” of a governor’s ‘stay-at-home’ mandate is, at best, license to spew one’s own hateful rhetoric…

…and, at worst, a call to arms, echoes of Charlottesville…

Governor of Washington Jay Inslee tweeted this in response:
The president’s statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19. His unhinged rantings and calls for people to “liberate” states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before.

Yes, we have. But this time it’s happening during a fucking PANDEMIC for chrissake and meanwhile, the governor of Florida just opened the fucking beaches again…

Florida's beaches flooded with people the minute they reopen after ...

…and meanwhile, the head of the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, just gutted the rule limiting pollution from coal and oil-fired coal plants. . .

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/04/epa-keeps-mercury-limits-in-place-but-undercuts-their-foundation/

. . .and meanwhile, Tyson foods is shutting down plants and Putin’s making a move on Trump and the GOP wants fewer virus restrictions and tornadoes are forecast in the south and the west is facing a mega-drought and the virus is racist and conspiracy theories are running off the rails and yeah. I mean, No.

No más.

Can’t do it, folks. Not anymore.

Opiod Tolerant? Welcome to the Torture Chamber. . .

Opioid-dependent patients may fear the risks of under-treatment due to prejudices, . . /. . Patients should be reassured that . . . effective pain control is an achievable goal. 

. 2017; 13: 1163–1173.
Published online 2017 Sep 5. doi: 10.2147/TCRM.S141332

Today is Day. . .let me think. . .Day 13. Thirteen days since I had total knee replacement, right knee. It was messed up pretty bad. My doctor thought, going in, that I might be a candidate for a partial knee replacement. Nope, not even.

The surgery went pretty well by all accounts and I am now officially “on the mend.” No doubt this is going to be a slow and painful process, but if I want to walk without a limp, and drive, and sit cross-legged on the floor with my kitty (which I hope to do again some day), I have to keep working that knee which, right now, is swollen and TIGHT, and a challenge to bend beyond what I guess is 100/110 degrees.

But this pain, which is caused by swollen and damaged tissue coupled with aggressive scar tissue formation, is nothing —NOTHING — compared to the absolute torture I endured in the days right after surgery because I am “opiod tolerant.”

 Acute pain in patients with opioid tolerance makes pain management a challenge, and perhaps one of the greatest risks associated with pain management in this population is the risk of undertreatment due to stigma and bias. Further, data on pain management in this patient population are limited.

https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/acute-pain-management-in-patients-with-opioid-tolerance

My husband and I both warned the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and hospital staff beforehand that, because of previous ‘failed’ lumbar surgeries as well as a severe Lisfranc injury of my left foot, I have been taking Tylenol 3 for years now, under the care of a pain specialist. While I take between 2 and 4 pills every day, my usual dose is 3: one when I wake up, one in the middle of the day, and one before I go to sleep. Sometimes I have to take an extra one during the day. Once in a great while I manage to get by with two pills. I never ever take more than four in a day.

The upside of taking Tylenol 3 daily is that the pain I experience is tolerable, for the most part. Even though I still can’t walk too far or stand too long, or lie in one position for too long, or do a myriad of other things I used to do without a second thought, I can make it through the day (usually) without agony, which is a blessing.

But because I’ve taken Tylenol 3 with codeine for so long, I have developed a tolerance to opiods. The biggest challenge has been getting and keeping post surgical pain under control, esp. in those first few days. After surgery of any kind,  pain management for me is a challenge because the usual drugs/dosages don’t work effectively. The pain quickly rises from moderate to severe to excruciating, leaving me writhing in a state of agony, seemingly without end.

This knee replacement surgery was no different. Even though my surgeon injected multiple pain blocks in my knee before closing me up, and even though I had an intervenous line in my elbow for some injectable pain med, and een though I was given something strong by mouth–Norco, I think–and even though I had a pain block thing in my thigh above that knee, I was in agony. And once again, the hospital staff was either scrambling to find something that would work without stopping my breathing, or they insisted I “wait and let the *drug of choice* ‘kick in.’ Let them say that after experiencing total and complete torture for 10 minutes, 20, 30, 40 . . . I can’t tell you how many times I lay there bawling, nor how many times I called my husband in the middle of the night crying and crying because it hurt so fucking bad–

Even now, back at home, pain control is an issue. I have 3 Norcos left right now and I am saving those for just before bed. I have been trying to do my exercises with the help of over-the-counter Motrin and ice packs, neither of which is adequately cutting that deep  pain around my knee, nor the shallow fire-like pain in my lower leg. When the Norco runs out, I will be back to my 2-4x/day Tylenol 3, the Motrin, and ice packs, unless those don’t cut it, in which case I don’t know what I’m going to do, especially when my outpatient physical therapy starts in earnest 3x/week. They say to be sure to take pain medication an hour before because they are going to work the patient hard, and it’s going to hurt, and I don’t mind telling you I’m afraid what I have available to me isn’t going to cut it.

When I say I’m afraid, I mean that literally.

Research shows that pain management for opiod tolerant patients is a challenge on multiple fronts, including bias of medical professionals, and the fact that folks like me need stronger pain meds more often after surgery to get the same effects as opiod naive patients (those who do not take opiods on a regular basis). The research is out there, guidelines are out there, my husband and I put it out there most emphatically and still I suffered mightily post-surgery. My goal, I told everyone, was to reach a 4/10 on the pain scale. Most days I hovered between 6 and 8. Those 9s were almost too much to bear.

When will the medical profession take action based on the research of their own cohort? Because right now, it’s SSDD for people like me, who dread any kind of surgery and who can blame us? It’s fucking torture after and it shouldn’t be. Couple that with the nurse who came into my room after, accusing me of not icing my leg enough, which is why the pain was as bad as it was–was she effing serious? Yes, as serious as the nurse who came into my room after my last surgery, accusing me of overzealousness, or of being a drug addict or I don’t know what when she said: “Do you know that yesterday you pushed the PCA button over 400 times, and today you only pushed it four times?” Hell yes I know, you idiot. YESTERDAY my pain was OUT OF CONTROL. I knew that PCA pump wouldn’t allow me to dose myself more than x times per hour, but as soon as that dose was available I wasn’t fucking going to miss it. And YES I know I only pushed that button four times today because finally, FINALLY, they found a cocktail of drugs/treatment that got my runaway pain under control–

Almost too much to bear and it shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be.

Happy New. . .

 

IIt’s been a while. Too long, and I surely do apologize about that. I could offer my apologies, offer excuses; there is always a reason one doesn’t follow through on stated goals. . .

I shall spare you, my ersatz readers, for that is what you surely must be after all this time and I don’t blame you, not one iota. Instead, I offer you a little bit of wisdom I have learned these many months this little blog has been on “temporary hiatus”: Circumstances change. People change. Priorities change. And when we are faced with these changes, whether slow or sudden, expected or non, we may find ourselves re-evaluating a lot of things, not the least of which is how we are going to act and react, what we are going to do now, what we may need to do in the future. Big decisions or small, what we do and how we handle the curve balls Life throws in our way defines us and our relationships, steers us in one direction or another, and then there are the variables we didn’t consider before and now must: our health, our emotions, our new responsibilities, those things beyond our control that still affect us in some way. . .

I’m rambling.

For the last year or so, I have been doing my best to navigate some strange, disturbing waters. The toll this past year has taken has been dear. Truth be told, I’m tuckered out. And yet I suspect this tumultuous journey will be a long one. I also know I’m not the only one facing challenges; not by a long shot. And so, to anyone out there who happens to stop by this little blog today, tomorrow, next week or month or even year, know that there is somebody out there who commiserates with you and understands, at least a little bit, what you are going through.

In one month, I shall go under the knife in hope that soon I will be able to walk from Point A to Point B without wincing. Oy, it ain’t easy getting older. Still, with age comes a wisdom I didn’t have 20 years ago. Or 10 or even 5. I realize how lucky I am to have people in my life who are good and kind and supportive and forgiving. And maybe, during my recuperation I might finally, FINALLY, finish my long-suffering WIP. I’m still at around 69K words, target of 72K, so I don’t have far to go, although sometimes that last hill is all but insurmountable. But I’ve done it before, 5 or 6 times now. Some of my completed novels are pretty good, at least I think they are, and I have hopes for them yet to see the light of day.

That’s a good hope for all of us, I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Life Well-lived

Our dear friend Linda died yesterday morning.

I couldn’t write yesterday. Two apocalyptic events: Linda’s death and Kavanaugh’s ascension, sent me reeling. But today, grateful for the hours buffering Then from Now, I think I’m ready to compare the two.

Brett Kavanaugh takes his place in our national history by way of ugliness and deception. He is now a member of the United States Supreme Court, vaulting to that coveted position on the heels of those whose politics trumped reason. Questions of ethics and veracity, accusations of sexual assault . . . all were lost in the rising cacophony of rhetoric and lies riding the tide of this country’s burgeoning tribal divide.  Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation epitomize ‘good ol’ boy politics’ at its worst. From this day forward, and for the unforeseeable future, he is a part of this nation’s history. I have no doubt he will use his position to steer this country toward conservative values that celebrate money and power at the expense of decency and freedom.

Linda D., whose ravaged body is being prepared for Tuesday’s final internment, will be remembered by the small group of people fortunate enough to have known her. We loved her dearly. She faced a devastating diagnosis with unwavering faith and quiet grace. Throughout her life, Linda was a good person: caring and thoughtful, loving and giving, honest and forthright, empathetic and brave, sweet-natured and funny. Never comfortable ‘making waves,’ she found her voice the last two years of her life: speaking up for herself and for her friends, taking control of her treatment and–as much as fate would allow–living, and dying, on her own terms. Her friends became her caregivers willingly and lovingly. Linda was the epitome of kindness and decency, a joy to be around, a special human being. To know Linda was an honor and a privilege. Her friendship was a gift; her death, a profound loss. Like Kavanaugh, her character defined her, but there ends the comparison.

In all ways and in no small measure, our little Linda truly made this world a better place.

 

Saturday, January 27, 2018: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly–Scratch That

One day at a time. Alleluia.

It’s been a while since I posted on this little blog. I’ve thought about it many times over the last few months, actually found myself with my fingers poised on the keyboard ready to fly. But my heart wasn’t in it, I think because I was wrestling with possible content: was I going to write about writing–which I haven’t done in months–or was I going to write about this president and what he’s doing to this country? The former topic seemed ridiculous in light of the fact that, you know. The latter seemed too daunting, too depressing.

But today, right now, I’m ready to tackle the good, the bad, and the ugly . . . in reverse order. Eating the lima beans before the cupcake as it were. And so, without further adieu. . .

The Ugly

Yeah, that guy. I could slap a photo of our spineless congress there, too. Or ‘The Republicans.’ Sean Hannity. The Alt Right. Big Oil. Spin it however you want: there are people in this country doing bad things right now, folks; people hell-bent on destroying the very fabric of our democracy, our ethics, our environment, our free press, our rights as citizens of this country, our charity, our humanity. Not a day goes by–seriously, not one day–that we don’t bear witness to real attacks on the values we hold so dear.

At least, on paper.

At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.

But the truth is, we have only ourselves to blame. For whatever reason, this man is our president, and millions of people believe he’s the greatest thing this country has ever seen, and this congress is failing to uphold and defend the very checks and balances they were elected to champion. Which leads me to

The Bad

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Him AGAIN?

But see, this guy right there, this smug fool mugging in front of the camera, represents the worst in us: self-righteousness without empathy, morals, ethics, dignity, or humility. He doesn’t care about me or you, he only cares about himself: how he looks, how he is perceived. His super-inflated ego belies his utter incompetence and apparent self-loathing, which drives his sick need for uncompromising loyalty and mindless accolades. . .

My opinion, of course. YMMV.

Thing is, this man–this sick and sorry bastard–is not the cause of the hate and chaos we see in this world. He’s a product of it. We have brought this on ourselves, folks. And it is up to us to do something about it now and in the days and weeks and months to come, by talking instead of pointing fingers, listening instead of yelling, voting with our hearts as well as our beliefs. I’ve said it before: each of us has a role in how this mess is going to play out. To  remain silent is to be complicit. Are we going to do what is right and what is best for all of us, or are we going to close our minds, dig in our heals and settle for our own destruction? That doomsday clock is ticking. The clock itself is ticking, which brings me to

The Good

This is the toughest part for me to write today. Today, a dear friend of mine called me from her hospital bed and told me doctors think she now has liver cancer. She’s already been in the fight for her life, first getting the devastating diagnosis of malignant melanoma, then finding out it had spread to her lungs, and now, this. My heart aches for her, especially because this person, this amazing woman, is–without question–the kindest and sweetest soul I know on this earth.

This woman drifted out of my life ten years ago. Last year, she drifted back in, three weeks before her father died and she received that first, awful, diagnosis. I can’t help but feel it was fate that brought us together again at that time in her life, and in my own. I’d been struggling with my own personal challenges and found myself floundering in a sea of self-pity and self-doubt. It’s too easy to lose sight of what is really important in this life we each are given: love for others, friendship that transcends time and distance, family . . . in this tumultuous world, it’s too easy to lose sight of the good in people, to lose our faith; too easy to forget that there are people on this earth whose struggles we can’t fathom. It is only by the grace of god or luck or fate that we don’t walk in their shoes bearing the sorrow of their heavy hearts.

I don’t want this new year to be like last year. I want to find the good in people. I want to find hope and hold it close to me and not let it be lost in a mire of anger and fear. I want to celebrate life with all of its joy and heartache, too. I want to cling to the good I see, and do what I can to ease the suffering of those I love so much, I want to be positive and courageous and hopeful. I want to believe in miracles. I want hope because hope is good, you guys.

Hope is exactly what we need.

——————–

ETA: My friend just called me with amazing news: it might be a blood clot near her liver for chrissake and not cancer at all. I can’t believe it–scratch that.

Today, right now, I can.

Time Out

Hi there, peeps.

Assuming, I know.

Since the illustrious 45’s unexpected coup in November of last year, I’ve been lax writing in this little blog. Actually, I’ve been lax since whatever month/year it was that Agent B and I parted company and I feel bad about that, like I’m letting myself and my (dwindling) audience down.

I know I’ve stated in the past that I created this blog primarily to give voice to the process–process, and product–of writing. And yet, time and again, I’ve scrapped a writing-based topic to accommodate billowing angst relative to Trump et al. Every time I write a post about that man, my guilt-bag gets a little heavier. It’s getting harder and harder to drag that thing around.

See, that’s what happens when a writer abandons her goal, especially a goal so publically stated.

One would assume the author of a writing blog would actually be, you know, writing. But my writing muse has been visiting me with alarming irregularity, and my WIP’s wordcount has suffered mightily in her absence, lurching forward in fits and starts when it moves at all. Same goes for queries sent out relative to ALBERT and CHERRY.

I can blame this unpleasant impasse on the unfortunate fact that I don’t have an agent anymore. Or, that my country may or may not be going down the tubes. Or, that my family has dealt with challenges of late and often finds itself floundering in an emotional maelstrom. Then again, aren’t we all?

But the truth is, Inertia has been an enticement I can’t resist, and Guilt–that freeloader–has been more than happy to come along for the ride.

Yesterday’s emails coughed up another rejection for CHERRY. On the scale of one to FUCK YOU, this rejection was up in the OUCH, DAMMIT category. I’d found an indie publisher I thought would be a really good fit, sent the editor my query, synopsis, and the first 10,000 words. She liked what she saw and requested the full and then, yesterday . . . suffice to say that particular love-fest didn’t last. She provided feedback; I shall spare you the gory details. I responded with a short but sweet thank-you because I’m a professional writer and that’s what professional writers do, never mind the fact that I have yet to make a dime from my writing.

See, that’s the point. Unless I keep writing and querying, I will be be stuck in the same boat I’ve been in. Nothing changes when nothing changes. Yesterday, I was disappointed, sure. But then I thought, Write something, goddammit. I pulled up my WIP, got down to business and by seven p.m. yesterday, I’d passed that elusive 60,000-word mark, which is a significant milestone for me. My goal for SOULLESS is 72K-words, which means I have fewer than 12K to go.

I won’t get there by sitting on my ass.

This little blog has served me well, in large part to those of you who’ve read this blog, shared your own stories, offered suggestions and support. Truly, I can’t thank you enough for that. I hope in some small way I’ve returned the favor; hope, too, that down the road, this journey can continue.

For now, I’m taking a little detour. I hope you guys will be there when I get back, but I won’t blame you if you won’t; after all, you have your own lives to live, your own novels to write, your own daily crappola to slog through and try to figure out. You don’t need me to be bending your ears and anyway, I haven’t lately, not to any great extent. Heck, you may not even realize I’ve gone.

Which means I might be back before you know it.

xoxo kk

 

Yes, Virginia, There is a Monster in the White House

 

 

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Scary Monster in the White House.
Papa says, ‘If you see it on CNN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Scary Monster in the White House?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s or especially, the current POTUS’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Truth and knowledge. Alas, VIRGINIA, both have been sorely tested of late.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Monster in the White House. He exists as certainly as hate and fear exist, and you know that they abound and test your faith in humanity. Alas! how wonderful would be the world if there were no Monster in the White House. It would be as lovely, as hopeful and inspiring, as if there were no WARS or WHITE SUPREMACISTS  or TERRORISTS, FOREIGN OR DOMESTIC. There would be childlike faith then–hope, charity and tolerance then–to make tolerable this existence. Instead, we have no enjoyment, no measure of good sense nor common decency. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world has all but been extinguished.

Not believe in that Monster in the White House! You might as well not believe in the evil that marched in Charlottesville to the drums of hate and oppression! You might get your papa to hire men to watch CNN’s broadcast of press conferences held by the Monster, in the White House or at his hate-filled rallies, but even if they did not see the Monster, nor CATCH HIS TWEETS, what would that prove? Far too many Americans see what they want to see, but that is no sign that there is no Scary Monster in the White House. The most real things in the world are those that neither innocent children nor foolish adults, nor Republicans who care more about reelection than they do about the Preservation of Democracy, can see. Did you ever see that pussy-grabbing video? Have you yourself witnessed the Monster making fun of that disabled reporter, or inciting violence at his rallies, or lying to the American public time and time again? Perhaps not, but that’s no proof that those things never happened. They did happen, and they happen still. Nobody can conceive or imagine the damage that man has wrought that there are unseen and unseeable in this country, and in the world.

You may tear apart the Monster’s mind and heart to see what makes the ugly noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith and love and truth can push aside that curtain and view and picture the sickness which lies beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing less real and abiding.

No Scary Monster in the White House! Dear God! he lives, and every day he lives and breathes and vomits his lies and ugly rhetoric, another piece of our collective hope is ripped asunder . A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he and those like him will do their best destroy all is decent and honorable, and break the hearts of children.