Everything Update 8/12/2016

I’m back from vacation and recovering. It’s weird to think about the need to recover from time off but you know what I mean. Vacation can be a great time but can exhaust you. For me this was doubly true.

We flew from Texas to New Jersey, which started the tiring process and was no fun for my back. I was excited to go visit my in-laws but I was terrified. Before we boarded the plane I realized I’d forgotten most of my prescription medication. The muscle relaxer I could have dealt with but the nerve med was another story. Not only is it a medication you should never stop taking all at once, it also meant the toes in my left foot were going to be on fire in a few days. I had enough to last for three days.

If I’d noticed earlier I could have asked someone to bring them too me but by the time I figured it out it was too late. The pharmacy in NJ was willing to give me a three-day supply but I would have had to skip a dose a day and lower the dose of the remaining two times each day I take it.

Through lots of phone calls, tons of hassle and the efforts of the most amazing woman on the planet (my mom), it all worked out.

Vacation: Now the fun part of my time away. Two days after we got to my in-laws’ house we drove to Philadelphia to visit my husband’s brother and have some adventures. We went to the Philly zoo, the art museum and the aquarium (over two days). The last time I visited a zoo was when I was thirteen and I’d never been to an art museum or aquarium. Each was fun and interesting, plus I was able to take a lot of photos. There was so much walking though!

On the second day I started noticing my ankle was feeling odd. Not quite painful but close. We drove back to New Jersey that evening and by the time we got there I was quite uncomfortable. The next morning my ankle flat-out hurt and the pain shot up into my leg. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where the pain originated. My mother in law asked if it was my shin but I couldn’t give a good answer. I could feel it from the middle of my lower leg to down into my foot by mid afternoon and it hurt to walk.

We figured I twisted my ankle or something until I realized I could feel a little discomfort in my other leg. I still don’t know what it was but my mother in law had some herbal pain relieving massage oil that helped a lot. She originally told me to try arnica but that is a salicylate (which I can’t go near) so I had to settle for the next choice.

For two days we did very little and when it was necessary to get out I wrapped my ankle. By the weekend I was fine. It still hurt but I could walk without making it worse. I was even able to roam around the abandoned Boy Scout’s camp I wanted to see and take pictures. It was creepy and a little scary but I got some interesting shots. I also managed to avoid being attacked by all the poison ivy we had to stomp on to get to the cabins. My husband held tree branches out of the way so I could watch my feet haha.

Our flight home was on Tuesday. There was a ton of walking to get to our gate and then a ton more getting between terminals for the second flight but my ankle/leg held up. My back hurt from sitting in airline seats but I’ve recovered from that.

It was a great trip but I was so glad to sleep in my own bed. Plus make a demon hunter in World of Warcraft, since the patch allowing this landed on the same day we did.

Back Home: The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door on Tuesday was the kids had actually cleaned. It wasn’t perfect but effort was made so no yelling or mom looks were necessary.

My dogs each turned into Tigger, with their bottoms made out of springs. I didn’t get as scratched up as I thought I would but my husband did. Since we’ve been back the dogs hardly leave our sides.

Writing: I am still suffering from semi-writer’s block. The closest I’ve gotten was while we waiting for our first flight to take off on Tuesday. We were delayed because of a mechanical issue. There is a plastic ‘boot’ covering the wires connected to the inflatable slide on the main boarding door of the plane. This boot was busted and the wires were exposed. We couldn’t take off until they got parts (from a different terminal). There was a real danger of the slide inflating mid-flight if they didn’t fix it.

We took off an hour late and with little complaining from the passengers once they explained what was happening (after 30 minutes of sitting there wondering). Several people missed their connections but we were lucky. When we booked we had to decide between a 50 minute or two and a half hour layover. We chose the longer, just in case. So when we finally reached the Houston airport there was no rush. We got lunch and sat around for 45 minutes.

So, while we sat on the plane, not knowing anything besides there was a ‘minor’ mechanical problem, my muse tentatively raised her hand. Everything from pixies messing with the door to a dragon egg being found in the cargo hold were presented as reasons for the delay. Several what if questions led to a steaming suitcase, containing the egg (which was now hatching). We couldn’t very well take off when a newly hatching dragon needed heat right? The luggage loading crewman who found it would have known the absolute cold of the hold while in flight would have hurt the creature.

Then my muse went back into hiding and I prepared for take off. This consisted of death gripping the arm rest and my husband’s leg. I hate take off!

Drawing: A new category! I don’t know what made me do it but one day, months ago, I decided to draw something on the dry erase board we keep on our fridge. The contents of this board change all the time. Someone will draw something, then another family member will alter it. Then another, then another and so on. There have been some interesting results.

I’ve done this before, but will little effort. I never really thought I could draw, despite several art classes. The problem was I could duplicate stuff but only with a lot of effort. I didn’t think I had actual artistic skill. Just copying skill, not tracing, just redrawing what I see.

Anyway, most of the things I drew were ridiculous. A fat camel, a dog a child could draw, etc. But that time I decided to draw Kim Possible. If you don’t recognize the name, it’s the title character from a cartoon I watched with the kids. One of the few I could tolerate actually. It took me most of an hour and in the end you could tell it her but I felt like it looked like an older version or something.

Man that bugged me! I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist but it irritated me that I couldn’t get it quite right. It didn’t matter that I was working with dry erase markers, I wanted it perfect! I put it on the fridge and waited to see how the kids would change it. They didn’t. The shock of who drew it must have been too much. So I added Rufus, the naked mole rat (also from the show) to it.

He turned out better. They still didn’t change it. By this point we had two dry erase boards on the fridge. So I grabbed the other one and started searching for other cartoon characters to draw. Nineties cartoons were either drawn very simply or too elaborately. I ended up picking a character drawn in the same style as my first attempt. Danny Phantom. I have to admit, of all the cartoons my kids watched, this was my favorite. If they watched it in the living room today, I’d probably sit down with them and watch a few episodes.

This drawing turned out much better. Well, the first attempt at it sucked, but when I started over it was good. The kids did eventually alter it. He gained then lost a mustache. His eyes became bloodshot and some impressive wrinkles showed up.

Since then I’ve drawn several more cartoons on the boards and two on paper. I look up “how to draw…” and duplicate what I see. The things I do on the boards sometimes get altered and other times don’t. Cosmo from The Fairly Odd Parents got some kind of disease leaving him with red spots.

The deliberately badly drawn dog eventually became a demon dragon thing. Eeyore didn’t get touched. The Last Airbender got some much-needed color and Squidworth was deemed too much of a masterpiece to be altered.

I did a few drawings on paper: Shego from Kim Possible, which was much harder than I thought it would be, Harley Quinn, a hatching dragon, a few flower sketches and a large dragon. No one was more surprised than me when I learned I could do it. Also, it’s much easier to fix flaws when using a pencil than the dry erase markers!

Here are my examples, and pardon the old beat up dry erase board:

Clearly there are flaws in both. You can see my mess-ups on Harley Quinn because I pressed too hard and erasers can only do so much in that case, also I know I can’t draw a circle haha. Still, I was able to make corrections and while it’s not perfect I didn’t get angry. With angry Ang, well, you can’t see how bad it was before but trust me when I say it is hard to get something right with a fat marker, stupid ears! The kids and my husband added the color and no one touched it afterwards.

I’m not a great artist but I’m getting better. In fact, I need to erase the instructions for while I was on vacation I wrote on the board and draw something new now that I’m home. I’m sure my children would rather see a drawing than what they have to clean.

Photography: I took about 1200 pictures on vacation. There is a shot of almost every animal we saw at the zoo, multiples of the super cute ones. I probably took fifty photos of sharks at the aquarium but maybe 10 turned out okay. I took macro shots at my in-laws’ house and a bunch at the abandoned camp.

I didn’t take as many pictures as I thought I would but at this point I’m happy with what I got. Last year in New Jersey I was only able to take about 20, including the selfie I took in the hospital before they took my appendix from me.

I’ll start going through them all tomorrow and probably post a few after. There is one from the camp I really love that I’d like to share.

Physical: I’m doing okay. As previously mentioned, my back was hurting from walking a lot and long plane rides but I feel back to my normal right now.

I went to physical therapy yesterday and it was hard but not unbearable. They told me I’ll be doing it through all of August and after that I have ten more visits covered by insurance if I need them. I’m impatient to be better but PT is a necessarily slow process.

I went to the doctor on Wednesday to check my thyroid levels as well. My prescription didn’t change and for the first time, possibly ever, I don’t have a giant bruise where they took blood!

More Writing: I keep thinking about the dragon hatching in the suitcase. I may have to write that story, hopefully today. My plan is to try to write some flash fiction over the next couple of days anyway. If I’m lucky this will break my block. I think half the problem was I was in planning/packing mode, then vacation mode.

It’s time to get back to work and I’m going try everything I can to coax my muse back out. I’d rather work on my trilogy but I’ll whatever writing I can get! I’ll post an update as soon as I have one.

Sidenote: I forgot I did one more drawing for the fridge before I went out of town. It started out as Stewie Griffin. This is what it looks like today:


When I got home it said “butt rock, oc, do not steal” (no clue so don’t ask what or why) and the teeth were square. I changed it to say “bite,” made the teeth pointy and added the bottom tooth. I was told it went through many alterations before reaching this point.

It’s silly but it’s fun with my offspring and I love our weirdness. I say bond with your loved ones any way you can.

Other sidenote: Being this post is so long, I clearly have a lot of words in me. Now if only I can convince my muse to put them into some fiction!

The Great Vacation Disaster of 2015

Well I survived my hellish vacation. When we pulled into the driveway at home yesterday afternoon I was so happy I almost cried. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. It great to spend time with my husband’s family and the beach wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be (pale skin and beach don’t mix well).

The drive halfway across the country to get there wasn’t fun since I’m still dealing with back problems but it could have been worse. The beach house we stayed in with Justin’s family was so awful it became comical after a while but it had comfortable beds so that was fine.

I had four days of hot sand, cold water and relaxation before it all went downhill. It started with a trip to the boardwalk. I had specific goals since walking for long periods of time was painful. I wanted to go to the large surf shop to buy my youngest daughter a hoodie to replace the one she got there last year (and wore every day – including in the summer), a place that has awesome caramel corn, a Christmas ornament store (always looking for dragons) and Shriver’s to get fudge and taffy. We managed to get to all the above and I found a little shop with dragon goodies. I bought a cute little box that looked like two books stacked and a dragon ripping itself out of the one on top.

A few minutes before finishing up my shopping the pain started. Every part of my abdomen and my back felt like it had been smashed together. Not something one feels everyday but I assumed it was really my back with pain radiating out because of all the walking. We parked a few blocks away and by the time I got to the car I was hurting more than I ever had and I was becoming aware that I was feeling two different kinds of pain. One was my back, which was bad, but the other felt like it was my stomach. I remember thinking maybe I had food poisoning from dinner or something. We made it home and went to bed soon after.

After sleeping for about an hour I woke up thinking I was going to be sick but I didn’t actually throw up. This started a once an hour, sometimes more, pattern for the night. I never really went back to sleep because the pain. In the morning my ‘stomach’ hurt so much I could hardly stand it but I was convinced I’d eaten something bad. I told my husband to walk down to the beach and enjoy spending time with his parents. He didn’t want to go but I finally convinced him. I figured once I actually threw up everything would be fine. HA!

I stayed in bed but couldn’t get comfortable. I was unable to play on my phone or computer. I couldn’t sleep. Hell I couldn’t even read. Finally I got nervous and went to webmd. It wasn’t helpful because my symptoms pointed to too many problems, however, after answering three questions in a row that made a red alert message telling me to go to the ER I got really scared. I called a nurseline from back home and told the woman who answered my symptoms. She asked me several questions and then in the calmest voice I’ve ever heard told me that everything she seeing on her computer is saying I should go to the hospital. She added: “You should go now.” I sent a text to my husband and started looking for clothes because I didn’t want to go in with pajamas on. When I realized how stupid it was to even think about that I noticed my husband hadn’t answered so I called him. I don’t remember what I said but I heard from my mother-in-law that Justin dropped everything and ran. He was definitely out of breath when he got to me.

We had a hard time finding a real hospital but managed to get to one within a half an hour or so. A doctor came in and poked my belly, which caused a dramatic reaction. Until that point I hadn’t considered appendix really, or at least I had refused to believe it. I had noticed that I didn’t feel any stomach pain by that point; I never really had, only rebound pain. I was in the emergency room for eight hours. They took lots of blood, gave me an IV (ouch) and did a CAT scan. A different doctor came in afterwards to tell me I had to have surgery and he was calling the surgeon immediately. Around 10:00 pm they took me into the operating room and I woke up maybe an hour later.

I only had to stay overnight. I was in a shared room, which was a totally new experience that I don’t want to repeat. After leaving the hospital we went back to the beach house for one night then drove three hours to my in-laws’ house. That part wasn’t fun but at least most of my recovery time was spent in more comfortable surroundings.

That week was awful. I was on two very strong antibiotics that made me nauseated constantly. Also Percocet made me feel horrid so I only took two half doses before stopping it entirely and relying on naproxen. Eating had the same effect so it was a vicious cycle. I barely ate at all and when I did I would spend thirty minutes trying not to get sick. I could only sit up for twenty minutes at a time and that didn’t happen often. Luckily I had to go upstairs to sleep and shower so I was forced to move around, which is good for recovery. If not for that I would have gladly spent every second on the couch.

We finally left for home on Wednesday. I was glad to spend the time with my in-laws but I was thrilled to go home. Having surgery so far from home and being forced to recover there was so hard. It doesn’t matter how much you love your family, when you’re hurt you want to be home and have your own stuff and your own bed.

The drive wasn’t too bad. I finished the antibiotics by the second day so nausea wasn’t too much of an issue. It was extremely difficult to get comfortable because I was contending with three incisions and the ever-present back pain but I was able to eat more or less normally. The first day I ate three-quarters of a six-inch sub and felt like I had won a marathon!

I slept better than I had for two weeks and I managed to keep my dogs from hurting me in their excitement to see us. The kids were happy too but they didn’t really know what to do so each one hugged me very gingerly and left me alone. We ordered pizza so we didn’t have to cook and I overdid it so I also had pizza for dinner last night (yay to no cooking).

I feel better now although I’m not completely recovered yet. I can’t press anything against my abdomen at all and have to be careful when lying down or getting up from the bed.

Hopefully I can get back to writing soon. I did have a few ideas on the way home. I got no work done during vacation so anything I write for now will be welcome. I managed to take a few photos, if they turned out decent I’ll post some soon.

Sidenote: Hearing my husband laugh out loud (which is rare) when I spotted some brown cows during the drive and yelled “HOW NOW?” was the best thing that happened on the whole trip! It’s a good thing it didn’t startle him too much. 😉


It’s almost vacation time! I’ll be out of town for a couple of weeks. I’m taking all my writing paraphernalia so it’s possible I’ll drop a few posts but I’m also going to the beach so it’s equally possible I’ll forget my laptop exists. Six of the days will be spent driving. I plan to do a lot of writing with a pen during that time.

Only the first week is at the shore. We’ll spend four days at my in-laws’ house as well. I’ve mentioned they live in the forest, I’m super excited about spending some time there! Sitting on a beach is nice and all but I’m more of a trees and mountain vacation kind of person. None of those landscapes are available where I live so all are great experiences, but the second week offers so much more for me.

I’ll have plenty of photo opportunities I won’t have again for at least a year (beach and forest). My in-laws have this great deck I can lounge on and stare up at the trees. This is a cool thing since most of the trees in west Texas were planted, so they are young. I hear there is a bear in the area so maybe looking up isn’t the thing to do but still, I can’t wait. My husband tells me there is an abandoned summer camp in the area. If I can gain access to it I’ll get some great pictures there and maybe some writing inspiration.

I keep changing my mind about what writing project I’m going to work on. Part of me thinks I should stick to one novel, though which one to choose is the problem. The rest of me wants to work on only flash fiction, or two novels, or nothing. It’s a vacation and it wouldn’t be so terrible if I didn’t write. However, with all these problems with my back, I won’t be able to do a lot of the things I would have otherwise. I might as well spend my forced downtime doing something constructive. I get bored pretty easily and if I just lie around I’ll end up sleeping a lot, which I do NOT want to happen.

I bought a couple of new e-books and I’m bringing a few paper books as well for days when I’m feeling lazy, mostly for the beach. I have an absurd amount of unread magazines as well. I feel like I’ve planned as much as I possibly can. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to be more active than I think. Something as simple as walking down the boardwalk and buying touristy junk will probably be difficult though. I’ll do it anyway. There is this large surf shop we always go to with awesome nerdy posters. I got the exploding Tardis last year and I’d like to see what’s new this time, plus pick up the ones I was undecided on before. I also want to search a Christmas ornament store for a lightweight dragon. We may have to go twice!

Also, the best caramel popcorn on the planet is found on this boardwalk so I’m going no matter what! My husband wants fudge. Sadly I’m not as into chocolate as I once was, but I still get to keep my woman card! Maybe I’ll be in the mood for it by the time we get there.

Mostly I’m looking forward to seeing my husband’s family. I hit the in-law jackpot, his entire family is great. I truly wish we could see them more often. It will be a great vacation! That’s assuming my kids, all grown or teens don’t mess up the house while I’m gone.

I might write one more update post before we leave. I go to the neurosurgeon tomorrow for my first visit. Hopefully he will set a plan and I’ll know better what to expect over the next few months. More on that another time.