Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Story Cure; book review

The Story Cure, by  Dinty W. Moore, is a well written guide for the novel writer.
It will take you through each section of your book with tips and ideas that should help keep you writing fluidly. 
It will guide you through plot and character problems, as well as a host of other concerns,  giving you easy to understand solutions.
Once you have written down the bones of your novel, you can move ahead to the more diligent aspect of revision.
Take your time with this, and just follow along,
Before long your novel will begin the unfold before you.  What could be better than that?!

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

back to life

As you can see, its been quite some time since coming here with any kind of an update on my life.
I hardly know where to begin, as some things that I've experienced are quite hazy to me.
Back in early August, I believe I was at Maimonides hospital, and for all intents and purposes they transferred me to Cobblehill nursing facility, because, it seemed, that I was on the verge of death.
My oncologist, Dr. Burdette, meanwhile, did not intervene in any way, and completely dropped the ball in terms of my healthcare.
At Cobblehill things got even worse.  If I was on the verge of death, they were certain to be the last nail in the coffin.
Overloaded with pain medication and tranquilizers (oxycodone, morphine, zanax) I became a virtual zombie.  I was unable to move or speak, or even think for that matter.  I could see the fear and sorrow on my sister and niece's faces as they sat at my bedside thinking I wasn't long for this world.  They were going to send me to hospice before long.  My closest friends were notified of my impending death.  I remember Amelia and Jeff coming and holding me close.  At one point I was alone with Jeff and he told me he loved me, and I said back to him, "I love you, too, Jeff." which were the first and only words I said or would say for a long time.
Ultimately, my niece, Melissa, couldn't take it anymore, and she wanted me out of Cobblehill.  She had me sent by ambulance to Methodist hospital.  She actually works for Methodist, across the street from the hospital in the administrative offices.  She works with care management nurses.  Her boss and co-workers were very helpful to her (and in turn, me) in getting things set up for me.
At Methodist I was able to get clean from all those narcotics, keeping only the bare minimum. slowly, I started to come around.  Forming a clear thought and speaking a few words was difficult.  It literally took me hours to tell Melissa the words "apple sauce".  I knew I wanted it, but could not think of the words.  Once I got past that, other thoughts and sentences started to emerge; quite often it was about food and drink.  Applesauce, pudding and juice with ice were high on my list.
At Cobblehill I had not eaten for eleven days!  So this was a start.  Then finally I was able to eat a full meal.
I went to Menorah rehab facility for quite some time, learning how to walk again, basically.  I participated in physical and occupational therapies.
I was then transferred to Methodist , fighting severe COPD exacerbation, bouts of pneumonia, and of course the metastatic breast cancer badly affecting my bones and lungs. 
Every afternoon Melissa would come and spend her lunch hour with me, bringing coffee and donuts from Dunkin' Donuts.
I dropped all of my old doctors who were associated with Maimonides, and hooked up with new ones affiliated with Methodist... this included a new PCP, oncologist, pain control md, and a pulmonologist... all of which I will follow up with in the near future.
I was discharged from the hospital just a few days ago.
It is slow going right now.  I have severe neuropathy in my feet, making it very difficult to walk, plus bad shortness of breath on even the slightest exertion.  So, getting around is not at all easy.
Adult Protective Services came in and cleaned out my apartment, which was in bad shape.  I've been staying with Evie since being discharged, but hope to be back in my own place before long.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Cancer Chronicles: Part 2, This is my Sundance

This is my Sundance

This is my sundance, my ritual
my flight

As I juggle my life
in an attempt
to rebuild my identity.

I am fourteen again,
discovering the Ching
and spending a liftetime learning
what those hexagrams mean.

I dance with angels and fairies.

There are magical encounters
with teachers and hawks.
Wolf comes to visit in dreams
over and over again, she will not
be ignored.
And soon,
we run together, play with crows,
walk in Medicine Wheels, and
Celtic labyrinths.
We journey with the drum,
my cottonwood ally,
my song to the Thunder Beings.

Old Taoist influence revisits,
showing me the Barefoot doctor way,
dreaming in a cloud of moxa smoke
and moving energy
balancing qi
with slender needles.

This was my sundance, my ritual, my flight.

In past life readings I am a nun,
again and again, the original nurse --
and so it would be in this liftetime.
My patients knew me by the cologne I wore,
walking into their darkened rooms
on the night shift.

Then death took my father, and
my flight went crashing
deep in the ocean
where I would drown
again and again.

Suicide seemed logical, but
two-doctor commitment orders over-rode 
my attempts to disappear.

No ritual, no dance.

The years would wash clean with tears.
Solitary road trips brought me back to life.

I relearned the dance.
I created sacred ritual.
I began to fly again.

Then one day, a lump stung my armpit, 
brought me to doctors.
A cyst, no doubt, was my conclusion.

Instead, my breasts
were removed.
Chemo exacted a cure.
Radiation was the cherry on top.
No evidence of disease, they said.

This helped me to fly, to dance.

Reconstructing my breasts
brought me a world of pain.

And death once again would rob me.
This time, my mother,
my confidante,
The one person who knew me
Inside and out.

And the cancer spread
to my spine and ribs,
the pain getting deeper,
I could not breathe,
the hospital became  my second home.

Fearful of the Ching's honest appraisal,
I don't throw the coins anymore.

I grow gaunt
Unable to walk a single block
without falling apart.

I'm crashing
I'm burning
I can't remember my song.

Afraid to sleep for fear
I won't wake
I push myself
to the limits of exhaustion.
I tell time by the next dose
of pain killers.

This is my sundance,
my ritual,
my flight in the
face of death.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

book review: Story Genius

book review: Story Genius, by Lisa Cron
If you want to read a good book, on writing try anything but this one.  I recommend Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, and On Writing, by Stephen King.  This book is boring and repetitive.  Don't waste your time with this one when there are several others out there that are worth reading.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Cancer Chronicles, continued

barefoot doctor

pain creeps up like an angry cat
ready to rip your throat out
should you make the  wrong move.

During sleep 
I opt for dreams
instead of medication
and wake with aching bones
untouched by the morning dose.

Combing crystals through the air
I collect and discard
the sudden mud
of my aura,  and

Tuning forks sing their song
into my flesh
dancing with my bones
To bring peace

Sometimes I boogie,
sometimes I don't

I pick and choose my medicine.

Crystals to clear and nurture,
Power songs to weave a circle
where I will sit for a moment
In time
transforming energy,
redirecting qi.

But this metastatic cancer
is a harsh mistress
Often refusing to budge
with either Oriental recipes
or Occidental masks.

Sometimes things work, bringing
relief, or tolerance, and
letting me believe in magic
once again.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Cancer Chronicles, part one

Sunday Morning (a day in the life)

The radiator spews heat and
there is no cool  breeze
coming through the window.

Shifting between time and days
I am unable to make sense
of the days,
Having been trapped like a bug
in amber

The bed sticks to my thighs
as if encasing me
in the slow drip of time,
A thick gush of resin
suffocating me.

No blue light of dawn
wakes me gently,
But rough transitions
of light to dark
with no twilight song
to welcome me

No pink tides across the sky
No violet hues or powder blues.

My legs stiffen and swell.
My movements stiffen and swell.
There is no release.

It is like glass cracking
beneath my skin
Creating a mosaic of flesh.

The hair on my body recedes
like an old woman
balding from head to toe,
A rapid demise of youth,
now just a memory.

Re-entry, Stage 4

Here is the prisoner of Cancer
unable to free herself
despite good behavior, and a
plea for pardons
sent up on the voices of prayer
by family and friends, and
even the most innocent of children.

We do not bend over and spread
our ass cheeks in search of contraband
But we are naked and exposed
Standing helpless as
not-so-magic markers
define the areas that will be incised and
Leaving your chest flat and scarred and
seemingly Cancer-free.

And yet
The doors don't open,
the prisoner must return
after months of freedom,
Suddenly unable to defend herself
to even the highest court of God and
all his angels.

The cell grows smaller,
Spaces close in
as disease overtakes the prisoner,
Bit by bit
Encroaching upon her Lungs
with  no space to breathe;
Occupying her bones and
replacing it with pain
Like a punishment
for crimes
She can't remember committing.

Appeals fall on deaf ears,
Bones grow more brittle, breaking
her will to live 
at times, 
in this small box of lies.

"There must be some mistake" she cries.

"No', they say, 'We found new evidence
(of disease)  -  You're a Lifer now,
like it or not  -  Join the others
on Stage 4."

Monday, March 6, 2017

long time no see

Hey folks, long time no see.
I have been without a computer (both my Surface and my desktop are not working since before Christmas... November probably.) for a good long time, and it doesn't look like I will be up for getting repairs any time soon.  Using my friend, Evie's, laptop, now and then, but haven't gotten round to posting anything on my blog in ages.

Very recently, I had a CAT scan, to see if those chemo drugs I've been taking for the past almost-year, have been working to stop the progression of the disease.

Well, the news wasn't good.  The drugs aren't working, and I've developed nodules on my lungs that weren't there before, and a worsening of the bone metastasis.  Definitely not the news I wanted to hear.

Breathing is always very tough, and now I know it is more than just the COPD.          

But life goes on.

I've been going to the Cancer Center  a lot recently, having been unable to do so for a long time...  My legs/feet were numb, and so swollen I couldn't get my shoes on.  I'm now able to get them on, though I'm still quite swollen... And also still numb.  Starting a drug called Gabapentin to help with that.

I'll be starting a new medication regime, since the one I was on wasn't working, and had to be discontinued.
I will have a daily oral hormone pill... anti-estrogen, I believe, and bi-weekly (to become monthly after a few treatments) intramuscular injections (one in each butt cheek) of some other targeting agent.

So, hopefully these new medications will work.

Accepting all positive vibes and prayers, etc.

Stay joyful.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

send in the clowns

Been a while since I've checked in here,  so it's about time.

Its been a roller coaster ride, I guess you'd say.  Some days I'm just about ready to call an ambulance to take me to the ER, on other days, I'm feeling a bit stronger and positive.  Often times I'm somewhere in between.

Me and Evie will spend Christmas time and New Year's Eve together, which is great... thank God for her in my life... But still, I miss my family very much, and not being with them, especially on Christmas Eve, just sucks.  I just can't make that stairway to Melissa's apartment, and no one comes here, so family time just isn't happening.

Right now I can hardly remember the last time I went out.  I guess it was some doctor's appointment, and proved to be a very hard time just getting there and back.

The home-care people from my insurance company set me up with a pcp visit at home so I could get my prescriptions mostly.  That was all well and good, but I told him how I really needed a motorized wheelchair or scooter to help me get around.  I was under the impression that one's pcp sends in the prescription for that, but this guy told me he couldn't do that.  What the hell?  He could get me a cane, big whoop.  I can only walk so far without getting short of breath.. Maybe half a block if I'm lucky.  A standard wheelchair wouldn't do me any good either, because the exertion from pushing it myself would also hinder my breathing.  I just don't understand.  I'm not sure who can help me with this, either.  Having suffered with depression for the past twenty-five years or so, I'm surprised I haven't jumped into the Atlantic at this point.  But death is not something I'm in any hurry to get to... hell, just the opposite.

To say I have cabin-fever would be a gross understatement.

Some people in my life have started to say "good-bye" to me.  Two people in particular.  One being an online friend, the other being a dear old friend of mine.  I guess they want to tell me what I mean to them while I'm still alive.  It's pretty weird, though, and I never imagined such a thing happening.  A part of me is touched by the sentiment.  Another part of me just wants to say "Hey stop!  I'm not going anywhere any time soon."   But who really knows?

I remember getting mad at my mom because she had signed DNR (do not resuscitate) papers the last time she was in the hospital.  Now I  understand a bit better, and have even signed those papers myself.  I just didn't want to face that reality with my mom.  For myself, it's a little easier.  No walk in the park, though.

I keep pretty crazy hours.  3am now, and I had planned on going to sleep, but here I am, back at the computer.  I get very congested if I lay down for too long, and waking up unable to breathe well is very scary, so I am always putting it off until I am literally falling out while sitting up.

As much as it hurts not to have my mom around anymore, I am glad she doesn't have to live through watching me go through this. It would have made her so sad.  Although I believe that she is watching me from above, I also believe that those who have passed on don't have any value judgement concerning those of us who are alive. That is, she knows what's going on but does not view it as good or bad... she just knows, and that is good enough.  I sure do miss her, though.  I miss my dad, too, of course, but its been over 25 years that he's gone now, so I'm a bit more used to it, I guess you'd say.  Mom will be gone just two years this coming February, so it's still pretty new, really.

So, that's about it.

I wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas, and pray that 2017 brings only good stuff into your lives.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

nothing good

Went to the cancer center the day before yesterday, and had a very hard time of it.  Legs and feet are so swollen I couldn't fit in my shoes.  Can barely walk, and used a wheelchair once I got to the center.  Was supposed to get a new pain control regime prescribed for me, but the woman (dr?) I met with had no authority to  order methadone, which, in conjunction with the oxycodone, helped me when I was in the hospital.  How ridiculous that I can't get something that helped me.  So sick of everything now.  I'm at the end of my rope, and rapidly losing hope.  Not feeling so "brave" anymore.  What is there to be brave about anyway.
Had major trouble getting in the car because I can't lift my legs very well.  Won't be able to go to Melissa's for Thanksgiving, since there's a long stairway to her apartment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

seen better days

The day before yesterday, I was discharged from Lutheran Medical Center, after a 5 day stay.  Didn't go to Maimonides as I usually do, but the EMS guy who drove the ambulance said it was crazy busy there.
Went in mainly because of my breathing, and generally was having a lot of pain.
Didn't really recover there... I am wheezing badly still when I walk a bit.  Got several different inhalers prescribed, and just hope they start helping.
A palliative care team saw me, and after much conversation we all agreed on treatment with Methadone started at a very light dose of 10mg twice a day.   It was soon changed to 10mg 3X a day, but they don't send you home with it, and I need to see a palliative care team at the cancer center in order to get it.  Hoping I can get there next week.  Oxycodone 20mg every 4 hours continues with everything.
My legs are very tingly weak tight and numbish.  I fell in the early morning hours of the day I was discharged after getting out of bed to  use the bathroom.  Just couldn't support myself.  Hit my head against my room mate's bed, and had to get a CAT scan (negative).
So, upon discharge I still didn't have great breathing capacity....had not ambulated at all during my stay, except to use the bathroom; had a fall. and could barely walk.
Signed DNR (do not resuscitate) papers when I was in there.  After much discussion of possible outcomes, it seemed the thing to do.
Came home to my modem on the fritz and no internet access (have since come to evie's to stay for at least the night).
And Trump is president-elect, the ultimate horror.
And so it goes...