Thursday, September 19, 2019

I'm not dead yet — promise

It has been a long time since I updated this, so wow if you’re still hanging around. Actually, who are you and why are you hanging around? Should I be worried? Weirdo. Just kidding. I do appreciate it, and I do occasionally continue to receive emails from new readers who have just discovered my books. That is very humbling. Thank you if you've actually taken the time to write me. So, to answer a question I always receive when the aforementioned emails arrive in my inbox: no, I am not dead (although let's all admit it would be pretty amazing if this was posted by me and I was dead), and yes, I am still writing, although not in the capacity you might be hoping for.

OK, let’s backtrack for a second, and feel free to skip ahead three paragraphs if you only want to know about my writing projects in the works. I forgive you for not being overly interested in my personal problems and excuses.

I had hoped 2019 would be a better year for me, and in some ways it has been – I got new day job with higher pay and way less stress, y’all! — and in other ways it hasn’t been. Since I started that new day job, I have been dealing with some pain-in-the-hiney health issues. I might be fired soon because of how many sick days I have been using up. For about the last three or four months, I have been having pain on the right side of my neck. It feels kind of lumpy and blah. When it flares up, I sometimes run a fever and have nausea, too. I think the first time I mentioned it to a doctor, I got a “oh, it’s nothing” response, was put on antibiotics for sinus infection, and got better for about two weeks before it flared back up again. I mentioned it to another doctor, who declared my thyroid was visible and that he felt a knot where it was. I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure the thyroid is on the front of your neck. My pain/problems are on the right side, but I’ve been told that’s my lymph nodes, which are probably tender because there’s something going on with my thyroid. Flash forward through a few more doctor visits, an ultrasound on my thyroid, an ER visit, etc. The ultrasound confirmed I had an abnormally enlarged thyroid, and my labwork shows ridiculously high thyroid antibodies. Cancer? That was my first thought, but there were no nodules present, so no doctor I've seen thinks a biopsy is necessary.

My typical day now goes something like this: Wake up at 5 a.m. with night sweats, a fever, nausea, and pains in my neck. I take over-the-counter meds to alleviate those symptoms, and on the best days, manage to get to work about 30 minutes late. On a bad day, the symptoms linger or get worse, and I am a couple of hours late or have to call in sick. Whether I am at work or not, I then experience extreme fatigue, weakness, and headaches for the rest of the day, oftentimes dozing off at work, almost dozing off driving home, and collapsing into an exhausted pile of limbs as soon as I get inside my house. My symptoms have not improved despite being on thyroid medicine, and I decided, you know what? There is something seriously wrong with me, and I don’t think my thyroid is the cause. The last specialist I saw agreed with me. "Congratulations," he said, with a huge smile on his handsome face. "You have Hashimoto's disease. It's a very common autoimmune disorder related to your thyroid. There's no cure but we can treat it. That's beside the point. Your thyroid isn't causing all of these symptoms." His diagnosis? Acid reflux, even after he examined me and declared I had zero visible symptoms of acid reflux disease. "I think you have silent acid reflux disease," he amended. Um, what? That's a thing? I reckon so. He put me on meds for it, and guess what? Still over here being sick every day. Not getting much better. I literally have to force myself out of bed most days, and if I accomplish anything, it's out of sheer determination.

I will admit. I decided to include these details in this blog in the desperate hope some poor soul (preferably with a doctor's degree) will read it and tell me what's wrong with me — and how to fix it. Straight up being serious here. I've done a lot of research on Hashimoto's and am trying to adjust my diet to see if that helps at all. Wish me luck. Me + diets have always equaled bawahahahaha.

Back to my writing.

I have been taking screenwriting classes and have written a TV pilot based on ... well, I can't tell you yet. It's legit being shopped around! But I will say this — it's not related to my books. But if you love cats, I think you will like it. That's assuming anything happens with it, and with my luck, I'm not holding my breath.

As far as my books are concerned, why, yes, I am still writing another book in my psychic detectives series. I wrote a standalone, completely new story not related to that series AT ALL that I have decided makes a lousy book — but I might write a movie out of it and see what happens. Or I might send it to a publisher. I'm still trying to decide. But overall, I am not getting much writing done because I am too exhausted to write whenever I have any free time.

So there it is. My update. Thanks again for hanging in there. I hope to have more news soon.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Welcome to my mid-life crisis: Meet Chassis and PJ

You know how life takes you down paths you didn’t expect or even want to be taken down, and then boom, suddenly you find yourself hiding in the woods in the middle of the night with bugs flying around your face while you wait for a skittish cat to eat the sardines you've laid as bait in a cat trap?

No? Just me? (sighs)

So, here’s the thing. This year hasn’t been good for me. The past two, maybe three years, haven’t been good for me. I’ve overshared enough about them that this should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever read my blog. The bright spot — thank you publishing gods and Harper Collins and whoever kindly bought it— was seeing my book hit the USA Today best-sellers list last year a couple of years after it was originally published.

I also recently moved out of my childhood home (after my dad’s death) and into a new house, which I bought and everything, you know, to prove that I actually know how to adult. It’s a really cool townhouse that will probably look awesome if I ever manage to get unpacked. Ignore the fact I’ve lived there going on three months and have only unpacked two boxes. I know. Shut up. I’m working on it.

The point is, it’s really weird to find yourself at the lower end of 40 an orphan. I know there are people who are orphans much younger than that, and God bless them, because it’s unsettling and disorienting and awful. I lost my mom to cancer when I was 12, and while that was tough (to put it mildly), I’ve never experienced this feeling of …. I-don't-belong-anywhere … until now.

I’ve been trying to find my purpose in life again, which sounds like I’m suicidal or something, and I’m not, so please don’t report me. But after taking care of my dad for so long during his illness, I really don’t know what to do with myself. When I had no time between work and running him to doctors and fetching medicine and all of that, I would say, “I know someday soon I’ll have more time to write again and do fun stuff like travel and play with my cat.” Now that time has come, and I tend to find myself sitting alone in a recliner, shoving chips into my mouth while I binge watch Netflix in any free time I have. I should point out that since I bought my house, I’m working two jobs – a full-time one and a part-time work-from-home thing to pay the bills. See? I'm not a total lazy bum. Basically, I never sleep anymore. It's a problem, I admit.

Somehow — and I’m still trying to figure out how this happened — I also became a fully involved member of a cat rescue group in my area. I’ve volunteered and donated money and food at my local shelter in the past, done transporting, but never truly committed to one rescue group. I love dogs and cats, but where I live, the need to help cats is far greater than the doggies, so that’s how I lean.

Anywho. This chapter of my life all started with my best friend and soul sister, who called me because she saw a bunch of cats sitting in a restaurant parking lot. She has never owned a cat in her life. She is a bonafide dog person, but when she sees an animal in need, any animal, that animal will be saved or else. That was October, I think. Flash forward to today. We’ve trapped, spayed or neutered, and maintain around 20 cats at this cat colony. I didn’t even know cat colonies were a thing until then. Let me clarify that cat colonies aren’t small villages where cats dress in colonial attire, sing songs around campfires at night, and sell their wares at a tiny little bizarre in the woods. I know. I was disappointed to find this out too.

Cat colonies are clusters of homeless cats who tend to live and gather around sources of food — usually at the back of restaurants and businesses. Because they are not vetted or spayed or neutered, they multiply. Kittens pop up, and they usually get sick, infected, or killed before they have a chance to see their first month. This is why spay and neuter is so important. Please spay and neuter your pets!

My bestie contacted a local group because one of the cats she trapped was the friendliest thing. We deduced pretty quickly it had been someone’s pet, but since it wasn’t microchipped, it was probably abandoned or dumped there because of all the other cats. That seems to happen a lot too. Next thing we knew, we were a part of that rescue group. I was recently put on the board of directors, and I still don’t know how that happened. Wait, what? True story.

Welcome to my life. 

Also, meet my foster kitties, Chassis (pronounced Chassy) and PJ. We found these guys very late one night in the parking lot of a Taco Bell and T-Mobile. They were little bitty things, hissing and spitting and crying up a storm. Chassis almost met his untimely death inside the engine of an SUV (hence, the name Chassis, which is the part of the car he kept hiding on). PJ was crying nearby — stuck up inside that T-Mobile sign. We thought she was a he because ginger females are so rare, so we named her Papa Jr. after one of our colony cats we thought might be “his” dad. Surprise. She was a girl! So, we shortened it to PJ. She’s our little tomboy, so it fits.

They have been bouncing back and forth between my new place and my bestie’s for two or three months? My senior kitty Dusti is on chemo, and three vets discouraged me from letting her be around these kittens. But after about a month of living in a dog crate in my friend's bathtub, they had to come back to my house for various reasons, and now they are living in my master bathroom again. I was very nervous about this because Dusti is my child and takes priority, but so far, so good.

Well, except Dusti is not amused.

Although Dusti’s vets have recommended against it, I’m considering keeping these two furballs. I have no idea how I’ll convince Dusti to cooperate, but maybe. I’ve grown quite attached to these kittens, and even though we’ve been advertising them for adoption, no one has wanted to give them a home yet. They are so bonded, I would hate for someone to break them up. Chassis is bigger, but skittish. He hides behind PJ, who is his little protector. She’s not afraid of anything. I’m also certain her life goal is to be the star of a Cirque De Soleil show. You should see her jump! I’ll post videos. Wait until you see her in action!

OK, so I'm probably keeping them. I don't know how I'd give them up at this point. #FosterFailure

Anyway. My medication for a mid-life crisis seems to be cats. Heaven help me.

The good news? I think the version of Connor's story I'm writing now is the best one yet. It's flowing, feels right, and I think it's the one, y'all. Don't be surprised if two kittens named Chassis and PJ show up in it either. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Getting back to normal — and writing, of course

The past few weeks have been somewhat surreal for me. As I've mentioned before, my father has been suffering with interstitial lung disease and heart disease for a few years. He went into hospice care before Christmas, and last week, his suffering finally ended when he joined my mom in heaven. As anyone who has helped their aging parents through an illness understands, I have been dealing with a mixture of sadness, grief, and relief ever since. I suppose, in a way, I've already been grieving for him for the past year, starting the first of the many times the doctors told us there was no way he would survive the week, but he did and then improved. That was my dad — tough as nails, and a real fighter. He wasn't big on giving up easily, and I think he liked proving people wrong, too. I learned a lot from my father, and I'll miss him terribly. But I am comforted knowing he and my mom are catching up on all of our shenanigans now. God bless their souls.

Let me get real and overshare for a minute because I'm a writer and that's what I do. Because my luck has a weird and somewhat sadistic sense of humor, the day before my father passed away, I saw a doctor for a very painful knot on the back of my leg. The morning my father died, I was being scheduled for "urgent" surgery to remove said place on the back of my leg. I put it off because of the funeral, and a couple of days later, I was face down on the operating table having my leg operated on. Right now, I have an open hole the size of a baseball where they cleaned out a serious infection. Actually I might be exaggerating on the size because I can't see the thing, but I've seen pictures and, whoa mama, it looks huge...and gross, but don't worry. I won't share photos even though I have some. You're welcome. Anyway. I'm supposed to be on bedrest because the culture showed I had a pretty serious MRSA staph infection going on, probably picked up during one of my many visits to the nursing home where my dad spent his final days. Plus, the wound is open and has to be packed every day by my best friend who finds things like open wounds interesting — weirdo — and did I mention my immunity is compromised, probably because I did that thing a lot of adult children do when they're helping care for their sick parents and let myself get run down, but whatever. I've been a mostly good girl and stayed in bed the past few days, resting, even though I might have snuck out once or twice to see a movie because cabin fever is a real thing. I'm not used to having free time on my hands, so I'm going a bit bonkers, if you want to know the truth. Even Dusti, my beloved furball, is freaked out because I'm here all of the time. I'm not kidding. She stares at me like I'm an alien.

The good news is that I've been writing a lot these last few weeks, including when I was keeping vigil at my dad's bedside near the end. I feel very rusty, and unsure of myself, but I'm writing and fully expect to have something finished soon. At least, I hope so. Plus, I'm on some good painkillers right now, so the words are just flying onto the page! 

Without my father to care for, I suspect I will have more time to devote to writing overall, so even when I do return to work full-time in a couple of weeks, I will have plenty of time in the evenings to write. For those of you who have written asking when more books will be out, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me even the tiniest encouragement. I appreciate your patience, and I hope to have book news sooner rather than later. I know I've said that before, but now that things are getting back to normal for me, I think you can trust me this time.

I hope.

Bless you all for hanging in there with me. Seriously. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

USA Today Bestseller's List: Thank you!

First of all, major apologies for not posting any updates in a loooooong time. I believe 2017 saw 2016 as a challenge, and it gladly accepted the challenge to try to be THE WORST YEAR EVER, at least for a lot of people, including myself. Someone needs to face-punch and gut-kick 2017 for being such an over achiever. Anyone have Jean Claude Van Damme's number?

I'll get real for a moment. I almost lost my father a few times starting in November 2016. He spent nearly three months in and out of the hospital, and I know on at least three occasions, the doctors told us to start preparing ourselves and that we needed to call in hospice. My dad is a tough one though, and he's still here. He has interstitial lung disease, including pulmonary fibrosis, so his prognosis isn't good, but he's still here. At the same time I have been dealing with caring for an aging parent, my day job decided to toss dodge balls at me because, why not? First, there were layoffs that hit my department. I got a pseudo-promotion, which basically meant I was put in charge without extra money or an official title and with less staff, so I have had that extra pressure. Then, my beloved furball Dusti got very ill. She went from being a spoiled fat 16-pound kitty to a barely 7-pound kitty who wouldn't eat and vomited every time she did try to eat. We've been trying desperately to get her healthy again. I have vet bills coming out my ears, and after three different vet consults, the determination is that she has either GI lymphoma (cancer) or irritable bowel disease. I can't afford the biopsy and don't want to put her through the trauma of one anyway, so we're treating it as IBD hoping she will improve. She has good days and bad days, but if she begins to show signs she's suffering, I will have no choice but to let her go. I haven't even had to make the decision yet, and I've been an emotional basketcase about it off and on for weeks.

So, that has been my year in a nutshell. Occasionally, I will get a message from a reader asking, "When is your next book coming out?" I want to be honest and say my writing has taken a back seat given everything else I've been dealing with. Surprisingly, I am still writing though.

And then this happened.

It's been a few years since ON THE SCENT was released, so I never expected it to end up on USA Today's Best-Selling Books list, but on Aug. 10, 2017, it did — thanks to a boost in promotion from my awesome publisher, Harper Impulse/Harper Collins.

All I can say is, thank you! To everyone who has purchased the book, a huge heartfelt thank you. And to everyone who has read and reviewed the book, I can't express my gratitude enough. To my amazing editor, Charlotte Ledger, a sincere and ginormous thank you. And to my wonderful critique partners, Pamela Hearon, Abby Niles, and Cynthia D'Alba — I owe you all kidneys, but since there's three of you, I might be in trouble. Will you accept having pets named after you instead? Just asking.

I've had an influx of messages the past week asking about a fourth book in my psychic detective series. Yes, yes, yes, I still plan and hope to publish Connor's story. However, I started a new story — completely unrelated to this series —as a way to get me past the wall I hit with Connor's story. I hoped by starting something new and walking away for a while, it would help me return to Connor's book with a fresh perspective. I am enjoying writing the new book — it has been good therapy for my bruised soul — and all I'm willing to say about it at this point is that it is a rom-com, it features a furry cast of supporting characters, and it's set at an animal shelter. I can't seem to get away from writing about cats and dogs.

This post turned out to be a lot longer than I planned. After all, I should be writing about sexy men wooing awesome women with the help of four-legged critters.

Thanks again, and please hang in there with me. I'm dodging these rocks life keeps throwing at me with pen in hand, so to speak. Hopefully the next news I publish will be an announcement about a publication date for one or both of my next books!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016, Go Away, I Don't Like You

I don’t know about you, but 2016 can’t go away fast enough for me. I won’t speak to world events, but I swear this year has been out to get me on a personal level. As in 2016 is that bear from "The Revenant" and I'm Leonardo DiCaprio.

I don’t normally talk too much about personal stuff because privacy is a thing for me, but at this point, I need all of the prayers, good thoughts, and positive vibes I can solicit, so (deep breath) here goes. This is a rundown of how my year has gone:

January: Was working a double position at the day job because, well, I don’t know why, but it wasn’t fun juggling both positions for three months.

February: Got unwillingly dragged into some unpleasant drama at the day job. Can’t go into details, but nope, it wasn’t fun either, and it went on for months.

March: Some unknown person cleaned out my bank account using check fraud. So not fun. So, so NOT fun. Plus, I caught a stomach virus that knocked me flat for three days and caused me to miss an important project that made the situation at work from February that much worse. Yes, work has been a major challenge for me this year, but all of the things I've mentioned so far are trivial in comparison to what came next.

June: My father’s health began to worsen, and he finally got a diagnosis of asthma, emphysema, COPD, and pulmonary fibrosis on top of his AFIB. Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive lung disease with no cure and a short life expectancy. There’s scarring on the lungs that cause them to harden, essentially suffocating anyone who has it. I lost an uncle to the disease, and my aunt currently has it. We knew what it meant. This was a very disheartening time for us. 

July: July 4th weekend to be exact. I came down with some sinus crud and a terrible sore throat that lasted for weeks and weeks until…

August: I’d seen four (I think) doctors at this point, and I was finally told I had an abscess on my left tonsil and was referred to a specialist.

September: Surgery! To remove those dastardly tonsils and cure my illness/plague that would not go away. Plus, it was a double whammy with sinus surgery at the SAME TIME. Let’s not even mention the bills I’m still trying to climb out from beneath for the whole thing. Aye!

October: Absolute misery from my surgery recovery, slowly improving until mid October, when I returned to work, and then, layoffs! My boss was laid off, and it seems only one person in the entire building seemed to know how to do the majority of his job other than him. That’s right. It was me.

November: Day job chaos continued. Lots of stressful changes there. Then, my father became suddenly, severely ill. We live in an area affected heavily by the smoke from the wildfires, which they believe triggered his respiratory distress. I rushed him to urgent care on a Saturday afternoon, where his diagnosis was pneumonia. He was in the hospital for approximately four days.

He was released the night before Thanksgiving and put on home oxygen full-time, but I suspected he’d been released too soon. I took the following week off work to make sure he was OK. He wasn’t. He got progressively worse. I took him to his family doctor twice, extremely alarmed because my father couldn’t breathe from simple tasks, such as standing up, let alone taking a few steps or moving.  It was such a dramatic change from only 2 weeks before. We were told it was the pulmonary fibrosis progressing. It would get worse. He was put on home health care, which meant frequent visits by a nurse and therapist to check in on him. By last Friday, my father was miserable. I was staying up all night with him every night. Neither of us were sleeping. My three brothers were all pitching in and helping, and I was still exhausted, emotionally and physically.

Which brings me to December.

Last Friday, my father was in such terrible shape and having such difficulty breathing, he was beginning to lose his will to live. When the home health care nurse came, he asked to be put into a facility. She contacted his pulmonologist who instructed us to get him to the emergency room for an evaluation. We did, and the four hours I spent sitting with my father on a gurney in the hallway of a crowded ER will always rank as some of the most disheartening of my life. Test after test showed he had pneumonia. His pulmonologist arrived and reassured me she thought he could bounce back from it. Then, he began experiencing heart failure as we sat there. I swear, the man can’t catch a break. He was stabilized and was in the hospital for a week. The pneumonia was stubborn, and his body is weak.

As of yesterday, my father is now in a rehab facility for an indefinite time. My time lately has been split between work, rushing to the hospital/now rehab facility to sit with him, being a referee between my brothers, and trying to find time to sleep. And cuddles with my cat, who is terribly confused about everything that’s been happening. Our hope is that my dad will improve and be able to come home again, and soon, but we’re aware he might remain there or in a facility like it.

I know. Too much information. But I’ve been such a terrible author, critique partner, and friend to so many this year I felt an explanation was warranted.

Plus, did I mention I really could use some good vibes sent my way? Please don’t feel sorry for me, there are many people dealing with much worse, but do please pray for me (and my family). Call me a sap, but I believe in miracles and good will and prayer and Santa Claus and the Loch Ness Monster.

By the way, yes, I’m still writing/editing new stuff, just very, very slowly. I hope to have my next book shipped off to the editor soon, but I’ve stopped putting a deadline on it. That only seems to goad the universe into thinking Bwahahaha! Let’s see how she writes with THIS on her plate. Bwahahaha!

I’m determined, however, that 2017 is going to be a better year. And that I WILL finish another story.

A girl can dream, right? 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My Adult Tonsillectomy: Holy hell, that hurt (and still does)

One week ago I had a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, and septum (sinus) surgery all in one go. Because, apparently, I'm an overachiever in all things, thank you very much.  Surprisingly, I've had quite a few people I don't know direct message me and ask me to share my experiences because they are considering, dreading, or anticipating the same type of surgery. For the record, I am 41, only 6 years older than Krysten Ritter who plays Jessica Jones on "Jessica Jones" and who, coincidentally, also had a tonsillectomy a few weeks before I had mine. Sorry, if I was going to be throwing my age around I had to also throw in a fun fact to soften the blow.

So, here's a rundown of how it's been for me:

The backstory

I have always had bad allergies and have always had sinus problems, but until a few years ago, I'd never had strep throat before. This year, I've been sick since around July 4 with some sinus crud/sore throat combo. I'd feel better and, boom, sick again, and worse than before, especially in my throat. I saw the doctor a handful of times, was on about six or seven rounds of antibiotics. My sore throat never really went away, and it got so bad I ended up in urgent care one weekend, where I was tested for mono and strep and had negative results for both. The doc said he was surprised I was negative on mono because I had so much puss in the back of my throat. He put me on a new antibiotic and told me I was probably contagious, and I was out of work for a week.

I didn't get much better, so I was back at my family doctor the next week. He said my left tonsil looked swollen and possibly abscessed and that could only be drained by an ENT. I had to wait 2 weeks for an appointment because they were working me in. In the meantime, my throat pain was beyond horrible, and I developed a cough and fever that made things even more fun. I finally saw the ENT, who put a scope through my nose to look at my throat. His first words were, "Do you know you have a sinus infection?" Heh. Then he declared my left tonsil was majorly infected and that I'm in a 2% category of people who have unusually large tonsils and adenoids, and the best thing overall was for me to take them out. Since he was doing that, he wanted to see if my sinuses needed fixing too, so I had a CT scan and planned for surgery on Sept. 21. All I heard back from the doctor's nurse from my sinus scan was that, yes, I definitely needed sinus surgery because I had significant sinus disease, too. I had no idea what that meant though.

I'll be honest. I'd never had surgery before in my life (wisdom teeth not included), so I was a bit terrified at the idea, and once I started reading about how god-awful adult tonsillectomies were, I almost chickened out and canceled my surgery. I continued to be sick, so my hopes of magically improving without surgery began to disappear. In fact, in the two weeks leading up to my surgery, the lymph nodes on the left side of my neck were so inflamed and swollen, I feared my tonsillitis had developed into lymphoma or something.

Day One

I had my surgery at an outpatient surgery center outside of a hospital. It was a small facility and therefore cheaper for me and my insurance. As long as I wasn't getting a Walmart-type surgery, I was fine with that. I giggled a little when they said I was in line behind "the babies" and told to be there at 10:30 a.m. I arrived, and they took me back to pre-op, where they took my vitals, had me change into a very fetching gown, and hooked me up to an IV. Then my dad and best friend were allowed to come sit with me until the doctor took me to surgery. An anesthesiologist and nurse came to ask me questions, and the anesthesiologist told me he wasn't going to lie — I was going to be in a world of hurt when I woke up, but he'd give me as much pain medicine as I wanted as long as I could take a few deep breaths for him to prove I could breathe OK. That scared the bejesus out of me, but I didn't think I could get away without looking like a fool at that point. They didn't give me any drugs or anything until about 15 minutes before the doctor came to take me back to surgery, and I don't know what it was, but it was trippy and I felt like I was floating all around my little room. Good stuff.

Then they rolled me back into the operating room, where the anesthesiologist had me breathe into a face-mask until I went bye-bye. Next thing I know, the anesthesiologist was loudly yelling "Angela? Angela? Angela?" over and over and I wanted to punch him in the face because I was sleeping so nicely and he wouldn't stop yelling my name. I opened my eyes, and he demanded that I take some deep breaths before they slid me onto a gurney. I remember the anesthesiologist saying, "I hate it when they do sinus and tonsillectomies at the same time. It makes it much harder for everyone." Um, OK, Mr. Ray of Sunshine. Whatever. I was alive, and that was all I cared about. I didn't feel the pain until they slid me into the recovery area and the nurse asked me how I was feeling, I swallowed, and holy freaking $%@!, I wanted to die. I told her I was in a lot of pain, she said they had me on a lot of pain meds and couldn't give me any more, and then she went to get my dad and best friend. Instead of my friend, my brother showed up instead, and he's not a brother I like or get along with so for a minute I thought I must have died and gone to hell, but thank God, he finally left and she came back.

I was told my surgery would last about an hour. Instead, it took two hours because I was so messed up all up in there. My friend relayed later that the doctor had told them I did well, but he had to do a LOT of major surgery on me. Both of my tonsils were abscessed and filled with puss — not just the left one — and that on a scale of 1 to 4 with 4 being the largest, my tonsils were a 5. He said my throat pain would have never improved without surgery, so it was good I'd made the decision to do it. He also had to do a lot of major work to my sinuses, too. Most of my sinuses were blocked, so he had to clean out my sinuses, open up those blockages, and he made some passages bigger or something? I don't know. Something about my septum. Whatever. There was this alien feeling of having straws glued to the inside of my nostrils. I actually couldn't feel my face at all, and asked the recovery nurse if he'd done sinus surgery because the only pain I felt was in my throat. She said the benefit of doing both at once was that the pain of my throat overrode the pain of the sinus surgery. Apparently sinus surgery is not fun in and of itself. The tonsillectomy was so bad, I probably wouldn't notice it as much though. She gave me a blood-red popsicle shaped like Michael Myer's knife so I silently named it Michael, and Michael helped numb some of the pain (shhhh, I'm still on drugs, so just go with my weird whimsy).

Giving a thumbs-up sign in recovery,
with Michael, my first popsicle.
I was in recovery maybe 40 minutes before they let me go home. I don't know. I was pretty out of it, between the pain meds and the pain. Speaking of pain medicines, I was given 50 mg Demerol for severe pain and 7.5 mg of hydrocdon-acetamin for lesser pain along with Zofran for nausea. I was told to start taking the Demerol as soon as I got home and to take a Zofran as well, so I did. Also, I needed to keep my throat as moist as possible, so I needed to constantly sip on water, which hurt like hell, if I'm honest. The Demerol and Zofran are pills. Oddly, it was easy to swallow them at first, but I do advise having a pill crusher handy in case you need to crush them up and take them with water. It seems to be different for everyone.

That first day I remember thinking the pain was bad but that I had expected much worse, and on pain meds, it compared to the worst of the throat pain I had already experienced while sick so I thought I could handle it. And that's the truth. Unfortunately, the night following my surgery, I started vomiting. I know, TMI, but you need to know it's a possibility. The first few times, it just sort of happened and it didn't make the pain any worse or better. It was just ewww. My best friend stayed over to help me (thank God for her, too) and we deduced that an hour and 15 minutes after I took each dose of Demerol and Zofran, I got sick. So she called the doctor in the middle of the night, and he told me to switch to the hydrocdon-acetamin, which was a liquid, and gave me Phenergan instead. I took the hydrocodon, but then I had a reaction to that as well. Not vomiting, but my face became red and flushed and it didn't touch the pain at all, or if it did, OMG, I can't even imagine what the pain would have been without it. I ended up not taking a Phenergan because it makes you sleep, and I didn't know how I'd handle keeping my throat moist. So early the next morning, we called my doctor again, and the nurse called me in Acetamin-COD, which is a liquid. It doesn't help with pain as much as Demerol, but it helped some and without any nasty side effects. I basically bunkered down and braced for the pain. Oh, and because I had sinus surgery, too, I was told I would need to remain sitting up for at least five days. My brothers had moved one of my dad's recliners into my bedroom to be my new "bed" for a while. My father has a heart and lung condition, so I live with him, but I haven't been much use to him lately — and now I've stolen one of his recliners. Poor guy.

Days 2-4

These days were pretty rough. The pain is constant, but made much worse when you swallow, especially water, ice, or any liquid. I was taking 5 ml of Acetamin-COD every two hours. The throat pain was so bad, I didn't sleep much at all the first two days. My friend stayed over to make sure I took my medicine on schedule and that I sipped water every 15 minutes or so. Setting an alarm in your phone helps. It gets to be annoying after a point, but it helps. Also, after the first 24 hours, I really started to feel pain in my face, too. Plus, I was bleeding around the splints in my nose. Those splints were supposed to help me breathe through my nose so I didn't have to breathe as much through my mouth, but they kept getting so clogged with blood and scabs, I simply couldn't breathe through my nose. And those splints are damned uncomfortable once you start to feel them. Using a cold moist towel across the bridge of your nose helps. My cat did head-butt me in the nose one time — not hard — but sweet mercy, I thought I was going to die from the pain. So if you have an affectionate cat, for the love of god, don't let him near your face if you have the sinus work done, too. Anyway. The few times I dozed off during this period, I woke myself up doing a gurgling-trying-to-breathe thing that made me feel claustrophobic.  The worst pain in the world is dozing off, sleeping 30 minutes without taking a sip of water or sucking on ice, and then waking up. Your throat is dry and OMG does it hurt. Dozing off and going past your scheduled pain medicine time is also the worst kind of pain you will experience. So, keep your throat moist and stay on top of your pain meds. Ice packs on you neck are also a blessing from God. You'll be uncomfortable and miserable, but it's nothing you can't handle. Everyone and their brother will want to bring you something to try to eat because they're worried about you. I tried applesauce. It made me cry. I tried yogurt. It made me cry. I tried a watery smoothie. I wanted to die. Through trial and error, I discovered I can handle sipping on chicken broth at a lukewarm temperature, and Frostys from Wendy's are God's little angels sent down from heaven to help tonsillectomy patients survive. I am convinced of that. So my diet has been chicken broth, popsicles, and Frostys. 

Days 5-8

I managed to find the strength to take a shower before my doctor's appointment, which was heaven since I hate not showering every day. I had to go in to have my nose splints removed the Monday after my surgery. When he removed them, it was so painful I immediately felt nauseous but did not lose my lunch, which would have only been water anyway, but still. It was this very painful feeling followed by immediate relief, but I still wanted to cry. He cleaned out all of the dried blood and scabs, too, which was a huge relief and helped me feel better. He said I could expect 10 more days of misery and then I'd start to feel better because my tonsils were still healing. He kept insisting he knew how bad I felt, it was normal, but he didn't want to change my pain medicine because there's too much risk of overdosing and pain meds can stop your breathing. Instead, he told me to up my dosage to 10 ml of the acetamin-COD every four hours and to take two Tylenol every two hours. I switched to this as soon as I got home, and the pain did begin to improve some. I went from dozing here and there to sleeping for about 2-3 hours at a time. The problem is the same though. When I wake up, I'm in intense pain because my throat is dry, and it takes extra effort to get it feeling moist again. I go back and forth between a floaty-zombie-like feeling and utter drowsiness throughout the day. I guess it's the pain meds. I also feel incredibly weak, but I did eat my first cup of chicken noodle soup and got down some mashed potatoes last night, so things are starting to look up. However, I have to keep my sinuses moist with nose spray at all times, too, and have been experiencing drainage of mucus-y blood clots into my throat, which is quite nasty and unpleasant, believe me. I'm still experiencing face pain, which I'm not sure is normal or not at this stage. I also have difficulty blowing my nose at all. The doctor encouraged me to gently blow my nose if needed, but I feel congested and can't manage to blow anything at all. I'm sure this means there's a problem somewhere, but I don't know. I'm just basically dealing with it until I can't anymore.

Me and Dusti watching Netflix

Day 9

Last night I slept in two 4-hour increments, and I still feel exhausted. I feel worse today than I did yesterday, actually and I'm not sure why. I know I tried talking some yesterday, and maybe that was a mistake. Up until now I haven't spoken much after my surgery because it hurts so damn much to try. I know the scabs in my throat should be coming out any day now, and I hope that when they do, I don't gag on them and the pain doesn't get worse. I've read some people who say it improves immensely and some who say it gets worse after the scabs falls off. I'll let you know when I get to that point.

Edited 10-10-2016:

Days 10-19

In regards to my tonsillectomy, I've slowly improved and can now eat pretty much any food I want. I started eating regular food again last week, around Day 13. I started with pasta and mashed potatoes and moved through other soft foods slowly. If I never see applesauce, yogurt, or chicken broth again, it will be too soon. However, I can't taste anything, so I'm afraid my taste buds were damaged in the surgery. I've read on other blogs that the tools they use to hold your tongue during surgery can cause this, and that many people experience a return in taste after about 2-3 months. I hope that's the case for me. Well, I hope I can taste sooner than that, but I hope it returns.

While my throat is significantly better, my sinuses are not. Three days ago I awoke in the worst pain of my life. I pretty much cried, there was so much pain and pressure in my face. Then I was hit with nausea. I've also been running a low-grade fever. After a handful of calls to the doctor, in which I was told everything I described was normal recovery, I finally went back and was told I had an infection. My sinuses were too severely swollen for him to insert the thingamajig that looks around in there, but he judged by my symptoms and the fact that my lymph nodes on my neck are again swollen and tender that I have an infection. I was told the excruciating pain was likely from the swelling, and that the nausea could be from my dissolvable packing draining from my sinuses and upsetting my stomach. I was also told that I had major surgery and that it will take time to feel better. It could take up to three months to feel like human again. Three months!?! Right now my sinus surgery recovery is my obstacle, and it is kicking my tail. My throat is also slightly swollen and I sound like a chain smoker sometimes when I talk, but overall, it is much, much better.

So, my summation is that an adult tonsillectomy is no walk in the park, but the fear and anticipation of it is much worse than the actual thing itself. There is pain, but if your doctor has determined you need the surgery to end your throat pain, you are probably already in tremendous pain and the pain after surgery won't be anything you're not used to, as long as you stay on top of your medicine. Use the time to watch Netflix or read. My cat and I've caught up on "The Flash," "Doctor Who," "Penny Dreadful" and about a dozen weird movies already. I've also read a handful of books.

I am hopeful this experience is almost behind me. I'm tired of being sick, but I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. *fingers crossed*


Monday, June 13, 2016

Is Connor still getting a book? Yes!

Each time a reader emails me now, it's to ask if Connor will be getting a book in my psychic detectives series. The simple answer: Yes! The complicated answer: Um, yes, eventually.

I am thrilled people are still discovering my series, and I am very grateful to Harper Impulse for publishing it and continuing to promote it (I mean, I assume, based on my royalty checks...maybe?). I truly had no idea so many people would latch onto Connor as a character, if I’m being honest. Almost every reader email I’ve gotten since “Something Wicked” published has mentioned him. Truthfully, I think that response has made me feel pressure to guarantee that his story is as awesome as he obviously is. I’ve never had that kind of pressure before, to be honest, so I haven’t handled it well.

That said, I wanted to give folks an update where his story stands since it has been so long since “Spirited Away” published and I saw a review a while back in which the person commenting said something to the effect of, “I really hope the author hasn’t died or just decided to stop writing because I hate discovering a new series I love only to have it stop abruptly because the author died.”

First of all, thank you for the compliment — I think — and second, nope, I’m not dead.

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Obviously I owe those of you who care enough to visit my website an update, so here’s the true reason Connor’s book hasn’t published yet. I’ll be honest. I finished a draft of his story, but I wasn’t happy with it. I couldn’t put my finger on why though, so I stepped away for a while to give me some distance from it. As happens, life gets in the way of good intentions. I won’t over share, but family obligations, day job woes, and other chaos have made it more of a challenge for me to devote as much time to writing as I’d like. I have also written some other projects which aren't ready to be published yet, but I am still writing! Yay me. And on occasion, I’ve opened Connor’s story, made a few tweaks, but still haven’t been happy with it.

A week or so ago, I was about as exhausted as I’ve ever been, trying to drift off to sleep, when I had an epiphany about Connor's story. Actually, my mind was flooded with new ideas. I think I have finally pinpointed why I didn’t connect with his story the way I wanted.

Now, I’m working on another rewrite that I hope will address my concerns and be ready to submit to my editor soon. And I want to open up an opportunity to one or two of my readers to beta read this story when I have a close-to-final draft. If you would be interested in beta reading Connor's book before I send it to my editor, please email me at and let me know. I will likely take the first two people who respond up on their offer for feedback.

I really appreciate those of you who check in with me every now and then to ask about Connor’s book, and I’m very grateful to all of you who have any of the books in this series and have been kind enough to leave a review or email me feedback. Mwah! 

Don't worry, and get ready. Connor is still headed for a bookstore near you ... eventually.

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