Category Archives: Random Musings

It’s Alive!

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Pain is a living organism, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It has the emotions of a rebellious teenager. I have been dealing with it almost daily for over two years now. Therefore, I believe I know what I am talking about.

When you go to the doctor’s office they give you that little chart with the unsmiling faces and ask you which one represents the level of pain you are having at that moment.  That should be your first clue. Heck, all they need to do is look at MY face to answer that question.

Levels one through four are the pouting teenager. It’s annoying but you can deal with it. Levels five through eight are the raging teenager. The one you want to send back to the alien planet it escaped from. The one that makes you wish you had never had children in the first place.

Levels nine and ten are all eight levels rolled into a manic-depressive, schizophrenic, hormonal teenager with each of its personalities yelling at you at the same time. At these levels, you beg for someone to shoot you and take you out of this misery.

To be perfectly clear, levels one through four require Tylenol or Aspirin, levels five through eight require a narcotic or several good stiff drinks, and levels nine and ten put you in the hospital for days under heavy sedation. Got it? Good.

The thing about pain that gets me though is how sneaky it can be. You go to the doctor and it mysteriously disappears. Yet, as soon as you leave it’s back and laughing at you. Or, even worse, while at the doctor the levels jump all around like one of those never-ending bouncy balls. This causes the doctor to raise an eyebrow and prescribe a placebo so that you will leave.

Having a high pain tolerance all of my life coupled now with partial paralysis puts a whole different dimension to pain. So much of it, I’ve had for so long that it has become background noise. It isn’t until the area is touched by someone else that it ratches up to remind me it’s still there.

Pain is no laughing matter. But, I hope that I’ve given you a moment to at least smile.

Time to get Spooky Sale!

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Time to get Spooky Sale!
For a limited time, grab both books in Rissa Blakeley’s Corvidae Guard series for only $0.99 each.

What readers are saying about the Corvidae Guard series:
“…a huge Anne Rice vibe going on…” -Amazon Reviewer

“…has masterfully portrayed love in all its forms…” – Amazon Reviewer

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/ap/8YG4WR/Rissa-Blakeley 

 

The President As I Remember Them

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The other day I was trying to remember each of the presidents that have been in office since I was born. It’s weird that I remember so little other than what was taught in school. And, to be honest about that I tried hard not to remember anything in history classes. I found them incredibly boring.

Of course, I was too small to remember anything about Dwight D. Eisenhower. But, I do distinctly remember John F. Kennedy. Not because he was president, but because the coverage of his assassination overshadowed my cartoons. Sadly, I don’t remember anything at all about Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency other than his wife was called “Lady Bird”.

Richard M. Nixon sticks out for two reasons. First, we had a mock election in my fifth grade class, and he won because his supporters promised ice cream. Second, he was impeached. Shocked the snot out of me. I was terrified that something bad would happen to all the US as a result.

The only thing I remember about Gerald R. Ford, Jr. was the fact that he seemed to be clumsy. There was a lot of news coverage about him tripping or something like that.

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Then there was James E. Carter, Jr. We were living in Mississippi at the time he ran for president. My dad was even a delegate in support of him. My dad was from Georgia and I had spent most of my life there. So, we were ecstatic when he won. Unfortunately, he did not live up to my parents’ expectations and they now consider him to be the worst president ever.

With the disappointment of Carter my parents switched political parties and whole-heartedly supported Ronald W. Reagan. His was the first election that I was old enough to vote in. For many reasons Reagan remains dear to my heart and I miss him.

George H. W. Bush’s presidency left no impression on me. I was going through a lot personally at the time which included a divorce.

There is a lot I remember about William J. Clinton’s presidency. I had the chance to meet him when his campaign came to Augusta, Georgia, but elected not to attend the rally. The Monica Lewinsky affair stands out most prominently.

The attacks of 9/11 are what I remember most about George W. Bush’s presidency. Life as I knew it forever changed.

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Barack H. Obama II will forever be known as the first biracial president. Many have decided to call him the first black president. Politics became more polarized than ever before after his election.

The current president, Donald J. Trump will undoubtedly leave quite an impression.

What do you remember?

The Art of Falling

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Learning to walk as a child is an amazing thing. There is so much that goes into it. Strength, balance, stamina, coordination, and a whole lot of determination. Falling over and over again is all part of the process. Most times the falls are on a diaper cushioned bum. Some are headfirst but not as often. Once walking has been mastered we take off and never look back. I read a quote somewhere a while back that went something like this: Everything is hard until it’s not. Walking.

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Walking is hard. Falling is easy. As you grow you tend to trip and fall occasionally. If you play sports, there’s a good chance you will fall. Then there are those of us that are not coordinated at all and fall for no apparent reason. Most will dust ourselves off and go on about our day. Some won’t be as fortunate. Knees get skinned, bones get broken, concussions happen, or stitches are needed.

Two years ago, during surgery, I suffered a stroke in my spinal cord. This has left me an incomplete tetraplegic also known as a quadriplegic. They weren’t sure I’d even be able to feed myself let alone ever walk again. My main goal when entering rehab for three weeks was to walk somehow. Of course, they made me learn how to bathe, dress, and feed myself. Those are important too.

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Fast forward to present day, and I can walk some with a walker. I have the strength and determination. What I lack are the balance, stamina, and coordination. From time to time I fall. There’s no getting up and dusting myself off though. I require lots of help to get back up.

Yesterday, my best friend came to take me out to dinner. I texted my husband and he was going to meet us there. As we were headed to her vehicle the rollator’s breaks failed and I pitched forward. My left knee and my right forehead skidded on the concrete parking pad. I have some road rash on my right forearm. And, I lost a lot of hair where the goose egg was.

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My husband came on home. Fortunately, our neighbor and a friend of his were outside. Those three guys were able to lift me using a blanket and put me back into my wheelchair. I went on inside and with my best friend’s help I got cleaned up and we all went on out to dinner.

This morning my legs weren’t having any of it. Of course, they didn’t bother to tell me that until I tried to stand up. I elevator dropped right to the floor by the bed. I was trapped. My husband had to come home to help. Using a blanket again he dragged me into the living room where with the help of pillows and him pushing I got onto the couch. We had to use the slide board to get me into my chair.

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I was so excited and really still am about me starting to drive again. Taking the wheelchair with me is out of the question as I can’t get it into the vehicle. Now that the rollator is being a butt it is out of the equation too. As soon as I get through this minor setback I will go back to the rolling walker. It’s lightweight and easy to fold.

Remember, when life bites you in the ass bite back!

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Time To Get Up

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That annoying alarm goes off. Not that the sound itself is annoying. No, in fact, I picked a sound that I would like to hear first thing every morning. The very fact that it goes off at all is annoying. I’ve always hated the alarm. But, I can’t rely on myself to get up on time otherwise.

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So, the alarm goes off. I shut it down and lie there. There is nowhere that I need to be today. I could stay in bed where I’m comfortable. Yet, I kick the covers to the side and remove my CPAP nasal mask anyway. Immediately I’m covered in cat. Flash is on my tummy kneading away without regard to his twelve pounds alternatingly pushing on me.

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The debate ensues again. And, the earworm attacks. Should I stay, or should I go now? Ha! I gave it to you, didn’t I? Now, I try to remember who sang it. (It’s The Clash, I looked it up.)

Well, hello, Tuffy. I have both cats now. He’s flopped over on his back on my shoulder looking at me upside down. I have no choice at this point. The cats will not stop since they know I’m awake. It’s a go now. Hahaha!

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Why do I even set an alarm with me being retired on disability? Structure. It is essential to me to have some sort of semblance to my former working world. Otherwise, I’d go into a deep depression and stop enjoying life. That is not someplace I want to go.

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I’m still lying here petting both of my cats. My mind is starting to wander as is this blog post. My TBR pile is getting bigger. What will I have for lunch today? Make sure to change the bed sheets. Too bad I didn’t have Gary make me a pot of decaf coffee before he left. Do we have any packages being delivered today? Our cruise is coming up soon. And, so on, and, so forth.

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Finally, I push out of bed and go about my morning routine. It has been twenty minutes since the alarm sounded.

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TMI! I’m Incontinent

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WARNING
This post contains very frank and sometimes graphic discussions about being incontinent. Some of it may make you go “Ewww!”, but it is my hope that it will educate you. You have been warned. Do not read any farther unless you are willing to know more about peeing then you ever wanted to know.

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We are born incontinent. Our parents, other family members, and various caregivers changed our diapers while sometimes commenting “How can someone so cute make such a big stink?” At around the age of 2, we are potty trained. Of course, each child and parenting style is different. Some of us don’t make that leap until a few years later.

Then for the next 70 or so years, we are diaper free with only minor incontinence if we are lucky. That is, unless something happens, as in my case, that changes our entire world.

In July of 2016, I had spinal cord surgery to remove scar tissue from a previous surgery. The scar tissue was causing neurological issues making it impossible for me to function well. Little did I know the surgical cure would be worse than the original condition. For you see, I had a stroke in the spinal cord that left me an incomplete quadriplegic. When I awoke I was totally paralyzed on my right side and partially paralyzed on my left. I have come a long way since then but am still wheelchair bound and incontinent.

For the first 14 months after surgery, I had an indwelling Foley catheter. There were many issues with it including UTIs and skin breakdown from the tube’s pressure. But, my bladder would not pee. As I regained the use of some of my body it was decided to try going without the catheter. Since September of 2017, I have been catheter free. Yay! Sort of.

Now, I pee whether or not I’m ready for it. For the first week after the catheter came out, I peed everywhere all the time. If I looked up at you I peed. If I reached for the keyboard I peed. And, those over the counter supplies are for someone who dribbles. When I pee it’s in volumes. I called my doctor and begged him to do something. I was trapped in my house by my free-flowing bladder. He put me on a bladder muscle relaxer to help stop the spasmodic pees.

Finding pull-ups and diapers (called underwear and briefs – ha!) for someone like me was a challenge. After extensive research and reaching out to folks in the Spinal Cord Injury group I am a member of on Facebook, I found https://us.abuniverse.com/. This site is devoted to a cottage industry for adults who like to roleplay as babies. Their products hold 5,000 ml or more! They are a bit pricey, it is hard to find my size in stock, and they really hold more than I need.

The other site I discovered is https://wellnessbriefs.com/. Theirs is the products that I use now. They use NASA inspired technology and while pricey they do the job. I wear the diapers at night as I do not wake to go pee. My bladder still doesn’t talk to me. The pull-ups I only use when out and about. While at home I use the Walgreen’s pull-ups and try to train my bladder to go at certain intervals.

A few months back I suffered a severe UTI ending up in the ER and going home with a catheter for a month. I stopped peeing for over 18 hours. Not a good thing. This happened overnight and I knew something was bad wrong when I got up the next morning. Once my doctor removed the catheter a month later, he put me through some tests. It was determined that I don’t empty my bladder completely. I stopped the muscle relaxer and went in the other direction with new medication.

Talk about a turnaround! For the next 3 weeks, I peed everywhere. It was like starting all over again. Even though I had the good stuff from Unique Wellness it was still a mess. I have spasticity and the spasms are hard on the body. They also cause stress incontinence. With the body in spasm, liquid finds the least resistant path to escape. I peed up my back and out the sides and up my front. The compression was like squeezing water from a geyser. Back to the doctor I go.

I asked him if he had a good laugh for the past few weeks thinking of me peeing everywhere. I really did. He apologized and cut back the dosage on the medication. Now, things are much like they were before the ER incident.

I am still trying to convince my bladder to release its contents every 2 hours. So far, no luck. I cannot feel my bladder at all. The only sensation I have is on the exterior as the flow starts. I rarely make it to the potty in time. I go through a lot of pull-ups at home. The doctor hopes that since I have regained control of other functions that I will eventually regain control here. There are other possible options he wants to discuss with me that involve surgery. I’m not keen on any more surgery.

So, for now, I sleep with 3 large leakproof pads under me in addition to the diaper. Most nights the pads are dry. There’s nothing I can do about the stress incontinence. In my backpack are extra pants and pullups along with the necessary cleanup supplies.

No matter how funny this may sound, it is not fun. Being a 58-year-old in diapers is degrading. I’m not the only one but that doesn’t make it any better. I won’t give up though.

 

 

 

Politically Incorrect is Wrong

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About the time I became a teenager the phrase “rude, crude, and socially unacceptable” came into my repertoire especially when it came to the antics of little brother. I became a snob sister and anything my little brother did fell into that category. The years have flown by and the phrase has slipped into the background. Well, I still use it from time to time just to irritate my little 54-year-old brother. And, on occasion, I snark it at my husband. 😊

Someone along the way switched the term out for “not being politically correct”. And, that is incorrect. Not being politically correct in my humble opinion means that you are attributing something to the wrong political party. It has nothing to do with what is socially acceptable or not. Henceforth, I shall not use the term. Why do the lemmings follow the practice of doing something wrong repeatedly until they accept it as right?

Who is the person that decides what is socially acceptable or not? Is it the same person who determines if a word falls into the cuss word category? Just because someone says or does something you don’t like doesn’t mean it automatically jumps into the all-encompassing world of unacceptability. Granted there are many words or phrases that were accepted fifty or more years ago that are taboo now. I agree that many of them should cause you to speak out. But, who decides?

It must be a cultural thing. We can visit other countries and find ourselves at odds with etiquette and sometimes even the law. Who can keep up with all the differences? It would be wise to educate yourself before you went to a specific country or region.

Socially unacceptable. That’s how I see things when some person missteps. Let’s take politics out of it. They don’t belong in this arena.

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Bad Words

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“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me.”

What a bunch of malarkey! Words can be devastating.

Ask any 5-year-old after they have been scolded. Ask any child in junior high/middle school that has been bullied. Ask any spouse whose partner has verbally abused them. Ask yourself about the time someone said something to intentionally hurt your feelings. Ask me, who at one point, not meaning to, hurt her best friend with words.

I am not talking about things that you find offensive in the news or that someone posts that is not about you. Or a particular word that offends you. I am talking about a direct attack on you on a personal level.

So why are we taught that saying? It sounds good. As a young child, we are supposed to believe that and repeat it to other children that are being verbally mean to us. It’s almost a taunt, a challenge. But, it does not stop the hurt.

What’s worse is the written word. Email, texts, Facebook and other social media posts. We infer the writers’ emotional intent. Sometimes the words themselves are obviously meant to be hurtful. Other times though the message may not be so clear. That’s where things can get dicey and relationships ruined by one misunderstanding the other.

Let me tell you my story. In 2001 I became engaged to the best husband in the whole world. Yay me! I immediately asked my best friend to be my maid of honor. Duh. Who else, right? And, she readily agreed.

At some point between then and the wedding date, she became involved with a married man. Now, wait a minute. She did not know it at first. In fact, she did not even know it until after they moved in together. By then she is emotionally invested in the relationship. Then she tells me.

Knowing a little about him from before she started dating him and then finding this out sent me into protective mode. I wanted her out of this entanglement immediately. She is my BEST FRIEND. I want the best for her because I love her. So, while talking with her over the phone about the situation I called him “trailer park trash”. She took it personally.

Her retort was to tell me to find another maid of honor. She did not see how she could even attend the wedding now. She didn’t know if we could even still be friends. Talk about devastating.

We are not kids. We are grown women in our early 40s at that point in time. How in the world did I hurt her by calling him a name? She grew up in a trailer park. I knew this. I certainly did not mean that everyone who lived in a trailer park was trash. It was just the first thing that popped out of my unfiltered mouth. I wanted him out of her life.

It took some time but we finally got through this and are still best friends. She did come to my bachelorette party. The wedding was out of the country and since she wasn’t part of the wedding party she declined to attend. That still hurts when I think about it. And, it is my choice to let it continue to do so. I use it as a reminder that we all have different perspectives.

They eventually broke up. He may or may not have divorced before then. I really don’t remember and really don’t care now. I’m just glad he’s gone. She’s my best friend and deserves better. I love her and would never intentionally hurt her.

What can you take away from this? Try to be kind. Try not to speak without thinking. Try not to let your emotions guide your words. I don’t know. What do you think?

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Attention! Rant Coming

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Military ranks are not something I know a lot about. Lieutenant Colonel is a high rank from what little I understand. It does not make one immune to making mistakes. Being that far up the chain of command I would guess that person isn’t used to being questioned, corrected, or criticized especially by lower ranking staff. Add a Masters in English on top of that and you have an author who doesn’t see anything wrong in their books.

As a book reviewer, I am often approached by self-published authors to review and help promote their works. I love doing that. I often state how Author Are My Rock Stars! Of course, I cannot read everything and narrow down my selections based on the different genres I prefer. Enter the retired Lt. Col.

He friend requested me on Facebook. I looked at his books and they fit into my preferred category and accepted. I added them to my To Be Read pile and let him know when I got to them. Or, should I say one and only one.

The first book in his series of which there are more than a half dozen had so many typos in it that I couldn’t enjoy reading it. It has been out for a year now and I would expect most of them to have been corrected by now. When I suggested that he hire an editor or at least a professional proofreader he balked. First, he couldn’t believe there were that many mistakes and thought I should overlook them as he was an indie author. Second, he said editors/proofreaders were too expensive and he wouldn’t make any money if he had to hire them.

Well, I walked away from the series right then and there. I have my own set of rules that I go by when it comes to situations like this. One, a book published by a well-known house is allowed up to three errors of any kind in total. An indie published book is allowed up to six. And, for the most part, that seems to work well for me. Two, I will let the author know where each of the mistakes is if they are within those limits. Most are gracious and very thankful. Three, I do not portend to be a professional proofreader or editor. I make plenty of mistakes myself. I am not the grammar police. I am certain that I do not catch every mistake an author makes. And, goodness knows I miss mine entirely. For you see, we read what we expect not what we see.

Anyway, after I wrote the book’s review the author made fun of it on his Facebook page without naming me. For you see not only was there numerous mistakes, both typos and contextual, it wasn’t that well written. It was evidently an adult book due to the descriptions of violence and the language used. But, it was written at a level well below what I would expect for that type of book. Let me step back a moment. It was very well written grammatically for young adults.

Time passes and I move on to other works. Then I get a private message on Facebook from the author asking me to point out the mistakes as he is unable to find any. There are seven in the first chapter. After notating those I stop and let him know that I don’t have the time to go through his entire book. I also don’t typically read a book a second time. And, I certainly don’t work for free. I was most definitely shocked that he had the gall to even ask.

End of story.

Now, contrast that with what I’ve done recently. Another author working on his second book asked me to beta read for him. That tells me the work is rough and not to expect an edited book. I very rarely beta read as it takes the joy out of the story. He’s a nice man and I enjoy interacting with him on Facebook so I agreed.

Somehow the chapters don’t follow the timeline. I let him know and he laments how an editor suggested he move them around. It is too confusing for me so I create an Excel spreadsheet to note the main events and the order in which the chapters should occur. He didn’t ask me to do this and was extremely grateful for my help.

He is in the process of reworking the book to maintain the continuity of the timeline.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I’m not a badass reviewer that comes down on writers who make mistakes. I only want authors to succeed and will help if I can. I will not tolerate those that treat me as inferior.

The Reawakening

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As I sit here pecking away at the keyboard writing this blog I am trying desperately to remember the four blogs that I outlined while trying to go to sleep the past few nights. It’s amazing how creative one can be while tossing and turning away the hours. You would think that I’d had the sense to at least jot down a few of my ideas on my cell phone before the sheep found me. But no, I can’t for the life of me come up with a single idea from that nocturnal restlessness.

Yesterday I had tons of creative juice flowing through my veins and wrote two book reviews in a matter of minutes. Today nada. It’s as if the faucet was turned off. I guess that is what writers’ block is all about. I’m way behind on my reading. And, I haven’t studied for my HAM license like I should. So, what is it that has my mojo out of whack? I can’t blame my disability anymore as I am so much better and able to do so much more. So, I’m thinking it’s a slight bout of depression. Nothing serious. More aggravating than anything else. It too shall pass.

The more I can do the more I want to do. Patience forgets to come along part of the time. Then, of course, the pain hits me and tells me to slow down. I can’t even remember a life without pain. No, I do not take narcotics though I could if I asked my doctors. It’s generic Tylenol and Aleve along with muscle relaxers and ice or heat packs that usually work. I do my best not to take them very much. The liver apparently doesn’t like them or so I’ve been told.

Tax season is finally over! Yay! That means my husband is back to a regular 8 to 5 schedule. Aha! I bet that’s it. His odd work hours over the past 4 months have thrown my schedule out of sync too. I had not thought of that until now. It’s as good an excuse as any, very plausible, and most definitely possible. Dang. I see daylight at the end of the tunnel now! I feel better just knowing this week will be the beginning of my turn around. Creativity will smack me right upside the head now and I’ll beat this keyboard to death with all my words.

So, there you go. The more I write the more I think. The more I think the more ideas come to the forefront. And before long there will be blog after blog written with such insight. I feel like Arthur when he pulled Excalibur out of that stone. My heart is just a thumping away with anticipation. My feet are tapping in tune. Watch out! I’m back!

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