Monday, February 27, 2012

birthday madness

I don't know how to express the depth of appreciation I have for my husband.  He pulled together a birthday party for me that was a beautiful event full of laughter and life and love, and for one blissful day I was able to ignore everything that is going wrong and concentrate on the things that bring me joy.  I was surrounded by friends and loved ones and even received presents (which were totally unexpected on my part - I thought people were just bringing snacks!).  We played games and went from naughty to silly and back again.  The food was great, the people were even better and I think good times were had by all.

Of course I stayed up too late and had too much sugar and missed a dose of my new meds, but the payback I've been feeling since then has been oh-so-worth-it.

I've also been whittling down that bucket list.  I ePublished my Children's book of puppy-point-of-view stories, The Schubark Chronicles available now as an EPUB file, and soon to be available in the iBookstore and at Barnes & Noble for NOOK readers.  One of my dear friends not only bought the book, but read it right away and posted a review - then listed me on Goodreads as well.  I'm still pretty excited to be listed as an Author on Goodreads - that's a pretty big deal!

Now I need to move forward on Solerna, my YA novel.  I need to add a glossary and tweak a few things from the latest editor review, then format it for ePub and standard publication.  I hope to have it up and available (at least for ePub) by the end of the week.  Standard publication will take a little longer as I will have to go through a proof copy before it goes live and that will take a couple more days.

That bucket list is shrinking day-by-day.  Here's what's left:

Throw away/give away/sell/recycle all the stuff I'm not actively using and/or don't love.
Grow cotton.
Busk as a bard. 
Read aloud to a group or an individual:
     - Solerna (my YA novel)
Grow orchids.
Learn to identify 10 constellations. (I already know 5!)
Make an amigurumi.

Spend 24 hours in silence and without technology.
Get certified to teach in Florida (and Missouri?)
Go to Dragon*Con in 2012.
Wear a lolita outfit.  In public.
Publish Solerna
Watch a Cirque du Soleil show.
Make a basket.
Try raw sugar cane.
Go on a road trip with no destination and no plan.
Build a cabin.

My next goal will be a book signing for Solerna, hopefully at the local community college.  I think it would be fitting to do it there as a sort of "local grad does good" event.

I'm trying to find time to do the 24 hours without speaking or technology - maybe this weekend will work.

For now, I have a tutoring job in 11 1/2 hours (so yes, I should be sleeping) and have a bunch of work to do on the first entry on that bucket list.  I have a job interview on March 13th that I am very excited about.  It is a part time position at a library of sorts, so it is something I'll be physically able to do - at least for a while yet.

And now the best news of all - the medication seems to be working.  I don't have definitive proof of that yet, because without insurance it is difficult to get the testing done that will let me know for certain, but I do know that I am more alert and able to do more things for longer periods of time since I started on the new program.  I've had some other signs that things are healing, but I want to hold off on that bit of news until I know for sure (or at least until I have more data.)

tl;dr - Great birthday.  Book published. Job interview. Medical improvement.

Monday, February 20, 2012

if I had another day

I am frustrated, confused and rather hurt.

Guess what?  I'm dying.  It should come as no surprise if you've even had a passing interest in this blog.  It isn't an absolute, of course.  Sure, sudden miracles have been known to happen.  Maybe, just maybe, the new medication I've been taking will turn things around or at least give me a little more time.  But the cold, harsh reality is: I'm dying.  If things continue as they are, I have about three months left.

I've been asked, over and over, what I would like to do with the time I have remaining.  My overwhelming response has been that I would like to spend time with my friends and family, preferably while I am still coherent enough to enjoy the experience.

Plus, my birthday is coming up.  In 5 more days, actually.  And it happens to fall on a Saturday.  And I've never had an honest-to-goodness birthday party on my birthday.  Ever.  So my darling husband decided it would be an awesome thing to invite tons of my friends to share in what could be my last birthday.  We envisioned a party with plenty of fun and loads of laughter and a break from the typical "oh, you're dying" awkwardness.  A day where I could relax and visit with friends and snack on delicious things and play games and just enjoy myself.

Sounds pretty darned perfect to me.  So, what's the problem?

He invited loads of people.  Around 50 or so.  (And in this case, if it was a couple being invited I counted them as 1, collectively... so really around 80 people total were invited.)  And invitations were sent out weeks in advance, giving plenty of time for people to plan ahead.  Again, what's the problem?

The problem is, we've heard from 4 people.  Four.  Two of those are regrets.  One is an "I'll try."  Only 1 person cares enough to do this simple little thing - to take a couple hours out of their day to stop by and say "happy birthday" to someone who is facing the end of their days on this Earth.

Do you know someone who has died?  Have you ever wanted just one more chance to tell them you care about them? 

Apparently the people I have always considered to be my friends are using this opportunity to instead tell me that they are like honey badger - and they just don't give a fuck.

You know what?  I love them anyway.  Every damn one of them. 

I just wish they'd give me the chance to tell them that... because headstones aren't very talkative.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

care to take a turn

Things have not been going well.  I have a lingering cold, which my husband and I seem to be passing back and forth.  I'm starting to feel the effects of the falling hemoglobin levels - I am constantly tired and my body aches, my feet are twin icicles and my ankles and wrists/hands swell quite frequently.  I can feel my pulse as my heart struggles with the lower oxygen levels. The dark patches are back and my hair is falling out again. Other symptoms, however, are more troubling.  Increasingly I've been experiencing something that I can only describe as "my guts hurt" - abdominal discomfort in a twisty-wrenchy-burny sort of way.  And there is another indicator that the cancer is thriving within my bowels - more blood clots are being expelled.  I know, "eww!"  But I promised to be honest here, so there you have it.  My body is determined to lose blood, and since I took away the 'via the girly-bits' option, it has found another outlet.

But, I've found another way to fight back.  I've begun a promising herbal treatment program that has had some success in other countries.  After extensive research, this particular blend appears to deal with most of my odd array of symptoms and disorders: the smooth muscle cancer, the immune system gone haywire and the low hemoglobin levels.

Brewing the stuff makes my little witchy self all sorts of happy.  Though I have the herbs in a pre-blended package, the process is somewhat intensive.  Boil a gallon of water, add 4oz of the herb blend, stir, cover and boil for 10 minutes, stir, turn off the heat and let sit for 12 hours, stir, bring back to a boil, sitr, strain and decant into a bottle.  Ok, it's not labor intensive so much as it is time intensive.  The smell is rather pungent, but it's not so bad once you get used to it.  I've just taken my first dose and the flavor isn't bad at all.  I expected bitter, but was pleasantly surprised.  It does have a somewhat woody taste, but overall it's smooth.  I'm glad it doesn't taste horrible since it has to be taken on an empty stomach, and I have to wait an hour before eating anything after each dose.

At this point, what do I have to lose?  At worst it will have a placebo effect - which might give me a little more time.  At best it will kill the cancer and help my immune system and hemoglobin production.  Heck, I'd be thrilled if it would just fix the blood problems.  At least then I'd have the energy to tackle the rest of the issues.

And speaking of issues.  I'm still looking for work... and still getting rejection notices.  If it weren't so sad it would be funny.  One company told me that they wouldn't hire me because my facebook profile photo wasn't a picture of me - and my having a profile photo of an aardvark wasn't presenting the professional image they expected from their employees.  I guess if I'd been in a low-cut top doing duck-face I'd have a job.

Meanwhile, I've started the process to attain my teaching certificate.  Essentially that process is: pay the DOE lots of money.  Oh, and send transcripts to prove you have a degree.  I am optimistically applying for admission to an EPI (Educator Preparation Institute) program at the same local college where I earned my AA.  The class cycle starts in August, and is eligible for financial aid.  So, that should be fun.  I keep looking to see if any of the local (or semi-local) schools need English/Reading/Speech teachers, but no luck thus far. 

So I'm occupying my time by working on The Schubark Chronicles, a series of puppy-point-of-view stories that will be e-published (hopefully) in March.  Don't worry, as soon as they are available, I'll let ~everyone~ know.

My main project right now, though, is preparing for a Kitchen Witch demonstration that I'll be doing for the FSU PSA (Pagan Student Association) on March 24th.  I have no idea if I'll be doing this in an actual kitchen or not - so I'm trying to be very flexible with my plans.  I'm sure it will be fun times, regardless.