Wednesday, August 31, 2011

There But For the Grace of God

     In the midst of all my grumping and groaning and feeling sorry for myself concerning this current medical crisis, I try and remember there are others who are lots and lots worse off than we are. We have all sorts of resources to deal with medical problems and besides, we don't even know for sure what we're looking at yet, so why should I fuss?
     Here's an interesting story that helped to bring me up short in the midst of all these problems: a couple of nights ago, the teen-age grandson who, with his mom, lives in the same house with us, was in it up to his neck. He had got home without the book which had his assigned reading in it. Uh-oh. Big Trouble!
     So I rushed in and downloaded the book onto my I-Pad so he could get his evening assignment done.
     Okay . . . next day I decided to get my money's worth by reading the book myself. After all, it was fairly short. Turns out, I'm really really glad I did. And I highly recommend the book to any of my readers (those of you who aren't already familiar with it.)
     The name of the author is Jean-Dominique Bauby and the book is entitled The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and it is an absolutely fabulous story.
     Bauby suffered a stroke at the age of 43, just at the height of a successful career, that immediately launched him into a world totally opposite of the one with which he was familiar. When he came to his senses the only method of communication he had left was the deliberate movement of his left eyelid. Nothing else in his body functioned without some kind of artificial aid or human manipulation. In addition he was to experience constant pain for the rest of his life.
     He was diagnosed with what is known as "Closed-In Syndrome" or, as he describes it in the book, what felt as if he was enclosed inside a diving bell in a vast sea where there is no movement, no control, no communication. All remaining were the butterflies of his mind.
     The syndrome is at least well enough known that there was an established method of communication that could, over a long period of time and with a lot of pain, be taught. This method uses the alphabet and Bauby learned to indicate each letter with the movement of his left eyelid as an interpreter took down dictation.
     The end result (and I haven't found out just how long the whole episode took, from stroke to his death) was the 'writing' of this book, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly', which was published in France two days before his death.
     So, (1) I'm going to quit my belly-aching about a treatable situation and (2) I'm going to try and improve my writing. If a man in this condition can produce a book of this quality I'll be derned if I quit!
     Read the book. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another Fine Mess

     Hey, everyone. Nice and cool today. After the heat of the summer I'm really enjoying this. Wish I had time to be out in it though.
     Just a short update to keep everyone in the loop. My better half, as everyone knows, has had a rough time of it lately with this bout with the shingles. Well, wouldn't you know? We go to the doctor last week, complaining that there is something else going on lately and sure enough . . . there is! Something that has been hiding its ugly head beneath all of the other, evidently.
     After a series of blood tests, we are told that his kidneys are failing! Well, five minutes of sheer panic. Then, thank goodness, we both have sense enough to stop and take a breath and look at what we're dealing with. I hit the computer, reading (out loud) as fast and furiously as I can and, after about a half hour, we have our socks on the right feet again and have calmed down considerably. I recall my Uncle Clover who lived for quite a number of years on dialysis . . . and this was before they knew much about what they could do otherwise.
     Anyway, we booked some preliminary tests and the poor guy (who was in a bad state as it was) had a couple of terrible days preparing for a colonoscopy . . .those of you who have experienced one know how awful it is and those of you who have not have really got something to look forward to...and an upper G.I.. Neither of these produced anything that was contributing to the situation so now we go the next step. As soon as all the wheels finish turning we will be referred to a nephrologist who will no doubt make his life miserable in unknown ways (particularly through diet . . . and boy! do I look forward to forcing that little way of life onto him).
     At least, from the research we've done up to now we're fairly optimistic.
     My writing is at a standstill but, by golly, I'll catch up again one of these days.
     Damn, getting old is fun, ain't it?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight

     What a strange summer this has turned out to be! With a husband suffering from shingles for the past six months, my day-to-day routines have been altered in ways too numerous to list. I find myself stopping whatever I'm doing in order to do something else right now . . . not because he demands it but because I try and simplify his life as much as possible. He lives in so much pain at present that it's only fair that I keep things going as smoothly as possible. Complicating matters is the fact that both of my in-laws are (literally) suffering from the ravages of old age and their son is constantly worried about them and their care. This is not helping him recover his own health any faster.
     If I could be quite objective I would admit all of this is more or less a universal problem, but things have a way of becoming so personal one feels as if it is unique to the immediate situation.
     At least I  feel justified in only now and then posting on this blog. One would think it could be (and it actually is) a place to relieve some of the stress. However, considering my lack of organization, it is a wonder I even think of the blooming site.
     Funny, though. When I really get started, it is fun. Sort of like having a conversation with an old friend!
     So, now . . . I have the preliminaries out of the way . . . let's have a go at other subjects.
     I have tried to do a few other things this summer. A few days now and then doing professional stuff keeps my head screwed on straight and that helps a lot. True, I've not done too many creative things or put too much thought into what I have undertaken up to recently but it's coming . . . it's coming.
    At the Missouri Writers Guild conference in the spring, From Trash to Treasure took honorable mention in the best book category and I began negotiating with the publisher of High Hill Press concerning a position with the house.
    Later in the summer I attended the Heartland Writer's Conference in Sikeston, MO, where my Trash to Treasure  memoir won first place in their book contest. I caught up with some good friends and solidified the plans concerning a new juvenile division for High Hill Press to be called Sky High Tales with me as acquisitions editor.
     During this time I was also attempting to polish up my latest book, a juvenile mystery to be entitled Junkyard Bones and I contributed a short story to the latest of OWInc.'s anthologies, Mysteries of the Ozarks, Vol III and a second story to what will eventually be Mysteries of the Ozarks, Vol IV.
     During the past month or two I've been working at editing several manuscripts for the publisher so we should have several good possibilities coming up during the next year and I'll be on the outlook for more as time goes by.
     Just last weekend I attended a brand-new conference in Hollister, MO. It was held at Ye Old Country Inn, recently restored by Janet Dailey, and she was nice enough to make herself available to the participants. In addition Dusty Richards, the well-known (and much decorated) western writer, Fred Pfister, the editor of the Ozarks Mountaineer magazine and Radine Trees Nehring, a writer of cozy mysteries, were featured speakers. It was well attended by both new and experienced writers and had lots of good information for all. To top it off, the regular quarterly Ozark Writer's League meeting was held at the tail end of the conference and I got to go for a change. Lucky, too, as a good friend, Pat Smith, was one of the two main speakers. She talked about social networking. The other, Deborah LeBlanc, was an extremely dynamic speaker who talked about working outside the box.
     It was a good meeting and I got a lot out of it  . . . not to mention the possibility of finding a couple of possible new authors for Sky High Tales . . . if it works out.
     So in spite of illness and business I still find time to do the two things I most enjoy . . . reading and writing.
     And the third thing for that matter . . . networking with friends and fellow writers.
     So even though I'm dealing with a lot of 'stuff' here at home with sickly husband, grown children and grandchildren, I'm finding time to still stay with my writing business.
     Just have a bit of trouble making time for blogging!