General Update

Health: Due to ongoing health problems, I haven’t had much to say on the internet. I’ve been too caught up in … pain, to be honest. 🙁 However, the intense pain (headaches mainly) seem to be subsiding, leaving me with niggly pains that I am able to cope with. I find I’m clearer minded now and able to think about things. This means I’m feeling more positive and able to get things done.

Writing: Apart from this week (but the week isn’t over yet, so maybe I’ll still get some words down), I’ve been writing about 2,000 words a week for Whispering Caves. I think that’s a great achievement, considering what I’ve been through. Anyway, I’ve hit the 15,000 word mark. 🙂 It is the first draft and I already know the first edit/rewrite is going to be a major one, but that’s OK.

Website: Some slight changes have been made, mainly to the navigation bar above. The home page will change on the weekend, when I have time to code what I’ve already got planned in my head. More on that at a later date.

Personal: I recently wrote a post about feeling isolated. This was written after several weeks of very little sleep and intense pain. Now that I’m feeling a bit more on top of things I’ve been thinking about what I wrote then and what I feel now and have decided that the house is important to my future security. It’s something I’ve strove for for a long time and I would be wrong (and stupid) to let it go without a fight. With this in mind, I think it’s time for me to “embrace” my decision to move to the new location and plan a future there. This may mean finding a new job in the area — even a part time job, if I can’t find a full time position — so that I get my life back. Until now, I have been holding on to my current job because I dreamed I’d be able to move back to the old location. But I’ve never been able to afford there. I can’t see why that will change now or in the future.

More on Writing: I’ve made a decision to do with the Cat’s Series (chapter books for 9 to 12 year olds). I won’t go into details now, but I’m excited about where I intend to go with these manuscripts. Stay tuned for announcements.

From A Child’s View

I found myself thinking about book covers yesterday afternoon, as I visualised my unpublished books on the shelf of a book shop.  🙂

Whispering Caves isn’t finished yet, but I have always had an image in my mind that I associate with the cover.  However, Cat’s Eyes is finished and because of that, I concentrated on that cover more.

Later in the evening, out of boredom, I opened Photoshop and tried to put my thoughts into an image.  It was difficult!  When I went to bed several hours later, I had a cover that appealed to me, but there’s the big problem…

…I’m a lot older than the intended audience.

This morning, I left my warm bed and decided to research the covers of children’s books and I found From A Childs View: 30+ Creative Children’s Book Covers.

To me, some of the covers shown in the post look old fashioned (and perhaps they are).  The ones that appeal to my young heart are the ones with vibrant colours.  They stand out from the rest.  They scream “READ ME” and isn’t that what every author wants?

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but remember when preparing one that just about all readers do, so investing time into a brilliant cover is worth the effort.

My Knitting Bag

Due to the colder months, I’ve been doing a lot of knitting.  As most of the projects I’ve started are small, I’m finishing more than normal.  As a result, there seems to be an influx of craft posts on this website and I feel as if there are actually too many.

As I learn new techniques and find tips on the internet that I want to record for future use, I want to post about them but at the same time I’m hesitant to do so.

Yesterday, I made the decision to create a new website – My Knitting Bag – where I can freely post to my heart’s content.

There isn’t much to see over there yet. Posts have been scheduled for the coming week, but they are literally the posts on craft that were posted to this website, but have now been moved to the new website and deleted from here.

From now on, all tips and resources will be posted there, not here. It’s unlikely I’ll post anything to do with craft here again.

So if you are a crafty person, I hope you’ll head over to My Knitting Bag and make yourself known to me. 🙂

Edit: My Knitting Bag has been deleted. I didn’t use it much and have commenced added a few posts to this site again instead.

Book Review: Want to Play?

Want to Play?

Want to Play? by P.J. Tracy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Want to Play? (also published as “Monkeewrench”) is a mystery thriller written by mother/daughter team who use the pseudonym P J Tracy.

A group of five friends who compile gaming software soon discover that someone is using their latest game – Serial Killer Detective – as a basis for murder. When they report the discovery to the police, they quickly find themselves on the top of the suspect list.

I picked this book up as I flew out of the house to catch a train. I wanted something to read on the long trip and the book was on top of the pile. I didn’t have time to be choosy. To be honest, on the train when I looked at it more carefully, I didn’t expect much from it. So I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the book to the first page and the writing style snagged me straight away.

I liked the sense of humour and the colourful characters. I also liked the way the mystery unfolded – little by little, without making me get edgy because the next bit of information was too long in coming. I also enjoyed the thriller side of the story. Wondering what had happened in their past to make them the people I was reading about. Wondering what was around the next dark corner.

My only complaint about this book is that at one point I felt the crudeness was getting too much to handle. In some ways it felt sexist and I started to get annoyed, but then that side of things settled (or maybe I just stopped noticing) and I began to enjoy the story again.

I especially liked how the story didn’t get too technical or wasn’t too focused on the forensics side of things. In my opinion, there was a good balance of information given without it getting bogged down in facts and figures, which becomes boring.

Want to Play? is an interesting read and I recommend it to anyone who wants to be entertained, wants the pages to almost turn themselves, and experience a well thought out story with characters who put defined images of themselves into your imagination.

Health: The Ups and the Downs

Sometimes I laugh at my own wit. Not often, mind you, because I’m told my sense of humour is sick – and that doesn’t mean great and wonderful, it means the old fashion “sick” (totally rotten). But I think the people who say that are all weird in the head.

Anyway, let me get back on track. Today, I want to talk about health — my health, in particular — and the wonderful (sometimes misguided) science of medication.

Three months ago, I felt fine. A bit tired maybe and I had a few headaches, but nothing I couldn’t cope with. Then I had a niggling feeling in what looked like a scratch on my face, so I went to the doctor. It’s been all downhill from there.

I had to have a biopsy done on that scratch, which turned out to be a skin cancer. Better out than in, as they say. Now I have a lovely scar under my eye but at my stage of life, I don’t care about that.

When I visited the doctor, after a brief whack over the knuckles for not following up on a blood disorder I have, he ordered me to have a ton of blood taken and tested. So then I had a scar on my face (at that time it was a black eye too) and a huge bruise on my arm where they took the blood. No problem. I’m passed being chosen for Ms World, so what does it matter?

The results were not good, so the doctor sent me to a specialist. The specialist also gave me a whack over the knuckles and then told me to have more tests. One of them was a bone marrow test. Still no problem. Black eye and scar on my face, large yellowing bruise on my arm and now a hole in my back followed by a reaction to the dressing which left a messy rash there too (which is still clearing up).

Still not satisfied, the specialist puts me on medication. Now, I know it was necessary. I’m in a high danger zone for a stroke. I’m having the warning signs on a daily basis. Medication is necessary. I know that. But…

The medication makes me drowsy.

Great, I think to myself. I’ll take it at night and will sleep better, which in turn will make me feel better.

Wrong!

Correction, the medication makes me drowsy for two hours and then I’m wide awake staring at the ceiling for the rest of the night. Let’s do the math. I go to bed at 9.30pm because I have to get up so early in the morning. I sleep for two hours, which means I wake up at 11.30pm and remain awake for the rest of the night.

Not good.

I continued on with my life. Getting up and going to work, even though I’d only had two hours sleep. This was fine to begin with but sleep deprivation has a way of playing with the mind. After ten nights, I started feeling exhausted and this in turn made me feel other things. Apart from the obvious – feeling worthless and having bad thoughts – suddenly I didn’t care about anything (myself, my job, my house…everything, really). And on top of this, the headaches intensified due to the lack of sleep.

Something had to change.

I approached my bosses and told them what was happening. Then I told them that I would no longer take the medication at night. I intended to take them at work. Their eyes widened, but, hey, I’m backed into a corner and have no other options. I know it. They know it. I can’t continue to have virtually no sleep as depression is setting in and who knows where that will lead. On Thursday, I took my tablets at 8.30am. By 9am my brain had disconnected and I felt like an alien on a strange planet. I couldn’t think yet I was meant to be working. My speech was slurred yet I was meant to be answering the phone. I got extremely upset, because this medication is meant to lessen the risk of stroke, yet how am I supposed to function when I’m taking it? And this is long term, not for just a couple of weeks!

Anyway, by 10am, I felt my brain reconnect and I started functioning as a human again, but in slow motion. By 10.40am I was pretty much back to normal. In the afternoon, when I usually feel like a siesta, I was wide eyed and happily working my butt off.

I sleep well that night.

On Friday morning, I did the same thing. I had the same experience. As the people I work for and with know my situation, they just stayed away from me until my brain reconnected. Luckily, the phone didn’t ring, so I didn’t embarrass myself there.

But is this a life I want? Is this what I can look forward to in the future? Yes, I can now sleep a lot better. That is better for my mental health, so maybe as I catch up on the sleep I’ve missed, I’ll be more able to cope with the situation. However, I’m not allowed to be stressed but I have to be a zombie at work for an hour or so, which makes me stress.

I return to see the specialist in two weeks. He will be told what’s happening and hopefully he will offer a solution to the problem, or maybe my body will grow used to it. I don’t care which of these things happen, all I know is that I don’t want to be a zombie for two hours each and every day. I have enough trouble being a human!

So, yes, I make myself laugh over my own wit at times. But it’s good that I can laugh. I need it. Seriously, I really need it. And the ups and downs (quite literally) of my medication will have me laughing all the way to a mental institution, if I’m not careful.

Personal: Where’s a Crystal Ball When I Need One?

Fifteen months ago, I moved away. Away from everything and everyone I knew. Away from my place of work, my family, my friends and the city that I called home. And in some ways, I moved away from civilisation. I did it for no other reason than to buy a house because houses are too expensive, way beyond my means, in the city I moved away from. In the new place, houses are cheap, but that is because there are no jobs in the area.

In order to survive I have to commute to work. Four hours a day, five days a week. In turn, this means I get up at 5am and I get home at 7pm. In winter, it is dark when I leave my new home and dark when I return. All year round, the shops are shut when I leave in the morning and shut when I arrive home. Being a small town, the shops in the new town only open for a couple of hours on Saturday morning. They don’t open at all on a Sunday. And…I work too far away from shops to be able to visit them at lunchtime.

Apart from my immediate neighbours, who I’ve heard more than seen, I don’t even know what the people in my street look like, let alone anything else about them. We have no friends in the area and don’t have a hope of making any with the hours I keep, and the exhaustion I feel.

I feel so tired in the evenings when I get home I don’t have the energy to do anything for myself. Nothing that might relax me, nothing I enjoy. No internet, no writing, no reading, no knitting. Nothing except eat dinner, wash up, make lunch for the next day and then sit in front of the TV for an hour before going to bed. I sleep, if I can, then wake up and do it all over again.

I wanted to buy a house for security. Security for the future – for when I’m old. G didn’t care one way or the other, but it meant a lot to me. It was something that consumed me, worried me.

Now I’m buying a house. It’s what I wanted, needed, dreamed about.

So imagine G’s shock when I told him recently that I’m not happy. He was genuinely gob smacked and G always has plenty to say! When he asked me why all I could say is that I feel totally isolated from everything – especially family and friends. The isolation is so bad that I even feel isolated on the internet. I find myself withdrawing from community networks, from blogging, from life. I feel myself sinking into depression. I have nothing to say because I do very little apart from travel, work and sleep. On the weekend, I don’t want to travel to see familiar faces because I’ve done too much travelling during the week. Besides, I never spend time at home and I want to get to know the place.

Depression is an ugly thing. It takes hold and won’t let go. It takes the remaining bits of energy away as well as any motivation I might have to do anything. Just as bad are the thoughts such as “what’s the point” which crowd my mind all too often.

I’ve become adept at hiding my feelings and carrying on regardless. But I spent over a decade of married life pretending everything was all right, when it wasn’t. I spent at least two years after the death of my son pretending I was coping, when I wasn’t. I don’t want to spend the next ten years pretending I made the right choice, when I fear I haven’t.

On top of this, I have the added burden of health issues. I’m not allowed to be stressed. I’m in danger of having a stroke. I sleep little. I’m suffering terrible headaches at least three times a week and recently I had a headache for an entire week. And not “just” a headache, it was very much like a migraine, but an ongoing, never ending one that went day and night for 8 days. None of this does anything to make my depressed state any better.

What do I do? Sell up and move back to the city? Hold tight and hope my health improves and with it my mental state of mind too?

There are no jobs where I’m living and I can’t afford not to work. But if I sell up I’ll be back where I started. If I don’t sell up, I have to find a way to combat the isolation problem before I lose motivation permanently.

What do I do? I don’t want to look back on this time in ten years and regret my decision. I don’t want to think, “If only I’d hung on” or “If only I’d sold up”, but what’s the right decision? What’s the best thing to do?

Oh my God, I have no idea!