Sick, with Stories

Well, that marks the third Thursday with no update.  This time it was illness again…it’s been like that all week.  The worst part is that I missed work yesterday, which I hate doing.  I love my job…like actually love it, because it is the perfect amount of childcare for me.  I can’t really do those long days I used to with kiddos anymore, but the few hours I put in in the afternoon for the program really makes me happy, and exhilarates me, because I’m actually out there doing something I love again. 

Of course, then I get sick and I wonder just how long it can last.  I went for this job because I was delighted that it didn’t start until midafternoon, which means that even if I am sick early morning, as is usual, I can be better by 2pm.  On Monday, I managed just that, going to the ER in the morning before coming home to nap, shower, and go to work.  I was fine that day.  Yesterday, not so much.  I couldn’t shake the crummy feeling, even after returning from the hospital, so I had to call off, which just kicked me in the stomach again.

I don’t want to talk about it anymore.  What’s good??  A good thing from this week is that I wrote myself a little story.

I needed something on Wednesday for my Patreon, something meaty.  More than a poem, y’know?  And I had this little thought in my head about what it takes to get me running in the morning, and then the thoughts started to take a shape.  There’s this movie called Osmosis Jones that I have loved always, and I started to ponder it.  What if there were a cell in my body, that was responsible for what I do?  It was a fun little thought experiment, but what would the cell actually do?  What would be its true purpose?  I thought of the Vonnegut quote: “Make your characters want something right away, even if it’s only a glass of water.”  And so, the tale of Bob the Cell who works in the Hypothalamus was born.  His goal?  Get the Girl a glass of water.

It’s a funny little story that both Sahar and Mom called “brilliant,” which I actually believe to be true because, as rare as it is, I love this story. 

Hardly ever do I write something that I like from the jump, so when I finished this and was so delighted with it I knew it would receive great reception from my “fans.”  (Why is that in quotes?  Because the only people who have read it are friends and family.) And it did, Carey liked it, Mark loved it, and of course my mother just wants to know why I can’t automatically have it picked up by some magazine.

Anyway, that was my big accomplishment for the week, and if you would like to read it (well, the rough draft, anyway,) then you can pop on over to my Patreon and pay $5 for that and more.

I’d really like your patronage over there.  You’re missing out on a lot, I promise.  Also, I need to pay the internet bill.  (See also: Tip Jar, to the right of this page.)

Ok, well, It’s Friday.  I have two kiddos here already and two more on the way, so I guess I better get myself going, and participate in life since I am well enough to do so.  I hope y’all have a great weekend, and happy Friday!

As Predicted

So, it happened as predicted, and I was sick during my first week of work and missed Thursday’s class. I was then sick on Saturday.  And Monday.  And here we are on Tuesday, and I am well, but it is a tenuous wellness.  It could be over and done, as is usually the case after a couple of days.  I hope so, at least.

So obviously I haven’t been able to update.  I haven’t been able to do much of anything, really.  I felt total mom-failure yesterday, because K was supposed to come over in the morning.  I had intended to get all shopping and cleaning done and then go pick her up around 11, and we would go spend the nice warm day together.  Alas, no, I was puking in an emesis bag when she texted me at 1030am. She arrived after dinner to a messy house with no food in it, and I felt like a jerk.  She assured me it was no big deal.  Her and Mark took a trip up to 7/11 to get snacks and drinks, and then we watched tv for a while and I went to bed early.

I had plans for today, but the weather ruined them instead of my stomach.  My cousin G is coming over, and I wanted to take the girls to the park or something, but alas it is pouring.  At least they can have each other’s company on this gloomy day.

I must be off now, because I have many things to do in a very short time, and if I rush myself, I get sick.  And we don’t want any of that.  So, happy Tuesday.

Total Shutdown

Today is Wednesday.  No, no, don’t check your calendar.  You’re on Thursday, I’m on Wednesday, because I am trying to stay a little ahead in some areas, in case of catastrophe.  My stomach has been…disagreeable.  I went to the gastroenterologist and our new theory is that the whole shebang is broken, not just the stomach.  Nothing is working right, from the esophagus to the intestine.  My digestive system’s check engine light has been on for a while, but recently, it began blinking, and now here we are with an endoscopy on Tuesday and a bunch of new medicines at the pharmacy. 

We shall wait.  We shall see.  In the meantime, we shall eat applesauce and dream of cheeseburgers. 

And, try to focus on something else.  Like work. 

So far today I have updated my Patreon and assembled my spring submissions and now I’m here, and hopefully if I don’t run out of steam, I will go crack open the WIP and work on making that “Netflix money.”  It’s not coming as smoothly as it was, but I think a lot of that has to do with two things.  One, I like a good deadline.  NaNo really pushes me in that department, and I deliver.  Second, I need recovery time after such a sprint.

But now I’m recovered and ready to get back at it, but I’m stalled, and I think that might be because I am so close to being finished.  I’m writing the last third of the book now, and I’m halfway though that.  It’s time to say goodbye, including to a few characters that aren’t going to make it to the end scene.  This is some heavy stuff for a writer, you see.  We both love and loathe killing off our characters, and it is a traumatic experience all around.

And then, the final scene, or the epilogue…haven’t decided which I’m going with…and two little words: the end.  And then, it’s over.

The fifteen years that it took me to put this from spark to paper, will be over.  Then what?

EDITING.

The most garbage part of the job, the part for which I wish I was wealthy enough to hire someone.  I love editing poetry and short pieces, but a whole novel?!  I do not know where to start.  Look at my novella, still sitting unedited three years after completion.  There’s a reason for that, and it’s not procrastination.  It just straight up SUCKS to edit a large work.  (In my opinion, at least.)

So, that’s really all I have for right now: a broken digestive system and a WIP to struggle.  I am hopeful that things improve on both fronts, as I am pretty sick of being pretty sick, and I also want these words out of my fingertips and into my computer. 

I don’t think I’m out of steam yet.  Let me go open her up.  See what happens. 

Happy Wednesday.  Err…Thursday.

On Sickness and Subscription

I didn’t update yesterday because I woke up puking at 2am.  A quick jaunt to Mercy told me I would be waiting for several hours, so I went over to St. Joe’s, which is in many ways my preferred hospital for my situation.  Mercy is close and has all my history, but it’s always 100 patients and 10 nurses, whereas St. Joe’s has this weird reputation for being crappy, so the ratio is completely flipped.  I’ve never received poor service there, however, only the best.  And yesterday they ushered me in quickly and had me medicated and calm within half an hour. 

Anyway, that was not the first visit to the ER this week.  Hopefully, it was the last, but now today I still feel weak and out of it, and am vaguely surprised I’m even sitting here writing right now.  I don’t really have a topic, either; I just want to talk about Patreon.

Patreon is the single best way for me to earn a monthly income through writing.  A monthly income means a website that never goes down, and ad funding for my books.  What is Patreon, you ask?  Well, it’s a monthly subscription service connecting you to creators.  If you visit my page, you will see I am creating poetry, short stories, essays, and more.  Now, there are three subscription tiers, and should you decide to subscribe, you should ABSOLUTELY DO THE CHEAPEST ONE.  I mean, it’s super sweet if you want to send me extra money (PS this blog has a tip jar over on the right) but I don’t know how to work the extra features so frankly, you won’t get what you paid for.  Do the 5$ subscription.  I will be plenty grateful and you will have access to everything. 

And what is everything?  Well…we have poems, stories, book chapters, chapbook excerpts, vlogs, essays, newsletters, and cover reveals.  At least a piece a week unless I am laid up, I try to provide my subscribers with an insight into the writing process for me as well as my life as a writer.  Everything is unpublished, new, or raw at the time that I post on Patreon, and it’s the only place to find my fledgling videos, The Vociferous Vlog (which I really have to work on this weekend…oh please don’t let me get sick again.) 

All I’m saying is that if you like me, and you like what I write, and you’ve got 5 bucks a month…I will happily trade you some words.  I really enjoy doing my Patreon, and I am hoping it picks up a little not just for monetary purposes but because I like the platform for connection that it provides. There isn’t anywhere else I would be comfortable sharing the first chapter of my WIP, or starting out making vlogs. 

I’m editing the page a little later today to give possible subscribers a taste of what is being offered, so there will likely be two or three pieces available later, but there’s a lot more available once you subscribe.  Either way, I hope you check it out and consider subscribing.

That all said, my shoulders are killing me.  I’m headed back to the couch for a bit.  Happy Friday.

https://www.patreon.com/brigidhannon

Autumn Housekeeping

Originally, I was going to do NaNo updates on Thursdays like I did the past two years, but then I realized I already wrote about it on Monday, and also that’s when it started, so if I cover it on Mondays, it makes more sense.

So, what am I supposed to write about today?

I could write about the mayoral election which resulted in Byron Brown declaring victory before the votes were counted, which really plays right into what I expect from that guy.  Can’t accept that primary loss but will jump right in and assume he’s the winner after a write-in campaign that has yet to be certified.  Whatever.  I can wait.

I could write about my stomach, which has been quite good lately, knock on wood.  I’ve been on a new pill for about a month and have had few problems and am both optimistic and waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Overall, I feel pretty good and am trying to do things like live a normal life and eat the occasional cheeseburger.

I could write about writing, of course, in the non-NaNo sense…but not much there.  Just the blog, and the weekly Patreon.  Oh!  I did get a TikTok and you can find me @hamneggs716 (of course.)  I will occasionally read poetry for you, if you’re interested.  Other than regular old promoting myself (which I can’t stand, but do admit I’m getting better at,) I’ve just been doing research and work on my NaNo WIP.  Which I will tell you about on Monday.

So, that leaves nothing else to write about, so I will say goodbye and go back to work on my book and maybe make a fresh pot of coffee.

Happy Thursday!

On Food and Funds

Not long ago, and not for the first time, I was having a conversation with a nutritionist about my diet.  This is a fun little topic that comes up on a regular basis given my gastroparesis and its tendency to make digestion an issue for me.  My diet is always evolving.  And again, not for the first time, I was encouraged to go out and buy food that I can never in a million years afford.

Because you can’t eat right if you’re poor.

I knew this a long time ago, when I went to my first food pantry at Catholic Charities.  The food was canned or frozen, and what little fresh food was available was a day away from the garbage bin.  Sometimes you got lucky, though.  I remember one afternoon when Trader Joe’s dropped off a load of almost expired products, and they put them on the shelves for anyone to take.  Some women were arguing over a pack of American cheese.  I looked in the cheese bin to see what was left, if anything, and was delighted!  Gouda? Havarti?  Brie?!  I scooped all that fancy cheese while those women were fighting over Kraft slices.  Still, the fresh food at that pantry was in low supply.  I had better luck at a secular pantry run by a health organization I was linked to, but eventually I stopped going to them and lost pantry privileges.

Then there are the grocery stores.  First of all, there’s food deserts: places with no access to fresh food, like downtown (soon to change now that Braymiller’s Market is opening, though I don’t know what their prices are like.)  I shop mainly at Savealot or Aldi’s, which are discount grocery stores.  Other options in the area are Wegmans and Tops.  These stores are very different from one another-take Wegmans and Savealot.  Firstly, you walk in the door and see the produce section.  Savealot’s is about a case and a half.  Wegmans’ is the garden of flippin’ Eden.  Then you find their bakery sections…one with packaged breaks and cakes and very little choice, the other with a million fresh baked options.  The meat and dairy sections at Wegmans are endless, but only a few cases at Savealot.  But then…frozen foods!  Savealot has two aisles for frozen food.  I’m sure Wegmans has the same or more, but in comparison to the other departments there is a huge difference between the offerings.  Almost as if there’s just more cheap and easy stuff per square foot at Savealot.  So, essentially, this low-cost store is definitely saving me money, but at what cost?  At the cost of my health.  See, the strawberries might be two bucks cheaper at Savealot, but at Wegmans, I don’t have to throw half out because they are rotting or damaged.

Another thing about the stores that Mark noticed is the way they are set up.  Savealot, has you enter in one specific spot and encourages you to follow a sort of zig-zag pattern through the aisles.  In Wegmans and Tops, is just laid out for you to go wherever and get your thing.  He noticed that when we went to buy cheese yesterday, we bought a few other things as well that we saw while walking the aisles.  Had we gone to Wegmans, that wouldn’t happen.  I would have gone directly to the dairy and got the cheese and left.  But that’s not just because of the way the grocery store is arranged; that’s because of my wallet.  I can’t AFFORD to aisle-wander in Wegmans. 

Bringing me back to how poor people can’t eat right.  My doc is from Amherst, a nice suburb, and likes to suggest I shop at Whole Foods and I like to laugh and laugh until it gets uncomfortable.  I can’t buy a head of lettuce in that store.  It’s outrageous.  It’s outrageous at Wegmans, and some days, I think it’s outrageous at Savealot, too.

When we used to get food stamps, a lot of people were always talking about how folks on EBT were spending it all on steak and lobster and I would laugh and laugh until it got real uncomfortable and then I would go on a rant about how I can barely buy ground beef and tuna fish with the 125$ a month they give us to feed ourselves and maybe you should just sit down and shut up before you make yourself into a fool in front of people who actually deserve help!  But I digress.

My point is that even with help, it’s not enough to eat right.

Mom told me Bill Maher went on a tear recently about how America is obese and her response was that maybe if we all had personal chefs and his kind of money that wouldn’t be a problem, which I think sums it up right there.  I, personally, am sick of hearing how going organic or something is better for me.  Why, I’d love to.  Just make it cheaper.

There is a ridiculous amount of poverty in this country and hunger and food-insecurity are real things in our communities, and there are just not enough services in my opinion.  I don’t feel as though people should jump though a thousand hoops just for the privilege of eating.  Furthermore, I don’t think it should be a frigging privilege.

In my research, a woman led me to FullCart, an online food bank.  I filled out the questionnaire and am hoping to hear back soon to see whether I qualify for a free box of food to be shipped to my house.  I know there won’t be a fresh thing in that box, but I’m going to try it all and find out what else is available for people who are hungry.

I could really go for a fresh garden salad with chicken and strawberries and walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette for lunch, but instead I’m having a chicken patty on white bread because that only cost me 25 cents to make.

Because you can’t eat right when you’re poor.

.com

Hello again, my friends.

I was terribly ill for about a week, resulting in a hospital overnight that was, in the end, exactly what I needed all along.  The combination of meds and a saline drip did wonders for my disposition.  The docs think I caught a bug that aggravated my gastroparesis that caused dehydration and exhaustion.  I thought I had Covid, and freaked out, but my test was blessedly negative.  I went home Thursday morning feeling much improved, better than I have felt in weeks, actually. 

Then came E.  She spent her week with us and we had a lovely time together as always, and she continues to amaze me and make me proud.  She is turning into this beautiful and fun young woman and I am just in awe of her.  We went out to dinner and to the beach and hiking and to the farmer’s market and the family reunion and last night we had dinner with my parents and played Nightmare, this game from the 90’s that Kevin and I loved as kids.  Kev won the game, the first time in our history that ANYONE has won the game before the clock ran out.  It was great fun.  She headed home this morning and now I am sitting here, playing catch-up.

Another thing that happened is an angel came to visit me.  They gave me something special…a sponsorship of sorts.  While I was stressing about where to get the funds to run my website another year, not to mention buy my domain for my blog, fate moved as it does and the angel came and gave me a gift. Brigidhannon.com soldiers on for another year, selling books and connecting me to the world.  And now, hamneggs716.com, my baby, my darling, my little pumpkin-faced peanut, finally!  20 years I have had a blog, and I never bought her a domain.  Now, we exist.

So, that’s what has been going on.

Now, I have to write.  I have to finish this blog and start on one of the other three I have up and coming.  I have to work on content for my Patreon account, and plan out a video poem that I am going to use to raise some funds for the AFSP.  Then, I have to pray St. John Bosco, the patron saint of publishers and editors, that my editor will email me soon.  Also, I guess I should do the laundry?

Ramble

My stomach is the worst!

I really thought that by this point I wouldn’t be writing about it anymore.  At least, less  At least, it wouldn’t be throwing me flareups that wipe out whole days of my life every so often. 

I planned to go to my first musical event this past weekend…a cover band of a group I love, at my favorite bar.  Did I make it?  No, of course not.  Why, oh why, would my pyloric muscle ever allow such things?!  FUN?! NEVER!!

So, after feeling salty about that all day on Sunday, I woke up feeling a little better this morning, but also tired of worrying about my health.  However, I am making major health strides despite my stupid stomach.  For one, my sciatica is much improved due to the exercises I have been doing.  And speaking of exercise and diet related things, I am officially the thinnest I have ever been in my entire life.  I don’t suggest my diet of protein shakes and jello, but hey, it got results, I guess.  I do indeed fit into that bathing suit I mentioned some months ago.  That’s a nice thing.

I mean, I really still don’t give a crap about my weight but it’s nice to accomplish a goal, y’know?

And then the other health thing, in which I attempt to quit smoking.  Again.  They say the average smoker quits seven times before the big one…if that’s so I’m plugging along on attempt number five right now.  Hopefully it’s a good, long run.  In the meantime, I’m on the patch and having crazy dreams.  No, don’t tell me to take it off at night…I often wake up in the night wanting a smoke, so I have to keep it on then,  The dreams are actually mostly fun, not scary or anything, but the realism is something of a brain tease.

So, I’m losing weight and quitting smoking and still my stomach insists on behaving the way it does every time I try to do something fun.  One doc says it’s a fluke.  Another doc says it takes time for it to heal.  I don’t think either of them know what they’re talking about anymore.

I’m sitting in my desk with a pain in my shoulder as I type because I am simply not used to sitting at my desk and typing, as I have been away from the writing for so long.  My blog is in shambles, my poetry practically nonexistent, and while I did drop 350 words in the WIP the other day, that’s it for months now.  But this morning I found a poem.

Just a little something about a fish that I wrote while out one afternoon and forgot about.  Just a note on my phone, that I polished up and put into pretty words and saved in my poetry file.  It gave me a little hope, much like the fishies I wrote the poem about do.

That’s what I need to do!  Go fishing.

Anyway…thanks for listening to my ramble today.  There wasn’t much else on the agenda and I just had to get all these little thoughts out of my mind.

Happy Monday.

Fluke

So, it’s been a bit, and that has to do with only one thing, which is my stomach.  Of course.

I planned this great trip for my birthday.  My parents and sister and friends were all coming down to celebrate at my favorite place, Allegany State Park!  Camping and hiking and fishing and bonfires…what could go wrong??

Friday was ok.  I did a little fishing with Mark, then Carey arrived, and we tried to make a fire but couldn’t really get it going.  We went to bed early…big day tomorrow, and all that.

Saturday. Party day, and I spent it in the back of the cabin, vomiting.  Everyone else says they had a good time, which is helpful for my depression, but not by much.  No, that took a major hit as I laid in Olean General Hospital and realized that I actually applied for a job last week.  Like an idiot.  Like an idiot with a working digestive system.

Olean Gen was adorable, by the way.  Note that I am used to a massive city hospital with a warehouse-style emergency department that has like 62 beds.  This place had probably 12 rooms and a handful or carts, and when they told me they were very busy I was worried for a six hour wait, as per usual at Mercy up by my house.  Alas, no, that just meant they were putting me in a hall bed.  I haven’t gotten so lucky as to get a hall bed at Mercy in years!

The nurses were wonderful, and the doctor was a peach.  I am used to docs who come in and say “Here’s the thing were doing,” then they do it.  This man asked me if we could do the thing…asked me.  That means a lot, really.

Anyway, after a couple of hours and a couple of bags of saline, I was back in the cabin, sleeping.  I woke up to Carey leaving and mild nausea.  I realized I lost my sunglasses, so I drove to Salamanca and bought a new pair.  We returned to the cabin and just kind of hung around…I still felt terrible, worse as the day went on.

Went home early Monday morning, felt like death.

Tuesday, back at Mercy.  The usual question presents itself: when are you getting your surgery?  Dude…I DID.

On Friday I was feeling much better and went to the doctor.  They tell me, it’s a fluke.  They tell me it was stress-induced.  Prescription:  less stress.  Ha!

I feel ok now, but it was a huge blow to my mental health, not just physical.  I am still upset, because last week I put out an application for a job, and that’s a really big deal for me.  To think that I am still battling this full-force is just not acceptable.  I have been waiting for it to be over for so long.

But maybe it is.  Maybe, doc says, when I come back in a few months I won’t have had any problems, and they will declare the surgery as working.  I just have to cut down on the stress.

Oh, if only I knew how.

Recovery, Day 7.

I haven’t blogged in a bit because I haven’t been able to sit at the computer for a bit.  I got sick exactly two weeks ago, my gastroparesis throwing one final tantrum that lasted several days.  Then, one week ago, I awoke sick again and even more terrified than usual, because I had plans that day.  Big plans.

When I started vomiting blood, Mark suggested I throw in the towel and go to Mercy hospital to get checked out, but I wasn’t going down that easy.  Instead, I called my surgeon’s office, retching in the poor nurses ear, and asked what I should do.  She called me back and told me to go to Sister’s hospital ASAP.

The relief felt in that moment was almost as good as the relief felt when the anti-nausea drugs kick in.  My stupid stomach would NOT ruin this for me-but I knew it was going to be hard.

When I got to the hospital, they took me right away to a room and got me setup.  I knew I couldn’t get the “good” meds, the kind that calm me down or make me sleep, because they would interfere with the anesthesia.  So, they gave me one of those sea-sickness patches you put behind your ear and a dose of Compazine.  It didn’t work.  I sat there and waited for surgery, puking the entire time.

When they got me down to the OR, it was clear that the attending’s were not used to a “visibly” ill person in the room.  Everyone kept asking if I was okay, and what I was there for, and if it was related to the vomiting.  “I’m fine, I have gastroparesis, the surgery will help,” became my mantra.  They kept telling me that once the anesthesiologist came down, he would give me something to calm me.  It never really happened, because I blew my IV site right before going in, in classic Brigid fashion. 

They put me on the operating table and put a mask over my face and told me it was oxygen.  It smelled like perfume.

Then, it was over.

I woke up back in the prep room with an excruciating pain in my neck.  That turned out to be a central line, because they never did find a vein.  My stomach hurt, but no more than it had prior to surgery when I was sick, so it wasn’t my main focus.  The nurse with the ice chips was.

I spent the night in total pain until they gave me a shot around midnight and then I slept until six.  After meeting with a nutritionist, my doctor came in to tell me all was well and I could go home that night.  Originally I was supposed to stay longer in the hospital, so this was a delightful sur[rise.

I went home to recuperate, and I was thrilled to be able to have something to drink finally.  Alas, no food.  No food for two weeks, while my stomach heals up.  Then soft food for two weeks.  June can’t come fast enough.

No exercise for a bit, and recommendations fo rest.  I took to the couch with my protein shakes and Gatorade and recovered.  A week went by.

It’s hard for me to believe that it was two weeks ago when the flareup first started.  It seems like it was only a few days.  I am eternally hopeful that was my last episode, at least for a good long while. 

So, it’s now a week after surgery and I feel quite good.  Better every day, actually.  I am hoping that once this recovery process is over next month, I am able to return to living a life that I have missed.  I miss going to bed at night without a contingency plan.  I miss waking up in the morning without nausea.  I miss eating foods I love, or drinking a beer.  I don’t think I want too much, just the ability to enjoy a few things life has to offer that I have been missing out on.

(Also, I wanna know how much I’m going to weigh at the end of this, because this is definitely the most intense diet I’ve ever been on.)