ritaxis: (hat)
I am writing this month, but I can't do Nanowrimo for reasons. One: I don't seem able to focus on very large projects at this time. I'm just grateful I can write at all! Anything longer than a short tends to get lost in the underbrush of a no-longer-chemo-brain. So I'm writing shorts, cleaning up old stuff, submitting a bit. I decided that since it's really unlikely for me to make enough money to be thrown off of Medi-Cal in the near future, it's dumb not to submit. Actually--did I explain this?--being thrown off Medi-Cal is not the thing I fear. What I'm afraid of is getting put into the grey category where they don't throw you off Medi-Cal but they require you to pay several hundred dollars (for some people, thousands!) before they will pay for anything. It would be better to get thrown all the way off and pay the (newly) normal subsidized premiums and copays, but that doesn't happen immediately. Worse, I have no idea what would trigger which alternative. So, just as in the case of facing up to cancer, etc., I just have to live my life.

I already submitted two things--one at the end of last month, but I'm counting it in this month. That was a near-future sort-of fantasy about a woman who is being moved out of her inundated neighborhood to find that her new neighborhood is pretty watery itself. And also pretty strange. The other is "John Brown's Body," which is ten years old and looks it, but it's going to a reprint market and its datedness might be interesting in the light of how things are working out, politically, these days. I mean it's sort of the opposite to everything!

I wrote a flash piece but my first reader (you know who you are) said what I was feeling--that the story felt like the unshot gun on the mantle. So now it's turning into a novella. I think it's kind of a time paradox story, but maybe not: some mysteries are not to be understood by the author. An old lady returns to the mysterious coastal village she spent a summer in during her childhood, and finds things to be somewhat different from how she remembered them, but some things are entirely too similar. The best part is the setting, of course. I think, despite what I said about my brain not being able to handle longer projects, that this is not too much for me to handle. Again, there are parts of the story that can't decide whether they are near-future sf or fantasy.

During the summer I was working on two short novels, but due to chemotherapy I could only move them forward a bit. One was about girls who save the world by means of their special relationship with crows and pigeons respectively. Honestly, the hardest part of that one is working out a believable mechanism for them to save even a shred of the world. And yet, parts of the world do get saved on a regular basis.

The other is low-fantasy in that it is set in the same fantasy world--but a different corner of it--and it is unlikely that much of the fantasy elements will come to bear on the story. It's an enemies-to-lovers story happening in the interstices of a larger drama of bandit freedom fighters and also referencing the earliest days of the motion picture industry as experienced by eager innovators in other corners of the world. But not our world. Informed by the last years of the Ottoman empire but in no way an analog for it.

On other fronts: I am a third of the way through radiation therapy. The only bothersome effect is my own body's ridiculous response to any postural demand, which is to spasm painfully somewhere. I have to lie in a comfortable position on a well-constructed individualized support for less than half an hour a day, and my body's response to this is to develop stiff painful areas in my neck, back, and arm. Not the side being radiated. The other side. My radiated breast is a little red, and maybe a bit sensitive, but not so as I'd care, especially with this other crap going on.

Continuing with the health care theme, I've restarted physical therapy. I'd gotten de-conditioned and I'd gained weight during chemo, because I spent a lot of the day sleeping or lying in bed reading. Now my energy level is back to its normal (kind of low) levels, and I'm getting more exercise, but there's some damage to undo. Also, I've been using the BiPAP machine for two months and it is not creating as dramatic a difference as one might expect. However, the doctor has some suspicions about my oxygen uptake which we're going to measure next week & discuss next month.

AND last but not least in this theme, today I got cortisone shots in both thumbs to fight severe trigger finger. It's the second round. The first wore off two months ago but the PA's not willing to give me shots more often than every six months. So if this happens again we're looking at surgery. I'm not afraid of surgery. I'm afraid of being the little old lady who collects all the surgeries, and also the fact that I've been enjoying my surgical experiences feels a little perverse to me, so I drag my feet for that reason too.

It's time to go to radiation or I'd expound about Zluta and the state of my house, but that will have to wait for another day, because after radiation Zluta and I will take a walk and after that I will want to clean house a bit before time for dancing.
ritaxis: (hat)
When I got Zluta I got her for her personality. I've been telling people I got her because I knew she'd be a pain in the ass--demanding lots of walks and exercise and playtime. It's true. And she does. She demands a lot. Though as she gets older she also hangs out companionably with me for hours too. I've mostly convinced her that coming when called at the dog park is a lovely, joy-filled occupation but she has a new evasive action she pulls in the yard at night. I rarely let her out after dark because I'm afraid she'll mix it up with the wildlife (mostly rats, raccoons, and opossums, at night: but fox and coyote and even mountain lions have been seen within a block or two of the house. No, I live in an urban neighborhood, I promise, it's just that there's open space in it that connects by way of the San Lorenzo River and various other bits to highly-impacted wildish habitat).

But lately I've not always gotten the back door closed before I wander upstairs and she notices access to the dark yard. She goes out quietly and just hangs around until we cajole or force her inside. Sometimes I can't see her at all because she's ghosting around in the foliage and she seems to know this and keeps shtum for a long time. Once I find her she starts evasive maneuvers and will not come just because I call her. I can always flush her by throwing windfall apples in the opposite direction from where she is. She can't resist chasing them for long. It might take a few lobs before she falls for it though. Once she does that, it's only a matter of time before I get her on the deck by lobbing apples up there. The first one in that direction might not do it, but the second will.

She knows the jig is up at this point. You can see it in her body language and the fact that she drops her evasive efforts. When I catch up to her at the base of the stairs or on the deck she goes into the posture that says "I know you're going to pick me up. I don't approve so I'm not leaping into your arms but I will lift my body a bit to make it easier because that's more comfortable for me."

Last night she didn't sleep with me at all. This is interesting because she usually sleeps almost the whole night with me, and sometimes sleeps part of the night with my roommate K and part of the night with me. She slept on the livingroom couch downstairs all night, something I don't like to allow because if she wakes up alone down there she gets weirded out by some noise and starts barking in the wee hours of the night. Or if I get up to pee she hears me and wakes up disoriented and starts barking. But last night she was quiet all night--I know because I slept not one minute. Between the dexamethasone and a glass of jasmine tea and overeating from the stress of meeting the sleep doctor yesterday I couldn't even close my eyes. The sleep doctor was a weird thing. I have had excellent luck with all my doctors the last few years, in that I've not only like their medical practice but our conversations have been mutually pleasant. With this doctor, I have nothing to complain about as far as he goes, but I kept feeling like I was insulting him or making other gaffes in our conversation. It was exhausting.

At least my meeting with his scheduler was pleasant.

I'm going to have a sleep study on August 18. I started having my doubts about doing it now because of the chemotherapy and things like the dexamethasone adding their own level of disruption to my sleep, but Dr. Takahashi Hart said the information they'll be gathering will be informative either way and anyway they don't expect me to sleep well during the study. He says if I do sleep better during the study than at home, that's information too. Like I said, I felt that he was being polite and appropriate, and giving me enough good quality information and asking me for questions and opinions, but I felt like I was rubbing him the wrong way, which is an unsettling feeling. I did say I'm skeptical about sleep apnea because it sounds like a one size fits all solution these days, to which he said, you could say "but almost everybody wears eyeglasses too." and I said he had a point.

On another front, I made a plain cake (one of those buttermilk types though I used whole milk yogurt because that's what I have) and put lots of thin cut rhubarb in it and I think it is the most successful rhubarb thing I have ever made. I used more sugar than I would have because rhubarb, but I could have gotten away with less sugar. I'm pretty sure anyways. I can taste sugar again. Somewhat. Sweet things no longer taste nasty, flat and bitter. And kale tastes almost normal. But I still have a strange plastic taste in my mouth that makes me mistrust my senses.

There was a reunion potluck for Good Beginnings people last night, which is where I had the tea--I thought it wouldn't make any difference but zero hours sleep is substantially less than four! I hadn't seen some of these people for twenty years, but we fell right in and told each other our stories. I as always talked too much.

September 2017

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