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I haven't been very active online recently, and to the people who have messaged me out of concern - thank you for caring so much. Usually, a week away from Facebook and a few weeks away from LJ means a hospital visit. But I'm happy to report that hasn't been the case. While I'm far from well, I haven't been in the hospital since mid-April, which is a streak I'd like to keep going.

What is going on? A wide mixture of good and bad. Since my brain is constantly overloaded right now, I'm going to list a few things to give everyone an idea of why FB/LJ haven't been a main focus (I do try to pop in here and there, and I apologize for missing out on what my friends are doing. Mea culpa).

So let's do this (oh, and this is an unlocked, public post, so if anyone wants info on anything extremely personal, please message me. Otherwise, comment away!):

The good:
-I have been finishing my revisions to "Vivisection," a novel I wrote in 2009, almost sent out for publication, and then pulled it back because I needed to tighten up several sections. It's been very emotionally painful to revise this particular novel, but I also feel as though I'm letting go of a lot of things BECAUSE I am revising the novel. I'm usually awake until 6 or 7 am, editing and rewriting certain passages, so I'm very sleep-deprived. But it's worth it, and I think "Vivisection" has a good future. It will need a few test readers soon, though... :)

-Relay For Life on May 16th was amazing, awe-inspiring, and life-changing. I will absolutely take part in it again, and was honored to be one of five people chosen to carry the Survivior's banner for the Survivor lap. Toby was also chosen to hold the Caregiver's banner during the Caregiver lap, too. I think I took about 40 pictures from that night, all of which are on FB. It was a little disappointing to see a large crowd thin out to about 50 people by 2 am, but Toby and I stayed until I was too sick to walk, which occurred at about 5:15 in the morning (I should note that I'm insanely jealous of people who can take painkillers. I needed them, but unless I'm in a hospital, hooked to monitors, I don't react well to them and have to be observed. Sucks when you have pain conditions and things like, say, cancer. But I digress). In the end, we both walked 50 laps. Next year - with better shoes and more food (note to self) - I'd like to walk twice as many laps. It may be painful, but some of it was a good pain...

-...and I say that because now, I've become a bit obsessed with walking. My doctors absolutely forbid "normal" exercise right now. I cannot use a treadmill, stair-climber, or anything that could make me dizzy. Plus, I don't have that stamina. I truly don't know how I had the stamina for Relay For Life, but that was a different situation. Anyhow, as part of a commitment to myself to be fit and healthy - not a cure for my illnesses, but at least something that can help - I'm attempting to walk a mile a day. That's not much, but it's a start, and if I don't get the chance to walk, I feel anxious. My new running shoes are wonderful, and I'm walking a 16 minute mile, which sounds slow, but is pretty good for a girl who still needs a cane to meander around. I'd like to walk a 10-minute mile, but for now, exercise is exercise, and I will take what I can get - and what my body will graciously allow.

-Toby graduates with his Bachelors degree in just about a month. I'm so proud of him. I wish I had more money to throw a party for him, or do something special, but his parents are flying into town graduation weekend to celebrate with us, and that will be wonderful. My in-laws are fantastic, and I can't wait to see them again.

-James finishes at his current school on Friday, 6/6, and will be home with me all summer. I'm excited about that (even though my current schedule will be shot to hell, so I need to work on that during the next two weeks), because I feel as though I don't see as much of my own child as I'd like. And while he's enjoyed school, he goes five days a week from 8:30-5. The school is great, but VERY focused on academics, and I feel like my two-year-old isn't enjoying being a kid as much as he could be. So in the fall, he'll be attending a more traditional preschool - Tuesday and Friday from 9-11:30, and when he turns three, he'll attend Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9-12. Then he'll have an excellent mix of out-of-the-house socialization and education while staying home to play and learn with his family. He's really flourishing, but I can tell he's frustrated with himself a lot, and his issues with OCD (I'll get to that in a moment) are far more pronounced. He needs a less rigorous setting, and I'm glad he'll get to decompress this summer.

-I rarely miss Westminster, and love living in Baltimore County. I do miss our former Starbucks a little bit, and it was nice being close to some family and some friends, but we're only 20-30 minutes away, and our new home Starbucks is here now. ;) James goes in, picks his table, and is adored just as much as he was at our former location. I love how he just makes friends wherever he goes. He has so much spark within him.

The bad:
-Despite the fact that James can hear better due to the tubes in his ears, his speech hasn't improved as much as hoped. I blame his current school for part of that - he's been punished for "not listening" if he's off in a corner, reading a book or playing with blocks. So he doesn't always hear the directions, and then, is placed in time-out for that. And he doesn't speak up because one teacher has said, in front of both James and in front of me, "James, I can't understand you at ALL. Speak clearly." That's so rude that I don't even know where to begin. Yes, his speech is still slurred and hard to comprehend because he couldn't HEAR for a year. However, the child still knows and says hundreds of words, reads, talks in five to six word sentences, and so forth. He doesn't have a comprehension issue - he has a speech issue due to hearing. So I called for speech therapy services, which will begin in late June. His pediatrician says that he is incredibly intelligent, and this is not a learning disorder (not that intelligence and learning disorders are separate - in this case, James has the former, but doesn't have the latter, that's all). With proper therapy, he'll most likely be speaking clearly by the fall. I'm relieved, because he is very frustrated with himself. On top of that, his OCD tendencies are starting to become more noticeable. He doesn't like dirt, food, or water on his face. He doesn't like when food touches on his plate (I'm the same way with all of these things, so yes, I'm nervous). He lines his cars up based on size or color and is very upset if they are moved or out of order. I asked the doctor about this, and he's going to be evaluated for OCD as well. It's a nightmare of a disorder, and I know it all too well, and I'm going to feel like the worst parent alive if I passed my problems down to my child. He is so smart, so loving, so kind. He doesn't deserve this shit at ALL.

-Our money situation isn't very good. My health issues are draining us, and unfortunately, Toby's new insurance plan requires us to pay $3,000 out of pocket before any actual "insurance" kicks in. So my visits to the doctor won't be $25 - they'll be $100. My therapist will cost $75 a session, and I can't give up therapy without significant regression. We JUST finished paying off all of the surgery costs and such from April, when James had his tubes in and adenoids out, but we're going to be in the hole again. I see so many doctors in June, and June 1st is when the new, awful plan kicks in. So I worry. And I feel guilty because I cannot afford to take Toby out for a nice dinner to celebrate his graduation. I don't know how to pay for anything for Father's Day. June isn't going to be an inexpensive month, and we're already dropping close to the red. I can only HOPE Toby receives the raise he deserves - he works so hard for his company, and does work that I don't think he's getting properly reimbursed for. But that's for him to sort out - I can't interfere. Things are just scary right now, and since my health is so unreliable, I couldn't even get a part-time job to help out. So I don't know what to do. Living on credit cards isn't a way to live. (By the way, the financial issues are not at ALL due to buying a house or moving. Our living expenses are less expensive by $500 a month. Renting was and is hell - I'd never do it again. The issues all come down to health expenses or paying off credit card debt because James needs clothing and we need to see doctors, and all of that ends up on credit cards. I wonder if we'll ever be able to splurge on a can of paint for our new home. To be honest, very little of our money is for "fun." Maybe one day, I won't have panic attacks every night due to finances, though I know I'm far more fortunate than many.)

-I'm waiting to hear back from my doctor regarding some very important blood tests that were performed five days ago. So far, no word, but the results will determine what the next step is for me. The likelihood is another round of RAI (radioactive iodine), followed by another hospital stay, followed by either low-dose chemo or radiation. And remember, that's all out-of-pocket until we hit the $3k limit. But anyhow, I'm a little nervous. My normal blood work comes back in a day or two. It's been close to a week now. I think I'll call tomorrow, just in case.

-A friend of mine with whom I worked at the Carroll County Times passed away due to cancer. THIS SHIT HAS GOT TO STOP. Please. This man was like a grandfather to me, so in a way, I'm mourning my grandfather's death - also due to cancer - all over again. I just don't want anyone to see my grief, so I haven't discussed it until now. But I really don't know what else I can say.

-I feel a bit obsessed about something that I'm not yet ready to talk about. My therapist is out of town until May 31st, and I'm not seeing her again until June 5th, but I don't know what to do. The easy answer is "get over it," but my brain doesn't work that way. So I stay awake, trying to kill time, and worry myself sick. It would be nice if my brain could do normal things and just be happy with normal results. Alas.

The random:
-June is going to be the craziest month ever.

-I miss deep sleep.

-I miss being social with people. I see my friends maybe once or twice a month, but that's it. I used to be so good with socialization, and I'm fine when I'm out in public - people randomly talk to me, and I always talk back, because I like hearing what people want to tell me - but I don't feel connected to as many people as I used to. I miss that deeply.

-My hair is still a pretty vibrant teal, pink, purple, and blue, and a lot of people comment on it. That gives me the chance to talk about the fact I dyed it for Relay and to represent my fight against thyroid cancer, and I've given information to a LOT of people about the illness. I am so glad that making a spectacle of myself has led to only positive things.

-I think I'm going to go for a walk right now. Yes, it's close to 3:30 am. Yes, don't remind me of women being raped and assaulted - I can walk alone at night (I do carry pepper spray with me, though), and if I am harmed, that's not my fault, and I am so tired of all of these discussions that make every single man and woman on this planet look like a rapist or slut or victim. There have been some good discussions, but they are few and far between, and as a survivor of multiple rapes, assaults, torture, and several types of abuse, I'm reaching a trigger point. People need to speak up. I want ALL people to speak up. But part of my "avoid social media" is due, in part, to rants about mental illness, gun control, and the notion that every man is a rapist and every woman is a victim. I have coherent, intelligent thoughts about all of these notions, but I'm not getting into it. I'm in a fragile headspace right now and need to respect that.

-Part of me wants to skip the walk and climb into bed with my son and cuddle him all night long. That would probably just wake him up, so I won't, but I need to hug my child. I wish I had the words to explain how much I love him, and how much he's had to deal with due to my illnesses AND his own hearing loss.

I should end there. I didn't mean for this to be depressing. Things are generally good, and I'm generally happy. Truly. I'm sure I'll feel better after some exercise and a light snack.

Now, because a lot of people find these fun and then tend to fill them out (which I think is awesome - I like old-school LJ, circa 2005. Those were the days) - a survey.

1) Which contest would you be most willing to compete in: a bake-off, a pie-eating contest, a wet t-shirt contest, a spelling bee or a marathon race?: A spelling bee. I know which of these I could probably WIN, but I'd prefer the spelling bee... ;)

2) How would you prefer to die: at a public hanging, in a fire, by drowning, or by a shark attack?: How about none of the above? Jesus. I've been in a fire, I've almost drowned, and I've been choked until I almost died. So I guess I'd choose shark attack. It's the only thing I know nothing about.

3) Which scenario would cause you to feel more guilt: accidentally shooting someone in the chest or starting a forest fire that killed thousands of animals?: I value people and animals, and I value nature which would be destroyed by my starting a forest fire. But I think I'd feel more guilt if I shot someone in the chest. This is, of course, assuming both are accidents. The way the second option is worded makes me wonder...

4) What would you rather drink a glass of: mud puddle water, olive oil, vinegar, or saliva?: Vinegar.

5) If you won a $1,000 shopping spree, what type of store would you spend it in: toy store, electronics store, bookstore, clothing store or home decor store?: Normally, I'd say a bookstore. But since we've just moved into a house that we'll be paying on for the next 30 years, I'm going to say a home decor store.

6) What would you rather eat for dinner: raccoon spare ribs, deep fried gerbils, St. Bernard steak, or kitty cat stir-fry?: Well, this is just gross. I don't eat meat, first of all, and second of all - just no. But I'll choose the raccoons. I don't know why, but sure, why not?

7) If you were poor and desperate what would you sell first: your sperm/eggs, your wedding ring, your car or your body (prostitution)?: My car. My eggs are useless, my wedding ring didn't cost thousands, and I don't think anyone wants a scarred-up, suffering, sick body. Plus, there's that whole integrity thing.

8) What would you rather do: run through a preschool naked, walk across hot coals, iron your chest or staple bologna to your cheek?: Walk across hot coals. The first option disturbs me. What kind of pervert would do that, honestly?

9) A friend builds a time machine and wants you to travel with him, which direction do you travel: into the past, into the future, or do you refuse to go?: Into the past. No doubt.

10) What would you rather have thrown at you: an ounce of battery acid, an ice pick, five throwing stars, or fifty spiders?: Fifty spiders. They're just spiders. The other options would lead to some pretty nasty long-term issues, so unless the spiders were poisonous, bring it.

11) Which of the five senses would you rather lose: sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell?: These types of questions always annoy me, as they are offensive. It is, in a way, like asking someone who lost her house in a fire (which I did), "If you were in a house fire, what three things would you run in to save?" Well, you don't think that way. And I'm sure people who are blind, deaf, and so forth feel that way about this question. So the answer is that it doesn't matter. People adapt. Let's move on.

12) Which food group would you rather give up for the rest of your life: vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy, grains or sweets?: Meat. I rarely eat meat as it is.

13) Which reputation would you rather have: promiscuous, dumb as a post or ugly as sin?: Promiscuous. I couldn't care less about that one. But one insults a fundamental part of myself, and the other brings back a lot of former/current eating disorder issues, so... yeah.

14) In ten years which condition would you rather suffer from: obesity, hearing loss, incontinence, or senility?: Wow, again? What the HELL? I thought this survey was kind of cool, but this is just rude. Fuck this question, too, and the person who created it.

15) What type of commercial would you rather be in: herpes medication, hemorrhoid cream, athletes foot medicine or adult diapers?: Whichever one would pay me the most.

16) What would you rather give up for a month: all human contact, hygiene products or electricity?: Since "hygiene products" is vague, I'll go with that. Is lotion a "hygiene product?" Probably not. So if I didn't have deodorant, I could use scented lotion. I could use dry shampoo in my hair. But I could not go a month without human contact (especially with James) or electricity (which literally keeps me alive).

17) Where would you rather be lost: at sea, in the desert, in a cave, or in the jungle?: In a cave. It's just dark in there. I'd be fine.

18) You find marijuana growing in your garden, what do you do: smoke it, sell it, destroy it, or call the police?: None of the above. Those are not my only options.

19) Would you go to the bathroom in your pants for two days, without changing your clothes, for a $10,000 shopping spree at the nearest mall?: Ummm... what? This survey went downhill. Bah. :/ Anyhow, our nearest mall sucks, so no. Take me to a mall that sells home decorating items and enough clothing for our family for a few years, and I'd consider it. Two days is nothing compared to what some people have to deal with in different parts of the world.

20) What would you rather rid the world of: disease, crime, or hunger?: Disease. But I'm predictable like that, I suppose.

And finally, a cute picture of James riding his bike. He loves being outside. I can't blame him. As long as I stay out of the sun, I could live outside in the 70-80 degree temps we've been having!
 photo James2yearsMay26ridingbike3_zps0ee915ac.jpg

Please let me know how you all are doing and if I've missed anything. I hope everyone is well. All my love.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 28th, 2014 09:02 am (UTC)
Keep on walking every day. if you can! This seems like a positive development. :-)

I understand the reasons that have led you to step away from social media... I won't discuss them in detail, because I don't want to violate your headspace - but suffice it to say; your frustrations chime with mine, in many ways! *hugs*

May. 28th, 2014 10:02 am (UTC)
I plan to! It's supposed to rain today and tomorrow, but I doubt that will stop me. Even a mile improves my health a little bit. It's not a cure for cancer, but it will help my heart, lungs, and overall sense of being. I'm really getting into this exercise thing. I just have to learn to stop when it hurts! :)

And thanks - I'm glad you understand. I have a lot of thoughts about a few things being spread around on FB (mostly FB, I should say) right now, and I feel as though every time I try to address how I think and feel, I sound like a victim. But I don't SEE myself as a victim. So I'm steering clear of it. I think people should speak up. But I've done my speaking up for now. Now, I sit back, listen, and hope for positive change that benefits ALL people. If you want to discuss things, especially since it sounds like we're on the same wavelength, feel free to message me. We know each other well enough by now. *hugs* xoxo.
May. 28th, 2014 12:39 pm (UTC)
i'm very happy to hear there's a good number of good things going on right now. i was thinking about you last night, and was going to give it until the end of the week just in case you were truly in fact taking some time for yourself. it's important to take care of you and yours first.

i can beta read in a similar fashion that you did for me, if you need it. not only do i owe you one, but it would be my pleasure to read something you've written. :)
May. 28th, 2014 12:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks - there really are a lot of good things happening right now. I need to focus on them during those melancholy times at night when things seem so out of hand. I appreciate that you were thinking about me, too. I've just been a bit quiet as I've been processing the things that have been happening in my world and in the world in general - and yes, I've been writing a LOT, too. So my brain is fried. I know you understand.

I would love for you to beta read for me! That would be fantastic! I'm hoping the novel will be revised by the end of June, so when I get to that point, I will absolutely let you know. Thank you so much for offering, and for your kind words. That inspires me to keep going, despite how drained I am. :)
May. 28th, 2014 01:30 pm (UTC)
if end of june is the case, then i'll finish up the two books i'm working on between now and then, and your novel will be my read for july. :) looking forward to it!
May. 28th, 2014 02:54 pm (UTC)
Good timing, then - the end of June will definitely be the case! I'd love for people to read it and give me general impressions/likes and dislikes by the end of July, which I think should be doable based on length. I don't need editors - just trustworthy people to say, "Yep, this works," or, "What the hell, Mandi?" :)

I'm glad you're looking forward to it. Thanks!
May. 28th, 2014 05:10 pm (UTC)
so basically what i was looking for in beta reading. you've got it!
May. 28th, 2014 08:53 pm (UTC)
Awesome. I can't wait for you to read it. Thanks again! :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )