Trending Down

Another goal hit in my keto life journey! I’m proud to say that I’m under 250 lbs now, which is something I feared I’d never reach again.

I’m far from “done” with the keto lifestyle. On the contrary, I feel so good about the weight that I’ve already lost that I’m planning on continuing indefinitely–not only for fear of backsliding, but also because I actually don’t mind the low-carb life. Can’t eat any of the snacks in the break room? Okay. I’ll bring my own snacks. Not much on the menu at a fast food joint or restaurant? Fine. I’ll pick what I can eat and just not eat the carb-y stuff.

For the official count, here’s my weight loss numbers for the last 30 days, 60 days, and overall since I started:

I’ve been doing a keto diet for about 2 1/2 months now. Almost 40 lbs in 2 1/2 months! I’m so happy.

I’ll plateau eventually. Probably a few times. But for now, I’m enjoying the steady decline in weight. My clothes fit better–sometimes too big now–and I feel better overall.

Speaking of feeling better, today I see my podiatrist to see if my foot has finally healed enough to get this stupid boot off. It’s been 8 weeks today, and I’m 1000% done with the boot. It’s heavy, it’s awkward, it makes my gait weird, and my other foot is getting painful from my favoring the foot with the boot. All that, plus I can’t drive. I miss running errands on lunch or being able to take myself to work. It’s the little things in life, man.

I haven’t had the boot off for much of anything besides showering and changing clothes. Because I wake up earlier than my husband and the boot has a ton of Velcro on it, I just sleep with it on to keep from waking him every time I get up in the night. Since this is a re-break of a bone that tends to re-break once initially broken, I’m trying to be a good patient and stick to my restrictions.

If all looks good on the x-ray this afternoon, I might be able to ditch the boot and just “take it easy” for however long the doctor determines I need to do so. I have a sinking feeling that he’s going to tell me “no sword fighting,” which will be a disappointment for sure. I’m eager to get back to rapier practice and relearn all that I’ve forgotten and recondition myself to holding the sword for long periods of time and sparring with friends, but all that might have to wait if the doctor says it might jeopardize my foot.

I really don’t want another 8 weeks of boot life.

Maybe later today I’ll call and schedule the DEXA scan I was supposed to get months ago. Hard to figure out a time to do it when I can’t drive myself to it! This needing a ride everywhere stinks.

Other news in the health front: I accidentally skipped a month of my biologic injection, but I got it yesterday so that’s on board. Hopefully my doc isn’t too mad at my slipup when I see her in a couple of weeks. (And hopefully I can drive myself to that appointment.) I was out of my Adderall for a couple of weeks while the pharmacy had issues with their shipments, but I’m happy to say that I have that again as well. My mental health is, well…

…Yeah. That. I hate my job. It’s getting to me. I mean, it’s the same thing day in, day out, five days a week. Sure, there’s the occasional half day or holiday, but lately I’m getting called in to either switch which half I’m working or to work the whole day on the half days (usually at the last possible minute), and the doctor has a couple days a month off, which makes the work load on his off days easier because there aren’t any patients, but yeah…that’s not enough. I don’t know what else I would do, though.

I’ve worked in healthcare for the better part of 19 years (9 years in a hospital setting, and close to 9 years where I’m at, with a brief period of joblessness and retail when I moved to Arizona), so I’m not quite sure what other marketable skills I might have. I mean, I’m quasi-bilingual, so there’s that, and here in AZ speaking Spanish is always a bonus, but my Spanish is limited. My grammar is terrible, and as far as conversational Spanish goes I can muddle through most of it, but I know sometimes I’m using the wrong word or wrong verb form. Medical Spanish? I’m almost completely fluent there. I can snag a chief complaint or medical history no problem. But if I want to do something different, something non-medical, I don’t know if my Spanish is up to par for other professions.

I have a degree that’s non-medical–a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice Administration–but that’s 13 years old now, and I have done absolutely nothing with it since I graduated. Well, I got it framed and hung it up. That’s about it.

A friend of mine has been encouraging me to look at the possibility of working on post as a contractor or some other type of government position, but I’m leery of that. When I first found out I was moving here, I spent months ahead of time applying at various positions on a government website, and I never heard back from any of them. I even revamped my resume based on some redacted resumes my dad showed me from hires he’d done as a DOD employee. So I had my Resume Wizard one from Word that failed, and my Based on a Successfully Hired Government Employee resume that also failed. I just don’t know if I can handle the stress of trying to find a job while maintaining my stressful job.

If I was better at marketing–if my book was selling enough to be profitable–I’d hold a sliver of hope that I could make money doing that. It’s not, though, and I’m not, so that’s out. No, writing is a second profession for me, not my primary source of income, and I doubt it ever will be. I can dream, but…yeah.

I’ve gotta get moving on that marketing stuff, speaking of which. I’m part of a group of authors who are making a run on the USA Today Bestseller’s list with a box set of stories, and my newest WIP is geared towards that. I’ve got a lot of work to do with that, though, because I need to get followers and do some heavy marketing as well. Can’t get to the bestseller list without working for it.

It seems like a lot: the boot, the existential employment crisis, the writing, the marketing…Can I do it all?

I don’t know, but I know one thing: Something’s gotta give. I don’t know how soon, but it’s gotta happen. Whether it’s freedom from the boot and freedom to do my normal activities, or a new job, or a surge in sales, something has to happen to change things. And I know, I have to change to make some of these things happen. I just have to be brave enough to try.

Cold War

Estrella War is just a day away for me, and this is how my part of the desert is looking this morning:

Yes, that’s my land, just behind the house. It wasn’t much, but it snowed last night, and it’s supposed to be cold and rainy in Queen Creek for a good bit of Estrella.

We’ve got a new canvas tent (that’s supposed to be warmer than modern nylon tents). We’ve got a heater. We’ve got a wool coat for me and a reversible wool/cotton cloak for my husband. We’ve got thermal underwear for nighttime. We’ve got blankets and thirty-degree-graded sleeping bags. We’ve got throw rugs for the floor of the tent (because the floor is a tarp, not canvas, and that will be cold to step on in the middle of the night). We’ve got warm hats. We’ve got rain boots and fuzzy boots and thick socks. We’re set–right?

I sure hope so. Last year it got so cold that our silicone-gel-filled pillows literally froze. Rock solid. Not comfy. We had the heater then, but the nylon tent we had wasn’t very good at retaining the heat, so the heater was almost useless. Almost. I was sore and achy and miserable every morning because my arthritis did not appreciate the cold. So this year we’re packing extra heat-conserving methods.

Am I looking forward to Estrella? Sure. I mean, I’ll get to see people I haven’t seen in a long time, hang out with friends, teach some embroidery, and maybe get a little fighting in. (The last one I’m not 100% sure on, because I have the royal embroidery still to finish…so that’s going to take away some of my time.) But I am not looking forward to the cold.

Yes, I know, cold in the desert? It’s true. It can get biting cold, especially at night, and it’s not fun going to the port-a-priv at 3am to sit on a freezing-cold plastic seat. Sometimes when we’re camping and it’s cold in the morning I hold it for an hour or more just because I’m dreading the trip to the priv and the ensuing frozen butt.

I don’t know how much posting I’ll get done at the event. I usually have a few hours in the morning where I’m up and awake but not able to do anything like embroider because of the lack of light and the fact that the rest of the camp is asleep. However, if it’s cold enough, I might not want to sit up on the laptop or even lie down with my phone to post something. Regardless, I’ll try to get my weekly newsletter out. I think I can manage at least that.

One thing is certain: I’ll be glad to get back to my warm, warm house once War is over. Even though it snowed last night, I haven’t been cold inside at all, unlike the apartments we lived in. So there’s that.

Can’t afford to heal the pains

Healthcare in the U.S. sucks donkey balls.

Here’s the thing: pharmaceutical companies are able to charge out the freakin’ nose for stuff that’s basically essential for physical and mental health. I called my insurance’s compounding pharmacy for a refill of the latest biologic my rheumatologist prescribed for me. They informed me it would be two thousand plus dollars per injection (a monthly injection). That’s almost twice my mortgage! Does the medicine work for the rheumatoid arthritis? Doesn’t matter. Can’t afford twice my mortgage every month, so I’m not getting it.

It’s crazy. Two. Thousand. Dollars. A month. Most people can’t afford that even without mortgage and credit card debt and utilities and gas to-and-from work and medical insurance and… point is, it’s excessive. It’s punitive. It’s the pharmaceutical company saying ,”Fuck you, if you can’t shell out more than minimum wage’s monthly salary, you’ll just have to be in pain.”

Add to that the fact that I need to at some point find a urologist and a nephrologist and see my psychiatrist and call my rheumatologist (do you get the “gist” of it?)…Yeah. Copay city. I could afford it if I tighten up some things, but it’s getting out of hand. Long story short, a person can’t afford to be sick in the U.S. these days unless they’re in the upper tax brackets.

It’s all just another series of stressors that are ripping my psyche apart these days. Work is stressful. SCA life is stressful (at least until my royal embroidery project is done). Work is stressful. I feel work needs an extra mention, because I’m so stressed at work that it’s causing me to burst into tears any time I stop. I mean, I go on break, and the slightest trigger has me crying. I leave work, and again, I’m sobbing. Basically, I’ve been operating at such high stress levels lately that as soon as I release any of it I’m a big ol’ ball of tears. I’m hoping that my upcoming week-long vacation from the office, combined with the surgeon’s upcoming week-long vacation next month, eases enough of the stress that I can get things done. If not, I’ll be back at the psychiatrist’s office before my scheduled follow-up…crying. Again.

I know I’ll get through it. I always do. But just knowing that it’s getting harder and harder to even afford to take care of myself is overwhelming. How am I supposed to get myself well enough to function if I can’t afford the things I need to get well?

This isn’t really a political post. I’m sure there are plenty enough of those out there that are better-informed than I am. This is just a rant, a scream into the nothingness to release that pent-up frustration and get it off my chest.

Absent mind

I thought I was all set for this weekend out of town. I had my garb set aside, my “naked” clothes, my toiletries, my embroidery, my laptop, my shoes, rapier gear, tankard, and even my writing/author organizer binder just in case. All of that….. and I forgot my pills.

Not just one pill, or just certain ones. All. Of. Them. I have cough drops in my purse, and that’s it as far as pharmaceuticals go. No mood stabilizer. No Adderall. No antidepressant. No arthritis meds. No sleeping meds. No fucking antibiotics for this lingering bronchitis. Not even a single Benadryl in case I get stung.

I can’t believe I totally, completely forgot all of my medicine. I’ll admit, sometimes I forget to take a set of doses–Maybe I’m out too late, and by the time I get home it’s past a reasonable time to take my night meds without fear of having trouble waking up the next day. Maybe I’m in a hurry and forget to take my morning handful before I leave the house. But two whole days without anything?

I’m so going to regret this.

There might still be hope. Our roommate might go to the same city we’re headed to this weekend (but not to the same event)… so if she’s feeling generous maybe I can talk her into grabbing the pill case before she leaves home and meeting us up somewhere for the “drop.”

I hope.

If not, the withdrawal’s gonna suck.

A little bit anxious, a little bit freaking out

So the con is 16 days away.

Sixteen days to order books, order a PayPal chip reader, get the things I need to buy for the table, and get something together to sell besides just books.


I don’t know how this snuck up on me. I mean, I have a widget for my phone that tells me exactly how many days are left. I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s almost here.

I think I’m either going to print photos of some of the Instagram graphics I’ve made from Abnormal quotes (see below) or make up some fabric bookmarks. Handmade geeky stuff is good for cons, right? Either way, it’ll be something nice and quick that I can churn out before the con.

I think photos of images like the one above might be fun to print out, and I can sign them as well. A buck or two for those wouldn’t be too bad, right? If that fails, though, I can make bookmarks out of the fabric I already have and just have some geeky bookmarks on hand to sell for a buck or two, and those would go with the books nicely because hey, books and bookmarks go together like peas and carrots.

Either way, it means more work before con. I can do it (provided the rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t get too painful), but I’ll have to bust butt to get it all done.

Better get busting.

Cramped situation

I’m back to embroidering (did I ever really stop? Lol), and it’s starting to get to these arthritic hands of mine.

Whether I use a hoop or just hold the fabric myself, it seems my fingers get incredibly cramped and painful. I can only stitch for a little bit at a time, which is making projects take longer. Thankfully, I am limiting the number of projects I take on.

I have a Viking hood for my husband to embroider, of which I have gotten probably a quarter done. That’s my Current Project. My Next Project will be a mundane cross stitch for a paying customer. Then, Project Number Three in line will be a large embroidery that isn’t due until Estrella War in February. I hope to get some personal embroidery done in between Next Project and Project Number Three, but we’ll see how my hands tolerate it. I get so excited that people want things embroidered by me that I don’t take the time to say “Sorry, but I wanted to embroider X for myself first.” I need to do that. Take time for personal projects as well as commissions.

The Next Personal Project? I think some embroidery for a Viking Hedeby bag I plan on making. I have the handles, I have the fabric I need, and the rope for the strap will be easy enough to get, but I need to embroider the fabric before I put the bag together so I’m not stitching through the lining. Then after that? Maybe some subversive cross stitching or other such embroidery for hanging up around the house. Maybe something geeky. We’ll see…in March, most likely, because of time constraints.

I’ll eventually get to making garb and cosplay stuff for myself again. After I finish my Current Project and the subsequent pending projects. And after I finish Book 2 and submit it. And after….who knows what will come up next.

Back in action

The other day I started Book 3 of the Abnormal series, and I’m stoked to get the story down.

Clare didn’t get to get much badassery done in Book 2, so I’m hoping to advance her character in different ways with Book 3. Sure, she had character development in Book 2, but I want her to be able to hold her own with the characters that have more physical Gifts, and I think I know just the way.

Now, the above isn’t necessarily what Clare looks like, but you get the idea. (Photo courtesy of Pixaby images, from the WordSwag app.) I want her to be badass, and not just mentally. Don’t get me wrong; she’ll still have faults. You gotta give your MCs faults or else they get boring. But yeah, a little more ass-kicking will do her some good.

First, though, I have to get her out of her current predicament. It’s not too hairy, nothing I can’t write my way out of, but I have to get through it before I can jump into stuff that happens later. I’m just not one of those writers who can jump ahead a few chapters or write the ending first. I have to go in order, at least with the first draft, and then if later drafts require it I can add chapters in between.

Book 2 is near-ready for alphas now. I just have a couple people who either need to A- read Abnormal first or B- finish current projects. I probably won’t get Book 3 done before the alpha reads come back, but that’s okay. Book 2 is technically priority right now, but it’s at a point where I can’t look at it anymore or else I’ll go crazy. Well, crazier

I’m debating on cutting back on SCA-related events and projects here soon. I’ve just got so much to do with my writing, and I’m getting kind of burned out on SCA events. Not that I don’t love my SCAdian family, but I will need a break very shortly or else I’ll be a hot mess. Events every other weekend, or meetings, whatever, gets to be a lot of stuff. I’ll still go to rapier practice when my body’s not angry at me from the arthritis, but I think that taking it easy will be better in the long run. I jumped into the SCA with both feet, right into the deep end, and I am having trouble getting to the surface for air.

Well, back to Book 3. Clare’s in the middle of–well, spoilers. 😉

Back it up

Oh, my Gods, the pain!

This is, I think, the first time I’ve been involuntarily sent home from work because of pain. The first time in almost six years of RA symptoms that I’ve been told “Go. Home.” Yeah, I’ve opted to go home early before, but today I was sent home within ten minutes of getting dressed in my surgical scrubs. Not quite a record for me (I have been sent home within seconds of croaking out “Hey” before I even clocked in), but pretty damn close.

I’m trying. I’m using heat, cold, Tylenol, Blue Emu cream, sitting up, lying down, vodka, whatever. I’m planning on getting a back brace on the advice of a friend who used to be a physical therapist, but I’m running out of options. I can’t afford to be out again tomorrow, voluntarily or no.

Update: I was in so much pain that I forgot I was writing this post. However, I got the back brace and so far, it seems to be helping. Minimally, but it’s helping. I’m going to try work today, and if I can’t then I guess it’s off to the doc for me.

Rained out

Well that was a wash…
… I learned this weekend that outdoors + stupid boot on my foot + rain + arthritis does not in any way equal fun. I was cold, damp, and miserable. Every time I tried to roll over or shift on my cot during the night I cried out in pain a little bit.
The event got cancelled, but not before we abandoned most of our stuff on the mountain. We’ll go back for it tomorrow, but it was just too hard to try breaking down camp in the rain at the time.
I have to admit, I wasn’t looking forward to a cooking event. I don’t cook. Like, unless it comes out of a box or bag, forget it. But I told my husband I’d go, so despite dreading the event I went. A bit of precognition, perhaps? Probably not, but regardless it was a hot mess.
We ended up going to our friends’ house, where we’ll stay the night before reclaiming our belongings. There are a bunch of people over as we ended up having an impromptu party. So not a total bust, but I kinda wish I’d brought my laptop. Clare and her story are calling out to me.
After obsessing over the changes I had to make to accommodate the new ending to Abnormal, I’ve finally figured out how to work it in. I just need my computer. And time. I need time.
Book 2’s first draft reboot will be done, hopefully by the end of the year, but I’ve got to buckle down and focus.

Sneaky little sh!t

Well that was unexpected.
There I was, filling out a form at the rheumatologist’s office, when all of a sudden it hit me: I’ve been mild to moderately depressed for a good two or three weeks and I didn’t even notice.
I should have noticed, but I guess I’ve been so busy it just snuck up on me. I haven’t been super interested in the usual stuff, and that should have been a big sign. Combine that with the fact that I ran out of my meds, and it’s hard to believe I didn’t put two and two together. (Not to worry; all the meds are in the process of being refilled.) It just wasn’t until I checked the box stating that I have been experiencing depression that I even gave it a thought.
I guess that’s kind of a good thing, if you look at it a certain way. I was doing well enough for long enough that I almost–almost–forgot I am bipolar. Almost. So much else was going on that “bipolar” and “depression” kind of simmered on the back burner while I dealt with the now.
(Hubby just asked me what I’m writing about. I told him, and he has properly scolded me for not taking my meds.)
To prevent further issues, I have had the pharmacy put my meds on auto fill. Clearly I can’t trust myself to keep track of that kind of thing right now.
One thing that hasn’t surprised me is the increase in arthritis pain and stiffness lately. I’ve gotten out of the habit of exercising a couple of times a week and it’s taking a toll. Work schedules don’t allow for much exercise though, at least with my friends’ current regimen. Their best days and times happen to occur on the longest work days of the week for me, so I don’t get the opportunity to join them often. When the opportunity does arise, I’m usually so exhausted–both physically and mentally–that I just don’t have the drive to go. My joints have noticed the lack of exercise. Oh, how they have noticed. I can’t sit in one position too long or my knees get really stiff and uncooperative. Just this afternoon, on the way to the doctor, I got out of the car at a gas station and almost couldn’t walk inside. My left knee was so stiff and painful that I had to limp most of the way into the store and a little bit inside before I regained adequate range of motion. Not quite to “handicap parking”-level loss of mobility, but definitely not my norm.
I think I have a psychiatrist appointment next week. Better brace myself for the inevitable lecture on keeping up with my drug regimen. At least I am aware of the problem before I go in. I can try to remember not to automatically tell the doctor that everything is “fine.”
You’d be surprised how easy it is to slip into that automatic response no matter how bad things actually are. It’s become customary to say that you’re “fine” when someone inquires how you are doing. We don’t want to burden friends and family with our problems, we don’t want to sound like we’re whining, or whatever the reason happens to be. I have to get over that enough to let my doctor know what he needs to know. He can’t help if I don’t let him know there’s something going on, after all.