Tag Archives: cancer

Could have been worse…

Maybe this is an age thing, but I think I’ve always loved definitive answers. Even back in my younger days, I thought “no” was a great answer, because it allowed me to forge ahead. It’s that hemming and hawing that drives me crazy.

Maybe this is why I hated the submission process when I was trying to attract traditional publishers. The old, “No response means no” thing does not work for me. No is fine, but tell me that so I can move on.

Today it is about something very different, but I find myself in the same circumstance. To explain it, this photo will help.

That’s a picture of Frankie’s right wrist. I spotted the lump a month ago. Then I did some research. This is what bone cancer looks like, only it isn’t. Bone cancer is one of the worst things that can happen to a dog. They amputate, then the dog fades slowly, and dies anyway.

When we took Otto for his vaccinations, I showed this to Dr. Sessions. She felt it, and asked some questions. She did not think it would turn out to be bone cancer, but thought she should X-ray it to be sure.

Her positive thoughts were that Frankie is only two. She’s extremely active, and bone cancer hurts.

We decided we will not put Frankie through all that. Bulldogs don’t do well on three legs like other dogs can. If she’s happy, we’d let her be happy as long as possible.

We’re not wealthy by a long shot, so we have to budget for these things. We scrimped this pay period so we could get this done. Whatever it is, it is not bone related. This thing is hard as a rock, but has nothing to do with the bone.

I looked at the images myself, and there isn’t even a shadow of a cyst, tumor, or anything. A smart blogger would have had an X-ray image for you.

She wants us to biopsy it anyway. The idea was to watch it for growth or leakage, but we ought to biopsy it to be safe. This means more budgeting, but we’ll get to it.

So it’s a positive outcome, but not a definitive one. It looks like her natural wrist to me, but the lump is not matched on her left side. Could be a birth defect, I suppose.

In other news, I haven’t accomplished much. Frankie has been occupying most of my mental space. Work has also been crazy this week. I owe an author friend some promotion and will try to get to that tomorrow.

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Wren, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hello all you diva’s and superstars. Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that interviews the characters from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today we’re going to try something a little bit different.

I receive mail, and sometimes we read them on the air as kind of an advice column. This one sparked my interest. We have someone calling herself Aunt Char, and she’s worried about her niece, Wren.

I heard a show recently where the radio host called someone up, and that’s just what we’re going to do. Just bear with me while I dial the number.

“Good morning, Char speaking.”

“Hello, this is Lisa Burton, and you’re on the air right now. Is this Aunt Char?”

“I just told you my name is Char. I was hoping that you would call. I have waited all week. I even made Byron, that’s my husband, shave and put on church shirts every morning. I have on my best dress today–it’s blue. Blue brings out the color in my eyes and high-lights in my hair. I’m a natural blonde, you know. But you sure took your time calling–I mailed the postcard last Friday. Maybe I should talk to someone down at the Post Office. Well, better late than never.”

“That’s right, I received your post card and wanted to talk to you about it. So why are you worried about Wren?”

“Well, Wren has a lovely singing voice. She gets that from me. She got the lead in a summer musical at her school–beating out other girls who are older. But my sister sent Wren to Mama’s and Papa’s place for the summer. Wren was really upset, and I can’t blame her.”

“Sometimes kids have to spend the summer with relatives. That’s nothing completely new. I understand why she might be upset, but maybe there is something there she can participate in locally.”

“My sister Willow had surgery for breast cancer, and then had to have chemotherapy. Wren is old enough to stay home and help her mama. Coddling her by sending her to be a guest in someone’s home all summer will ruin her. She should be cooking meals and keeping the house clean and seeing that her mother gets enough rest. She could still have time for the musical. Instead, I had to go help my sister–drove all the way to Colorado.

“And when I got there, Wren could not get away from home fast enough. I tried to help her with some tips on breathing and enunciation and important singing techniques, but she just got sassy.”

“Cancer is terrifying, so I understand if Wren is a little bit worried. Her mother is in bad shape, and Wren might be staying much longer than the summer if things go wrong. Maybe Wren needs a little support to work through things.”

“Well, the goats and chickens and alpacas aren’t going to help Wren with her singing. I know–there is nothing there but mud and poop and hard work. Just look at my parents–they should be retired and having fun, but all they do is work, work, work. It was not a good place for me with my talents, and it is not the right place for Wren. All she does is mope around and try to get a cell phone signal, so she can talk with her friends at home.”

“I’m sure your parents love Wren dearly. Taking care of animals is good for her to learn, but I understand her desire for something more. I’m sure your parents are just as worried about your sister.”

“They know how to cope. When I was quite young, I went through my own bout of cancer, and I am still kicking. But I could never have children of my own. So there is only Wren.”

“I’m so sorry for your loss. It probably doesn’t help, but robot girls can’t bear children either.”

“There’s no comparison. But we got on with life, and Wren needs to do the same thing –  regardless of the outcome. I mean, I love my sister and am sure she will recover, but we should make sure to have a plan for Wren.”

“Well, I’m so glad Wren has someone like you to help break up the doldrums of milking goats and feeling like free farm labor. Maybe you can introduce her to some locals that are more her age.”

“She should meet some nice church kids, but she does not seem to like them. Spends most of her time with kids she met at the park–writing poetry and going for hikes. I don’t think they are a good influence. It’s a good thing I am back in town, so I can introduce her to the right people.  I had a tea at my house, but Wren ended up pouting in the kitchen when I asked her to let the grownups talk without her.

“One day she sassed me outright, and when I corrected her, she said she never wanted to be like me. She even slammed the door. Came around a few days later to apologize, and she said she wanted to be able to sing just like me. So I started her with voice lessons. She shows promise even if she is not grateful.”

“Aunt Char, thank you for taking my call today. Any last thoughts for our listeners?”

“Well, I guess we worry about those we love and want the best for them. That’s what I want for Wren. Even if she is sassy.”

“You can read all about Wren and Aunt Char in the book Wren, by Alice Longaker. I’ll post all the details on the website.

“Don’t forget to use those sharing buttons today. I’m sure Alice and Aunt Char would do it for you, when your character is on the show.

“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

Blurb

Wren’s summer plans crash with the news of her mother’s diagnosis of Breast Cancer. While her mother focuses on healing, Wren is sent to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.

The not-so-typical grandparents are aging hippies with goats, chickens, and alpacas as companions. With new friends, increased independence, and acres of woods to explore, Wren tries to discover what she wants to do when she is grown—an archaeologist, or ranger, perhaps a writer or a singer?

Without cell phone reception or internet access, Wren feels detached from those back home. Chiggers bite. Spiders lurk. An owl calls outside of Wren’s window. Sometimes Wren gets scared. Yet, even in bleak sorrow and loss, Wren can see that life does not have to be perfect to be good.

Title; Wren

Genre: Middle-Grade fiction

Release date: April 2017

Audience: Middle-Grade Girls

Where to Order:

Black Rose Writing: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/childrens-booksya/wren

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wren-Alice-Longaker/dp/1612968546

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wren-alice-longaker/1126086449

Biography

Although she writes in many forms, Alice Longaker is first of all a poet. Her job is to see the wonder of something newly made from old patterns.

A self-professed late bloomer, she obtained a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado. She wandered through a library career—the solitude of cataloging, the austere aisles of a research library, and a boisterous children’s library.

Alice then taught research, composition, literature, and Intensive English to college students throughout Colorado. She currently dabbles in tutoring international students, and heeding the ‘call of stories,’ she writes. New projects include a collection of lyrical essays, poetry, and perhaps sequels to WREN.

Links

Website for youth: WREN: https://wrenbyalicelongaker.wordpress.com

Facebook author page: Alice Longaker-Author https://www.facebook.com/alicelongakercolorado

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/longakeralley

Twitter: Alice Longaker: https://twitter.com/AliceLongaker

Organizations

Northern Colorado Writers: http://www.northerncoloradowriters.com

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The Idea Mill #26

Sometimes the articles come faster than others. I've seen it take months to get enough articles for an Idea Mill post, this time it took about two weeks.

For all the new followers, I get these articles from various sources and share them here. They are a great source of inspiration for those who write speculative fiction.

Let's look at the first article. It appears chimpanzees have a ritual. Nobody really knows what it means, but speculation is that it looks like religion. The chimps throw rocks at trees. It isn't limited to one animal or one troop. It usually involves the same tree, and occasionally there are piles of rocks found as if this has gone on for a long time. Read the article here (Link)

They say bigfoot likes to whack trees with a club. An article like this could give some credence to your bigfoot story. Maybe old BF is throwing rocks at trees instead. Maybe the chimps have a specific reverence for that tree. A tree church if you will. Maybe the rocks are prayers, or a tribute to an ancestor.

I'll probably do some assessment of my blog activities as part of the year ending. Various primates have been pretty prominent in the Idea Mill posts. From baboons who might be domesticating wolves, monkeys who may be chipping flint, and now chimps who may be developing religion. Seems to me the setting is ripe for some hyper evolution type science fiction.

This next article is the kind that shows up occasionally. Someone discovered a possible cure that we'll never hear about again. It looks like some wasps from Brazil have venom that kills cancer cells but not healthy tissue. This all involves some complicated way the cancer cells outer membrane differs from healthy cells. Basically, the wasp venom makes the membrane rupture and the cancer cells pop like tiny balloons. Here is the story (Link)

What can we do with this one? It sets the stage for a jungle adventure pretty easily. It also lends itself to a corporate espionage type story using rival pharmaceutical companies. Of course you would need a crazy wing-nut type character to expose it all. Nobody listens to him until the facts become overwhelming. Maybe you want to write about a desperate family trying anything to save a loved one. It seems to fit with an environmental warning pretty well too. Loggers are destroying the jungle, and there is a desperate race to save the wasps before the cure is lost forever.

There is no reason you couldn't write about a wasp wrangler trying to deliver a colony of lifesaving wasps to a new colony in a distant galaxy too. When his ship gets boarded the wasps get used as weapons against the invaders. It distracts them long enough for the wasp wrangler to get to the weapons vault. Good thing wasps eat meat.

Finally, this one is just friggin weird. It's called sokushinbutsu; the practice of self mummification. It was practiced by monks in Japan in an attempt to become Buddha. It involves eating a special diet of bark and twigs, restricting water intake to dry out your innards, and basically meditating in a box your friends bury in the ground. It only takes three years, but it doesn't work every time, presumably because the monk wasn't suitable to the mission. Read about it here (Link)

For the record, I will not be attempting this. No pizza, no beer, no wonder they wanted to die. It will probably become the next hot diet book: The Mummification Diet.

So what can we do with this one? I'm a little bit stumped, but maybe I'm just dumbfounded. What if it were a form of hibernation? A kind of stasis that could last for centuries. You just need a little time in the hot tub and some Doritos to come back to life. What about something like the terracotta warriors in China? Someone stashed away an entire ninja army, just waiting to put them into action. Lends itself to secret societies, covert plans, and some kind of takeover attempt for your hero to foil.

These mummies could fit right in to a fantasy world too. The creepy old temple where only a few caretakers remain. Treasure hunters show up and the caretakers put a few mummies in the shower to help them out. Why not make them Sleestack type characters?

So how about a story using all three? The last Idea Mill stumped me, but I might be able to come up with a corny story with these.

Your hero needs to retrieve a colony of cancer-curing wasps from the jungle. We're going to have to move the jungle to one that has chimpanzees. He discovers chimpanzees exhibiting ritual behavior, but only around an ancient ruin.

There is competition from a more ruthless competitor, and they use bulldozers to knock down the jungle in hopes of stirring up the wasps. Your hero learns the chimpanzee ritual is the secret to finding the wasps, and if he can figure it out he'll have more than enough wasps for his purpose.

Before he can figure it out, the competition pushes through to the ancient ruin. This awakens the sleeping mummies who begin a campaign to wipe out everyone that isn't a reverent chimpanzee. The chimpanzees show your hero the only way to avoid the killer mummies is to start the self mummification process himself.

The killer mummies pass him by, revenge is extracted on corporate greed. He gains enough time to solve the Chimpanzee riddles and walks out with a pocket full of wasps. At the end he'd kill for a bag of Doritos and a hot tub.

Okay, all three elements – check. Corny – check.

What would you use one of these stories to create? Tell me in the comments.

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When Angels Fly, on Lisa Burton Radio #RRBC

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I'm your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today is Sarah Jackson. She grew up in a life of abuse, married into an abusive relationship, and lost her son Eli to cancer. “Welcome to the show, Sarah.”

“Thank you for the invitation Lisa and I’m happy to be here.”

“Can you tell our listeners something about your childhood? It sounds like it was pretty rough.”

“I vividly remember my childhood. As a little girl, my mother would force feed me foods I hated, such as peas, until I threw up. She did this to me often and she seemed to enjoy the abuse she inflicted upon me. I had six siblings and none of them remember my mother doing the force feedings except for my older brother who was eight years older than me. Abuse affected him, too, and to this day he stays away from any kind of contention. I wish I could say that the abuse abated as I got older, but it didn’t. I was always a kicking and punching bag and she would drag me around by my hair. No one could please her and my father never saw the treatment she doled out to me as he was always working. I had absolutely no self-esteem and I would retreat into a fantasy world where I was a princess and loved by all. I would curl up in my bed and thrust that fantasy into my child’s brain as a form of escape. I liked reading and as soon as I could read well enough, I started reading the Nancy Drew series, Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames, and Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I would escape into a world of my own through books. I could stay in my little room, in my bed, and read. Sometimes I would make paper dolls and dress them up with paper dresses. I remember how I would oftentimes try to draw younger siblings into a hug as none of us received hugs from her and I tried to show them how to love each other. (I have pictures)

“Starting around age eight, I tried to please her in other ways by doing work around the house. I would vacuum without being told to do so, and I washed dishes. I started doing the entire households laundry from washing to hanging on the line, and then take down and fold. I delivered the clean wash to the respective recipient’s bedroom and it didn’t make my mother proud. In fact, she simply expected me to continue with these chores. She left my father after 21 years if marriage and I chose to live with my father as I was 14 at the time and could choose. Then she forced him to sell the house and he was forced into a tiny apartment, after which I had to move in with her again. In high school, she was relentless in her treatment of me, and she never bothered to show her anger to the world. To this very day, I don’t understand why this was allowed to go on. The only thing I can think of is the fact that our neighbors were just as scared of her and she kept her punches to areas that were covered by clothing. In looking back post high school, I could see that some teachers knew that my home life was rough but that was as far as it went. My only escapes were school and work. I was so tired of her beatings, and the emotional and mental abuse she inflicted.”

“Almost anyone would be excited to leave all that behind and strike out on her own. Is that what you did?”

“Before I was age 18, I was looking for an escape ~ ANY escape. Working as a waitress left me with little money. I dated a few guys, and then my mother said to me one time, with a sneer, that I was only a “sperm receptacle” and that no one would want me. I wasn’t having sex. Eventually I found a guy I liked, and we dated for a few months and then we simply started living together. I had thought this was my escape into happiness and that he was my prince. He drank alcohol almost daily, and he invited me to move in with him. I thought that this was my chance! My chance to get away from my mother and the abuse she inflicted. I thought I could change this man into drinking less alcohol, I was in love and we married.”

“Did you love him? So many women go down this path, and they always think they love him. Is it because you've never known true love?”

“In hindsight, I never loved this man. I was in love with the idea of being in love, and I thought I could make this relationship grow into true love. That never happened and then the abuse began – the vicious cycle of abuse. Complete physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse – unending – even when pregnant. I sometimes wonder if the stress of this relationship was too stressful on my oldest son. Joshua was a perfect baby, and he died inside me. Labor was induced, and I shed tears for my unborn baby. I named him Joshua and he was perfect. He died when he became tangled in his umbilical cord and strangled to death. I was bereft, and I had a simple funeral for Joshua – only one sibling and myself. His father didn’t attend as he was drunk in a bar. Joshua’s eyes, the nurse from the hospital told me, were blue like mine. My baby had no hair. Tears rolled down my cheeks upon realizing that I would never get to know if his hair would be brown like Henry’s or blond like mine. His tiny hands would never get the chance to hold a basketball, or a football. His feet would never be able to pedal on a bike. His mouth would never open to utter that he loved me. I could though, so I did. “I love you, Joshua,” I told him. I loved him so much.

“On December 12, 1983, I gave birth to Noah. My baby was seven pounds and fourteen ounces, twenty inches long — a healthy boy. After my son was cleaned up and breathing normally, the nurse laid him on my right breast. I cuddled him wrapped in baby blankets as my bed was wheeled out into the hall towards the mother – baby unit down the hall. I looked at the face of my son and tears started rolling down my cheeks. It was a different feeling, a delicious mix of sorts. On the one hand, I was bursting with pride — this beautiful boy was mine. I would nurse him and care for him and love him dearly. On the other hand, there was a tinge of sadness because somehow, a part of me was telling me that this baby would have loved to play with Joshua. “Noah,” I whispered to my boy before kissing him on the forehead. Then I froze when realization hit me that it was the only time I spoke that name with such reverence and love. Just thinking about Noah makes me smile. I am so proud of him. He came into the world and into a broken home, yet he persevered and became an Eagle Scout. Noah is strong in spirit, and he is a caring young man. When I think my love for him cannot expand, I find myself wrong and my heart swells with loving pride. I made sure he always had hugs and love from me and he openly gives me hugs and love as well.”

“But you had another son, Eli. He had a difficult journey too, and you shared every step of that with him.”

“I could hardly believe it. Noah was barely seven months old; I was twenty-three years old at the time; and I was pregnant for the third time. Who would have thought that after an unsuccessful first birthing experience, God would immediately give me two babies? It didn’t make Joshua’s loss forgotten, but my being pregnant again reminded me of God’s greatness.

On April 6, 1985, I gave birth to another healthy baby boy and I named him Eli. He weighed 7 pounds 6 ½ ounces and was 21 inches long. When I held Eli in my arms the first time, I felt really blessed. I had two beautiful boys in my life. Noah and Eli were best buddies and they did everything together. When Eli was age four and a half years old, he started having many sinus infections, upper respiratory issues, doctor visits, tons on medicine, scans, and X-rays. Everything came back negative except for his high white blood cell count, fevers and not being the little boy I knew. Starting in September of 1989, and on through the end of February 1990 no one could tell me why Eli was so sick all the time. Twelve doctors and specialists, and even one doctor placed tubes in his ears to help Eli. CT scans were MISREAD!!!!!

“On March 4, 1990 I noticed that Eli had lost the peripheral vision in his right eye. Straight to the hospital we went and finally someone read a scan correctly that showed a mass the size of my fist – in his right neck area and extending into the brain cavity as well as metastasis into both lungs! He suffered horrors no child, or adult, should ever have to experience. For six months he was misdiagnosed! For seven and half months he lived in pain and horror in the hospital before passing. I can best sum up precious Eli with the letter I wrote to him about a year after he died.”

October 13, 1991

My Dearest Eli,

Yet again tonight I went to bed crying for you, Eli. Heart wrenching sobs escaped from me and in between them I relived your short life with such clarity.

I knew you were very special, Eli, from the day you were born. And now, with the first anniversary of your death upon us, I realize fully just how special you really were and still are. You affected so many people in your short life, Eli.

Even now, I have moments when it is hard to believe that you are really gone. Or are you? You're in my heart now and forever Eli.

Will it ever get easier, Eli? Sometimes, I am very happy for you. Those times are when I know you are pain free and happy. Heaven must be such a wonderful place.

Then there are times when my heart aches and aches for you, Honey. Those are the times when I relive moments of your childhood before the doctor diagnosed you with cancer, and also moments after being diagnosed.

I remember vividly the day you were brought home from the hospital after your birth. Your brother, Noah, only one year old, took to you instantly. Throughout your short life, the two of you were inseparable. Best playmates you two were. But you were the most daring, Eli. You had such a zest for life.

I remember the day you and Noah were on your 3-wheelers, and racing around in and out of the garage. Noah came running into the house to tell me you had a snake cornered in the garage. Upon investigation, there you were, laughing with delight, and riding your 3-wheeler in circles, closer and closer, to a coiled king size bull snake.

Sometimes when I wake in the morning Eli, I start to think about what I'm going to make my “boys” for breakfast. And then I remember.

And sometimes in the evening, when Noah is taking his bath, I remember how it always was two boys in the bathtub and not one.

My precious Eli, oh, how I miss you. I miss your sweet smile, shining blue eyes and pale blond hair.

You had to grow up so fast, Eli. It was such a shock to learn that you had cancer, one month before your fifth birthday. In a flash, I would have traded places with you.

You went from being a happy little boy into a world of doctors and nurses, needles and IV's, catheters and spinal taps.

I was selfish, Eli. I loved you too much to let you die. And so you suffered. You went through head and neck, and open chest surgeries. How my heart ached for you, Eli, when, four hours after surgery on your lungs, I helped a nurse stand you up in bed. How you hated ICU.

Because I loved you too much to let you go, you suffered such horrible radiation burns on your sweet head and neck. The chemotherapy made you so very sick. Even under sedation, you were sick. But you knew the “good guys” were out to get the “bad guys”. At four years old, you knew you would die without treatment.

It hurt me so bad that you were unable to eat for seven and a half months. Your only nutrition was IV. You always ate so well before. You had always relished the sheer taste of food. It was unfair of me to bring food into your room in the hopes that you would eat something. Sometimes you tried. I remember when you woke during the night once and asked for watermelon. I drove half of Denver to get it for you. You only ate a couple of bites, but it was worth it.

I remember the long days and nights in the hospital those seven and a half months. I was able to take you home only four different weekends. I remember the isolation in times of high fever and the ice blankets, lots of oxygen and machines everywhere.

How I cried Eli, on the morning that we woke up and found all your hair lying in your bed and not on your head. You were too proud to wear a hat.

I also remember good times, like when the group came from the Denver baseball team and you received an autographed photo of George and a Royals’ baseball. Or I would be wheeling you around, outside the medical center, and you would point out cars and ask me if they were “race cars.” How we would talk about the race car we would have someday and how much it would be worth.

Having lived two hundred and thirty miles away, you were awestruck by the freeways in and out of Denver. You thought they looked like race tracks.

And how about the time I was able to take you to the Denver Zoo? You did not mind that I had to push you, a boy at five years of age, in a stroller, up and down the hills. You were so weak. You did not care; you only wanted to see the animals.

And on good days, I also remember how you would hide under a gurney in the hall and wait for a person to be passing by, only to give them a good dose of water from your squirt gun. It did not matter to you whether or not you knew the person you squirted. Sometimes you would sneak around the nurses’ station and into the medication room, fully loaded with water, and let loose. No doctor, nurse, or visitor was safe from you.

Or how about the times an IV would complete and I would unhook you. You headed straight for your three-wheeler and down the hall you zipped. Everyone stayed out of your way and laughed. Such sport you had.

Other times, when you had to stay in bed, you made me chase down a VCR so you could watch Superman or Ghostbusters. You never tired of those two movies. You knew them by heart and delighted in telling anyone who would listen what would happen next.

I remember the times when you would have to undergo yet another series of X-rays, CT scans, or MRI and I would stay by your side throughout them, telling you stories and keeping you from moving.

I'm sorry, Eli, that I was not able to make you well. I think that you went through all that you did, those seven and a half months, simply because of how much I loved you and did not want to let you go.

I remember the times that I would feel down and you would come up to me. You would put your arms around me and say, “I'm sorry, Mom.”

I remember when we were together, waiting in the OR before your lung surgery. You were feeling well and you looked at me and said, “I want to go to Heaven, Mom.” I went speechless. And then I told you that sometimes we don't get what we want and that you might have to come back to me.

And yet, I remember so well how after your last chemo, you picked up yet another “bug” and ended up on a respirator; just how much you fought for life as we knew it, those last fifteen days.

Most of all, Eli, I remember how I cradled you in my arms, and whispered into your ear that soon you would not have to have any more pain and it would be okay, as your heart stopped for the third and last time, and you died in my arms.

Thank you, Eli, for going through what you did because I loved you and did not want to let you go.

I'll always love you Eli.

Mama

“I can tell I need to stock up on artificial tears again– But, Sarah, life goes on. You've been through so much already. I don't know if it's possible to recover from all that. How do you move on after something like that?”

“You don’t “move on” for this is the King of Loss. Only parents who have suffered the loss of a child will truly understand this fact. I have words to help those who have not had this kind of loss.”

WORDS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT LOST A CHILD/ CHILDREN

Does it get any easier losing a child/ children? Somewhat…

Is it possible for a parent to be happy their child/ children are perfect in Heaven above and feel peace with that? Sure… (It took me twenty-three years for Eli and somewhat less for Joshua)

Can a parent ever “get over” losing a child/ children? No. This is the KING of loss. We can be happy that they are perfect in Heaven and sad at times when we miss them the most.

Bereaved parents are continually re-writing each day as this is the new “normal.” This won’t change. We will think of our loss when other children reach milestones such as first tooth, first steps, first words, kindergarten, holidays, best friend, graduation, prom, falling in love, first kiss, learning to drive, getting married, the list is endless.

The WORST things you can ever say to a parent who has suffered the KING of loss, ever after one, ten, twenty, or more years? “You should be over it by now,” or “Move on with life.” You see we are moving on with life, we just do it one hour or day at a time, re-writing life as we go along.

~S Jackson, October 2014

“I am thankful for my second husband, Michael for you see we share a love like Johnny and June… Many want to have a love like Johnny and June; the deep, soul mate, best friend, encompassing love they shared despite the ups and downs along the way. Mike and I are deeply blessed to have this kind of love; the deep love with the one who you were destined to be with, your best friend, your soul mate. Despite our own ups and downs (not like Johnny and June’s) our love kept growing stronger and stronger, unending to this very day. Our wish for all of you is to have this kind of love in your life.”

“Strong lessons for all of us. I'm honored to have you as my guest today. Today's show has been sponsored by When Angels Fly, by S. Jackson. Please hit the share buttons at the end of the post. When your characters appear here, maybe someone will do the same for you.”

When Angels Fly is based upon a true story. S. Jackson is a pen name for Mary L. Schmidt.

***

Bio: Mary L. Schmidt writes under the pen name of S. Jackson, and she is a retired registered nurse, who won the coveted Leora B. Stroup Bachelor of Science in Nursing Award for outstanding clinical performance, community involvement and academic achievement in Nursing Award, while at Fort Hays State University. She is a member of the Catholic Church, and has taught kindergarten Catechism; she has worked in various capacities for The American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Cub and Boy Scouts, (son, Noah, is an Eagle Scout), and sponsored trips for high school children music. She loves all forms of art but mostly focuses on the visual arts; amateur photography, traditional, and graphic art as her disabilities allow. She has published twelve books since retirement; the first a memoir, When Angels Fly, followed by an Art Picture book featuring her own works of art, one cookbook, and eight books for children of which four are a part of a full series. Protecting children from molestation is important to her, and with that in mind she wrote Suzy Has A Secret. Seeing what bullies can do to a child inspired her to write the book, The Big Cheese Festival. Schmidt has designed all of her book covers. She loves spending time with her husband, Michael, and especially her first grandchild, Austin, just turning age one year. She is a Member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: The international professional organization for writers and illustrators of children’s literature, and Sigma Theta Tau International: The Honor Society of Nursing, which is the second-largest nursing organization in the world with approximately 135,000 active members.

Book Trailer for When Angels Fly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhmETPrtKdw

When Angels Fly Book: https://www.amazon.com/When-Angels-Fly-S-Jackson-ebook/dp/B017UNVWDI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Blog: https://whenangelsfly.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MMSchmidtAuthorGDDonley

Personal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mary.schmidt.50

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryLSchmidt

Artwork: http://mschmidtartwork.deviantart.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/S.-Jackson/e/B013NRRKR2

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-schmidt-a1a511101

 

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Public Service Announcement

I'm going to invite everyone to re-blog, tweet, and otherwise share this post today. We all wish our posts got that much love, but this one is important. If you are a man, love a man, or maybe both, this post is important.

I debated long and hard about sharing this at all. It involves personal information, and I like to keep a bit of privacy. I had to weigh the fact that my mother reads this blog, along with at least two co-workers, against the possibility of helping someone else. Someone else won.

Popular rumor holds that a man should have certain things checked medically once he turns 50. In typical male fashion, I waited until I was 53 and 8 months to schedule my colonoscopy. This is a degrading procedure that involves shoving a camera into places that aren't visible by design. I thought it was degrading, but at least they have the courtesy to knock you out before taking their selfies and such.

The good news is there was nothing wrong. Well, almost nothing. They said my blood pressure was high, and I should get it checked out.

My wife is a phlebotomist, and told me to get it checked and to order some blood work while I was there. Apparently, they can learn all about me by testing my blood. They ran tests about diabetes, thyroid, metachlorians, and whatever else they could think up. They also started me on blood pressure medication.

It turns out I have a thyroid, some other glands, and even a heart. (Contrary to popular opinion.) I will also never become a Sith Master. However, “Mr. Boyack, your PSA is a little bit high.”

Yeah, the name of this post is a word joke. It's the only way I can remember what the issue is. I quizzed the doctor for a while. Turns out this is some chemical produced my prostate gland. I'm higher than normal. Score! Turns out that's a bad thing. This was doctor #2, who sent me to see a urologist, doctor #3.

A urologist can't be that bad, right? Even walking into something called the Tumor Institute puts a weight on your soul. Turns out where doctor #3 decided to stick his fingers had nothing to do with my winkie. (I'm all for keeping things in order, but it would be poetic if he was doctor #2. Just saying.) “Mr. Boyack, your prostate is enlarged, but I don't detect any lumps or tumors.” We decided to repeat the PSA test when I got my blood pressure checked again at doctor #2.

Months roll by, and at 54 years old I got my PSA checked again. It was even higher than before, and #2 insisted I return to #3 to have a biopsy taken. He insisted pretty strongly.

At this point, a funk came over me. It really has made a difference at my workplace, in my writing, and my blogging. Some of you will remember me taking a mulligan on one of my regular posting days. I made the appointment and took some leave from work.

Last week they did the procedure. Cute nurse A took me to a room and collected all my vitals. I was relieved when she left the room, but that wouldn't last. They made an attempt to cover the probe with a paper towel, but it wasn't hard to see. This thing is about the size and shape of my wife's curling iron. It was a wonderful Hitchcockian few moments seeing the probe, knowing where they were going to shove it, and waiting for it to be over. (Thank God it wasn't the size of my daughter's curling iron.)

Cute nurse B came into the room and told me to undress from the waist down. She told me I could leave my socks on. (Gosh thanks.) She stayed to make sure I was completely humiliated, and had me assume the fetal position on the bed. Then she squirted some kind of pain killer up my backside. (Didn't even kiss me first.)

Turns out the probe is kind of a high tech device. It's an ultrasound, but can also inject even more anesthetic, and collect the biopsy samples. #3 took his sweet time about it; maybe he wanted to savor the moment. He twisted toward my tailbone, then my front, left, right, deep, shallow. All the while, his probe made loud snaps that felt like a rubber band snap. This was the gathering of samples. I just stared at the wall and prayed for a massive stroke.

He took 12 samples in all and turned to leave. I had to stop him, and this bothers me a bit. I wanted to see the image, and know what he found. He had the decency to show me, and said there were no lumps or tumors. My prostate is enlarged though. I never do anything half assed (couldn't resist). Turns out my prostate is three times larger than normal for a man my age. Normal is like a walnut, mine's like a tangerine.

Cute nurse B stuck around to watch me get dressed, and to make sure I was properly mortified. I must not have done a good job, because she offered me a pad for my underwear. No thanks, I'd rather burn my clothes when I get home. If she'd offered me a lemon slice and a shot of hemlock right then, I'd have taken it.

I wanted nothing more than a hot bath. If you ever read fiction about a rape scene, and the victim spends hours in the shower afterward — believe it.

Waiting for the lab results was fun. You get to see blood pass from every orifice south of your belly button. It also takes a week and requires another office visit.

In this day of emails, FaceTime, Skype, etc. I still had to use more leave to physically walk under that Tumor Institute sign once more.

Today was the day. Would this be a life changing moment? Loss of the prostate gland means losses in lifestyle too. Sex would never be the same again. Various therapies are also life changing. Would my beard fall out? Would I turn white headed?

It turns out they did not discover cancer in any of the samples. Cancer is a bit like Bigfoot though. All they can guarantee is they didn't find it. They can't promise it isn't present at all. Doctor #3 talked to me about drugs that can reduce the size of my prostate. He also said it was a quality of life issue, and I have to decide when. It wasn't bothering me before my colonoscopy. He told me to check my PSA every year from now on, and that's the most recent update.

Part of me wonders if I'd gotten the colonoscopy in 2010, if I'd have missed out on the high blood pressure. This could be a bad thing. Without high blood pressure, I never would have had the blood work done. Things happen for a reason, and I have to accept that.

I want to go to Joe's Crab Shack now to celebrate my brush with cancer. Eating the zodiac symbol for cancer feels appropriate.

I've done all the research to write a smashing story about alien probing. I think I'll pass on that one.

I've let a bit of my grouchiness get on this page. The fact is prostate cancer is no joke, and people die from it. The whole process is embarrasing, and you'll have some strange thoughts about what your future holds. The cancerous alternative isn't funny at all. If you get it checked soon enough, you may live to publish that alien probing story.

I encourage all men to get things checked. It's kind of our way to wait until there is a problem, but by the time you have a problem it could be too late.

It's been a few hours since I wrote this. I'm struggling with whether I should hit publish or delete. I really am a private, introverted person. Still, it's worth it if it inspires one person to get things checked out before it's too late.

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The Idea Mill # 5

For newer readers, I save articles I find in a folder. These are articles that make me scratch my head and think about the fiction I write. When I have enough, I post another idea mill article. Let’s all speculate, shall we.

The first one is based on the eyesight of the mantis shrimp. This is a beautiful, but strange ocean creature with no real value to humans, beyond the esthetic. This story shows why the world’s odd creatures should be protected, and what might be lost when a species goes extinct.

It seems the mantis shrimp sees the world a bit differently than humans. It has to do with the way his eyes interpret polarizing light. Using this special skill, the mantis shrimp is capable of seeing human cancers. Cool, but how useful is that?

Scientists have built a camera that replicates shrimp vision. Rather than create another $10,000 procedure for insurance to pay, they seem to think it can become a smart phone app. This restores my faith in humanity, to a degree. Part of the article said shrimpie sees neurons. Since I’m a speculative fiction writer, this trips my trigger.

What about an app that goes down the police state path. Check someone out with your camera, and know whether they are a child abuser, rapist, or terrorist. Can you imagine picking your girl up for a date, and having to pass muster for her father under these circumstances? What if dating became more like qualifying for a loan. “Sorry bud, you have a predisposition for osteoporosis. I can’t inflict that on my future children.”

Read about the mantis shrimp here.

Our next story is something that could add some spice to a science fiction story. In fact, I may redesign this and include it in my current manuscript. Someone has designed, and built, a tiny camera drone. This one can snap around your wrist, like a bracelet. Read the article here, then we’ll speculate.

The design seems to indicate availability to the general public. What might happen if a pervert gets one of these? What if they start clusters of these on a pattern through our malls, schools, and airports? Maybe your amateur girl detective needs one of these to get herself into trouble. Could these cruise our workplaces and watch over our shoulders at every move we make? Maybe your bad guys want these locked in a safety deposit box, only to deploy after closing time. What would you write about these?

Next, it seems the U.S. Navy has built, and is about to deploy, a rail gun. This gun fires a projectile at seven times the speed of sound using an electro magnetic pulse. It has a considerable range and appears to be capable of pinpoint accuracy. This will allow replacement of million dollar missiles with $25,000 projectiles. Good news or bad news depends upon which end of the gun you happen to be on. Read the article here.

I recall a failed attempt to build a space gun. I may have posted this article in a previous Idea Mill. The U.S. tried for years to build a gun capable of launching items into orbit. The original is scrapped and rusting somewhere. The rail gun might see this become reality. What if we could launch a satellite for $25,000? Even a relatively small business could have a satellite in space. Could this mark the end of the cellular network? Would we all get satellite phones? What would this do to the Internet?

What if organized crime had its own satellite network? Would there be multiple internets forcing us to subscribe to several, like cable TV?

I have one of my Macabre Macaroni stories coming soon that references a space gun, only mine is a mortar.

The last one today is about Ebola. This one includes charts to show just how fast this disease spreads. Read about it here.

Ebola could become the Black Death of our era. Others have written about this, but if you write about a zombie virus or any kind of dystopian settings, you really ought to be watching this unfold. How is the world reacting and responding? Is anyone making money here? Does anyone want it to spread? Are the terrorists watching? Are we watching celebrities as the world crumbles?

PS: I changed my background early. I’m off to Coeur d’Alene for a week, and wanted access to my Mac for this.

Speculate with me people, what would you write?

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Filed under The Idea Mill, Writing

The Idea Mill #4

Okay, I took a W. A. G. at just how many of these I’ve posted. I decided to number them so I don’t wind up reusing the names.

These articles are pushed to me via my RSS reader and Zite Magazine. When I find a good one I bookmark it until I have three, then I share them with you. These aren’t the kind of things to make a whole story about, but they can put a little pep into your story when you need it.

The first one has speculative fiction written all over it. It’s about decapitation. There’s more legend here than hard news, but it really gets the imagination moving. How many pirates could you save by walking past them after your own beheading? Read it here: Decapitation. I remember Jayne Mansfield too, but I was very young when this happened.

The next one reminds me of those movie girls who can do anything with a Bobbie pin. This is the “Swiss Army Knife” of hair clips. I can see Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson whipping one of these out of her hair to get out of a tight spot. My own character, Lisa the robot, could have used one of these. There’s a link in there that shows more photos. Check out Hair Clip.

The third one sounds a bit like witchcraft. It’s modern medicine using a bacteria found in dirt. They did the whole genetic modification thing to it, of course. It cannot thrive in too much oxygen. It just so happens that cancerous tumors have a much lower level of oxygenation than healthy tissue. They tested it on animals, and ultimately one human. This stuff eats the tumor, and dies out when it reaches healthy tissue. The story has wonderful descriptions of lancing the infection and pus, if you need to increase the squirm factor in your manuscript. Read the news article here: Bacteria.

The bacteria begs for a speculative fiction writer to ask, “What if?” I also like to figure out, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Maybe it increases the human lifespan by 50 years. This could bankrupt the economy, the health care system, Social Security, and the insurance industry. Bring on the distopian settings.

Maybe scientists tested too soon and the patient turns into a raging monster. Scarlett Johanssen has to use her special hair clip to decapitate it.

Have fun with these, and let me know if any if them lubricates your imagination.

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Filed under The Idea Mill, Writing