IWSG March 4: Traditions

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

QUESTION: Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

MY ANSWER: I decided to not answer this month’s question. Instead, I’m going to tell you what happened after five stents were installed in my heart. For that part of my story read blog post: IWSG Nov. 6, 2019: Strangest Thing.

February 2020 Rick and I flew back to the States for my follow-up doctor appointment and three-week vacation. I was excited to show my US physician the CD created by my heart doctor in Mexico.

While in Mexico, my cardiologist performed an angiogram of my neck proving the blood flow in my carotid artery was normal. He was adamant: my artery was clear. No blockage. I saw the proof: a video showing my artery with normal flow. I was convinced. No surgery.

I proudly showed my US doctor the CD. I fully expected his agreement. Instead my specialist said, “The artery on your CD is not the carotid artery. That image is your vertebral artery. There is still plaque in your neck and it is blocked 80%. I advise surgery.”

I squeezed my hands in an effort to contain my astonishment. How could two specialist have such different opinions?

Whom do I believe? My heart specialist in Mexico? Or my vascular specialist in the States?

Do I trust this US physician that discovered the blockage in my neck and did not bother to check for blockage in my heart? Why was his PA (Physician Assistant) so reluctant to give me copies of my medical records? I was torn with indecision and filled with uncertainty.

As you can see from my picture, I accepted the US diagnosis and choose to operate.

My Scar (Click image to enlarge.)

I was totally unprepared for the magnitude of this surgery, or the recovery time, or the disfigurement.

I had no idea it was considered major surgery, high risk, and a two month convalescent period.

Our 21-day vacation in California was jammed with appointments including two five-hour round trips to my eye specialist in Los Angeles.

Life was a blur as we jumped to met our demanding schedule.

Meanwhile, Rick was diagnosed with basal cells carcinoma on his forehead. He was operated 11 days after my surgery. Neither of us realized Rick’s operation would be so painful.

Apparently, all the nerves from the back of the head converge near the forehead. Rick suffered intense nerve pain while I struggled to regain my strength.

We flew back to Mexico 48 hours after Rick’s surgery. We needed help getting our suitcases down the dock and placed on our sailboat, La Vita. We were both weak and exhausted.

My first opportunity to completely rest was 16 days after surgery. It was heavenly.

I’ve included a photo of my neck after surgery (see above). They assured me when the scar heals, it’ll just be a white line. Right now, I feel a long rope of lumpy flesh.

Reminder: Plaque can suddenly break off and cause a stroke. That’s why this condition is called the silent killer.

Other than being tired, I had NO symptoms of heart disease or clogged arteries.

QUESTION: Have you or your characters been forced to make a life or death decision? How did it turn out?

IWSG FEB 5, 2020: Photo Inspiration

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the February 5 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson!

QUESTION: Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

I was inspired by neither photo or art. As if by magic, I entered a three dimensional scene pulsing with excitement. Ultimately, I wrote, presented, and crashed.

MY ANSWER: During a recent writing workshop, I experienced something new and fresh: an altered reality. My mind was flooded with people and voices. I was stone cold sober.

Without focus, I gazed through an open window. My mind pulled me into a cozy cove of brilliant images and crisp sounds. My imagination stimulated as never before. Energy flooded my brain and thrilled my body. Words tumbled onto the page.

I had entered a sacred space of creativity that alluded me forever.

Surrounded by friends, I volunteered to read my 15 minute written sample. There were gasps of appreciation. My imaginary white feathered wings stretched; reached and extended as the warm thermal air of fellowship guided my flight. I released all protective armor as I absorbed their approval.

Without warning, the sharp tip of an arrow pierced my heart. The dark shaft of criticism dropped me to the ground with a thud. Damaged. Wounded. My innocence seeped into the earth.

This was 18 days go. As the hours passed I realized the critical comment was intended to enlighten, not damage. The truth did nothing to sooth my pain.

Have you exposed your innocent inner being only to be completely blindsided with criticism? Did you recover? How? I invite you to tell your story.

 

IWSG JAN 8, 2020: Writing Journey

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for our January 8 posting of the IWSG are T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!

QUESTION: What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just “know” suddenly you wanted to write?

MY ANSWER: It was 2am and shivers of adrenaline surged through my body. I was alone at the helm of our sailboat, La Vita. My first night at sea. Ever. Rick was off watch, down below.

The power to control a 33-foot vessel and the freedom to glide along without a care in the world was breathtaking. I was in the grip of freedom, control, and the dark unknown.

The wind ruffled the sails and the rhythmic throb of the diesel engine filled the air. We were in Mexican water and motor-sailing south to Ensenada, Mexico.

Fog erased the stars from the sky. The compass needle pointed south, assuring me we were on course. To the west, there was nothing between me an Hawaii. On my left, the rugged Mexican coast line.

Time passed, the fog remained. Then I saw a ghostly image moving through the hazy white mist. I stared at it in wonder. Was it getting closer to us? The blinding lights blurred the image.

With a sense of panic, I called, “Rick, can you come on deck?”

He looked around as he came up the companionway steps. “What’s going on?”

Rick studied the brilliant white form. “It’s coming towards us! Quick, turn the wheel to port.”

I did as I was told. I gripped the wheel and turned hard left. Shore lights twinkle as the La Vita headed toward shore. The sea slapped her hull.

About 100 yards behind us, a vessel emerged from the fog bank. A thick rope was dragging an enormous barge concealed in a blaze of white light.

La Vita weighs 15-tons and lethargic in the calm seas. She was in no hurry to complete 360 degree maneuver. Was the barge going to ram us?

Time stood still as we lumbered through the gentle waves and returned to our southerly passage. The vessel towing the barge was ahead and crossing our bow. They were headed for port. That was our destination, too.

We were on the inside route to Ensenada. The tow boat and barge were on the outside and intent on passing in front of us. The minute Rick saw the heavy tow line hanging off the stern he realized it was connected to a vessel blanketed in fog. Thanks to his quick thinking, we avoided a collision as sea.

This first night adventure at sea ignited my desire to write and a craving to draw the reader into my experience.

 

 

 

IWSG DEC 4, 2019 Role Play

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for the December 4 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Beverly Stowe McClure, Nicki Elson, and Tyrean Martinson!

MY QUESTION: Let’s play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

MY ANSWER: Words flow freely and alive with creativity. The scenes are exciting and dialog engaging. The computer rests in my lap as my fingers glide with purpose across the keyboard. 

I am filled with a sense of freedom as I’ve given myself permission to live without failure. Recognizing there are simply experiences from which to grow and learn.

Could you take a moment and share with me how you enrich your creative writing ability? How do you stimulate your imagination? Do you draw from actions of the people around you?

Thank you for visiting and taking a moment to comment. I promise to visit your site and return the favor.

IWSG Nov. 6, 2019: Strangest Thing

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for the September 4 posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!

MY QUESTION: Did you know blocked arteries are silent killers?

I tracked mine from the States and to Mexico.

American Doctors

I discovered first clue with simple question. Uncertain if he’d agree, I asked my American family doctor if he’d order an ultrasound of my neck. He looked over from his computer, squinted, asked, “Why?”

Feeling a bit embarrassed, I avoided his gaze. “I’ve heard they are a silent killer.” Out of nowhere, I remembered my mom had an aortic aneurysm and told him so.

His eyes grew large.

The next thing I knew I was lying on a bed beside a nurse as she rubbed a medical sensor device over my stomach and neck performing an ultrasound procedure. I was completely unprepared for the results.

Driving back to our motel, I started to doze watching the scenery fly by. Rick focused on heavy freeway traffic. Then doctor called and told me. “The study showed severe blockage in your neck. Your condition is critical.”

I had the doctor on loud speaker. Rick gripped the wheel then slammed on the brakes as vehicles ground to a halt. I wasn’t the only one shocked by the news.

The doctor referred me to a heart specialist, who ordered a CT scan. My iPhone buzzed as the doctor stepped into his office. I ignored the message. The doctor picked up the report as he sat down. I tensed when he confirmed the blockage. Then he delivered the craziest news I’d heard yet. “Go back to Mexico. We can do the surgery six months from now.”

He pointed to a drawing of a blocked artery and explained my plaque had been there for a long time. Therefore, I could delay treatment. I was flabbergasted.

Mexican Doctors

I simmered during our entire flight back to Mexico. I needed a second opinion and so visited Dr. Rios, our family doctor here, in Puerto Vallarta. Dr. Rios removed his glasses as he leaned forward. He said, “If you have that much blockage in your neck, we need to check your heart. Plaque doesn’t just build in just one area of the body. He picked up his iPhone and dialed. Looking over at me he said, “I’m ordering a 3D study of your heart.”

Why didn’t my American doctor care about my heart?

The study confirmed Dr. Rios’s theory. The CT scan proved 95% blockage. He said “You need surgery right away. You are a ticking time bomb.”

My throat went dry as I absorbed the news. I‘m the care-giver. I’m the healthy one. How would Rick manage without me? I turned to Rick and reached for his hand.

Surgery

Fact: the blood in my heart was severely blocked. If I wanted to live, the arteries had to be opened to allow the blood to flow. We discussed my options: bypass surgery or stents.

Bypass: the surgeon spreads open the rib cage, takes a vein from the leg and replaces an artery in my heart. Weeks of painful recovery.

Stents: On the other hand, with stents I’d be home the next day. No pain. I didn’t need any convincing; I chose stents.

October 1 Surgery. The anesthesiologist, flips to a page in his chart and asked, “When were you born?” I told him. He murmured, “Oh, so you were born during World War II?” Hearing him say it like that made me feel really old.

I drifted off. Completely relaxed, I felt his fingers ruffle my hair and he said, “How are you feeling?” I said,
“There is pressure in my arm.” Poof, the feeling disappeared.

In my twilight sleep, I’m vaguely aware Dr. Valadez, my surgeon’s voice, “You need five stents. Do you want bypass surgery?” Not really understanding the reason for the question, I said, “I want stents.” Later, I learned he asked Rick the same question and Rick told him stents. No bypass.

I opened my eyes as I regained consciousness. Dr. Valadez waited patiently. We looked at each other as he summarized what just happened. Three arteries were blocked from 80 to 99%. With extreme care he installed five stents and one is 48 mm long. He reassured me my heart was strong and in excellent condition. My surgery was a total success.

More good news, during surgery they manipulated a tube inside my arteries up to my neck. From this internal view, they determined one artery was 30% blocked. The other side appeared to be blocked, but it was simply an anomaly; a curve in my artery. This procedure proved my artery is open. No need for surgery.

I was discharged the next day and instructioned to walk 30 minutes every day.

Recovery

As my arteries collected plaque, my heart adjusted and compensated as the blood flow decreased. My entire body slowed down to keep pace with my heart. A massive fatal heart attack just waiting to happen.

After surgery, I have a new heart but not the stamina I expected. I walk every day determined to rebuild my endurance. It’s still there.

Thanks to my American family doctor and a team of highly trained Mexican doctors, we destroyed the silent killer.

Dr. Rios’s final prescription, “Go Live your life.”

Final Thoughts

Doctors wait for symptoms. Then if we’re lucky, we get treatment. What if we reversed the sequence? Diagnose first? Check the arteries just like we do routine mammograms and prostrate examines. Install stents whenever possible and thrive.

IWSG Sept 4, 2019: Location

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for the September 4 posting of the IWSG are Gwen Gardner, Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantiner!

IWSG QUESTION:  If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why.

MY ANSWER: Exactly where I am. On my boat, in La Cruz marina, moored just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Occasionally, the boat sways with the tide; the air conditioner hums and blows invigorating cool air; birds sitting on the life lines are tweeting in celebration and shitting on the deck. 

Interruptions! A voice from the dock yells, “Are you there mi amiga?” Carlos, our diver, wants to dive the boat and scrape barnacles off the hull. At the exact moment I’m totally immersed in writing a scene filled with thrills and chills.

Why is it, we can find fault, even paradise?

IWSG August 7: Writing Surprises

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for the August 7 posting of the IWSG are Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!

IWSG QUESTION: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you’d forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

ANSWER: I’m surprised every time write. Especially when I create a post for IWSG. Typically, my initial response is, “I don’t have a thing to say.” Then my fingers touch the keyboard and ideas tumble onto the page. Now, I’m not saying it’s good writing…but I am surprised there is a thought or two.

When does your inspiration pour forth? At odd times such as when you are in In the shower? Or is it polite and wait for you to be in compose mode?

Thank you for taking the time to visit, ponder, and comment. I promise to return your thoughtfulness and comment on your post, too.

IWSG July 3: Character Traits

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for the July 3 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe,Natalie AguirreJennifer LaneMJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

IWSG QUESTION: What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

ANSWER: I’m the main character in my real life adventures and a witness to life. I live on a sailboat in Mexico and married to a a retired Air Force veteran. My career was “Jack-of-All-Trades.”

I’ve been an escrow officer (confirm the buyer and the seller fulfill all contracts obligations before releasing funds.); television producer (script writer, location sound recordist, camera operator, editor); technical publication specialist (formatting 300 page documents for print); sailor and navigator (command La Vita at sea and chart our route to next destination).

What are my personal traits? What strengths and weaknesses do I bring to my character? After some soul searching, I came up with these traits:

Mild Dyslexia: which leads to self-doubt;
Witness: I am an observer to events around me

I seem to “see” unique incidents that others may to ignore;
Passionate: in supporting Rick (my husband) through life and major medical crises in foreign lands;
Love: to enhance relationships through sharing (food, ideas, encouragement);
Curious: often asking myself, “What if?”
When facing a challenge, I often rely on my curiosity to reach a solution;
Clever: often solving problems via unconventional methods (which are sometimes misunderstood);*
Motto: “I’ll figure it out on the way”
One example: This attitude gave me the courage to drive a rental car on Los Angeles, California freeways during rush hour and in the rain. Then we returned to Mexico, and I drove the tourist clogged Puerto Vallarta city streets …Oh, did I mention this was the first time I’d driven 10 years?;
Desire: To write “slices of life” stories that inspire, enlighten, and make people cringe.

*The text in red was added by my husband.

Thank you for visiting. I look forward to reading your post and offering a comment or two.

IWSG June 5 Genres?

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG are Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

IWSG QUESTION:
Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

ANSWER:
Once upon a time I would have said, “I don’t like sci-fi.” Then I read, Dragon of the Stars, by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Holy cow I loved it. First eBook I’ve read from beginning to end. Apparently, I’m more interested in style than genre Otherwise, my go to genre is crime fiction.

I’m adding to my personal series, “Slices of Life.” Here’s a recent event:

We’re with friends, laughing and enjoying life at our favorite brunch hang out.
I heard Rick say, “What’s happening?” I looked over and Rick’s 6-foot frame is sliding down to the ground. His chair had separated and the seat gave way. By some miracle he was able to support himself as gravity slowly pulled his body to the floor.
I ran over to him, put my arms around his shoulders but I couldn’t support his big frame.
I screamed, “Get Rick a good chair. Get Rick a good chair. Get Rick a good chair.” Fear drove my thoughts and action.
His spine is fused with metal screws, bars, plates, and cages. A sudden butt landing would send shock waves of pain and possible damage up his back bone.
Rick griped the chair arms and leaned forward onto the table. The restaurant staff acted with speed and efficiency. Immediately, he was presented a sturdy straight-back chair.
Rick cautiously shifted from the broken chair to the good chair. Safe. No harm. My fingers curled into a tight fist and I stared into space, numb with relief.

YOUR Thoughts:
Slices of Life. is series of two or page episodes. When should I include flash backs to past medical emergencies that seem to launch me into instant medical PTSD when Rick is in danger? What missing from the story?

Thank you for visiting. I very much appreciate you taking a moment to comment. I’m looking forward to visiting your blog, too.

IWSG April 3: Writing Help

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

The awesome co-hosts for the April3 posting of the IWSG are J.H. MoncrieffNatalie AguirrePatsy Collins and Chemist Ken!

IWSG QUESTION:
If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)

ANSWER:
The help I wish for is ready access to my creative subconscious. The part of my brain that hold the words to create vivid scenes. Knows instinctively how to show emotion through action and gestures. Pulls unexpected twists and turn out of thin air. Recognizes a good story and carves time to write it.

Question to you, my dear guest, how do you access the creative side of your brain?

Thank you for visiting and sharing your time with me. I’m looking forward to visiting your site and learning from you.