This year has been a big one, and one full of extremes in many senses of the words. While most of it has been very good, there’s a good chunk of it that has sucked. That’s okay, though, because the good stuff so surpasses the bad that the bad is bearable.
In January of this year I made this graphic after I learned, one year ago today, actually, that my cancer was not only back, but it had spread.
My one and only resolution was to beat my cancer. In January I started my cancer treatment, probably the most physically and emotionally challenging thing I have ever done in my entire life. It was horrible. I don’t even want to go into how horrible it was. I never knew you could feel like that and still be alive, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. That being said, I did my cancer treatment. In March I did my full body scan and learned that the treatment triggered suspicious stuff in my lymph nodes and my lungs. Oddly enough, it triggered cells in the saliva gland on the left side of my mouth, so I couldn’t produce saliva from there for weeks and my sense of taste was off for a few months. Weird what effects that had.
Then in April, my back went out (again) in glorious style. I had another back surgery in May, which fixed the problem for an entire day. Two weeks after that first back surgery, I ended up having a three level fusion at the age of thirty (those surgeries ended up being surgeries nine and ten for me, respectively). That was fun. While the nerves in my right leg are permanently damanged (you could stick a butter knife in my right leg and I wouldn’t know), at least I don’t hurt like I did anymore. That was another case of, I didn’t know a person could hurt that bad and still be alive. Like I just told my doctor when he did the six-month check up (after he said, “I bet you won’t believe this, considering your recent history, but everything looks perfect.”) I don’t care if I never feel my right leg again. That surgery has totally changed my way of life. For the first time in 2.5 years, I can walk without pain, and without a cain. Not bad.
I got some reading done in the hospital for five days (of course).
I also started working part time at my first real job since I’ve been too sick to work. It’s nothing big or amazing, but it feels wonderful to be useful again and out in society, acting normal, not limping, or feeling dead, or worried about cancer cells. It’s just what I need and I’ve met some incredible people at my job. While I might occasionally complain about the weekend shift I work, it feels beyond amazing to be “normal” again after so long of fighting to be “normal.”
I still get a little ticked off about everything that this health drama of two plus years has taken from me. For example, I can’t use my college degree, so I’m paying off student loans for a degree I got, and could have used, if I hadn’t been diagnosed a month after I graduated. I’m debating on going to back for another bachelor’s degree this summer, but I’m not sure what I’d go into or if it would be worth it. I will eventually, but right now I’m enjoying watching my kid grow, and learning to live “normal” life again.
However, cancer has, oddly enough, given me more than it has taken. I’ve mellowed out a lot. While I still get wound tight about somethings, I realize now that most things aren’t worth getting upset about. I still get stressed, but not as often. I enjoy talking to people more than I did before, and just listening to them tell their stories. Life is a journey, and it is meant to be savored and enjoyed. Maybe I am paying off loans for a useless degree and yes, that pisses me off, but the way I live is so different now. I appreciate so much more than I did before, and I honestly think I have all of my health struggles to thank for that. I think once you’ve been paralyzed for a while, fought for your baby’s life, and fought cancer, your perspective changes a bit. While I don’t like the way those changes came about, I know that I am a better person now for them.
In other news, my kid, Fiona, turned two in August (The picture below is the photo I took of her on her birthday. This was her “kissy face.”). She’s still in the 90% for her age in height. She can pick out simple words in books, like “no” and “moon” and “stop.” She can count to ten (though she trips over “four” and “seven”). She can pick out most letters of the alphabet if you tell her to. She loves to go on photography outings with me and Santa, for Christmas, gave her her own little digital camera (it was $15 and simple, but she loves it). Yesterday we went to the zoo for our very first mother-daughter photography trip. Loads of fun (Photo above).
This year has also hit some interesting milestones for Bookworm Blues. I’ve made probably about 1,000 more followers this year alone. I hit 150,000 hits in six months on the web page. I have moved my Special Needs in Strange Worlds column to SF Signal, which is amazing because that’s my favorite website. Being able to contribute to it is amazing for me. I’ve been on the SF Signal podcast and hope to be on more in the future. I got involved in some of the online drama, which was stupid on my part. I blame my red hair. I’m exploring more of the genres and issues I never really thought of before, and I appreciate the other genre people who bring them to my attention. I hope to go to Westercon (which will be in SLC in 2014). Hopefully it’ll be my first conference. If Salt Lake Comic Con has more authors next year, I might go to that, too. I’m also part of a Salt Lake Writer’s Group, and I have sold one short story (which I can’t talk about yet) and I’m trying to push another one on someone…. ANYONE. I have also beta read for a bunch of authors, interviewed a bunch of authors, and got a signed arc from one of my favorite authors. I’ve also been blurbed in a lot of books I didn’t expect to get blurbed in. I am currently entertaining various offers of freelance writing gigs and editing gigs. The sky is the limit. Who knows what the future will hold.
So yes, it has been a big year, and I look forward to more big years in my future. Thanks for helping Bookworm Blues grow.
As for the bad news? My husband was laid off right before Christmas. It is very hard, considering our kid, cancer bills, mortgage and stuff. Generosity of strangers and people in the genre has helped us more than any of you will ever, every know. My husband has had some job interviews (we don’t expect to hear anything till the middle of January) and I have a job interview for a promotion at my place of employment coming up. Hopefully something pans out soon. We are trying not to lose our heads right now and enjoy our time together.
In other random news, one of my photos has made the finalist list for a National Park’s contest. Another made Viewer’s Choice finalist for the National Wildlife Foundation, another is being looked at for purchase by a rather large company, and another is being looked at by a local ski resort for purchase. I have also been contacted by a few local art galleries to display some series of my work. And I sold a few (like this one) to magazines.
And this photo of mine was on the news in at least four states that I know of. It was also one of the most popular Supermoon photos on National Geographic:
I also hit my personal milestone of 50 pounds lost. That was huge for me.
So that’s about it for the life of this bookworm. I hope next year is less eventful. Don’t get me wrong – I like events. I’m just sick of the health events.
Thanks for helping BookwormBlues stay afloat and grow. Through people like you, this website keeps getting bigger and bigger and I keep loving it more and more. Thanks for sharing my love of literature, and of the genre. While I think my reviews are boring, I’m so glad I’m not speaking into a vacuum and someone out there thinks I’m worth reading. I always appreciate that, and I appreciate all of you for helping me look at things, and understand things differently.