Friday, May 27, 2016

I'm Not Really a Slacker. It Just Seems That Way Sometimes. Most of the Time....

Once again, the post I've been planning for the past three weeks is not ready. Next week for sure. (After all this buildup, it's going to have to be good. Oh, great! More pressure.)

Collin had to see the orthopedic surgeon this week to get the results of that bone scan. I can confess now that I was really worried. I thought it might be multiple fractures, or maybe something even worse, like bone cancer. What a relief to find it's not nearly that bad! He has arthritis in both ankles, both feet. His left foot was so rigid, the doctor couldn't even bend it. He had to take a week off and is now required to work a limited schedule. He can walk, usually with a cane, he just can't handle the long hours. He has to have physical therapy, too--three times a week for two weeks.

Good thing he's finally going to get his degree in business administration, because I'm pretty sure his days as a waiter are numbered.

In the meantime, however, while I look after him and my own left knee--I think the cortisone injection is finally wearing off, after over six months--I do have a book promo to share. The Unicorn's Daughter is on sale again, for three more days. I know, I should have posted this sooner....


Friday, May 20, 2016

Bad to the Bone--Or Just Bad Bones?

The post I had planned for today isn't ready yet. I have a cold/allergies/sinus trouble, not sure which. And on top of that, I spend most of the day Wednesday at the hospital with Collin, who had to have a full-body bone scan ordered by the orthopedic surgeon to hopefully figure out why he still can't walk normally. Collin did request--and receive--a CD of the full-body images, but they didn't include the closeups of his feet. As you can see below, they're lit up on the scan as if he were wearing Day-Glo sneakers!

The test, for those of you who have never had one, is done in the hospital's nuclear medicine department. The website Patient describes it this way:

Bone scans use radionuclides to detect areas of the bone which are growing or being repaired. A radionuclide (sometimes called a radioisotope or isotope) is a chemical which emits a type of radioactivity called gamma rays. A tiny amount of radionuclide is put into the body, usually by an injection into a vein.

Cells which are most 'active' in the target tissue or organ will take up more of the radionuclide. So, active parts of the tissue will emit more gamma rays than less active or inactive parts.

Gamma rays are similar to X-rays and are detected by a device called a gamma camera. The gamma rays which are emitted from inside the body are detected by the gamma camera. The rays are then converted into an electrical signal and sent to a computer. The computer builds a picture by converting the differing intensities of radioactivity emitted into different colours or shades of grey.

For example, areas of the target organ or tissue which emit lots of gamma rays may be shown as red spots ('hot spots') on the picture on the computer monitor. Areas which emit low levels of gamma rays may be shown as blue ('cold spots'). Various other colours may be used for 'in between' levels of gamma rays emitted.

We won't know the results until Collin sees the doctor next week, but my immediate concern is that he may have gotten a bit too much gamma radiation.... 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Cap and Bucky and Sam and Scott and Clint and Wanda and Sharon...No, They're Not the Participants in an Orgy!

Collin and I love Marvel movies. We see all of them. Okay, they're not perfect--some things don't make sense, some questions are left unanswered, and we like some of them better than others. Some storylines are, from one movie to the next, as inconsistent as Black Widow's hairstyles. But the bottom line is that we really enjoy these movies. We also love their TV shows. Upon reading that one of the TV shows (Agent Carter) would not be renewed for another season and another in the works (Marvel's Most Wanted) would not be picked up, I suggested in a number of places that Marvel needs their own streaming channel. They could migrate all of their currently existing shows to that channel and air the movies there as well. It would be Nerdvana!

If you follow my partner in crime's blog, you've already seen William's great review of Marvel's latest blockbuster, Captain America: Civil War. Though I normally post my reviews here, I won't be doing so this time. I post reviews at Amazon and at Rotten Tomatoes and will post links to them on my Movie/TV Reviews page for anyone who wants to read them. (I've been accused of including too many spoilers. It's a terrible habit and I'm trying to quit., I'm not.)

Not that I won't talk about having seen it here....

Collin and I saw Civil War last Friday, so now I'm officially behind on writing movie reviews as well as book reviews. I'm behind on a lot of things, unfortunately. I have a good excuse reason, but....

For once, there were no storms, as there have been when we went to see previous Marvel movies. No tornadoes popped up in the neighborhood to stop the movie. Has the curse been broken?

I'll admit that I wasn't too thrilled about a movie in which the superheroes would be fighting each other. How does one choose a side when both sides are good guys? I couldn't see them waging war on each other over an attempt by the United Nations to curb their "activities." The current fight over who uses which bathroom is a more believable conflict. Even if the heroes disagreed, could it really be a cause for all-out war between them? And with so many Avengers appearing (with the exception of Thor and Hulk, whose absences were explained at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron), why is the movie titled Captain America and not Avengers?

Now that I've seen the movie, it all makes sense. The conflict isn't just about the so-called Sokovia Accords, created after the disastrous events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's much more personal for Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, who, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, discovered that his best friend from childhood, believed dead back in 1945, is in fact still alive and has been a brainwashed assassin kept on ice by his handlers when his services aren't needed. It's also personal for Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, who discovers a very personal connection between himself and two of the Winter Soldier's past victims.

In short, I was inspired. Made me want to come home and write. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Seven, Seven, Seven...If Only This Were a Slot Machine!

I was tagged by fellow author Mari Collier to do a seven, seven, seven at Facebook which means I have to post seven lines from the seventh page of my current work-in-progress, then tag seven more authors to do the same. Due to circumstances beyond my control (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!), I'm running a little behind. Fortunately for me--at least in this instance it's fortunate--I have more than one WIP to choose from. Here are seven lines from Sucker-Punched, about five brothers who are all pro wrestlers...

Mad Dog was in a foul mood. To say he wasn't crazy about the idea of losing the championship--especially to me--had to be the understatement of the century. 

"I may have to let you have it, but I don't have to make it easy for you, Cantwell," he growled as he yanked open his locker. "You just might be having your victory party in the hospital."

I laughed, even though a part of me thought the douchebag might be serious. "Just don't forget your trunks this time," I told him. "I can take a lot of abuse, but the sight of your junk flappin' around in the wake of me body slammin' you would be cruel and unusual punishment."

Now for the hard part: tagging seven fellow writers who will actually do it! I choose William Kendall (who probably won't do it, but I can try to shame him into it!), Eve Gaal, Linton Robinson, Nicole Tuberty, Cathy Smith, Carole Morden, and Debra J Smith.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Not-So-Little Goose Lost?

This Canada goose showed up all alone at the mall near our place a few weeks ago. At first, we thought he was injured--but he seemed all right and had a healthy appetite. As you can see, he's certainly not shy! He not only cheerfully accepted food from people waiting for the bus, he was only too happy to let Collin take his photograph. 

I contacted the World Bird Sanctuary, but was told they only work with birds of prey. They referred me to a wild bird rehabilitation group. But by that time, our feathered friend had  tired of life at the mall and moved on. Or so we thought. The other day, we were out and about...and spotted what I believe to be the same goose, all alone near the Metrolink station in Shrewsbury eight miles away. Normally, in fall and winter there are maybe a hundred geese at that spot along the River des Peres (a rather fancy name for a large combination sanitation and storm sewer). Monday, there was just one.

Makes me think of Igor in the movie Fly Away Home.

I wonder what happened to him or her. Did he sustain enough of an injury that left him unable to fly, to return to Canada with the rest of the geese? If so, why isn't he headed home now? If he's stuck here, maybe we should just adopt him....

Friday, April 22, 2016

Can Humanity Survive If This Species Goes Extinct?

According to the Wall Street Journal, United Healthcare is withdrawing from the Affordable Healthcare Act exchanges in many states due to heavy financial losses on the low-cost policies. I can't say I'm surprised by this news. The way doctors treat their patients these days suggests to me that insurers are paying out a lot of money that doesn't always seem necessary.

Funny...but true!

Example: I have an excellent doctor, board certified in internal medicine. When I last saw her, she gave me referrals to a number of specialists: a dermatologist for a rash on my arms...a gastroenterologist for the colonoscopy I've already explained won't happen (after five failed attempts, isn't it time to give up and try something else?)...a ophthalmologist...and I'd already been seeing a neurologist, an orthopedic surgeon and a cardiologist. Then there are the tests, lots of tests.

This has got to be expensive for my insurance carrier. Not to mention a big ol' pain in the rump roast for me.

The last thing I want to be doing is spending most of my time in doctors' offices, but it sure sounds like that's what's in my future. Is all of this really necessary? Why can't my primary care doctor handle most of this, uh, stuff?

Whatever happened to the family doctor? Are they extinct? Are primary care doctors now little more than traffic cops, directing their patients to the appropriate specialists?

Years ago, we had a family doctor. He took care of Mom, Dad, Collin and me, and he did most of it himself. Mom and Dad had a cardiologist, and I had an ophthalmologist, but our family doctor handled everything else. I liked it that way. I could take care of almost any problem I had with one office visit, not six or seven. He prescribed everything, including my seizure meds and ordered any tests I needed. If I had a problem, I didn't have to stop and think about which doctor would be the right one to call for a rash or a sore throat. I called Dr. Zink. He knew me and my medical history, so he was more than prepared to deal with anything that was needed.

Yeah, right. I've found the later the appointment,
the further behind the doctor is going 
to be by the time he/she gets around to me!
 And don't get me started on rush hour traffic!

I felt comfortable with him. When I had an appointment, I saw only him--there were no residents coming in first to make the visit take twice as long and make me feel like a guinea pig. Just him--or, occasionally for a follow-up, his nurse practitioner. Once, Mom was in the next exam room when I was getting my annual pelvic exam. She couldn't figure out why I was laughing during the exam. I explained that we'd gotten into a conversation about where we were when Star Trek first aired back in 1966. I was in junior high. He was in the Peace Corps. He said I'd made him feel old. I thought that was funny. Never mind that I was in a very uncomfortable position, exposed for the most part. I was comfortable enough to be able to have a laugh at his expense.

I miss that. My old family doctor is retired now, and I find myself wondering if the family practice even exists anymore.

Friday, April 15, 2016

But Not the Final Hours for These Special Promotions!

The special promotion for Angels at Midnight has ended, but as of Tuesday, Final Hours began a special promotion that will end on the 18th. On Wednesday, Chasing the Wind began a special promotion that will end on the 19th. If you haven’t read either of them but would like to, now is the best time to buy the ebook editions. Sorry, the paperbacks never go on sale.

Final Hours cover - newCTW 2014

Final Hours is featured in Tuesday’s issue of BookSCREAM‘s newsletter and Chasing the Wind was featured in Wednesday's edition. If you’re not already a subscriber, it’s a great way to find free and discounted books!