Tag Archives: headache

Pain in the Ass. No… Head. Not Ass. Head.

It’s a bad night for the pain.

Tonight it feels like a toothache filling my skull. It comes in waves, crushing and slashing, bringing nausea along to join the party. Light hurts. My children’s voices cut through me, and every movement of the bed makes all of it worse. All I can do is sit here with the lamp on, writing this out on paper to be typed out tomorrow, and try not to yell at the kids, cry, or throw up.

It’s not always like this. This kind of headache only hits me about once a month… at least, this hard. But the fact is that I spend a lot of time almost every day dealing with two problems. Pain is one. Either a milder version of this, or ice picks slamming into my temples, or feeling like I’ve been hit in the back of the head with a baseball bat.

I can deal with pain, though.

It’s the fog that’s really hurting me.

The fog used to only come with true migraines, in the days before and after. It’s a feeling like my skull is stuffed with sawdust instead of brains–a physical sensation, and quite unpleasant. It brings a feeling like tunnel vision, though my vision is actually fine. And it makes me slow. My thoughts come slowly, as do my reactions. I can’t think of words, and sometimes can’t understand questions right away. And working? Writing stories, untangling plot problems, clarifying character motivations, and polishing my work until it shines?

Utterly impossible.

It wasn’t so bad when it happened once in a while. But now the fog is coming down every day. I can’t think. I can’t focus. I’m drifting in a slow, too-bright haze. I’m usually just lost enough that working is impossible, but the thoughts and ideas and potential are so close that it becomes incredibly frustrating.

Until now, I’ve been pushing myself through it. I’ve told people that everything is fine. I’ve made myself work in spite of the pain and the fog, working evenings and weekends to make up for the time I spend in bed when the kids are at school and I should be writing. I put off seeing a doctor because I didn’t have time. Because I had deadlines. Because I’d made promises (or at least dropped hints). I let my life get out of balance because of this one important thing.

A few days ago, I decided that I can’t keep going like this. I’m not doing my best work when I have no joy, when every word is a struggle. And let’s face it. Putting pressure on myself to craft a beautiful story when I can’t remember the word “spoon” is probably just compounding the issue.

This is not me giving up. I’m still working on this story every day, and I’m as excited about it as I’ve ever been. As of last week, I have all of the little moving pieces in place, and just need to put the time and the work (and the focus) in to finish it.

It’s complete in all but the final execution, and far better than I ever imagined.

All I really want to do is work on it (sleep and laundry and exercise and doctor’s appointments be damned). But it’s time for me to accept that I also need to make time to take care of myself. I have to stop beating myself up over deadlines and feeling like a failure over needing a few extra weeks to get this book ready for the world.

So I don’t have a release date for you yet. It will be after Christmas, which breaks my heart. I mean, no one with an ounce of business sense wants to miss Christmas. But you guys deserve my best. I’ve never given you less than that, and I can’t start now. I’m going to find out what’s wrong with me, and I’m going to get better. And this winter, I’m going to give you the book you deserve.

Thank you all so much for your support, for your encouragement and kind words. It all means more to me than I’ll ever be able to say.

I can’t wait to show you how this story ends.

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H is for Heartleaf

Story ideas come from some weird places.

The inspiration for Bound came from two places: the first was a desire for a story that started with a decidedly non-badass girl saving a hero’s life… an idea that I quickly rejected in favour of her saving a villain’s life, because that’s far more interesting to me. And hey, I write what I want to read.

The other was my headaches.

I get a lot of them. My husband would call that the understatement of the century. All told, I’m insanely grateful if I get through a full day without any kind of pain. Most of the time it’s pain that’s very manageable with drugs, coffee, cold packs, and more drugs. I get through the day, I get my work done, the house doesn’t end up a complete disaster area.

Then there are the headaches that send me to bed because the light and noise of daily life are too much.

It’s not always the same kind of pain. Sometimes it’s a feeling like nausea, but in my skull. Sometimes it’s ice-picks stabbing at my eyes or my temples. Sometimes it feels like someone whacked me with a 2×4 on the back of the head, and sometimes it’s a seething, creeping, crawling pain that oozes around like a tiny monster trapped under the bones of my head.

It’s quite pleasant.

Wait… no. No, it sucks.

But the thing is, something good came of it. Something great, I think. I found a story. As I lay in bed with these monster headaches, or when my head was clear but I was too exhausted to do much else, I started to wonder what it would be like if there was a reason for the pain.

What if it had something to do with magic? What if it somehow hurt someone, made her feel pain like I felt?

What if it led to great adventure? To love, to self-discovery, to danger and wonder and a huge, wide world of possibility?

Well, my own headaches didn’t lead to any of that, but they did lead to me puzzling out a story that’s become a favourite of more people than I ever could have imagined.

Now, to work our way around to today’s topic…

In Bound, Rowan experiences headaches much like mine. At the beginning, she has no idea what’s causing them. No one does (which, it turns out, is probably a good thing for her). Doctors have been no help. The only relief Rowan can find from her pain is heartleaf tea, made from the inner bark of a tree that grows wild throughout Serath. The sweet-smelling, bitter-tasting tea keeps the pain at bay, at least for a while, and she’s learned to ask for nothing more than that.

Too bad for her when it becomes illegal to grow or possess it because of suspicions that it’s a magical substance.

For the record, I didn’t intend to make any statements about controlled substances there. Maybe I did… but I didn’t mean to.

Here’s a picture from my notes of the leaves that give the heartleaf tree its name.

IMG_1207
Okay, so it looks a little like a tongue in my drawing… it’s way prettier in real life, I swear.

Tell me: When have you found inspiration in an unexpected place? What was the outcome?

 


HAPPY BOO JEER!

Wait…

*drinks coffee*

Happy New Year!

No, I wasn’t out partying last night. I spent a quiet night in with my parents (who are visiting), my husband and my kids. Also assorted cats and dogs, and friends via Facebook.

And that’s my kind of party, really. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to start a new year off with a hangover*. Also, crowds make me uncomfortable, so parties aren’t really my thing.

No, I spent the first part of my evening making grand and impossible plans in my new desk calendar, only somewhat disappointed that I can’t use all of my new highlighters until I have a better idea of when things are going to happen.

Still, pencilling things in was GREAT fun.

It’s time for a few more plans. Not writing and publishing plans. We’ve covered those already. I’m talking about other things.

Things like:

 

Reading

These plans never work out as I want them to, but it’s worth a shot. My goal for this year is one novel and one non-fiction book a month. Not much for some, but I don’t get as much reading time as I’d like. And within that goal, I’m setting another. I want to read more books about people who aren’t like me. More people from other cultures. More people of different genders, sexual orientations, and experiences. More memoirs and autobiographies from people who have experienced things I never will. More from genres I’m less familiar with, even if I have to approach them like a kid coming at a plate of broccoli, nose pinched shut and eyes closed.

We only get to live one life, but through reading we can experience more of the world, gain empathy for those with different experiences, and hopefully learn to love other people more fully.

Also, I just think it will be more interesting this way.

 

Blogging

I’m going to get back to WIPpet Wednesdays as soon as I can, and continue to avoid spoilers as much as possible. It might not be every week, especially through January and February, as getting Torn edited and out in March is the top priority.

I’m going to get to every post on those weeks I participate and read, like, and possibly comment. If I don’t have time to read, I don’t have time to participate.

I’m going to spend more time reading blogs, both those I learn from and those of people who comment here. You’re all important to me, and I feel like I’ve been so busy this year that I’ve done a bad job of visiting. I’ll be better about that.

I’m also going to start re-blogging some of my older posts that as still amusing, relevant, or worth reading. I now have several years’ worth of posts, and I don’t expect anyone to go back and find the good ones.

Should be fun. We might do that on Mondays.

 

Productivity

This is kind of work-related, but sort of not. My big goal in this area is to learn to focus on what I’m doing at any given moment. If I’m working, I want to be immersed in that, not jumping back and forth between that, Facebook, Twitter, doing the dishes, checking e-mail, etc. When I’m with my family, I’m going to try to focus on them, not on my phone.

I want to be present in what I’m doing.

Some of you know how hard this is for me. My brain seems to be wired to crave distraction. I can’t just be where I am. I have to be planning something for work, or imagining another time and place, or working through a plot issue, or considering the pros and cons of a book promotion. I can barely focus on a real-life conversation because I itch to grab my phone and check social media, even though I know there’s nothing there that can’t wait.

I would rather scroll through Facebook posts I have no interest in than do something productive. I feel anxious if I’m cut off from any of my distractions.

It’s not a fun way to live. It is an addiction, and I’m having a hard time breaking it. I’d go cold-turkey off of social media, but my job doesn’t currently allow for that.

So I guess I fight it. I put the phone away when I’m at home, and hope my husband isn’t trying to text me when I can’t hear it. I turn the internet connection off when I’m working, even though I find word sprints with friends motivating. I’ll set timers for tasks, and try to focus.

Maybe I blog less, because that’s the work I’m able to do when the kids are home.

I will *gulp* try to focus on playing with the kids.

I’m not a bad mom, but I really hate playing trucks. :/

 

Health

Yeah. Okay. I did better in 2014 than in 2013 or any year before that. Even in the winter, I got the dog out for regular walks when I was able. My bad back (and newly developed hip pain–yes, I am eighty years old, thanks for asking) made that impossible for weeks on end, but I always got back to it.

I can do better. This year I’m going to start waking up earlier to do yoga or pilates in the morning (the only things I can think of that don’t get me all sweaty. I hate sweating). I wake early anyway and generally spend 30 minutes in bed before I get up. That’s another bad habit I need to break.

Also… Ugh, I hate to think about it, but I’m going to go to the doctor. It’s been *mumble mumble* years since I saw anyone about my headaches. Back then, there wasn’t much they could do for me. My brain scan showed nothing (ba-dump-PSSSHT!), and migraine medications knock me out far more than is acceptable for someone who’s responsible for small children.

So it’s Advil, tea, naps, and not much fun.

But maybe there’s something they can do now. New drugs, or better yet, some suggestion on things in my life I can change as a preventive measure.

As long as it’s not cutting out caffeine, we’re cool. I’m scared that someone will suggest cutting something else out of my diet, but I’ll try almost anything.

I should also ask about why it frequently feels like there’s ground-up glass in my right hip, because that’s an almost-literal pain in the ass.

 

Moving

Yeah, I have to put this one in this year. My husband has a good job, but it does mean we have to move every 3-5 years. This spring will mark three years here, and it’s half-past time to scoot. We’re still waiting to hear where they’re sending us (NOT a fun wait), but it’s going to happen.

When the time comes, I’m going to be more organized about packing. I’m not going to freak out if we have to buy our first house**. Above all… I’m going to try to make friends.

After almost three years here, I have two local friends (for reasons not worth going into here). In our next community I’m going to reach out more to neighbours, get involved at the school… anything else will depend on where we are, but I’m going to make an effort.

It’s a start.

 

So tell me: What are your grand plans for this year? Any suggestions on learning to focus (without drugs that inhibit creativity, please!)? What’s on your reading list for the year?

 

 

 

*But hey, whatever floats your boat. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, have fun with that!

**Yes, I am. I totally am. Hold me.


Random Dialogue, The Hulk, And a NanoThon

Someone recently said (and I’m really sorry I can’t remember who it was) that a writer’s brain is like a junk drawer.

It’s true. We’ve got character flotsam and setting jetsam floating around in there like nobody’s business, waiting for the day when they’ll find a home in a story. Ideas just rattle around until the day when two or more crash together to make something new, and we can pull out the tangled ball of string and paper-clips out and go, “Yeah, I can McGuyver something out of that.”

It’s stuff that many people would throw away, but we train ourselves to remember.

And there’s the dialogue. I know I’m not the only one who finds myself in a situation where suddenly comments from unknown characters are floating in my head, talking about what’s happening. I don’t usually know exactly where they’ll fit into a story, but they hang out, filling the junk drawer, waiting.

This one is re-surfacing for me today:

Him: “I don’t get why you girls make such a big deal about it. Cramps can’t be that bad.”

Her: “No? Imagine that the Incredible Hulk is grabbing your uterus and wringing it out like a damp dish rag, and you’ll have some idea of what it feels like.”

Him: *snort* “I don’t have a uterus.”

Her: “That’s right, you don’t. So just shut up about it.”

Something tells me she’s the one with the cramps. 😉

In any case, here I sit on the morning of the November 9 NaNoThon (or whatever they’re calling it), chugging a hot tea and Advil cocktail, about to start on my to-do list. It’s like I’m the protagonist in a story where my goal is to write, and the author just glommed on to the whole “throw obstacles at your protagonist” thing.

We’re going to visit the in-laws around supper time. AJ is working, so I have kids to keep busy all day (and I should probably feed them, too). I have laundry to do, suitcases to pack, birthday cards to fill out, cat litter to change, scenes to plan, and various aches and pains making me want to say “screw the world” and crawl back in bed.

Are we going to place bets on how much writing I get done today?

*cracks knuckles*

*finishes tea*

Let’s do this.


Well, That Was Quick…

Today, I mean. Probably because I slept a big chunk of it away after the Demon Headache dug his filthy claws into my cranium and reduced me to a quivering mess of stupid. That bastard.

On the other hand, today and tonight kind of can’t go quickly enough. I’m going to have to take my older son to the emergency room tomorrow to see if he can get a puffer or something for this cough he’s had for a month, which OTC medicine isn’t touching. Why the emergency room? Because right now it takes a MONTH to get in to see our doctor. She’s great, but I really can’t wait that long. The poor kid’s not complaining, but it’s getting worse, and he’s going to be missing school if it doesn’t go away soon. This happens every time he gets sick; his little brother’s cough goes away after a week, but S’s can last for three or more. It’s so unfair.

If you’re the praying type and would care to add healing and a restful night for my poor kid to your list tonight, I’d certainly appreciate it. 🙂


Headache

(I wrote this on Saturday. I’m fine now… But this is my brain on headache, presented unedited. Don’t try this at home.)

So my head. It hurts. I took some thingy thing for it, but it still hurts, though now it feels more squashy and flobbledy than it did before, and less like a nasty old troll is smacking the back of my skull in with a rusty-nail-spiked board, so I guess that’s an improvement.

Also, “In the Night Garden” is starting to make sense. There’s something very wrong with me.

I’ve been screwing up words all day. I told Ike to put his underwear in the garbage when I meant the laundry, and I keep saying stuff like “put the thing in the other thing, and let’s get to the place so we can do the other whatever. Thing.”

Thank God they’re not usually like this. I get a lot of headaches, but I can usually function fairly normally.

I think it’s actually melting. I’m just going to lie down and be very still so my brain doesn’t flow all over my pillow and make it smell all brainy. That’s probably gross.

Probably best if I don’t try to do any writing until this gets more normal…


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