Celebrating

My best friend did an analysis of my writing on Lyrica v. not on it. I shared some of her results in a blog post. On Friday night, she got her grade. It was a 3-man (well woman team). They aced the paper which was for big data analysis.

Not only did they ace it, their professor recommended they do some more polishing and consider publishing the paper. I’m hoping when she talks to her partners they agree to work on it a little more and publish it.

Interestingly, her analysis did support one of my chief complaints. It felt like I had aphasia while on Lyrica and she found the books I wrote while on it, had far less variety in my vocabulary.

I am so proud of her and her hard work. I hope her partners agree to polish and publish. I was surprised and pleased when she asked permission to do the analysis. I know she picked it because she knew I’d struggled so much for all those months. Knowing that they knocked it out of the park, makes me even happier for them.

But Something Happened

Most of the time, when someone mentions something paranormal or exterrestrial, we all roll our eyes and have a decent chuckle. We often dismiss the situation completely at that moment and put it out of our minds. However, while these explanations seem ridiculous, we often forget that something did have to happen.

Take for example the 1908 Tunguska event. In 1908, a UFO (by the strictest definition, not necessarily aliens) exploded over a remote region of Siberia. We know of the explosion because it flattened trees and drove wildlife off. The most likely explanation is a meteor. Sometimes, after entering Earth’s atmosphere meteorites do indeed explode.

It’s Siberia so there weren’t a lot of witnesses. However, something obviously happened, trees were uprooted and laid down. Plus, for most of the last 100+ years, wildlife has avoided the area and nothing has really grown there.

So, while it is unlikely that an alien spacecraft exploded, there can be no doubt that something extraordinary happened. And that the something did involve radiation, probably from space. I point this out because we know that extreme radiation poisoning of soil does drive away wildlife. We’ve seen it at both Chernobyl and Two Mile Island.

It is easy to snicker and laugh when someone says “it might have been aliens”… But the possibility is less farfetched than we might think. Since the 1950s, humans have been littering outer space with junk in the form of defunct satellites, expelled rocket jets, and even tools lost during space walks and repairs to the ISS and shuttles.

It is illogical to believe we are the only intelligent life in the universe. And it is within reason to believe that other life is just as advanced, if not more so, than us. Is it not possible then that they also have space junk floating around just outside their atmosphere? And if their space junk was caught in the tail of a passing comet, it is possible it could travel millions of miles away from their own planet. Making it possible that some meteors could indeed be space junk from other advanced civilizations on distant planets.

And while I realize a lost wrench from Sirius B is not exactly a little green alien. It is still extraterrestrial. Essentially, the point is, we dismiss this stuff immediately and politely smile. But we humans only truly know so much about our planet and the universe. There are hundreds of things that could be beyond our current explanation, that eventually we’ll understand. This includes ghosts, aliens, and strange happenings like the Tunguska Event. If you had said 300 years ago, that invisible living things caused illness, you would have been snickered at. But today, we know that is the exact cause of most illnesses. Just something to consider the next time you hear Malachi talk about cattle mutilations.

The First Flood Warnings Issued

When you’ve been experiencing a massive drought (multiple years) and then suddenly have an exceptionally wet winter that leads to a wet spring, you get flash flooding. Most people don’t think of snow as rain, but it is and lots of snow equals lots of rain. How much exactly? For every 1 inch of rain, you get roughly 10 inches of snow.

Between November 2018 and March 14, 2019, my area of mid-Missouri received a total of 35 inches of snow. Or just over 3 inches of rain. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but we’ve been in a drought for the last 8 years or so. Plus, we normally only get 43 inches of rain in a year anyway. I’m fairly sure we got 9+ inches of rain before the snow started to fall.

And since the turn of the year? Just looking at 2019, we’ve had 23 inches of snow, which is just over 2 inches of rain. Then during the day of March 24, we got another inch of rain. So it’s March and we’ve gotten more than 3 inches of rain already and the “wet” season hasn’t even started yet, not really. Normally, April, May, September, and October are our wettest months averaging 5 1/2 inches of rain during each of these months.

That means those 4 months usually account for over half our rainfall in a year. While 3 inches in 3 months doesn’t sound like much, it is. Not to mention the dozen or so states that contribute water to the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. And all those states have gotten the same massive amount of snow that we have and are now getting pummelled with rain (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois for the Mississippi and Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska for the Missouri and the two rivers meet in St. Louis, Missouri). These rivers can’t be understood separately, they are the fourth largest river system in the world and the Missouri River is the longest in North America while the Mississippi is the second longest in North America.

And I’m not sure the drought cycle didn’t begin to end in August 2018. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a year as wet as this one. Not just the snow, but the massive amounts of rain. Even during the winter months, I remember thinking multiple times “at least it’s not so cold it’s snow”…

So why do flood warnings give me pause? Missouri doesn’t go underwater like coastal states such as Louisiana, but we are bisected by the Missouri River. In 1993 (the year of our last major flood) portions of Northern Missouri were cut off from portions of Southern Missouri unless you wanted to drive hundreds of miles out of the way. Even some minor flooding in 2001 created difficulties for me when I was living in Columbia, but working in the state capital of Jefferson City, just 37 miles from my driveway to my office building parking lot and minor flooding prevented me from going to work without driving either east or west 50 miles before heading south.

I don’t live close enough to the Missouri River (it’s 20 miles or so south of my house) to worry about it flooding us out, but I have a lot of friends in Southern Missouri and flooding could mean a separation that results in some changed plans. And we have a lot of friends in St. Louis. Our campground in Northern Missouri is 20 miles from Hannibal, Missouri where the 200th anniversary of the town is being celebrated this year and there is a lot planned for the celebration. Hannibal sits so close to the Mississippi River that the town has flood walls to help try and keep water out of the city. During major floods, the walls are useless.

Furthermore, tourism is a huge industry in Missouri and flooding affects it greatly, because the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are part of it and so are three recreational lakes: Lake of the Ozarks, Mark Twain Lake (where our campground is) along with Table Rock Lake near Branson. Flooding could damage an economy that’s already struggling. Not to mention that we are supposed to be implementing medical marijuana. Jefferson City, our capital where all the paperwork for the medical marijuana industry is being processed, sits on the Missouri River. Massive flooding means lower tourism at towns like Hannibal, St. Louis, Kansas City, Branson, and the towns that surround Lake of the Ozarks. Not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage.

Missouri isn’t California, Louisiana, Texas, or South Carolina. When we experience massive flooding, no one really notices the damage left in its wake. And flooding is often followed by more flooding. In 1993 we experienced the worst flood we’d ever had. It was followed up in 1995 by the fourth worst flood we’d ever experienced. However, because we aren’t one of these other massive tourist states, we don’t get federal funds very quickly. The flooding in 1993 was bad enough that it was declared a federal disaster, but it wasn’t until late 1994 that we got our first federal grant for clean-up and repair. The flooding in 1995 set all that back and it was another 2 years before the leevees and things could be rebuilt. Just because the water receded didn’t mean the crisis was over. But it was 1998 before we had a huge release of federal funds to assist with clean-up. I was working for the Missouri Department of Health by then and one of my first non-secretarial assignments was helping collect data on chronic illnesses related to flooding (there are a lot), but it took us that long to get the funding for the study from the CDC and NIH.

So, when the flood warnings start going out, I take a few moments to think about it. And it’s far too early in the year for flood warnings (the first is usually the end of April or first half of May).

The Normalization of Hate

Since the beginning of time, people have disagreed, about anything and everything. J and I can’t agree. B and I don’t always agree on how to approach and handle things. Mel and I never agree on how to approach and handle things. We all suffer from the human condition and this is one of the side effects: strong opinions and a line of thinking that says “this is how it should be done.” This is to be expected, because we are the sum of our experiences. And while these 3 people are the people I am closest to in the real world, they’ve had different experiences than me.

J and I have very different ideas on politics. Sometimes, he gets frustrated with me because I have liberal leanings and I am pro-Socialist Republic and to him “socialism” is a trigger word. Yes, I’m a liberal, I think most artists and creative types are. But don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the second amendment. I was given the right to bear arms in case my government needed to be overthrown.

Yet, day in and day out, I look at my social media pages and see things like “Every Pro-Socialist is a moron.” Really? No, they aren’t. Most of them are like me. They use their brains and see a Socialist Republic (which we already have in the US) as a form of government that assists its citizens. Yes, it comes out of your tax dollars, and no there are things I don’t like about it, but I’d rather accept those things I don’t like then let some poor soul fall through the cracks. What does that mean? It means, I’m not a fan of career welfare moms; the type of woman who can’t seem to keep her legs closed, has 5 or 6 kids and no job because it’s easier to not work. But we shouldn’t punish her children for her terrible decisions. It’s not their faults she gave birth to them. And if we start restricting benefits based on certain things, then how many women and children no longer qualify?

Jude’s mommy is a single mother. She works her ass off. When she moved to Kansas City at the end of January, she was out of work for two weeks. She told us it was the longest time she’d been without a job since she was 16. Yet, there were times when she still wasn’t making enough to feed Jude, pay her bills, and feed herself. When that would happen, she’d go without. She is doing exactly what we expect mother’s to do. Yet, when she applied for assistance, she made $2 too much and couldn’t get it. She is exactly the type assistance programs were meant for. But because of cuts to our social welfare programs, that created higher restrictions, she couldn’t get assistance because of $2. To ensure the people like her get assistance, I will pay taxes to go to the career welfare mom. Not because I like what their doing, but because I know when we start making cuts, it isn’t the career welfare moms that get hit the hardest, it is the mom’s like Jude’s. The mom’s that work every damn day, do the best they can, and are just not making it.

And I’ll pay my school taxes to make sure that a non-verbal autistic child attending a public school can be put into the special classes designed for their needs. Or to ensure that my neighbor kid’s school has enough money for textbooks. I’ll pay them without complaint even though I have not had a need for a public school classroom for 20 years. And I will keep paying them every year, because I know that my taxes ensure teacher salaries get paid and kid’s get to attend a day at school without having to carry $150 in their pockets to give to the school to pay for their day of education.

Yet, I’m a moron. I’m an idiot. I’m a liberal pansy. And so much more. Why? Because I want to help my fellow American. One of the biggest things I’ve seen in the last two years is the normalization of hate. Don’t like Liberals? Blame them for everything. It’s all their fault. Except that isn’t correct. We got here together. It’s not the fault of liberals or conservatives. Those are just labels we put on each other to make our hate agreeable to others. “Oh, I don’t hate Liberals, I just think they are destroying the world and we need to wake up to it, so I shared a post calling them morons.”

That is exactly what hate is. If I can be hated for being a pro-Socialist Republic liberal, without someone even knowing me, that boils down to the other person being so filled with rage that they have to hate someone. The Pro-Life meme you shared calling all Democrats murderers, is it accurate? Who have I murdered that wasn’t fictional? Am I pro-Choice, yes, and while I support a woman’s right to choose, I also believe high school students in this country should be able to walk into the nurse’s office and get contraceptive, because that would prevent some of the need for abortions. Oddly, I have learned that both of those options make me a “terrible person.”

And social media is normalizing that hate. Why am I a bad person because I think high school girls should be given better access to birth control to prevent abortions and teen pregnancies that force them to take on responsibilities for the next 18 years of their lives?

Because we have normalized that hate already. The Pro-Life/Pro-Choice stand off has been raging so long, I think people have forgotten what it was really about. Most Pro-Choice supporters are like me. While they support a woman’s right to control her body, we also see societal problems inherent in the system. Poor access to contraceptive leads to more pregnancies which leads to more abortions. Fix one and fix the other. It makes sense. But I’ve been screamed at by Pro-Life Supporters while getting my birth control from a Planned Parenthood. And those people are not nice. Their words are venomous and vitriolic. It didn’t matter if a woman was there for, they were monstrous baby killers. One-time a pro-life protesters took down my license number and found my car downtown and left me a note telling me I was a baby-killer. She had no idea what I was there for. Not one. But she didn’t care. She so hated everything Planned Parenthood stood for that even those getting birth control and STD tests and treatment were obviously baby-killers.

That is the normalization of hate. It terrifies me. It should terrify everyone. Because that is how concentration camps in Germany got the stamp of approval. Once hate becomes normalized, apathy begins to take hold of a population. We think, incorrectly “well, I’ll never be in a position where I might need services from some place like planned parenthood.” But this is a false sense of security. I never thought I would need Planned Parenthood. And then, I didn’t have health insurance and I had a medical condition that required birth control, and it was so problematic that Student Health couldn’t help me, so they sent me to planned parenthood. Me and probably a few thousand other students, because student health doesn’t cover well women’s exams and birth control at the University of Missouri. We were all sent to Planned Parenthood where we could get reduced price exams and reduced price birth control.

But when was the last time someone thought about a Planned Parenthood clinic and thought “Oh they must be getting birth control?” My guess, probably never. Instead, let the hate flow for all these baby killers. Most of whom are just women in need of birth control. During the 9 years I got birth control from Planned Parenthood, I sat in the waiting room with a lot of other women. Women who were just like me, they were in their 20s and weren’t covered on their parents’ insurance anymore, but still wanted or needed birth control to ensure they didn’t need the other services offered by Planned Parenthood. I’d put the number in the thousands. Do you know how many women came in seeking abortions? Maybe 20, probably less. I know this because those poor girls got different paperwork from those of us getting birth control or those getting STD tests and treatment. Yet, each and every one of the thousands I saw were subjected to the same shouting, the same vitriolic hate that those 20 were subjected to. All because we have normalized hate.

The point is, we continue to normalize hate and we are expanding on it. It’s not just a problem in the US either. I’ve talked to some Brits who say it is happening in the UK too, because of Brexit. It will eventually give way to something worse than shouted words. And when we share those memes calling people names for their beliefs or lifestyles, we are perpetuating the normalization of hate. I don’t share memes proclaiming all Republicans are stupid or all Pro-Lifers are rageful morons. Because while I didn’t enjoy being called a baby-killer every time I had to get a Depo Provera shot, I refuse to spread hate. I didn’t unfriend a single person during the political battle that ensued after Trump became president. Not because I agreed with them, but because “friendship” should transgress politics. Friendship is a form of love and only love combats hate. And while I despised the protesters, they had a right to be there and I would fight for their right to be there, even though I think they fail to understand the women they verbally abuse are not their real targets.

And god forbid the day a tyrant takes control of this country and begins the internment camps, I will stand up for my fellow Americans whether I agree with them or not, because next it could be me. That is the future I fear with our current normalization of hate.

The Glamorized Serial Killer

The serial killer in literature is an interesting thing. Recently, a reader shared an opinion article that writers like myself were glamorizing serial killers. But I beg to disagree. I don’t think most fictional crime writers think about their serial killers after the book ends. And of all the literature I’ve read featuring serial killers only two stand out in my memory.

The first is Hannibal Lecter, because Anthony Hopkins brought that role to life. The book version of Hannibal is interesting, but he isn’t as appealing as the version played by Sir Anthony. And if you doubt that, watch the movie Manhunter from 1986. It is based on Harris’ first book Red Dragon. Hannibal Lecter is played by Brian Cox. I remember it so well, I had to Google it to figure out the name of it.

The second is Alton Turner Blackwood the killer in What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz. But I don’t remember him because he was scary or glamorous, I remember him because Dean Koontz had him demonically possessed into being a serial killer.

As for the serial killers in D&R (there have been more than 14 of them at this point), I don’t remember the names of any of them except the one from Ritual Dreams. Did you catch that? Even though I am currently writing Anonymous Dreams, I can’t remember the name of the killer even as I write this post. This is partly because I have a terrible memory and partly because in D&R the serial killer is a device. They exist solely so Aislinn, Gabriel, Xavier, Lucas, and Fiona can do something beyond sitting around having conversations over cups of coffee. Well, that and people enjoy reading serial killer thrillers/horror.

I think most writers are like me. Their serial killers are devices to give the story a plot, not a creation meant to make serial killers seem cool or glamorous. However, I will say if every fictional serial killer was below average intelligence and had trouble functioning in society, the serial killer thriller genre would quickly die away.

Trivial Pursuit

The game of Trivial Pursuit is often about luck just as much as knowledge. My best friend and I play a long distance “point” game of Trivial Pursuit. Between us we have 10 genuses or so (maybe more). When she moved to Indiana for work some years ago, we opened two of the genuses and she took one box from Genus III and one box from Genus V and we began playing over email.

How does this work? We are playing from Genus V at the moment. She keeps track of the scores. Each weekday morning, we email each other all the questions off a card. We trust each other not to cheat (no Googling answers). She answers the questions I send and I answer the questions she sends. Then we respond with “correct” or the right answer if the one they gave was wrong.

One morning, I missed all but 1 question on my card and it was definitely luck that I got it right. However, I knew the answer to all but one of her questions. This means, if she had asked me the questions from the card I gave her, I would have pulled ahead. Which is why I say it’s just as much about luck as it is trivial knowledge.

This was the question I got correct:
AE: Who paid his dues on the Today show by serving as a guest host 150 times? I have no clue. I only know one male host on the Today show for eternity, Matt Lauer and that’s what I put with a question mark after it. Which much to my surprise turned out to be correct.

One of my other questions was about the Teletubbies and TV evangelists. This is how my brain works… Well, I know one TV Evangelist “Billy Graham” oh wait, there was that other one that was arrested, his wife had really big hair and I believe she was a blond. Jimmy Stewart? No that was the actor that talked slow, played in several John Wayne movies. The Barkers? No, they were a gang. Wife had two first names. Tammy Faye Barker? Was his name Jimmy Barker? Tammy Faye Baker? Was his name Jim Baker? So I sent Jim Baker, because I was pretty sure it wasn’t Billy Graham. Then I Googled Jim Baker… and it’s Jim Bakker, but the answer wasn’t correct even without the spelling error.

Then she sent the answers back: who the hell is Jerry Falwell?

Most days we are pretty evenly matched getting 3 or 4 a piece correct, and oddly we usually get nearly the same 3 or 4 correct. Our worst categories are Sports & Leisure and Arts & Entertainment. I got 1, she got 2 that day. But there’s the luck bit. If she had asked me her card, I would have gotten 5 out of 6 correct.

Also, when one of us can get a Sports & Leisure or an Arts & Entertainment question correct, it’s usually one we both know. One of hers was about Soundgarden, which we both knew and this day her Sports & Leisure was about General Patton which we both knew.

And that is how you play Trivial Pursuit long distance. I’m never sure which one of us is in the lead, but I don’t figure it matters.

The Dopplegänger

Germanic mythology states that every person on the planet has a dopplegänger. However, the purpose of it, depends on which myths you look at. A doppleganger is a double. And there may be some truth to it.

I have some personal experience with a doppleganger. As does my mother. I have not met my doppleganger nor my mom’s, which is probably good because it’s considered bad luck to meet your double. My story:

I was in a restaurant for lunch one day with some coworkers. I was 17 at the time and I was enjoying fajitas. When a woman suddenly came up to our table and said my first name and asked what I was doing there. I had never met this woman in my life, so it was odd that she knew my name. I explained I was having lunch with a coworker and she asked why we had come all the way to Columbia for lunch. Um, we work in the Columbia office of the Missouri Department of Health, it’s really only a couple miles from here to our office. After a few more confused sentences we realized I must not be the woman she thought I was as the woman she thought I was worked for a doctor’s office in a town called Montgomery City.

The woman was insistent that we could pass for twins and it was stranger that we had the same first name. After the woman left my coworker commented that the woman must not spend much time with the girl she mistook me for. I agreed and we continued on with lunch.

Some years later while shopping with a friend, a man came up to me and started talking to me like he had known me my entire life and yet, I had never met him. He asked how Holly was… I asked who was Holly and he got a strange look and said “your mom.” Um, no, my mom’s name is Mollie, not Holly. We realized he was looking for the girl that worked at the doctor’s office in Montgomery City and we went our separate ways.

Total I’ve had five or six of these encounters with people from Montgomery City being surprised by my presence in Columbia. The two places are only 51 miles from each other, really not that far.

Perhaps the oddest part of these encounters though is that my mom apparently has a doppleganger named Holly from Montgomery City and over the years, she’s had a dozen or so encounters with people who have mistaken her for Holly from Montgomery City. Is it possible that my mom’s doppelganger Holly is the mother of my doppelganger that shares my name?

My mom’s maternal side of the family hails from Montgomery City. Meaning it is possible that Holly is a distant cousin of my mother’s. How on earth that lead to my mom’s doppelganger giving birth to a daughter that would share my name and have her genes express in such a way that we can pass as twins, is beyond me. Especially since I have been told all my life how much I look like my father who does not have any distant relations in Montgomery City.

My story is less unique than one might think. If you spend some time on Reddit searching for stories of doppelgangers, you’ll find plenty. And while my doppelganger is apparently a nurse in a much smaller town, some consider doppelgangers to be sinister apparitions. Some stories of doppelgangers make them demonic beings who are trying to steal the lives of their doubles. Others say they’re an omen of death and that meeting your doppelganger foretells that one of you will die soon.

Eventually

When you wake up one day and learn your entire world has changed in the blink of an eye, it’s difficult. It’s difficult to accept. Difficult to deal with. You mourn, you cry, you curse, you scream, you research, you make a plan, you pitch the plan, then you make a new plan, and every day, you think “it gets easier,” but you aren’t sure when. So you wait, and you wait. And you wait some more. Then you cry some more, curse some more, begin grieving all over again, and remind yourself it gets better… eventually.

After 17 months, I’m still going through this process. If it sounds like I’m talking about the unexpected death of a loved one, you’re close. Unfortunately, that unexpected death was my own. I may not have physically died, but parts of me did. And until you’ve gone through this, you can’t know, you can’t truly understand what it’s like to wake up every day and wonder when does the mourning end? When can I take off the black veil and be me again? Oh, yeah, I can’t. That person died.

They were replaced by this crippled, pain riddled body that doesn’t smile very often anymore. Doesn’t want to feel anymore, emotionally or mentally or physically. You never know what’s going to trigger this spiral back into the murky depths of loss, depression, anger, hate, and disgust.

For me, it was a doctor’s appointment with J. On the morning of 21 February, J and I arrived at his appointment to get the stitches taken out after his surgery. I was sitting in the lobby, waiting. J was talking to someone he knew. I heard this shaky voice talking loudly. A woman’s voice. I turned to look, because she said “They call it the suicide disease.”

As I watched, this frail, little old lady was saying these words to someone I presumed was her daughter. I’m not good at guessing ages, but I’d say she was 70s or 80s. I am intimately familiar with that disease. I turned in my chair and said “are you here for CRPS?” I asked. Both women looked surprised. The older woman said “Yes, I’m seeing Dr. Wonderful, I was just diagnosed. Last winter, I fell and broke my arm and now it hurts more than it ever did when it was broken. Are you familiar with it?”

It was my turn for my voice to shake. “Yes, I was diagnosed with it in my hip last year, but I’ve had it in my right arm for 25 years.”

“Does it get better?” Her companion asked. Does it get better? No. You have good days and bad days and the bad days outnumber the good. That’s why there’s a 98% suicide rate for sufferers with CRPS within 10 years of symptoms starting. She was there to get a referral to a specialist, they were hoping to send this older lady into remission with ketamine treatments and she was seeing Dr. Wonderful to get the referrals to the specialist in St. Louis that does ketamine treatments.

But you can’t tell someone “No, it doesn’t get better.” It’s a battle to wake up everyday and get out of bed and know that within 10 or 15 minutes of your day starting, you’ll be ready to cut off body parts. That you’ll never get a good night’s sleep again as the pain wakes you up, sometimes crying, sometimes screaming because the pain has gotten so bad while you had your eyes closed.

You can’t tell them that sometimes, when you close your eyes as the last pain pill of the day kicks in, you hope you don’t wake up in the morning. Or that the treatments suck almost as bad as the disease itself. You’re going to have needles stuck into you, you’re going to have nerves numbed and that process is going to make you yelp or whimper or cry… I’ve even heard people scream as the needle found the right nerve and I’ve clenched my jaws so tight while they dug for that awful nerve that I broke a tooth, but I didn’t scream and no one saw the tears that leaked out.

And if you are lucky, you’ll get some relief from the needles, but it won’t be pain free, it will only be less pain. You can’t tell them that the epidurals hurt like hell and may or not work and even those, won’t make you pain free. It will just take the edge off the pain for a couple of hours… Unless you’re unlucky and you’re like me and those nerves never went numb after the digging of the needle in my back and the finding of the nerve that shot pain from an area near my right kidney down to my toes.

Just like you can’t tell them, that maybe not today or tomorrow or next week, but eventually, they are going to hurt themselves again. It may not be a major injury like a broken arm, it may just be a small cut from a thorn or the slip of a knife during vegetable chopping or accidentally burning yourself on a hot oven and then the pain will spread to the other arm. Or a leg. An ankle. A foot. A shoulder. Your spine. Or worse, you’ll stand up wrong and tear the cartilage in your hip joint and then, there it is in your hip. Then the other hip, because it’s hard not to limp when it feels like your hip is broken, but you force yourself not to because it puts stress on the opposite hip and you know that’s just this disease waiting for you to make a wrong move.

What words adequately describe a neuropathic twitch that isn’t exactly painful, but is a little more intense than discomfort? Or a muscle spasm that makes you feel like your body is trying to rip itself to pieces? Or that if the alternative treatments with the needles and nerve blocks don’t work, she gets to look forward to having a spinal stimulator put in or a pain pump and that if she is forced to rely on oral opiates, her life will suddenly revolve around when she can take her next pill. Or tell her, if you don’t have high blood pressure and problems with tachycardia now, it’s probably only a matter of time. Or that she may slowly begin to feel isolated and bitter?

Or that all those people mean well when they tell you that you just need to move more or try this diet or try this treatment, but they don’t and can’t understand, not really. Just like you will slowly learn to dread these phrases “I have lupus”, “I have rheumatoid arthritis”, or “I have fibromyalgia” and that once in a while she may want to scream in their faces “Then consider yourself lucky!”

Nor can you find the words to explain “Yes, CRPS is neurological, but there’s not another neurological disease like it on the planet. There’s not another pain disease on the planet like it. If there was lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia would be nicknamed “the suicide disease” too. And they too would have a 98% suicide rate for sufferers within 10 years of the onset of symptoms.

Just like you can’t tell a stranger “try marijuana, try CBD oil, try the opiates, try the physical therapy, beg for the ketamine, change your diet, try the torturous needles and if any of them brings your pain down from ‘I wish I would die to maybe I can get through today’ then use it to the maximum benefit to you regardless of what anyone else says or thinks.”

And the entire time, I’m sitting there pleading with the universe that this appointment goes fast, I haven’t taken my morning pill yet, because I didn’t want J’s doctor to look at me and wonder if I needed an intervention. Because doctors can tell and this doctor has never treated me, he doesn’t know my hip always feels like it’s been pummeled with a sledgehammer. I look “fine” unless you pay very close attention. I have a slight limp that I can’t shake, but it isn’t so pronounced that everyone immediately notices it, even doctors don’t usually notice it until they’ve seen me a half dozen times or so.

Does it get better? Eventually. I don’t know how long that takes, I’m still waiting for eventually to become now.

A Weird Facts About The Moon

The moon is a weird and mysterious thing. No other moon discovered in our solar system has as much influence on the planet it orbits as the moon does on Earth. There are lots of conspiracy theories regarding the moon and man’s trips to it. However, truth is often stranger than fiction and there’s a couple of very unusual things going on with our moon.

The orbit of the moon around Earth is nearly perfectly circular. This is interesting because it’s the only non-man-made satellite that has a nearly perfect circular orbit, not just around Earth, but around all the planets in our solar system, the moon is the only one that has an orbit that is nearly perfectly circular.

Because the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, it is constantly being bombarded by radiation from our sun. Dust and rocks brought back from the moon are radioactive as a result. Impact craters on the moon are always uniformly circular and have the same depth. This is unusual because impact craters on Earth normally lean to one side a bit, because meteors come in at an angle, but they apparently don’t come in at an angle on the moon. And we aren’t sure why, though most speculate it’s because the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere to deflect a meteor and make it change its straight downward trajectory.

The side of the moon you see in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a different area than what is seen in Sidney, Australia, because the rotation of the moon on its axis requires nearly the exact same amount of time to complete as it does for the moon to make a complete circle around Earth. However, this also means that the spot on the moon you see in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be nearly the exact same part of the moon you will see every night in Pittsburgh.

Solar radiation isn’t the only problem faced by the moon. Again, a lack of atmosphere means solar winds affect the moon. The moon doesn’t have tectonic plates, which is what causes earthquakes and volcanoes, but for an unknown reason the moon has moonquakes. Most moonquakes are harmless, but one type of moonquake is very shallow and can register up to a 5.5 on the Richter Scale. A 5.5 is big enough to move heavy furniture around a room. Even stranger though, these types of moonquakes cause the moon to ring like a bell.

Remember I said the moon takes a day to orbit Earth? This is incorrect. The moon doesn’t actually orbit Earth. Instead, the Earth and moon orbit a mystical point called the barycenter. The barycenter is located within the Earth’s crust, which is why it looks like the moon orbits Earth. The moon is exactly one-fourth the size of Earth. It is the largest moon to planet ratio in our solar system and if it weren’t for the barycenter located in Earth’s crust, the moon and Earth would be considered twin planets, not planet and satellite.

Part of the reason we see faces in the moon is matrixing, the brain making an image from shadows. And partly because shadows on the moon are much darker. Because there is no atmosphere to help refract the sun’s rays, everything in direct sunlight is visible, but anything in shadow disappears because the lack of refraction makes the area behind a shadow, pitch black. This means the center of craters that enter into shadow are extremely dark compared to the lighter surfaces that the sun is hitting.

Finally, a university in Switzerland has proved that people do not sleep as well on nights of the full moon as they do on other nights. Not only do we get less sleep those nights, but certain nocturnal disorders become bigger problems including nocturnal urination (wetting the bed), restless leg syndrome, sleep walking, and nightmares. It is suspected the gravitational pull that affects tides is to blame. People are very sensitive to a change in gravitational pull, because we feel such a constant and steady gravitational pull from our own planet. When the moon is full, it exerts more gravitational pull than when it is waxing, waning, or a new moon. It is thought that increase is responsible for changes in human sleeping patterns and may be where most legends about the full moon came from, they were trying to explain why we slept less and had more sleeping problems when the moon was full.

The moon is weird and vital to life on Earth. Without our moon, many physicists have theorized that life on Earth would not have started.

Procrastination Doesn’t Pay

As long time readers of my blog will be aware, when CRPS spread to my right hip in June of 2017, I had to give up darts. Not just playing, but tasks associated with the administration of it. I felt bad, but I didn’t have a choice, I had to step away.

One of the problems with Lyrica was that I had issues staying focused among other memory, concentration, and comprehension difficulties. Anyway, so I told my dart league in September of 2017 that I had to be done with the administration as well as playing.

About Christmas, I got a frantic message asking me to make tournament flyers for the association’s February tournament. Now, the tournament had been scheduled for over a year at this point, but I agreed to do it. The tournament took place February 15 – 17. We had friends stay with us, there was a lot of snow and some slick roads, but there was still a good turn-out.

The morning of the 16th, I wake up, wander into the dining room to be greeted with “I don’t know what you did, but the payouts for one of the evens is a mess.” Okay, how so, exactly? Apparently, it was a moved event and the payouts were left from the even that was there previously. So yes, the payouts are wrong. This is a huge issue.

But I told people to look it over multiple times. I pay editors and use 10 beta readers per book to catch errors. And I’m not particularly good at catching my own mistakes. They were given plenty of notice that I couldn’t/wouldn’t be doing it. They had more than a year to get the flyer made and there was a template available. And one person surely could have taken ten minutes to review the flyer and say “Hey, there’s an error here” instead of waiting until the tournament started to look at it.

Especially since they knew I was having tons of problems with my brain on Lyrica. I had explained the side effects of my disease as well as the medications I was on when I told them I couldn’t do it anymore.

When I was told of it, I had just woken up and this shit has spread to my other hip. Mornings and sleeping have gotten worse for me as a result. My response was “Well they were told it needed to be proofed, why didn’t they notice it when they made up the payout envelopes?” “Why didn’t someone look it over in the 2 months it was available before the tournament? Why didn’t they have someone with a brain do it?”