Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘health updates

“Sadiversary” Week, Fatigue, Illness…

with 7 comments

Folks, later this week will be the fourteenth “sadiversary” — that is, the saddest anniversary there is — of my late husband Michael’s death. I struggle with this every year; unlike some widows and widowers, I seem stuck, and think more and more about him over time rather than less and less.

Granted, I’ve also done my best to “make new memories” and have even gone on a few dates. (Two, to be exact.) And I was in a long-distance friendship with a guy for a while with that I’d hoped for more with…but it didn’t happen. So it’s not like I’ve just shut myself down cold, even though it took a long time to even get to the point where I could try to do these things.

I keep wanting to wake up one day, and find out the previous fourteen years are nothing but a bad dream. My husband, in this scenario, is alive, glowingly vibrant, cooking me meals, helping with my stories as I helped with his (and yes, while I cook, too, Michael was the better cook; I was glad to step aside for him).

Hell, my husband even would do all the laundry, knowing I have a bad back, and if I was allowed to do anything at all, it was to sit at the laundromat with him “looking decorative” and of course carrying on a conversation.

Those were the days.

Instead, I wake up and find that the stark reality is, I’m here, he’s not, all the work I’ve struggled with, everything I’ve done, is not enough. Too few people even seem to be able to find out about our work, much less like it enough to tell friends about it who might also tell others.

When I’m sick, as I am now (I am guessing a sinus issue and possibly a weak onset of the flu), it makes it harder to believe that I am doing everything I can. And yet, I know I am. There isn’t any single thing I could be doing any differently; I can only do what I can do, and if it’s not enough, and if it drives me crazy that it’s not enough, well, I just have to live with that.

I’m grateful for my family and my friends. I’m also grateful for the two guys I went on dates with, even though I’m sure they were awkward and I knew I was very awkward, too. Even the guy I crashed and burned with in the long-distance friendship taught me something…I’m not dead, and I don’t think Michael would want me to do my best imitation of a vestal virgin because he’s already on the Other Side.

Still, I look at the totality of my life since my husband died, and it frustrates me so much.

Maybe we all feel this way, when we’re sick, that we haven’t done what we set out to do, and that we are failures because of that.

And I never expected Michael, the goodness of him, the totality of his existence, the love he brought to my life, and the sly sense of humor that invigorated every conversation and interaction with him. (As I’m trying to keep this to a PG level, as I know there are at least a few younger kids who read this blog on a regular basis, I won’t talk about the rest of it — shall we say that everything, absolutely everything, about my marriage with Michael was phenomenal, and leave it at that? Yes? Good.)

All I can do now is go on. It’s hard. I haven’t been able to see the road in front of me since the day Michael died. And even at my best with the three guys who’ve put up with me long enough to want to get to know me a little better, I still didn’t see anything but glimmers.

So, that’s where I am right now. I am sick. But tonight I’m going to try to edit, and I did manage to write this blog. Tomorrow I will do laundry, and think about Michael while I do it (as that makes me feel better, as I definitely don’t enjoy doing laundry in any way, shape, or form, but I do enjoy clean clothes). I’ll get to the doctor, do what they say to do, talk with my counselor of course as this is a very highly-fraught week, and do what she says also as best I can.

And I’ll try to be as good to myself as I can, even though that’s not something I’m all that good at.

P.S. Next week, I hope to talk about fun things again, or at least current events things…something different.

 

Advertisements

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 18, 2018 at 10:53 pm

When Creativity (Temporarily) Dries Up

with 5 comments

As I’ve said for a few weeks now on my blog, I’ve been dealing with a family health issue that has pushed almost everything else to the back of the line. As that seems to be resolving, my creative life is re-emerging…and as such, I thought I’d write a blog about why I think my creativity (save my editing work) more or less dried up during the recent emergency.

You see, we all have so much energy. (I’ve heard this called “spoon theory” or even “so many f**ks to give,” so whatever terminology works for you.) And when most of it is going to manage an emergency of some sort, there’s just not a lot left.

As there are probably more people out there who have to deal with this sort of thing, or maybe have dealt with it in the past, I know I’m not alone in dealing with the lack of energy or utter exhaustion that dealing with a crisis (along with continuing to do as much of your own work as humanly possible without collapse). But it is difficult, while you’re in the midst of it, to remember that…you feel isolated, almost the loneliest person in the world, and your own needs go to the back burner while you take care of someone else.

This has been called “caregiver fatigue,” and is a known phenomenon.

What makes me feel like myself, more than anything, is to create, whether it’s words, music, or a combination of the two. (That’s how I saw my work on CHANGING FACES, at any rate. I still intend to cut a companion CD of some sort down the line, if I can raise the money for such and regain the energy and strength to play my clarinet at top form.) But I can’t create like this, or at least can’t create very much.

No one can.

You just don’t have enough spoons to play with, as creativity takes a lot of spoons — far more than it seems at the time.

I know, from past experience with traumatic events, that my creative impulses will come back online after I’ve regained strength, rest, and health again. (As dealing with the crisis, especially coming out of two full months of illness, wasn’t easy.) And I look forward to the day I can wake up with a story idea, happily write it down, and think hard about what I’m going to do next without exhausting myself even further.

However, I’m not there yet. And admitting that isn’t easy, because I want to be known as a strong person, someone who can do anything she puts her mind to…someone who writes ten thousand words a week, maybe, as I did while my late husband Michael was alive, and haven’t managed to do consistently ever since.

I think overall that the important thing to remember, if you’re in a situation like I’ve been, is that so long as you’re still alive, and so long as you are doing your best, your talents will re-emerge once there’s sufficient energy for them.

And as a persistent person (I’ve sometimes been called almost pathologically persistent, which I don’t think is exactly a compliment), it’s all I can do now to remember that, and trust — as my niece, Jenni, also a writer, told me — that my creativity isn’t absent. It’s just brooding, waiting, and will burst out of me again once the energy has been restored to allow it to flourish.

What have you done in similar situations to nurture your creativity? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 17, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Do All You Can…

leave a comment »

…even when it doesn’t feel like it’ll be enough.

That is my motto, right now.

As I continue to struggle with my health, I have to remind myself that sometimes, doing all I can means to rest. Recover. Eat as much as I can (with a raw throat, that’s not easy, but it is again possible), and in as balanced a way as I can…take probiotics, to keep the antibiotics I’m on from destroying my gut bacteria…laugh, because it’s better than crying. (Or pulling my hair out.)

I continue to work on my plotting exercise (I talked about this yesterday), and will hope this will keep me from going stir-crazy.

I did write a thousand words today, though it was a different sort of exercise entirely, and was prompted by home internet problems. (I hate that, but it’s a very minor woe, all things considered. At least I can get out and use the internet elsewhere. So it adds a step when I am not at my best. So what?)

And I looked at the two edits in progress, figured out where I am, and have a good idea where I need to be starting tomorrow to finish them both up.

So, I’m staying on top of it as best I can. And am doing whatever I can, even though as I said above, it truly doesn’t feel like enough.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 13, 2018 at 9:59 pm

Quick Health Bloglet

with 5 comments

Folks, I had written a longer blog today, but WordPress ate it…and I’m too sick to write it again.

That said, I have been reading a lot, thinking a lot, and resting a lot. It’s all I can do, while I continue to take care of whatever it is that’s got hold of me this time. (Flu flaring to bronchitis, I think.)

For now, as I wait upon recovery, I urge you to read all the books you can, in as many subjects as you can, and to learn as much as you can.

That’s the best way to spread truth and light, and maybe to find some sort of understanding in this world.

I’ll be back as soon as I can.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 14, 2018 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with

Latest Interview, Health Update…and Baseball?

leave a comment »

Folks, the book promotion efforts continue apace.

So, here’s my question: Have you met me yet?

(No, I’m not just being snarky, here.)

If you haven’t, or if you’d like to know more, and haven’t seen this interview, please go forthwith to Goodreads.

Why?

It might intrigue you. It might keep you motivated.

Or if nothing else, it’ll answer a question I’ve been asked over and over again regarding my newest novel: why did I set the story of CHANGING FACES in Nebraska, of all places?

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?
A: I lived in Nebraska for three years when I went to graduate school. I felt the heat, I saw the vivid colors of the sunsets and sunrises, I felt the scorching cold, and I knew exactly how to describe it.

It’s hard to explain, otherwise, but I’ll do my best.

If you’ve experienced something, that helps you to describe it. And I experienced Nebraska. I even met some LGBT people in Lincoln, when I lived there; there weren’t many, but there were some, and most of them, at the time (this being the late 1990s/early 2000s) did not want to call attention to themselves. The goal at that point was for civil unions to be accepted in various churches, and there were many disagreements about this.

So, it was important to me to set this story in Nebraska. These are two people who could live anywhere. They have talent in music, they are creative, they are honest, they love each other. But one of them is transgender and gender-fluid, and yet their love is like anyone else’s, and their communication problems are like anyone else’s, too.

It’s important that society as a whole comes to realize that people are people, and regardless of gender expression or sexuality, they are deserving of love and happiness and care. Whatever form that love and happiness takes (providing it’s consensual, preferably monogamous, and with people who are adult so they can make their own choices and take their own risks) ultimately does not matter.

Only the love matters. And that’s why I set this story in Nebraska in the first place, because it showcases just how much times have changed…and yet, remained the same.

Want to know more? Please go to the interview and take a look!

Now, as far as the health update goes…I continue to improve. I am a bit low on energy, but I wrote a new guest blog (for author Adriana Kraft and her readership, that will be posted Sunday if all goes well), I even worked a little bit on my fiction, and I’m starting to feel more like my normal self.

(Just in time for Friday, eh?)

I don’t plan on throwing any wild parties any time soon, mind, but I at least can write some again and I’m grateful for it.

Otherwise, I wanted to talk a little bit about baseball, as we’re nearly up to spring. (Hey, don’t correct me. I know it’s a few weeks, yet.)

One thing I noticed, recently, is that major league baseball has changed their way of indicating an intentional walk. Before, a manager had to call for it, but the pitcher had to actually throw the four balls (very wide of the strike zone) before the runner could take first base. This occasionally would result in a wild pitch or passed ball, but most of the time was a fairly routine deal.

Now, MLB is going to do it differently. The manager will somehow indicate that he wants an intentional walk, and the batter will go take first base. The pitcher will not have to throw the four balls, wide of the mark or otherwise.

What do I think of this? I don’t like it at all. I think it’s silly. I think it’s stupid.

And the reason they gave for it? They want to speed the game up.

(I don’t see that as being a particularly speedy thing, mind, but whatever.)

To my mind, the only legitimate basis for this rule-change is to save the pitcher unnecessary wear and tear on his arm. If, over time, this actually works, and a few pitchers here and there won’t hurt themselves, I might actually — someday — begrudgingly, of course, be willing to entertain this.

But for the moment, I think it’s stupid, nonsensical, and wrong.

What do you all think, baseball fans? Does this rule-change make any sense to you? (And if they really want to improve the pace of the game, why don’t they stop guys from getting out of the batter’s box over and over again during the same at-bat? Wouldn’t that be a lot more conducive to getting the speed down than merely eliminating the four pitches from the intentional walk?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 3, 2017 at 7:25 pm

Two New Guest Appearances, Plus Health Update

leave a comment »

Folks, I’m starting to feel a little better. My voice is almost all the way back. And I have a teensy bit more energy than yesterday…I kind of think I might actually be able to write something soon, and I have managed to evaluate something for a friend of mine (read a synopsis and commented), which is all good.

Anyway, there are two guest appearances I need to tell you about today.

First, N.N. Light and her POTL blog featured CHANGING FACES last week, and because of me being sick, I almost missed it. This is a chapter excerpt (from chapter 3, I think) plus longer blurb; I think you will enjoy it.

Second, over at the Mom’s Blogger’s Club, there’s a chapter reveal for the first chapter of CHANGING FACES.

So, the book promotion goes on, and I’m still alive to do it…progress?

Stay well, folks.

Tomorrow, perhaps, I’ll be able to blog about something else — maybe Brewers Spring Training or something. (I want to stay away from politics as much as I can until I’m all the way better, because I really don’t need to raise my blood pressure right now.)

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 1, 2017 at 5:20 pm

It’s a Marathon, not a…

with 5 comments

Folks, I know I haven’t blogged this week. (Until now, of course.) But there’s a reason for that.

I have been seriously under the weather since before Christmas. I finally marched into the local urgent care clinic a few days ago, and found I had a sinus infection, ear infection, and throat infection, plus I might also have strep throat. I was given antibiotics and sent home again, plus given the directive to pick up a bunch of over-the-counter meds (which, of course, I did).

I don’t like talking about being sick. It annoys me. I want to be up and doing stuff. Like making the final editorial changes to CHANGING FACES, which are due imminently…or at least able to take a walk around the park, or drive without my head hurting like a vise has been clamped over my forehead.

My hope was that the antibiotics would help me feel so much better, I’d have something good to blog about this weekend. Like, finishing the editorial changes. Or maybe my reaction to seeing the movie about British ski-jumper Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards. (Good movie, BTW, even though they took some poetic license in creating a composite character in Eddie’s so-called “coach.”) Or maybe more on the virtues of hope, without which we can do very little in this life…as I’ve said before, if you can’t hope for better, you can’t possibly visualize it, either. Which means it’s nearly impossible to create a better situation for yourself, much less create anything else, either.

But that did not happen.

Instead, I have gotten sicker. I’m not sure what’s wrong right now, except that I’m coughing a lot, I have a fever, and feel terrible. I can’t think well and I can’t take care of what needs to get done this way from an editorial or writing standpoint.

My voice is better, which is good. (It’s again recognizable.) But that’s about the only good thing going on right now.

Unless I feel a thousand times better than this in the morning, another visit to the urgent care clinic is in my future. And I do hope they’ll figure out what is wrong, so I can get it taken care of…feeling this sick for this long is decidedly not my idea of a good time, thanks.

But I’m doing my best at the moment to remember that as bad as I feel right now, I’ve worked very hard to get CHANGING FACES ready for publication. I am not about to give up now. I merely have to rest, so I can make my best effort, as I have all along…’cause it really is a marathon, not a sprint.

So my hope is that soon, I will be able to get back to my regular blogging stuff, and talk about far more interesting things than my health. (I have to deal with my health 24/7. I’d rather not have to talk about it at my blog, too.)

And for everyone else, my advice is that if you haven’t seen that movie about Eddie Edwards yet, and you need a quick reminder of what persistence and hard work can do against all odds, you should find a way to see it.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 7, 2017 at 10:57 pm

Posted in in general

Tagged with ,