Perfectly Broken

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Lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression, anxiety, and self-loathing, and I figured I’d talk about it here, because chances are other folks go through this too and it’s always helpful to know one is not alone. General content warning for the post.

So, first: I want to say that objectively, my life is pretty great. And subjectively, too. I’m engaged to a really awesome person who respects me and my career. We live together in a nice place, in a nice neighborhood. I’ve started a new business and my career as an author is going pretty well. Overall our life is a nice thing.

But of course this does not preclude shitty things happening to us, and of course our lives are not 100% great. There are definitely areas that are causing some long-term stress and, for me at least, depression, anxiety, and all those other fun things I get to deal with already for no particular reason. Except now they’re being given a reason, and I’m finding my already fragile mental state being poked at constantly.

The main thing that’s poking the bear of mental illness for me right now is my physical state. Some of you know that almost 3 years ago I suffered a spinal injury. That’s actually not entirely accurate; the injury itself happened in 2009. It didn’t flare up like a fireworks show, however, until 2012, leaving me bedridden and unable to walk for weeks. After a lot of hard work in physiotherapy, I slowly was able to walk with a walker for short bursts, and then longer bursts, and then finally upgraded to a cane. I’ve been walking with a cane since 2012, though there have been times when I’ve been able to go without for a short period of time.

Likely, had I continued with the physio after getting to that state of wellness, I would eventually have gotten to a point where I could walk without a cane, and probably get somewhere near the state of health I was at before the injury knocked me down. Even in the years I had the injury but it hadn’t flared up I was doing pretty well, despite the new, sharp, knife-twisting pain in my lower spine that I had chalked up to “Another weird permutation of the chronic back pain I’ve had my entire life because genetics is a shitty lottery.”

But I didn’t continue with the physio. I quit in 2012. This wasn’t because I wanted to, or because I thought I was done: I wanted to continue and knew I needed more. But I could not find a new physiotherapist when I went back to Nanaimo after staying in Coquitlam for several weeks, and not only that — the price went up. You only get a few visits at the reduced rate with a doctor’s prescription, you see, and I would need to continue to go every week to see progress.

Fifty dollars a week is too steep for me. Then, and now.

So for 2 years I have lived no where near what “normal” is for me, just dealing with the pain, taking a strong painkiller on the days when I can’t move without it, and continuing to do things that are probably contraindicated for my spine’s condition but hey, what else am I going to do? My social life has dropped off considerably and my ability to do a lot of things in a short period of time has gone to zilch, approximately. I now need a few days to recover after an event that wouldn’t have left me winded 3 years ago.

It has been an adjustment, to say the least. I still overextend myself because I am used to a body that can handle more than it can. And though mentally I have gotten better since it first happened, I still have dark nights of the soul.

So when I broke my leg this summer — 3 months exactly as of this coming Saturday — I slipped into depression again.

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Updates to the website and other random news

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The other night I spent several hours updating my writer website, instead of working on revisions as I’d planned. I know, I know.

Anyway, I’m really happy with the results. Like, really happy. And I want to make everyone look at the site and tell me how amazing I am. So here’s a screenshot:

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 6.00.35 AM

Click on the picture to get taken to the site and see the rest of its incredible beauty. Then tell me how amazing I am in the comments here!

Or not. You don’t have to do any of that stuff, I s’pose. I just wanted to share my really cool site, guise. (There are a few more updates coming but it’s fully operational and REALLY PRETTY.)

Other small updates that don’t warrant posts of their own:

  • My leg is healing really well. Actually, the bone is healed, I just can’t walk normally yet (muscles, ligaments, etc, are not so eager). But I can walk with the help of my crutches and I should be able to walk normally by the end of this month. I just have to take it slow, and be patient and ARRRRGGGG I DON’T WANT TO BE PATIENT WHEN ARE WE GETTING CYBERNETIC BODY PARTS FFS? Ahem. I mean, yes. Patience. Taking it slow. Things I am so good at don’t you know.
  • You might notice a change to the info in the sidebar. Specifically, images for Barefoot Books. I am now a Barefoot Books ambassador and will be selling children’s books to anyone who’s interested. I am pretty excited about this opportunity, as I love books (duh), am interested in championing literacy (double-duh), and the books are really high quality (you’ll have to take my word for this for now). I am probably going to pen a larger post in the next few days, but for now I just wanted to give y’all a small heads up. (Also, don’t worry, I won’t turn into a spam-o-matic.)
  • I submitted 2 pieces of microfiction to a writing contest and I am incredibly nervous. Winners are announced at the end of October. That is a long time away. Someone hold me.
  • There is still time to pre-order Broken Sleep, my mom’s new book! I know, I know, shameless plugging, but I’m serious when I say it’s a good book, and you get a discount for pre-order. So if you want to read the really incredible first book in The Falling Sky Trilogy, go here and click the link of your choice. (Paperbacks ordered from Storenvy will be signed!)
  • I will be doing Fifty Shades of Drinking again starting in a few weeks. My goal is to have the next episode up by October 1st. Hopefully I will be able to stick to that. It depends on how well I can walk by then. (The problem being, of course, that going to the bathroom is such a tremendous effort while one is on crutches that drinking alcohol is a terrible idea. Water I can hold for 4, 6, 8, 12 hours. Coffee about 4 to 6. Alcohol? 1 hour. And then every 15 minutes for a few hours after. That is way too much hobbling for me right now, unfortunately.)

That’s the news in a nutshell, basically. New site look and layout, my leg is doing well, Barefoot Books is a thing that’s happening for me, I am now submitting short fiction and terrified, Broken Sleep is coming out really soon, and Fifty Shades of Drinking’s hiatus is nearing its end time.

-Katje

Getting a straight answer from a doctor

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Post Doctor's appt selfie. This is my "well that was a depressing waste of energy" face.

Me, post-doctor’s appointment. My “that was a depressing waste of energy” face.

It’s not easy. I feel that’s one way The Doctor is very much like regular doctors — give you a straight answer when you ask a question? MADNESS

But, finally, I did. Yesterday, at my follow-up appointment at the cast clinic. After he told me that I’d probably have to be in the brace and off my feet until October, basically (so, a bit longer than originally thought), I finally got an answer regarding the possibility of ligament or meniscus damage:

They don’t know.

They won’t know until my fracture is healed up, because they can’t do an examination to figure out if the ligaments or meniscus are damaged without risking further damage to the fracture. So in several weeks, I may get an answer to that question.

I’m guessing it’s going to be “Yes, your knee is damaged,” mostly because my knee still feels like it’s been smashed with a hammer and I can’t bend my leg without extreme pain.

But apparently the reason they kept avoiding my questions about the knee was because they didn’t know and couldn’t tell me for a while. Which is all I wanted to know! Just an answer, any answer.

So now I know it’s still on the table, the possibility of more severe damage, and I just have to wait and see what happens. And in the meantime, don’t put any pressure on the broken leg.

This weekend we’re picking up a wheelchair for me and maybe getting me a proper shower at the in-laws’ place. If I’m up to it, Mr. Katje might even take me out for dinner at our favourite restaurant.

I’m honestly pretty excited about the wheelchair. Apparently it has a leg rest on the left hand side, which already makes it a million times better than those stupid hospital wheelchairs. (Yes, I totally have the muscle strength to just hover my leg straight out the entire time I’m in that thing. Not.)

I don’t mean to sound bitter about our experience with BC medical this time around. I’m getting the help I need. I’m just frustrated and tired of being cooped up in a chair 24/7, and looking at another 2 months of being cooped up like this.

Book has been proofed, as of last night. now to change the files and ship em off.

I think I went through 5 stacks of post-it notes.

So, I’m trying to set my brain to productivity. Namely, edits, rewrites, and writing fresh words (and, on the other side of the business: publishing). I’m just finishing up the work for a book by Kaimana Wolff, called Broken Sleep. It’s a really good book, even if the subject matter is hard for me to take. I said in my review that it’s a harrowing exposé of abuse, and I stand by that. It needed a lot of proofing, though, as you can no doubt tell by the picture. Right now it’s on round 3 of proofs. I’m waiting to hear back from the author, and then I can finish up work on it.

If you want to get an ebook ARC — advance reading copy — you can sign up for one here. They will be sent out as soon as I’m done with the ebook formatting.

Regarding my own writing, currently I’m working hard on The Jade Star of Athering. When I started re-writes there were 9 entirely new parts I had to write. Now there are 4, along with the various continuity edits and smaller rewrites within the finished chapters. For the record, editing and re-writing Jade Star has been like trying to marathon through a swamp filled with eels and unspeakable horrors. I am never doing vomit-out-words-and-fix-it-in-post writing again — after this, I’m going back to the much-more-natural-for-me edit-as-I-go style of writing. Fixing it in post is torture.

After I finish my edits and rewrites, I’ll be sending off the manuscript to my editor for the first round of edits. When she’s done, it’ll be time for beta readers to have at it. Once I’ve implemented beta feedback, it goes for its final round of edits, and then I start the publishing process. It’s at this point I release an ARC for advance readers. During the publishing process, we proof the manuscript several more times (and likely find more errors). Hopefully by the time release day rolls around there are no more errors left. (I say hopefully, because we are human.)

When Jade Star is off with the editor and beta readers, I’ll be focusing on finishing up the first draft of From the Ashes, sequel to Stranger Skies. I have a deadline of the end of the year to finish the first draft, but if I’m lucky I’ll get it done sooner.

I’ve got a lot of writing projects planned out for the next year or so. I really want to finish Jade Star and From the Ashes soon because I have another book I’m starting in November — Anala, the sequel to Jade Star and third book in The Third Age. It’s going to need to be outlined very carefully, however, as it happens during the same time period as Book 4 (which is so far untitled).

There’s a lot more on my plate, writing wise, but if I outlined my entire year’s plan here then I’d have no choice but to stick with it and I like to give myself some leeway for failure. (Insert winky face here.) Accountability is great, so long as I’m making myself publicly accountable for things I know I can accomplish.

So right now it’s just a matter of keeping busy with what matters to me, which thankfully is something I can still do while I have a broken leg. I have to be grateful for that — my passion doesn’t involve using my leg. I can still work on it even when injured and chair-ridden.

-Katje

PS: If you want to be first to hear about release dates, tours, events, etc for both my mother and me, then you should sign up for our mailing list. It comes out about once a month, and it gives you the opportunity to sign up to receive ARCs before anyone else can, or to pre-order first. Also, you get 2 free ebooks for signing up. July’s is set to come out in the next couple days, so sign up soon!

Fifty Shades of Drinking is on hiatus until mid to late September

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Possibly October.

I mean, you guys probably figured that out already — I have a broken leg, therefore no drinking — but I figured I’d make an official announcement.

Theoretically, I could fake being drunk, but where’s the fun in it? And it would just feel wrong. You watch it for off the cuff super drunk Katje being angry and ranty. I can’t fake that genuine anger. It wouldn’t be right.

So until I am healed — which should be late August, meaning I might be ready to drink by mid-September, but we’ll see how it goes — FSOD is on hiatus. I’m very sorry, and trust me, I am not happy about skipping this. The book might make my brain bleed, but doing the series is actually fun and I was looking forward to this month’s episode!

Ah well. Can’t be helped.

However, I might be doing a regular vlog one of these days. Depends on if I can get some proper clothing on myself. I am open to topic suggestions! Leave yours in a comment below.

Until next time,

-Katje

Worst. Birthday Gift. Ever.

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The title is better if you imagine it being read in Comic Book Guy’s voice.

Long and short of my trip to the cast clinic is yes, I have a broken femur, there is apparently no tendon or ligament damage, and no, I cannot have a plaster cast, because my leg is shaped weird.

Yes, you read that right: I have a weird leg. The plaster cast will not stay on it properly, just as the immobilizer of doom does not stay on it properly — but, the doctor says, the immobilizer will likely be more comfortable, and I can take it off from time to time. There’s also a chance my leg could swell again, which would be very uncomfortable in plaster, apparently.

I have to stay off my leg for 6 weeks. I cannot put any weight on it. I can rest my foot on the floor if I’m sitting, but beyond that? Nope. Nope nope nope.

But anyway, besides all that — let’s focus on what’s really important. I have weird legs, guys. WEIRD LEGS. I can’t even argue with the doctor on this one because he’s right. I’m a freak of nature.

legs

See? This is right after it happened, too, so you can see the amount of swelling in the left leg. But that bend inwards at the knee? It’s super pronounced. When standing straight the edges of my feet almost line up with my hips, and the knees bend inwards to touch each other. And the kneecap is super high up. I know, because I saw it on my CT scan. IT WAS WEIRD.

Also there’s the fact that my legs are sort of shaped like cones, with the tiny end pointing down.

WEIRD LEGS, GUISE. ::does spooky arms::

After the cast clinic we headed home, and this is the conversation we had in the car (this was after my crying breakdown in the hospital).

Me: So this is the worst birthday gift I’ve ever gotten myself.

Mr. Katje: That’s what you get for getting it so early! And now you can’t even take it back.

Me: Nope, I’m stuck with it. Buyer’s remorse or what.

Anyway. I am immobilized for six weeks. In 2 weeks I have to see the doctor again so he can see how the leg is doing. But basically, no nothing for Katje until the end of August.

I have some projects to keep me busy while I’m stuck without a working leg. A big one is writing. I’m trying to get my word count up this month. (I’m participating in Get Your Words Out and I’ve pledged to write 150,000 words this year. So far I’m at just over 80,000.)

Things I'm working on today: writing....

Text from a short story I’m working on.

Another big one is editing and publishing — related to the first, of course, but I’m not always editing or publishing my own works, so it deserves a separate category. Right now I’m proofing Broken Sleep by Kaimana Wolff, and editing/revising The Jade Star of Athering, sequel to Bellica.

I’m also trying to get caught up on my reading. I read very slowly, but with not much else to do I might read more than one book this month. One can hope, anyway.

And finally, I’m powering through Stargate SG-1. I adore this show. I am on season 7, please no spoilers in the comments. (I realize it’s 17 years old but I’ve been able to keep myself relatively spoiler free.)

...and Stargate SG-1. (that shld rly say dreamboat tbh. Mmmmm, Teal'c.)

Mmmm, Teal’c.

Anyway, this is my summer. All this, and no showering (at least until I get the shower chair from Oma’s old place). Don’t visit. Your nose will never forgive you.

If you do want to brighten my summer up, however, you can nominate my book, Stranger Skies, for the awards for which it’s eligible! (Assuming you’ve read it. If you haven’t read it, most of the Advance Reading Copy is available to read here. All of the chapters will be released by October 5th.) Details in this post at my Livejournal. The deadline for one of the awards is July 15th, but the others have more time.

Now that would be the best. birthday gift. ever.

-Katje

Distraction is the better part of valor

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In about 6 hours I have an appointment with a doctor at the hospital’s cast clinic. They may be upgrading me from this monstrosity of foam and velcro to a proper plaster cast.

I had to go into the hospital again on Monday morning — a phone call at 5 am told me that they’d missed something on the x-rays and needed a CT to confirm. Turns out I do have a break — a femoral condyle fracture. I broke my femur.

However, I still don’t know if I also have tendon or ligament tears or if all the excruciating pain was from the fracture. There is also still the issue of the slipping/grinding noise/pain that happened that night at emerge when my knee was bent for too long. Since then my leg has been kept straight by the immobilizer, so it hasn’t happened again, but I’ll be asking the doctor about it. I don’t want a possible bone dislocation or something else to get missed.

If it is just a broken bone, then things have improved dramatically. Yes, my summer is still ruined, and yes I’ll still have to spend my birthday in a cast, at home, likely stinky from lack of regular showering (I showered on Monday with the help of Mr. Katje; I doubt I’ll have the energy to do so more than once a week, leastwise not until I’m able to get the shower seat from Oma’s old place). If there’s no ligament damage, I won’t be facing quite as much physiotherapy as before thought.

But I still don’t know. And until I know, I’m not letting myself get too optimistic. The fact is regardless the full extent of the injury, I’m going to be down and out for the next several months. Recovery, whether incredibly long with a torn ligament or comparatively short with just a fracture, is still going to be long, slow, and hard.

In the meantime I have fallen into a deep depression over this. I feel useless and helpless and like a burden, and I hate feeling these things. When it was just a spinal injury I wasn’t the most active of people, but I could still do my part. I was in pain daily but I could move about and get things done. Now the most I can do is sit around in a recliner all day, trying not to move my leg too much in the immobilizer-that-doesn’t-immobilize.

I am trying to fling myself into writing, editing, and publishing — useful, productive things I can do. It hasn’t cured the depression but it does distract me from it for a little while.

Distraction is currently my best weapon against despair. Instead of sitting and staring into space, thinking about how much this fucking sucks, I open my computer and work, or turn on the TV and watch Stargate and let the absolute adorableness of Teal’c carry me away from my problems.