Therapy and “IT”

This post will contain spoilers of the new movie IT (2017 version) but not the TV movie/mini series version or the book. The book is third on my to read list.  I figure if I survived the movie with minimal hiding behind my hands, I can read the book.

I am particular in which horror movies I see, and I can’t find a pattern.  I had no problem* seeing The Conjuring and it’s sequel, or Annabelle.  I found Paranormal Activity and it’s sequels boring.  The idea of IT scared me and I think it has to do with the fact that  IT has been around since my childhood and it was scary back then. Tim Curry as Pennywise looked pretty frightening from the clips I’ve seen, and this new guy? Pure terror.  Still, curiosity got the better of me, and with a rare early evening off, my husband and I were at IT on Friday.

(* “no problem” here really means  that I hid behind my hands less than half of the movie)

I was dumb struck when Georgie just talked to the clown in the sewer.  Then I had to remind myself that this was the 80’s, a happier time, a more innocent time, before we knew about child porn, internet stalkers, To Catch a Predator and such.  But really?  A clown in a sewer?  And no red flags went off? Before TMNT when it was cool for things to be in the sewer?   Anyway, that’s not the point of this blog…

As I was driving home after the movie I couldn’t help but think of how despite my unanswered questions (remember, I haven’t read the book yet), the basic theme of IT is pretty simple (no disrespect to Stephen King, of course).  Good vs. Evil.  Whether you’re looking at the losers vs. the bullies,  Bev vs. her father, or the kids vs. Pennywise, you’re essentially looking at good vs. evil- the cornerstone of many stories.

*SPOILERS*

What seemed almost simplistic to me (in the movie) was once the kids faced their fears (which I realize SOUNDS a lot easier, because I wouldn’t have gone into that house) the less control IT had of them.  When they figured this out, they almost taunted Pennywise with the fact that they weren’t scared and he tried to up the ante.

Immediately therapy came into my mind.  I think so many clients have fear in their life– fear of the unknown, fear of their past traumas incapacitating them, fear of their anxiety, that they allow it to control their lives.   It doesn’t manifest quite like a creepy clown that lives in the sewer (unless they are coulrophobic, of course) but they see it everywhere and it starts to mess with their mind.  Like Bev, they are desperate for someone else to see their reality too, to make sure they aren’t crazy.  But as Billy asserts inside the house “it’s not real”.  Their fear is comfortable to them though, in a way.  Think of the boys that didn’t want to confront Pennywise at first. They weren’t happy about the fact that a terrifying clown was creeping them out with their greatest fears, but they didn’t want it to get any worse.  Billy felt he had nothing to lose, as did Bev, because they had reached their breaking points.  Their home lives were worse than any fears Pennywise could dish out.  It shouldn’t have to come to a breaking point for people to reach out for therapy, but often that’s when people come in the door.  They come in the middle, or after the crisis, when the counselor is working with them to pick up the pieces.  In reality, they had signs and warnings that the crisis was coming, however they ignored them, or maybe, they were afraid of what they would find?

 

 

 

Advertisements

It has been a while, but now I can see!

Not that I couldn’t see before, but I was hoping to gain a little sympathy from my publisher, also a writer, whom has probably killed me in at least three of her books. I have put aside all work on my novel and marketing and everything to help the  baby sis get ready for her wedding.  We are less than a week out and I actually have some writing time scheduled for next week (if no last minute wedding errands get thrown my way).

Since so many people wanted to know about my recent Lasik eye surgery, I thought I would make it a blog post, instead of just a Facebook post.  This way I can hopefully tell those that want the play by play about it (honestly) and appease my publisher  by bringing a little traffic to my blog.  (see Nancy, I’m doing marketing, really!)

Like most important, life changing things in my life, I decided to Lasik with some research and then jumping in head first.  I took about two weeks this summer to look into different doctors in my area and surrounding areas.  Sorry Fayetteville docs, Raleigh docs just seemed to have more experience in this area (I suggest everyone do their own research and find the doctor/practice that is best for them).  Plus a friend of mine and my dad had used this doctor and they both gave very good reviews.

I did my consultation in late July.  The consultation was free *IF* you are going to use that doctor. It is about 90 minutes of eye tests, some that you’ve probably had before if you’ve had any regular kind of eye exam and some that are specific for laser eye surgery.

This particular practice is very popular and busy.  They have snacks and water (and free wifi!) in the waiting room, so you won’t need much as you wait.  You do a few of the eye tests, then watch a video, then meet with an optometrist/ophthalmologist (eye doctor) who looks at your glasses/contacts and does that “which is better, 1 or 2?  3 or 4” with the lenses.  I had a really nice eye doctor, Dr. Amy. I expressed my concern that if I picked the wrong number (by accident) that my eyes would be surgically corrected to the wrong prescription.  She assured me that there were many fail safes in place for just that sort of thing.  She answered my 4,394 questions and never stopped smiling.  I asked if she would be doing my surgery and she said no, only Dr X, (whom the practice is named for) performs surgeries.  We discussed the two kinds of surgery I was eligible for, PRK and Lasik and the advantages/disadvantages of each.  I chose to go with Lasik, the more expensive of the two, mostly because it has a faster recovery time.

I tried to get the surgery scheduled as quickly as possible, but their next date that worked for me was 24 August- only 9 days out from the wedding. I spoke with the office manager about my concerns and Dr. Amy came back in to reassure me that I would be “wedding ready” two to three days after the surgery.

Two weeks before surgery I stopped wearing contacts (recommended is 10 days, I wanted to be super safe).  Doing workouts in glasses SUCKS, at least for me.  I found it affected my balance and some moves I could do with no issue I really had issues with wearing glasses.  That just made me more eager for surgery day.

I was asked to bring three filled prescriptions back with me- 2 different kinds of eye drops and 2 tablets of valium.  The instructions were clear– do not take anything, we will give it to you at the appropriate time.  I picked up my meds Weds (day before surgery) and the pharmacist asked if I was nervous, and I was like “I haven’t even had time to be nervous”.  I’ve been seeing patients double time to prepare for the week off for the surgery/wedding.

Even on the drive to surgery Thursday afternoon (yes, I worked up until 12:30pm Thursday) I was too busy trying to work to be nervous.  My husband drove me (you HAVE to have a driver present) and I was on the phone, trying to send last minute texts and emails and make vacation plans as we made our way to Raleigh.  We got a call around 2pm from the Doctor’s office, asking if we could get there sooner.  I told them we were enroute, and they said “great, when you get here, no need to wait, we had a cancellation, so you’ll go in a little  before 4pm.”

I all but ran into the office when we arrived at 3:10pm.  There was one other patient, who was VERY anxious.  My main concern was “do they have to run an IV line?”  I am NOT a good stick.  As far as an IV? Forget about it.  Ask my iron doc.  I had brought 48 ounces of water with me and was preparing to chug like a frat pledge during rush week.  I got called back almost immediately. First, more eye pictures.  The tech explained these were for comparison purposes to my last set of pictures. Sent back to the waiting room again. Called back again, this time to an eye doctor (not Dr. Amy) who explained that she was comparing my two sets of pictures (ones from the consultation, ones from that day).  She explained that I hadn’t been wearing my contacts for 10 (actually 14 days) in my current set of pics, and I HAD been wearing contacts prior to taking the consultation pics.  One of the fail safes Dr. Amy had told me about.  She then did the “lens 1, or 2” thing and assured me that all of my answers were on target with my Rx. She then administered one of the eye drops- antibiotic into each eye. (no IV line, by the way)

Back to the front for the most painful part (haha) the payment. This particular doc accepts cash, credit card and the payment plan/credit line Care Credit.  I’ve done Care Credit in the past for surprise dentist bills, but I had budgeted for the Lasik.  I slapped my Disney Visa down (woo hoo, lots of Disney points here) and they swiped.  They then went over the informed consent (smart, made sure I had the money first) and then handed me a “hello my name is” sticker with my first and last name on it and “Lasik, both eyes” on it.  My first thought was “damn, I could have paid for PRK and then switched stickers!”

My husband and I were then escorted back to a private waiting room with a TV, more snacks and water, a large fan, and books.  A tech administered my eye drops and then asked me to take one of the Valium tablets. Then she made me put a cap over the top part of my hair.  She told my husband to hold on to the other Valium and that I was to be given it as soon as I got to the car, after the procedure.  (Please remember this for the next part of the story.)

I was given a few minutes for the valium and eye drops (numbing) to take effect, at which point I got extremely hot (Valium) and turned on the fan.  Then a nurse came in and told Husband he could wait in the big waiting room and I’d be back shortly.  She led me directly across the hall to the OR, which was a huge room.  I met Dr. X, whom I had seen around the office on my first day.  It took me a moment to recognize her because 1) Valium 2) she had her hair under a surgical  cap of sorts 3) my eyes were numb.  She made me state some PII, I guess to verify it was me, which I did.  I then sat in a chair and she examined my eyes with a bright light and a machine.  Then I laid down on the operating table, which looked more like a leather lounger, but sterile. They made me repeat my PII again.

Dr. X talks you through the whole surgery.  They do tape your eyelids open, as it is human instinct to close your eyes whenever stabby items or lasers are pointed right at them.  It was at THIS point that I thought “oh shit, maybe I DON’T want to do this.”  Remember that valium?  Yeah, they give you that for  reason.  I was aware that Dr. X and two other people were looming over me and she kept telling me to focus on a green light that was surrounded by red lights.  The red lights would completely obscure my vision at times.  Then she told me she was going to suction my eye and that I would lose all vision at this point but not to worry, it would come back.  She did (I’m guessing my other eye was taped shut) and everything went black for several seconds and then slowly came back into blurry light, like in a movie scene, when a person is coming out of a coma.  Then she told me I would hear and smell a laser, and to keep very still and to keep looking at the green light.  It did smell odd, like burning hair, but no pain.  I focused on staying still.   Same process was repeated for the  next eye.  They helped me up, Dr. X looked at my eyes again through the machine, and then the nurse taped large, clear discs over my eyes and took my hair net off.  She walked me down the hallway, and RJ (another office manager) led us outside, told us not to take the steps, and reminded me to take the second valium and to supplement it with OTC sleeping meds if I needed to.

And the next paragraph, my friends, is why I will never do drugs.  If I could do it over again, the ONLY thing I would do differently, is get a room in Raleigh, so that I could have had a quick 10 minute drive “home” instead of a 2 hour drive home. Poor, poor, Husband.  Apparently I had just enough Valium to drug me up, but not enough to knock me out.  Also, fun fact, Valium gave me nausea. So the two hour ride home was me shifting around the front seat, wearing the eye shields, my sunglasses over those, and a blanket I had found in the back seat over my head.  At some point I began gagging and spitting, crying for Husband to pull over and get me 1) more medicine 2) sprite or ginger ale  3) chapstick.    He made it to Linden Oaks area and ran into a drug store where he grabbed it all.  We then found my friends’ house to pick up a surprise for my sisters’ wedding (can’t post it here yet, in the off chance she reads it). I’m sure I was helpful in that endeavor as I remember taking off the blanket as it was “too hot!” and then immediately putting the blanket over my head again “it’s too bright and the light hurts my face!!!”

I then demanded we call the doctor because I started to panic.  My closed eyes wouldn’t stop tearing and I wanted to know if this was normal.  This was also causing my nose to run and clog up.  I wanted to blow my nose so I could breathe, but I was afraid that if I blew my nose, the pressure would blow my eyeballs out of my head. (Valium)  My husband called the doctor where RJ patiently answered the questions.  That was not good enough for me (Valium).  *I* needed to speak to RJ.  Husband patiently called him back and I proceeded to ask RJ if constant crying was normal and if I was ok.  RJ assured me it was fine and I swear I heard him say “you know you can supplement that Valium with OTC drugs to knock her out, right?” to Husband.

We made it home, where I took off my snotty, spitty shirt and took another Tylenol PM.  I lay in bed for an hour or so, (time is meaningless- Valium) where I had crazy stream of consciousness thoughts about work, the surgery and the wedding until I finally did fall asleep. I slept in the guest room so that I would be free from cat hair (relatively), cats, and any stray elbows thrown around in sleep.  Husband woke me at some point to take my nightly meds (not related to eye surgery) and I went right back to sleep.  Woke at 3 am starving, but realized I could open my eyes (behind the shields) and could see the alarm clock without aid.  Darn Husband hadn’t left any food or drinks around.  Got up, made a peanut butter sandwich, drank the rest of my diet Sprite and took some more Tylenol PM.  Complimented myself on my survival skills.  I can definitely survive if left in any suburban setting, with a semi to fully stocked kitchen.

Dr. X’s office had told me I could drive to my follow up appointment, but it was at 9:20 am (leaving at 7:20am) and I kept wanting to close my eyes, even with sunglasses on, so Husband cancelled his plans for that morning and drove me.  Dr. Amy examined me and told me that for less than 24 hours surgery I looked great, and that my light sensitivity was normal.

My takeaways from this:

Do your research.  Doctors, types of surgeries, payment options, all of it.

If you have to travel a far distance, seriously consider a room nearby, as you usually have a follow up the next day.  When they said “mild discomfort” I think they were downplaying it.  I had straight up pain.  Not the worst pain I’ve ever felt, but it was odd pain, as I had never had eye pain before.  I spoke with a guy in the waiting room at my follow up appointment and he said he had to take several muscle relaxers to sleep in addition to his valium and said “no, that wasn’t discomfort, that was pain.”

That being said, by our ride home from the follow up visit I was feeling better.

Eye drops will be your best friends.

 

It has been a while, but now I can see!

Not that I couldn’t see before, but I was hoping to gain a little sympathy from my publisher, also a writer, whom has probably killed me in at least three of her books. I have put aside all work on my novel and marketing and everything to help the  baby sis get ready for her wedding.  We are less than a week out and I actually have some writing time scheduled for next week (if no last minute wedding errands get thrown my way).

Since so many people wanted to know about my recent Lasik eye surgery, I thought I would make it a blog post, instead of just a Facebook post.  This way I can hopefully tell those that want the play by play about it (honestly) and appease my publisher  by bringing a little traffic to my blog.  (see Nancy, I’m doing marketing, really!)

Like most important, life changing things in my life, I decided to Lasik with some research and then jumping in head first.  I took about two weeks this summer to look into different doctors in my area and surrounding areas.  Sorry Fayetteville docs, Raleigh docs just seemed to have more experience in this area (I suggest everyone do their own research and find the doctor/practice that is best for them).  Plus a friend of mine and my dad had used this doctor and they both gave very good reviews.

I did my consultation in late July.  The consultation was free *IF* you are going to use that doctor. It is about 90 minutes of eye tests, some that you’ve probably had before if you’ve had any regular kind of eye exam and some that are specific for laser eye surgery.

This particular practice is very popular and busy.  They have snacks and water (and free wifi!) in the waiting room, so you won’t need much as you wait.  You do a few of the eye tests, then watch a video, then meet with an optometrist/ophthalmologist (eye doctor) who looks at your glasses/contacts and does that “which is better, 1 or 2?  3 or 4” with the lenses.  I had a really nice eye doctor, Dr. Amy. I expressed my concern that if I picked the wrong number (by accident) that my eyes would be surgically corrected to the wrong prescription.  She assured me that there were many fail safes in place for just that sort of thing.  She answered my 4,394 questions and never stopped smiling.  I asked if she would be doing my surgery and she said no, only Dr X, (whom the practice is named for) performs surgeries.  We discussed the two kinds of surgery I was eligible for, PRK and Lasik and the advantages/disadvantages of each.  I chose to go with Lasik, the more expensive of the two, mostly because it has a faster recovery time.

I tried to get the surgery scheduled as quickly as possible, but their next date that worked for me was 24 August- only 9 days out from the wedding. I spoke with the office manager about my concerns and Dr. Amy came back in to reassure me that I would be “wedding ready” two to three days after the surgery.

Two weeks before surgery I stopped wearing contacts (recommended is 10 days, I wanted to be super safe).  Doing workouts in glasses SUCKS, at least for me.  I found it affected my balance and some moves I could do with no issue I really had issues with wearing glasses.  That just made me more eager for surgery day.

I was asked to bring three filled prescriptions back with me- 2 different kinds of eye drops and 2 tablets of valium.  The instructions were clear– do not take anything, we will give it to you at the appropriate time.  I picked up my meds Weds (day before surgery) and the pharmacist asked if I was nervous, and I was like “I haven’t even had time to be nervous”.  I’ve been seeing patients double time to prepare for the week off for the surgery/wedding.

Even on the drive to surgery Thursday afternoon (yes, I worked up until 12:30pm Thursday) I was too busy trying to work to be nervous.  My husband drove me (you HAVE to have a driver present) and I was on the phone, trying to send last minute texts and emails and make vacation plans as we made our way to Raleigh.  We got a call around 2pm from the Doctor’s office, asking if we could get there sooner.  I told them we were enroute, and they said “great, when you get here, no need to wait, we had a cancellation, so you’ll go in a little  before 4pm.”

I all but ran into the office when we arrived at 3:10pm.  There was one other patient, who was VERY anxious.  My main concern was “do they have to run an IV line?”  I am NOT a good stick.  As far as an IV? Forget about it.  Ask my iron doc.  I had brought 48 ounces of water with me and was preparing to chug like a frat pledge during rush week.  I got called back almost immediately. First, more eye pictures.  The tech explained these were for comparison purposes to my last set of pictures. Sent back to the waiting room again. Called back again, this time to an eye doctor (not Dr. Amy) who explained that she was comparing my two sets of pictures (ones from the consultation, ones from that day).  She explained that I hadn’t been wearing my contacts for 10 (actually 14 days) in my current set of pics, and I HAD been wearing contacts prior to taking the consultation pics.  One of the fail safes Dr. Amy had told me about.  She then did the “lens 1, or 2” thing and assured me that all of my answers were on target with my Rx. She then administered one of the eye drops- antibiotic into each eye. (no IV line, by the way)

Back to the front for the most painful part (haha) the payment. This particular doc accepts cash, credit card and the payment plan/credit line Care Credit.  I’ve done Care Credit in the past for surprise dentist bills, but I had budgeted for the Lasik.  I slapped my Disney Visa down (woo hoo, lots of Disney points here) and they swiped.  They then went over the informed consent (smart, made sure I had the money first) and then handed me a “hello my name is” sticker with my first and last name on it and “Lasik, both eyes” on it.  My first thought was “damn, I could have paid for PRK and then switched stickers!”

My husband and I were then escorted back to a private waiting room with a TV, more snacks and water, a large fan, and books.  A tech administered my eye drops and then asked me to take one of the Valium tablets. Then she made me put a cap over the top part of my hair.  She told my husband to hold on to the other Valium and that I was to be given it as soon as I got to the car, after the procedure.  (Please remember this for the next part of the story.)

I was given a few minutes for the valium and eye drops (numbing) to take effect, at which point I got extremely hot (Valium) and turned on the fan.  Then a nurse came in and told Husband he could wait in the big waiting room and I’d be back shortly.  She led me directly across the hall to the OR, which was a huge room.  I met Dr. X, whom I had seen around the office on my first day.  It took me a moment to recognize her because 1) Valium 2) she had her hair under a surgical  cap of sorts 3) my eyes were numb.  She made me state some PII, I guess to verify it was me, which I did.  I then sat in a chair and she examined my eyes with a bright light and a machine.  Then I laid down on the operating table, which looked more like a leather lounger, but sterile. They made me repeat my PII again.

Dr. X talks you through the whole surgery.  They do tape your eyelids open, as it is human instinct to close your eyes whenever stabby items or lasers are pointed right at them.  It was at THIS point that I thought “oh shit, maybe I DON’T want to do this.”  Remember that valium?  Yeah, they give you that for  reason.  I was aware that Dr. X and two other people were looming over me and she kept telling me to focus on a green light that was surrounded by red lights.  The red lights would completely obscure my vision at times.  Then she told me she was going to suction my eye and that I would lose all vision at this point but not to worry, it would come back.  She did (I’m guessing my other eye was taped shut) and everything went black for several seconds and then slowly came back into blurry light, like in a movie scene, when a person is coming out of a coma.  Then she told me I would hear and smell a laser, and to keep very still and to keep looking at the green light.  It did smell odd, like burning hair, but no pain.  I focused on staying still.   Same process was repeated for the  next eye.  They helped me up, Dr. X looked at my eyes again through the machine, and then the nurse taped large, clear discs over my eyes and took my hair net off.  She walked me down the hallway, and RJ (another office manager) led us outside, told us not to take the steps, and reminded me to take the second valium and to supplement it with OTC sleeping meds if I needed to.

And the next paragraph, my friends, is why I will never do drugs.  If I could do it over again, the ONLY thing I would do differently, is get a room in Raleigh, so that I could have had a quick 10 minute drive “home” instead of a 2 hour drive home. Poor, poor, Husband.  Apparently I had just enough Valium to drug me up, but not enough to knock me out.  Also, fun fact, Valium gave me nausea. So the two hour ride home was me shifting around the front seat, wearing the eye shields, my sunglasses over those, and a blanket I had found in the back seat over my head.  At some point I began gagging and spitting, crying for Husband to pull over and get me 1) more medicine 2) sprite or ginger ale  3) chapstick.    He made it to Linden Oaks area and ran into a drug store where he grabbed it all.  We then found my friends’ house to pick up a surprise for my sisters’ wedding (can’t post it here yet, in the off chance she reads it). I’m sure I was helpful in that endeavor as I remember taking off the blanket as it was “too hot!” and then immediately putting the blanket over my head again “it’s too bright and the light hurts my face!!!”

I then demanded we call the doctor because I started to panic.  My closed eyes wouldn’t stop tearing and I wanted to know if this was normal.  This was also causing my nose to run and clog up.  I wanted to blow my nose so I could breathe, but I was afraid that if I blew my nose, the pressure would blow my eyeballs out of my head. (Valium)  My husband called the doctor where RJ patiently answered the questions.  That was not good enough for me (Valium).  *I* needed to speak to RJ.  Husband patiently called him back and I proceeded to ask RJ if constant crying was normal and if I was ok.  RJ assured me it was fine and I swear I heard him say “you know you can supplement that Valium with OTC drugs to knock her out, right?” to Husband.

We made it home, where I took off my snotty, spitty shirt and took another Tylenol PM.  I lay in bed for an hour or so, (time is meaningless- Valium) where I had crazy stream of consciousness thoughts about work, the surgery and the wedding until I finally did fall asleep. I slept in the guest room so that I would be free from cat hair (relatively), cats, and any stray elbows thrown around in sleep.  Husband woke me at some point to take my nightly meds (not related to eye surgery) and I went right back to sleep.  Woke at 3 am starving, but realized I could open my eyes (behind the shields) and could see the alarm clock without aid.  Darn Husband hadn’t left any food or drinks around.  Got up, made a peanut butter sandwich, drank the rest of my diet Sprite and took some more Tylenol PM.  Complimented myself on my survival skills.  I can definitely survive if left in any suburban setting, with a semi to fully stocked kitchen.

Dr. X’s office had told me I could drive to my follow up appointment, but it was at 9:20 am (leaving at 7:20am) and I kept wanting to close my eyes, even with sunglasses on, so Husband cancelled his plans for that morning and drove me.  Dr. Amy examined me and told me that for less than 24 hours surgery I looked great, and that my light sensitivity was normal.

My takeaways from this:

Do your research.  Doctors, types of surgeries, payment options, all of it.

If you have to travel a far distance, seriously consider a room nearby, as you usually have a follow up the next day.  When they said “mild discomfort” I think they were downplaying it.  I had straight up pain.  Not the worst pain I’ve ever felt, but it was odd pain, as I had never had eye pain before.  I spoke with a guy in the waiting room at my follow up appointment and he said he had to take several muscle relaxers to sleep in addition to his valium and said “no, that wasn’t discomfort, that was pain.”

That being said, by our ride home from the follow up visit I was feeling better.

Eye drops will be your best friends.

 

Catching Up and Preaching ?!!?

If you’ve followed my blogs in the past, I’m always apologizing in the March/April time frame and telling you that it’s my busiest time of year. It really is.  (Crap, typing “blogs” made me realize I haven’t written on my Square One blog in forever.  I’ll remedy that soon enough.)

This year, instead of chairing a charity Walk to Defeat ALS, I was attending the funeral for one of  my longtime ALS support group attendees.  His death came as a shock to me, and I’m tearing up as I type this now.  He had ALS since the mid 2000s, much longer than the expected life span of the average ALS patient, and still walked and talked, and drove and did all the things that “healthy” people do.

“A hazard of the job, I suppose” I had whispered to one of the Chapter staff that attended the funeral and sat with me.  “It doesn’t make it any easier” she whispered back.

It was good to hear that, because at times as a therapist, I forget that we too, are just people, and are allowed to have emotions.

Fast forward to Vietnam Veteran’s Day and Welcome Home day (March 29th and 30th).  I was able to see Dad on the 30th and even treat him to lunch at Applebee’s (his choice).   He was surprised to hear that there were two days dedicated to welcoming Vietnam Vets home.  I was surprised to hear that Vet Center hadn’t mentioned it (or maybe they had and he missed it).

I addition to these life celebrations, my contract job, asked me to present to a church in Chapel Hill.  The topic was Military and its Effects of Families and Children.   I prepared a 15-20 minute presentation (speech really) and then a follow up power point for the potluck lunch that occurred after church.  Imagine my surprise when my boss told me I wasn’t just presenting my speech, I was giving the sermon.  I explained to her that I didn’t know how to give sermons, and she explained that at this particular church, they usually have a guest speaker to present on a topic and that is the sermon.   I felt better, that’s what I had been planning to do- present a topic.

Imagine my surprise on Sunday morning when I arrived at the church, met the Pastor and he explained that I was part of the worship team and I would be sitting on the altar (not sure if they call it that) and I would be giving the sermon.  The altar thing took me by surprise, but I went with it.  Then, I noticed my name in the bulletin: “Preacher: Joanna Nunez”.  That cracked me up.  While, I’m certainly not anti-religious, if you had asked me if I was ever going to be preaching a sermon I would have definitely answered no.

So that has been my March and April so far.  Trying to spread awareness of the horrors of ALS and the plight of the Military Child (remember that April is the Month of the Military Child!)

 

 

A Smart Pen that outsmarts the User.

To be fair, I don’t know if I can honestly say I’ve been procrastinating with writing.  I have been writing, just not every chance I get. Getting used to the nuances of the smart pen (and it getting used to my handwriting) hasn’t been bad.  I will say it is a lot easier to carry a small pen and a regular sized notebook around, as opposed to lugging a laptop everywhere.  I can feel productive when I’m stuck in a lobby or waiting room somewhere.

I think the biggest problem with this new technology is getting used to actual physical writing.  I don’t think I’ve handwritten things since middle school.  True, I write handwritten clinical notes everyday at work, but those are brief and I don’t have to worry about my handwriting. To actually compose something with pen and paper is a skill I haven’t forgotten.  I’m used to my hands posed over a keyboard, as I think.  I like that as I’m thinking dialogue through I can be typing it.  Don’t like a word or think of a better one?  Just backspace.  There is no “backspace” or “delete” on the smart pen.  In grad school they drill into your brain that if you make an error in a medical chart (case notes are considered medical) you correct it by a single line strike through.  When you correct something with your smart pen, a single line strike through causes those words to be underlined when it’s transcribed to text.

All procrastination aside, I’ve had a great January with a trip to Arizona, several new clients, coordinating a fundraiser for ALS and at least 2,000 more words added to the novel.  I know some people do 2,000 words in a matter of hours, but these are special words.  They are written a sentence or two at a time, in the notebook with the smart pen, between clients, at doctor’s offices, in the drive thru line at the bank, on the airplane tray table.   I once saw a highly acclaimed cardiologist speak about the links between anger, anxiety and heart attacks.  Patients flew in to see this doctor, and she worked 5-6 days a week.  She had several books written and when someone asked how she managed to write with her schedule she said “a line or two, in between patients, every day adds up.”

This novel is a work in progress, but so am I.

Running Out of Distractions

It’s Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend and I have officially run out of distractions. I’ve gone Black Friday shopping, surfed the Amazon deals, gone to lunch with my friend Jessica, played PokemonGo- even training at a gym, and have gone grocery shopping for non essential things.  I don’t think I can avoid it (after this blog post, that is).  I have to start my writing marathon, which is now down to about a 10K.

(Nerd bonus: I even re-taught myself IRC last night to chat with people.  Because that is SOOO important, you know).

Do you find yourself putting writing off?

Do you know why I can beat all the Pokemons in a gym of my color, and not get a spot in the gym?

Please feel free to comment below (and distract me a little more!)

 

 

If you give a mouse a cookie…

…it will want a glass of milk.  If you give Joanna a project, she will find 300 other tasks to complete as well.

This is the only possible explanation I can come up with for why I haven’t written a post or touched my novel since late September.

I know that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I didn’t have any delusions that I could commit to 10,000+ words a day.  I do have a plan to have my own type of challenge- I want to be at 30,000 words by the end of the month.  I’m at 12,000.  I know with real NaNoWriMo you have to start from 0, but this is the Joanna challenge.  So today and the long weekend of Thanksgiving I plan to force myself to get this done.  I want the novel finished (for me, not edited) by the end of the year.  It would be great to have a Spring release date.

Just an update (if you follow my Facebook page you’ll get more timely updates)- I did my first craft fair (I’m not too crafty), gave a talk on Moral Injury in Charlotte, NC and was able to see Dad for Veterans Day.   I’m trying to prepare for Christmas and all the trappings of that.

I’ll keep this brief because I really want to get some words in today.

 

Thank You

Today started out like a regular Thursday for me- morning appointments with clients, then planning to have lunch with Dad before returning to work to meet with afternoon clients.  Dad said last night he wanted to eat at a sort of underground pizza place.  He was craving “sweet pizza”.

Spinners Pizza might be known as Garro’s Pizza to those of us who grew up here, or were stationed at Bragg in the 80’s and early 90’s.  Long before CiCi’s was a thing, Garro’s was home of the pizza buffet.  What set them apart  from the chain pizza places was their rustic decor, and their “dessert pizza”.  Before Pizza Inn had the Pizzert, there was Garro’s cherry or apple pizza, -sometimes even chocolate, made with chocolate pudding!  No tomato sauce went on these slices, just a sweet base (can’t reveal the secret, sorry!) then topped with unsalted mozzarella cheese and yummy pie toppings.  When you were 8, this was the greatest thing in the world. (Let’s be honest here, as an adult it is still in the top 10 of greatest things.)

So that’s why Dad wanted Spinners today.  He wanted sweet pizza.  He got there before I did, and had already ordered drinks.  I was pretty sure he assumed I wanted the pizza buffet, but alas, I’ve been gluten free for a little over a month and the health benefits (for me) really outweigh delicious, delicious pizza. (It’s been a struggle.  If you think I don’t miss gluten and “real” pizza, please read the second paragraph again.  My keyboard might short out from drool.)

It was just Dad and  I today.  I don’t know where his other friends were (I’ve previously mentioned them- they always want Mexican food). I was kind of happy it was just us.  As much as I love the other Vets, it’s nice to have Dad time.  We made small talk and he ate slice after slice as I ate my salad (their salad bar is straight out of the 80’s, unhealthy ranch and everything!) and waited on my pizza fries.  Think pizza, no dough, smothered all over french fries.  (Just want to mention here that in no way does gluten free=healthy.)

While we ate we talked, about his recent trip with my mom to Philly, about his group meeting today, and we reminisced.  We talked about when Spinner’s was Garro’s and  I would beg to eat there after school on early release days. (Garro’s was not located far from school.)  We laughed about how my little sister would always whine that she wanted McDonald’s but we could convince her to go to Garro’s by telling her she could sit at the Pac Man table.  Yes, its still there.  A table with a Pac Man game built into it.

Today, Spinner’s was packed.  From construction workers to men in suits, its hard to beat a reasonably priced pizza buffet with great service.  Our waitress was running her feet off, as she appeared to be the only waitress serving the whole restaurant.  Near the end of our meal, I asked for a box for my leftover pizza fries.  She brought it back and said “your meal has been paid for, have a nice day!”

Dad looked confused, and I immediately started looking around the restaurant?  Was it the gentleman who looked like a lawyer in his suit and pink shirt?  Was it the three elderly ladies that had sat near the back?  I waved the waitress down and before I could ask, Dad did.  “Who paid for us?” She looked around the restaurant and the smiled and said “the two men that were sitting here” and gestured to the booth behind us.  Since I was facing them, I knew sort of what they looked like.  I knew from their converstation between themselves and from several other customers that they were car salesmen.  Had they seen Dad’s Vietnam Vet hat?  Had they heard us reminiscing about 20-some years ago when I was in elementary school (yikes)? Had they heard me offer to fill his plates for him, as his limp was a bit pronounced today? (He refused AND was not using his cane.  If you want to know where I get my stubborness from…)

As we left, we had to pass the cashier.  “We’ve already been taken care of,” Dad announced to her.  She smiled and replied, “yes, sir.”   I stopped and asked her if she knew anything about our benefactors. She seemed hesitant.  “I know they are car salesman,”  I supplied.  She hesitated for a minute and said I think they work at “—- Ford*”.

I want to thank those two men who don’t know us and still paid for our meal.  You saved us fighting over the check and I think your random act of kindness deserves recognition.  If, by chance you are reading this, please email me or get in touch with me through this blog or my facebook page.   I imagine you didn’t do this for recognition, but I would like to thank you personally and let your boss(es) know what great people you are.

I try to keep politics out of this blog, but let me say this- with the recent acts taking place around the country many people, myself included, are finding it hard to “hunt the good” in this world.  This act of kindness makes me realize that for all the bad that is out there, there is so much good too.

 

(Disclaimer:  I am not being paid or receiving compensation by Spinner’s Pizza or —Ford for this blog, this is all personal opinion.)

*Once I can confirm that they truly work at — Ford I will place the name of the dealer in this blog.

 

contact Joanna: hope4allvets@gmail.com

It might not “look” like PTSD

What do you think of when you hear or read the word PTSD (technically, the acronym PTSD)? Do you see a grizzled old combat Vet like Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump?  Lt. Dan definitely had PTSD, survivor’s guilt, Alcohol Addiction and a few other diagnoses I could add in there, assuming he was a real person.  Maybe you see a young woman who was recently raped, afraid to leave her apartment or go out at night.  That would certainly be a good candidate for a PTSD diagnosis.

Most people don’t think of their Hooah*, take charge, NCO* as possibly having PTSD. (*I’ll explain these army terms below).  They don’t imagine someone that does public speaking, owns their own law firm and helps victims of domestic violence as having PTSD.  Why not?  It’s true that not every NCO or women has PTSD.

To get technical, the VA estimates 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan Vets have PTSD.  So put 5 NCOs in a room, chances are one of them has PTSD.  (please note, these could be male or female NCOs) (RAND corporation study, 2015)

Civilian women clock in much lower, with an estimated 10% of all women having PTSD in their lifetime.  So put 10 women in a room, chances are one of them has PTSD. (PTSD United, 2013)

Why am I telling you all this?  Because I had a personal realization this weekend.  For years Mental Health Professionals have urged others to break the stigma and not stereotype mental disorders and the people that have them.  I realized, while seeing my Dad “in action” at Greek Fest Friday night, that he doesn’t “look” like the typical ideal of PTSD.

Sure, he now wears his Vietnam Veteran hat proudly, and he was using cane Friday, due to some knee pain, but he was talking to everyone in sight.  We arrived to Greek Fest (an annual, weekend long event of Greek food, wine, and dancing) and grabbed a seat in the air conditioned fellowship hall (despite being a September evening, it was still hot and humid).  We had Dad hold the seats and then Mom and I did the divide and conquer approach- she took one line for drinks and Dad’s meal, I took the other line for our gyros and fries. (Authentic Greek fries, I assure you.)

Mom got through her line first, and when I got back to the hall, Dad was eating his Greek chicken, rice and green beans and talking to a man about his age.  They seemed to be discussing something intently.  As I slid into my chair, I leaned over to Mom and whispered “does he know him?”  She shook her head and said, “I don’t think so.”

At this point, another man approached, also wearing a Vietnam Vet hat, shook my Dad’s hand and jokingly said “thank you for your service”.   “You too!” my Dad replied, and they all shared a laugh.  I began eating my lamb gyro (authentic!!!!) and in a few minutes heard glimpses and snatches of some of the same stories I told in the book, all about the food in Vietnam.

I relay this story, because my Dad was not sitting in the chair, arms crossed, sulking, when my Mom and I returned with food.  He was socializing with everyone around him- something I always remember about him.  When my husband and I were dating he commented, “Wow, your Dad knows everybody!”  He was only half wrong- my Dad knows a LOT of people, no matter the setting.  He also won’t have strangers for long, the way he strikes up conversations with people he hasn’t met before.  “Your Dad would be a good politician, he can talk to anyone.”, other people have told me.

So PTSD might not always “look” like PTSD.  The same can be said for any diagnosis, whether mental or physical.

Try not to judge or stereotype.  Hidden behind the biggest smile can be pain.

*Hooah= an Army word that can mean whatever you want it to mean, usually, “yes” “I heard you” “Roger” or sometimes “f you”.  Here, when I say a Soldier is “Hooah” I mean they are 100% about the Army, exceeding standards and being super patriotic and loyal.

*NCOs are non commissioned officers.  Any enlisted with the rank of E-5 and above in a NCO.  In the civilian world, they would be managers, where as officers would be supervisors/owners, while Soldiers (E-4 and below) are the lowly hourly workers.

 

 

Cover Reveal for my friend and mentor

Title: Everyday Musings

 Author: Sharon C. Williams

 Release Date: September 30, 2016

 Publisher: Lysestrah Press

Genre: Humor, General Fiction, Anthology, Animals, Paranormal

Book Description:

 

The little things in life are worth remembering.

There are moments in life that stir the senses. Moments of joy, moments of surprise, and moments that can cause great fear. Moments that cause us to reflect on the experiences we’ve encountered.

Dive into various worlds of the author’s own making. Everyday Musings is full of tales of the unexpected, heart-warming stories, and bittersweet poetry. Come in and turn the page. Discover the little things that make everyday worthwhile.

(Purchase links are not yet available.)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31631979-everyday-musings

 

 

 

musings

 

THE LEGEND passed on down from generation to generation was what folklores were made of. It started when a couple of hunters went camping in the forest surrounding the town.

The first night was uneventful. The second night, as the two friends turned in for the night, a howling penetrated the woods. Wolves were not known to be a part of that section of the state. Thus, the sound caught them by surprise.

The two men decided to let it slide. In their minds, the howling was nothing more than a figment of their imaginations.

Several minutes later, they heard it again. The howling sounded like it was close to camp, directly from the side of their tent. Full of curiosity, they decided to check things out.

A shadow, caused by the flickering fire, was cast against the canvas of the tent. The outline filled the entire canvas, its size unknown. Before they could react, claws ripped through the material.

Not concerned with leaving anything behind, the two men bolted, hoping to make their escape. They turned along the way and caught a glimpse of a creature they had never seen before.

It stood on two legs, a small tail swishing back and forth behind it. The creature tilted its head and stared at the men. Moments later, it howled, its eyes glowing in the moonlight.

Both men ran as fast as they were able. They made it back to their truck, starting it as quickly as possible. In seconds, they were gone, leaving the unknown creature behind.

The next day, the men told anyone who would listen about their encounter. No one believed them.

Bringing the sheriff and other hunters back to their base camp, they found the camp in disarray. Things had been tossed about. The tent was tattered, and footprints that no one recognized were embedded in the mud.

The renowned hunter, Stephen Bullock, was soon sent a casting of the footprints. Even he was stumped.

From that day on, a strange howling could be heard throughout the woods.

 

 

About The Author: SCWAuthorPhoto (1)

Sharon C. Williams is a native of New England raised in Northern Maine. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. She is also owned by a flock of six birds.

Sharon has a B. S. degree in Chemistry. She loves to read, sketch, take pictures, walk, exercise, go to the movies, and listen to music. She is a budding bird watcher, and knits on the side. She is a huge sports fan of baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. She is also a shutterbug and is always looking for the next big shot.

Two of her short stories were published in the anthology, Cassandra’s Roadhouse, and two in the Dragons in the Attic anthology, which was written by her writing group, The Wonder Chicks. Her children’s chapter book, Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure, and Jasper: Amazon Friends and Family, was released by Fountain Blue Publishing in 2013 and 2015. Her comedy novel about her war with her backyard squirrels, Squirrel Mafia, was also released in the spring of 2015.

 

 

Social Media Links:

Blog: http://www.newenglandmuse.com
Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/SCWilliams
Twitter: http://tinyurl.com/NEMuse
Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/SCWGR
Google +: http://tinyurl.com/SCWGP

Smashwords: http://tinyurl.com/n78jonu

Linked In: http://tinyurl.com/SCWLIN

Email: NewEngland_Muse@yahoo.com