Living with Pancretitis: Beats the alternative…

So. You might have noticed that I haven’t been around here since last Sunday.

That’s because I’d just scheduled my post at We WriWa on Saturday when the worst pain I’ve ever felt grabbed me under the belly and bit down hard.

I just came home from the hospital yesterday.

My pancreas, for no discernable reason—seriously, they don’t know why—decided to dissolve itself with its own IV funenzymes and by the time this was determined, I was sustaining heavy renal damage.  The only treatment was to not feed me, while pumping me full of  gallons of fluids and antibiotics and calcium and drugs and, one assumes, liquid exhaustion.

Frankly, it’s difficult to sit up enough to type, or want to. I’m still having trouble eating—I’m lugging 24 pounds of fluid I didn’t have four days ago.  It saved my life, but it’s terribly uncomfortable now and there’s only so much I can do to get rid of it without ruining my electrolyte balance and going back to the ER.

I have bruises like blackened bananas up both arms from IV needles and blood draws and shots. I have a regimen of six huge horsepills a day.  Dude, we aren’t talking about the diarrhea; I can’t.

But I’m alive to be embarrassed and cranky and in pain. All my loved ones, more than I thought I had, stepped up to help save me.

I’ll take it and I’m grateful to be alive to do so.

I reserve the right to complain about hauling my  water weight to the bathroom every twenty minutes, though. I earned that.


Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Mooon)

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“I won’t have our child superseded by a brother or sister simply because he or she can’t shift. And my bloodline,” he said, with razor-sharp scorn, “never brought me anything but trouble. If I didn’t love you so much, I never would have wanted children at all. But if I don’t have an acceptable replacement, there will be a Challenge Moon.”

“What’s a Challenge Moon?” I asked.

“Just what it sounds like,” he said. “If enough of the pack supports a different packleader, a challenge is held on the full moon. The . . . candidates try to maim their opponents beyond the ability to fight—and the winner decides whether the loser is worthy to remain in the pack. These days, they’re usually given letters of introduction to other leaders and their portion of the pack’s assets. But sometimes they’re considered too dangerous to the pack—or the packleader.”

Throwing Orange Flags

Yesterday was the Day of Misplacing Everything.

Duck!2I would go in the sorter room to find a book on a shelving cart and go out on the public floor with the item in hand, and somewhere between the door and the patron, the item disappeared.  I backtracked and found the things—except for the time the patron reached out and took it from her table as I stared at my empty hand—but I’m sure I never put them down.

My travel mug was never where I thought it should be, even when I finished its caffeinated contents.  Twice.

PencilsI never had a pencil when I consciously needed one, even though there were penciled hash-marks on my stats sheet, which implies the existence of at least one.  This mystery was solved, sort of, when our page appeared at the desk near the end of the day with a handful of pencils.  “These are scattered all over the place,” she said.  “Did a little kid grab some or something?”  “No clue,” I said, nonchalantly shoving one behind my ear.  Two minutes later, a coworker handed it to me.  “You dropped this.”  I could see how she came to that conclusion, but I knew the truth—it had dropped itself.

My phone also drifted around in this manner all evening. If I was in the bedroom, it was in the living room.  If I was in the living room, it magically relocated to the kitchen.  If I was in the kitchen, it promptly moved itself behind the breadmaker.

And then there’s the stack of Sunny’s clean underwear, which evaporated somewhere between the clean laundry hamper and her dresser.*  You could argue that this one isn’t my fault, but Sunny’s talents at making things disappear had to come from somewhere.Dear Me

My copy of Peter Ustinov’s autobiography kept relocating to the bathroom, but that was convenient, so I told it to carry on.

But it was obvious to me that something was going on.  Either small, localized portals are opening up and things are falling through them; inanimate objects have decided to mess with me more than usual; or my short-term memory is finally coming unmoored.

I’m pretty sure it’s at least two out of three, and since I’m more of a self-aware magical realist than a scientist, we’re going to go with anthropomorphics and that last thing I said, whatever it was.

Since the need to lecture, apologize, and apparently amuse lifeless items is deeply ingrained in my core belief system and ginkgo biloba sound like something that clogs up the filters in your aquarium—for all I know, that’s where it comes from—I need some other method of pinning down the things I need and remembering where—and what—they are if they momentarily leave my direct line of sight**

I know there are little lo-jacking systems for your stuff, along the lines of the keyfob that lets you know where your silver Honda is in a large parking lot full of Silver Hondas by making it beep loudly, thus scaring hell out of the elderly lady innocently walking by, which also helps identify the spot.***

But a system like that depends on being able to put one’s hands on their fob (Oh, hush.) whenever they feel the need (Hush, I said.), and if my keyring wasn’t in desperate love with the lanyard of my work ID, I wouldn’t have a chance of locating either.  I’d have to stalk elderly ladies in the parking lot, hoping one would have a Pavlovian reaction to my car from a previous encounter, and people tend to misconstrue behavior like that, or so I’ve heard.

What was I saying?  Oh, right.

So as amusing as a beeping remote or coffee mug might be, I’ve decided on a more subtle method:

Warning Cone Flag

I’ve decided to plant orange flags on anything I set down, even for a second.  I’ll need seven for the average work day and maybe a set of ten or fifteen for home use.  And one for the roof of my car, which I hope will keep the AARP from sending me strongly worded letters.

The flags will be collapsible and carried around in a quiver.  I haven’t quite figured out how to deal with the cones, which are necessary for stability . . . which I assume upon re-reading this post, is also something I should be working on.

I’ll just go put a flag on that.


*You could argue that this one isn’t my fault, but Sunny’s talents at making things disappear had to come from somewhere.

**Hey, blinking is semi-involuntary.  Just out of curiosity, how many of you consciously stopped blinking when you read that?  Weird, right?

***I think it also locks and unlocks the car doors, but that’s clearly a secondary function.

^Because my purse is a Bag of All Holding, not a Bag of All Finding.


Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Puppies)

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why not check out the offerings of the Snippet Sunday gang?


Two weeks ago, Rhombeck, the leader of the Talbot City wolfpack and CEO of the pack’s corporation, said that he wanted to give up his position because Susan, his human administrative assistant, is pregnant.

Rhombeck thinks his cousin (and our wereduck hero Tom’s adopted brother) Bryan would make a good choice to take over.

Susan and Tom still think he’s being hasty about quitting:


“If I don’t step down, they’ll put me down—it’s possible they won’t wait for an official challenge,” Rhombeck told her,   “and there’s no question that they’ll come after you to get to me; I can’t risk that.”

“Who’re they?” I asked.

Rhombeck held up fingers, one by one. “People who hate my family, or humans, or the corporation, or me.”

“Disgruntled ex-girlfriends,” Susan said.

Opportunists,  specieists, rabble rousers, traditionalists, competitors,” Rhombeck said, ignoring her. “Take your choice.”

“I don’t suppose artificial insemination would be an acceptable solution?” I asked. “I can think of eight or nine ladies who would love to be your purebred puppymama.”

Susan snorted and raised her eyebrow at Rhombeck.


Maybe I went too far.  Did I go too far?

Why Sarah Shouldn’t Be Allowed In Craft Stores

A friend of mine is trying to pare down her stash of craft supplies.  My punishment for snickering at her pain (in sympathy, sheesh) was a bagful of gorgeous embroidery floss and a roll of 14-count Aida cloth* metaphorically let on my doorstep with a note saying, “You know you want to.”

I do and this was the perfect excuse to make time for a project I’ve been thinking about off and on for a while now:  I wanted to make a framed cross stitch of one of my favorite poems.

The poet is a very-much alive friend (hi, John!), so I asked permission and he immediately granted it, because he’s a nice guy.

Last night, I sat down with a calculator, a ruler, the back of an official-looking envelope that I should probably look at more carefully once I finish this post, and this nifty little online program.

An hour (or two) later, I had a basic pattern and a problem.  Because this other nifty little program told me I didn’t have enough Aida cloth, unless I skipped the border and the framing margins.

Luckily, it’s my day off today, so I had time to run out this morning and buy a bigger piece.  Unfortunately, the only place that sells that stuff . . . is the craft store.

You don’t send an alcoholic to the liquor store.  You don’t send a compulsive shopper to Rodeo Drive.  You don’t allow Sunny near FAO Schwartz, Jane within visual distance of an Apple Store, or any member of my family by blood or marriage into Jo-Beth books without a plan, a cash-only budget, a megaphone, physical restraints, and possibly a trained therapist to provide aftercare.**

I know this.

But I still believe I can  zip into the craft store—by which I mean any craft store—and buy the single item I need without trouble . . . and I still automatically pick up a cart at the door, like that isn’t a blatant, if subconscious, admission of defeat.Aida cloth

This morning, I spent a ridiculous amount of time debating whether one of the several other available items is better than the one I was determined to buy.  One was, and I bought it*** and avoided the scroll frames, because my friend Grace gave me a perfectly good one before she moved last year.^

I could have left.  I should have left.

Craft NeedlesCraft glassesBut then I caught sight of the needles, and I couldn’t remember if I had the right kind or where I would have put them, if I did.  But I did remember the trouble I had the last time I tried to thread a needle, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that I’d been trying to even shove the end of actual invisible thread through the eye of a tiny sharpie.

I’m talented that way.

Alarms were dimly ringing at this point, possibly from the direction of my credit card, but I remembered that Jane had asked if we had any fabric scraps so she could practice with the sewing machine.  So I decided to swing past the quilting stuff to check the remnants, which was just past the bargain bins . . . which is when everything went a bit funny . . .

Craft Yarn

. . . I don’t know, the last thing I remember is a random thought about Christmas and scarves and the kids, who don’t like wearing scarves.  Then next thing I knew, I was at home with a big bag of stuff and a receipt that was a lot longer than I’d anticipated.

At least I came home with the Aida cloth.  It’s on the frame (thanks, Grace!), center-marked, and ready to go.

As soon as I can decide on the colors . . .

Scroll frame



*The stuff that looks like rows of tiny squares, for cross-stitch.  The count means how many squares there are in a linear inch.

**You’d think librarians would be immune to the lure of literary acquisition, but we really, really aren’t.

***The project isn’t this big, but stores don’t usually carry sizes between 15″ x 18″, which is what I had at hand, and this.

^Along with four garbage bags of her stash.  I have a theory that craft supply stashes are a single, gestalt being that shuffles itself around from place to place as needed.   My husband has a theory that I’m a sucker in need of professional help.  I don’t see the conflict, here.