Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Month: September 2013

Of Writing and Titles

Last night, between ten and eleven, I wrote on Brotherhood for the first time in about four or five days. I hadn’t touched it, even to outline on it, since the 23rd. Though I wrote on something else, I’m not going to discuss that here, because it was a totally different genre, for one, and, for another, it was something I didn’t particularly want to write, even though it was the only idea nagging me. I have since put that unwanted idea to rest. It may return to haunt me sometime, but I should be able to defeat it. I’d far rather focus on my fantasy writing.

But I wrote on Brotherhood. It felt good to get back into it. My muse has been uncertain this month due to all the appointments I’ve had. It’s been hard for me to get into writing mode when I get home, usually because my mind’s been so full of real-world info on my cancer and its treatment. This makes me glad I’ve been writing on my fantasy stuff since just before the beginning of this year. I don’t think I’d be enjoying myself half so much if I was still writing that other genre. No, it isn’t science fiction, though I wouldn’t mind such ideas if I wasn’t so determined to try and figure out technical/scientific bits about it—without the necessary background or education required for such details (I have trouble handwaving technology and my anal-retentiveness requires me to work out those details to the point where my inability to drives me batty if I try to write science fiction).

I wasn’t writing due so much to absence of ideas; I had them. I simply couldn’t grasp them. Sometimes, especially if the flow is right, I can throw myself into contemplating the next two or so cards on an outline and come up with the scenes pretty quickly. These ones had been festering in a non-graspable state for a couple days, though, due mostly to busy hours. I was finally able to grasp them yesterday afternoon, which pleased me. I got the two necessary plot cards in the forty-five minutes before I was picked up to attend a monthly square dance event with my club. This pleased me, and it enabled me to write when I got home.

The scene I wrote came out to almost 1600 words. I’ll admit it was a scene where the princess attempts to bribe Doéna, but don’t want to say more. It was fun to write.

In other writing news, I may have come up with the titles for the other two books of TPOM. The first has been pretty firmly titled (Unsought Gifts) since conception of the idea for the trilogy, and it fits too well to change. I’m considering the title Looking into Spells for the second book and By Proxy Led for the third. I’m not so keen on the third books’ tentative title right now, but it gives me something at least, and now that I’ve got a start on it, I should be able to come up with something better by the end of the book.

The Next Step

This entry is part 02 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

By the Monday following my mammogram appointment, I had a diagnosis of cancer.

The result of this was things kicked into high gear on the VA’s end of things. Within a week, I got to see my surgeon. I think I got really lucky with this appointment. I saw him on a day he usually doesn’t see patients, right after a meeting. His Physician’s Assistant left the meeting early, and we spent about twenty or so minutes with her alone, outlining what to expect of the visit with the surgeon. I remember her first name was Robyn (could have misspelled it). When my surgeon, Dr. Savarise, joined us, my mom, who’d accompanied me to the meeting, started asking him questions she hadn’t gotten to with his assistant. He spent at least forty-five minutes to an hour with us. During his visit, he detailed the procedures I’d be undergoing in surgery, helped us with any questions we had, and generally eased my mind a great deal with his willingness to sit there and be pestered. I feel I wouldn’t have gotten this time if it had been a typical clinic day for him, and he was able to assure me he did this procedure every day up at Huntsman Cancer Institute. That reassured me a great deal, along with his physical appearance: dark hair greying at the temples, crinkles around the corners of his eyes. He’s not some young doc coming in and telling me what’s going to happen, he’s someone who is experienced and knows all the variables which may be expected during such a procedure. By the time he left me to finish up with Robyn, I felt very confident in his abilities and comforted by his patient and informative character.

After the meeting, Robyn gave me a Guide to Your Surgical Experience flier and a red day-glow list of places in the hospital to visit prior to my surgery, preferably the next day. As I had to see the Oncologist the next afternoon, I went to the VA early to perform this errand run. I also happened to be able to get my flu shot since the VA had them available and I had the time; the last thing I’ll need later on this fall is to come down with the flu in the middle of chemotherapy. Then, all errands done, I waited out in the main lobby for Mom to join me for my Oncology appointment.

Mom and I arrived at the Oncology department a little before the appointed time of Noon. After we were shown to a room with a hospital bed (covered in fresh pee pads for some reason), we waited for approximately half an hour. The Oncologist who arrived was not the one we actually had been told we were to meet, but someone else. I’ve forgotten her name. She sat with us for about half an hour or so and talked with us, explaining the differences between Stage and Grade and what my likely path through cancer treatment was to be. When she finished, she hunted down the woman I’d been told we would meet, who popped in for about thirty seconds before hurrying off to wherever she needed to be. Then the first Oncologist went off to find the head Oncologist.

Now, here, I’d like to say that when I got back from my appointment with the Oncologists, I wasn’t in any way ready to discuss much about it. I was, however, willing to talk about the people I’d met, and I likened them to various animals, much to the amusement of my writing friends at Forward Motion for Writers. All my chat friends were in, and I likened the head Oncologist to a contented cat. I cannot imagine him ever rushing anywhere, though I’m sure he does on occasion when necessary, but he was so laid back, spoke so quietly and calmly and with a kind of peacefulness that I felt very comfortable and comforted in his presence. It was quite an experience speaking with him and being examined by him; I felt very at peace and calm with him there, as if his presence was guarantee nothing wrong would happen either before, during, or after my cancer care. Someone commented I’d better not liken any of my Oncologists to a bird, and I said I’d liken the one Mom and I sat and talked with a while as one, but she was the kind of bird who sits in a tree and sings. Not at all concerned with rushing off onto another appointment. The one I was supposed to meet, and who I actually saw for only about thirty seconds, I likened to a squirrel—busy-busy and rushing off to her next meeting or duty. I was pleased to hear the birdlike Oncologist would be my primary caregiver. She had a manner which was comforting as well, and I felt very confident in her wisdom and knowledge of cancer care by the end of the meeting.

As of this date, Saturday, 28 Sept 2013, my surgical appointment is set for 11 AM on Monday, 30 Sept 2013. I am somewhat nervous, but want this cancer out so I can begin the rest of my treatment. My next cancer-related appointment is for Thursday, 17 Oct 2013, when I see the Oncologist for a follow-up and hopefully to begin at least planning my chemotherapy appointments.

The Beginning

This entry is part 1 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I found the lump in my right breast in the wee hours of 6 August 2013.

Oddly, realizing it was there didn’t keep me awake that night. I’d discovered it while laying in bed, and I told myself, “I’ll email my primary care doc directly tomorrow when I get up.” If you’re a veteran, and you’re getting care at a VA hospital, they encourage you strongly to sign up for the VA’s veterans’ health care site, myhealthevet.com (I’m not linking it because it would be useless for pretty much all readers here; suffice it to say the site enables you to contact your care team, do things like record food intake and exercise, and order prescription refills). Normal procedure, since my primary care doc works primarily for the University and its hospital and sees VA patients only on Thursday mornings, is to use the site to send a secure email to my doctor. Problem with this when I found the lump was that the email goes through her nurse, and she might not get the message until she got to work on Thursday, and I needed to tell her as soon as possible. Luckily, my primary care doc had given me her business card, with her direct email address, so I used this.

A week after the Thursday following my discovery of the lump, I was at the VA to see my doc on a squeeze-in appointment. First an intern did the breast exam thing, then my doc came in after I chatted with the intern, and my doc did another exam and we discussed what would be happening.

Next step happened to be getting a mammogram, and I got an appointment up at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, taking over a spot left by someone else’s cancellation. There, I had a mammogram, which led into an ultrasound, and then a biopsy of the lump in my breast and one they discovered on the lymph nodes under my arm. The biopsy was a relatively simple procedure complicated slightly when doing the breast lump because I’d given permission for a resident doctor to perform it (because the guy has to learn somehow). Overall, the procedure was faster and easier to endure than I would have expected.

I went home that day (it was another Thursday), and cried. Having the biopsy, and especially after all I learned and saw about my lumps while I was there, brought home the possibility of cancer. Until that point, I’d been able to get by with the thought it probably wasn’t cancer. But after hearing the doctors and assistants and technicians attending to my care discuss the fact the lump was not regularly-shaped and was solid and firm, not squishy or as if it were full of liquid, and, especially after discovering the lump on my lymph nodes, I couldn’t help but assume it was in fact cancer.

Today’s Agenda

Later on today, I’ll be going up to the VA.  Not for cancer treatments (yet), but to fill out a form to see if I can get my Naval Discharge status changed.  It wasn’t a strictly Honroable Discharge (though it was not Dishonorable), and I need to see if I can get it changed so I can apply for the Post 9/11 GI Bill education fund.  I would much rather go to school with this, instead of a Pell Grant (if I can even get one), or with a loan (which I may have to take out if I can’t get the Grant).  I’ll also be doing research on other Grants and funds I can apply for in the coming month as I have energy and time (depending upon how wiped I am after chemotherapy).

After this application is ready to be mailed, I’ll probably be returning home just long enough to prepare for square dancing.  Tuesdays are our lesson night, and lessons just started a couple weeks ago.  This may be the last time I dance for a few months, so I’d really like to make it, even though my ride hasn’t called me back to say he’ll be picking me up . . .

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