Hurry to the hospital … wait …

Hurry to fill in the last of the checked and re-re-checked paperwork, and change into a one-size-fits-all (it doesn’t) hospital gown … wait …

Hurry into the operating theatre … wait …

Anesthetic takes effect … Cone of Surrealness finally shatters.

A rodent with razor claws sits at my throat and gnaws at it with poisoned fangs … I’m almost convinced it’s an hallucination.

“What is your pain on a scale of one to ten?” … “Eleven,” I croak.

The rodent continues its feast. I hurry up and wait for whatever painkiller they’re pumping into me to chase it away … wait some more …

I open my eyes to a large wall clock. Time has no meaning, but the second hand transits smoothly through each minute rather than ticking off each second individually. I am grateful, it saves me from counting each agonising one.

The painkillers kick in. My rodent friend disappears.

Bang! … rumble, rumble, clang, rattle. Elevator doors open, close, open again.

Rumble, swerve, clack, click, side-to-side jiggle. Thud-ump … stillness.

Another room, same clock with the sliding second hand. What is my pain level? Seven, with a twist of lemon, … that shifts gears and feels like a two.

… stop … wait …


THANK YOU, Thank you, to all who called, emailed, and left comments. I am home again, sleeping lots, and healing as I ought. I don’t smell like hospital anymore so Widdercat is speaking to me.

All is well.


The Cone of Surrealness Closes In

Cone of Surrealness

Cone of Surrealness

My world has narrowed to a singular event. From this rather unique perspective, all that has gone before fades into a rainbow-ish mist. Anything ahead is obscured by the singularity … slated to occur 7.30am tomorrow morning. I wish this was the human/A.I. singularity, that Vernor Vinge, among others has theorised, but alas, mine is a far more mundane and mortal one.

 Time has behaved differently these last few days too. It has slowed to a stately halt so that I’ve been tempted to get out and offer to push, and then it has moved so fast I’ve barely been able to hang on to its coat-tails.

All my previous encounters with general anesthetic, although bizarrely fascinating (consciously entering oblivion) have been in order to put something in my body to make it work better. This time we’re taking something out to achieve a similar result. For some reason this offends my sense of propriety.

I will see all of you on the other side, where my horizon will again stretch as far as my minds eye can imagine.


The last word goes to Vernor Vinge, whose Law, I think, applies not only to writing, but to life Herself: (I look forward to the advancement of my plot!)

“All scenes need to accomplish at least two of three things. 1 – Provide background information, 2 – Develop the Characters, and 3 – Advance the plot”Vernor Vinge, professor, scientist, science fiction writer.

The Interview

Don't let the smile fool you!

Don’t let the smile fool you!

I will admit, I was nervous. This twenty minute interview would have a long lasting effect on the rest of my life. Not something to be taken lightly.

I prepared as best I could, but in these situations most things work best when they happen spontaneously. “Don’t over-think it,” I reminded myself as I sat down in the faded, used-to-be-orange-and-green striped chair across a well organised desk from a large woman in an equally faded green uniform.

My interviewer rattled off the prerequisite yes/no questions like a friendly Gatling gun. Thankfully my answers corresponded with the one’s I’d given earlier in the written part of the interview.

She walked behind me and tinkered with some odd smelling machinery, took some rather personal measurements, and sat back down again.

With one be-ringed hand she handed over a booklet full of detailed instructions, asked me if I had any questions then bade me farewell and pointed me in the direction of the main exit doors.

I blinked away my moment of disorientation and waited for my brain to reconnect and remind me where I’d parked my car. Before I drove away, I paused for another moment, of reflection this time.

I knew I’d aced the questions at my pre-op surgical interview at the hospital, but like all interviewees, I did wonder if I got the job!


“The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm” Florence Nightingale, 1820-1910, social reformer and founder of modern nursing

Cancer: The Convenient Device

Hidden cave at a nearby waterfall

Hidden cave at a nearby waterfall

So, I discovered I had thyroid cancer earlier this year (which I blogged about HERE,  and HERE )

Now we’re back into the ‘wait’ part of hurry-up-and-wait, until we hear from the hospital for a surgery date, predicted to be within the next six weeks, to take out my thyroid. (followed soon thereafter by radiated iodine to kill off any of the little buggers that dodged the scalpel)

UPDATE: The hospital rang today. (figures!) My surgery is scheduled for 2nd July. Let the games begin.

Apart from writing, and household chores, and general living stuff, I’ve been distracting myself by rewatching/watching some favourite TV shows and have come to an interesting conclusion … but first, and by way of introduction …

Today on Strange Ink, Kat Howard talked about ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good Characters’,  and what occurred on this weeks episode of the TV show ‘Game of Thrones’, based on the best selling ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ novels, by George R. R. Martin.

I started to comment there and realised what I was saying dovetails perfectly with this post, so I truncated my comment and saved the rest to go here … with a few edits – of course. I’m a writer, that’s what we do.

Ever since TV series were invented, we’ve been fed this line that heroines/heroes CAN’T die (what would happen to the ratings for one thing) because they have to be in next week’s episode. They’re called ‘anchor characters’ for a reason. What GoT, both the books and the tv show, did is turn that expectation on it’s head. Which I think is a good thing. Good for writers, good for viewers/readers, and good for the visual arts industry in general.

And here’s why. Each week the main character/s ‘MacGyver’ their way out of an impossible situation, or a force majeur to save the day at the last minute, or contracts a fatal illness/has an accident and is saved by a brilliant doctor. The list isn’t exactly endless, but the result is the same.

Writers have to ramp up the tension, not by having the characters succumb to these challenges, but to think up ways for them to survive. And the longer the series lasts the more absurd these devices become. (I’m looking at you, CSI)

(Joss Whedon (Firefly and Buffy, etc) and George R.R. Martin (A Song of Fire and Ice/Game of Thrones) shattered this model when they killed off main characters. Other creators have done this but these two are mainstreaming at the moment, so they’re ‘it’)

Absurd and repetitious. And this is where the cancer thing comes back into the picture. In all of the shows I’m slowly working my way through, there have been at least two episodes per season where cancer has been used as a plot device, either by a main character getting some form of cancer, or a family member/friend dying or miraculously recovering from cancer. (this excludes Greys Anatomy because someone has cancer every third episode – just joking, sorta, kinda)

In my BC era (Before Cancer) I was vaguely aware of this, but now, where I see it everywhere around me, it’s right in my face. I’m reaching a point where I roll my eyes and drawl, “puhleeeeze” when the big ‘C’ wends its weary way across my computer screen. (this reaction might be a tad excessive, but hey, it’s my cancer party and I’ll overreact if I want to)

Which is very reminiscent of one of a writers greatest bug-a-boo’s, the repeated word. We all have ‘em. That word that stands out like a sore thumb when we’re editing. (I’m not going to tell you how many times I removed the word ’that’ from this post before publishing it, but it was in the double digits)

So, to pull all this together – if you write (for TV, novels, comics, cereal ads, etc) in a specific genre, pay attention to your favourite or default storytelling device and throw it out the window. See what else you can come up with. Not for always, but every now and then. The universe will not end – unless that’s what you’re planning … even then try something else and see what happens.

The same goes for life.


“Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping … waiting … and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir … open it’s jaws and howl. It speaks to us … guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love … the clarity of hatred … the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead” Joss Whedon


What, exactly, are they plotting?

Blessed Beltane – Biopsy

Widdershins Mask1st May – Beltane – I had my second biopsy on that golf ball in my thyroid. For those who came in late, in March this year I discovered I had a lump in my thyroid that was cancerous.  I blogged about thecone of surrealness’ of that time and got on with life … until today.

Today was biopsy #2, wherein we hope to find some more definitive ‘anomalous cells’ that will give my throat-cutting guy a better idea of where we go next. It’s a fair bet that my golf ball has to relocate, and sooner rather than later. The rest is up for discussion. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

But here’s an interesting thing. Today I got to see the ultrasound image the biopsy-taking guy used to guide a very long needle into my throat. I’ve seen gazillions of x-rays of my knee in it’s various incarnations, from completely busted up to staples, screws and other hardware, but seeing inside myself in real time (in glorious black-and-white video) was … weird. I gotta be honest, it felt a little squicky, (like a slow-motion punch in the throat) but also absolutely fascinating. I took notes, mentally that is. It’s hard to write in my notebook, flat on my back with a needle in my neck. (It wasn’t really that long, but it felt like it, so therefore it was!)

There’s a story somewhere in this … maybe something about google glass’  that sees in all sorts of different ways, infra-red, untra-violet, see-through, (like non-dangerous ultrasounds or x-rays)  … and what would become of the people who couldn’t afford it … and what would happen to art if people only saw through the google glass? Who would clean the streets if no-one saw the mess? (sounds a bit like that Bruce Willis movie Surrogates’) I’ll work with it.

So, that was my Beltane. A little different, eh?

Blessed Be – Let’s kick the tires and light the fires! … and finish out the night with a bracing cuppa tea!


P.S. Next post will be Episode 4 of ‘Identical’.


“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things” Muriel Babery,  from her novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

A Polite Euphemism for Cancer

Widdershins Mask in an odd moodBefore we move on from the topic of cancer …because no news is no news until I have the results of a second biopsy that’ll determine if I have my whole thyroid removed or just half of it.

… some thoughts.

After the news last Wednesday, if anyone asked me how I felt, the only honest answer I had was ‘surreal’.

My personal world had radically changed, but the greater world had not – surreal.

I discovered there was a tiny part of me, probably left over from those ‘teenagers are immortal’ days when our incredibly rash actions didn’t actually kill us, that still believed that I might get out of this mortal coil alive – surreal (and how disappointing to realise that damn cliché is true!)

I’ve had 10 major surgeries in my adult life (to put my knee back together again) and in a few months from now I’ll willingly choose to go ‘under the knife’ again, and yes it’s a saving of my life choice, but seriously, who the bloody hell chooses to have their bodies cut open and bits of their viscera removed? – surreal

I’m not ill, I don’t feel sick, but yet, here I am with a life threatening disease – surreal.

Cone of Surrealness

Cone of Surrealness

Thankfully the Cone of Surrealness only lasted until Friday night when it cracked wide open and I cried, and sobbed, and howled, and raged.

Mrs Widdershins was there to hold me and say all the right things, and supply tissues.

Widdercat rightfully concluded that purrs were not needed at that time and waited until the storm had passed before joining us for cuddles.

So, here I am, on the other side of ‘surreal’ and getting on with life.


“Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go so much further than people with vastly superior talent” Sophia Loren, actor.


Abnormal Cells – A Polite Euphemism

Widdershins MaskThat’s what the results of my thyroid biopsy says, ‘abnormal cells’.

Next, comes another biopsy to determine if the surgery I have to have, will remove half my thyroid or the whole thing.

Some days are lumpy rocks, and some are shiny diamonds, most fall somewhere in between.

This one’s a rock.