Caregiver Log: Such, Such Agony

It’s been almost a week since Jenny went under the knife, three times, to try to repair damage to her intestines. This is just the next chapter in a long history of medical problems and procedures. For more information, see my last blog post.

On Monday, they performed the initial exploratory surgery to see what was going on inside. The surgeons worked for nine hours- patching holes, releasing adhesions, and cutting away a twist in her small intestines. When I found her Monday night, she was on a respirator and sedated, resting peacefully.

On Tuesday, they installed the mesh to support her abdomen in a four-hour surgery but didn’t close the incision due to all the swelling and massive inflammation of her bowels. They had to wait for conditions to improve. They had to wait to see if they had found everything. When I visited Tuesday night, she was still asleep on the respirator, but looking less well, more ‘beaten up’ as you would expect.

On Wednesday, we waited. She was still sedated and on the respirator, but opened her eyes for a moment when I called her name. I monitor her vitals on these visits. Things were happening- liquids were becoming clear (good) but her heart rate and blood pressure were going down (bad), and her color was very pale (bad). Keeping her abdomen open was a risk they had to take but the rest of her body was reacting.

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Events: What is Your White Whale?

Mixing Melville’s “Moby Dick” w/ contemporary politics, Loren Niemi asks “What is Your White Whale?” at this FREE Spoken Word Cafe event.

March 20, 2021 ~ 7pm CDT ~ FREE event

Loren Niemi will tell a blended story using Melville’s Moby Dick classic as a crucible to examine our current situation in American Culture as obsession and fantasy rein powerful and dangerous. He will ask:

“What is your White Whale?”

While the essence of the story has always been “Man fights whale, whale wins,” Loren has used the elements of a young man’s search for adventure, whaling as an industry, our obsessions and grievances, and homo eroticism which are all present in the novel as a metaphor (or if you would prefer, a Rorschach) for understanding American Culture/ This performance will touch on in our current situation, the creation and pursuit of any number of “white whales.”

Loren Niemi has been telling personal and reconfigured traditional stoires for over four decades now. His work combines vivid imagery with touches of poetry and a sur;prising intimacy. Loren’s recent collection of stories, “What Haunts Us” won a Midwest West Book Award for “Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Hoirror / Paranormal” fiction in 2020

Caregiver Log: Enmesh

NOTE: This blog post contains graphic descriptions of medical procedures. It is written with express permission from the person whose situation is described.

Dear Friends,

On June 16,2016, I read a cryptic message on Facebook from my friend Jenny. She had checked herself into the emergency room due to unexplained excruciating pain. For most people, this would be cause for alarm and while it was concerning, it was not unusual.

You see, Jenny had her first surgery in 1983 and 45+ surgeries since: 4 back surgeries between 1984-1989; first tonsillectomy in 1986, second in 2002 (they can grow back); breast cancer and bilateral mastectomy in 2004; emergency gal bladder removal that was scheduled for outpatient and ended up as 3 weeks in the hospital in 2005; neck fusion and breast reconstruction in 2011; knee surgery in 2016.

I have known Jenny since 1999 and have been present for most of her surgeries for the past 22 years. I am her primary care giver and medical power of attorney. So, I didn’t call her to see what was going on that night, I just showed up.

Her knee surgery in May 2016 had been big trouble because she was allergic to the substance that they injected to replace her cartilage and they had to remove it. I guess I assumed this visit to the hospital was related. But when I walked into the ER, I found her in a condition worse than I have ever seen.

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To Blog or Not to Blog

It’s been a busy semester. I am enrolled in a poetry class that has taken up more of my time than expected. How soon we forget how tough college really is!

I normally spend Sunday writing my blog but now I spend it doing homework for class. This is a good thing because I am learning how to analyze poetry in depth which in turn helps me to critique my own work.

But it’s not so great for fans of my blog… all ten of you…

“Personal blogs are ongoing online diary or commentary written by an individual, rather than a corporation or organization. The vast majority of personal blogs attract very few readers, other than the blogger’s immediate family and friends.”

Well shit.

In all seriousness, I am still here and still writing. But I once again find myself with too many irons in the fire. I will blog when I can, at least once a month, until my poetry class ends in May.

Until next time…

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, March 2021

B-list Holidays

February is considered the least favorite month by many people. It’s easy for me to understand why. I live in Minnesota and the forecast high temperature this week is a negative number four of the next seven days. We in the Great White North are stuck indoors for both COVID-19 and the weather. But February is mid-winter. People have been restless this time of year for millennia.

In the United States, we celebrate a few February holidays. Groundhog Day is based on ancient European celebrations that involve weather divination used to predict the end of winter. Modern Valentine’s Day is associated with romantic love and sex, but it was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died in AD 269 due to Roman persecution of Christians.

In February, two things have been traditionally on our minds: when is winter going to end and the fertility of livestock. Food, basically. Do we have enough stored food to last us to the end of winter and will the animals produce offspring for more food in the future? Continue reading

Groundhog standing in grass

February Worst

Tomorrow is February 1st.

What is your favorite month of the year? Only 2% of Americans will answer February, probably those who have a birthday that falls in the month or a strong affinity to Lunar New Year or Mardi Gras. I believe that February gets such a bad rap because it is the middle of winter. January has the residue of Christmas and New Year, March contains the first day of spring, but February is deep, cold, endless winter.

Enter the mid-winter festival.

In America, we call this Groundhog Day, Catholics refer to it as Candlemas, and for the ancient Celts, it was Imbolc. All celebrations for one reason or another but if we are honest, the fact that February 4th falls midway between the first day of winter (winter solstice) and the first day of spring (vernal equinox) is reason enough to celebrate. Astronomical winter in the Northern Hemisphere is half over!

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Back to School

August is a time of great anticipation and apprehension as summer comes to an end. Parents are excited and children who are young enough not to know better are excited too. I must admit that August still has the refreshing feel of new beginnings for me- new books, new supplies, new teachers. It was ever green hope that the new school year would somehow be better, be different.

New Year’s Day has this same quality, a ritual celebration to compartmentalize last year’s events and memories, to put it away in favor of new beginnings. By the way, how are those resolutions coming along? I consider it a time to adjust and recommit to goals I was already working on, not make new ones. And one of those goals is to become a better writer.

January is also ‘back to school’ time, though most students are still reeling from the fall semester. For many, the spring semester is just the continuation of the academic year that they have to slog through to get to summer break. But consider that there are freshmen who start college late or high school seniors who start early. For them it is new and exciting. Consider the so-called ‘non-traditional’ student who is over age 40, who might be living up to that New Year’s resolution to finish their education or start a new career.

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Holiday Hindsight

You might be thinking, “Why are you writing about Christmas? That ended two weeks ago.”

And you would be wrong. The Christmas holiday season ends on January 5,6, or 13 depending on your cultural and/or religious traditions. I define Christmastide as December 25 to January 5, the 12th night and the Feast of the Epiphany which runs into January 6, Three King’s Day which is widely celebrated in Latin America.

Yes, the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ is not just a Christmas carol about insane gift expectations. And with the shipping overload COVID-19 put on USPS, it’s a good thing. Gifts arrived during Christmastide, but maybe not by December 25. But no matter because gifts are not really the point.

Our end of year festivals have been celebrated in one way or another in the Northern Hemisphere for millennia, because of the winter solstice. It is not pagan to celebrate the return of the light. It is astronomy, the very physical reality of our planet’s axis. It is also a celebration of a life preserving harvest, of family and community before we all hibernate for winter and try not to starve. This perspective has been lost with the technological advances of the modern world. But if this year has taught me anything, it’s how quickly we can revert to an earlier way of life.

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P.S. 2020

This post is the annual update of my writing career, such as it is.

I published a book in October 2020.

Book of Snark: Wit & Wisdom for the Angry Professional Woman on the Bus A laugh out loud parody of motivational self-help books, a collection of pointed anti-affirmation satire, quips that describe the day-to-day life of an unimpressed, middle aged female professional, who does not suffer fools.

It’s self-published so not such a big deal. Anyone who can pull together a script and slap a halfway decent cover on it can be a published author these days because print-on-demand services do not check for worthiness of content. My market is so niche’ I didn’t believe that any publishing house would consider it. It wouldn’t make them enough money to be worth their time. Still, by all accounts it has done well. I sold 142 copies in the first three months and since 300 copies in the first year is considered success, I am almost halfway there.

But I promoted it. A lot. I am completely unknown and people are suspicious of independent authors for the reasons listed above (no check on worthiness). I paid for ads that showed my book to potential buyers 183,000+ times, at Christmas, and I sold 142 copies. *SIGH* Good thing that I am in it for the long haul. Book of Snark 1 will continue to sell and Book of Snark 2 is already in the works. I have eight text reviews on Amazon and six text reviews on Goodreads, all good and not all from my friends and family. I even garnered a ‘drive-by’ anonymous 1-star rating without an associated text review on Amazon by whoever or whatever and a lovely text review on Goodreads from book blogger, Amie’s Book Reviews in Toronto, who said the book “will appeal to anyone and everyone who likes British humor”.

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Christmastide

Your Christmas gifts are not late.

Now, that doesn’t mean they will arrive on December 25. The current USPS delivery load is estimated at 40% over normal and 19,000 of their workers are out due to COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. Those of us who respect the opinions of medical experts and the health department are not delivering packages ourselves as we stay home for the holiday and ship instead. It’s a stressful time to be working at the post office.

But still, your Christmas gifts are not late. Christmas is actually a twelve-day festival called Christmastide which begins December 25 and ends January 6. In fact in Latin America, the day to exchange gifts is the Epiphany, the commemoration of the visit of the Magi to the Christ child and the offering of their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

That last one, myrrh is an embalming oil. Whether you believe in COVID-19 or not, there are 400,000+ more deaths in 2020 than in 2019, the largest yearly increase since 1919 and the Spanish Flu. I will ask the question to the naysayers again: if you include total deaths together regardless of cause, what exactly explains the increase? Continue reading