Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Invisible Assassins

You can't see them, but you know they're there. They make sure of that. Sometimes they begin their work in small, subtle ways. Sometimes they come roaring in like a hungry bear just waking from a long hibernation. They take pleasure in the kill no matter their tactic as they destroy your motivation, your focus, your ability to comprehend and maintain some semblance of normalcy. As the minutes tick by and your energy drains, they take pleasure in knowing each time you fake a smile or a laugh, all you really want to do is curl up in bed and cry or sleep for a hundred years. They attack men and women alike, older and younger as the days go by, and because they are invisible, they are often dismissed by those that do not fight them off themselves. The medical professionals lump them all into one category called  "chronic pain," but for those of us who battle them every single day, they are invisible assassins.

Mine began plaguing me several years ago in the form of an inflammatory disease called Costochondritis. This is when the cartilage between the ribs becomes irritated and so inflamed that even the smallest amount of pressure can feel like a jolt of electricity is being sent through my body. Even wearing a bra can be intolerable on days when it's bad. One time, my dad poked me in the ribs because he didn't know I was having a day and whatever happened on my face and to my body must have scared the living daylights out of him because he just froze as his eyes bugged out. I turned white as a sheet and my eyes filled with tears, and my mother hastily explained why what he had just done was the wrong thing to do. It comes and goes. I'm happy to say it is an infrequent occurrence these days, but when it does come around, it definitely camps out for a few days and likes to be as strong a presence as possible.

Lately, I've been dealing with some unexplained nerve pain. A neurologist I went to a while back said it was Fibromyalgia. I knew it wasn't. My new Neuro knew it wasn't. It's idiopathic, meaning no one can figure out the source or cause, which 40% of chronic nerve pain is. I don't know if she told me that in the hope of making me feel better about it, but it didn't. Didn't make me feel worse, but it definitely didn't make me feel better. All I know is that I have certain spots on both arms, hands, my back, and my left leg that are sensitive to the touch. When I say sensitive, I mean to the point that even washing my hands brought me to tears because the simple feeling of a gentle stream of water on them made my bones feel like they were shattering. Still does at times. So I stand in the bathroom and cry until it's out of my system, collect myself, and go back out to rejoin life. I don't do it to be deceitful, I do it because, frankly, I don't want to dwell on it, I don't want to complain, and no one can fix it for me anyway, so why bring it up?

As of this morning, I'm on day four of waking up with deep nerve pain in my left tricep. It literally feels like fingers are reaching into my arm and trying to pull the muscle from the bone. I'm exhausted. I'm sad. I'm...so sad. There are things I want to do with my life, and for some reason, God is letting me go through this right now, leading me down this path that seems so contrary to the path I want to be going down. I don't quite get it. But that's not the reason why I wanted to write this post.

We talk to dozens of people throughout our days, our weeks. Be aware of people. Be kind to people. I promise you that those in your life who make you smile the most, who go out of their way to be helpful or kind are often the ones who are hurting the most, and they're the ones who are the best at hiding it. That's just how it seems to work out. Just...love one another and have patience. We're all so busy rushing around and it's only going to get worse as the holidays approach.

Don't judge people based on what you think you know.


As we like to say at CenterPoint, go be a blessing. You don't know who needs it today.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review : Gridiron Conspiracy by Christopher Paniccia

Dear Readers,

This is a blog entry I never wanted to write. This is a review I never wanted to write. The time has come, however, to get the dreaded "Did Not Finish" review out of the way. So let's buckle in and do this. Today I am reviewing Gridiron Conspiracy by Christopher Paniccia, and I am about to test my own ability to stick to my "100% honesty" in my book reviews.

I had high hopes for this book. I met Christopher at the New England Author Expo this summer in Massachusetts and had the pleasure of hearing him speak on a panel for first-time publishers. Most of the points that were brought up were things I already knew, but Christopher and his fellow panelists were fantastic speakers and did have a few suggestions and tips I hadn't thought of myself. Afterward, when I was wandering around, I had the opportunity to speak with him. I purchased some of his amazing artwork, and we agreed to a swap of the first books in our series.

The first book in Christopher's series follows a protagonist by the same name, a young man entering into the world of professional football. Not too far into the book, we learn that Chirs is unknowingly part of a secret government program that is cloning players and it goes much deeper than just professional football. Really, it's a fascinating premise, but the whole thing is poorly executed. When my male best friend asked me what the book was about, as soon as the word "football" passed my lips, he said, "Well, of course you don't like it if it's a sports book!" For the record, I love football. Also for the record, whether I love football or not, a well-written story should engage the reader regardless. The book opens up with two chapters of exposition and history of the character and the game, with the narration having little more than a monotone voice. At times it felt like I was reading a report or an essay rather than a work of fiction. We writers tend to fall into this trap of wanting to show off all this knowledge we have on particular subjects that we cross the line of being informative into being preachy encyclopedias telling the reader way more than they ever want or even need to know. This book crossed that line way too many times.

When we finally get to meet some characters and see some interactions, they leave much to be desired. Interactions feel forced, dialogue is wooden and awkward, (no one uses contractions. Like...what? O_o) head hopping occurs so frequently that you don't know whose perspective you're reading from at any given moment, especially since this book is written in block format where the cardinal rule of starting a new paragraph each time a new character speaks is broken on the regular. And don't even get me started on the switching tenses and the grammar!

This book got me shook, y'all.

I really wanted to like this one. The cover is awesome. It's minimalistic and different and really catches your eye. I really liked Chirs, and I really wanted to like his book. Unfortunately, this one is definitely not for me. I had to walk away after a hundred pages, and that was really forcing myself to get that far. In the interest of my sanity, it's time for me to move on.

Up next: The Rare Pearl by Jennifer W. Smith. Spoiler Alert! I've already started reading this one and this author has restored my faith in independently published authors.

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