If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Monday, February 6, 2017

My Best Friend, the Kitchen Timer

by Linda Rodriguez

I have a new best friend. Well, not really new. We've been very close before, and then as the press of daily life and work took over, we started to see less and less of each other. You know the way these things happen—not because of anything either of us did but the world got between us. I'm sure you have friends like that. It's not that you aren't still friends, but just that you don't have the chance to see each other that much anymore. Then, one of you goes through some kind of crisis, and suddenly the other is there with support and whatever help you need, and you're reminded of how much this neglected friendship means to you and swear you'll never let the world and work get in the way of it again.

When I had to leave my fulfilling career in higher education for medical reasons, it was devastating. At first, the doctors couldn't figure out what was physically debilitating me, so couldn't really give me much help. Eventually, they diagnosed me with lupus and fibromyalgia and prescribed steroids and DMARDS (disease-modifying drugs) to protect my organs from further damage and help begin to control the overwhelming fatigue, joint and muscle pain, and muscle weakness. (Fun lupus fact of the day: As with most autoimmune diseases, lupus has no medicines developed specifically for it, but uses organ-transplant-rejection drugs, cancer chemotherapy drugs, and other similar powerful and expensive remedies.)

Determined to become active again and work at the writing career I'd originally aimed at before being derailed by family needs into higher education administration, I began to use a kitchen timer to help me return from the helpless mists of illness. I would set it for fifteen minutes and walk around the house, then go lie down to recover, set it for another fifteen minutes and sit down to try to write, then go lie down to recover, set it again and do a simple household chore that didn't involve a lot of exertion, then go lie down, on and on ad infinitum throughout the day. My rheumatologist was impressed with the recovery I made with this simple routine and told me he wished he could get his other patients to do the same. Over months and months of this, I slowly built up a reasonably normal life again. I was actually able to function and to build a new career.

As I grew stronger and busier, I used my trusty kitchen timer less and less. It was nothing my friend had done, of course. Life just caused us to drift apart. Until another disaster stuck—breast cancer. After three surgeries in two months, culminating in a radical mastectomy, I found myself weak, fatigued, in pain, and brain-fogged from all the medications and treatments. Suddenly, my dear friend showed her loyalty and support again and helped me rebuild my strength and life.

We had been once again drifting apart when my last chemotherapy treatment suddenly included a new additional infusion, and the combination tipped me over into a massive lupus flare, even once the terrible chemo side effects settled down somewhat. Only this time, I couldn't take the medications that help suppress the flare because of interactions with the chemotherapy and other cancer meds which are still circulating in my body. Once again, I've been knocked flat, and my loyal, too-often-taken-for-granted friend, the kitchen timer, has come to my rescue.

We were in the middle of downsizing a big, old house in which my family and I have lived for 42 years. I've put off the realtor's walkthrough for another month. I'm also in the midst of writing another book, which has a publishing deadline. I can't really put that off. So I rise in the morning, eat breakfast, take what meds I can and wait for them to go to work. Then I set a timer and wash a few dishes (no dishwasher in this old house). I can't stand in one place for long without pain and weakness in leg muscles, but the warm water helps me get my hands to function. When the timer goes off, I go sit down to try to write a few words, setting the timer because sitting for very long causes problems with my knees and hips and writing on the computer or by hand for very long causes cramps and pain in my hands, arms, and shoulders. When the timer goes off, I move to the heavily-cushioned recliner to elevate my legs and rest my arms, setting the timer again. When it goes off next time, I pack items for giveaway in boxes or fill trash bags and recycling bins from cupboards, closets, two attics, full basement, and garage. (Truth be told, I haven't made it to the garage yet and probably won't for a while because there's so much to deal with in the house itself.)

Once again, my dear pal has turned up when I needed her most, proving to be a most loyal and devoted friend. With her invaluable help, I feel sure I will do what I must and still recover my strength. I've come to realize that the problem with our relationship lies with me. I forget that I need to pace myself. I forget that I need the help of my friend, the timer. I get busy and self-involved and forget that I need this friendship. I have vowed that I'll not make that mistake again.

Do you have friendships that have drifted apart for similar reasons? Is there a friend in your life that you seldom see right now, but you know you could count on that friend totally in a time of crisis?


KM Rockwood said...

Your determination to control your life is inspiring. With the aid of your "best friend" and your own positive attitude, I bet you'll overcome these difficulties.

I had to retire from a career I wasn't really ready to leave, also for health reasons, and while I have not had the continuing problems you have, I know it was difficult for me.

Jim Jackson said...

Thanks for sharing, Linda. I'm reminded of the preamble to the 1863 American Mineworkers Asscoiatioin, which is something like: "Step by step the the longest march can be won."

~ Jim

Grace Topping said...

Thank you, Linda. Your blog is very inspiring. I worked with a woman who had a 15-minute theory. When she faced having to do something she didn't feel like doing or had been putting off, she would commit 15 minutes to it, no more. If she stopped at 15 minutes, she didn't feel guilty. But more often than not, once she got into something, she would spend more than 15 minutes on it. She said that just getting started was the hardest part. But by telling herself she only needed to do it for 15 minutes, she was more inclined to get into it.

Mary Adler said...

I am impressed by your determination to not let your illness defeat you. Your post also reminded me that I put off getting our house in order to sell one day because I expect always to have the strength and time to do it. I am starting today to do what I need to do. Maybe I'll ask my timer to help. Thank you.

Margaret Turkevich said...

All I need is fifteen minutes...my new mantra. Maybe with a cookie reward.

Safe travels to DC.

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, I think that's a wonderful way to use your timer. I've been trying to limit my time sitting at my computer down to no more than a half hour at a time. I've passed that mark now, so I'm going to send this now and get up to clean my two bird cages and the litter boxes, even though I'd rather stay on the computer.

As for your question, the best friend I could really count on died six years ago. I have other friends, too, but none like she was. Of course, I have my kids and siblings, too.

Linda Rodriguez said...

KM, it's tough when your health derails your career, isn't it? In my case, it turned into a blessing. I'd always wanted to write, but the financial requirements of supporting my family sent me into higher ed admin, and I might have stayed there forever if the lupus hadn't kicked me out of it.

Jim, that's an inspiring slogan for those of us who fear an authoritarian government right now, as well. Thank you.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Grace, I think your friend is really on to something.

Mary, I hear you. I knew my house needed to be purged of all that stuff collected by everyone over the years, but I always thought I'd be healthy and strong enough to do it in a big push. I wish now I'd worked on it all along, but when I look back on how busy I was, I don't really see how I could have done much differently. My advice is to do it now, if you possibly can, and you'll be grateful later.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Margaret, your idea of the cookie reward is great! I think I'll add that in. :-)

Gloria, I'm so sorry you lost your dear friend. I'm fortunate enough to still have long-time friends like that. We may get busy and not see each other much for a year or two, but if one of us has an emergency, the other is there for whatever's needed.

storytellermary said...

Clever and resourceful -- and determined! I admire you! Your doctor clearly does as well. I'm reminded of my mother's doctor asking about her broken toe, pleased to hear she'd followed instructions to continue regular activity so it would heal. He said those who become inactive from the pain never get better. AARP Mag. article mentioned warm dish water easing arthritis also.
I used to have a timer on the computer to tell me to step away every half hour. The app had issues, but I need to find a new reminder. A timer I set myself might be the answer.
I've been trying to establish an exercise habit now that allergies are keeping me away from the Y. I think I've found the right one, tai chi while watching the sunset . . . they pair well. <3
I've lost touch with work friends and some cyber-friends, but real friends and books remain.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Mary, your mother's doctor is right. My rheumatologist who first diagnosed my lupus told me when he retired a couple of years ago that he thought when he made that diagnosis that i would be in a wheelchair in ten years, and ten years later he was so pleased to see how active I was still.

The thing about a kitchen timer is that I can take it wherever I go around the house--and it's LOUD.