Holding Pattern

When I was little there were two tv channels – this was in Portugal, not pre-history though I’ll grant you the difference was often less than clear – one that ran lunch time then evening, and then one that ran evening only.  The evening-only channel was considered the highbrow one, where they had “Lone professor discusses history and shows diagrams” type of programs. (Yes, that one was my favorite.  You’ll just have to deal with it.)

Anyway, tv transmission was unreliable even when there weren’t any revolutions on (Portuguese revolutionaries had found a manual somewhere from South America and had it firmly implanted in their minds “Ride into town on tanks.  Take over TV and radio stations.”  Wonder how that would be modified in the age of blogs, not that there are many in Portugal.  I’m picturing US revolutionaries going “Ride into town, take over instapundit.”  Um… would explain what has happened to a blog or two I used to follow.)

Sometimes you’d rush home at lunch to see cartoons (that’s what played at lunch.  Usually the old, good, Merry Melodies.) and there would be a holding pattern on the TV – this geometric stuff and a note that said “We’re experiencing technical difficulties.  This program will resume in a moment.”

Yesterday, all day, I felt as if my head was doing exactly that.  It seemed normal, but when I tried to use it, I got the holding pattern.  There is a level of sick where someone could tell you “Your hair is on fire” and you’d just say “Oh, okay, but right now I need to sleep.”  You’re simply not processing input in normal, human ways.  That’s what yesterday was like.  I have a vague memory of my older son trying to get me to help with something and after he had repeated the info three times I had to tell him I understood each individual word, I just couldn’t remember them long enough to make sense.

So I went to bed at around 7:30 pm and got up a few minutes ago, and as you can see I feel better.  At least my head is better – my chest is still awfully congested.

Now before everyone says “You keep getting sick” – yep.  I do.  And while some of it might be controllable (believe it or not upping my vitamin content helped.  This could be worse.  It was ten years ago.)  And yep, guilty as charged on burning the candle at both ends, but I’m afraid until the kids leave the house that’s just what will happen, because I still have duties in the household, which I can’t offload as I promise I will when it’s just two of us, and I’m still the household’s day planner, keeping twenty or so things in my head at all times.  Also I worry a lot, because these are worrying times (If you can tell me how to stop doing that, I’d love to know.)  BUT most of all, my tendency to get sick a lot has been with me since birth because I was born severely premature.  It does stuff to your immune system, probably forever.  Frankly, it’s a minor miracle that my parents pulled me off through childhood, in an unheated house with no modern facilities whatsoever and with medical services spotty.  If I had no other reason to be grateful to them, that one would do it: the nights they spent awake, listening to me breathe and wondering if it was time to knock on the door of the neighbor across the street so they could take me to the hospital for the oxygen tent. (he had a van.  One of very few cars in the village.  He never complained about his impromptu ambulance duty either.  Spare a prayer for him, if you can.  He died of Alzheimer’s a few years ago.)

That and my getting older are probably the greatest factors in “why Sarah keeps getting sick.”  I’m sorry, it’s one of those things – I’d much have preferred to be born full term, with a full complement of anti-bodies and a health of steel.  Of course, if I had, there wouldn’t have been all those weeks in bed, in a room that didn’t even have a window, when I had to make up stories to keep myself amused.  So… I might be an engineer (which was my second choice) or a teacher and never have written a word.

You don’t get the reality you wanted.  You just try to get the best that’s available.

That said this winter seems to be a doozy for strangely strong viruses.  It’s not just me.  Everyone I know has been knocked on their can by a succession of illnesses: flu, stomach flu and now respiratory whatsit.  Most of my friends are down with it right now – and some of them are in other states.  Though the possibility that all of Colorado is suffering from smoke inhalation and that this is an exceptionally dry winter isn’t helping, has occurred to me.

Even through my illnesses, I’m normally more productive than I was this last year.

Of course, there is always the possibility that Noah’s Boy is cursed – don’t laugh.  Some stuff is.  For instance, whenever I pick up The Shakespeare Gambit (the one with Eric Flint) to work on, my basement floods with sewage.  If that book is to be finished, I’ll have to do it at a hotel.  It’s part of the plan after NB is in, mind.  If so, I’ll have to bully through despite being sick.  What I’ve found is that once the book is delivered, the curse doesn’t show.

I couldn’t do it, of course, while I was sitting there looking at the holding pattern in my brain, but my mind is clear today.  Things have moved to my bronchi.  Of course, the big deal now is to prevent it from becoming pneumonia.

So, I’m going to be working through the three different versions (beginning is one, middle another, end another) of Noah’s Boy I have and trying to weld it into a coherent whole.  I dreamed it, so I know how it needs to go.

I had planned to have it all done by yesterday evening.  Well, actually I had planned to have it done by the end of November.  The best laid plans of writers get interrupted by the holding-pattern-of-the-mind.

Unless the mind gets taken over by totally lost revolutionaries, though, I’m going to do my best to get this thing finished.  One thing is to get sick, another is to allow your body to get away with interfering in your life too much.

And if the mind gets taken over by revolutionaries—

“Don’t touch your controls.  This mind has been taken over by the Rodent Liberation Front.  Instructions will be issued shortly on how to stay safe through this emergency.”


57 responses to “Holding Pattern

  1. NOT the RLF– *shaking under the bed (hard to do with no bed frame)

    This year has already started rough– my hubby’s boss’ husband died on Jan 1. The secretary in the same office, her mother died a week later, and two of my friends have been in the hospital. One had pneumonia and the other had a flare of MS. And, I am not counting the people who have the flu–

    I have stayed away from people for a few weeks now except to grocery shop. I will have to shop again in the middle of this week. Wish me luck–

    As for writing– I am doing okay. I wish I was doing better, but to be honest I did much better than last year– Here’s to 2013 and a better year for health and writing.

  2. Green acres is the place for me.
    Farm livin’ is the life for me.
    Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
    Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

    New York is where I’d rather stay.
    I get allergic smelling hay.
    I just adore a penthouse view.
    Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue.

    …The chores.
    …The stores.
    …Fresh air.
    …Times Square

    You are my wife.
    Good bye, city life.
    Green Acres we are there.

    Right now I am trying to determine whether the URI* from Heck has booked an extended tour of my sinuses, whether another touring production has arrived without a decent interval to turn over the theatre or whether it matters. When my sinuses are inoperable the CPAP is useless; when I sleep without the attached air compressor I don’t get deep, restful sleep, when I don’t get deep, restful sleep my immune system is weakened, when I am living with a weakened immune system I am more susceptible to URIs.

    *Upper Respiratory Infection

  3. Kitteh-Dragon

    Commisserations (however it’s spelled). I thought I only had to sacrifice one year to the weakness of the body (well, November 2011 through February 2013) and then it would be behind me. I still have one major surgery to go, and it had been scheduled for November 13 last year. And the cold/influenza/whatever keeps coming back. Son of Zombie Alien 😦 I think you’re right about us all suffering from smoke inhalation 😦

    Your basement floods when you work on the Shakespeare thingie. When I start really getting into Annie, a parent dies. Mine are both gone, but Tom’s are in their 80s 😦 Yeah, I know — everybody dies, sometime, and the longer they’ve lived, the more likely, etc etc etc.

    Here endeth the whine 🙂

  4. That flu knocked us back a week or two over the holidays as well. I’m still working on my December ToDo list.

    • Except that we had the stomach flu through most of November, then a host of little “crappling” and now this respiratory thing. And I’m working on my OCTOBER to do list. GAH.

  5. Take care, and get well. It sounds like the mega-flu that’s going across the country; we’re all bound to get hit by it to some degree in the next month.

  6. I stopped getting sick when the kids stopped coming home from school with everything that was going around. To my surprise and delight, I’m still healthy after the #1 son came home for Xmas after a seven hour delay in the airport and four and half hour plane ride. Two weeks and nothing? How very unexpected.

    As for the revolution, I’m wondering how domestic cyber “terrorism” will play out, both as cause and responce to serious civil disobedience. As a barely competent user, I have no idea how much damage the truly knowledgeable could do to, oh, SNAP card refills, government paychecks, public disclosures of payola from lobbyists, incriminating pictures true or false . . . I think it’s going to be a very futuristic revolution, from my POV. Tanks and guns? That is so last millennia. Still effective, _if_ the government can keep control of the information getting to the fellows driving the tanks and toting the guns. The question of which way those guns are going to be pointing still looms large.

    • “I stopped getting sick when the kids stopped coming home from school with everything that was going around.”

      There was a time my children were called “Disease vector 1” and “Disease vector 2”. And not affectionately.

      • we used to call the younger “Victor the Vector”. But I can’t blame them for this one. My husband came down with it first, seems to have acquired it while Christmas shopping…

  7. I’ve had almost constant back aches and headaches for the last week, and haven’t been able to write a thing. I know the “holding-pattern” well, but I’ve frequently gone to the gray sludge pattern with the aggravating noise level as well. Today is a bit better, mainly because Timmy is in school, and the house is much quieter.

    The revolution will grow, and will culminate in three or four million honest Americans arriving in Washington, DC, with pitchforks, sharp knives, and AR-15s. There may or may not be a long prelude, depending on the man in the White House. Tanks, APC’s, and air cover are currently questionable, but you never know…

    • I hope that the O doesn’t start using military force on the US. I’m afraid that TX is high on his hit list.

      Could it be that we are weathering Ringo’s plague better than he thought we would? I am congested–in my head. I’m afraid to take decongestant because of all my other meds. My meds are making me sleepier than usual.

      • decongestants turn off the writing thing. All but claritin. So I’m trying to make do with claritin.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Does a sinus spray do it to you, too? That’s what I find myself using often.

        • Decongestants raise my blood pressure — at least, the precursor-to-crack one that dries things out and lets me breathe. When my blood pressure goes up, the dreams get non-euclidian. But oh, after a day to adjust, I am awake in the morning, and it is kind of awesome. *sigh*

          (PS: Can you check your vitamin D levels? I got sick so much less once I started with the extra D… Vitamins can help a lot.)

          PPS: I hope you feel better soon!

  8. Sarah,

    I found myself just nodding as I read your blog. I left the house for mabe 3 hours the weekend before Christmas and picked up some bug that had me laid up for several days.

    And books that bring doom when you work on them? Becky and I have permanently shelved a steampunk novel we were working on, because every time we started to work on it again my cancer would take a downturn. So that book won’t go beyond our outline and initial chapters.

    Rest well and let the counter-revolutionaries of antibodies kick some butt and let you get better. Let me know what the low-carb equivalent of chocolate is that works for you and I’ll get some to you. 🙂


  9. Just getting over a bout of the cold(or flu, not sure which) myself. Hope you get to feeling better soon.

    Will say a prayer for your neighbor. My Mom had Alzheimers. Terrible disease.

    PS. I always loved the looney tunes/merry melodies cartoons. Bugs and the gang were truly funny. Too bad you don’t see them much anymore.

  10. Get well soon.

    Where I’m at, returning students are bringing in strange new germs from all over the world to share over the next few months. It’s only a matter of time.

  11. Rodent liberation front? Sounds a little squirrely.

    What’s the story behind them? 🙂

    • Oh… In the shifter series (Draw One In The Dark; Gentleman Takes a Chance and, if I can defeat this cold, hopefully soon Noah’s Boy) there is a VERY LARGE were squirrel who wears a beret and smokes galoises and paints marxist slogans on walls. He CLAIMS they’re a movement, but he might just be delusional…

  12. regularjoeski

    2-4000 units of Vit D daily or exposure to 15 minutes 3/wk to a UV tanning source might help. The data suggests that most people are Vit D deficient this time of year. Recent research suggests that Vit D is involved in immune processes. BTW-recent research suggests that the govt set vit D levels too low for optimum health. It may be the greatest public health disaster of the late 20th century.

    • Thumbs up– which is why I eat a lot of mushrooms and take Vit D.

    • My doctor has put me on a high-vitamin-D dose due to my other problems, and it does help. It’s SUPPOSED to reduce your appetite, too, but I haven’t seen that lately. I was eight pounds under my last weigh-in this morning. The one thing the medical profession hates, but can’t get around, is that we’re all different, and we all react differently to just about everything. Makes their job just a tad bit harder… 8^)

      • Don’t let it worry you. Under the Affordable Care Act new standards of care are instated that will treat us as if we’re all the same, so the fact that we aren’t won’t really matter in the long run.*

        Some might think it ironic that, just as DNA testing is reaching a point enabling truly individualized care, the Health Care System is enacting standardized models of care. Thank goodness that we are not ruled by a governing party that is at war with science.

        *As fans of Professor Keynes well know.

    • I’m taking vitamin D — being olive skinned and not a bare-chested roofer in FL, it is a given I’m under-vitamin-d-ed. So I supplement.

      • I’m pale, ghostly, fish-belly white, live in Hawaii – for the nonce: escaping this, this, this idyllic exile in a few months, huzzah – and I’m still taking D, as I don’t particularly like to burn and the cursed day-star and I aren’t on speaking terms.

        • What is this burn you speak of? Seriously, my kids, who are one darker and one lighter than I thought that their friends were weird because they kept talking of this thing called “sun block.”
          Then they spent the day half-submerged at a water park and BOTH burned. They still don’t use sunblock, because unless they have the water reflecting, they don’t burn.

          I burned SERIOUSLY twice in my life, and both times took stupidity (one laying out by water and not moving all day, the other wearing a reflective Egyptian style necklace.)

          In summer I go out for walks all the time — but I’m a TOTAL wussy when it comes to cold, particularly when I’m sick, and this year has been bad. (Well, last year. You know what I mean.)

          So, yeah, I supplement with D. Though I’ve never been tested. I could make my doctor test me, I THINK — but I’d also bet he’s going by old guidelines.

          • regularjoeski

            Make sure you supplement enough. The body makes 5000 iu/d with correct sun exposure. The RDA was set to avoid ricketts in children, it is one decimal place off (good enough for govt work). Your Doc should test with just a hint, many FPs/IMs are now routinely testing. Also, it can take quite a while to get levels up in chronic cases. Low Vit D levels are endemic in darker skinned populations in higher latitudes.

  13. A story snippet from a near-future science fiction story I am writing. You might enjoy it:


  14. I am brand-new to your writing and am enjoying the heck out of Witchfinder. My shopping list will expand to your books at Baen soon after I retire the Christmas bills.

    Because I admire you, please allow me to share a (usually) successful remedy: Green tea sweetened with honey. Several times a day. Repeat until congestion is only an unpleasant memory.

    Hey, it works for me, worked for the ex-, and both of our sprouts.

    Best of everything, and may life be kind.

  15. g2-23dd4fb6a86f907db9fd08c3cc7e38ae

    I am a new reader to your site, and am enjoying the heck out of Witchfinder. As soon as the Christmas bills have been retired I will be hitting Baen to catch up on your past successes.

    Regarding your congestion problems, and because I am an admirer, please allow me to share with you an Olde Familie Recipe: Green tea, brewed extra strong, I use four teabags, Salada brand (seems to have the best flavor) sweetened with honey. Works for me, the ex- (who, like you, had a weakened immune system, but hers was caused by chronic sinusitis from living 25 years in L.A. smog crud) and both of our sprouts, when they got colds here came the tea!

    Also, many of us are low on zinc, which is essential for a strong immune system (has to do with the T-cells produced by the thymus gland that “mark” an invader so the white cells know what to attack–low zinc, fewer T-cells, slow to react immune system. Adding a chelated zinc tablet to your daily vitamins may help–all I can say is that it really made a difference for the ex-) .

    Wishing you a speedy recovery, continued success, and may life be kind!


  16. Soup is always good when your sick. I made sauerbaten (spelling anyone?) today, it’s a good low-carb soup. I would bring you some, but it’s a little far of a drive, especially considering we got 8 inches of snow today, and then it turned to freezing rain.

    • Almost. Sauerbraten. Your second “r” managed to fight free of the Intertubes and is roaming the ‘Net. It may turn feral and return without warning.

      • I have been making soup. Now I need to go get more cauliflower which is what I use to thicken it, in lieu of potato. Chicken cream soup. Actually, truth be told, garlic soup with a soupcon of chicken. ANY vampire coming down our street would recoil in horror from our entire house.

        • Can you eat cabbage? It is also good for thickening–

        • How do you feel about thai food? I make a wicked Thom Kha Gai: thai chicken soup using stock and coconut milk. Not exactly thick, but the coconut milk adds a hefty punch of calories and tastiness. The peppers are a good thing, too. Used habaneros the last time. Changed the flavor a bit, but I liked it.

  17. _Noah’s Boy_ being cursed: I have the same problem with Queen’s _Queen II_ album — whenever I play it, something goes wrong…. (Fortunately, it’s not my favorite of theirs, so it doesn’t get played much….)

  18. Check for mold… Just in case. (It ended up being contributing to how long I was taking to mend. Apparently when you’re sick for a few months straight and don’t do your regular cleaning/checks, things take advantage of that. Go figure.)

    • We had mold in our humidifier because the BRILLIANT company didn’t tell us it needed to have the filter changed. That’s taken care of, but probably spores have taken root in the house… Though maybe not. This is Colorado.

  19. This flu season has started earlier than usual and seems to be knocking everyone on their ass. I’ve been one of the relatively lucky ones (it had better be one hell of a effin’ flu to knock me down) and haven’t gotten sick yet, but a lot of my coworkers have missed two or more days because of it. One of them has missed two weeks and he looks like he could be down for even longer as whatever the flu bug is this year attacks his lungs. We’re hoping it doesn’t turn into full-blown pneumonia.

  20. I hardly ever got sick after I started working from home and was living alone. Then I married a college professor, and now I seem to catch a scaled-down version of everything the students in her class come down with. Strangely, though, *she* never seems to get them. And she refuses to tell me her secret.

    Thought I could get some real work on the novel done during this last bout, too, but my eyes were watering too much to spot all the typos, and I just kept sneezing on the keyboard.