Monday, June 26, 2017

Today is the Big Day

Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Day

Sooner than I had expected, but that's how things go sometimes, don't they. I thought I had considerably more weight to lose, but my surgeons are thrilled with what I've done so far. Trying to organize my life to make sure all my responsibilities are covered while I'm out of commission has kept me busy enough that I haven't spent too much time obsessing about the actual surgery part, which is probably for the best.

I'm hoping to get some writing time in during recovery, but from experience I know when I don't feel well, my brain doesn't flow all that well either. So we'll see and hope for the best.

Wish me luck!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Weight Loss Progress

So the weight loss is going better than expected. I'm down about 15 pounds from May 1st, which puts me on track to be down 25 pounds by mid July. I'm a little worried about muscle loss since I am so limited on what exercises I can do, but I'm putting that into the 'things I cannot change' category and trying not to let the stress of it get to me too much. I am walking a lot, and I enjoy that.

For those interested, I use the Sparkpeople app to track my food and exercise. I think you have to go into the full site to get your goals set up to see the recommended calories a day, etc. but after that I recommend the app instead. The full site is crazy ad heavy so it loads super slow and is generally a pain. But it's all free, so it has that going for it.

Just a couple days ago I hit 190 on the scale, and got very excited that I only have 10 pounds to go! Whoo! Then I thought things through a little further and realized that my reward for losing these last 10 pounds will be getting a horrible surgery that I don't especially want to have, and in that light it is a whole lot less exciting. The flip side is that I don't want to stay the way I am either, as both hernias seem to be causing me more pain and discomfort as time goes along. So surgery it is. Dammit.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Revising

Life has been very hectic lately. I haven't done any new writing in awhile aside from journaling, but I am working on my novel revisions. What has surprised me about the revision process is that I'm getting excited about the story again. I was a little burnt out with it by the end of the first draft. That wasn't something I expected to happen. I follow a lot of authors on various social media platforms, and I read a lot of books, and listen to a lot of podcasts about writing. I expected revisions to make me more frustrated with the story, not more excited.

Perhaps the time lag helped in that regard. There is common advice to set a story aside for a time before trying to revise. How much time seems to be a personal choice - a day, a week, a month are all suggestions I've read. I probably didn't look at my first draft for several months before starting on revisions. I didn't intend to wait so long, but I'm just not good at time management, so that's where I landed. While I'm reading through marking things that need to change, I'm feeling it isn't the train wreck I thought it was.

Certainly, revising something the size of a novel (or maybe a novella, I'm not sure where the final word count will land) is much more intimidating than revising short stories. I will probably have lists involved very soon. And I can see that by the end of the process I may start to feel again that annoyance with the story that I did before, but by then hopefully it will be ready for my beta readers and I will get another break until they have time to read and give their feedback.

Anyway, It's good to be moving forward again.

Monday, May 8, 2017

What's Up with Kara's Guts?

I know this is the question that's on everyone's minds. That's keeping everyone up at night.

No?

I guess it's just me then.

Still, I'll fill you in anyway because I have already said so much here, and it's going to affect the blog and my making of the things. I'm going to need more surgery. My innards have not been behaving themselves. I've herniated through both my colectomy incision site and my iliostomy site. The hernia at the iliostomy site is rather large. Because there are two hernias and one is a biggie, they can't just repair them like a normal hernia repair. I need an abdominal wall reconstruction.

I'm not going to get into what that all entails in this post, but I may later on. Right now I'm working hard to emotionally come to grips with this new reality. My previous experience with surgery was pretty terrible, and frankly, this sounds like it will be worse.

Right now, I'm in major weight loss mode - much more so than the casual weight loss I was working at before this. Apparently excess weight makes abdominal wall reconstruction much less successful. Over a certain BMI, they won't do surgery at all. I've just crossed down into the acceptable range, but to try to make things go as well as possible, and for this to be as strong a long term success as we can make it, my surgical team (yes, there is a team this time, not just one surgeon) wants me to drop another 20 to 30 pounds in the next 3 months. So that's my focus right now.

Strangely, the drastic weight loss expectations are not what's upsetting me. If the weight loss will make things go better, then I will lose the weight. I want things to go better. I want things to go great. I want things to go as well as any abdominal wall reconstruction has ever gone before in the history of abdominal wall reconstructions. Then I want to never need surgery again for anything.

Is that too much to ask?


Monday, May 1, 2017

Ashoka Headpiece Progress

Ashoka headpiece photo by Kara Hartz


Mistakes were made.

I was nervous about the complexity of this project, but I guess things are going. . . okay? I usually let the kiddos help out with their costumes, but now that they're bigger, I'm really trying to get them much more involved. So she didn't want to do any sewing, but she cut out the pattern and fabric for the headpiece, made the clay decorations that will go on the front. (I don't know what those are called), painted them, and painted the headpiece. So tidying up of the painting will have to happen, but she will do that on her own as well.

All I did was sew and put in the wire in the top. We had a problem of it being much too small when we first did a trial fitting and I was frustrated that we might have to start completely over. Luckily, my fix of just tearing out and making bigger the top section worked well enough that the kiddo declared it good. I might have been inclined to tear out and enlarge other pieces (ok, that would be starting over basically) but I'm trying to keep this her project that I'm helping with and not the other way round. She says it's good. So it's good.

I didn't supervise her directly while she worked so I don't know if the problem was the pattern, or the cutting out. We also had some printer difficulty so the odds are, the problem was on our end. Still, we made it work. We picked this tutorial to follow because it seemed a lot more manageable than many of the others we watched. At least it was made from fabric, and not latex or other materials I haven't heard of and wouldn't know how to get. Although if she keeps getting more into cosplay, I just might learn.

Monday, April 24, 2017

I Spy Baby Quilts in Progress


I have several coworkers and friends expecting babies. I like to make I spy baby quilts for occasions like this. I think I spy quilts are fun. As is my way, I take things one step further. I make sure to use each fabric exactly twice in each quilt so in addition to playing I spy, the quilts can be used for a matching game as well. Extra fun! Although it does involve having an awful lot of different fabrics, but it's worth it in my opinion.

I only have the rows for one quilt assembled so far. Still lots to do.

So the Mystery Quilt of Valor will be on hold awhile as I work on all the happy baby quilts. I'm also in process of making an Ahsoka costume for my daughter that is somewhat time sensitive. Yea for fun sewing projects! Boo for everything always happening at once.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Betrayal of Trust - Flash Fiction Friday



Dana took a deep breath, closing her eyes as she clutched the garbage can to her chest. Why did she feel guilty? Why did it feel like she was doing something wrong when he was the one. . .

She opened her eyes and set the can down. It was because snooping always felt wrong, even for a good reason. Because there was no positive spin for going through some else's trash. It was his fault, making her feel like this. So insecure. He'd promised to support her, to be here for her and help get through all this. "We're in it together," he'd said, and she'd foolishly believed him. 

The first few clues were easy to overlook. To dismiss. Really though, she already knew what was going on. It was time to admit it to herself. Then she could move forward, and stop searching the garbage. She felt tears welling up, and she took another deep breath to hold them back. She was just so tired and hungry, but she needed to retain her composure if she was going to confront him. 

With one last deep slow breath, Dana stood up, pushed the garbage can back under his desk with her food and left his den. She was planning what to say to him that evening when he came home as she turned the corner into the kitchen and stopped short. He was right there in front of her. In the act. 

A look of horror came over his face when he saw her. "I thought you were at your mother's today," he said as he attempted to casually wipe the frosting from his mustache and lay the cinnamon roll on the counter behind him. Hiding it too late. She'd been right. He was cheating on their diet.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Space Monkeys - Flash Fiction Friday



The monkeys running the spaceship were getting cranky. In their defense, they had been at this for hours now; well past their usual end of shift. Allie told herself she'd make it up to them. Soon. The major damage had been repaired, and it was clear now they would successfully make it to the next system. 

She made herself focus on the problem at hand. Her mind kept wandering back - thinking of ways to get revenge on the pirates who had attacked them so far out here between stars. Thankfully none of the monkeys had been hurt, and the ship could be repaired enough to limp to safety. She watched them with pride as they scampered and swung around the engine room. It looked like were a thousand of them when they were all working like this, although in reality there were only thirty. Much smarter than anyone gave them credit for, they seemingly could learn anything. The best part was that Allie had all the help she needed to run the ship, and she didn't have to deal with other actual people. At least, not often. 

The swirl of motion was slowing. Some monkeys came to the ground and moved off in a line toward the kitchen for food. A few more headed straight to the bunks. Allie closed the panel she had finished rewiring. They had done it. They had finished the repairs. Those that passed close enough, Allie reached out to pat. Some reached a friendly hand back to her in reply. Meeko, one of the more cuddly monkeys, climbed Allie's leg and held onto her in a hug as she walked. They had adapted well to living out here, and Allie couldn't imagine a better life.