Day 159-Flash Fiction Fridays-

Welcome to Flash Fiction Fridays, where I will attempt to regale you with a tale of my own creation.  Flash fiction is gaining popularity among writers, from what I’ve been reading, and can be defined as a story which is told in under 1000 words, some editors preferring the length to be no more than 750. Here is my first attempt.

The Jetty

My own photo-taken on the jetty 

Just to be on the jetty again was such a thrill, sharing the same space with the seagulls and egrets was her idea of Heaven. By the time the excursion was over, Kelly Butler would realize just how close she’d come to becoming an angel.

Salty waves rolled over her toes as she searched the beach for the coveted shell de jour. Sand dollars. That was what Sherry wanted for her next project and Kelly was determined to make it happen. Sherry Campbell was her best friend in the world and Kelly just loved her creations. Restoring other’s cast-offs was her specialty and Kelly had been the lucky recipient of more than one of her home made treasures. Assisting her locate the perfect shell insured her chance the project would possibly grace a spot in her home.

It had been ages since she’d been back here in Nueces County and the smell of the ocean, along with the sound of the waves gently lapping at the shore had her feeling somewhat giddy. The beach was yielding no treasure at the moment though, so Kelly made the decision to explore the rocks that made up the jetty for a spell. Sherry seemed reluctant, wading and watching as Kelly wandered off, content to do things her own way-at her own speed. Kelly knew the jetty boat would return soon, however, and was filled with a sense of urgency at the thought of not finding the prized specimens in time.

They were on the beach side, so Kelly felt safe peering down through the cracks and crevices the jetty created, careful not to slip on the slimy algea and mosses that grew there. Finding nothing but hermit crabs and sea trash had her fearful the day’s quest would go unfulfilled, when Sherry suggested they try the inlet close to where the jetty boat docked. Game for adventure and eager to please, Kelly followed her down the long, cracked and somewhat crooked sidewalk atop the rocks that made up the jetty. Just as she was about to snap a photo of a great white egret, it flapped its mighty wings, startling her and causing her to slip over the side of the jetty.

Sherry turned in time to see Kelly, feet airborne as she slipped into the rocks and waves below. Shrieking, she ran to the edge and stepped down to the driest boulder available. As soon as the waves receded, she dove into the ocean, clearing the rocks and diving down in search of Kelly. Another round of waves crashed under the dock where Kelly had drifted, limp and unconscious. Sherry broke through the surface of the water, flailing and struggling to avoid the rocks as the waves continued to pound against them. Internally, she was freaking out, anticipating the arrival of the jetty boat about thirty minutes away.

Fighting the urge to struggle, she tried frantically to see any sign of Kelly as the waves kept pushing her toward the giant slabs of granite. Out of peripheral vision, she saw the strap of Kelly’s hot pink bathing suit top and started trying to swim in that direction. She had to reach her before she went under and was lost forever. Adrenaline took over then and with the next wave, her foot struck the rock and she pushed off of it, launching herself sideways, towards the dock. Luckily, at that moment, a lull in the waves allowed her to reach the support pilings, which she clung to for dear life. With one hand grasping the the wood, she reached out and grabbed Kelly’s floating foot with the other. Kelly’s head was bleeding profusely, but she had her and she refused to let go.

As she tried desperately to hold on to Kelly while holding the dock support, she saw the first of the other island visitors approaching the landing, as it was nearing time for the jetty boat to arrive. Sherry screamed “Help” for all she was worth and luckily, one of the beachgoers heard her cries and ran to the dock. After what seemed like forever to Sherry, a human chain had been constructed, leading from the jetty down to the closest boulder breaking the water’s surface. The next thing she knew, an arm encircled her waste and hoisted her and Kelly onto the rock’s edge. The next person in the chain took charge, grabbing Kelly from her arm as another person grabbed Sherry’s bathing suit straps and held on as she turned to climb up the next rock. The gentleman who had rescued Sherry held tight to her waist as he tried to hoist himself onto the rocks next to her.

The waves were relentless, threatening to drag them all back into the sea as they desperately clung to each other while simultaneously trying to make their way back to the safety of the jetty walkway. An exhausting fifteen minutes later, Kelly and her rescuer were at the landing, her rescuer attempting CPR. Sherry and her savior and the remaining beachgoers were alternately sprawled across the walkway, panting and shaking from the effort to climb their way back to safety. As the jetty boat approached the dock, the captain viewed the chaotic scene. Before he exited the craft, he radioed for assistance from the coast guard and grabbed his first aid kit. Docking the boat, his first mate jumped off the bow and onto the landing, racing to reach Kelly’s side.

Kelly awoke hours later, at the medical center, confused and disoriented, but alive. She tried to think but her head was pounding her limbs felt weighted down. As the room slowly came into focus, she saw Sherry standing at the rail of the hospital bed, a look of concern and worry on her face. “I thought you were shark food” she said and that’s when realization dawned on her and she asked her what all had transpired. Sherry told her of the saviors that had rescued them both and how all the beachgoers had pitched in to help. Kelly’s eyes brimmed with tears and she reached for Sherry’s hand. Sherry grasped it, and leaning over the bedrail said to Kelly, “I didn’t need the sand dollars that bad girl!!”

 

i

 

Day 158-Throwback Thursday-Glamour Shot

Well, here goes nothin! I’m starting this here feature today with a lovely little gem from 1994.

Me (circa 1994) and my Glamour Shot
Me (circa 1994) and my Glamour Shot

This was when I came up with the brilliant idea to have a Glamour Shot done of myself as a present to my husband for his birthday, or Christmas…memory fails. In fact, this feature will be a challenge for me because that happens a lot-memory fails, that is.

Anyhoo, Glamour Shots used to be a thing back in the 90’s and I had a self esteem problem, still do as a matter of fact, and I just wanted to feel pretty and give him a picture of me when I was pretty…so, now he has that forever. Either he liked it, or was just trying to appease me, but it graced his desk for many years and now resides in our joint office.

Actually, there was two separate pictures, the other one might still be on his desk at work, I think I was in a different jacket or boa or something. I believe it was also a smaller 5×7 shot, part of the package I bought.

They were fun, and really turned out pretty good for the money they cost. Don’t even ask, I can’t recall the price. Probably around $50, which at the time must have seemed like a fortune to me! While scouring the web for information, just now, I found they are still available and can be purchased in packages for as low as $29.95! Haha, I also had to view a bunch of horrid and hilarious (as well as some nice ones) pictures featuring the “models”wearing hats, bringing friends, using props-even handcuffs, yikes!

I’m still kinda proud of mine and the way it turned out, I had so much more hair back in the day!! That was the thing, no matter how I fixed my own hair, I never thought it was good enough (still don’t) and I wanted a professional to make me look good.

So that’s it, do y’all have any Glamour shots you’d like to share? How about a little throwback pic of your own? C’mon now, don’t be shy, play along! I would love to see them! Meanwhile, as you dig through your archives, get ready to join me tomorrow for my very first Flash Fiction Friday, as I try to demonstrate my prowess at the craft. See you then from a very chilly patio! ❄☃

 

Rhyme Time…Ugh Not Again!

img_0691It’s so cold on the patio today, that I can’t go outside and play. Or work for that matter, either one, I was so looking forward to some outside fun. That’s not true, I knew what was coming, however, I know I should be outside running. Or walking, that would do me good, maybe inside the house I should. I’m really just trying to write more words, no time for exercise, hmmm look at those birds. Ok, enough of this mindless blather, I must go soak in a tub and lather. That’s a damn lie too, and you know it; I’m clean and I’m fed, I just don’t want to quit.  Writing that is, has it become an obsession? I’m thinking I’m  feeling a type of depression. Yes. That’s it, it’s because of the cold.  I know that it’s only a matter of time, before I can’t think of more words I can rhyme. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to lament- on another day’s useless energy spent.

Day 157-Wednesday's Medical Minute-Reader Feedback

Today’s post was originally going to be called What To Eat Wednesday, where I would talk about foods I eat while following a Paleo lifestyle. After conferring with Miss Stephanie, however, I decided there is enough info out there in the blogosphere about food and recipes in general, and that I could do the most good and help more folks by talking about the health issues we share, and what can be done about them.

For instance, I have PKD- so maybe sharing details about it could help someone else with it.

Stephanie has a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy called Friedreich’s Ataxia- I could explain some things about what she goes through and how that might help others.

My husband has recently been diagnosed with stage 1 Prostate cancer- again, I could talk about how we arrived at this and how early detection might save another man’s life.

You get the picture, however, I want your feedback so I know how to help you as well. It seems we all have something or know someone who has something that affects us on a daily basis. How do we best deal with it? What are the best ways to treat it? What do you want to know more about or what can you share with me that readers might benefit from?

Say you have diabetes or know someone who does. I want your questions about that. I want to know how I can assist you, or someone you love. Maybe through my research, we will all learn something useful about conditions we didn’t even know existed. Before I met Miss Stephanie, I had never heard of FA. Now I’m learning all about it. In her case, diabetes is a side effect. It is a mystery she herself is still trying to figure out and deal with. Together, we work on her diet to find out what works to keep her numbers low. She also has heart problems because of her disease, eye problems that make her vision “snowy” and loss of balance and coordination. Are there others out there that may benefit from knowing these details? Probably.

That’s why I need your help. You tell me what you want me to cover on the blog. What do you want to know more about, or what questions may I help you get an answer to?

So, with all that being said, today I will discuss some aspects of FA in an effort to explain what someone else might be noticing in their child, or just to know what Miss Stephanie deals with every day.

Stephanie at home, showing off her new hair color
Stephanie at home, showing me that beautiful smile!

Friedreich’s Ataxia is named is named after the German physician that first discussed it in the 1800’s. It is an autosomal recessive inherited disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system. It strikes approximately 1 in 50,000 and manifests in initial symptoms of poor coordination such as gait disturbance. It does not affect cognitive function but can lead to heart disease, scoliosis, and diabetes. Stephanie has all of these problems which require her to use a wheelchair, she also needs assistance with feeding, dressing and bathing, making her totally dependent on others to function.

The Ataxia of FA results from the degeneration of nervous tissue in the spinal cord, in particular sensory neurons essential (through connections with the cerebellum) for directing muscle movement through the arms and legs. The spinal cord becomes thinner and nerve cells lose some of their myelin sheath ( the insulating covering that helps conduct nerve impulses). In Stephanie’s case as well as others, symptoms began early in life, between 5-15, and began with muscle weakness in the arms and legs, loss of coordination, vision and hearing impairment, slurred speech, curvature of the spine, a deformity of the feet called pes cavus- or high plantar arches and carbohydrate intolerance (diabetes), though about 10% of those diagnosed develop type 2 diabetes). The heart disorders are atrial fibrillation and resultant tachycardia (fast heart rate) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

It presents before 22 years of age with progressive staggering and frequent falling. Lower extremities are more severely involved. The symptoms are slow and progressive and after 10-15 years with the disease, patients are usually wheelchair bound and require assistance with all activities of daily living.

So, if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to get medical assistance. It is not their fault, they are born with this genetic problem. They cannot help it if they are stumbling or suddenly lose the ability to hold a spoon and feed themselves. You will require the assistance of many doctors, including but not limited to a pediatrician, cardiologist, nutritionist, neurologist, optometrist, ophthalmologist, and other specialists to deal with all of the conditions it causes. You will also need help from therapists, aides and caregivers, since managing all of these issues can be stressful on the family as a whole.

Since the cognitive function is still in tact however, patients can and do get involved in the treatment process, attend school, manage their social life, use the computer, watch television, read, and otherwise interact with caregivers and parents, doctors and aides, attend church and other places, go to the store, enjoy cultural events and even go on cruises! Stephanie is witty, funny and charming, loves almost everyone she meets and is loved in return. She deals with a lot of problems but remains strong in her faith and is thankful for what she can do and doesn’t focus on what she can’t.  She helps with running the blog set up by Camp Craig Allen, an organization who provides a place where children and adults with disabilities can go for fun, and therapeutic activities.

Stephanie put herself through college and managed for many years on her own, however, she had to move back in with her parents when the disease progressed to the point she could not function without 24/7 care. They reached out for assistance through a government agency called CLASS, who helped with issues like obtaining caregivers and medical equipment.

My hope is that the information I’ve shared here can help someone else who may be dealing with issues like Stephanie’s, and if you have questions, feel free to ask them. What I don’t know how to answer, Stephanie can fill in the blanks. She is extremely knowledgeable and wants to help others learn more about her disease.

For more information see MDA.org and NORD-National Organization for Rare Disorders

 

 

 

Day 156-This is My Essay Tuesday-Changed My Religion (Group)

Oh my goodness! First, before I start my essay, I have to say I’m shocked and just a little bit proud this morning. I surpassed my writing goal for the day yesterday (1700 words) and wrote a total of 1975 words! Woot! If I can manage that on a work day…

On second thought, I also got up at 5am yesterday, and today I did not. That just means I will have to work harder to get er done today-not everyday will work out perfectly, I’ll just take it one step at a time.

Ok, my idea for Tuesdays was to do an essay from one of my life experiences, kinda like Galina did last year on Hearts Everywhere blog, but not copy what she calls them, which is Life Clubs (now patented, I believe) At first I thought about Group Lessons, since they are things many of us go through, but my own take on them. Now I’m not sure, so I guess I will just write them and see what y’all think.

This is my essay for today-

I was raised in the Catholic religion. My Dad is Catholic and tried to instill the values and beliefs into my brother and I by taking us with him to church, as often as possible. I went through catechism and joined the youth group when I became old enough, and I never saw a problem with it. I loved our church and all that it stood for, and my Dad eventually joined the Knights of Columbus, but not until I was grown and married. I’m proud of him for becoming a Knight of some stature, now that he is in his early 80’s and his health is declining, he doesn’t make the meetings anymore. He does still attend church, even though he doesn’t hear as well.

When I got married, however, I learned that my husband was raised as a strict Southern Baptist. I attended the church of his grandmother, several times, but as a couple, we knew that was not what we wanted. My husband did not want to join the Catholic church either, so we compromised. We became Methodists and found a church we could both feel comfortable in. I won’t go into what we could have done or should have done when it comes to our kids, suffice it to say, they made their own decisions and are finding their own way to this day. In the very beginning, we lived in Haltom City and actually chose a Christian church, where we fell in love with our minister- Mark Fish. When he was called to serve his home church in Tennessee, we and the rest of the congregation missed him terribly, it eventually caused division in the church and we among other people, left and searched for another.

When we moved to Alvarado, some years later, we found a lovely little church lead by a charismatic minister named A.J. We found peace and joy, loved the little 100 year old church and would still be going, had we not moved again. When we made the move six years ago to Groves, down in southeast Texas, we tried several Methodist churches before we found the one that stuck. See, Methodists move their ministers around- they rotate them to other churches in an effort to reach and teach other congregations what the’ve learned about the last. Anyway, we usually find a church, fall in love with the minister, and then he gets moved. That seems to be the pattern and it’s not like we go every Sunday, but we do our best to attend frequently. The point is, we have been comfortable in the Methodist church and we hope to find one here that we both enjoy attending.

Currently, we go to United Methodist of Watauga, or at least I do, most of the time. My husband has not committed fully, and admittedly, I don’t go every Sunday. I enjoy it when I do and I have made a few friends there. Problem is, we are still undecided at the moment, that this is where we want our home church to be. If Cahill, the church in Alvarado, wasn’t so far, it would be a no brainer, but it is, so that’s out.  We will find one eventually, and then I hope we can both feel comfortable and make a commitment we can live with. Until then, I will go where I am now, and I’ll take him when it’s possible. After all, church is just the place you go to fellowship, when really, if you know and love God, he lives in your heart. You can worship Him anywhere. That is our belief, and I’m sure that in time, we will find a new church home.