Tag Archives: healing

Susan Speaks: Into the Woods


So you need an editor like NOW.

Sorry. I am taking the week off this week and heading into the woods. I’m sitting on a mountaintop in West Virginia, by and large. Distances are large and I’m hoofing my way around, camera in hand, to take pictures of my seven so they’ll have cool High Adventure shots for their Eagle ceremonies. Concussion (which may not be a concussion) and pinched nerve (which definitely is a pinched nerve) and bad shoulder be damned. I’m going. Cool High Adventure shots for Eagle ceremonies.

Okay, the girl won’t have an Eagle ceremony. She wants to earn a bigger and better award, and we’re going to see what of that we can get started, too.

This is my reading this week:

Existing clients, or those content to wait, my phone and my laptop are coming into the woods with me, and the camp is entirely connected (thanks, AT&T) so don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or manuscripts that need my eagle eyes. Just… don’t expect me to do a lot of editing. This week’s about giving the eye time off. I know the surgeon said it’s healed, but… what if it isn’t, and the time I’m spending into the woods is a helpful thing?

See you when I survive the bears. And the poisonous snakes. And the ambient showers, camp food, and a tentmate, which is scarier than poisonous snakes.

After that, we go from Into the Woods to Frisbee Central again, and a trip to the Youth Club Championships. And then, if I don’t collapse from it all, I get to be home for a good, long while. Flood my inbox with your fantastic manuscripts, authors. I’ve got to pay for all these adventures! And beyond that, you guys make me love what I do. I can’t wait to come home, chomping at the bit to get busy again.

You guys inspire me. Keep it up. And flood my inbox.


Six. Six months. Six diopters. Twenty-six.


Today is the twenty-sixth Saturday of 2016. That means it’s exactly six months since I fell off my bike and tried to take out my own eye.

How you noticed how the way I talk about it has changed? From a “catastropic fall off my bike” to “trying to take out my own eye.”

Time heals all wounds, the cliche goes. And my eye is healing. I just got back from a visit to my optometrist, who was able to adjust my prescription down. It’s still honkingly high – that’s what one of those sixes refers to — but it’s better than it was. And for the first time, the optometrist grabbed a prism and took a look inside. He said it looks good. He said that until he looked up to the area of the original tear, he’s seen similar scarring in eyes that haven’t had surgery, eyes that have had worse vision than a minus six. And he said the cataract was almost impossible to look through without dilating my eye. I can’t wait to hear what the surgeon says when I see him in a few weeks.

Way back in February and March, when celebrities and it seemed like everyone else was dropping dead on a daily basis, a lot of my friends were wishing they could have a do-over for 2016.

I get where they are coming from. I feel for their pain. It was a very rough way to start a new year.

But me? Nope. I wouldn’t redo most of the past six months. I wouldn’t reset time and not be on my bike. I wouldn’t stop my handlebar from hitting me. I might have gone directly to the second ER a bit faster, but that’s about the only change I think I’d make — but even that is a hard call, as it was the first ER who called the surgeon who saved my eye. Would the second have done that? Or would they have called someone else, someone who wasn’t as skilled?

I’d let it happen again. I think I’d let it all happen, exactly as it did.

Crazy, huh?

That’s because I had to almost lose my vision in order to see more clearly.

And boy oh boy, do I see more clearly. Like the value of so-called friends and the people who don’t call themselves friends but act like it when the time is right. Like the difference between what’s worth fighting for and what’s worth fighting over. The definition of respect, of healthy relationships, of what it means to be scared and what it means to have faith in yourself. I first noticed this back in March, at my son’s Frisbee tournament, but I am not planted in one spot anymore. I can and do move, and it’s fun and it’s great and I’ve got a right eye full of scars and ripples that may never go away and will always affect my vision and dammit, but I’ve never been happier.

I had to almost lose my vision to find a new freedom.

Six. Six months after that horrible Saturday morning. You can still look at me and see the incision the surgeon made just to the side of my iris. You can still look at the outside corner of my eye and see where it ruptured. You can still see a bloodshot eye that’s not quite as white as its partner. The incision should smooth out. The bloodshot areas may or may not go away and the trauma and steroids may not let my eye ever be totally white again, but frankly, I hope the rupture never lies flat.

I almost lost my eye, not just my vision. I should have a visible reminder of that. You all should see the scars; you all should know what happened, what I’ve overcome. And you all should celebrate with me that we can see those scars, that there is an eye to look at.

On the six-month anniversary, on the twenty-sixth Saturday of the year, the vision in my beat-up right eye is a minus six. It’s an improvement from what it had been.

Six. Six. Six.

I remember being in the hospital the day after it all happened — the fall, the hospital hop, the surgery — and asking the good-looking resident and the cool-as-anything fellow if it was fair to expect to spend the bulk of 2016 dealing with this. It was a fair question: it was the third day of 2016. People are still thinking about the promise of a year ahead at that point.

He couldn’t answer. Or he wouldn’t.

But I knew.

Twenty-six weeks. Six months.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.


#SaysTheEditor: Slogging Through


The Thursday running up to Week Fourteen hit me hard. Really hard. Like: three naps in one day hard.

Healing is like this. It’s tricky stuff, if you think about it.

I’ve had a million and three orthopedic injuries. Usually, by week 14, you’re out of the cast, if there was one, into the brace, and deep into rehab (or, if you’re me, you’ve finally admitted defeat and been to see the doctor). There’s some sort of progress you can measure, be it number of appointments or number of reps, or even pain-free days.

Eye injuries aren’t like that. Not even close. And so, being in the middle of the healing process is that much harder.

It reminds me of the drafting progress, when writing that bad (or sloppy or whatever you’d like to call it) first draft turns into less writing and more slogging through. When all you can do is keep putting foot in front of foot, word in front of word.

This is the time to give yourself permission to do what it takes. Three naps. Write absolute garbage. Write more garbage. Take another nap. Keep on slogging through.

The only way to reach the end is to pass through the middle. It really and truly is.

The good news is that for writers, there’s this magic process called revision, where you can erase all signs of slogging through. This is why writing is a craft, folks. You get to reshape, modify, perfect your words, your ideas, your characterization, your plot points, your tension. You get a do-over, as many as you think you need. And this is a good. Putting in the hard hours, taking a walk to chew over a turn of phrase, changing things, asking, “What if this happens instead?” or “What do you mean that’s Tom who does that, not Harry?”

In this, writing’s got one up on healing. Because when healing, all I can do is take another nap. And while it may be good for the body, it’s hard to quantify in notes to a client, in revisions of my own fiction.

It’s hard, this slogging through. No one said it was easy… but then again, aren’t the best things in life the things you work hardest to obtain?

Take a nap. Write garbage. Keep on slogging through.


Susan Speaks: Eleven


The eleven week mark came and went pretty unremarkably. And yet, it was the single most important week since it happened, since the retinal repair. This was the third in the series of important things — all things come in threes, right? — and of it all, this was my favorite important week yet.

I went from being a patient to being myself again.

Now, as I’ve said, full healing will take about a year. My optometrist yesterday said he can’t even guess when the cataract/refraction surgery will take place. Maybe the surgeon is waiting for more healing, less swelling. Maybe he’s waiting for the cataract to sing and dance (okay, not anyone’s words, but you know what I mean). Maybe he’s waiting for my vision to settle and resolve — that’s what my money is on. And I’m in no rush. A new pair of glasses is being made as we speak. It’s all good, even if it’s not over yet.

And it is good.

I had agonized from the moment this happened about whether or not I’d be available for last weekend, for this eleventh anniversary.

My son had an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. The coach had told me back in November he wanted me to be there. Hell, *I* wanted to be there; there’s something magical about being outside all day, watching the heart and soul that Ultimate demands of its players. And even though this weekend wound up being cold and rainy on the first day, causing a couple emergency runs to stores for heavier clothes and trash bags to keep gear dry, it was still magical.

See what I mean?


This was warmup Sunday morning. Yes, that’s frost on the ground. Yes, that’s a hot air balloon in the background. Yes, I had a hard time seeing to grab this shot, between the sun and my poor beat-up eye. But it hung there so perfectly over the team…


I stood there, on Sunday, the day after the eleventh anniversary of the day I tried to kill myself with a bicycle, and I took a deep breath of the around-freezing air. And at last, I felt alive again. Not wounded, not scared of what was going to happen. Myself. Strong, tough, smart, cool. A small force of nature. Restored.

Okay, and a little bit cold, too. And maybe, just maybe…

a little bit muddy.



Susan Speaks: Evicted


N20 wristband

The first theory was that the nitrous oxide the surgeon had filled my eye with would be gone four weeks post-surgery, but nope. Wishful thinking.

The gas remained in my eye until a few days past the eight week post-surgical mark before my body evicted the last of it.

It was kind of funny, actually. I could see it when I took my shower (with these gas bubbles, you can see them. You’re not supposed to be able to see through them, but your favorite editor here truly has an eagle eye), and it was small. Really small. The size of some of the breakaway spots I’d gotten to watch early on. I knew that, at last, I’d be free of it. Yes, I’d begun to have doubts. I’d presented it with rent agreements. When those had failed, I’d warned it that it would be evicted.

Twenty minutes after my shower, I looked down and … couldn’t find it. So I waited an hour. Tried again.


I kept trying for a few hours after that, but it didn’t reappear. And the feeling of looking through a drop of water was vanishing, too.

The sexy lime green wristband came off. The car keys came out.

I have my freedom back (but I uh… clearly… need a new prescription to get me over the hump until the refraction), but it may be short-lived. We’ll know more next week.

In the meantime, if you need me, check the garage. If the cars are there, don’t be surprised to find me on a yoga mat.

I have nine weeks of sit-ups, push ups, and planks to make up for.

Oh, and a bike or two to ride.


Susan Speaks: Questions, questions, and more questions


It’s hard to detail the healing when it happens in such small increments. There’s more time between visits to the surgeon. The eye itself is more open, which means I can see how red it still is, especially at the site of the rupture. And I am an absolute pro at pouring eye drops down my face, particularly when I’m tired.

The laughing gas Band-aid should be disappearing soon, although at this point in time, I’d say it seems determined to outlast the surgeon’s prediction. What’s cool is that, from time to time (usually when I’m a bit more active than merely sitting around), I can see little dots break away from the bubble and float away into the ether. Best guess is that’s the reabsorption of the gas. It’s like sunspots. My own private show.

Work is still slow, because my vision is still off and I still tire easily. It’s no longer double, which reinforces the idea that it’s the gas bubble that caused it. Now I have streaks, color, auras… except they aren’t auras. They are streaks of color. As I’m typing, they are the color of my hands. I need a lot of breaks, a lot of naps, but I am working and have a bunch of clients to schedule. That’s good. I can only exist on savings for so long before they run out.

But now I begin to think too much. Will I be able to get a contact on a repaired eye? Will I need to; I’m told (but not by my surgeon) that the cataract surgery will include Lasik. Will they do one eye, or both? If they don’t do the good eye, I’m SO ordering the expensive contact lenses for it! Is the cataract even forming? What’s the expected timeframe? A year… a month… what?

And, of course, is the repair holding?

I passed the six-week mark of the accident last Saturday, and the five-week mark of the repair surgery yesterday. Will I be able to go to my son’s next Ultimate frisbee tournament? Not just will I be medically cleared, but will I have the stamina, the energy? No one said I have to stand on the edge of the field for six or eight hours, but … it’s a long drive, from here to Cincinnati. I want to: I want to drive the boy and the two I took to Virginia back in November. (that feels like an entire lifetime ago, and in a way, I suppose it was) But can I? Is this realistic, when I am still homebound, when two hours doing errands wipes me out?


I’ve been told I think too much. I don’t doubt that I probably do. And, of course, the best way to stop all the questions, other than being patient and finding out the answers in due time, is to distract myself. With work.

Back to it, then.


Susan Speaks: Finding Balance


We all struggle with finding balance in our lives. That’s normal.

It’s just extra hard when one day, you feel really good so you sit and work and make lofty goals for the week, and the next day, you crash back to earth and can barely tolerate looking at a screen as stuff piles up.

I’ve been cleared to lay on my right side and my stomach, which I still can’t do because of the ongoing orthopedic issues. Tuesday night was the first night in I don’t know how long that I didn’t get up during the night and come sleep on the couch, on my back but propped up as the doctor ordered.

And don’t tell the kids, but I am allowed to cook, wash light dishes (the surgeon clearly doesn’t know I use All-Clad, picked up at seconds sales for all you who wonder how I can afford All-Clad on my budget. That’s how. My kids won’t need to buy cookware, and maybe my grandkids won’t either, unless there are more grandkids than there are pots), and do the laundry.

So there’s progress, and it’s welcome and moving about feels good.

Maybe that’s the problem. Editing isn’t exactly the most physical of jobs. That’s why a week post-surgery, the doctor cleared me to return to it. But… I do need it, or I feel like I’m sliding into a morass of laziness.

Not to mention that my wounded eye still picks up and reflects screen light back at me for hours after I’ve walked away.

So… balance. Clients who are waiting on stuff, I’m moving along. Slowly, but I am. Clients afraid to send me stuff, get over that. I’m a bit slower, so know that and adjust your schedules accordingly. And clients who still haven’t figured out you should be reading my blog, well… I don’t know how to help you at this second. See above about screens and lights. No offense, but I’d rather tackle the work waiting for me. I’d rather you add to the pile.

Don’t hold back. I’m good at what I do, and that means I’m good at reaching the balance I need.

Okay, maybe I’m not so good at maintaining my balance when on a bike and presented with a set of circumstances that’ll probably never be replicated or known, but really? You gonna hold one little spill off a road bike against me?

For the record, I can still close my eyes – yes, both of them – and see pink handlebar tape coming at me. Even though the pink handlebar tape has long been dumped in a landfill by this point. It may never leave me.

It’s a good reminder of the need for balance. On the bike. In life. And yes, in your writing.

You really think I wouldn’t be able to stop talking about writing forever? Really? And here I thought you knew me…


Featured New Book Spotlight: Killing Secrets by K.L. Docter


It was looking like the spotlight would be a bit dark this week when Karen Docter popped into my inbox with a new book! The lady couldn’t have had better timing if she’d tried.


What song makes me think of my book, Killing Secrets (A Thorne’s Thorn Novel)?
A Broken Wing by Martina McBride Martina McBride – A Broken Wing
Martina’s song is about a controlling man who uses his wife without giving anything back to feed her or her dreams. The song reminds me of Rachel James, the heroine of my new romantic suspense thriller, Killing Secrets. Rachels ex-husband was more controlling than the man in Martina’s song, and he kept her from leaving him by threatening the little girl she’d die to protect. She escapes him for a few months when she helps put him in jail. In Killing Secrets, he finds her and will do anything to get Rachel and little Amanda back. But Rachel’s learned to fly and she’s not going to be caged again. Meeting her real hero, Patrick Thorne, she finds a way to make her dreams come true. Even he recognizes that Rachel is a broken wing when he meets her, but he falls in love with her as they get to know one another. In many ways, he’s as broken as she is. Together, they heal past wrongs and expose the secrets that dominate their lives.


I understand that desire, to never be caged again.

Ready for the book description?

Rachel James’ ex-husband is released from prison determined to reclaim her and her little girl — the child is his key to controlling the James fortune. Frightened, Rachel flees to Denver with the child who hasn’t uttered a word since her daddy went to prison.

Contractor Patrick Thorne wants nothing to do with another of his parents’ charity cases. He failed his own wife so abysmally she took her own life as well as his unborn son’s. After two years, it’s time to concentrate on the bid he’s won and the saboteur trying to destroy his construction firm.

There is no room for trust in either of their hearts. But trust is all that will untangle the secrets that dominate their lives, free a little girl of her silent prison, and save them all from a serial killer who stands too close.

(A Thorne’s Thorns Novel)

Oh, nice! I think I need to read this one. Karen, you’ve made a fan!

Pick up your copy today.


And connect with Karen, too. You’ll be glad you did!

Amazon Author Page/K.L. Docter
Facebook/K.L. Docter
Book Bench for Romance Lovers FB Group
Linked In


Priscilla Fiction: The Marriage Bed


Some new characters I’ve been playing with… tell me what you think of them. Yes, they are part of the Trevolution!

Priscilla felt lame. That was the only word for it. Lame. As in: uncool. Tragic. Loser. It took her right back to life with Gregg, when he’d managed to convince her she wasn’t good for anything—but, at the same time, she had to maintain the image of the perfect housewife. Wear the high-end designer suits, have lunch with the ladies, have manicures, pedicures, facials. Use a personal shopper. And on and on.

It had been all about maintaining his image.

All that was so far behind her, she wasn’t sure why she was standing here on the edge of Zephyr’s studio, feeling inadequate as she looked over his latest creation: a new bedframe.
He came to stand beside her, crossing his arms over his chest.

“It’s beautiful,” she breathed.

“Yes,” he said.

She tried not to let his usual terseness bother her. That was who he was; Zephyr wasn’t a man of many words. Cassandra said it was the way he’d been brought up: measure what you say. Make sure it’s worth saying. She’d said the only time he forgot that instruction was in bed, that he lost control of his mouth and his words wouldn’t cooperate with the austere life he’d been taught to lead.

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Cassandra will call the family who commissioned it. She’ll handle it.”

“I want one like it.”

He looked at her, uncrossing one arm from over his chest. “You do.”

She nodded. “I do.” She licked her lips—and realized this was what was causing the lame feelings. She wanted a bed by Zephyr. She wanted a bed for Zephyr, and a bed with Zephyr.

But first, she had to be able to afford a bed by Zephyr, and they both knew she wasn’t there yet.

“I’ll let you know when,” she said. “You are not to make me one as a token of our love or anything.”

“A man should make his wife a marriage bed,” he said. “That way, it’s sacred to them both.”

She paused, not sure how to take that. Was he hinting at something? Insinuating that the people who’d commissioned this had been wrong to? Was he passing judgement on how and why people cheat?

“And what should a wife do? That’s a big gesture, to make a bed. What’s her contribution?”

“The quilt,” he said. “The sheets. The pillows. Each brings something vital that makes the experience complete.”

Priscilla nodded. Life with Gregg hadn’t been like that. Not really. He had brought money and image. She had brought his image to life. She hadn’t been allowed to contribute. Not the way Zephyr meant.

She turned her head and looked out the wide door of his workshop. “So Cassandra will handle it all from here? Getting it wrapped up and shipped out of here?”

He nodded once.

“The payment?”

He nodded again.

Priscilla tried not to sigh. Why was she expecting Zephyr to share his financial arrangement with Cassandra? Sure, she needed to know so she didn’t make any mistakes with her own business, but this was Zephyr. He only spoke when he had something of value to offer. He’d made it clear more than once that his business wasn’t of value to Priscilla.

He believed in hard work, and once upon a time, Priscilla hadn’t been afraid of it, either. But then had come Gregg.

Zephyr moved away from Priscilla and started examining pieces of wood. He’d lost interest in her brooding, not that she blamed him. And he had more work to do, another project to get started. Another marriage bed, or a book case, or one of his famed dining room sets. Priscilla didn’t know.

She left his studio and went back to the cottage. He wasn’t the only one with work to do.

That resolution let her feel a lot less lame.

This has been a Three Word Wednesday post. Be sure to see what others are up to. And don’t neglect the #FridayFlash crowd, either!