Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!

This week’s episode is little bit different.  Apart from the state of the world, Rekka has some personal news that she’d like to update everyone on. This, of course, leads to our topic for the week which is personal setbacks. When there is major event or change in your life, how do you cop and how do you keep writing? When is it time to take a step back and consider stopping?  No one can answer those questions for you, but on this episode we talk about our own personal experience and offer some advice. We are all living in uncertain and while it is often frightening and overwhelming, we can all be there for each other with help and support as we adjust to our new normals.

We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.

We Make Books is a podcast for writer and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and your favorite way you are passing the time while social distancing and sheltering in place – stay safe everyone!

We hope you enjoy We Make Books!

Twitter: @WMBCast  |  @KindofKaelyn  |  @BittyBittyZap

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Kaelyn (00:00):

Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of we make books a show about writing, publishing and everything in between. I'm Kaelyn Considine, I'm the acquisitions editor for Parvus Press.

New Speaker (00:08):

And I'm Rekka, I write science fiction and fantasy as RJ Theodore.

Kaelyn (00:12):

And uh, this is going to be a very short intro because of the beginning of the show is kind of the intro. Um, the theme for today is, I'm sure you can tell from the title of the episode is we're talking about personal setbacks and um, Rekka has been experiencing some of those. So rather than spend a lot of time talking about the episode right now, we're just going to jump right into it and uh, give Rekka a chance to kind of give everyone an update on some things that have been going on in her life.

New Speaker (00:37):

So slight pause for music.

Speaker 2 (00:46):

[inaudible]

Kaelyn (00:52):

Okay. And we're back. Not that we ever went too far to begin with -

New Speaker (00:58):

Except this time you didn't even bother coming over to my house to record.

Kaelyn (01:02):

It's true. You may notice that, uh, this episode sounds a little different in two ways. One is that we are recording over the interwebs.

New Speaker (01:11):

Due to an overabundance of caution.

Kaelyn (01:14):

An over abundance of caution. There's two reasons for this. One obviously is coronavirus Hey, yeah, everyone is self isolating. Um, I as I'm sure those who have listened before know I live in New York city. Um, things here are mostly fine, however they are kind of recommending that we all may have been exposed and not be aware of it. So to kind of keep your interaction with other people to a minimum.

New Speaker (01:41):

Yeah. Plus trains are kind of filthy to begin with and Kaelyn getting on a train concerned me for Kaelyn's sake, but also what might come along with her.

Kaelyn (01:50):

And that was a particular concern for Rekka.

Rekka (01:54):

I am now immuno-compromised.

Kaelyn (01:56):

Rekka is officially immuno-compromised. at this point. Um, so for those of you who, you know, follow Rekka on Twitter or maybe even follow her on Facebook if you're involved in her writing groups, um, Rekka has been posting us some information with some health updates, but I'm not, not too much.

New Speaker (02:14):

I haven't give the whole story in public yet.

Kaelyn (02:16):

Exactly. So, um, you may notice Rekka also sounds a little bit different.

New Speaker (02:20):

Slightly a little bit of cotton ball in the mouth kinda -

Kaelyn (02:23):

I think you sound great honestly. But, um, so without too much more beating around the bush, let's kind of get into Rekka what's been going on with you? So, uh, this all started back in may.

New Speaker (02:36):

No, no. May was the nebula's had already been going on since March of 2019. So this is a year, this is the one year anniversary of me going, Hmm, something's wrong. Um, I, I was working on salvage at the time, actually, no, I was working on cast off and I decided that um, Sophie, a character in the books had a tattoo her chest and it was trying to decide what that tattoo might be. And a friend of mine suggested, I look at the music artist LP because she has a very large ship tattooed on her chest and, and so of course then I check out the music, love the music, sing along with the music in my home studio, which is very sound isolated. And I knew no one could hear me at the top of my lungs for a week and a half. And then I lost my voice. This all seems very normal, no reason for concern other than like maybe don't do that next time. Um, but in trying to rest and relax in my voice, I started to realize this is not happening at the right pace.

Rekka (03:41):

This is taking a really long time. Yes. I'm also recording podcasts. Yes, I'm going to conferences and um, and we both came back from the nebulous pretty sick. Right. So, I mean at that point I didn't think that anything was really wrong, but by the time I was ready to go to, uh, my day job's conference in two weeks after that, I was like, you know, I'm just gonna make an appointment for when I get home just to get this looked at in case. And, um, so I ha I had that appointment after the next conference, which of course I also came back from very hoarse. So that primary care physician said, well, have you ever tried not talking a listener? I fired that primary care physician, but she did recommend that I or she did refer me to an ENT. So I went to see my ENT.

Rekka (04:30):

ENT says, um, so describe your symptoms to me. I'm like, well my throat is really sore and I've got this bump under my jaw and she barely touches the bump. She scopes my throat. She says, well you might have done some vocal cord damage, but it seems to be healing. Here's a list of things to avoid for acid reflux. You're done.

Kaelyn (04:49):

Which by the way, if some of you may already know, Rekka is keto. So then on top of this she was limited to basically soup.

New Speaker (04:57):

That was not the case -

Kaelyn (05:01):

That's what it seemed like.

New Speaker (05:01):

However at that point. I did cut out caffeine because caffeine was on the list. So I'm like, all right, well that makes sense for acid reflux. If I am trying to heal my throat, it would probably do me, you know, some good to avoid these things. So I avoided them for a very long time and it did seem to improve. Um, so I thought that was the end of it. Cause the ENT certainly thought that was the end of it. Like they didn't say, you know, call us in a month and let us know how you're doing. And they didn't follow up that, you know, that was it. They scoped my throat. They said don't eat these things. Nothing wrong with you other than that you're young and healthy. So that's already July. Cause it took me that long to realize like, Hmm, it's not just my overuse of my throat. That is a problem. You know, but it was resting. They, the acid reflux stuff seem to be helping. It would still wear out pretty fast. But I'm not even sure that that's actually related. I just think that's the small health problem that got me thinking closer about the overall health problem as tends to happen.

Kaelyn (05:57):

It turns out, however, that this was not acid reflux. There was actually a pretty significant health.

New Speaker (06:02):

I mean there might've been acid reflux, but it was unrelated to the, the underlying health problem. So I, um, I vacationed in October and while I was away, I scratched what was at that point, a two week old tattoo. And over the next week that we were still on vacation, that tattoo got kinda red and inflamed and hot to the touch and, and from to the touch. So that tends to indicate an infection. So when we got home, I went to my primary care physician again, this was the new one. And she said, while you're here, any other complaints? And I'm like, well my throat's been feeling better but this bump under my jaw is still there. And so she immediately zeroed in on him, bless her. And um, she was like, okay, well I will say if she was up front, she's like, there is such a thing as a salivary gland tumor, but it's very rare. So let's start with salivary stones. Cause apparently that's also a thing I'd never heard of that.

Kaelyn (07:05):

Like I'm learning all of these things that can happen in your neck region now.

New Speaker (07:09):

No kidding. But like also the technician at that location had salivary stones. So it's not that uncommon. It's really bizarre.

Kaelyn (07:17):

So watch out for salivary stones, apparently just drink lots of liquid.

New Speaker (07:22):

I think that that helped the instruction she gave me for the salivary stones, um, was to suck on sour candies, which as we've mentioned, I'm keto. So I was just sucking on lemon wedges and then, um, to use hot compresses. So after like I'd say two weeks or so of really being diligent about sucking on lemon wedges at least twice a day and doing the hot compresses, my tongue went numb, which is not what was supposed to happen. And, um, so I went back to her and she said, I am sending you back to the ENT because, um, now we are not, we are not worried about salivary stone so much anymore, but they will be able to order your imaging and, uh, find out what it really is.

Rekka (08:10):

So this is middle of November and this is the point at which we start to have holidays for irregularly. So I wonder how much faster this would have gone if we weren't constantly timing around holidays. So the CT scan came back that it was not a salivary stone. Uh, the two possibilities now are infection and some kind of neoplasm, which is the, uh, term that they like to use instead of tumor. And, uh, so the next thing was thankfully the ENT just called me and said, now we're putting in orders for an ultrasound with fine needle aspiration. So they sent me in for an ultrasound with a needle biopsy and that came back and conclusive the needle biopsy was, the needle was so fine. They basically didn't get big enough samples to see anything. So we killed two more weeks because by the time I got in for that, a week from the needle biopsy was Christmas.

Rekka (09:03):

So he got the results and he said, ah, they're inconclusive. It's not an infection though. It's some kind of neoplasm that may or may not be a, you know, a carcinoma. So then they, um, faxed over all my information to an ENT and the ENT called me back just after new years. So now we are past all the holidays and things start happening. And so I saw the ENT and he was the first person I, I will say he was amazing, the first person to actually like grab on to my throat and really feel around everyone else was touching it, like -

Kaelyn (09:37):

Gently poking.

New Speaker (09:38):

Like they were afraid I was going to break. I'm like, how can you feel anything? Yeah. And he really did. My husband was there and he was super impressed with how he just like went in there and he was feeling my lymph nodes as well. So, um, we felt really good after seeing him and he said exactly what I wanted to hear at that point. I mean, I was sick of this and he said, uh, we won't know what it is until we get a bigger biopsy sample and if we're getting a bigger biopsy sample, we're taking the whole thing out. He's basically, he said then the next step for diagnosis is also the treatment. Then it was waiting to have their scheduling department call me. And so finally the waiting was over at the end of January. Um, the last time we recorded was like two days after I saw him for the first time. So we didn't know when the surgery was going to be at that point, but he did make it sound like it was going to be pretty fast and it was um, basically they called me on a Friday and it was, and they, um, had me in on Tuesday for the surgery.

Rekka (10:38):

And um, so plan, plan a was just to take out the um, the tumor while I was still under, they did identify cancer cells. So that meant, you know, the full surgical possibility it was going to be enacted, which was to remove 40 of 50 lymph nodes, um, from my neck. So they did that. So the little scar that they were promising me, which actually was sounding really disappointing at the time, is now a very, um, very large scar that I have much pride over.

Kaelyn (11:10):

It's pretty badass.

New Speaker (11:11):

It's very bad ass. I didn't want a eh, kind of scar. But this one, this one says screams cancer survivor.

Kaelyn (11:19):

I think it screams Ninja attack survivor personally.

New Speaker (11:23):

Yeah. It just kind of as some, another author who saw it put it, it looks like someone slipped my throat and I got up and killed them.

Kaelyn (11:31):

It's exactly what it looks like.

Rekka (11:35):

Um, yeah, so it's pretty bad ass. Uh, I thought at the beginning of this I thought that um, based on where it was bothering me, I thought the scar would run vertically over the side of my jaw and I was getting kind of excited about this space, pirate kind of a scar and um, and then when I realized that they were going to run, it was going to be horizontal and they were going to run it parallel to my job. It was like, no, I don't want it now. We don't want the surgery. I wanted that scar. It turns out if they put the scar where I wanted it, I probably would have lost all muscle control and that side of my face. So maybe for the best, maybe we let the doctors and surgeons decide where the scar goes.

Kaelyn (12:06):

Fine. What like they know what they're doing or something? All of this is to come back to say you came out of the first surgery and were given the diagnosis?

Rekka (12:15):

Yeah, yeah. Well, worse. Um, my husband was given the diagnosis and he had to give me the diagnosis, which just about broke his heart. So the diagnosis that my husband had to deliver to me was that yes, I had cancer. Um, I kind of knew it because when I was waking up, they did mention you had a lot of, or you did a big job. I don't remember the exact words, but basically I knew that it wasn't the small incision. I knew that they'd gone for everything and knowing that they'd gone for everything meant I knew what they found. I don't know how I may use this much logic coming out from under general anesthesia, but I understood within moments of me becoming conscious again that, um, my neck had been got wide open and that meant that they found cancer cells. So my husband having to tell me this, he didn't actually, like, I wasn't hearing it from him cause I had already figured it out, but he was, he was very upset and he said, um, you know, it's bad, but, um, the surgeon thinks we're, you know, we're not going to have any trouble beating this.

Rekka (13:20):

You know, they've got a plan. The diagnosis that came up with the final biopsy of the surgery was, was that it was a stage one, which meant early in the cancer's life, however high grade, which meant it was very aggressive, uh, adenoid which means it was in salivary or mucus glands, cystic meaning a tumor, carcinoma meaning cancer. So, um, stage one, high grade adenoid cystic carcinoma of my left submandibular salivary gland. So this is what I'm dealing with, the bump in my throat. Oh, the bump on the outside of my neck, which I only found because my throat got sore. Um, turns out was not a swollen lymph node that was irritated by my other stresses and illnesses, but it was a tumor that had probably been there for awhile. Um, but it took until, you know, the biopsy was complete before I had my final diagnosis, which I'd been trying to get all last year.

Rekka (14:16):

So it was, um, I will say it, it hasn't been a stressful journey to even just get to this point and there was a lot of relief and just having a diagnosis and a plan.

Kaelyn (14:26):

That's a very, that's a very common thing with um, people who have been dealing with, uh, chronic and ongoing symptoms that no one can quite tell them what's wrong.

New Speaker (14:37):

No one believes anything is really going to be that problematic cause I'm young and healthy. Well guess what? Cancer is not really healthy, so stop using that.

Kaelyn (14:45):

Well, think about what your life and your mental state must be like to be relieved to hear that you have cancer.

New Speaker (14:51):

Like how frustrating is this process that you are like, good, good. Now we can do something about it -

Kaelyn (14:55):

Oh thank God, it's cancer.

New Speaker (14:56):

Okay. Well, okay, I will say I never had that phrase pop into my mind.

Kaelyn (15:01):

Um, but yeah. Well, so you know, speaking of, uh, next steps and plans and dealing with things. Um, we are recording a bunch of these right now because Rekka has a step two of, of this treatment coming up.

Rekka (15:17):

The thing they warned me about when I came out from the first surgery was that we might need to do surgery again. Um, and "might" was really more of a, yeah, we're going to do that.

Kaelyn (15:27):

We're going to be doing this. Yeah.

Rekka (15:29):

Basically the nerve that they took, um, runs up and merges with another nerve at a certain point and they found a cancer cell above the point where they branch out. So they are going down the other branch. Now that branch goes through my jaw, they probably would have taken it if it didn't, but because I had only signed off on a couple of things, uh, pre-surgery, they could not, uh, keep going and get it all done in one day. So, um, they waited for the final biopsy, they waited for a pet scan. And, um, at that point they said, we really recommend that you have this, um, left sagittal, uh, mandibular split osteotomy. I think those are the words, what it means, like actually verify what it means is that, um, they're going to do a controlled fracture of my jaw so that, um, they can get in and get the nerve out that's inside left mandible sagittal split osteotomy.

Rekka (16:34):

I think that's what I said that is, so basically if they have to take more than four centimeters of the nerve that's in there and this is a pretty significant portion of my jaw, um, I would say at least 10 centimeters if not, you know, 12. Um, if they take less than four centimeters, that means that they can graft it and I might retain feeling in my face on that side. Cause where it comes out of the jaw is just below the corner of my mouth on the left side. And that's all the feeling on the left side of my mouth. And you know, the obviously the feeling in my jaw on that side. So there's a chance that, um, I guess what they'll do is section the, uh, the nerve and see if they see any cancer cells. And if they don't, then they'll stop and graft it.

Kaelyn (17:21):

So, uh, listeners, by the time you hear this episode -

New Speaker (17:24):

It will already be done.

Kaelyn (17:24):

Rekka will have already undergone the surgery. She will be on the road to recovery that said Rekka is going to have her jaw wired shut which you may suspect is counterproductive to recording podcasts. Listenter you would be correct.

New Speaker (17:40):

I mean, they have told me that I could talk through my teeth, but it's really not great radio.

Kaelyn (17:43):

You're going to be an amazing ventriloquist by the time all this was done. So yeah. Um, we're recording a bunch of episodes now. Um, and hopefully, you know, in a month, a couple of months Rekka will, uh, be well on the mend by then and um,

Rekka (18:03):

Hopefully the quarantines will be lifted, the plague will be over.

Kaelyn (18:06):

That's a whole other, that's a whole other issue.

New Speaker (18:08):

So also because of this upcoming surgery we told Kaelyn, even though we invited you over for corn, beef and cabbage. Um, nevermind, sorry, we love you, but please stay there.

Kaelyn (18:18):

Yup. Which I mean, was the smart responsible adult thing to do.

New Speaker (18:22):

Certainly.

Kaelyn (18:23):

Um, so yes, Rekka is now officially amongst the, uh, the population of immuno-compromised people that need to be taking this very seriously. Um, yeah.

Rekka (18:34):

Not to mention that after the surgery, six weeks later I'm going to start radiation.

Kaelyn (18:37):

Yeah. So, um, we are, uh, we are isolating. We are trying to minimize the spread and risk of contagion here.

New Speaker (18:47):

Yeah.

Kaelyn (18:47):

But, um, so

Rekka (18:49):

While also keeping the wonderful content that you expect from this podcast going.

Kaelyn (18:53):

Yes.

Rekka (18:54):

So along those lines, speaking of content, uh, as we mentioned at the, in the brief intro, uh, we're talking about personal setbacks today and, and Kaelyn suggested this and she was talking professional.

Kaelyn (19:08):

I was talking professional setbacks and we are going to talk about those eventually. Um, but we realized that Rekka really hadn't had a chance to explain to, you know, her loyal and loving fans.

Rekka (19:22):

Not that I owe you an explanation of my health situation and we recognize that you might be protesting is like she doesn't know what's that and that's fine. And I love you for thinking that and um, but the uh, you know, this is going to impact the show. It's going to impact my writing. It's going to impact a lot of stuff. Yeah. So, um, I wanted to talk about it and um, Kaelynknew that you would be concerned for me and wish me well and wanted to give me a chance to tell you what was going on.

Kaelyn (19:49):

So, um, yeah, that's it. Uh, where, uh, going to have limited access to Rekka's, voice in coming weeks and months. Yeah. So,

Rekka (19:56):

so we have some contingency plans. We're going to do what we can to not make the podcast feel like it's getting all that different. But um, you know, it may have to at certain points

Kaelyn (20:07):

And we'll keep you posted and updated and you know, like I said, Rekka is going to learn to throw her voice really well. So, you know, look forward to some upcoming new characters.

Rekka (20:17):

I might even fill in Kaelyn's role sometimes if we can't get together to record that she's going to do both of us.

Kaelyn (20:25):

So, um, yeah. So Rekka, you're, we're, we're going to shift a little bit to an interview format here, um, where we're going to talk about personal setbacks and how that impacts not just your life but especially your writing. So Rekka, overall, how you feeling right now about all of them?

Rekka (20:42):

Well, fuck, I mean, come on. I, I am very positive about my health. I am 200% fucking stubborn to let anything like this stop me.

Kaelyn (20:53):

When we had first heard about this and I had gone up to, uh, to visit Rekka, uh, her husband, Matt and I were sitting up talking and I looked over at him and said, you know, the universe is going to have to drag Rekka kicking and screaming from it. Right? He said, I know. And it's like, okay, just so we're on the same page here, I know you're doing, you know, you are handling this. I mean I can't, I don't want to say handling it better because there is no better or worse when handling

Rekka (21:22):

I have my moments like that.

Kaelyn (21:26):

You are addressing this in what to me is an incredibly admirable way. But as you said, I'm sure you've had your moments.

Rekka (21:35):

Yeah. And honestly, you know, thinking about this in terms of the writing, the, the way that I am dealing with this is allowing myself not to be as productive as I expect to be. Um, well that was,

Kaelyn (21:49):

Yeah, that was my next question is so you know, obviously your life and your health is the first most important thing

Rekka (21:55):

And it has to be and if you want to get through it, you have to prioritize things. So yeah.

Kaelyn (22:02):

Secondarily though, um, this is obviously going to be impacting your writing and the way the rate at which you produce. Um, now I think for a lot of people listening to this and a lot of writers out there would say, well to me I find that kind of a relaxing thing if I've just got to sit around anyway, I plan to do a lot of writing and for some people, depending on what the setback might be, maybe you lost your job. Maybe there's um, you know, other health issues in your family that directly don't directly impact you. If we're getting is an outlet that you can use to calm yourself and to, you know, get some me time in there, then that's fantastic. However, and I think Rekka can speak more to this. Manage your expectations.

Rekka (22:46):

Well, not only that, um, yeah, definitely what you're saying is manage your expectations because losing your job may give you lots of free time, but it also gives you extra anxiety and suddenly, you know, you feel like all your free time needs to be going to finding the next job or you're spending your free time, brain processing power, worrying about bills and what's going to happen with your insurance or your loved ones if they depended on you. I mean there are so many reasons why having more free time is not, you know, suddenly and unexpectedly is not a good thing. Um, and you know, worrying about your family. Let me tell you, I can watch my family around me. They are having a harder time with this than I am. They are con they're preoccupied at all times with what's going on with my health. Yeah. And um, so even if it's not you, even if it's something going on where you might, um, think I should be able to write more, cause I've got lots of time to do it in you brain, just need you to sit and process it.

Kaelyn (23:48):

This is, you know, and we've talked about this in other episodes, um, the time that you need to just sit and think about things in your writing now take that and apply it to, you know, for instance -

New Speaker (24:00):

Dealing with a major crisis.

New Speaker (24:02):

In Rekka's case dealing with cancer. Um, I think that, you know, it is good for a lot of people to try to maintain a sense of a normal schedule to not, you know, have your life completely upended, but you have to acknowledge that your life is going to be completely offended and be okay with that and be okay with that.

Rekka (24:26):

Like acceptance is so much of this, um, understanding like I used to get up every morning at 5:00 AM and write for two hours before I started my work day and then I knew whatever else, you know, went on that day. I'd already gotten my writing done. Um, [inaudible] I started when things got kind of like, Ooh, something's wrong here. I stopped waking up that early, I started letting myself sleep in cause I'm like, all right, my immune system needs some help. I stopped drinking. I enjoy a glass of gin every now and then. Um, I haven't had any alcohol since my tongue went on. Basically. I said, my immune system needs everything I can give it, you know, and he's all hands on deck. Um, I got serious about, you know, my physical fitness, which of course now I can't because I have a scar that's still healing. So, um, I got as fit as I could before my first surgery. Um, because your muscles are really key to your immune system and um, you know, I tried to do everything I could to, um, to prioritize my health even before I knew what this was and knew the long haul I was in for.

Kaelyn (25:34):

Again, this is the prioritization is really important. Um, your health is really important. Your mental health is very important. Um, personal setbacks can come in all ways, shapes and forms. I will, um, I will say that, uh, last fall I had a really rough last fall. Um, I had about a month where nothing really major happened, like the, you know, I didn't, for instance, end up diagnosed with cancer. Um, but I had a couple of deaths in the family really close together. Um, I changed jobs, which, you know, I didn't lose my job and that was still just very stressful dealing with all of that. And you know, then I had, um, also some health issues. I think I had mentioned on the podcast one time when I sounded particularly scratchy, I got strep throat in the middle of all of this and all of these things individually, you know, would be something to just deal with that a jury summons.

Kaelyn (26:38):

So real quick, this is, this is a quick, lighthearted, funny story. October 17th was one of the, what is now most comically bad days of my life. Um, my, uh, my uncle had died. I came home from the funeral and I had been coughing a lot. I hadn't been feeling great. So my cousin calls me, I'm on the other side of the family, which is why she was not at the funeral, just to be clear. And, uh, I had spent the previous weekend with her and she says, um, Hey, I just want to give you a heads up. I have strep throat, she's a teacher so she's around children all the time and they're constantly infecting her with stuff. And I think to myself, God damn it, and I had just resigned my job a week before this. I had two weeks left before I started my new one. I was like, I don't have time for this.

Kaelyn (27:26):

So I went straight to the clinic. They did a rapid strep test. So they're like, Oh yeah that's strep throat. But good news, you caught it pretty early. So you know, it's, so I go home and sitting in my mail is eight jury summons but not just a regular jury summons, eight grand jury summons. Um, the difference here for those wondering is a grand jury is the group of people that sits together and listens to prosecutors, give evidence and decides if they have enough to hand out an indictment. It is a minimum of 20 day service and this is not a situation where you can show up in a princess leia outfit and insists that you shouldn't be on a jury because you're a hologram and they'll send you home. They don't care if your name gets pulled out of the thing you're serving on a grand jury, which I want everyone just to keep that in mind if you're ever thinking of committing a crime.

Kaelyn (28:15):

So the day I was supposed to report for this was the first day of my new job, so thankfully I was able to defer it. Um, but to really round out the story, I'm sitting at home, I have like a glass of wine. My one of my friends came over and you know, I was just watching the football game and all of a sudden I hear all these lights and sirens outside. The short version of this story is I go downstairs and there are six firefighters standing outside with axes debating whether or not it's time to break down the door. I want you to think about what I looked like coughing, crying, bleary-eyed in sweatpants. Ma'am, ma'am, have you been inhailing smoke ma'am?

Kaelyn (29:08):

So apparently what happened was there was a, um, when you rent buildings in New York, you have to have a thing that if certain alarms go off, it automatically calls the fire department. And this one shorted out and called the fire department. So anyway, the whole point of this is, is that, um, by the end of October I, I came up for it to record a track. I go to the Halloween party and I was a wreck. Like just the stress of everything going on. Even though nothing that bad and permanently life-changing had been happening. This is all a very long way of saying that you need to figure out what it is that's causing you stress and take that into account when you have these kinds of setbacks. And don't try to just write it off and tell yourself it's not a big deal. People have it worse than me. I should just put my head down and do this. Cause that's what I did. And let me tell you,

Rekka (30:02):

It extended your pain for sure.

Kaelyn (30:04):

It was, it was not a productive way of handling all of this. Yeah.

Rekka (30:08):

And my not knowing what my issue was was really affecting my mental health. I should also mention that I'm in the hospital after my surgery. I got a grand jury summons. I mean they didn't send it to the hospital, but the week of my surgery, um, I had surgery on Tuesday and on Friday arrived a grand jury summoned, um, this is apparently they are waiting like something in your mental health is pinging the government to send you -

Kaelyn (30:38):

to be like, yes, this is somebody who should decide whether or not people go to, have to go to trial.

Rekka (30:43):

And I don't know if I told Kaelyn this yet. I think I did. Um, since then my husband has gotten jury summons, but just regular, just a regular look. The, the local court. But yeah, I mean, are you kidding me? What is going on? The actual outbreak is jury summons.

Kaelyn (31:02):

So yeah. Well speaking of outbreaks then and things that are stressful, um, I, so I deferred, I last week got my grand jury servings again. I'm, I'm supposed to show up on March 23rd and um, I don't know what's going to happen with all of this.

Rekka (31:17):

Right. And that was another thing that was in the hospital, right. As the, you know, we were getting the first understanding of how big this was in China. Um, you know, when they were no longer able to conceal the numbers, um, that was on the news while I was in the hospital.

Kaelyn (31:35):

So, um, along those lines, and this is going to be one of our rare timely episodes because I'm,

Rekka (31:41):

Yeah, this will date us. I mean, here's your time capsule if you're coming from the future.

Kaelyn (31:45):

Yeah. If you're listening in the future, but for those who, you know, keep up to date with us, this is a rare, timely episode of it. So a personal setback that a lot of people are going to be experiencing now is dealing with this coronavirus situation. Even if you don't have it, um, your life and your movements are gonna be restricted. Um,

Rekka (32:02):

You might be working from home, which in theory you have more time cause you don't have to commute. You don't have to bother, you know, putting on clothes or putting on makeup if you don't want to, which you know, it's up to you if you do it. Honestly, you know, I think we should do an episode on working from home optional, but um, you know, now you've got the stress of like, how is my family, um, am I at higher risk? What exposures have I been exposed to? You know, like now you have all this time but you are stressed in the social media stream. Might be a good time to turn that off because you know, you've got all this constant barrage of updates and numbers and um, media coverage for better or worse.

Kaelyn (32:40):

Yeah. And beyond that, um, this is going to start impacting writers in very real ways that everything's getting canceled.

Rekka (32:48):

Yup. Um, conferences.

Kaelyn (32:50):

Conferences, writing groups of, you know, just general events, just general meetups. Um, you know, this is something that, you know, needs to be taken seriously, obviously. And thankfully people are, cause this is, you know, incredibly contagious and large gatherings of people are not great for that. However, this is going to impact your writing and this will be a personal setback for a lot of people.

Rekka (33:16):

Yeah, yeah. Personal on a national and global scale, but it's still, you know, it affects, you personally don't feel guilty for having negative feelings about this. Like, you know, Katelyn was saying, don't feel like other people have it worse than me. I mean, don't go out to tell other people who do have it worse than you that they don't, but you know, be accepting of what you're going through.

Kaelyn (33:38):

Be kind to yourself about this. It's okay to feel down about things and be disappointed.

Rekka (33:43):

It's like grief. If you try to put it off and put it off and put it off, you're still gonna get hit with it. Um, so the stress and anxiety over the situation, it's like acknowledge it and work with it. Not, don't try to wall it off.

Kaelyn (33:56):

Uh, because I'm going to curtail that into kind of our last talking point on this, which is this kind of thing will affect your writing. Um, there are a lot of very famous stories out there about authors writing things when they were in a bad place.

Rekka (34:11):

Yeah.

Kaelyn (34:12):

And how it comes through in your writing.

Rekka (34:15):

So even if you manage to maintain your productivity, it's going to probably change the tone and Tomber of your, of your work.

Kaelyn (34:22):

Yeah, exactly. So if you, you know, and when you're dealing with, you know, in in wreck case for instance, you know, really significant illness, um, you know, keep that in mind as something that is affecting you. Be aware of this because if, I mean, who knows, maybe this, this will, you know, inspire your writing. Maybe this will work for the better. Um, one of the examples I always use is, um, J K Rowling famously saying she almost killed off Ron in one of the books, out of sheer frustration and depression. Um, you know, thankfully if she did it, but, um, these kinds of things can come through and impact your stories and your characters and your writing. Um, if you want them to and you just want to run with it, that's fine. But you know, it never hurts to also just be, be mindful of what your mental health is doing.

Rekka (35:17):

Yeah.

Kaelyn (35:18):

So, um, that's, you know, as we wanted to kind of use this episode as an opportunity to update but then also discuss something that everyone is probably going to deal with something like this at some point in their life.

Rekka (35:38):

Yeah. And we didn't get to it yet, but, um, what I will say is that the person and the, and the energy and the health and the productivity that I had before this all started, I will never have that again. This personal setback is not a year and a half of dealing with cancer. This is after I come out of the cancer and it's gone. I still am missing 40 lymph nodes. I was still have gone through radiation and I will never be the same person again.

New Speaker (36:05):

Your immune system will forever be compromised.

New Speaker (36:07):

My jaw might be weaker, you know, I might have to watch out like no more bar fights for me, you know.

Kaelyn (36:12):

Um, which is a shame because that was one of my favorite activities when coming to visit you.

Rekka (36:17):

But the, um, you know, the life that I have when this is done is not going to look like the life I had when I started, which was my expectation when I wanted to get through this and get back to my life is what I used to say. Um, it was a big revelation for me to realize that my life is going to not be the life that I thought it was going to have. Um, that doesn't have to be negative. If I can accept that whatever my new normal is, is now my new normal and work with it. And I think that's true for everyone now. Like your setback may not be permanent, but if it is, you're going to be okay. .

Kaelyn (36:56):

Yeah, it's, it's a very difficult thing for a lot of people who experience, um, be it, you know, lost trauma or illness to accept that a lot of times you are going to have a new normal. Um, very rarely can you just get through something and jump back into your life the way you did. Because if nothing else, you have mentally come out of this change. Yeah. You are never going to be the same way you were before. And pretending and trying to be that way is probably not healthy.

Rekka (37:30):

Right. That's, that's how we bury our traumas. That's how we, you know, overextend ourselves. If it's a physical, um, capability that is now lower, um, yeah, being okay accepting that the Rekka of, you know, July, 2020 is someone I haven't met yet. Um, but that I, I will be living with is, um, it's, it's going to be the, the real triumph here. You know, beating cancer isn't up to me. I have a team of people who are going to do that. My job is to be good to myself, to allow myself the space I need to heal and to um, accept the person that I am being transformed into because that's all I can do.

Kaelyn (38:16):

Yeah. So, um, well that's to add real quick. Rekka your prognosis is very good.

Rekka (38:21):

Yeah. Yup, yup. They're not too worried about it, but it does mean like for the rest of my life, every three months I'll be getting MRIs and you know, scans of one kind or another because they've got to keep an eye on this. It can pop up again, can pop up in a month, that can pop up in 20 years. So this is, this is my new normal is every three months I've got to take some time out to go get a scan, which means now I am very concerned about what's going on with like national health insurance, which has added an anxiety, you know, so, um

Kaelyn (38:36):

eah, there is, there's absolutely when dealing with this, with anything that is a personal setback, there's a butterfly effect and there's things that are going to come out of this that you won't even think to consider until they're happening non-skiers down the line. But just to, you know, end on a more positive note record. Your prognosis is very good.

Rekka (39:11):

My prognosis is excellent. Um, everyone's very confident that we can take care of this. Um, so assuming everything goes on schedule, like I said, I will have the surgery, um, by the time you're hearing this, it's already happened and I'm out by a few days. Um, six weeks out from that I start what they're expecting will be six weeks of radiation. Um, basically 12 weeks out from the start of radiation is what is going to be my new normal. And then I won't know until then. So that's like end of July.

Kaelyn (39:40):

But in the meantime, you have, all of us here.

Rekka (39:43):

I have amazing support from friends and family and love and support you and, um, you know, we'll of course be thinking about you. And my publisher has been kind enough not to ask me for the draft that they owe them.

Kaelyn (39:57):

Well, because weirdly enough, you've had a little bit of a personal setback. Yes.

Rekka (40:01):

Um, the, the writing has been, as I said, I stopped getting up at 5:00 AM so nevermind the mental fatigue of, of dealing with all of us, but I also have less hours in the day, um, because I'm trying to give myself eight hours of sleep every night minimum. And, um, that has definitely impacted the time when I would normally get up and write. And that means by the time I get up in the morning and get to the computer, it's time to start my work day. Uh, what I didn't mention, you know, I'm not a full time writer. I have a day job and I've been missing a lot of time from work for surgeries and treatments, which means that I'm also way behind at work. Um, I know you said you wanted to end this on a positive note, but that was something I meant to mention before. It's like, it's not just, um, you know, can I keep my spirits up and um, give myself the time to get back to writing.

Rekka (40:52):

It's like I'm, I'm overtaxing myself trying to stay on top of the work because I have another surgery coming up and I'm going to be further behind when I come out of that. So that's a stress too. And so if you don't have, um, you know, total control of your time, then you gotta, you gotta deal with that. And then of course if I did work from home in my writing, not writing would impact my income. You know, the income I rely on. So it's, it's, um, it's not a great situation to be in whether you have a full time job, although I'm very fortunate that I have, um, very understanding employers who are not counting my PTO with regard to this. Um, and I'm being very well taken care of. But having said that, um, our, my, the company I worked for, their largest income earner is a conference, which is, you know, that's the whole thing comes back around to.

Kaelyn (41:51):

Again, it's a whole butterfly effect, everything is, you know, everything's going to be a, we're going to have to wait and see how it goes.

Rekka (41:56):

And it's an election year.

Kaelyn (41:57):

And it's an election here.

Rekka (42:01):

All right, well, I don't know if we really supplied a lot of answers, but it really does boil down to be understanding for yourself and others around you. Of course. Um, make the time to process and don't try to wall off, um, your anxieties, your fears, your medical conditions from your writing. Um, it's okay if your writing looks different during this time, whether it's your writing time, um, whether you no longer can go to the cafe safely. Um, whether you, um, don't get the writing time in that you want or whether your writing itself starts to feel different because you are processing in your words what's going on inside you. And maybe if you feel like that's undermining something that you were already working on, write something new, you know, write a couple of catharsis short stories and um, do a brain dump. Um, I happened to know that McSweeney's is dealing with a lot of, uh, apocalyptic short fiction right now coming through in their submissions. Um, and it's no wonder, uh, we're just going to all be processing this.

Kaelyn (43:14):

And we'll be seeing a lot more of it now.

Rekka (43:17):

Yeah. And the good news is everyone around you kind of understands right now. Um, some of these, yeah. And some of these personal setbacks are going to happen in the future and unrelated to this outbreak and unrelated to, you know, uh, current diagnosis. Um, sometimes it's grief, sometimes it's medical, sometimes it's, you know, work-related. So no matter when it happens or in what capacity, you really just do have to take care of yourself, make room for you to feel what you need to feel and process it. Um, and forgive yourself for not being the, you know, mega productivity robot that you think you should be. Um, you're a human. Your health comes first and that includes your mental health and, um, yeah, I mean that, that would be what I would advise and, you know, talk to someone, therapists, um, pastors.

Rekka (44:13):

Um, there are a lot of people who can, um, help you process this and you know, friends even, you know, if you have a good community of supporting friends, uh, you know, right now we're all going through it, but there will be times when you, there is somebody who's in a good place and able to take on an emotional burden and really help you. Um, and when we're all going through it together, then we all help each other.

Kaelyn (44:36):

Aww, that's very nice, Rekka.

Rekka (44:39):

Thank you.

Kaelyn (44:39):

Um, well, um, on that note, yes, that's a good, that's a good note to end.

Rekka (44:45):

Okay. That one there. We'll stop there and I won't provide more horrible information.

Kaelyn (44:51):

Um, well thanks everyone for listening. You know, as we set this up, this episode is one of our few timely ones and um, you know, we always try to do stuff that's a little more like question and answer or research driven, but this one, you know, with not only what's just going on in the world but what's going on with Raca seemed like a good, a good topic to discuss. So hopefully you're leaving this feeling a little better then when you came in.

Rekka (45:15):

But um, as always, thank you for listening and you can engage and find us online@wmbcast.com for our backlist of episodes. You can find us at Twitter and Instagram @WMBcast and if you are finding this helpful and you are able, um, we have a Patreon that we would love your support@patreon.com/WMBcast. And, um, if that is not financially viable for you right now, of course, you can always support us by leaving a review on iTunes or Apple podcasts and letting other people know that you liked the podcast or what specifically you liked the podcast for. And that will help other people find and subscribe to us. And if you haven't subscribed yet, of course, please come. Subscribe, subscribe. We always forget to say that one. So yes, we will talk to you in two weeks. And, um, thank you all. I know that I can count on your emotional support, um, while I'm going through this. And, um, some of you are already aware and have reached out and it's, it's been really helpful and I really appreciate you all.

Kaelyn (46:24):

Please feel free if you are looking to emotionally support Rekka to tweet her pictures of cats and sharks. We like sharks,

Rekka (46:29):

Sharks especially. Um, yeah, definitely.

Kaelyn (46:35):

So, yeah. Alright, well thanks again everyone and we'll talk to you two weeks.

 

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