Hip Surgery, Crazy Equipment and Hilarious Doctors

Hip surgery Jenny HansenI honestly did not know what to call this post. Various discarded titles:

  • Today is the BIG DAY!
  • The Wild Side of Hip Surgery
  • Propositioning Doctors, Rad Equipment
  • Stepping Into Dog Hip Twilight Zone

Today is the big day!! At 8 am Pacific Time, Dr. Kramer is getting busy with my Dog Hip. He’ll be stitching that labral tear right up, and there will finally be an end in site for the limping and the pain. Woooo!

Y’all know I met the doctor, right? He stood me up to vacation in Fiji for a few weeks. I mean, hello? Would you rather see the inside of Dog Hip or frolic on the beaches of Fiji? I think the choice is clear.

JennyFacebook

So I’m asking him about what I’ll be able to do afterward, and my Lovenox shots and all sorts of stuff like: “What about standings/sitting/driving?” And he said they’d all be fine after the first week or so.

Well, then I ask him: “What about sex?”
With zero pause in the convo, he says: ” Well I’m married. But thank you SO much!”

You know I adore this guy. And I adore my pals.

Like August McLaughlin, who posted this for me:

Jenny Hansen Labral Tear

Also, over on Facebook, members of the More Cowbell posse are having a field day cracking me up! Here’s Kathy Owen’s addition. (She shoots, she scores…!)

THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR DURING SURGERY:

  • Oops!
  • Has anyone seen my watch?
  • Come back with that! Bad Dog!
  • Wait a minute, if this is her spleen, then what the hell is that?
  • Hand me that…uh…that uh…..thingy
  • What do you mean she wasn’t in for a sex change!
  • Damn, there go the lights again…
  • Everybody stand back! I lost my contact lens!
  • Well folks, this will be an experiment for all of us.
  • What do you mean, she’s not insured?
  • Let’s hurry, I don’t want to miss “Bay Watch”
  • FIRE! FIRE! Everyone get out!

In the middle of all this, a completely hot man came and delivered my medical equipment. Wait until I show you this stuff. It could practically do the laundry and clean the house by itself, it’s so comprehensive.

What is the funniest thing about surgery to you? Any recovery suggestions? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

Posted in Health, Life's Challenges | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

Father’s Day Speech by My Husband

Father's Day

There’s the “best daddy ever”…

It is a rare thing for you all to hear from the Hubs here at More Cowbell, but he gave this speech in church and I’m so proud of him, I had to share it!

*  *  *  *  *  *

On my journey to becoming a Father I have seen many miracles.

As you know, Jenny has a blood clotting disorder, which we found out about in 2005 when she got blood clots in both legs. The blood clot in her right leg shattered and sent many blood clots to her lungs.

Miracle #1: 1% of the people who experience what she did live through it.

Experiencing this miracle moved us to get closer to God and find a church that we could believe in. Our church and friends become our support group during our baby making journey – and make no mistake, it was a journey. Because of Jennifer’s blood clotting disorder, we had to go to a high-risk OB just to get permission to TRY and get pregnant.

In order to assist our baby making efforts many of our friends did a “laying on of hands” to both Jennifer and I and did some serious praying for us.

Fast forward a year and a half.

We were told that Jen was in early Menopause and we would have to give up our baby dreams. During that appointment, the fertility doctor reached across the table and took Jennifer’s hand and said:

“If it were me – and this is only my personal opinion – I would not have a baby in your body. It will be too hard and too dangerous and I simply would not do it.”

At that point, we were all crying, including the doctor. We gave up our plans of having a baby and began planning our life without children.

Miracle #2: Four months later we got pregnant on our own.

As excited as we were, a new chapter of worry started. Because pregnancy puts a woman’s body in a hyper coagulant state, Jennifer had to give herself daily shots in the stomach through the entire pregnancy. They went up to twice a day for the last two trimesters.

As I told her: “I’ll go to every appointment. I’ll rub your feet and your back. I’ll even squeeze you into those crazy compression hose. But I CAN’T stick a needle into a pregnant woman’s belly. I just can’t.”

I did keep her company. And I cringed.

Due to Jen’s “Advanced Maternal Age” (she was forty) we had to do lots of genetic testing. Due to her clotting disorder, she was susceptible to 2nd and 3rd trimester miscarriages. We didn’t really take an easy breath until 32 weeks into the pregnancy.

Miracle #3: After 42 weeks of pregnancy, we had a perfectly normal baby girl.

Our daughter’s name means “God’s Gracious Gift” and we definitely feel that way. Because I had been so focused on Jen’s survival, I was not prepared for the spontaneous outpouring of emotion that occurred when my daughter took her first breath. In the delivery room, as the baby cried, the emotions of a healthy baby and a healthy wife took over and I bawled with joy and relief.

People often ask ‘How has fatherhood changed your life?’

My first response is to say that I look at life differently now. I watched my daughter develop from a tiny group of cells with a beating heart on our ultrasounds, to the little person that she is becoming. I can only say that it is truly a miracle.

The way she learns and perceives her new world at each stage has been fascinating. And it all happens so fast.

I mean, in corporate America, we can barely get a project off the ground in nine months. In that same amount of time, I watched my wife conceive a life, build a placenta and grow a baby. I am completely in awe.

On a personal note, because I’m pretty shy overall, parenting has opened up an entirely new social realm for me.

When I used to walk around the neighborhood by myself, no one really stopped to talk to me. Now when I walk around the block with my daughter, all the neighbors come out and say hi and ask about her. EVERYONE talks to you when you have a baby.

It has allowed me to be much more connected with my neighborhood and also with the church. I am so very thankful for all the love and support that our community has shown our family.

I am happy our baby girl chose us to be her parents. With God’s help, I look forward to providing her with the love, security and tools for her to be a happy and compassionate human being.

Yes, I have seen many miracles on my journey to becoming a Father. Because of those miracles, I have greater faith that there will be plenty more miracles to come.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Go, Hubby! I can assure y’all that he’s the best daddy EVER. What miracles have you seen parenting? Who is the best father you know? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~Jenny

Posted in Inspiration, Parenting | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

Food Allergies — The Funny Side

Let’s all admit it: food allergies are a pain in the rear…but there’s a funny side. (You knew I’d find it.) Somewhere in the middle of playing 20 questions with the waiter, chef or host about the ingredients of their food, you have to just start smiling, because otherwise you’d whine and cry.

Some of my usual questions:

Do you make your fries and your onion rings in the SAME fryer?
Is there any flour / soy sauce / teriyaki sauce in that?
Is there gluten in your wasabi?
Will you change your gloves before you make mine?
What brand of ketchup do you use?
You promise not to flip my eggs with the same spatula you use on the pancakes?

It always makes me feel like a high-maintenance pain in the patootie. But the fear of wretched migraines keeps me at it. Usually, I just eat before I go to the party, or I ask the waiter to have the chef TELL me what I can eat.

However, when you first start cooking with a food allergy, it works about like this:


Do you or anyone you’re close to have any food allergies? Is it the high-maintenance or the low-maintenance kind? What is your favorite awesome-for-food-allergies recipe? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

p.s. The hip surgery countdown has begun! I suffered through four torturous sessions of PT, learned how to use the crutches and now I’m counting the days to the 19th. ALL tips and suggestions for the first month are welcome.

Posted in Food & Wine, Humor | Tagged , , , , | 32 Comments

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

writing community

A worried artist…

There’s been a lot on the web lately about political correctness and the havoc it’s wreaking on society: Can’t we all just get along, for crying out loud?

Kristen Lamb wrote a post called The Disease of Self-Importance—Can We Find a Cure? that I would NEVER have been brave enough to write. Jami Gold wrote a follow-up piece full of fabulous badassery about how Political Correctness could endanger diversity in books.

I agree with these ladies…if we allow this excessive political correctness to reign, I worry it will discourage authors from writing in diverse genres and innovative mediums. I fear creatives will stop exploring the boundaries of “normal” and fiction will become stagnant.

*shudders*

Then, last week, my kickass critique partner, Laura Drake, sent me the following post. I immediately asked her if I could have this magnificence for More Cowbell.

Read on, and see if you agree with me: it’s perfect for Thoughty Thursday!

Publishing and Dinosaurs

By Laura Drake

I’m a dinosaur. Hipness has passed me by. I was cool, back in the seventies (do the math). Then one fated night, I was hanging out at a bar, and I realized I was the oldest one there. The world shifted.

Did this mean when my parents said that at one time they were cool, I should have believed them? Was I fated to turn into my parents? Yeah, pretty much. But that angst is for a different meeting.

Today’s culture is different. It’s gotten so cool to be negative. I’m talking lowest-common-denominator MEAN.

Americans used to celebrate their uniqueness. People were encouraged to be who they wanted to be, and to make decisions against the majority, as long as it didn’t hurt anyone else. Today, you’re still theoretically allowed to, but it’s going to cost you dearly in the court of public opinion.

Case in point: the current state of publishing.

I have opinions about what is going on in the current publishing world. Especially since one of my publishers is the one currently in negotiations with Amazon, and the other was just bought out. But I’m not going to voice my opinions, here or anywhere else. Because I don’t trust that there won’t be a backlash against me.

There’s traditional vs. indie…
Indie vs. indie…
Amazon vs…. Never mind.

Increasingly, I have the same question as Jenny: Can’t we all just get along?

I recently read an industry insider blog I’ve always respected. The opinions used to be thoughtful, insightful, and balanced. Lately, they’re more and more slanted to one side. Besides blogging the hard news (yes, I know that’s slanted too), they’re beginning to post the comments they receive as news.

I find that worrisome. If I wanted people’s “opinions,” I know where to get them.

Maybe NY publishing is going down. Maybe self-publishing is going to be hurt by the sheer glut of new content. Maybe global warming is going to get us all…but WHY does either side have to be so positively gleeful about the other side “going down in flames?”

I get taking sides; there’s nothing wrong with that. Being objective is difficult.

But this isn’t a zero sum game…

  • By my losing, you don’t win.
  • By my winning, you don’t lose.
  • By trying to make me look like an idiot, does that make you somehow smarter? Or more right?

When did polite discourse end?

Did I sleep through this war? Because suddenly, it’s just there, raging all around me with vitriol flying across comment sections, conference rooms and social media. Instead of celebrating together the new freedoms all writers have to choose from, I see people tearing down whatever side they’re not on.

I just don’t understand WHY.

Although it has bothered me for a long time, what brought it to the fore this week was a comment on the above-referenced blog. It was well written, and I could even see the author’s point – right up until they began spewing poison about the other side.

I almost wrote a hopefully erudite argument, proposing polite discourse in the comments. I didn’t, for fear of retribution. Instead, I slunk away, sad and ashamed of my silence.

Even though I wish we all could just get along, that doesn’t mean I want us to be alike. I want us to celebrate our out-of-the-box thinking, our diverse interests and the amazing writing community we’re lucky to be part of.

This is about the best time in history to be a writer, and I’m worried that we’re wasting it.

David Dory said, “every culture is defined by its artists.” If the artists have all become conformists, what happens then?

Huge thanks to Laura for being courageous enough to share her thoughts with us. We love discussions like this here at More Cowbell!

Do you think Laura’s cry for a more rational community applies only to writers, or is this a universal issue? Have you noticed this same shift? Please be honest — I won’t allow any trolls into the comments section…you’re safe. :-)

~ Jenny

*  *  *  *  *  *

 Cool News!

CowboyHotnessLaura’s double RITA® Finalist, The Sweet Spot, has been included in a contemporary western anthology that will be released June 3.

Read it, and 5 other great cowboy romances for just $3.99. Click here to order!

About Laura

Laura Drake BioLaura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women’s Fiction and Romance.

She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central. The Sweet Spot (May 2013), Nothing Sweeter (Jan 2014) and Sweet on You (August 2014.) The Sweet Spot has recently been named a Romance Writers of America® RITA® Finalist in both the Contemporary and Best First Book categories. Her ‘biker-chick’ novel, Her Road Home, sold to Harlequin’s Superromance line (August, 2013) and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town. Reasons to Stay will release August, 2014.

This year Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

http://LauraDrakeBooks.com
Laura on Twitter
Laura on Facebook

 

Worried man photo credit: Steve Snodgrass via photopin cc

Posted in Inspiration, Thoughty Thursday | Tagged , , , | 66 Comments

When Dates Should Come With A Warning Label

How many of y’all remember my pal Clair from Can a Cup o’ Joe Make Your Man a Ho’?

She’s out in the dating scene again and, well…she’s sort of dangerous. Dating makes her so nervous that she becomes a hazard: throwing things and spilling hot liquids in unfortunate places. A note of warning seemed like a kind thing to do.

The above is a real warning label Clair created to give to her dates.

A huge mistake or a brilliant move? I can’t wait to hear your opinions on it.

The fact is, anyone who’s dated for a while has met someone like one of these two (both of whom should come with a warning label.

Dating Candidate #1:

The part that had me on the floor:
“I’ve got a whole can of peas. I’ve got a case. A pallet. I’ve gotta whole warehouse of peas!”

Dating Candidate #2 (this might not be as suitable for work):


The part that had me on the floor:

“You think a lot of men can’t handle the regalness of an up-do. Own that ponytail, girl! Work that up-do.” (The best part? This is the same person.)

These two are FANTASTIC for our Monday giggle.

What’s your worst dating story? Have you ever given out or received a warning label? What did it say? Which dating candidate above was your favorite? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

Posted in Humor, More Cowbell | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Do You Define Your Writing Process? Maybe You Should.

Writing Process_Confused_Photopin

Whether you’re a writer, blogger or a businessperson, it’s important to define the writing process that works for you so you can be faster and more effective at it.

  • Are you someone who likes to gather tons of research and then write from there?
  • Are you a “big picture” person who likes to understand end goal as well as the facts?
  • Do you prefer to free-write until you find the point, and then gather facts to support it?

No matter what kind of writing you do, understanding your process is the key to being successful at it. At least, it’s worked that way for me.

What got me going on this topic?

Our own lovely Jane Sadek tagged me in the Writing Process Blog Hop and, well…I’m just not hopping very quickly these days. [This was due out on the 26th.] We’ll blame it on the Dog Hip.

Jane’s super special in a million ways, and she’s a hell of a travel writer. But you know what I will always smile about when I think of Jane? She’s the first person who ever looked at my name tag at a conference and lit up like a Christmas tree. She’s the first person who ever grabbed me and hugged me and told me she loved my blog. You never forget your first. :-)

When I said yes to Jane, I didn’t know what questions would be asked. I’m happy to say, they’re fascinating! I’m actually going to list them before I answer so you can start asking them of yourself. This is a valuable exercise, whether you choose to “hop” or not.

  1. What am I working on?
  2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
  3. Why do I write what I do?
  4. How does my writing process work?

Four tiny little questions and I’ll bet many of you have never sat down to think about them.

What am I working on?

Being me, I’m moving between three different projects. Not only does this keep me fresh and in a forward-moving mode, they’re all very different and special to me.

I’m 80-90% done with the first draft of a contemporary women’s fiction novel focused on the relationship between two sisters. The logline:

Desperate to reconnect with her estranged, mortally-ill sister, a faith-challenged nun agrees to fill in as a nurse at her sister’s business: a porn clinic.

I’m also writing short pieces about my mother, who died in 2004. My mom’s four grandkids will never meet her, so I’m trying to transmit the magic of her through stories. Any of you who have read about The Almost X-Rated Garage Sale will see what I mean.

Last of all, I want to finish a memoir on high-worry pregnancy. Today, there are more women than ever who experience pregnancies where the outcome is unsure. I was one of those women, and the road is rocky and very, very lonely. As the survivor of 50+ blood clots and a high-risk pregnancy, I have a lot to say to these women.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Since there’s only like six plot ideas in the universe, the thing that makes every piece of writing stand out is the writer’s voice. This is just my opinion.

It doesn’t matter if someone has already written a book like yours, you’ll tell it your way. If your writing is good, your structure sound, and your characters are engaging, the reader is gonna be happy to take the journey with you.

The one place where I have some very unique experience is on the pregnancy front. Let’s go by the numbers:

  • 1% – the percentage of people who survive the kind of blood clots I had
  • 6% – my chances of conceiving a baby
  • 30% – my chance of carrying the baby to term & surviving the pregnancy (w/o meds)
  • 50 – number of weeks I injected meds in my stomach to prevent a blood clot

I’m very grateful to even be alive and have my daughter, but there are also some tools I learned along the way that could help women like me, and others who are not as lucky.

Why do I write what I do?

I have a curious mind and I’m interested by people and their relationships. I was a shoo-in for women’s fiction with romantic elements. I write the stories down to find out more about the people in my head. I’m learning not to mind that the first draft of a long piece of work is a gigantic ball of suckitude.

The other stuff? I’ve always written poetry and short stories that (thankfully) come into my head fully formed.

How does my writing process work?

Warning: All you organized types are about to run screaming from the blog.

Here’s how writing book-length fiction works for me:

  • I lay out some character sketches – often in the form of short stories.
  • My critique group helps me hash out the basic 3-act structure and turning points.
  • I scribble up a list of all the scenes I know (sometimes this takes a few sessions).
  • I write those scenes as they come to me, with an approximate idea of what comes before and after each one.
  • I stitch it all together later.

Diana Gabaldon and Lorna Landvik write like this too, which makes me feel better since I love their books.

Writing like my linear pantser friends gave me nothing but frustration and bad self-esteem.

Using other peoples’ processes ensured that somewhere between page sixty and one hundred, I’d start moaning to the Writing Gods about what a failure I was. My old ways guaranteed that I’d grow bored with my books because I never progressed past the beginning of the second act.

My way lets me see pages pile up and allows me to participate in challenges like ROW80. Plus, now that I’ve figured out “my system,” I’ve got about 9 books to finish. Sweet!

Defining your writing process comes to this:
You must write your stories in a way that allows you to finish them. Period.

It doesn’t matter if you’re surrounded by linear, plotting writers. If YOU aren’t linear in your process, nothing — not rivers of chocolate or jiggy dancing tunes — is going to lure you to The End of that book.

No magic potion will help you zoom straight through to the end using “someone else’s methods” because you can’t. Your brain doesn’t work that way. It works your way.

Learn good craft, but above all learn your own process! Part of why I’m unpublished is it took me so damn long to figure out I’m a scene writer. I don’t write straight through a book. I simply can’t do it.

What I can do is build a basic structure to work in, even though I write my scenes out of order.

(Okay, all you organized linear peeps can shake off the heebie-jeebies and come back now.)

Tag, you’re it. Seriously, if you’d like to define these for yourself, link back here so WE  can read about it. :-)

Have you ever asked yourself these sorts of questions? What has surprised you the most about your writing process? Which part of it drives other people insane? What would you love to change about your process? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc

Posted in Inspiration, The Writing Journey | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

10 Better-Than-The-Truth Stories about “Dog Hip”

Shakira, hottie

Shakira channeling Jenny as she leaps for the coffeepot… R-I-I-I-P-P-P-P!

Any of you who read my last post know about what the Hubs and I are calling “Dog Hip.”

Note regarding the name: I’m not dissing dogs. I love dogs. It’s just an easier thing to call it, rather than “Right Hip Dysplasia with a Torn Labrum.” (Yes, this disclaimer should be unnecessary.)

It shall forevermore be termed DOG HIP.

Anyway, the More Cowbell posse came up with MUCH better reasons for how I tore it than the reality, which is: “I don’t know. Probably Crossfit, but likely wear and tear from the dysplasia.”

The truth just doesn’t sound all that sexy. I’ve linked to all the peeps who gave me SEXIER reasons below. :-)

10 WAY better-than-the-truth stories about how I got in this mess:

  1. An old pole dancing injury. (Jansen Schmidt)
  2. Secret ice hockey tournaments. It’s a common goalie injury.  (Eric J. Baker)
  3. I tore it doing a joyous cheerleading jump over my potatoes. (K.B. Owen)
  4. Things got wild during my Elvis Presley “Hound Dog” impersonation. (Julie Glover)
  5. My boobs threw my hip out. [Shut up. It could happen.] (Melanie Marttila)
  6. I failed as a Spider Ninja; instead I tripped over the printer as I ran. (Kristy K. James)
  7. Regular Guy NYC, Phil, chased me into raging waters during Tough Mudder training.
  8. Belly dancing class. (Jansen Schmidt and Piper Bayard)
  9. An epic moment on the mechanical bull at Billy Bob’s (Gloria Richard in absentia)
  10. My hoo-hah got out of line if you know what I mean. (Juli Page Morgan)

Now aren’t all those better than the truth?

p.s. I hope y’all click those links so you can enjoy the amazing talent that hangs out here.

Which reason is your favorite? What new ones do you have to add? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • Hip surgery is currently scheduled for June 19th. Word is, the rehab sucks.
  • Jane Sadek tagged me in the “Writing Process Blog Hop.” I’m behind, but I’ll be doing that this week. (I promise all you organized types will hate my process.) Thanks to Jane for her patience…the weekend was pure suckitude.
  • Writers In The Storm, my other blog home, is moving on June 2nd. There’ll be killer posts and giveaways all month long. If you haven’t subscribed yet, hurry up! We’re giving away a $25 Amazon card to a subscriber. :-)
  • All of you Walter Trout fans will be delighted to know: he got his liver transplant on Monday! The first 48 hours are critical so your healing energy toward Omaha is welcome! Here’s a post I wrote about Walter a while back. He’s an amazing artist.
Posted in Health, Humor | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments