My son broke his femur walking home from school

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I had a writer's conference Feb 16 and 17th (a Friday and Saturday)--writer's conferences always exhaust me. The following Monday, my husband and I spent the entire day boxing up the majority of our house and moving it into the garage to make way for the new carpet we had coming in the next day.

On Tuesday, I cleaned walls and washed baseboards while the carpet guys worked. At 3:40, I received a phone call from my older son who'd borrowed a neighbor's phone. My younger son had fallen and was unable to walk home. I drove to the school to find him laying on the sidewalk. 

I asked him where it hurt. He said it was his entire leg. This comforted me, as the severe injuries are usually localized. I picked him up to load him into the van, and he screamed in pain. Unsure whether he was overreacting or not, I brought him home and set him on the kitchen table (the only room that had standing furniture left). I dosed him with Motrin and Tylenol and gave him and ice pack. 

He sat quietly on the table, crying out whenever anyone bumped him. He finally let me touch his leg and I ascertained that his knee and below were fine. It only hurt about halfway up his thigh. My older son said he simply lost his balance and fell.  Knowing how hard it is to break a femur, I figured he must have pulled a muscle. 

After a couple hours, I laid him on a mattress (again, he cried out whenever I moved him) and he fell asleep. My husband returned from work and we proceeded to move furniture back into the house. 

At 8:30, I went to check on him. He was awake and lying quietly. I turned his foot 30 degrees to remove his shoe and he screamed. I knew a leg cramp or pulled muscle shouldn't hurt for this long. We called our neighbor and friend over to give him a blessing.

I wasn't sure how a minor fall (my older son said he just tripped and didn't even hit hard) could break a femur, but I was becoming convinced that's what happened. 

We splinted his leg, wrapped him in a blanket and drove him to the emergency room. Within fifteen minutes, we were able to see the ex-rays. He had a spiral fracture of his femur. I could see this cloudy mass on his leg and asked what it was. The tech didn't know. 

The physician came and told us it could be cancer. 

I'd been holding up pretty well through this, but I lost it at this point and collapsed on a chair and promptly had an anxiety attack. 

They faxed the results to the doctor and radiologist, both of whom thought it looked like a non-ossifying fibroma, which is a noncancerous tumor. Basically, it was a hole in his bone a little smaller than a quarter, which is huge for a seven-year old's leg. 

I was able to leave the chair. 

He was dosed with morphine and we were admitted. The doctor figures that his femur broke while he was simply walking home, and the broken leg is what caused his fall. Every time he moved, the jagged bone was stabbing him from the inside (insert major mother guilt here). He had surgery the next day. Allowing him to be wheeled away from me while he cried out in fear and pain was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. 

The surgery went extremely well. The next 24 hours were hard, but the pediatric wing had a wii gaming system, and my son had it all to himself, which helped as much as the drugs they administered. 

On Thursday, he was able to sit up a little. By that afternoon, physical therapy helped him walk a few steps with a the help of a mini walker. 

By that evening, he was able to go about 15 feet. Hoping to get a better nights sleep, I went home for the first time in days. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my other two children to bed, and my 3 YO had me up twice in the night. 

He was released on Friday. We had a little trouble finding a walker for someone as small as him, but we finally located one. He also has a wheelchair. 

It's been difficult for him to maneuver in our four level multilevel, but he's doing remarkably well. 

Today, I finally received the results of the biopsy. He's cancer free. 

A hard week, but honestly, I'm counting my blessings. The best orthopedic surgeon in the valley happened to be on call. Bad things happen to everyone. We were unlucky for sure, but I have good neighbors and family who were able to take care of my other children. Our insurance deductible has dropped six thousand dollars in the last two years, and we have an HSA that should cover most of the bills. People have left us cookies, meals, and notes. My entire family came to see him in the hospital. We were surrounded by love and caring, and in that, I saw the love and caring of my heavenly father. 

*Warning* Whine fest ahead

Thursday, February 14, 2013
I don't want to write. 

I can't explain how epic that sentence is for me. How devastating. Writing has always been hard. Like weaving something from nothing hard--but it was also an addiction--a high I craved every day. But for the past year, it has been work--comparable to cleaning the toilet (which I hate). 

Part of this is because of the stage of life that I'm in. My daughter is my little shadow. She's constantly climbing on my lap and asking me questions. I've found that I tend to be the most productive when I can have four hours of uninterrupted time. Getting her to watch a movie for even a couple hours so I can get a few words in is nigh impossible. 

I used to write at night, but honestly, I'm so tired I can't focus on much except what's on TV (which is in the same room). Long story short: I need an office. 

I also need some motivation. I want my desire back, but I don't know where it went. 

I need to get it back if I'm going to get Witch Fall out in October. 

It's my birthday! So naturally, I have a present for you

Thursday, February 7, 2013
The first five pages of Winter Queen.
*feel free to share these pages

1. Clan Mistress
Ilyenna’s horse danced nervously beneath her, the animal’s hooves clicking against the snow-covered stones that coated the land like dragon eggs. Reaching down, she patted her mare’s golden neck. “Easy, Myst. What’s the matter, girl?”

“There.” Her father pointed at the base of a forested hillock not fifty paces beyond the road. Ilyenna saw the shadowed form of a large animal.

Bratton soundlessly pulled an arrow from his quiver and nocked it. “Bear?” He directed the question at their father.

The word stirred currents of tension in Ilyenna’s body. The cold stung her cheeks and formed a vapor no matter how shallowly she breathed. As she glanced up and down the road, her hand gripped the knife belted around her bulky wool coat.

“I think it’s a horse,” Bratton finally said.

Ilyenna eased her mare forward for a better look. It was a horse—a bay. “Then where is his rider—” The words died in her throat when she spotted a motionless gray lump at the horse’s feet. Without thought, she rammed her heels into her mare’s ribs.

“Stop!” her father cried at the same time Bratton called, “Ilyenna!”

But the healer in her couldn’t be denied. In three of the horse’s strides, she was in the forest. She pressed herself flush against Myst’s muscular neck. Still, larch trees managed to slap her, leaving the sharp scent of their needles in her hair and clothes. Clumps of snow shook loose from their sagging boughs, falling across her horse’s mane and into her face. Yet Ilyenna barely registered the icy shock.

The other horse shied away. Myst tossed her head and balked, but Ilyenna didn’t have time to hesitate. She jumped from the saddle, and her heavy boots sank into drifts up to her thighs. Grateful for her riding leggings, she struggled toward the man, whose face was blue with cold.

Her heavy riding skirt spread around her as she knelt beside him. Strangely, even in this frigid weather, he wore no coat. Beneath him, the white snow was stained crimson. An arrow shaft stuck out of his left side, and his mouth was coated with bloody foam.

A quick assessment revealed the arrow head had passed completely through his chest, but the shaft was still lodged inside him. Ilyenna couldn’t imagine riding in that kind of pain. Each of the horse’s strides would’ve reopened the wound and spilled more blood.

Fear rose in Ilyenna’s gut, and she wondered what had driven this man to ride himself so close to death. The lump rose higher when she recognized the knots in the stranger’s clan belt. “An Argon,” she announced as her brother and her father reined in behind her. Instantly, her mind went to the Argon clan, and her brother’s best friend, Rone.

At the mere thought of the boy from her childhood, a hundred memories came unbidden. Memories she wished to banish forever. But over the last six years, that had proven impossible. She bit the inside of her cheek, forcing herself to concentrate as she pulled her sheepskin-lined mittens from her hands and probed the man for additional wounds.

“You can’t just run off,” her brother growled as he dropped beside her. “What if his attacker was still here?”

Ilyenna kept her expression neutral. Even though she was seventeen, her brother would never see her as anything but a child—one incapable of caring for herself, let alone their clan. Thankfully, the calm sureness that always accompanied her healing steeled her voice. “He’s not breathing well. Get him on your knees.”

Despite his obvious annoyance, Bratton quickly obeyed.

“Why would an Argon appear in Shyle lands with an arrow in his side?” she murmured as she worked to stop the bleeding.

Bratton’s grip tightened around his axe hilt as his gaze probed the forest. “Only Raiders would attack the clans.”

Ilyenna suppressed a shudder at the mention of the Raiders, men who survived by pillaging and enslaving those they conquered.

“Raiders don’t come this far inland,” her father said. He handed his coat to Ilyenna, who draped it over the man. Her father pointed to the arrow that rose and fell with each of the Argon’s labored breaths. “Besides, I saw a Raider’s arrow as a boy. This isn’t one.”

“Then whose arrow is it?” Bratton asked.

Ilyenna eyed her brother carefully. There was something odd about his expression, as if he suspected more than he was saying.

Her father frowned. “It looks clan made.”

Neither Ilyenna nor Bratton had a response for that. It was an impossible thought. The Clans didn’t fight among themselves; they banded together to fight against outsiders. Pressing her ear to the injured man’s chest, she listened to a sound like the gurgling of a gentle stream. She sat back on her heels. “His lungs have filled with blood. He’s drowning.”

Even as she said it, the urge to fight against death pulled at her, though she knew all too well how useless fighting it was. All things served the Balance. Life and death were no different. Though Ilyenna’s calling was to battle for life, without death, there would be no birth.

Her father bent down and gently shook the man’s shoulder. He moaned softly before settling back to his labored breathing. The death rattle. Her father looked at her questioningly. “Should we take him to the clan house?”

She shook her head. “You know he won’t make it.”

With grim determination, her father leaned over the man and shook harder.

Had something happened to the Argons? To Rone? Ilyenna had to know. She applied pressure where the wounded man’s thumb met his palm. His lids fluttered, revealing the whites of his eyes. She pinched harder. His eyes opened wide.

“Who did this to you?” Ilyenna’s father asked.

The Argon’s gaze focused on his face. It was clear he didn’t understand.

Ilyenna brought her face so close she could smell the blood on his breath. She gently brushed his hair from his forehead. “You’re in Shyle lands.”

The man snatched her hand, his icy grip surprisingly strong. “I didn’t fail?”

Ilyenna wasn’t sure what he meant, but she shook her head anyway. “No. You didn’t fail.”

He guided her hand to his pocket. She reached inside and pulled out a piece of rolled vellum. Her hands shaking, she slid off the leather band and unrolled it. The dying man echoed the words she read, “The Tyrans attacked us during the night . . . Clan Chief Seneth sent me to call for aid.” The man seemed to be fighting to keep his eyes from rolling back. “So much dying . . .” The words strangled from his lungs with his last breath.
Death had claimed another. Somewhere, a child filled its lungs for its first squall. Ilyenna handed the vellum to her father, then closed the fallen man’s eyes and rested his hand on his axe hilt. “So passes a warrior,” she said.

“So passes an Argon,” her brother and father replied in unison.

After gently laying the man’s head back on the snow, Bratton leaned toward her father and read the note with him. A plea for aid that was written in Seneth’s own hand. It affirmed the truthfulness of the dead man’s words.

The Tyrans had attacked the Argon clan.

Bratton shook his head. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Ilyenna couldn’t understand either. Undon, the Tyran clan chief, might be renowned among the clans as a dangerous man with a short temper, but this was far beyond killing a man in a drunken brawl. This treachery made him and his Tyrans even worse than Raiders.

She studied her father and brother, like twin images in a mirror. The only real difference was their age. Both men had the clan’s typical blond hair and blue eyes. They even had the same braying laugh.

Ilyenna had inherited all of her mother’s foreignness, right down to her dark brown eyes and black hair. Tears pricked the back of her throat. Her mother—the other half of her mirror—was dead, and it was her fault.

Her father gently retrieved his coat, then hauled himself into his saddle. Bratton wasn’t far behind.

“Hurry, Ilyenna. We’re near the border. It’s not safe.”

She heard the warning in her father’s words. If the Argons had been attacked, the Shyle could be next. Even now, the killers could be close. But her eyes stayed fastened to the dead man. One death, one moment, and the peace of decades had been shattered. “We should take his body.”

“We’ll come back if we can,” her father said sternly.

She squeezed her eyes shut. Her father was right. But the man had died trying to find help. He deserved better than for the wolves to pick him apart. “I’m sorry,” she mouthed, hoping his ghost would hear and understand, that he wouldn’t come for revenge against her family for this insult.

“Ilyenna!” Bratton snarled.

She turned and shoved her foot into the stirrup, then pulled herself into the saddle. Myst pranced impatiently. Ilyenna leaned low over the mare’s neck to shield herself from the wind that whipped away warmth and breath.

This deep into winter, the only passable path was an ancient, snow-packed road that cut through the heart of the Shyle and led to their village in the center of the valley. They galloped along, only pausing to maneuver through herds of sheep—their dense wool proof of the high mountain’s harsh winters—or to send other men off to warn people living deeper in the canyons and along the mountain bases.

Why had the Tyrans attacked the Argons? Ilyenna thought again. What if Rone was already dead? She’d hardly seen more than a passing glance of him in years, but for some reason she feared his death the most. Other Argon faces flashed in her mind—people she’d met over years of feast days and hunts. A growing sense of fear settled over her like a cold, wet blanket.

{Review} Healer Series (Maria Snyder)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Dual book review of Touch of Power and Scent of Magic

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life....
As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again.

If you read YA high fantasy that features a strong female main character, Maria Snyder is simply a must. She consistently delivers high action plots with protagonists who are tough and snarky. Avery is no exception. She's been on the run for three years simply because healers have been blamed for the plague that has wiped out most of the population. But the people seeking to kill her aren't the only ones looking. Kerrick needs a healer to save his friend and the only hope of winning the war to come, and he's perfectly willing to force Avery if he must.

Even if the cost of healing is Avery's life.

The magic is really cool. Avery basically absorbs injuries and sickness into her own body, which heals 10 times faster than a normal person. Her willingness to take on another's pain and scars immediately engages the reader's empathy.

It was a little slow in parts, and at times things felt too convenient -like when they have the bad guy down, ready to kill him, and suddenly they have to run away. Or when the bad guy consistently brings too few troops to stop the heroine. But none of this stopped me from enjoying the books.

There is some minor swearing and sex, but it's "off screen". All in all, I highly recommend you add Snyder's books to your reading list. 
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