ACW Episode 237 – What’s wrong with me?

Cynical Woman!

Click on the pic to see the full-sized version!

I have been suffering from unexplained joint pain since September. And I know from previous medical issue that I should not expect a diagnosis any time soon. These things take time… a LOT of time.

But I do expect that when I’m having an allergic reaction to the medication the doctor prescribed, that maybe someone notice that rather than blame my allergic reaction on my hair dye. Especially when the allergic reaction in question started in the groin area, and no, I don’t dye my pubic hair.

Fortunately, I figured out why I was all red and splotchy even if the doctor didn’t. And I feel much better now. Even the joint pain seems to be doing better. I have no idea why my joints feel better, just like I had no idea why they were hurting so badly to begin with. But hey, I’ll take what I can get.

ACW Guest Artist – Pixie!!

I know I'm way behind at this point on both webcomics. I apologize. I am working on them. However, I've been having health problems since September. I've been to see my general practitioner, a rheumatologist, etc., and still have no idea what's going on. And new symptoms keep popping up the longer this goes on.

I am half-way through the pencils for the current episode of “Adventures of Cynical Woman,” and almost have the new character made for “Bitchcraft.” As soon as I get either webcomic done, I will post it. In the meantime, I have hired a couple of guest artists to help me fill in the blanks.

So, this week's episode of “Adventures of Cynical Woman” is drawn by…


This is Pixie's rendition of an episode of “Doctor Who” that we recently watched. You can see the Dalek, both in and out of it's armored pepper-pot; Davros, the creator of the Daleks; and someone who has just be exterminated by the Daleks (lower right corner)

Pixie loves “Doctor Who,” so I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot more of her artwork here. Thank you, Pixie, for helping out your mother in her time of need.

I'm going to bed now, folks. I am having an allergic reaction to something and I just took a dose of Benedryl, so I expect I will be out until well into tomorrow morning.


ACW 236 – Oh yeah, it’s Christmas


Click on the thumbnail to see the full-sized holiday webcomic.

Oy vey, have we been having fun here. Hubster was away on a business trip for a week. Those things are brutal for both of us. Him, because he’s away from home, in a dry, life-sucking hotel room. Me, because I’m home doing double-parenting duties. Anyway, Hubster came home from his trip in time for me to get the house ready for our monthly Girl Scout troop meeting. The day of the meeting, my back started to spasm. All I could think about was how I was going to take a pill once the meeting was over and just collapse in bed. But the Hubster’s back went out before that could happen and I had to limp along to take care of him.

Then Pixie came down sick, so I had to take care of her and Hubster. Hubster finally made it back to work, just in time for me to get sick. So now I’m on the couch, struggling to finish off a simple one-panel cartoon with accompanying blog post.

As for Princess, that poor kid spent the last couple weeks working on a book report that involved writing a synopsis and opinion of the book, writing a letter from the POV of the main character, and completing a poster that showed a picture of the main character, a time-line of his life, include pictures of 10 items that appear in the book, etc. Then while we were in the middle of that, she got an assignment to write a report on Hurricane Isabel, which had to be turned in the same week. So she was kind of fried by the time she was done with all that.

So now I’m sick in bed. I’m missing out on all sorts of things I was supposed to do this week, but it was all volunteer work so I don’t care. I am allowed to take sick days when I need them, and boy howdy do I need them this week.

Hopefully, we’re all better by next week. We’ll see. In the meantime, enjoy the webcomic!

ACW Episode “This is not a webcomic” – joint pain, priorities, and MEESMo

No webcomic today! Although I promise you there will be some fun cartoon art later down in this post.

But first, let me 'splain…

Over the past few months, I've been having increasing problems with joint pain. It actually started years ago, after I gave birth to the Princess and then had two knee injuries in a row. My knees hurt for months, but eventually the pain faded away to the occasional twinge when I went up and down the stairs. After Pixie was born, my knees began causing me so much trouble, I ended up going to a physical therapist for a couple months to strengthen them and reduce the pain. That seemed to help, and again, the pain faded away to the occasional twinge when heading up or down the stairs.

But the knee pain kept coming back, off and on throughout the years. I realized certain types of exercise – yoga, biking, swimming, water aerobics, and Wii Fit – seemed to keep the pain at bay. Other exercises – high impact stuff like running and karate – seemed to make it worse. I eventually gave up running in favor of water aerobics. As for karate, I started learning how to do things with as little impact on my knees as I could achieve (no more deep knee bends for this karate woman!). I figured it was osteo-arthritis, and it was only natural for a woman approaching her mid-forties to feel aches and pains in her knees from time to time.

Of course, there was also the occasional time when I'd come down with what I thought was the flu and I'd wind up stuck in bed for a day or so. Only I didn't have a fever… Or any congestion… Or any nausea… Or any other symptoms except aches and pains in my joints that put me under the covers with the heating pad for a while.

All of this was okay, though. The knee pain slowed me down a little, the flu-like days were a minor pain but nothing more, and none of it was enough to interfere with my daily life. Then last November I tore my meniscus and ACL in my right leg, and it was all downhill from there.

Let me say up front that I had a very successful reconstructive surgery and that my physical therapy, while it lasted months, did miracles for me. By the time March came around, I no longer limped and I could walk, swim, bike and hop on the elliptical with no pain. But during the months from January to March, I had a couple more instances of those flu-like days. When I went to see my orthapaedist, I told him it felt like I had sick knees; they felt feverish and achy and kept me in bed. The orthapaedist had no idea what it could be, since my knees seemed to be working just fine. He suggested I talk to a specialist, and I said I'd look into it.

I decided to start with a physical first. It had to be scheduled months in advance. The earliest date I could get was in November. Since I was back to normal activity, mostly, and had started easing back into karate classes, I wasn't in any hurry and I figured that was okay. Once the summer started, with all that warm weather, my knee problems mostly seemed to disappear. I was still recovering from the torn ACL, so it seemed natural to me to have problems getting up and down the stairs at the end of a long day. I was in the pool and on the bike with the kids everyday, too, so I expected to be tired. The girls learned to come downstairs to kiss me good night before they went to bed, so I wouldn't have to haul myself upstairs with my tired, aching knees.

And so it went, right through to September. Then sometime in that month, the back ache started. I developed this persistant pain in my lower back that dogged me all day and night. At first, I thought it was because our mattress was overdue to be flipped, so Hubster and I flipped it, but that didn't help. Then I thought the problem might be with our couch. I spend a lot of time there when I draw and crochet, and our couch is over 20 years old. I got some firm pillows to put against my back and made certain to sit with good posture, but that didn't help either.

The knee pain kicked in as well. And then the hip pain. And then the foot pain. That last was especially bad in the morning. In October, when my parents came to visit, I got the shock of my life when I got up early one morning and I met my mother in the hallway. We were both shuffling along with that same, painful, arthritic gate. Only my mom is in her late seventies and I still haven't hit 45 yet.

By that point, I was trying everything I could to get the joint pain under control. I ate gin-soaked raisins and took supplements of tumeric and fish oil and vitamin D. I swallowed huge capsules of OTC pain-relievers. I slept with my heating pad and took plenty of hot baths. I did yoga until I could bend myself completely in half without breaking a sweat. None of it worked.

Finally, November hit and I went in for my physical. I told the doctor everything. She ordered lots of blood tests and prescribed Gabapentin, which is an anti-seizure medication that also works with rheumatoid arthritis pain. I spent a week waking up completely loopy because of the medication I took the night before. When the blood test results came back, everything was normal.

So the doctor forwarded me to a specialist, who I will see in January. In the meantime I am doing everything I can to manage my symptoms. Some days I am so pain-free, I feel 15 years younger. Other days I am back in bed with the heating pad by 6PM. I've learned to pre-set my bed before I head out to pick up the kids from school in the afternoons. I gather up everything I know I'm going to need in the evening – paperwork, iPad, Surface tablet, crochet project, whatever I need to work on – and I lay it out on one side of the bed, along with a comfortable set of sweats or PJs. My work hours have been drastically reduced to 1-2 hours in the day and another 1-2 hours in the evening. I've learned to take advantage of the morning hours, when I have the most energy, for things like exercise and Girl Scouts paperwork (which is probably the most exhausting task I have to face on any given day). I try to save the evenings for drawing and crochet, activities that I can pick up and put down as needed whenever the girls need my help with their homework.

Because of the drain on my work hours, I've also found myself having to make decisions everyday about what I'm going to work on. Last week, I finally emailed the staff at our Girl Scout service unit and told them i needed to step down from the Volunteer Support Team and any committees I was on due to health issues. This weekend, I had to choose between taking a karate test for 4th degree black belt and cleaning the house (no way in hell were both of those tasks going to get done!). And I also had to choose between drawing today's webcomic and drawing a new Christmas card design, something I've been trying to get to for weeks now.

It's probably too late for this card to be done in time for anyone to buy it for is Christmas. I still have several hours of work left to do on it. BUT it will be done in time for any after-Christmas sales that Zazzle may do, so if you're the kind who likes to buy your Christmas cards on sale a year in advance, this one is for you.

(And this is the part where I show you that fun artwork I promised at the beginning of this very long post.)


I'll do a big reveal on the final artwork once it's done and posted to Zazzle, but for right now, the point I really want to get across is this…

I am doing everything I can to draw as fast as I can to keep the webcomics coming. But there are other projects that I need to work on as well. I have a TON of evil greeting cards that I want to draw, and I have promised both my girls that I will illustrate two stories they've written (that's one story per child!) and get those stories epublished somewhere. If for some reason, I don't get the ACW webcomic up on time every Monday, I will at least post something that I'm working on, be it artwork from a greeting card or calendar or an illustration from one of the kids' stories. And you may see more single panel webcomics from me. Honestly, there are plenty of events that happen around me that would make perfect single panel cartoons, and I may even turn some of those into greeting cards as well, if they work out that way.

So what I'm saying is be patient with me. I'm going to see a doctor, and in the mean time I will keep plugging away as best I can. I will even eventually finish setting up the Etsy shop I started working on last month. It will all happen, slowly, over time.

I promise!


ACW Episode 231 – Side effects may vary

It's Cynical Woman!

Click on the funny comic above to see it full-size!

Sorry I’m late. Once again, Girl Scouts took over my life. This past Saturday, I spent the day working at a service unit encampment. I got to the camp site at 8AM and was on my feet working until I got back in my car to go home at 9PM. It was an exhausting day, and no matter how hard I tried on Sunday, I couldn’t see straight enough to draw the webcomic. I managed to get today’s strip pencilled and lettered and then had to quit. And since today was Veteran’s Day, and I am a veteran (and was still exhausted, to boot), Hubster let me sleep in late. So I got a late start on finishing up the inking and coloring today.

But about the content of today’s strip! I’ve been having joint pain for a while. Most days, it’s what I think is probably regular arthritis pain in my knees. Lately, that’s spread to my hips and ankles as well. Some days it’s better and some days it’s worse. And then there are days where my joints feel so achey and inflamed that I think I have the flu, only I don’t have any other symptoms. Those days I end up staying in bed, curled up with the heating pad, accomplishing almost nothing.

So I finally decided to see a doctor. I opted to have a full physical, which meant I scheduled the appointment in July and got in to see the doc just last week. She ordered a slew of blood tests, all of which came back negative for any diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. But she also prescribed a pain medication for me since I told her the normal over-the-counter stuff wasn’t doing anything for me at all.

She warned me to take the pill before bed, since dizziness and sleepiness were the two biggest side-effects. I followed her directions, I swear! And yet somehow, the next morning when I woke up, I couldn’t tell up from down. And I had a big case of the uncontrollable giggles on top of that!

It took about 4 hours for the dizziness and loopiness to wear off. The next day wasn’t quite as bad, and the day after that the only issue I had was being too sleepy to get up in the morning. I’m still having that problem so tonight I plan to be in bed by 9:30PM.

But the good news is, the pain meds work! I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but for the first time in a long time, I don’t hurt. I may get the occasional twinge of knee pain, but I can now bend my knees, get up and down the steps, take karate class… I feel like a whole new me!

I’ll keep you all updated on how things go, but like I said, I feel much better than I have in a while. So enjoy today’s webcomic. I’m going to get up and move now! ‘Cause I CAN!

ACW 226 – I’m hip


Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized image!

Word for word, this is the exact conversation I had with my pharmacist. And yes, my pill minder really is purple with little ladybugs on it.

Still no colors in this webcomic because I’m still learning Manga Studio 5 while simultaneously getting my ass kicked by my Girl Scout volunteer duties. It’s not easy being a volunteer.

I do think I’m getting better with inking in Manga Studio 5. The lines are thicker, steadier, more fluid. Now I just need enough time to work on setting up color palettes for each character so I can get these comics colored!

ACW Episode 204 – Oh great googley moogley, it’s finally over!

Click on the thumbnail above to view the full-sized webcomic!

My apologies for being late with this week's webcomic. You can see the reason why. The stomach bug hit everyone in our family last week, so when I wasn't busy being sick myself, I was busy taking care of everyone else who was sick. The Hubster can pretty much take care of himself, but I was up all night with each girl when they got sick, and I slept for almost two days straight when I got sick. The good news is that I finally finished our troop's cookie paperwork and so now I am all done with Girl Scout cookies. For this year anyway. Now if I can just avoid getting sick again…


Rats! Episode 116 – Taking care of everyone but yourself

Rats! webcomic

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Alas, this happens all too often. You get put in charge of a bunch of other people and you forget to take care of yourself. It happens to me even now. I’ve got so much going on with my oldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop (for which I am the troop leader) that I sometimes forget the things I need to do for the youngest’s Girl Scout troop. Thankfully, her troop leaders know what I’m dealing with, and they take good care of the kiddo. Still, I could kick myself for having forgotten to send in Valentines for the last Daisy¬†troop meeting. *Sigh*

I’m sick this week. Came down with a nasty case of the flu on Monday night. I spent all day yesterday on the couch or in bed, dealing with a skull-splitting headache, joint pains, and congestion. The headache was the worst of it, but that seems to have died down a bit now. I tried to call the physical therapist this morning to let them know I wasn’t coming in because I was sick, but they called me first to let me know they had to cancel because the physical therapist was sick. So that worked out. ¬†Now I plan to take it easy today, get back on the couch to watch whatever is playing on USA or crawl back into bed to watch anime on my iPad. I must have watched 4 episodes of “Occult Academy” last night on Crunchy Roll. I say must have, because I can’t quite recall anything beyond a pounding headache.

In any event, have fun today and don’t catch the flu! Trust me, flu sucks.

ACW Episode 192 – The Return of Move It Mama Monday?

Depending on when you are reading this today, I may be at physical therapy having this very same conversation! This particular exercise is the bane of my existence right now. NekoMich, who has been kind enough to take me to physical therapy several mornings, thinks I make the funniest faces as I try to roll myself around the room, using only my right (injured) leg. I can't do it yet. I still have to pull with the left leg as well. But hopefully I'm improving.

And since I'm injured, and since I'm doing physical therapy, and since the new year is coming up, and since I put on a little extra weight after screwing up my right knee, I'm toying with the idea of bringing back Move It Mama Monday. I don't know how I'll change the rest of the blogging schedule yet. I plan to get back to a 3-day schedule once the kids go back to school. We'll see how it goes.

So anyway, think of me today, dragging my sorry ass along in a rolling chair using only my injured knee and try not to laugh too hard. You might hurt yourself. Or I will, if I hear you laughing at me.


ACW Episode 191 – All I Want for Christmas

I don't want much, do I?

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Bodhi Day, and so on. I am slowly getting back on my feet and hope to resume the normal blogging schedule after New Year's. But for right now, I'm spending time with my family and madly crocheting Christmas presents. I know, it's Christmas Eve. I should be done already. But what can I say? I've spent most of the last month on Percoset. Great for pain relief, not so great for productivity.

Anyway, best wishes to you all.