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A. Catherine Noon: Best Laid Plans
Thursday, November 9th, 2023

On October 25th of this year, I went in for total knee replacement surgery. It’s been a long time coming. In fact, the surgeon told me I probably should have had it done ten years ago. While I don’t think he’s wrong, precisely, I didn’t want to rush into anything. I was doing “all the things:” physical therapy, working out three times a week with a trainer, twice a week yoga, mindfulness meditation, pain management training, and I have lost about forty pounds in the last year. In September, my husband and I went on a work trip to San Francisco, and it became glaringly obvious that the status quo could not continue. So, I called the surgeon, and we scheduled it as soon as possible.

You’d think that would be it, right? I mean, major surgery is, well, major surgery. I met with my Human Resources team and my department head to schedule my time out of the office. Would I need medical leave? No, I would just take two weeks off, so it was done on “PTO,” or “paid time off.” I’d scheduled the week of American Thanksgiving as vacation for my family, and I “gave” that back – since I’d be out from October 25th ’til November 8th. And then I settled down to prepare.

What I didn’t realize, is that I was, in fact, embarking on a roller coaster.

Our annual Founders Retreat for Writer Zen Garden is the last full weekend in September. This year, we met in picturesque Park City, Utah, at a ski resort. It was, in a word, amazing. The condo we rented was enormous, with a full kitchen and huge living/dining room with a large table to seat all of us. We cooked, we wrote, and something magical happened: Dear Reader, I got my writing mojo back. I wrote more in the month of September than I’ve written in the last eight years combined. It’s felt like one long, dark slog through the Mines of Moria: first the 2016 election debacle, then the publishing world imploded (which, to be fair, had already started by then), the pandemic, the riots, the wildfires, (one of which, the Bolt Creek Fire, was within fifteen miles of our home), and the rise of fascism around the world. All of it meant that my well was bone dry. Sure, I’d try to write, and I kept up my avid journaling practice. But Story?


It’s immensely painful beyond words for a writer to go dry. I’ve met people who will airily assure me they don’t “believe” in writer’s block. My friend, I wish you the peace of your naivete. It happens, and it happens to the best of us. And it’s like bleeding to death with nothing coming out.

So to say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. It’s as though a part of me that had been amputated, suddenly grew back. Things started to heat up: I met some new friends through the NaNoWriMo Seattle Discord server and started writing “word sprints” with them (a word sprint is where you show up and do timed writing for, say, fifteen minutes).

When I settled in to prepare for my knee surgery, Dear Reader, I thought everything was going to be easy-peasy: I was writing again, I could take two weeks off to recover, what could go wrong?

I did not schedule any time to prepare. I worked until October 24th, and surgery was October 25th. That was my first mistake.

Then, the week before surgery on October 16th, my beloved eleven-year-old cat Nadya had a stroke at 07:30 while I was on a video call with my therapist. She told me, “don’t catastrophize,” which is good advice but I knew what I knew. My husband was out with the dogs and our housemate, his brother and a retired emergency veterinary technician, was asleep. I waited for my husband to get back and my appointment to be done (which was the longest fifteen minutes of my life, let me tell you). My husband woke up his brother, and he examined Nadya, and gave us his advice.

Get her to the vet immediately and tell them it’s a thrombus. It’s not a saddle thrombus, which affects both hind legs; he said in his opinion it was a thrombus (i.e. a blood clot) that lodged in her right front leg, cutting off sensation and nerve impulses to her right leg. We got in the car and raced to the vet. I told my husband to call them first, to make sure they were open and that we were coming, and they told us the bad news: take her to the emergency hospital in Lynnwood, an hour’s drive, because they have the scanning equipment we’d need.

We got there and got her seen by the emergency techs right away. We came back home, and I naively thought I’d be able to pick her up again.

The cardiologist said that she was in early-stage heart failure. My brother-in-law and his partner, also an emergency vet tech, said they’ve seen exactly one cat survive this scenario and that cat died within three months, because once they throw one clot, it’s inevitable they’ll throw another. The treatment is unpleasant and consists of either subcutaneous medication (i.e. stabbing my cat with a needle) or oral meds (shoving a pill or, more likely, multiple pills down her throat on a daily basis), or both.

We made the decision to let her go and drove over that night after work.

Afterward, we came home and I went back to preparing for surgery, and trying to relax because relaxation is critical to good outcomes.

At 0430 the morning of surgery, my old man cat Boria fell down behind the dryer and got hung up in the wires for the dryer and the septic tank alarm. We’re not sure if he fell asleep on the dryer and fell off, or if he just got confused and climbed back there, or what. We got him out and my brother-in-law and his partner tended to him for the next two days. Meanwhile, I went in for surgery on Wednesday as planned.

Boria died in my husband’s arms on Friday, October 27th.

Dear Reader, may you never go through back-to-back events like this.

I had planned to give you the news that Six Geese Laid, our holiday story set in the universe of the Chicagoland Shifters, is available at your favorite eBook seller. I even have it halfway uploaded onto Amazon but didn’t quite get it finished in time to get my guest post over to Delilah. I will, and my goal is to get it done by this weekend for you so you have something new to read before the holidays (our longtime fans will know this is the audio story that the talented Vance Bastien read for us on the WROTE podcast, and this is the long-awaited eBook version). And I also can tell you that Rachel Wilder and I are hard at work on our newest book series, the first of which is called, for right now at least, As the Crow Flies and is about crow and raven shifters and the trouble they get into.

I’m still doing all that, but I’m moving a bit slower than I planned. But the good news out of all of this is that I AM moving, at long last. Nadya and Boria are with me in spirit, keeping me company as I get back onto the page. And like Peggy Carter in the Marvel series, we’ve decided that I will be the bionic battle granny to my newest grandchild, who we will get to meet in June of 2024.

Talk about ups and downs, Dear Reader. My heart is sad, and glad, and grateful.

Best wishes,



“My own experience has taught me this: if you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured it may never arrive.”
~ Maurice Chevalier | | |

4 comments to “A. Catherine Noon: Best Laid Plans”

  1. A. Catherine Noon
    · November 9th, 2023 at 10:41 am · Link

    Thank you so much for hosting me, Delilah!

  2. ButtonsMom
    · November 9th, 2023 at 11:22 am · Link

    I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through so much in such a short time. The loss of one beloved pet is bad enough but to lose two in such a short time span…I can’t even imagine.

    I hope your recovery from your knee replacement is going well. I’m recovering from a broken leg and have recently been allowed to put weight on it. It’s not going as well as I hoped (very painful) but I’m determined to get walking again.

  3. Laura Fasick
    · November 9th, 2023 at 5:38 pm · Link

    This is such a moving post. Those are a tremendous series of painful events to cope with all at once, and yet you have come through them with your creativity intact. That is the greatest triumph an artist can achieve. Congratulations! Wishing you continued writing to carry you through the hard times and to make the good times GLOW!

  4. A. Catherine Noon
    · November 13th, 2023 at 11:42 am · Link

    @ButtonsMom: I’m so sorry that you broke your leg! What a drag. I agree with you, PT and rehab are painful, but if we power through the results will be worth it. I’ll be thinking of you when I’m (ouch) doing (oof) my (grr) PT (oi) today. 🙂 We can do this! ~hugs~

    @Laura Fasick: Thank you so much for your encouragement. I truly appreciate it!

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