Category Archives: Updates

Merry Christmas 2015

Written by Ken Murphy

 Merry Christmas Everyone!

It’s that special time of the year when people are a little nicer to one another. Well, unless you’re at the mall. Then all bets are off.

Seriously, today is Christmas Eve, and I have so many blessings in my life. And if you are reading this post, one of them is you. I am so grateful you are part of my life. Your love and support means more to me than I can ever tell you.

2015 has been a busy year. Things haven’t gone quite as I’d planned, but that’s how life works. My every day job has been pretty hectic. I’ve had a couple of big projects and commitments that took up a great deal of time and energy. But they I really enjoy the work, and what I do helps people take better care of our veterans.

In October, I was elected to our condo’s Board of Directors. I’d been asked to fill in for a vacancy that came up on the Board, and I said yes. I believe it is important to be involved in the community, and I want our home to be the best it can be. I’m just beginning to learn how much goes into managing a building as large as ours.

The one thing I have not done this year is publish a new story. It’s been over a year since Sharing Heart was released. My goal was to publish two novel-length works this year, but that isn’t going to happen. I am nearing completion on one of my three current works in progress. And I have several other story ideas I’ve tucked away for later. So, don’t give up on me. I’m just progressing more slowly than I’d intended. I hope you’ll find it worth the wait.

Again, Merry Christmas! Thank you for being a part of my life. I wish you a safe and happy holiday.

Hugs, and Love, 

Ken

 

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Nurses

Written by Ken Murphy

RN Caduseus

I’m always about two steps behind when it comes to social media, so I’m just now seeing all the hubbub. Honestly, I can’t recall ever recall watching five minutes of The View. I have nothing against the show; it’s just that I’m at work when it airs. Anyway, I did not hear the comments made concerning Kelley Johnson’s monologue during the Miss America Pageant. I watched the Pageant, and I enjoy hearing Miss Colorado speak. A friend mentioned me in a post, so I wanted to see what this was all about. I Googled The View. I listened to the comments, and at first, I was angry.

Here’s the thing. It was a dumb comment made out of ignorance. I’ve read responses from other nurses who think the show should be cancelled, or at least that Ms. Behar should be fired. It does seem absurd that someone should refer a stethoscope as a doctor’s tool. But I’ve heard the same sort of thing from within our own ranks. I once attended a presentation in which the speaker (a nurse) stated she didn’t understand why nurses wore stethoscopes around their necks; like a badge of honor. She went on to say that if she wore anything around her neck, it would be a set of nail clippers on a chain. Thankfully, that was a long time ago. My point here is that instead of condemning, we must educate. I’m for certain an optimist, but a part of me sees this as an opportunity. At minimum, a wakeup call.

Last month marked 35 years since I graduated from a Practical Nursing program. I currently hold three additional academic degrees in Nursing. I have working in many various health care settings, from an outpatient clinic that provided services to AIDS patients in rural Georgia, to the largest trauma center in the Southeast; from ICUs to Primary Care. I’ve even done a little Peds, although, God love you people that can do that for a long time.

When I completed graduate school, I had a few nurses correct me for signing as Ken Murphy, RN, MSN. It is considered appropriate to list your degree first, so everyone knows immediately you are a graduate-prepared nurse. To each and every one of them, I said the same thing: No matter how many academic degrees I hold, or how many different jobs I put under my belt, I will always be a nurse first.

So, I’m not wasting another second bashing The View, or comments made by Ms. Behar. Instead, I think we should all thank Kelley Johnson for showing the world that the ability to care for those who depend on us is more than simply a career choice; it is a talent, a gift. Not everyone can sing. Not everyone can dance. And not everyone can be a nurse. For those of you who go out there every day and share your talent by helping others, I THANK YOU.

 

Getting Back On Track

Written by Ken Murphy

Hey Y’all!

Once again, here I am feeling guilty for my absence. It has been a very busy few months, for sure. The holidays passed, and so did January. This week marked the third month since we lost Lucy. For people who don’t have four-legged children, it probably seems odd to mourn the passing of a dog. But, for over thirteen years, she was a huge part of our lives.

Work has been insanely demanding. I finished my special detail, and returned to my regular duties. The only problem is, due to budget cuts and frozen positions, I’m still trying to keep a lot of the projects I was working on moving forward. So, I’m sort of doing two jobs. Not much fun. But the work is important, so I’m trudging forward.

A couple of weeks ago, I realized I was just treading water. Oh, I’ve been busy. Those of you who follow my posts know I’m at the gym every week day by four o’clock. Andy and I have been busy entertaining old friends, and making new ones. We go out to dinner, and see movies in the theater. We do all sorts of things we hadn’t done for a long time. In truth, I’ve just been keeping myself occupied a lot of the time. I set, and kept to, a routine.

The one thing I haven’t been doing is writing. Over the past few months, whenever I sat down to write, my brain shut down. The stories are there; I just haven’t been able to get them down in print. Part of the problem is there are so many stories in my head, I’ve had trouble focusing on one. But I think the main issue it that I haven’t been setting aside time just for writing.

So, I’m making a commitment to get myself get back on track. I will set aside time every day for writing. There are lots of people making a lot of noise inside my head. And I can’t wait to tell you their stories.

Much love and hugs,

Ken

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Lucy

Written by Ken Murphy

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It was a crisp, clear fall day when Andy and I drove out to rural Monroe, Georgia, to look at puppies. The dog breeder had posted an ad with Dalmatian puppies for sale. It had been a few months since we’d had to say goodbye to our last dog. We agreed that the house was too quiet, and that we wanted another Dalmatian. After all, so many gifts over the years had been Dalmatian oriented; we would have to redecorate the house.  So, off we drove to the only person we found with Dal puppies for sale. We knew the puppies were four months old. The breeders felt the puppies benefited from a longer period with the mother and their siblings. We also knew the puppies, although full-blooded, could not be registered. The problem was something to do with having not applied to breed the dogs. Andy knows more about that than me.

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We finally reached our destination, a large brick ranch-style house. The front yard was fenced in, and contained several horses. We met the owners, and they led us back to a small makeshift pen. Inside the pen were three little puppies, a boy and two girls. The boy was black-spotted. He had a congenital deformity in his tail, so that it bent to one side. The owners had named him Captain Crook. The two girls had reddish spots. Ginger’s spots were brick red, like Georgia clay. Ruby’s spots were darker, but still noticeably red.

One of the owners opened the gate so we could “meet” the puppies. Of course all three little dogs were very excited at the prospect of seeing someone new, so they were running around and jumping all over both of us. That was fun for a few minutes, then, being babies, they became distracted. They watched the horses for a brief time, but that too, passed quickly. One of the puppies jumped on another, and soon all three were tussling on the ground. Ruby broke apart from the trio and walked back over to me. I sat on the ground, and she crawled into my lap and settled.  That was it; she was home.

Neither Andy nor I felt the name Ruby fit our new baby. I suggested we call her Lucy, in honor of my favorite redheaded comedienne, Lucille Ball. Andy agreed. Lucy’s first night at home was not a lot of fun. We set up her crate in the downstairs bedroom and settled her in for the night. She made the most pitiful howling sounds. I didn’t give in and get her out, but I thought I would never fall asleep.  The next morning, she had peed in her bed. I don’t know if it was because she was lonely, or because she’d wet her bed. Either way, she didn’t wet the bed or howl at night after that first time.

Puppies have a lot of energy, and Lucy was no exception. We’d let her outside, and she ran figure eights around the back yard. After a few rounds, she’d explore the yard for a while, and then want to come back inside. She was never rambunctious indoors. She never chewed on shoes or other inappropriate things. She gave her toys hell, but she never tore up anything else.  And she was always a lap dog. Even after reaching sixty-five pounds, Lucy still liked to sit on daddy’s lap.

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We enrolled in a training class right around when Lucy was six months old.  She was a quick study; me, not so much. And she loved the instructor. If Miss Rebecca had told Lucy to stand on one foot, I think she would have done it. We graduated, solely on Lucy’s merit. If I held any responsibility for the grade, we’d still be in remedial training.

One funny story I have to share. One afternoon we took Lucy over to the home of some friends. These guys loved dogs too, and had a couple of labs. We knew Lucy would have fun. Keith was throwing a ball for his dogs to play catch. Of course Lucy wanted to join in. She chased the ball right along with the other dogs. That went fine until Keith threw the ball into the pool. After all, labs love water. Lucy ran right out over the water, and sank like a stone. She stayed on the bottom of the pool for what seemed like forever, just looking around. Andy was about to dive in after her when she finally began swimming and got out of the water. That was the end of the fun and games for Lucy. She sat on the porch with her back against the wall, pouting until we left to go home.

Right around her first birthday, Lucy graduated from the crate. For the first time, she was allowed to come upstairs at night. And of course that meant into Daddies’ bed. We tried getting rid of the crate, since she slept on the bed downstairs as well. She seemed to miss it, so we put the crate back together, minus the door. We called it her cave. Lucy spent a lot of time in her cave, especially when she wanted some quiet time.

Another funny factoid: Lucy loved food. Most dogs get excited at the prospect of a meal. Breakfast was not a terribly big deal, Lucy wasn’t crazy about mornings. But dinner was another story. As soon as I let her back in after doing her business in the afternoon, Lucy would run to the cabinet where her food was stored. She watched intently as I measured it out into her bowl. Then she would run over to the bowl holder, and watch to see if I was on the way.  Then she would start rearing up and down, sort of like a horse. It was so funny. She did this every afternoon. Lucy also got a treat after we finished dinner.  She sat or stood by patiently waiting for us to finish. As soon as I set my fork down, Lucy perked up. The moment I stood, she spun around once completely. She did this every night, and only for me. Andy used to get frustrated she would not do the “dinner dance” for him.

Dinner Dance  <= Click link to see video.

Years passed, and Lucy got older. We all did. One year, we had a really bad scare. Lucy developed a swelling in her abdominal area that went from plum sized to grapefruit size overnight. In the middle of a winter storm, we took Lucy to the vet. He thought it was cancer, so he immediately took her to surgery. We were very lucky. It turned out to be an infected mammary gland. If we’d waited, the cyst would have ruptured, and she would have died from sepsis.

Once the crisis was over, we settled back into our routine. Time flies when you’re not paying attention. During her annual exam, around her eleventh birthday, Lucy was diagnosed with hypertension and kidney problems. We started her on medications for her blood pressure, and to help preserve kidney function. Not too long after that, she had a bladder stone. That added six more pills to her medical regimen. No biggie. Hey, old folks get pills. It was a fact of life.

One Sunday morning, after returning from taking care of business, Lucy ran across the room to jump back into bed. Unfortunately, she landed a few inches shy and fell back onto her back legs. Off to the vet we go. A muscle sprain and hip dysplasia. That was the end of the upstairs trips. The staircase was far too steep to risk her falling again. I know she missed being with us at night, but she adapted. We lowered the mattress in the guest room so she could still have a bed to get into. But pretty soon Lucy only slept in her crate.

Last year, we traveled to spend Thanksgiving with family. Lucy stayed went to doggie camp. The moment we saw her when we picked her up, we knew it had been too much for her. Nothing against the people where she stayed; they were, and are, amazing. The stimulation was just too much for Lucy. She was too run down. We took her home and made her comfortable. She was so weak. She refused to eat. Going outside meant she had to be carried down the steps. We were convinced Lucy would not be with us much longer.

During this same time, we decided we no longer wanted the responsibility of a big old house. We started looking for condominiums. We bought a beautiful unit in the perfect location for both of us. Unfortunately, we did not consider what to do with an elderly, frail dog. Honestly, we didn’t expect her to last until closing. But you know, one Saturday morning Lucy decided she wasn’t done. She perked up. She got up. The brightness was back in her eyes. She started eating and looked happy again. Suddenly, we had to figure out what to do. The condo we bought was located at the end of the hall, quite some distance from the elevators.

It was Andy who came up with the perfect solution. He found a collapsible metal and canvas wagon; a newfangled version of the old red flyer. It worked like a charm. After the first couple of rides, Lucy liked it. The wagon kept us from having accidents in the hallway, plus it allowed her to conserve her energy. Once outdoors, she was still able to enjoy walking around the block. Another benefit is we got to know our neighbors. We quickly became known as the guys with the dog in the blue cart.

I panicked one morning when I realized I’d accidentally skipped two of Lucy’s pills. At this point, she was up to eighteen pills a day. I stopped at the drugstore that afternoon and picked up two weekly pill holders, one for the morning pills, and one for the evening ones. She had her own treatment drawer and a space on the counter for all of her medications.

Over the course of the summer, Lucy dramatically slowed down. First, she grew tired before making it all the way around our building. Then she started falling more. We added an antiparkinson drug to her medications, which helped for a while. Still, the hip dysplasia continued to worsen. We also added subcutaneous fluids to help combat dehydration.

In August, we went to Washington DC to get married. It was the twentieth anniversary of the day we met. We almost didn’t go. We had no idea what to do with Lucy. Luckily we discovered that one of the guys at Lucy’s vet did pet sitting. He was fine with her pills, her fluids, and even her activity limitations. She did well, but I think we were both worried the whole time we were gone.

A couple of months ago, we began using a carrier sling to support her rear and keep her from falling. She wasn’t really walking, just outdoors long enough to take care of business. There were other things going on as well. She wasn’t eating well, so we placed her on a special diet. Eventually, I started making her meals. We varied her food from mac and cheese to spaghetti to chicken and ziti; anything to entice her to eat.  She stopped trying to walk, so we moved her from orthopedic bed to orthopedic bed, letting her be close by wherever we were. She seemed happy and comfortable.

The turning point came on Sunday evening. We returned home to find Lucy had diarrhea and soiled her bed. I scooped her up and placed her in the tub so we could clean her. The next morning was a repeat of the night before. I saw the mortified expression on Lucy’s face as we bathed her. She’d been reduced to enduring the two things she hated most; soiling herself, and having to get baths. Andy and I both knew it was time.

The vet who’d cared for Lucy all her life was working, so we made an appointment to come in. One of the techs started crying as soon as we rolled Lucy and her blue wagon through the door. We were quickly placed in a room. A couple of techs came in placed in intravenous catheter.  Then we had a little time alone to say goodbye. After a few minutes, I let the staff know we were ready. I cradled Lucy’s head as the sedative took effect and she closed her eye for the last time. It comforted me to know that our faces were the last thing she saw.

It’s been a little over a week and we are still trying to adjust to our new life without Lucy. It is amazing how quiet our home is, especially since Lucy rarely barked or made noise. Still, the place seems empty without her. At least we have each other for comfort. Healing takes time; time and the support of friends. We received hundreds of post on Facebook from friends offering words of condolence. It is impossible to convey how much those sentiments meant to us. It also helps to think back over all the good times we had. Lucy spent her entire life loving us, and I’m glad we were able to give her a good life in return.

Rest in Peace, Lucy Fordham-Murphy (July 22, 2001-November 10, 2014)

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LGBT Pride Atlanta

Written by Ken Murphy

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Hey Ya’ll!

It’s a cool, crisp Fall morning here in Atlanta. I finally have a few minutes, so I wanted to visit my little website.

It’s just a few more days until Atlanta begins our annual celebration of LGBT Pride. It is always an exciting time, and I think the little nip in the air only makes it more festive. The height of the celebration is the LGBT Pride Parade on Sunday, October 12th. Some folks liked it better when we celebrated in July, people dressed more scantily. Of course the cooler weather won’t deter some people, so there’ll be plenty of pretty boys (and girls) running around shirtless. Hey, here’s to perky nipples. Don’t give me that eye. You know you like them too.

Speaking of perky, the picture posted is of Pride, one of my favorite December Diamond ornaments. For those of you who haven’t heard of December Diamonds, Google it. Just kidding. December Diamonds is a brand of ornaments. There are beach characters and animals. Their best known ornaments are mermen. They have some mer-ladies also, but I only collect the boys. Anyway, Pride gets to come “out of the closet” twice a year, Christmas, and the week before Atlanta Pride. So, right now he’s enjoying a prominent perch in our living room.

Atlanta Pride is a week-long celebration of diversity, focusing on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community. The first Gay Pride Parade was held in 1971, making Atlanta Pride one of the oldest pride parades held in the United States. It is also the largest LGBT event held in the Southeast, as well as the largest held around National Coming Out Day (Saturday, October 11th). It  is difficult to get an accurate account, but last year the attendees numbered in the hundreds of thousands. I hope we have even more people coming this year.

Atlanta Pride focuses on our diversity, but also a celebration of our accomplishments. And we have so much to be proud of. I remember when it was illegal to be homosexual. I was discharged from the military, simply for loving one man. One by one, the state bans against gay marriage fall as the cases make their way through the courts. Of course, Georgia is not among those states. Yet. I have hope that soon my marriage will be recognized by our state, as it is by our country. There are already cases in Georgia. They are slow moving, but they are moving. And the Supreme Court is getting nudged to make a ruling. A ruling I believe will be in favor of marriage equality for all. We still have a long way to go in the struggle for equality, but we have made much progress. So, I am looking forward to next week’s celebration of Atlanta Pride.

I’m ending this post with another picture of Pride. Just because he’s pretty. Plus, I already told you, he doesn’t get out much.

Hugs,

Ken

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The Newlyweds

Written by Ken Murphy

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Hard to imagine, but it’s true. Saturday, August 16, 2014, Andy and I got legally married. We decided to have our ceremony in a quiet little corner of the Constitution Gardens, in Washington, DC. Surrounded by eight of our friends, it was a solemn affair. Almost. Andy got the giggles a couple of times. That’s how I could tell he was nervous. He say my hands shook; I wouldn’t know. For once, I didn’t get teary-eyed. The same can’t be said for the eight people surrounding us. Like us, they knew what a significant moment it was. We both wanted a simple, casual wedding. That’s who we are. Andy doesn’t like matchy-matchy, so we compromised. The shirts picture here have contrasting stripes. The picture was taken after the ceremony, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.

People have since asked us if it feels different to be married. After all, August 16, 2014 was our twentieth anniversary. Still, it does feel different. I can’t explain it, but even Andy agrees; we are not the same people anymore. WE are part of something bigger. Somehow making it legal changes everything. True enough, our marriage is not yet recognized in out home state of Georgia. But I am confident that soon it will be. Until then, it is legal in our nation’s capital, and so many other states. And, it is real in our hearts. That’s the important part.

I’m going to end with another picture. This was my wedding gift from Andy. It’s titled “The Intersection of Love.”

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Stubborn Heart on Audio

Written by Ken Murphy
Stubborn Heart Audiobook

Stubborn Heart Audiobook

Stubborn Heart Audiobook Purchase Link

Atlanta Hearts: Book One

After breaking up with his cheating boyfriend, Mark Smith keeps life simple: his nursing career and a place of his own, but no dating. He’s steering clear of romance and the heartbreak that goes with it. After losing both parents and having all his relationships fail, he figures happily ever after is a myth.

When Dr. Trevor Hayes crosses Mark’s path at the hospital, he falls hard for Mark. The attraction is clearly mutual, and Trevor is determined to parlay that attraction into a relationship. Mark is just as determined to avoid exactly that.

But Trevor chips away at Mark’s resistance, and facing hardship and sorrow together brings them closer. Still, Mark can’t shake his belief that their romance is temporary—until he’s unexpectedly faced with the danger that he might lose Trevor for good. Mark must choose between guarding his heart and giving it completely, the risk he swore never to take again.

General Update

Written by Ken Murphy

Cherokee Avenue

Hey Y’all!

Just a little update since I’ve been away so long. It has been a long, busy Spring. For those of you not from Atlanta, this picture  is our old house on Cherokee Avenue. It closed and transferred to new owners on May 30, 2014. It has been a bittersweet time. We both love the house. I’ve lived in it for almost nineteen years. That’s the longest time I’ve ever lived in any one place. We both decided the house and yards were just too much to keep up. Still, it is a grand old house, and I’m certain the new owners will love it as much as we do.  I am looking forward to devoting some on the time we would have spent doing yard work to pool time at our new condo.

Lucy is doing well for an elderly dog. We are getting to be quite well-known around our building as the guys with the spotted dog in the blue wagon. Other than regular potty trips, she goes out once a day for a walk around the building. Not bad considering she will be thirteen next month, and has a bucket full of health issues. Still, she seems happy and feels well most of the time.

I took a mini-break from writing. Not so much from choice, as too many competing priorities. But, I’m happy to report that I’m back at it. I have two active projects and three that I’ll keep shelved for now.  One is about two men, neither of whom are honest with themselves about who they are. The other story is about a teenager who suddenly finds himself in an environment of chronic abuse. At this point, I’m not sure which one will be finished first.

I think that’s all the news for now. Stubborn Heart and Sharing Heart both continue to do well in sales. Thanks to everyone who purchased them. I’m trying to figure out more to do with me website, so I’m planning to make some changes. Maybe a total redesign. Stay tuned.

Hugs,

Ken

Contest

Written by Ken Murphy

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One year ago this week, Stubborn Heart, my first novel, was published. This week also marks one month since the release of Sharing Heart, the sequel to Stubborn Heart. Both books have been very well received, and readers have left some pretty awesome reviews. I think it’s time for a celebration.

What better way to celebrate than a giveaway? So, let’s have a contest. A lot of you know me, so you know I won’t make it too difficult. I want you to send me an email message. In this message, I want you to tell me about your favorite hobby. I don’t care if it’s reading, baking, playing softball, basket weaving, or running naked around your complex at three in the morning. Of course, if you do run naked around your complex at three in the morning, I may require photographic validation that this activity indeed, takes place. Just kidding. Maybe.  Seriously, tell me about your favorite hobby. What got you started doing it? What do you enjoy about it? Why do you keep doing it? Tell me whatever you want that gives me a little insight into you, and why this hobby is important to you.

This contest plays into one of my favorite hobbies, getting to know people. So, that’s what I’m getting out of this. I get to find out one little factoid about you. And what do you get in return? Nothing. Well, unless you’re the winner. I’ll give one lucky person an autographed paperback copy of Stubborn Heart and Sharing Heart. That’s right, both books, signed by me. And it won’t cost you one penny. I’ll even throw in the postage.

Now for the boring little details…

First, I’m sending out this contest via multiple social media feeds. So to make certain I get your entry, do not submit as a reply to this post. That includes to my website, where you’re reading this. I’m having a problem with spam, and I haven’t figured out a way around it. Until I do, I don’t allow comments to my posts.

Send me your contest entry as a separate email message to kenmurphywrites@comcast.net.

The contest ends on Sunday, May 4, 2013 at 8:00 pm (EST), and I will choose one winner from the entries received.  I will notify the winner by email on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.

Hugs,

Ken

Sharing Heart

Written by Ken Murphy

SharingHeart

Now available for pre-order from Dreamspinner Press.

Sharing Heart is the sequel to Stubborn Heart.

Between their love for each other and their medical careers taking off, everything should be perfect for Mark Smith and Trevor Hayes. After all, happily ever after begins with “I do.” At least that’s what Mark expected when he and Trevor married. But six months in Boston and the threat of a harsh winter have turned Mark bitter, and his fall on the ice only adds to that chill. Boston is very different from Mark’s native Atlanta, and he’s having a hard time adjusting.

As a junior partner in a very busy cardiothoracic surgery practice, Trevor has little choice but to spend almost every waking moment at the hospital. In spite of all the difficulties in their lives, both men want to start a family. The challenge will be figuring out how to make it happen.

Unfortunately, with Trevor’s long hours to blame for a nasty accident, Mark begins to resent the toll Trevor’s job and the New England cold is taking on them. Maybe it’s the Boston air, or maybe happily ever after is just a fairy tale.

ISBN-13 978-1-62798-534-5
Pages 200
Cover Artist L.C. Chase