Time has flown by and suddenly it is the end of summer. And what time it has been! First, the weather has been totally unpredictable...Wait...I live in Missouri. What am I saying? This was a flood year. A continual flood year. It was not a hot year...it was a wet year...and wet years are generally not good crop years. This was one of the worst.
Beyond the crops and the rain at impossible times, my health has not improved. At all. I've been pushed from one doctor to another and although they had reasons for suggesting I see this doc, then that doc, it has been exceedingly annoying because my health problems settled on my back. My lower spine, to be exact. The disc disease I was diagnosed with twenty-two years ago took hold and by August rendered me almost completely unable to walk. A CT scan revealed that I have seven bulging discs. Yes, seven. Three in my neck and four in the lumbar region. So off to doctor number six and a pain clinic where I finally received a lumbar epidural-steroid injection on Oct. 1. I'm not going to say the results are remarkable. It took a few days but...at least now I feel less like a cripple. I guess we'll see how long this will last.
As far as writing is concerned--I published the first four books of the Birds in Peril series under one cover for the convenience of my readers. The four book volume is cheaper than buying all four books separately. But I will be honest in that I do not know when I will complete the remainder of the series. My writing muse just refuses to go in that direction.
I've been writing small things, updating some interviews, participating in writer dialogues whenever I could. I have ideas but which of them will take hold, I have yet to discover.
Well....winter is coming and I always work more during those long, dark, cold nights. So we shall see...
When I renewed this website in January 2019, I had no idea what was to come. I only knew my health was getting worse by the day and I wondered if I would ever write again. As I complete this tonight, I can declare I am finally on the mend but it is a long road ahead. I can write small things...like this page. But a whole book? I think I have convinced myself to take one day at a time...slowly and carefully.
The text below was first published on my private Face Book page to confess my problems to friends and family. I post it here again so anyone who reads this page will know what has happened.
March 25, 2019)
Last spring it all started when my primary care doc changed my medications after a routine evaluation. About that same time, I had the first ‘routine’ mammogram. By mid-June, I was having difficulty breathing, was retaining fluid and the first mammogram reported ‘suspicious tissue’ had been found.
So the summer continued on this trend. Several mammograms, weight gain due to fluid retention, my cardiologist in a tizzy requesting test, after test, after test. All came back negative. My symptoms increased from mild memory loss to chronic fatigue and weird pains that are not joint related and an almost continual headache.
By the time Christmas rolled around, that something was very, very wrong was obvious on random pictures others took of me.
By mid-January, a biopsy was ordered and my primary care doc became concerned with excessive calcium showing up in my blood tests. So then there were more doctor visits. In addition to my P.C. doc and Cardiologist, I saw a Rheumatologist, an Endocrinologist, two Surgeons and I swear I gave them all tons of blood. They just ordered more tests. I was still retaining fluid. My body was very much 99%+ water and some days I have not been able to complete sentences much less remember I was awake.
Finally, last month, my Rheumatologist decided whatever was going on with me was not caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis. It appears the RA has gone into remission. He changed my meds yet again and, hot damn, the fluid retention stopped! I have normal-sized feet again. My Cardiologist also decided, whatever the problem is, it does not include my heart.
By this time, the tests my primary care doc ordered came back positive for Hyperparathyroidism. Thus, the cause of the headache and fatigue, memory loss, odd bone pains, inability to concentrate, the excess calcium in my blood, etc. They found a nodule/lump on my thyroid…don’t know if that is part of the problem or what it is. Don’t know what is happening with the parathyroid because, apparently, those little buggers didn’t show up on any of the imaging tests at all. The biopsy revealed that I have non-invasive carcinoma in my left breast. It is small and contained at 1% but it is growing and must be removed a.s.a.p.
AND THEN, two weeks ago, Dennis and I both contracted Influenza A. I would not wish that crap on my worst enemy. There were times the past two weeks when I wondered if we were going to survive. But we have— I think. P.C. doc says we’re on the mend.
So…on March 27, 2019 I am scheduled to have laparoscopic surgery on my throat (parathyroid) and a lumpectomy on my left breast. My surgeons—yes, 2 of them. One is a laparoscopic surgery specialist; the other is a breast surgery specialist. The docs will remove these weird invasions in my body and we shall see how quickly I begin to remember what I did five minutes ago--or if I have the energy to even try to remember anything. I’d be happy if I could just stand up straight without some oddball pain zinging through my arms or legs, or my head feeling like a ball of lead.
I really just want to write….to bury myself in a story until it consumes my reality, thus giving reason to forget I have food cooking on the stove…
Think of me in the days to come, please? Prayer and kind wishes are most welcome. I will let you know when the results are in.
March 29, 2019
This is my first ever selfie…a picture of my surgical wound. Well, the end result after my doc slit my throat, scraped the inside clean (with a wire brush) and then glued it all back together again.
Seriously, when this first began I didn’t know much of anything about the parathyroid. I thought it was part of the thyroid and my thyroid originated in hell many years ago. I’m told I’m wrong on both accounts. The thyroid and parathyroid each have different specific uses…and when out of whack both have the ability to screw your life beyond imagination.
The normal size of the parathyroid is smaller than a small apple seed. There are four located in around, sort of on, the thyroid. My parathyroid-surgeon removed two of mine. One of them, he said, was about the size of the tip of his little finger. This man does not have small hands. I guess there is an official measurement somewhere. Let’s just say both were a lot bigger than they are supposed to be.
I’ve had surgery so many times I just really wasn’t concerned about this. The lumpectomy was one thing, but my doctor assured me that, if removed quickly, she is certain she would get all of it and it will not be life threatening. I won’t have the lab reports before Monday so there is nothing to do but wait. Boob is still there. Throbs like a bitch once in a while. Threatens to scream if I bump it but it’s no more aggravation than it has always been. It’s about three shades of purple now, too.
The parathyroid is what has been making me ill. In my case, the primary symptom has been a continual headache. Other things, bone aches, inability to concentrate, memory issues but mostly that damned headache. So I went into surgery believing when I awoke my head wouldn’t hurt. That didn’t happen. When I woke up the headache was worse than ever.
Like a continual warp, my head would feel like it was in a vice. As the vice tightened the higher my blood pressure spiked. Then I’d get sick to my stomach. Then it’d let up for a while…until I moved or tried to breathe and it’d start all over again.
I was told the surgery was successful and I could go home if I wanted to. Like hell, I was going home! I couldn’t even stand without wanting to slam my head into the nearest wall.
The intuition of good nurses is phenomenal. It’s part of their job and, I assume, an acquired trait over years of practice. I have to say the two nurses who were assigned to take care of me the night of March 27 will forever be remembered as my personal blessings.
Although neither said so, I think they suspected something just wasn’t quite right. Nothing visible, nothing in my behavior. Just that sixth sense.
It was a miserable night. I couldn’t relax. Couldn’t sleep. I spent the evening with a head hurting so bad I couldn’t watch the television or read. I turned the volume down because even the sound made me hurt.
I was flying high on meds that didn’t stop the pain. Even with all the joking and a lot of encouraging laughter there was still this aura of something was wrong.
My nurses found reasons to make me laugh, to make me feel humble (after one looked me up on Amazon and came back to tell me all about the books I’d written and she was going to buy at least one).
The doc had injected dye into my parathyroid to make them more visible. He told me I would pee green. I peed blue…deep, deep blue and when my initial reaction was that it ‘looks like Easter egg dye’ the nurses began to refer to me as the ‘patient who pees blue’. They told EVERYBODY what a phenomenon I was.
My throat was so sore I could barely whisper. I choked on ice water. I choked on soda. I choked on whatever food they suggested I try to eat. I choked on air. God help me, I could barely swallow a half of a piece of strawberry cheesecake! Me! I could not eat cheesecake! I still feel doomed.
Finally about two a.m. I called the nurse in to assist me to the potty (wondering if I was still a phenomenon). She was helping me get out of bed when I became flushed with waves of nausea and then I lapsed into a full blown seizure.
I have watched other people have seizures but, let me assure you, watching someone else is a lot easier than experiencing the actual event. I could not breathe. My lungs became rock solid masses that refused to draw air in or let it out. I could not communicate in any way. My limbs were flying in every direction. I could hear my nurses calling my name, then assuring me help was on the way and then telling someone else I was having a seizure. In that moment, one second of lucidity, I actually wondered whether I was having a stroke or a heart attack. No, it wasn’t a heart attack. I’d been that route before. The pain was different. Was I dying?
Then everything went black.
I came to with about a dozen people standing around my bed…the emergency resuscitation crew. Code Blue PAC
I was lying on my naked back in a hospital gown rolled up my thighs and pulled down to my waist while this really handsome 30-something guy prepped me for an EKG…or tried…until the zipper closing the front of the surgical bra my boobs were packed in got stuck.
He cursed, “What the hell is this thing?”
“A bra,” I rasped in reply.
Startled him a bit. I don’t think he realized I was awake. He looked me right in the eye and grumbled, “I know that.”
The crew around my bed twittered. One of my nurses told me to behave myself.
I asked him, “At your age, you don’t know how to unhook a bra?”
“Not one like this!” he growled and the room exploded with laughter.
Poor boy will probably never be able to live that down.
Oh well, it did calm a really tense situation. Laughter does that.
An EKG determined nothing was going on with my heart. My lungs were clear. I knew what day it was, my name, my birth date. When they asked me where I was, I replied, “In bed.” Well dammit, I was in a bed. Blood tests showed my calcium levels had not dropped and my blood pressure rapidly returned to normal. Apparently, at one point my BP registered 200/100something.
And I had managed to baffle the entire night shift on that floor.
I still didn’t sleep much that night. My head still ached but not as bad. At one point my BP must have dropped really low. My body temp when down to 94 degrees. My nurses remained constantly vigilant but there were no more seizures.
The next morning I called Dennis about 7:30 a.m. I’m surprised he didn’t have a heart attack from the shock of me being awake that early. Then I had to tell him I was not coming home that morning.
Throughout the day I talked to my doctors, answered tons of questions, asked tons more, faced a regimen of tests, and told my family what was going on mostly through texts. Kevin’s Amy came to sit with me about noon or so...and I love her to pieces for caring so much… but it was still a long day.
I was scheduled to have a CAT Scan around 3 p.m. That didn’t happen until about 5 p.m. Afterward, one of the nurses assured me the scan revealed the prettiest normal brain she had seen that day. She even told my family I most certainly do have a functioning, beautiful brain.
See? I’ve been telling them there is nothing wrong with my brain! I need a body transplant, dammit.
Shortly after that, I was told I could go home if I wanted to. This time, you damned right I was ready to go home!
The final conclusion appears to be that the ‘event’ was caused by an adverse reaction to the anesthetic I was given. I suffered a bad reaction to the same anesthetic some years ago after I had cataract surgery. So...steps have to be taken to see to it that I’m never given that stuff again.
I slept better last night than I have in months. I napped during the day but I’m moving around more on my own steam now, too. I’m weak and still pretty much without a voice but my throat is better.
I didn’t choke on water and air today.
And…in case you haven’t noticed, it looks like my Muse (who I have determined is gender neutral) has returned.
April 4, 2019
Path reports came back clear! Margins on the lumpectomy were clear and the parathyroid tissue (although enlarged) had no signs of cancer. Whew! That was a close one.
Now I just have to get my energy back. It's not easy recovering from about six stories below rock bottom.
My Thoughts Throughout 2017 and 2018 Before I realized I was a long way from being
"Back on Track"
I must apologize to those who are waiting for me to complete The Birds in Peril Series
During the spring of 2016 I suffered a serious health scare. Even though, physically, everything is back on track, the experience caused months of a massive writers' block. I'm back to writing now but this series has a long way to go before it reaches publishable completion. It may seem strange--it certainly does to me--that 'when my muse returned' Eagle was not the foremost thought in my mind. Sweet Pea was. Suddenly Sweet Pea began to click so I went with the 'muse call' and worked to publish Sweet Pea first.
It has been very difficult getting back into the Birds Series. I do not understand why. So please bear with me and know that I am so grateful for your patience.
I do hope you enjoy the Sweet Pea Trilogy as well as you have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy the 'Bird Series'.
The stories described below will be published in the future. At this time I am uncertain in which order as I am working on both of them simultaneously.
The Sweet Pea Story is totally separate from the Birds in Peril Series