Saturday, June 25, 2011

There's always another side to the story

I've been having a lot of physical problems for the last year or so. Early in 2010 I started to have severe leg cramps and hip pain. I tried all the usual remedies: bananas, tonic water, shoe inserts, potassium pills ... you name it, I tried it. I visited a series of 'ists' -- podiatrist, gastroenterologist, orthopedic surgeon, dermatologist (I was also inexplicably battling a skin infection that would *not* go away). I saw a gynecologist, spine specialist, neurologist, herbalist, chiropractic. I tried different physical therapies, accupuncture (which was so amazingly painful I almost passed out), I did hydro-therapy, deep tissue massage...

You name it. I saw the doctor, I tried the therapy. I finally ended up with another neurological specialist who ordered a new round of blood tests. They took 8 vials of blood and did every possible test imaginable: Lyme disease, Epstein-Barr, etc. I had a spinal test for MS. I had electroshock tests. I had MRIs. They found that yes, my spine is deteriorating (no news there) and that I have a bit of a malformation of the left hip (again: no news there). But the overall result? It's now about 18 months later and the conclusion is that I have a 'non-specific neurological disease that affects the hip and back muscles."

So what does this mean? It means there's at LEAST two sides to every story: The good news is, I don't have ALS, Parkinson's, MS or another chronic wasting disease which can be diagnosed through blood tests or tissue tests. The bad news: I don't have ALS, Parkinson's, MS or another disease that can be diagnosed. I have one of those "it's not this, so maybe it's that" disease. No one can tell me how it might progress, what the prognosis is, what to do to mitigate it.

I'm not complaining, mind you -- this is not life threatening, it's just painful. I've been able to adapt somewhat. I only get a few hours of sleep because of the pain, but I can nap in the afternoon and get by. I can't exercise the way I used to: no more 2 hour walks for me! But I can take two 45-minute walks, as long as I rest in between. I can use deep heat for the cramping, I can take ibuprofen when the pain gets bad, and I can do anything I normally do -- I just have to be careful and pay attention to my body and if pain starts, I've got to stop lest the cramping begin.

This entire medical journey has made me appreciate people who deal with chronic disease. Medicine is really an art, not a science and it's so important to be proactive in your own care. It's a team effort ...

Sort of like editing and writing (you *knew* I'd bring this back to writing, didn't you?) I've heard authors express ... chagrin (for lack of a better word) ... about the editing process. They struggle with the edits they get back from their editor and they worry if they're making the story better or not. I've been lucky: I only had struggles with one or two editors in all of my 20+ books. Did the struggle make the story better? I don't think so, but I learned a lot about the publishing house during the process (long story best told over drinks in a bar).

It's so important to have a good team on your side during the publishing process, especially if you're going the Indie (self-publishing) route. You want a good cover artist, a good editor/reviewer, a good product at the end which means good formatting, a nice package, a great story. It's all about a team. I think some authors can do it all but I can't. I've been hiring people to help me with my Indie books and I'm so glad I did because the finished product is something I'm very proud of. Check out my Amazon store and compare my two Indie books (Penance and Vengeance) with my other books there. I'm happy with what's transpired.

So here's to teamwork and taking charge of your life and your writing -- enjoy it all, have fun with it, take the lumps with the lauds, and keep looking forward. There's always something new coming up!

NOTE: I may not be posting next month at my scheduled time. It's smack in the middle of my move, so if I miss, I apologize. But my computer may be in a box somewhere on the Interstate and I don't know if I'll have time to blog. Figure I'll be back in August in my new location -- whoo!


Mona Risk said...

JL, I was about to post a smilar blog as I am trying to find out what's wrong with my foot (they said it's a heel bone spur. Cortisone injection and orthostis?), with my knee (arthritis, may need surgery),with my hip (I'll kill them before I let them touch it). It all started after I spent two months walking three miles a day-my New Year resolutions. Now I sleep with a special bootie to stretch my foot and wear a support for my hand and wrist. Bummer. At least I can swim and soak in hot bath.

Josie said...

So sorry about your illness. I've had cortisone injections for my arthritis. Hope you're feeling better!
And, good luck on your move. Let us know how it goes.