Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Joy of Writing (When Speaking is So Much Harder!)

I am having so much fun today, hanging out at Barnes & Noble, working on the final chapters of Erin's Ring.  I had to get out of the house, because there were too many distractions back there.  We'd been out of town for a stretch, and whenever we return home after being away I always find a million things that need taking care of.  But right now, I need to regard this book as my top priority.

No, that's not a Walker's Shortbread Cookie wrapper
hiding behind my laptop.  It isn't.
I love these places where you can park yourself at your own little table--for hours--to work on your computer, without being arrested for loitering; and all it costs you is the price of a large cup of coffee.  (You can probably do it sans cafe, too; but I would feel guilty if I didn't buy something.)

I feel very writer-ish when  I work at Starbuck's or Barnes & Noble.  My only complaint about these writer-welcoming establishments is that they don't serve Dunkin' Donuts coffee.  I've never tried to park myself at a table at Dunkin' Donuts, but who knows?  Maybe they would be just as welcoming over there.

Like many writers, I've always been a fairly shy and reserved person.  I have trouble telling a story or an anecdote in a group, because when I realize I've suddenly become the center of attention, I just want to rush through it and be done, and give the floor over to someone else.  I tend to get tongue-tied and jumble my words in my hastiness.  I've always been this way, to a point, and always felt that I'm best at expressing myself through the written, rather than the spoken, word; but this feeling has been magnified the past year or two.  I feel confused more often now, when trying to think of a word I want to use; my brain gets turned around (kind of the way I used to get lost all the time while driving, before the advent of the greatest invention of all time, GPS), and I get frustrated.  Even my husband has noticed my recent tendency to misunderstand him in a conversation, or to have trouble expressing my thoughts to him.

I've also had lots of aches and pains in my bones and joints; but then again, all fifty-somethings have that sort of thing--right?  (Along with weak bladders!  TMI, I know.)

And I've had the blues much more often than I used to, along with bouts of anxiety; but then again, women who are adjusting to the empty nest often feel that way--right?

Well...apparently there is a medical reason for some of these developments.  What I was chalking up to just getting older and therefore becoming more achy, forgetful, emotional, and easily confused, has actually been caused (or at least exacerbated) by an excess of calcium in my blood.  I have recently been diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism, a condition wherein one of the four parathyroid glands that are attached to the thyroid (and are responsible for controlling the calcium levels in the body) goes into overdrive and becomes enlarged and tumor-like (although not malignant).  Tests confirmed that I do indeed have one of these tumors, and the doctor says I've probably had it for years.  If my vitamin D level hadn't been so low when I had bloodwork done for a routine physical this past spring, no one would have thought to do further investigation and the problem wouldn't have been found.  I could have continued to walk around with this condition that can be easily cured for who knows how long.  I feel so incredibly lucky.

My first bone scan, which I had a few months ago after the initial diagnosis, confirmed that I do have osteoporosis, which is one of the symptoms of hyperparathryoidism.  Kidney stones are another symptom, but fortunately I haven't had any of those.

Me...me...me again.  I'm really close on this one.
(I love Bill Murray quotes--especially from Groundhog Day.)
They call the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism "Moans, groans, stones, and bones--with psychic overtones."  They're so nebulous and seemingly unconnected that you usually don't even think to mention them to your doctor.

The good news is that the offending gland can be surgically removed, the procedure is fairly simple, and the recovery is quick--and then the patient is instantly cured (although bone loss can only be stopped, not reversed).  I am going to have this surgery in a few weeks, and so, dear readers, I would appreciate it if you would keep me in your prayers.  Although the procedure is considered a surgical cake walk and it's highly successful, I still get nervous thinking about neck surgery!  Most patients feel so much better afterward--in fact, many don't even realize how bad they've been feeling until they have the tumor removed, and afterward, they are amazed by how good they feel!  I am hoping for that kind of outcome, and I could use any prayers you want to send my way.

In the meantime, I am so grateful for the writing process.  It is a joy to me, in so many ways.  Aside from being somewhat therapeutic, it is just plain FUN.  I get to sit down and spend time with these characters who have become real people to me.  They are so real, in fact, that sometimes--just when I don't know which direction to head with their storylines or their dialogue--they "tell" me what they'd do or say.  I know that sounds ridiculous (and I used to roll my eyes when I heard writers say such things, before I became one), but it really does happen.  And it's a blast, it really is.  I think I've got a silly grin on my face as I sit here in the Barnes & Noble coffee shop.  People probably think I'm a nut job.  But that's okay; half the time, I do, too!

Okay, then, time to get back to my Erin's Ring peeps.  But thanks for your prayers.  And if any of the symptoms in the above diagram sound familiar to you, when you have your next physical make sure to have your doctor check your blood calcium level.  If it's even the slightest bit elevated, have him check your parathyroid hormone level.  Your bones will thank you for it!

17 comments:

  1. Prayers coming your way - and I'm so glad the cause of your medical issues has been found and can be fixed!

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    1. Thanks, Nancy! I really haven't been feeling terrible, but just sort of "off." And it's nice to know there's an easy fix for this problem.

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  2. I will definitely have you in my thoughts and prayers. I wonder if I should have my levels checked? .... Could that possibly be the cause of my pancreatitis last year? Hmmmm

    Can't wait to read Erin;s Ring!!

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    1. When I saw that pancreatitis was one of the symptoms, I wondered that, too!

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    2. Have it checked. It can't hurt!

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  3. I will be praying for you! And I'm glad you are enjoying the process of writing. I love DD coffee too!

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    1. Thank you, Beth! (And yes, DD is the very best!)

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  4. You can count on my prayers. MemorareUP!
    I definitely like DD better than Starbucks (but Wawa coffee is the best, hands down! They have nowhere to sit in Wawa, though.)
    I have sat and worked in a DD before, but the tables are all small, and it's much noisier than a Starbucks or BN. You're paying for the ambiance along with your burnt coffee.

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  5. I have never even heard of Wawa coffee. And it's better than Dunkin'???!!! (How do I get that deliciousness in me? Where can I find it?)

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    1. Wawa is a convenience store. It has a pretty limited geographical reach. NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA and FL. And their coffee is the BEST.

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    2. Thanks, Barb. We travel a lot--so I'll look for it when we're on the road.

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  6. Oh my gosh, Laura, a lot of these symptoms are me!!! I'm your age and I, too, thought I'm just getting older. I did have my vitamin D levels checked last year due to extreme fatigue and supplementing with D3 has helped but I do have some other of the symptoms listed. I need to see my doctor.

    We don't have many DD here in Texas but I did try it once and I'm sorry, I don't like DD coffee! lol. I prefer Starbuck's. :)

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    1. I wasn't sure if I should talk about it on my blog; but then I realized that it could be a sort of public service announcement. Because truly, I didn't think there was one thing that was causing all these random symptoms. And the symptoms weren't even bad enough to see a doctor about--I found excuses for all of them. I figured there might be someone out there just like me who has the same thing, but no one's found it yet.

      I'm lucky, too because the doctor said that just about everyone suffers from low Vit D, especially if they don't live in states where they get lots of sun year-round. So that alone wouldn't indicate I had something else going on. But because they took that seriously and kept doing bloodwork, they found the problem. My doctor said that parathyroid hormone levels are not normally checked when doing routine bloodwork and that this condition is not super common, so it often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

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    2. Thank you, thank you, Laura, for having the courage to talk about it. My mouth just opened as I read your symptoms and then the chart. I had a bone scan a couple years ago that was fine so I'm relieved about that. But whether or not it turns out I have the same diagnosis as you or maybe it's something else I will get this checked.

      Like you, my symptoms never seemed bad enough for me to see a doctor. And I also found excuses for them!

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    3. You're welcome! You know, I feel tired a lot, and I often don't feel well, but in a hard to describe sort of way--just like it says on the diagram. It's been so easy to find excuses for these things (I'm an "old lady," I don't take good enough care of myself, etc.). I think women get in the habit of doing this, don't you? It's like we don't have time to be sick when we're moms, so we put off having things checked.

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  7. Oh my gosh, prayers will be sent!! What sad but good news they found it and it is so treatable. Feel better soon!

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    1. You are so sweet--thank you. I'll be happy to get that surgery over with!

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