Monthly Archives: May 2015

Blame the dog…

Don’t let that angelic face deceive you. I’m back. Back on the inter webs, back at the boatyard, and back at the keyboard in full force, and it’s all her fault.

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Right now I’m so tired from days of boat work and nights of writing — so tired, in fact, that I decided WTH, just post something. Thus, this. I figured if I waited until I wasn’t, I never would. And that pretty much defines the approach I’m going to take to posting. Life’s going pretty fast these days, and so is my typing. You may encounter a typo or two. I’ve wanted to post for some time now; there’s a lot going on and things are finally moving forward. Oh, right. I never mentioned that they’d all but ground to a stop.

I guess I should bring you, whoever you may be, up to speed. I mean, look at this blog. It used to be so active, so alive. Then it all but ground to a halt. What’s the deal with that? And what about that book I was writing? (stay tuned) and what about that boat I was fixing. (ditto) Where had all the updates gone??? And what’s one little dog have to do with any of that?

Well, the blog was a perfect indicator of my existence. Something had always been a bit ‘off’ about me  – I’ll be the first to admit it, and anyone who knows me personally can attest to that. For the most part I was healthy, aside from occasional and seemingly random episodes of dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting. When I was younger they’d happen once or twice a year, but as I’ve grown older I’d been having more problems, both physically and mentally. The occasional lightheadedness became a frequent fog of muddled thoughts and confusion, and the episodes were coming more often and staying longer.  I stopped driving, stopped going anywhere. It was getting worse. Much worse. By last winter I was hitting bottom, hard. Ironically, on paper, I’m fantastically healthy. I don’t eat ANY processed foods, don’t drink soda or anything else sweetened. I do like salt, though. I put salt on everything. Not just popcorn. I’m talking toast, bagels, vegetables, fruit, lemonade (and please hold the sugar — much too sweet!)  And I’m not talking a shake or two. I’m talking LOTS of salt. Still, I was slim, had low cholesterol, low blood pressure and nice low heart rate; precisely what much of the population is striving to achieve. For years all I’d gotten from the medical community was a pat on the head and a gold star. All my numbers were nice and low — so low, in fact, that they’d recheck my vitals, and more than once medical staff tried a second cuff or recounted my pulse, certain something wasn’t reading right. But numbers like 80/55 and a heart that idled around 60 beats per minute, rarely broke 100 under load, and has occasionally dropped into the 30s, were the norm for me.  You can find plenty of info on the dangers of high numbers, but little on low readings. Everyone assumes low is good, lower is better. I can assure you, it isn’t. More than once I’d been told, “I wish all my patients were this healthy,” while I was treated with patronizing patience – clearly I was healthy, and my ‘concerns’ (concerns? I dented the sink with my skull while passing out, and lay unconscious for god knows how long,) were really a case of ‘female hormones’. Of course. Faint = emotional distress.

I know I used to be active and productive. Now, simple daily activities were a struggle, and not only from the dizziness and overwhelming exhaustion. The worst part was my mind – it was unravelling. I couldn’t concentrate, barely hold a thought, and the only thing that saved me was writing, though that was a constant uphill battle. But writing allowed me to retain some of my thoughts, though anyone who has read my books would be amused (disturbed?) to know I followed Hammon’s lead and took to writing memory cues. By last winter, things were hitting critical mass.

And then we found Emma.

This is the newest member of the crew, and the last thing I needed when I could barely take care of myself and my two older dogs. But when an episode hit days later, that ten pound bundle glued herself to my side, licking my face and softly whining. And each time after that, she knew something was happening, even though I was lying there, unable to move or speak, lingering just on the edge of consciousness. That led me to later Google “Dog knows I’m going to faint.” (start at 1:20 for a perfect example of what I’ve been dealing with.) And that led me to a whole lot of information I’d never known, as well as the right doctor and eventually, an answer and a direction for managing what’s going on. In a nutshell, I have an autonomic dysfunction (aka: Dysautonomia) brought on by what appears to be adrenal insufficiency, (Click the links for all the fun details — they’re fascinating.) and my body wasn’t properly retaining sodium. Bodies need salt to function. Without enough salt, dehydration follows. Everything from the brain on down starts shutting down, and that isn’t pretty. We’re still trying to figure out what underlying condition is causing this, but now we’re getting somewhere, including a treatment.

Fludrocortisone, aka the Anti-Zombie pills! One unassuming little white pill, but with it, my body can process sodium. Blood pressure is up to a nice normal level, stable, and for the first time in longer than I can recall fresh blood is reaching the top floors. The dizziness, the fatigue, the brain-fog — they’re all gone. I’m still not outrunning any zombies, not with a heart that rarely breaks 100 beats per minute, and likes to linger in the low 50s.  Then again, zombies might not even realize I’m among the living.  But I am, once again, and oh is it great to have my brain cells back!

So now you all know where I’ve been hiding, and why. Through it all I never stopped writing; no matter how much of a struggle it became, I refused to give up.  I know some of you are wondering if that third book would ever become a reality, and for a time so was I.  And right now I need to get back to editing the second draft. A few close friends have asked, politely as possible, if the entire thing is a smoldering train-wreck, considering the frame of mind, or lack thereof,  it had been written in. Let’s just say the story’s straight out of some in-te-resting parts of my mind, and much of it delves into Hammon’s head. You know how they say the best writing comes when you shut off your inner editor. Mine wasn’t just shut, it was boarded up and abandoned.  So, plot-wise, dialog-wise, character-wise, this story is rock solid and a total blast. Editing-wise, oh do I have my work cut out for me. And on that note, it’s time to get back to work.

Emma (now 40 pounds), Loki and Rex