Monday, March 2, 2015

The Good and The Bad...

So, if you've read To Win The Guarded Heart by now - Book 4 of the Dragons, Griffons and Centaurs, Oh My! Series then you know for the last six-eight months I've been dealing with some pretty serious health issues.

If you haven't, I'll bring you up to date.

I've been publishing now since 2012 (June to be exact and it's unbelievable that it's almost been 3 years already...!) and at first everything was great! Fantabulous even! What I didn't know, is that virtually around the corner, I'd be knocked on my ass by something I thought was a good many years away...

But, I digress.

Anyway, in July 2014, I got sick. At first, I thought it was nothing more than your standard cold. I'd attended the Romance Writer's of America convention here in San Antonio and being around that many people, one is bound to pick up the standard summer sniffles!

So, off to the doctor I go when it didn't go away on its own.

But, I should tell you, I HATE doctors. I do. I'm worse than some men I know when it comes to being sick. I will kick and scream and cry like a two-year-old getting a shot before I break down and go to see an actual, real, live medical professional...

I have my reasons for this, I promise you I do, but there you are.

But, in this case, nothing I was doing was helping! No amount of Nyquil or Dayquil or OTC stuff that you typically take to fight off such things was being effective. So, I broke in my suffering and staggered my happy little feeling-like-death-warmed-over-ass down to the clinic right near my house.

"Oh, it sounds like you've progressed into Bronchitis. Here's some antibiotics, and a breathing treatment, have a nice day..." is what the nurse/physician's assistant said to me after much poking/prodding and such.

Ok, fine. That sounds reasonable. I've had Bronchitis before, so I filled my prescriptions, took them faithfully and curled up on the couch for a couple of days.

But, that didn't work! Even 10 days later, after all the pills were gone...I still had all the same symptoms! I was coughing every five minutes. My chest and lungs felt like a Giant had shoved his hand down my throat and was taking great delight in squeezing me to death! My head pounded with every blink of my eyes!!!!

It was awful! I wanted to die! No, really, I did!

So, back to the clinic I go.

Again, the Nurse/PA said, "Oh, it's not bronchitis, but it *could* be pneumonia!"

Ugh! Ok, fine. Again, I know how these things progress. Fine. More pills. More still feeling like death warmed over on an unsalted saltine cracker, but, fine!

I take the stuff they gave me, laid on the couch for a couple more days...and NOTHING!

10 days later and I'm still in the same shape!


I'm fortunate in that the insurance from my day job no longer requires a referral from a Primary Care Doctor, so I started putting things together myself. (Now, in my defense, I probably could have saved myself about six months of agony if I'd listened to my own instincts here and gone straight to a Cardiologist at this point -- but I'm getting ahead of myself!)

Anyway, some digging around on the Interwebs, I thought maybe it might be allergies.

I wasn't sure what I might be allergic too -- I've had cats for years, been in San Antonio for years, etc. so the typical stuffs wasn't jiving, but I was desperate for relief by now, so anything was possible.

SIXTY-SIX allergen tests later and guess what?

I ain't allergic to SHIT! Nada. Nothin'. Zip. Zilch. Zero! That's right ladies and gents, you're talking to probably the one person on the planet that doesn't have at least *some* allergy to *something*!

Which is awesome!!!! But, still didn't solve my problems. Even after that particular Doc gave me a string of inhalers and antibiotics to try and relieve what I was going through.

So, allergies out the window!


Next up was an internist. Maybe she could help! Yeah, that's it.

Once more into the breach I go...but...HER solution?!?!

"Try and breathe through your nose more..."

What?!?! Are you serious?!? Don't you think if I COULD breathe through my nose, I would?!?!

But, fine. I tried her "solution" for about a week and it didn't do a damn thing. Still had all the symptoms of a cold/flu but no relief!!!

Next up, on the recommendation from the Internist, was a pulmonologist. This guy does a bunch of blood work and x-rays and finds a "spot" on my lungs. A tiny little corner of black gunk that I'm immediately thinking is probably cancer or some such and now I'm really panicked!!!

But, the good news here, is it wasn't cancer. Two rounds of x-rays and an MRI later, and said black spot is gone!

And the pulmonologist is CLUELESS!!!! The blood work is normal. All the things he *thought* it might be -- Lung Cancer, Tuberculosis, or Emphysema are ruled out!!!


But, nothing has changed! The inhalers only cause me to cough harder and spit the gunk they use -- the medicine -- back out. The pills they gave me don't do squat and I'm still miserable!!!

By this point, I'm seriously at my wits end. No, I am.

I have *no* energy. My body feels like it's not much more than a puddle of black goo! My chest is in a vice -- again, Hello Mr. Giant! Are you enjoying yourself there?! Cause I'm not!!! Every cough causes muscle cramps that literally stop me in my tracks, bend me over and leave me in tears, until it eventually passes!!!

Finally, when I just couldn't take it anymore, I sit down (right before Christmas) and plop all my symptoms into Google and click search.

A list of crap comes up and I go down it, checking each off as a likely "thing" because I've already spent the last six months going to Doctors and eliminating them, gosh darnit!!!!

At the very, very bottom of said list though is "Congestive Heart Failure." It's less than a .05 % chance that that's what this is, but still. I've eliminated all the other 99.95% of the things they say it might be, so what the hell, right?!?!?!

So, yet again, into the breach I go...this being my last resort. At this point, I figure if this *isn't* what it is, I'm just going to cut myself apart between the neck and the waist and replace the whole kit-and-caboodle and be done with it!!!!

But, I will say, the Cardio Doc I found is one of the best in the state. After one appointment -- and my long and sorted retelling of events -- he nods and says, "Yep. That's exactly what it sounds like!"

It might have helped that I was wearing my hoodie that says, "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel!" but I could be wrong.

Needless to say, I was thrilled that we might have finally figured out what was wrong with me!

(Shush over there! Yes, I know I'm slightly off-kilter as an Author, but that's *above* the neck, thank you very much!!!)

So, a round of testing later -- which included an oh, so, lovely (NOT!) walk on a treadmill where I thought I was going to D-I-E!!! -- and he discovers I have three clogged veins leading into my heart.


Now, I should admit something here. I smoke. I have for 30+ years.

I eat. I'm Italian, I love my pasta! (Don't judge me!!!)

I love salt!!! Don't know why, but I do.

I *abused* my body when I was younger. No, I did. And frankly -- at the time -- I didn't care. Who does when they're 21-22, right?!?

I'm about 50 lbs. overweight -- Again, Italian, LOVE to eat! (Don't judge!)

So, I'm not -- by any means -- blaming anyone or anything but myself...*laughs* This whole mess sits squarely on my shoulders and I won't cry and complain and ask Why me!?! Cause I know. Deep down in the very pit of me, I knew I'd eventually have problems, but as I said, I thought I'd have a couple more years, ya know?

Anyway, at the discovery of what this actually is, the Doc put me on stuff to try and clear the blocks naturally. Sadly, it didn't work. Oh, for a while it did, I felt marginally better, but eventually they stopped and I'm getting close to being back where I was -- same aches/pains/coughing and etc.

I've gone back to the Doc and now we're talking surgery. Last week I had another love/hate day with the blasted treadmill -- which I threatened to plant some C-4 in I think at one point and blow to smithereens!!!! -- and another round of dye run through my veins. (I swear I was glowing that night like some alien from the planet Xenodofunk!)

But, that's not why I was really writing this blog today. Yes, I wanted to let my die-hard fans know why I was in and out of things for so long, and yes I wanted to get a little personal because it needed to be said.

And what spurned my admissions today was a post I saw in a group on FB. It said:

This NOVEL you're working on right now: If you knew this would your LAST one, would you still be working on it? Or would you choose another novel that's closest to your heart if this, instead of your body of work, would be what you were known for, for all time as an author?

And that caused me to wonder. Could this -- Book 5 of the Dragons, Griffons and Centaurs, Oh My! -- really be the last thing I ever put out?!?

Given my current health status, it's a distinct possibility.

No, no, don't panic. I'm going to finish it and hopefully the others in the series. (There's supposed to be 8 total, but depending on how evil Golix wants to keep being, maybe more!)

But it did make me wonder...

And since I'm having "one of those days" -- where Mr. Giant is on a tap-dancing rampage in my chest and everything aches horribly!!!! -- I'm going to sit and reevaluate my priorities in life. (Yes, I'm working on the whole smoking thing -- and bettering my diet (or at least not eating so *much* pasta...*laughs*) and getting some exercise, at least as much as I can -- but I mean, do I really want the added stress of everything else in my life?

Yes, publishing is stressful in its own way, but I'm talking other factors. The day job, the household dynamic I have atm, etc. These are added things that I could eliminate or at least modify to the point that it wouldn't be so *many* additional issues, ya know?

Anyway, that's my story. I know Authors tend not to get too personal, we try and set ourselves up there, just out of reach, behind the scenes as it were and let you -- the fans and readers -- focus on the stories we write.

But, you know what? We're human too. We have families and lives and issues beyond those we create for you to enjoy. We have drama and death and life and all the things that you deal with too.

And sometimes, I think even we forget that it's ok to admit we're just as human as you...

So, there we are. I'm waiting on the results from the last tests and we'll decide whether and what type of surgery is going to be the best option for me to finally feel like my old self...

Thanks for listening and as always, thanks for stopping by.

Until next time.

Margaret Taylor

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