What’s Out This Christmas

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a gallbladder removal. It’s what I’m doing with my Friday before Christmas. How about you? As a good friend noted, “What? You thought you needed a greater holiday challenge?” Well no, but that’s the way the surgeon’s schedule worked out, and why put off until 2018 what you can cram into 2017? If all goes according to plan, I should be fine to cook Christmas dinner, or at least yell instructions from the sofa.

I’m multitasking with this blog, scheduling it to auto-post around the time things should be coming back into focus. Being a notoriously poor multitasker is what earned me the Disney equivalent of a fast-pass to the OR.

In my defense, it’s been an unusually busy year. I had two novels release, (one novel would be a lot) Unstrung and Foretold. Those were actually the lesser items on my 2017 to-do list. Back in February I began writing Echo Moon, the last installment of the Ghost Gifts trilogy. The draft was due on my editor’s desk in August. I might be a poor multitasker, but I am a stickler for a deadline. Naturally, out of the three books, Echo Moon was the most complex in terms of research. A chunk of the novel takes place in 1917, requiring the kind of historical exploration this writer had never taken on.

By no means is any of this a complaint—I’m most grateful to have had a deadline to meet and a home for my novels. But maybe the wild ride did get away from me just a tad. I was as focused and fast as NASCAR driver on the 99th lap when the first tummy twinges hit last spring. At the time, Foretold copyedits were in the house, which meant putting Echo Moon aside for a few weeks—hours I didn’t have to spare. Twinges were promptly ignored.

Almost in the same moment, Ghost Gifts was nominated for a RITA award and the temptation to travel to Florida in July for the festivities made it easier to say, “Hmm… that little pain must be indigestion, maybe butterflies.” The tummy twinge would come and go and my greatest physical complaint remained my upper back. Easily explained: Find one writer who doesn’t suffer back or neck or finger pain. Even writers who post selfies of themselves on a treadmill, logging nine miles while editing their latest manuscript, surely ache off camera.

Straight through the summer and into fall, I passed pain off as a hazard of the trade. That nagging upper back was still my number one complaint. And sitting, experts now say, is the new smoking. At the height of 2017’s writing frenzy, I probably had a three-pack a day habit going.

All that said, there must be something to mind over matter. I made it through Echo Moon copyedits before crying uncle—or more specifically putting a call in to my gastroenterologist. Instead of dismissing me, like I wished he might, he ordered an ultra sound. We are a family with a bad gut gene, and therefore friendlier than the average patient with our digestive track specialist. In fact, when my doc couldn’t locate me to share my winner-winner, chicken dinner test results, he texted my daughter. “What’s your mother’s cell number? She needs her gallbladder out.”

That brings us to here. I feel very fortunate—and I would guess nauseous about now, anesthesia not being my post-op friend. While I might have preferred holiday stress to today’s activity, I am mindful that my troubles amounted to nothing more than a cranky gallbladder. Be assured the Christmas lesson has been learned: if you want the everyday anxieties of book writing, don’t ignore the messages your body is sending, no matter how subtle the Morse code of pain. Oh, BTW, I also expect that upper back ache to clear up in 2018. Turns out isolated right shoulder blade pain is a classic red flag for a bum gallbladder. Who knew?

So I am waving from recovery, wishing everyone a Happy Holiday season! The tummy twinge has been defeated all before the New Year. Onward to bookish things—maybe at just a slightly less frantic pace.






  1. Susan Peterson on December 22, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I hope the surgery eases your pain!! Praying for a quick recovery!

    • Laura Spinella on December 22, 2017 at 7:02 pm

      Thanks you, Susan. I hope so too!

  2. Beverly Turner on December 22, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Laura…I hope you don’t plan to make this surgery thing a holiday tradition. LOL Of course, I couldn’t chide anyone about ignoring pain and putting off a trip to the doctor. My husband says I won’t go to the doctor until I’m half dead. I hate to admit it but he’s right.

    Delegate some of those cooking chores while you can and enjoy your Christmas. And, of course, toast 2018 with a glass of bubbly….or maybe two or three.

    • Laura Spinella on December 22, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      Many thanks, Beverly! Writing this a little woozy from the sofa. 😉

  3. Vivian Payton on December 22, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Please take care of yourself so you can write more good books! Wishing you a very speedy recovery, and get some rest! Thank you for all you do!????????????????️????

    • Laura Spinella on December 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      Thank you, Vivian!

  4. Cheryl Martin on December 22, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Aah, the old I’ll listen to the body later ploy, I love when the body says when! Wishing you a speedy recovery and more attuned body listening skills in the new year. Here’s to propofol and Christmas Cheer!

    Love, Cheryl

    • Laura Spinella on December 22, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      Thanks, Cheryl. Merry Christmas to you too!

  5. Bonnie Traher on December 23, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Allow your body to heal. Sit on the sofa and let others do the work. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Have a God blessed day.

  6. Karen Remondi-Boncek on December 23, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Oh my Laura,
    Forget the Christmas hassles and let some others take it on and maybe you will be appreciated even more!
    Definitely shout out instructions from the couch & relax a little because I’m sure you will get up and do as much as you can, probably against doctor’s orders!
    Take care of yourself and I hope you & your family have a Merry Christmas ???? and a Happy, Healthy New Year!

    BTW – I agree with Beverly; don’t make surgery a holiday tradition & take care! LOL

    Love Karen

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