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.