Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Alien Abduction: #EhlersDanlos Syndrome #EDS @teaminspire @TheEDSociety #‎ZebraStrong2016‬

Greetings, dear readers!

Yes, I know, it has been quite some time since I have posted a blog. I could provide a litany of reasons why I have essentially vanished from social media, but today - for the last day of Ehlers-Danlos Awareness Month - instead I would like to focus on this debilitating and degenerative joint disorder.  I have had Type III EDS all my life but was not properly diagnosed until 2011.  Then all the puzzle pieces began to fall into place: the sprains, the splints, the surgeries.

My symptoms have continued to worsen to the point where pain and injuries frequently require complete bed rest, all from a condition that others cannot even see. (Effects on social life of invisible disorder.)

The following events occurred in 2007-2008, three years prior to my diagnosis. In 2009, one of the physicians who had treated me sent me this email:
Ms. Saucier -
I have been asked to give a presentation on evaluation of abdominal pain to a large conference of nurse practitioners here in New Orleans. I was wondering if you would mind typing up your story and emailing me. I thought hearing the story "from the horses mouth" would be a useful excercise for the presentation.

Please let me know if you're interested,

This is my story:

Tietze Syndrome: My Alien Abduction

In February of 2008, I went to a gastroenterology clinic for what came to be described as “right upper-quadrant post-prandial abdominal pain.” After an examination and discussion of my symptoms – nausea, pain, and fullness in the right upper abdomen below the ribs – Dr. W concluded that the problem was with my gall bladder and ordered an ultrasound. Surprisingly, the gall bladder looked fine on the ultrasound; so Dr. W sent me for a HIDA scan. My gall bladder performed perfectly on the HIDA scan, and Dr. W had to start from the beginning with a full evaluation.

I experienced the pain as either a dull ache on my right side, or as sharp, intense, labor-like pain that began usually directly below my sternum then radiating to below the rib cage and to my back. Nausea accompanied the pain with the intensity on a similar scale and causing a loss of appetite. Following an accident that required knee surgery and rehabilitation, I had gained weight; but now I had lost 16 pounds in two months.

The symptoms had begun a few days after Thanksgiving with an episode of severe abdominal cramping, although I did not have any more pain until a few days before Christmas; then the episodes became more frequent. Complicating the evaluation, for a few weeks in November I was in Thailand, where I consumed fresh produce, shellfish, and sushi.

Over the next several weeks, Dr. W ordered a series of tests that would consistently rule out all manner of medical possibilities, from ulcers to celiac to parasites. I provided stool samples, as well as blood and urine. I had a CT, an endoscopy, a colonoscopy, and a gastric emptying study. A congenital kidney defect was considered and ruled out as a possible cause of the symptoms. Various diets – low-residue, gluten-free – were ineffective.

In the meantime, the symptoms worsened with the dull ache constant and the sharp, intense episodes becoming more frequent and often debilitating. By April, the pain radiated from beneath the ribs to my back and caused numbness and tingling in my right shoulder and arm; and I noticed that the pain would cause my feet to become ice cold. With each incident, I found I could only lie flat on my back and wait for the pain to pass, which could take one to several hours. I also found that lying on my left side would exacerbate the pain on the right side.

Months of debilitating pain, as well as not being able to identify the cause, affected my emotional well-being as well. Frankly, I did not think I could continue living with the pain. I came to identify the fullness I felt as an “alien” inside of me; and with the pain at its most intense, I would cry and beg my husband to cut it out of me. In fact, I suggested to my doctor that he just cut me open so that he could find the source of all of this and remove it.

At a loss, Dr. W referred me to XXX Medical Center, where I met with Dr. NW. He repeated some of the previous tests and ordered an upper GI series. Still no answer.

Following a second CT scan, I essentially gave up on Western medicine. Previously I had attempted acupuncture for the symptoms with no results, but now after 6 months of misery and losing 35 pounds, I willingly tried the sacred medicines of Peru.

Flower bath prior to ayuhuasca ceremony
I spent a week in the Amazonian rainforest with the Matses Indians; the curandero applied sapo – a frog serum used to treat all manner of ailment – to me subcutaneously. I participated in three ayahuasca ceremonies, during one of which the “plant” told me that, although I felt the pain on my right side, the problem was actually in the middle of the left side of my back. Interestingly, during my time in the jungle with no electricity, no running water, and sleeping in a hammock, I experienced few episodes. In retrospect, I believe sleeping and lounging in hammocks to have been the factor that eased my symptoms.

Receiving sapo from Matzes Indian

In the throes of the sapo effects

The Reiki healer in Cusco
In Cusco, in the Andes, I worked with a healer who used the sacred San Pedro plant in combination with reiki to try to cure me. After all of the doctors I had seen and the tests I had endured, this Peruvian reiki healer was the only one who identified the pain as being my rib (specifically, “It is your r-r-r-r-r-rib”). He stated that what I had identified as the “alien” was actually a small mass caused by my sexual energy, but he had removed it by giving it a mantra and sending it to another planet (!).
He said to prevent it from returning, I should channel my sexual energy through yoga. I cannot attest to the efficacy of providing mantras to abdominal masses, but I
never again experienced the excruciating pain to the level that I had before.

In light of the benefit I received from the alien removal ceremony, I began to wonder if my condition were not a somatoform disorder. Once back in the states, in addition to taking up yoga, I began seeing a specialist in somatoform disorders in the hope that I would be able to eradicate the pain and discomfort completely. After several months without results, I started to think that I might just have to accept the pain and try to be grateful that the labor-like pains had gone, presumably with the alien to that other planet.

Then in October, I started having problems with the thumb on my left hand. I went to a hand specialist who diagnosed trigger thumb and prescribed 7.5 milligrams of meloxicam. Although the drug did little to help my thumb, within a day the abdominal pain was gone. After ten months of debilitating pain and a weight loss of forty pounds, a tiny yellow pill that cost $4 for a month’s supply alleviated my symptoms.

I immediately conferred with Dr. W and Dr. NW and explained about this miraculous drug. Within moments, Dr. NW provided my diagnosis: Tietze syndrome — a form of costochondritis, an inflammation of the costal cartilage of the ribs. The reiki healer in Peru had been correct.

After nine months, my alien baby was gone.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sexy Today! A Snippet from the Psychological Romantic Suspense Alicia's Possession

http://mysexysaturday.blogspot.co.at/2014/01/youre-sexy-to-me-mysexysaturday.htmlGentle Readers,

Welcome to this week's My Sexy Saturday!

This week’s theme: Sexy Today
So today, there really is no theme except sexy today. Authors are free to post whatever they want within the normal rules. Just make it sexy, sexy and more sexy...
I have selected a little snippet from the psychological, romantic suspense Alicia's Possession.

Alicia is the last person Detective Mason Crawley should pursue since she is at the heart of his investigation into a disappearance, which eventually turns into a hunt for a killer; but her palpable sadness and vulnerability awaken his Dominant nature and instinct to protect. Is he is falling in love with a woman who is dangerously delusional, a witness to a cleverly-concealed crime, or a murderer?

“I’m going to kiss you again.”
“No,” she whispered when his mouth hovered mere millimeters over hers. He dropped his hand from her arm to the small of her back and pulled her against him, and she gasped at the unmistakable evidence of his arousal. “I’m not ready for this. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust anyone again.”
Mason laid a soft kiss on her mouth, tugging her bottom lip gently between his teeth. He lifted his face just enough to look at her. In time, he could teach her to trust again, at least to trust him, but it would take patience—and perseverance. He thought she might be worth the effort. “If you want me to stop,” he told her, “if you really mean it, say ‘apple.’”
Alicia furrowed her brow and blinked before meeting his stare directly. “But I told you to stop.”
“Yes, but you didn’t mean it.” The color rushing into her cheeks proved him right. “I will only stop if you say ‘apple.’ Understand?”

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Marilyn Brant: The One that I Want for Coffee with Colette!

Coffee with ColetteGood morning, dear readers! 

Have you missed me??? It's been so long, you must have thought I'd given up coffee! Hahahahahahahaha!!! As if that would happen...

I must say that my guest today, fellow Austen Author  (and USA Today Bestselling Author - not too shabby!) Marilyn Brant has to be one of the most patient and understanding people I have ever known. You see, I invited her to stop by a month ago to tell you all about her exciting new Mirabelle Harbor series, and of course that's when my laptop decided all it wanted to do for me was show my desktop image. I mean, I love penguins, but I need a computer! So she is finally back for the first time in two years! Then she told you all about her romantic mystery The Road to You.  She also joined me for coffee earlier that year to tell us about Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match.  I just love the premise for her new novel, having the chance to meet your teenage idol once you're an adult.... (Of course, I've seen Mikhail Baryshnikov lately - not looking so hot!) Just take a look at this snippet and I know you'll agree!

Marilyn Brant on The One that I Want

It's *always* a pleasure getting to visit Colette...and I hope someday we'll get to have coffee together for real! 

I love writing modern versions of stories that touch upon certain Austen-esque themes and deal with characters who have to reevaluate their opinions of each other. This new Mirabelle Harbor series -- and the novel THE ONE THAT I WANT in particular -- was based on a premise that's been a part of my imagination for a decade and a half: What would a woman's "first impressions" be of a man she'd idolized as a teen...if she finally got to meet him 20 years later?

I had lots of movie-star idols when I was in high school and college, but I rarely thought it would be possible to meet one of them. I lived in Wisconsin (read: very far from New York City or Los Angeles) and I just didn't happen to be introduced to any famous pop-culture folks during my youth. Not rock stars. Not film/TV actors. Not even authors. I didn't meet my first published writer until I was a teacher living just north of Chicago. 

But something else happened when I moved to the Chicagoland area, where I've set my

Saturday, September 19, 2015

One Sexy Boy ~ A Modern Mr Darcy for My Sexy Saturday

Good morning, dear readers! Ready for a NEW My Sexy Saturday?

This week’s theme is One Sexy Boy!

We all know it just takes one sexy boy to get us going. That boy will turn into the man of our dreams. They can start out on the wrong side of the tracks, the right side of the tracks, the rich side or even the poor side. They can be good or they can be bad, we will love them all the same.
They give us hidden looks, a longing gaze, with love’s promise shining in their eyes and all the things that come with love. We love sexy and it’s always so fun to share.
So this will sound apropos to nothing, but my laptop decided to stop working over a month ago.  I thought it was an issue with the operating system and tried to wait out my free upgrade to Windows 10. In the meantime, I ran several other checks on it, however, which eventually indicated a problem with the hardware. Well, it is a really old computer, missing the letter 'H' and medical tape holding the power cord in because the battery only lasted approximately two minutes.

Once my AmEx card recycled, I ordered a new one. I do like it, but it's taking a lot of adjusting. That being said, I finally have iTunes again for the first time in >3 years because my old computer one day decided it didn't like Apple and would shut down any time I opened iTunes.

No, really!  I am going somewhere with this! You see, music has always been, eh-hum, instrumental in my storylines; and so I created a new playlist called "Novels" with all the songs I use in my books. After listening to all of the songs (one of which is below, btw), I really wanted to read The Proud and the Prejudiced again. I know - my own novel - but I hadn't read it in so long, and I do love the characters, Alice and Peter. (They are the modern stand-ins for Elizabeth and Darcy.) Wow, I think Peter is sexy. Of course, I did write im that way! And he is always staring at Eli--ALICE, and she thinks only to find fault.

For headwriter Alice McGillicutty, the past year has had enough drama. Her mother passed away, her last relationship ended in disaster, and now poor ratings are catapulting her long-running soap opera All My Tomorrows toward cancellation.
When scandal rips Hollywood bad boy Peter Walsingham off the tabloids and into her studio, Alice doubts the small screen is big enough for his ego – or his entourage. In their battle of pride and prejudice, will Peter’s vanity and arrogance compel Alice to write him out of her script, or can she find a role for him in All My Tomorrows?

Now this is only supposed to be 7 paragraphs, but it was really difficult to judge since they are reading from a script with clipped dialog and little narrative.  In this scene early in the novel, the lead actress Giselle has a "trifling little cold," and ultimately Peter convinces the soap's director Mr. Peacock to have Alice stand in during the rehearsal.

So they are on the set for the soap opera, and Alice is acting the part of Sienna and Peter is acting the part of Tristan (who was thought to be lost at sea). Got it? Now.... ACTION!