Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Novel Case of PMS

I'm sure most of you don't look forward to a monthly dose of PMS. I had extensive surgery eight years ago and haven't been bothered by that problem since then. No, if I'm in a bad mood (which is very rare) I have nothing to blame it on but myself. I may try to say, "Oh, well, it's just that time of the decade," but no one seems to take me very seriously.

Yesterday, though, I was hit hard by PMS--Post Manuscript Syndrome. Christina and I met our goal of completing our deep edit of On The Threshold by the end of October. At 5:15 last night we emailed all 86,000 words to our agent, who was planning on sending it today to an editor who requested the book in its entirety. And now begins the hard work--waiting to hear something back. Our book is contemporary fiction, and we've been told that historical fiction is what many of the publishing houses are looking for now. So it's harder to sell our product to the marketing team. But I figure that it took us eight years to write this, so doesn't that make it historical?

By the way, I was wrong in my last post when I said we'd never gotten to this point before. Christina reminded me that we've had a full manuscript at two houses in the past. But this is a different book, in so many ways. Our writing has deepened and so have our characters. We weren't ready to be published before. Hopefully we are now.

I'm all for repeating this kind of PMS. The only type of cramps I had were writer's cramps. Sure, there was a headache sometimes, but usually just when searching for the perfect word. And the bloating? That was caused by a big story that needed to be told. Now that we've sent the manuscript off, there's a feeling of relief and accomplishment. And the next story is already percolating. Or is that just a bad case of indigestion?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Veritable Smorgsboard

It's been so long since I've blogged that it's hard to know what to say! (Who, me? At a loss for words?) So I'm just going to bring you up-to-date on a few different things.

Footing the Bill- My acupuncture treatments are continuing to go very well. One of the benefits of my weekly sessions is that I've learned how to spell "acupuncture!" (I had always thought it had two "c's" in it. I hope I get that word in the next spelling bee I'm in!) Dr. Deborah Nixdorf ( has spent hours of non-session time researching what could be causing my peripheral neuropathy and how to treat it. We've become friends in this journey together. My foot pain is definitely lessening and I'm sleeping much better at night.

Ninety-one and Still Counting- My sweet mother-in-law, who lives in a Memory Care facility about 25 minutes from us, turned 91 this week. For her big 9-0 last year, her daughter had flown in from Wyoming and her other son from Texas. We'd had a big family celebration in the conference room of her facility. Christina and I had brought a tasty, celebratory meal from home. The room was festively decorated and we had a wonderful time together. I think my favorite part was after dinner and presents when we all continued to sit around the table and sang songs off the top of our heads. Our repertoire included songs like "Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah," to the old hymn "In the Garden" to lullabies Mother used to sing to her children. She joined right in with us and we had a precious time together. This year was different. She's still as sweet as ever, but the memory is no longer there. John and I brought in a little pastry for her to have after dinner, and we took her back to that same conference room and played part of the video tape we'd made last year. Showed her the section where we were all singing. There was no glimmer of recognition, no singing along. When I asked her who a certain person was on the tape, she thought it was her sister Ruth, when in actuality it was her daughter Judy. Her decline is very evident and we just treasure the remaining time we have with her, however long that is.

Writing Right- Christina and I have been working with great focus on the final edit of our coauthored book. For the past month we have spent hours a day going through it chapter by chapter. Editing is hard work, but fun as we do it together. By the time we quit yesterday, we had only 38 pages left to edit, and a new chapter to write. We hope to have that done by Tuesday. Then we'll spend a day or two going through and looking for words we've overused and replacing those. (Every author has pet words they rely on.) So by the end of the week we should be able to send it off to our agents, David and Sarah Van Diest, so they can send it to any editors that request the full manuscript. We've never been at that point before.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Poor Ziggy

Today I had my second visit with Dr. Deborah Nixdorf, a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist in nearby Forest Grove. (You can find out more about what she has to offer by going to

She spent a good deal of time going over recent lab results from blood work ordered by my primary physician. I'm a former nurse, so Ive been trained to look at lab work and if it falls in the normal range, consider it to be okay. But as Deborah was saying during my visit, there's a difference between acceptable and optimal. That made sense to me. So we're working together on some things that will bring me closer to that optimal level. Of course, when she talked about cuttingback on my carbohydrate consumption, the word "mutiny" did cross my mind!

Several people have said they want me to do updates as to how acupuncture is working for me. What I can tell you is that the week following my first treatment, I noticed a difference in two areas. One was that the sharp pains, the sensation of having a strip of hot tacks dragged across the top of my foot, has gone away. I still have a general numbness and tingling, but not the intermittent pain. Secondly, my insomnia has gotten much better. I'd been taking sleeping pills every night for months before my first session. Six out of the last seven nights, I've been able to get non-medicated sleep soon after turning off the light. Ever since I was a young teen, my mind has whirled at night, keeping me too busy to fall asleep. Deborah calls that "mind chatter."

One of the things I'm supposed to do is to take 100 deep breaths during the day. The kind of breaths where the air goes all the way down to your tummy. You can actually feel the abdomen rise and fall when done correctly. After she inserted the 15 needles and left the room, I closed my eyes and started doing my deep breathing exercise, slowly counting up to 44 by the time she came back. I said, "I made it to 44." She hesitated a moment, then said, "What?" I opened my eyes and looked over at her. "I took 44 deep breaths while you were out." She chuckled. "Oh, I thought you were saying you were 44 years old." We got to laughing about how busy she'd be if word got out that in 10 minutes of doing acupuncture she could remove 11 years from one's age!

So, I continue to view this as a journey the Lord has me on. Do I understand all of it? How acupuncture works? No way. But I know the Bible says I am "fearfully and wonderfully made." There is wisdom accrued through the ages that can strengthen my body and help me feel better. I'm all for that.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

On Pins and Needles

I tried something brand new yesterday. I guess it's been around for centuries, but it was certainly new to me. Acupuncture. Yep, that voodoo doll-like thing where you pay good money to have someone stick you full of needles. And then they have the nerve to tell you to relax!

For a number of years I've been plagued by peripheral neuropathy in my left foot (now invading my right one too) and Restless Leg Syndrome. And did I mention insomnia? The medication I'm taking for the neuropathy and RLS is something I will be on the rest of my life. I'm hoping for another 30 years or so, and hate the thought of having to take meds all that time. My husband, who is very traditional, suggested I look into acupuncture.

Yesterday was my first session. After an involved interview concerning my health history, the doctor had me lie on my back on the exam table. A wedge (not to be confused with a wedgie) was placed under my knees. I must confess I was a wee bit nervous. I do fine with blood draws and shots, but still....

She placed a total of 14 needles in my feet, around my knees, and in my hands. Lucky number 15 went between my eyes. And you know what? I can honestly say it didn't hurt. Most of the time I could just barely feel something going through my skin. She turned the lights down low and put quiet music in the player. Before she left me for about 10 minutes, she said my job was to just relax and breathe deeply. Breathe in whatever I wanted, whether it was energy, or love, or peace. And to breathe out any impurities. Then she closed the door behind her and left me on my own.

As a Christian, I wanted to be sure I wasn't falling into some mystic religious thing. I relaxed and thought, "Okay, God is the source of all energy and is constantly working. What I want to take in is Jesus and His power. So I just kept saying the name of Jesus with each inhalation. And exhaled anything God didn't want in my life. I pictured Jesus being the River of Life freely flowing through me from top to bottom.

It ended up being a spiritual exercise for me, in the best sense of the word. I felt very relaxed and rested when the doctor came back in, as though I'd just had a massage. She tweaked each needle and then removed them, and I set up another appointment for next week. I'll let you know if this works for me.

Photo courtesy of eganu rirrun