Exactly two years ago today I published my first novel – Love Triumphs Pain, and I have since published a total of 12 novels and 2 poetry collections.
Last year, this anniversary came and went without a single word typed to celebrate it. Why? Well, I struggled with whether or not I wanted to share this piece of myself. But here I am on the second anniversary and I am tapping away on the keys of my laptop, determined to not allow another year to go by without saying this.
Writing saved my life.
There, I said it.
So, now some back story to explain that bold statement.
Up till I graduated high school, I was in great shape with six-pack abs, was strong, had a ton of energy and zest for life, and I was motivated to be something. Then, my health took a horrible turn. I started gaining weight for no reason – literally gaining about fifty pounds in the matter months even though I ate super healthy and was active. I had no energy at all and no motivation to do anything, even though I wanted to be up living life. I developed massive uncontrollable heartburn that I pretty much had 24/7 and would cause me to cough up blood and it was very difficult to eat or keep food down. The doctors were dumbfounded and just kept prescribing me more heartburn medicine that only made it worse.
So, I started doing research and started experimenting with my diet. Come to find out, after several years of absolute hell, I had a gluten/wheat intolerance. I cut the gluten and my health started to return. I was able to get back into shape, nearly getting my high school figure back, and my energy had returned. Life was great. I was walking five miles a day, working out a few times a day, and taking 5-15-mile hikes and canoe trips on the weekends.
Then, in 2015, as if a switch was flipped inside of me, my energy vanished, I started gaining weight again, and I started having issues with passing out for no reason at any given moment. There were countless times that I was just standing up talking to someone and blacked out and collapsed on the floor. I blacked out driving numerous times and thankfully snapped back into focus before I crashed.
So, remembering that the last time something similar happened was because of gluten, I started experimenting with my diet, researching symptoms, experimenting with different herbs, and I even went and spent hundreds of dollars for visits on acupuncture.
Why didn’t I just go to the doctors, you may be asking?
Because, they didn’t do anything the last time I went in for these same issues years prior. Long story short, I have had some disappointing experiences with doctors not doing anything and then having to “self-remedy” the situation. I basically didn't want to waste my money to be told they don't know what is wrong with me.
But after a few months of getting nowhere, I was defeated. I knew something was seriously wrong and I needed to go to the doctors. I needed someone to look inside my damn body and find out what the hell was going on!
At this point, I literally looked 9 months pregnant (seriously - people asked), after having a flat stomach only five months prior. So, I called the doctors office and they gave me the option between two doctors and a nurse practitioner to schedule with. Not having good experiences with the doctors in the past, I opted for the nurse practitioner. Now, I don’t know if the doctors would have handled the visit the same way as she had, but I’d like to think that I finally found a person who knows how to listen to her patients, because after listening to me and feeling my stomach, she ordered a CT-scan – exactly what I knew needed.
A week later, I go in for my follow-up to get the results. What I knew in my gut was growing in my gut, was in fact growing in my damn gut! I had a 20-pound ovarian cystic tumor that was displacing all of my organs and was even pushing my stomach up against my chest cavity, which was causing me agonizing chest pains that felt like I was having a heart attack.
In October 2015, I underwent a major operation requiring a very long incision up the center of my abdomen to remove the 20-pound non-cancerous tumor (basically the size of a very large watermelon). I had to have a partial hysterectomy, and had to have all of my organs put back into their correct place. Yeah, sorry if that grossed you out.
I continued to have a lot of issues with my health, even after the operation, and in the spring/summer of 2016, my nurse practitioner had me in and out of tons of tests and lab work, trying to figure out why the hell my passing out issues weren’t going away. It was so bad that she actually banned me from driving, so I had to arrange to work from home for a couple of months.
After the tests revealed, I had to go back to my diet experimentation and figured out I could no longer have any grains at all – none! Once I eliminated the grains, I was golden. As soon as I ate even just one bite, I was sick for days. So, no grains equaled back to work and back to health.
But, wait, why did writing save my life?
While I was going through all of this, while I was basically deteriorating and dying, my determination to write the stories I had in my head and finally share them with others is what kept me fighting, it’s what kept me going every day. I had so many episodes where I literally almost died – I could feel it and there was nothing I could do about it because I was home alone and unable to get to my phone. But I kept telling myself, “You’re not fucking dying till you publish at least one book!”.
Yeah, I had to use some hard language with myself some days. But here I am two years later from the date I published Love Triumphs Pain – still kicking and still determined to keep writing till I just can’t anymore.
So, to everyone reading this and to those who have read my books – thank you for being a part of my survival journey and my journey to follow my dream to write.
It has been a challenging couple of years to get to this point, but writing has been so damn rewarding that when I look back at everything I went through, there is still a silver lining on all of it - writing. Writing is my silver lining. What started out as an activity to occupy my mind and keep me positive when my life was basically ending, has turned into a passion that I live for. It’s a passion of hard work and never-ending scrutiny (from myself and readers), but I’m very excited to keep putting in the labor and to keep growing, keep improving, and keep sharing the stories my imagination is constantly churning out.
Here’s to many more anniversaries! Cheers!
P.S. A second edition of Love Triumphs Pain has been released with a new cover and edited to match my current writing style.