It's really a Paradox

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May 5, 2014 - Enid, Oklahoma

In November 2012, three things happened all at the same time. My first mystery came out, I had an attack of sinusitis which surprisingly gave me vertigo spinning my whole world, leaving me unable to tell which way was up—and my family physician misdiagnosed me with a chronic ear disease called Meniere's. In his defense it's a common misdiagnosis for an acoustic neuroma and he did ask me to go see a specialist. Did I mention my first book had just come out? I had a book tour to get through. So ignoring his advice, holding onto lots of walls and tabletops, I went through a few cities, smiling a lot until I just couldn't anymore. My friends at work knew my vertigo had gotten much worse, so I finally saw a specialist, or rather tried to. This is a small city and I would have to wait over a month for the appointment. Rude office staff led to my walking out on that appointment and perhaps that was fate because I drove straight to my family physician's office in tears. The nurse calmed me down and referred me to the Hough Ear Institute in Oklahoma City where Dr. Baker made an opening to see me within 48 hours. It's amazing to me how a true specialist can tell by the "colour" of my symptoms that this likely was not Menier's Disease. He did an immediate brain MRI, found my acoustic neuroma pressing against my brain stem and deduced from my history that it was growing fairly fast. When I decided to have surgery instead of radiation therapy, he walked me down the hall to a highly-skilled surgeon. After evaluating the situation and opening a Mother's Day slot in his schedule for me, Dr. Michael McGee skillfully removed my tumor. Because it was wrapped around the hearing, balance and facial nerves and pressing into both my brainstem and the brain itself, the surgery was quite complex and took eight hours. I owe Drs. Baker and McGee my life and also my normalcy. While my hearing/balance nerves were unsalvageable, the team was able to work around my facial nerve so that I don't have the drooped look of a stroke patient. Like anyone who has had brain surgery, I have some issues but mostly can live a good life. I used to be extremely active by day, lift weights, and work a night job on my feet in constant motion. While I tried, it appears I can't have it all back yet. Instead I can be moderately active, I can walk and do light yoga, but will need to find a job that's a bit more desk-based. I can handle that. Ironically, while I can write nonfiction easily and have greatly expanded my freelance writing, my brain gives me severe pain when I try to write fiction. I get small spurts of it, disorganized. So I put my next book on hold, it's title was Paradox. And I keep working at writing other things. And I'm told that the best way for me to get my fiction back is to not write fiction ... for now. And just be grateful that I'm alive.