Saturday, August 5, 2017

Writing up a storm, coping with neuropathy and other things

At fun party in Fairfield for Nell's second birthday
I've been remiss in posting on the blog but busy writing in other places and doing things such as going to Nell's second birthday party (fun) and going to Dana-Farber for ECP sans my friend who was driving me because the friend is on the disabled list (not too bad of a drive because I had one of the best drivers though not great about the friend on the DL).

I wrote this one for the Huffington Post about how John McCain's brain tumor diagnosis sparked memories of my father's. And another  about the difficulties in treating neuropathy. I did research and interviewed people who suffer from this intractable problem that has plagued me since my last round of chemotherapy eight years ago. (It must have been the strong rabbit serum, or ATG, that thankfully knocked the leukemia out of me.)

As the people I interviewed told me, it is a strange condition in which your extremities (in my case my feet) are numb and tingling and painful at the same time. I had proposed it to an editor I met at the American Association of Journalists and Authors conference in New York this spring. It was through Client Connections, a sort of speed dating event with editors, in which you have nine minutes to present yourself and your ideas.

Callen snoozing
You don't always get a story, so I was glad I got this one. It was my first time and I admit to being flummoxed. I haven't heard from the two other editors and should probably follow up by sending them the neuropathy clip, which is not a clip in the old sense of course but I still like to use it. Marketing is a good part of this freelance life and not one that an "old" newspaper person like me enjoys, but I have to do it because there are a lot of us out there.

My story ran as the August feature on the website of the MedShadow Foundation, whose goal is to educate on the side effects of prescription medicines and the potential alternatives. Of course as I was writing it, my feet felt worse, and I imagined myself eventually incapacitated as were some of the people I interviewed.

Which is similar to when you're a reporter and you write about people suffering from different diseases and imagine yourself getting that same disease. (You might have tried to avoid the story by making yourself "invisible" by sliding down in your chair when the editor came by with the assignment that you knew was coming but somebody had to do it, and the editors knew the tricks.)

And then you Snapped Out of It, thinking of good things that were happening at the time or just bringing yourself back to earth by reminding yourself that you were writing about other people and not about yourself.

Part of dealing with neuropathy has to do with distracting yourself rather than focusing on it. So other things I have been thinking of include cute talkative Nell and cuddly newborn Callen (who I cradled in my arms at the birthday party); happy Ben and Meghan and Joe and Katie all doing such good jobs; the guy whose name I can't mention (due to confidentiality) who I'm now taking care of as so many people used to take care of me; coach George sharing his tennis wisdom which I keep saying I'm going to write down, (and saying to me at a clinic yesterday when I was tired and trudging to pick up balls, "On your toes, on your toes"); and tennis friends joking yesterday that the title of my autobiography could be what I said when we were doing volleys and I made the right shot with the wrong foot in front.

"I had the wrong foot, but I made it."

Watch Federer always using the correct foot!

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