Back in February I told you I was writing a book about my tranplant experience. The project is going well. I hit 145 pages today. Actually, I’m starting to worry that it will make War and Peace look like a short story.
I’ve made a few observations in my writing process to this point:
- The quality of my blog writing went downhill the more sick I got. It’s tough for me to reread my blog because it is showing me how my brain function was impaired by liver disease. I mean, I knew that the hepatic encephalopathy made me snippy with people. I knew that I suddenly sucked at Words with Friends and that I couldn’t remember my birthdate or phone number but I am just now realizing how much it effected my reasoning abilities. Robin is telling me to include those blog entries, as is, to show my decline but I’m struggling with that because they make me look stupid. I guess it’s okay to be stupid if you don’t know you are. It didn’t bother me then but it bothers me now.
- You loyal readers are amazing people. How the heck did you hang with me when my writing got so bad? Didn’t it drive you crazy? The only thing I can figure is that you felt the same way as my reader friend Wendy Onsted did when she later told me that she knew how bad things were by how bad my writing got. She said I made her worry with weak writing. My manuscript uses selected blog posts with additional reflections and support that I am writing now. I’m having a tough time finding acceptable posts after January of 2012.
- Some memories are painful. I’m not enjoying revisiting the painful memories. I feel like I have PTSD or something. Last night I woke up drenched in sweat with my heart pounding. I was having a dream where a nurse was injecting a honey-colored liquid directly into an IV port running into my hand. I felt it burning going into my veins and was trying to beg her to stop when another nurse forcefully held a plastic mask over my mouth and nose. I couldn’t breathe! I couldn’t move my arms, my head or any part of my body. I tried yelling but nothing would come out. I woke and sat up terrified. I haven’t had nightmares in at least 7 months. I used to dream that I woke up during the transplant surgery and could feel the surgeons cutting me but could not move or scream. I just had to lay there while I felt every cut and stitch. I think re-reading my blog is bringing fears and feelings to the surface
Today, I hit the point in my book where I introduced Josh’s blog. (Josh is my son, the live liver donor who saved my life.) I remember reading it before my transplant. It made me cry but also helped me accept his decision to go through with the surgery. Today I read it with a clear head and it hit me hard. This gift that my son gave me and the way he did it was nothing short of heroic. His reasoning, his writing, his faith are inspiring. Today, reading his thoughts again, I came to appreciate my Joshua, the man who once was my toe-headed little “Joshy,” as a truly incredible young man. I could not possibly be more proud of him. I could not possibly be more thankful.
Writing this book has been cathartic. I’ve been learning and growing. Truthfully, I don’t think I realized just how sick I was while I was sick. Even when I nearly died in March of 2012, I think my swollen brain kept me from fully comprehending how bad things were. I’m glad it did.
When you’ve been sick for a length of time you begin to forget what it feels like to be healthy. I looked at some pictures today and saw the 163 pound me after transplant. I now know why people who saw me and told me how great I looked were not all that convincing. It was like what you do when you see a picture of a butt-ugly newborn and say, “Aw, he’s beautiful.” My arms and legs were pencil thin and my face was drawn. My mom would say that I “looked like death warmed over.”
This writing process is allowing me to get emotionally healthy and deal with things I’ve not dealt with to this point. Even if it never sells a single copy it will have been worth the effort for that reason alone. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than therapy. If you’re stuck, I recommend you start typing your story or the story of your pain or sickness. It might help you too.
God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. Dt. 30:3 MSG