A Real Writing Update…Sort of

I have a confession to make.


I have been hiding from this blog. Not that you might have noticed because my postings have always been rather spotty ever since I started it, but those are the facts.


Thanks to a surgical complication, I spent most of 2008 seriously ill and dosed on half a dozen medications including high-level narcotics for pain. This ended with a total hysterectomy last September (once they finally figured out what was going on with me. I’m so irradiated I probably glow in the dark :D).


Why is this relevant?


Since the surgery and freedom from constant severe pain, I’ve been muzzy headed. Now I tried my darnedest to accept, having been sick for a year, that it might take up to that long before I was back to normal, but it hasn’t been fun. On the other hand, my levels of frustration and upset at this fact were just as vague even though the implications were to eliminate the ability to multitask and reduce me to almost no spontaneous creative energy. I’ve been "drifting" through everything, unable to remember consistently, and unable to get stressed and worried about it even as unnatural as that may seem.


This is why I’ve been ducking my "writing" blog. It’s not writer’s block, exactly. It’s more like writer’s haze. But either way, it has been worth more than my energy to talk about what’s going on here. Among other things, though I drag my characters through horror, they always come out of it. I believe in happy endings…or at least ones with the possibility of being better. So I couldn’t talk about this until I had something hopeful to say.


And here it is: hormones actually affect the ability to think. And not, as my dear friend Val said, only in a negative way despite the trend of teenagers and thought.


I’m only on day two of having a brain, so I can’t be totally conclusive, but here’s my pattern, and it certainly seems pattern-like.


After the surgery, I was put on a hormone patch (hormone replacement therapy is automatic for surgical menopause because your body isn’t ready for the transition).


That level was too low, shown by hot flashes and the need for too much sleep, so they upped the dose.


The new dose seemed to resolve the two main issues and left me to recover from the surgery and illness (which I credited with the slowly reducing memory issues and creative haze).


But the patch proved incompatible with an active live style, the glue failing to hold up to perspiration :p.


So I requested a pill. They put me on a lower dose because pills don’t have as many levels and you want to be on the lowest effective dose.


Now, with my recovered brain, I can see that my ability to cognate reduced back to the early surgical recovery days. I couldn’t even program, my typing speed dropped because I couldn’t think of what to type, my vocabulary reduced, my ability to spell went out the window, and I couldn’t find the energy to care about typos. (Fun as I’m preparing to teach an intensive class, eh?)


So when the sample was starting to run out, in a rare flash of inspiration, I asked my doc if the hormones can affect thought. She didn’t know for sure, but was willing to give me a higher dose to see. This dose is higher even than I was on the patch.


And I just wrote over 1k in about an hour on Coma Wedding!


You might think this is nothing much considering that I managed NaNo before, but first of all that was on the higher level patch and second of all it was a real struggle with rare flashes of creativity.


So, for those of you on hormone therapy for whatever reason, if you’re experiencing writer’s haze, you might ask to try a higher level…or add more soy to your diet depending.


I know there will still be aspects that I’ll have to adjust to, but it is so much easier now that I don’t have to fight through dense fog to articulate a single word. I noticed the effect on my writing most dramatically, but it impacted everything from coding to having a face-to-face conversation. While life sure was interesting, it was the Chinese curse interesting :p.


Who knows…you might see more posts about what I’m doing now that I’m past this :).

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20 Responses to A Real Writing Update…Sort of

  1. caroleannmoleti says:

    Margaret, I’m so sorry to hear about your illness. Having had a few health issues in the past year (everything turned out okay, but I still have a lot of monitoring to do), I can relate. Physical and emotional recovery steals a lot of energy.

    I hope things go smoothly for you in 2009.

  2. marfisk says:

    Thanks :). Right now I’m riding a wave just because I had almost resigned myself to the year of healing before I got my head back. I would have been very pissed off when it turned out not to end. Better I discover the medication issue now.

    Hugs on your health. It’s amazing what we take for granted until it’s taken away, isn’t it?

  3. anonymous says:

    You’ve had quite a year. I’m glad you’re on the upswing now.

    When I had my hysterectomy, I was part of that unique 10% who experienced none of the usual menopausal symptoms. I had mild hot flashes for about 3 weeks and then I was fine. My biggest problem was memory. It improved a lot when they put me on hrt’s. I’ve since stopped taking the pills and haven’t noticed any major setbacks.

    Thanks for the reminder to increase my soy.


  4. marfisk says:

    I must admit, coming to this as I did by surprise, I didn’t really know what the symptoms should be. I really don’t know if mine have been mild or not, but they were nothing earth shattering, just mostly annoying. Until you add in the memory, the inability to concentrate, the loss of multitasking…

    Yesterday I multitasked. I didn’t even realize I had done so until today, but it’s a big relief.

    With what you said though, I’m certainly hoping that’s true for me too. I’m hoping when I get to the point where my body would have naturally gone through menopause that I’ll be able to taper off the hrt without returning to this state. Because, frankly? I’m not going back :p.

  5. mardott says:

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been through so much. I hope it only gets better from now on.

    Don’t consider the time “lost.” You took care of a serious problem and recovery is time well spent. I love how you’re aware of the difference in the way your mind is functioning. I hope you continue to see all the ways you’re improving.

    Welcome back!

  6. david_bridger says:

    I’m so glad you’re through it and out the other side safely.

    I recognise the haze. Different reasons, obviously, but same effect. Well done for taking charge of your situation and winning! 🙂

  7. marfisk says:

    Thanks. I honestly hope never to have to post about my recovery again :). But time will tell. Which reminds me, I have another post to make in a couple of days that will show that despite having no memory, I managed to get a good bit accomplished last year, very little of it I recall :).

  8. marfisk says:

    Well, out on the other side may be premature, but certainly moving in the right direction :D. Hugs on the haze I know you’ve experienced too, though, yeah, have to assume feminine issues were not the cause :).

  9. mayakda says:

    I am so sorry you were going through an illness … and I didn’t know and couldn’t offer support.
    I’m so glad you are on the recovery. It’s great that you figured out that you need a higher dose!
    (My gf had a hysterectomy last year (because of excessive bleeding, cure of last resort) and she seems great though I haven’t asked if she takes hormones. )

  10. bonniers says:

    Hugs and I’m glad you’re functioning again. I suspect that without the hrt, you would have been back to normal after a while, because one’s body does learn to function quite nicely on the reduced hormones. But it’s good you didn’t have to go through it yet. The result is good — as I’m coming out the far end of menopause, my energy is up, PMS gone, emotions much more stable. And it’s really good to have my brain back *g* But it was rough getting here. And I had practically no symptoms or issues compared to what many women go through.

  11. chipmunk_planet says:

    Glad you’re feeling better. 🙂

  12. marfisk says:

    I can practically guarantee she is. HRT is usually not optional for surgical hysterectomy.

    And I’m a bullheaded idiot who doesn’t like to admit it when I’m sick. I told almost no one. One friend found out by being the one to sit by me while my hubby came to take me to the ER :p. I much prefer to talk about it now that I’m better :). Thank goodness it wasn’t fatal or I’d have had to break my determined holding out for a happy ending.

  13. marfisk says:

    Actually, because it was surgical and my body wasn’t ready for the transition, that’s not so true. The adjustments you’re talking about if occurring too early can leave you with a severely compromised immune system among other things. I researched it because my first reaction was to say I didn’t need the HRT.

    Glad your system is balancing itself again though :).

  14. marfisk says:

    Thanks :).

  15. bonniers says:

    Hm, that’s so totally not what the doctors told my sister-in-law. Would be nice if the medical profession could all get their act on the same page, wouldn’t it?

  16. bonniers says:

    Snicker. If it had been fatal, you’d have bigger problems than that…

  17. marfisk says:

    LOL! What fun would that be :p.

    It might possibly be a matter of age as well. I mean, if I’d been on the edge of menopause when all this happened, they might not have pushed the HRT. As it was, my doc didn’t even discuss it with me first. She slapped the patch on while I was in the recovery room. Okay, I can’t quite say that. If she discussed it with me, I was still too cloudy to remember :). But on the other hand, she plans to keep me on it for 10 YEARS! which would put me at the right time for going into menopause naturally.

  18. marfisk says:

    Eh, details :).

  19. l_clausewitz says:

    I was already going to open Google Earth and search for a bomb crater somewhere near your house, you know. Glad to find out that it’s really not the cause of your long absence….

  20. marfisk says:

    LOL! That would be very confusing because last I checked, our house was still a bulldozer :). Thanks for caring though :D.

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