Category Archives: Daily Reflection

Coping with Distress

Today has already been what some might call distressing.

I spent my morning in the ER. Again. I thought, perhaps, it was a continuation of one of the two problems I’ve had within the past two weeks: either another kidney stone or another small-bowel obstruction. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at it) it was neither of those things. Instead, it was a condition called inflammatory colitis – in other words, an infection inside or outside the small bowel causing inflammation, pain, nausea, etc. To me, the symptoms were very difficult to distinguish from the feel  caused by a kidney stone or a bowel obstruction. There was a slight variance in severity and location of the pain, and the level of physiological distress (I separate this from pain because for me, it is a separate issue) which is a term I have invented for that feeling of intense frustration and anxiety that occurs when one has a medical condition or illness (or even a psychiatric or psychosocial issue) that is continuing to reoccur or worsen despite your best efforts. It is that feeling inside your head that makes you crazy: you start to wonder if perhaps there is no cure, no treatment, no solution that will be effective for you. It starts to seem like no matter what you do, you will always have pain, always be depressed, always have difficulty meeting people or with the opposite sex, or perhaps that you will always be estranged from a friend or family member whom you love.

I may have invented the term “physiological distress”, but I’m betting I’m not the only one to have experienced it. Like pain, or anxiety, this type of distress defies external measurement. It is subjective. In fact, in my experience, it is so subjective as to be unpredictable even to one who has experienced it multiple times in multiple situations. For example, I have had abdominal pain and nausea more times than I can count in my short life. And yet, there is no predictability in the way each iteration of these symptoms will cause physiological distress. Last Thursday I was feeling possibly the worst pain and worst nausea out of the last two weeks. Yet I proceeded to drive myself to the hospital and wait in the ER and explain everything to the nurse who commented: “you seem incredibly calm for someone experiencing the symptoms you are experiencing”. And yet, when went to the ER this morning, I was so anxious and upset that I took the wrong freeway exit, then misspelled my name, then nearly missed the gurney as I tried to sit down. I could barely get the gown on, and for those who have ever put one of them on, they are about the simplest garment one could imagine: there are two holes for your arms in the upper portion of the gown. That is it. Sure, it has a place to tie in the back, but no one expects you to tie it yourself.

I guess this post is really about this idea that the frustration in dealing with chronic or reoccurring problems in my life can actually become a significant, separate issue that may not really coincide with the severity of the inciting incident.

That is really easy to demonstrate, given that today, I was not actively passing a kidney stone, nor had I passed one (at least to my knowledge) in the past several days. A kidney stone SHOULD produce a significantly higher level of distress than a simple inflammation of the intestinal tract. And yet, possibly because it seemed to be a reoccurrence of an incurable and unpredictable problem, today’s pain and nausea (most likely lower in severity than that of a few days ago) produced a much higher distress level.

I honestly don’t know what the application would be. Perhaps all of this just means I need some more psychiatric and psychological help. (that is probably a fact rather than a supposition, whether for this type of distress or for one of the other myriad of mental absurdities my brain and body put me through on a daily basis) Perhaps it just means I am spending more time than I should using my brain to watch my body and using my brain to watch itself – we typically call this “introspection” or something like that, but I find that term to be rather one dimensional as it primarily refers to using one’s brain to ruminate on past actions, behavior, thoughts, and responses rather than focusing one’s attention on what one is thinking NOW, or a combination of those things, or even what one is feeling emotionally and physically combined with what one is thinking at any given point in time.

Enough with the terminology.

My question to myself and to all of you, in light of the distress I was feeling this morning, is this: if and when you are feeling physiological distress, what methods are available to deal with it, and which ones are the most effective? Which ones are healthiest? Which ones support your personal wellness and lifestyle goals?

For example, one way many of use deal with our distress is to eat. Yet for many, that is a destructive way of dealing with distress, and might even wind up causing distress in the future. Another method for dealing with distress is recreational drug use. But if you don’t know from personal experience, then take a leaf out of my book: this is NOT the way to deal with your distress. It ultimately causes a significantly higher level of distress in all areas of life, rather than a single source of distress that may have triggered the drug use originally.

But there are healthy ways to deal with what distresses you. One thing I can almost always count on to alleviate my distress is to act. To DO something that addresses whatever is causing me to feel the way I do. So today, that action was to go to the hospital. Something that, even as frustrating and anxiety producing as it was, was actually less frustrating than sitting at home hurting and anxious.

I wish I could tell you that because I am aware of this dynamic in my life I always choose the healthy ways to combat my distress. In fact, it is probably the opposite: even though I am aware of this dynamic, I still often choose unhealthy coping methods.

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences. Have you felt “physiological distress”? If so, what does it feel like to you, personally? What methods, healthy or not, have you employed to cope? What works best, and what just doesn’t work at all?

Thank you for reading. I wish you a distress-free Sunday!

Peace to you,


A Rolling Stone Gathers No…?

Kidney stone with a maximum dimension of 5mm.

Kidney stone with a maximum dimension of 5mm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

***Disclaimer: This is an absurdly long post. Read at your own risk.***

This post is officially for yesterday. I’ll be posting again this evening for today. For once, however, I actually had a pretty good reason for not writing yesterday. What is that reason, you ask? It is the simple matter of me passing a kidney stone, without any pain killers. Yep, you read that correctly. About 24 hours ago I passed a kidney stone and it was, to say the least, quite uncomfortable.

I knew something was wrong yesterday morning. When I awoke from the couple of hours I was able to sleep, I felt like someone was squeezing my lower abdomen in a vice. The pain got so bad that I began to vomit, and was unable to keep liquids down, rendering the pills I took for the nausea totally useless as twice I tried to take them and twice the just came back up again along with whatever was left of my stomach contents at that point.

But I suspected another bowel obstruction, so fortunately I decided I needed to get things checked out at the hospital. By 1pm I was at Legacy Emmanuel Hospital. I would have gone back to Legacy Meridian Park, where I was seen for the previous obstructions, but when I called, the guy at the ER admitting desk told me that the wait was over four hours long! So since all records are shared between Legacy hospitals, it made sense for me to go to Emmanuel, where the wait was only about an hour long, and where they would have all the records, lab tests, and scans from my previous visits to Meridian Park. Had I gone to Providence (where I would rather have gone, despite the fact that it is further away from my house than either of the Legacy hospitals), they would have had to start from scratch and re-do all the x-rays, CT scans, blood, urine and stool tests that were done originally at Meridian Park. And of course my experience is that sometimes two different doctors will read the same scans or the result of a blood test in two completely different ways.

So it made sense for me to go to Emmanuel rather than Providence.

I made sure I was able to drive; I had nothing left in my stomach, so vomiting wouldn’t be a problem. I was in pain, yes, but although it wasn’t getting any better, it also wasn’t getting worse. I was exhausted, yes, but I certainly was in no danger of falling asleep – there was far too much going on inside my body for me to be able to rest.

Once there, the wait seemed interminable. All I wanted was to lie down – the only position that seemed even remotely comfortable was lying on my left side with my knees curled nearly up to my chest. And there was no place in the ER waiting room for me to lie down like that. Instead I was forced to sit in a chair, hunched over so that my back wasn’t pressed against the chair. Not very comfortable in and of itself, and less comfortable for someone who has (albeit unknowingly) passed a kidney stone just an hour or two earlier.

Fortunately, the wait wasn’t much longer than an hour. By 2:30pm I was back in a room, lying on my side. The nurse placed an IV and drew blood for labs. Finally the doctor came in. He was a kind, partially balding man, probably in his mid-forties. His name was Dr. Gillette, which of course made me wonder if he was possibly related to either the family whose manual razors I have often used for shaving, or to my sister’s junior high basketball coach.

He asked me the obligatory questions, listened intently, then did his standard physical exam. Nothing was out of the ordinary, except that I nearly screamed and simultaneously jumped off the gurney when he pressed on my lower abdomen. I told him that it felt sort of similar to the way I’d felt with the bowel obstruction, but not exactly the same. And then, he asked me to lean forward and pressed on my lower back. I felt nothing when he pressed on the left side, but when he pressed on the right, I nearly vomited it was so painful.

He ordered x-rays to see if the obstruction had reoccurred, and ordered a urine test. Fortunately, I had just enough liquid in my body to be able to pee right away. He also ordered a bunch of IV fluids and some nausea medication through the IV as well. We were very clear that any sort of narcotic pain relievers were not an option.

The x-rays came back completely normal. But when he came back he told me that the urine had a lot of blood in it, which usually indicates either an infection somewhere in the urinary tract, bladder, or kidneys, or else a kidney stone, which he thought most likely. He ordered a CT scan to confirm.

Laying on my back in the CT was excruciating. But one of the great things about CT’s is that they take less than ten minutes. Before long I was back in my room, waiting. I didn’t have long to wait, however, because the doctor came back in to tell me that I had definitively passed a stone sometime in the past 12 hours. The CT scan I had taken at Meridian Park just days earlier had shown two medium sized stones in the right kidney. The scan he had just take showed only one. In addition, the scan showed significant inflammation throughout the urinary tract as well, which solidly proved his suspicion that the stone no longer appearing in the kidney had decided to take a painful tour of my ureter before exiting my body.

It was a bit of a relief, really, knowing that the stone had passed and therefore the worst was over, however, it didn’t change the fact that I was still in a substantial amount of pain. And it was at this point that the line became a bit hazy, for the doctor, if not for me. It was at this point, having satisfied himself that I was really in pain and not just there to try and scam drugs, he asked me if I wanted him to treat the pain or not. I’m not sure why I had the self-control to turn him down at that point, but I did.

I asked him if there was anything else, non-narcotic, that he could use to treat the pain. He said, actually, there was. Unfortunately, the particular drug he wanted to use was in my medical records in the list of drugs to which I am allergic. But it had been listed as an allergy since 2009 when the doctors at Serenity Lane (the first inpatient alcohol and drug treatment center I attended) in Eugene gave me an intramuscular injection of it, which caused an enormous rash, made me short of breath, as well as causing lightheadedness, dizziness, and a whopper of a migraine.

When faced with those two choices, however, I decided that perhaps taking a chance might be a good idea in this situation. I told the doctor that although the medication (a powerful anti-inflammatory called Toradol, also known as Ketorolac) was listed as an allergy, I would rather chance an allergic reaction than either have zero relief from the pain or take narcotics, which, although they may have helped in the short run, will always make me miserable later. He agreed, and ordered the Toradol, but made sure the nurse stayed with me for 10 minutes or so after she administered the medication, to make sure I didn’t have a severe reaction to it.

Fortunately, I had no negative reaction at all this time. It just goes to show you how complex our bodies are, that once I had a major issue with a medication, and several years later I had no problems with it at all. My suspicion is that the batch of medication given to me back at Serenity Lane was either old, or possibly just bad. Plus, the route of administration was different. An intramuscular (or IM) injection involves the medication being injected into muscle (usually shoulder, buttocks or thigh) and absorbing into the bloodstream from that tissue. It takes longer to be effective, and can sometimes cause a range of side effects that are unassociated with intravenous (or IV) injection. So perhaps that was the major difference. Or perhaps my body’s tolerance to the drug had just changed over the last four years. Who knows, really? The important thing is that the medication worked. I finally felt some relief, and was able to drive myself home, with the doctors instructions being to make sure I kept myself hydrated (as dehydration is the main cause of kidney stones) and to rest and take ibuprofen for the pain.

I could tell that the doctor was surprised that I didn’t accept his offer of opiate pain medication and that I didn’t ask for any to take home with me. Now, 24 hours later, I’m quite glad that I declined. If I had not, I surely would have run out of whatever medication he gave me (if I have access to a bottle of opiate medication, it is typically gone as quickly as I am capable of ingesting it) and would most likely be facing several days of misery. For most people, taking narcotics even round the clock for a day or two would not produce withdrawal effects. But for someone whose brain is still out of whack from years of opiate addiction, it can only take a day (for some people even just a few doses) and the withdrawal symptoms kick in.

Instead, although I feel sore, the pain is easing, and I don’t have to fight through three days of nausea, muscle aches and cramps, fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Right now, I’m just sore and tired – I didn’t sleep very well last night, because of the pain. But that is altogether preferable than the alternative.

I apologize to anyone who has kept reading this far. I know this post is immensely long compared to my usual. But it was a story I needed to tell. Not for bragging rights, but to remind myself that yes, I can make it through pain without having to take narcotics, and that I am capable or refusing them, even when they are offered by a sincerely compassionate doctor.

It is the reality that comes with being an addict – sometimes you need to chalk up the wins to remind yourself that you may be powerless over your drug of choice once you have made the decision to put that drug into your system, but that you have the power to choose not to use that drug in the first place.

Thank you all for reading, it is days like today where I am reminded how powerful it is to share your experience with others, even you may not know the majority of those with whom you share.

Peace to you,


What it Means to Move

Some days life feels like just one long motion, like I am forever moving from one place to another. Moving other things from one place to another. Walking up stairs, walking down stairs. Driving here, driving there, and driving back again. Sleeping, waking up.

Maybe that is why most languages have many different words or phrases describing the way we (and other animals and objects) move. In English we have to go, to travel, to journey, to drive, to walk, to run, to jog, to spring, to ride, to fly, to jump, to hop, to skip… just to name a few. Off the top of my head I can think of these, from Spanish: ir, conducir, pasear, ambular, volar, … ok, so I couldn’t name as many Spanish verbs as English. But to be fair, English is my first language. And also, due to the way modern English was formed (from both Latin and Germanic based languages), it tends to have a superfluous number of individual words used to say the same thing, rather than, as in Spanish, many different things that can be said using the same word (and depending on inflection and context). But really, lets face it. No matter how our language developed historically, at this point in time with hundreds of millions of speakers from around the world, many of whom bring their own native languages and cultures into the mix…well, English is sort of the orphanage of languages. It takes everyone in.

Just to be fair (and in case a few of you who are reading this might recognize it), I stole that orphanage line from a song. I don’t know how this might be possible, but if you can name the artist and song title it came from, without looking it up online, I will happily send you a free copy of my book once it is published (or a copy of the manuscript if for some reason it isn’t).

Anyway, I guess all this talk about movement probably just comes from the fact that I seemed to be running around frenetically today (that is frenetic, not frantic – slightly different yet similar in both spelling and usage, another example of our language’s large variety of vocabulary), causing me to start thinking about what all the motion was for.

One of the other reasons we have so many words available to describe our own movements is that humans now have the technology to use machines to move us, and we have had to invent new words for the motions we use. While before, we may have just had “to travel” and “to journey” if we were talking about nonspecific motion toward a particular destination with no given method of transportation. But now we also have phrases like “to road trip” or an earlier invention “to circumnavigate”. Sure, that second one was probably a possibility in Latin for ages, but as a common usage word? Perhaps not till after someone actually circumnavigated something large enough for the word to fit. A whole country, perhaps. Maybe Marco Polo spoke of “circumnavigating the Orient”. Or perhaps a sea? Maybe Plutarch mentions circumnavigation of the Mediterranean in his many historical writings? Who knows. I bet if we looked hard enough we could find out, but that really isn’t what I’m after here.

I’m not looking to give anyone a lecture on language, or on etymology or anything, really.

I just spent the day asking myself a question: “what does it mean to be a part of a species that is constantly creating new technology to facilitate all sorts of motion, but that often doesn’t think about the outcome of their actions?” And more importantly, how does that apply to me?

But even though I’ve been thinking about it all day, I really don’t have any idea what the answer is. In fact, this may be one of those questions that doesn’t have an answer that can be nailed down. There are a lot of questions like this. Even in science, for example, at level of quantum physics – even a particle the size of an electron is impossible to pinpoint in space. It can, using certain types of measurement, seem to be several places at once. So the question, “where, exactly, is that electron?” is impossible to answer definitively. We can answer it for large chunks of matter, but even then, it depends which chunk of matter we’re talking about.

So perhaps instead of asking what all this motion means, I should just making it something to consider, without expecting a result.

That is my two cents for today.

Peace to you,


Intention vs Commitment

First off, let me briefly apologize for the interlude between the last post and this one. Once again, I had a short bout with some stomach issues that have now been resolved. If you want to know the details, read the next paragraph. For those who are either uninterested in medical stuff or grossed out by what goes into (or comes out of) our bodies, just skip to paragraph three.

I went into the hospital with abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting the middle of last week. The ER took a CT Scan of my abdomen and spotted what’s called a small bowel obstruction, which was caused by an adhesion caused by scar tissue from a previous abdominal surgery. While I can’t pretend to understand that particulars, what all that medical jargon means, basically, is that when the surgeons went into my abdomen to remove my appendix back in 2009, they accidentally made a small nick in the outside wall of my intestinal tract. Over time, scar tissue formed there, making the outer wall of the bowels unstable. Then, the outer wall can collapse on itself and “adhere” to itself, which is where the name “adhesion” comes from. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and sometimes for no discernible reason at all. Once an adhesion forms, it blocks off the intestinal tract, causing an obstruction. And, apparently, once it happens in a spot once, it has a significantly higher chance of reoccurring there in the future.

So, while I was not happy to have to spend three nights in the hospital again, I ended up learning something that went a long way toward explaining what was happening to me in late October and early November of 2012, and perhaps even starting as far back as two years ago. I have had quite a few abdominal issues similar to the ones described in the above paragraph that went unexplained. The doctor told me that many of those could have been this same problem exactly, but that unless they take the CT Scan at the exact right time it is very difficult to spot the adhesion, and in fact, often when the scan is taken without contrast, it cannot be seen at all unless the doctor already knows where to look and is looking for it specifically. I asked the radiologist later about it and he said, “It is like spotting one colored line in the midst of many slightly different colored lines. You often can’t see it unless you already know it is there.”

While all that really confirms, on one hand, is that I have indeed had at least a few unexplained hospitalizations that now have a clearer cause. But, on the other hand, I recognized something else that is very useful to me.

You see, while I was living both in parents house and on my own this past fall, I maintained my vegan diet, but I often ate more processed foods and my grain/gluten consumption went way up. This was, in recent history, when my digestive issues began. Then, even more recently, from the end of my hospital stay in December, I have been back on a diet more like what I used to eat in the past, including dairy and even some meat. I didn’t particularly want to eat those things, but I had the riot act read to me by two different dieticians in the hospital because I had lost so much weight so quickly. They wanted me to bulk up and told me I really ought to consider meat and dairy again for at least a short period of time until I gained the weight back, and then just to monitor things more closely once I switched back to a vegan diet.

I also realized that I have a tendency to not eat when I get sick. That seems sort of obvious to many of you, but I often forget about it because I usually feel like I’m eating enough, even when I’m not.

Also, my exercise makes a significant difference in my appetite and in my total calorie intake. It also affects my weight directly: muscle is much heavier than fat. So when I started to get sick, I not only started to eat less, but I also stopped working out, which caused the muscle to atrophe and turn into fat, which caused me to lose weight twofold. Not a good combination.

So, as of tomorrow, I’m back on my vegan diet. That’s really what this post is about. It’s an accountability post. I just tend to be more successful in any enterprise when I tell other people what I am planning on doing. Even if I never know who or where you are as you’re reading this, I know that someone out there has read what I wrote and they will know, and what in my head would have just been an intention becomes a commitment.

I have just enough life experience to understand the difference.

While an intention is nebulous, passive, and unrealized, a commitment is structured, active, and firmly put into place – it is binding, and does not yield to varying future circumstances.

In short, an intention is something you’d like to do, a commitment is something you are doing. It is intention enacted.

So, what does that mean for me from tomorrow on? It means returning to more involvement in my food, cooking more often, and preparing ahead mentally when shopping so that I have the things I need to create dishes for myself that I enjoy. I know that if I don’t really like something, I usually won’t take the time to cook it. Instead, I will often just snack or eat something easy or quick, and it is usually something processed, with all sorts of chemicals and preservatives. It is much less healthy than planning ahead and making at least a general menu for myself so that I cook and have leftovers to eat later. I end up getting more calories and also eating better quality foods that are easier for my body to digest.

At this point, I believe that it was at least partly my vegan diet (and my generally less stressful life) that caused such a marked decrease in stomach discomfort and a lack of any complications in my GI tract that required a doctors intervention. This was something I already knew, but that I briefly discarded in the face of pressure and change. That is something I will have to think about.

Thanks for reading, and I apologize for the lapse between posts again.

Peace to you,


A Morning Pledge…to Myself

Well, it is only 9:15am on a Saturday but I woke up this morning at 7am and have been trying to either sleep more or figure out something to do that would be relaxing. I tried watching a show on Netflix, but it was making me more anxious. I tried surfing the internet for some research for my novel but I couldn’t focus. I tried reading, tried just laying down…

So since I couldn’t find anything to do to help me relax, I figured it must not be time for that yet. I guess right now it is time for me to get some writing done. I normally don’t get started till the afternoon, but since I’m up early and my brain is hyperactive, I suppose it makes sense for me to do my writing in the morning today.

That will also give me more time to work. The last couple days I had to quit before I was really ready to do so because I had other things I needed to do. Today, however, I really only have one other errand to do, and the rest of the day I am free to work.

I have also been working on getting myself back in shape so that my exercise becomes easier. At the moment it is tough for me to get on the treadmill. I’m not starting completely from scratch this time the way I did with Wellness Quest 1.0, but I am coming out of almost two months of illness where I was unable to exercise, so there’s been some muscle atrophy.

I get tired more easily, and I have had to really push myself just to do my Tai Chi every day. But that’s where I started before, and I quickly got up to speed. So I imagine that I will be able to achieve the same or even better results this time around.

Results, as always, are the product of a very simple equation. They are equal to the effort exerted divided by the time invested. In other words, if you don’t put in a whole lot of effort but you spend a whole lot of time on something, you’ll get some results. If you put a lot of effort in but don’t spend a lot of time, you’ll get some results too. But to get optimum results, it requires a significant effort and significant time expenditure.

That is the main reason why my wellness quest has stalled in the past. Because I have either stopped putting in the effort or I haven’t made the time. And so, I stopped getting the results I wanted.

It almost sounds too simple, but I’m sure everyone reading this knows that making a significant effort and spending a significant amount of time on anything is easier said than done.

Usually I write this blog in the afternoon or at night so I can reflect on my day. However, since I am writing this early in the morning, today I get to make a commitment to myself. Today, I pledge to do my meds twice. I pledge to go through my Tai Chi routine at least twice. I pledge to get my errands done, and I pledge to write at least five pages for my novel.

That probably doesn’t sound like a lot, and really, compared to what I was doing daily back in September, it isn’t. But I have to start somewhere, and right now, this is enough for me.

Purpose and Produce

Sitting at the Starbucks at the intersection of Taylor’s Ferry Road and Terwilliger Blvd, sipping an Americano, and listening to some peaceful yet upbeat music on iTunes… this is generally one of the best atmospheres for writing, at least, it is for me.

However, it is already 2pm, and I am meeting a friend for coffee at 5:30 on the other side of the river. So I need to be productive here. Often, in this type of setting, I like to take my time. I can write leisurely, taking care that every word is just right, stopping to surf the web, read a book for a bit, or grab a bite to eat… Not today. Today it is time to produce.

Produce. An interesting word in the English language. In its noun form, it means fruit and vegetables, or the result of any type of production (although it is rarely used in this context). As a verb it means to create, to unveil, or, as in film production, to be marginally involved in the creation of a film (aka you contribute money up front and therefore you get a small say in how the film is made plus a share of the box office take and DVD royalties etc). In music, the producer is the person who assists recording artists in creating their albums – they help with the small details: suggesting different arrangement, instrumentation, even lyrical changes. They also help with the big picture, the order of songs on the album, the mix, often working with the recording studio and the record company to keep the project on time, etc.

So yeah, the word produce has a wide variety of uses.

And at the moment, I am wishing there was such a thing as a producer for books. There are publishers, publicists (or PR specialists), advertisers, editors, literary agents, and writers themselves. But producers…someone who contributes funding and helps move the project along, perhaps reading chapters as the writer finishes them and making comments… I know it would be nice for me to have such a person.

Of course, if I had money, I could probably hire someone to do this. But the fact is that I would be silly to do so. To spend money that I could use elsewhere to hire someone to be my boss? I think most people would agree that would be a really dumb idea.

But some of you out there might be secretly agreeing with me when I say that despite its inherent idiocy, having a literary producer still sounds like an attractive idea. Probably those who are even partially agreeing with the previous statement are fellow writers or creative types (perhaps musicians struggling to fit songwriting into a busy schedule, etc) who find it difficult to be productive and self-directed.

I am fortunate that right now I am technically not employed. Who would every have thought I’d say that? I am self-employed by my own sole proprietorship called The Wellness Quest. But that is a non-profit business, and collects no money and pays me nothing. However, it takes up a significant bulk of my time during the day, and it is necessary – it may not pay me in dollars, but it pays me in wellness and health, a much more valuable commodity in my life. Because without wellness, I can’t work anyplace else anyway!

However, other than that, my only job is to help my parents out around the house, occasionally assisting my mom with something for her business or volunteering at the Union Gospel Mission to help my dad out.

It is my parents’ generosity and support that is helping make my wellness quest possible. And part of my Wellness Quest 2.0 is writing my book.

One of the most important parts of Wellness Quest 1.0 was beginning and writing this blog. While I still place a high level of importance on daily posts here for WQ2, the majority of my creative effort is being spent on writing my own semi-autobiographical novel.

To that effect, I have opened a Kickstarter account – it is still in the verification process, but once accepted (and I’m reasonably positive Kickstarter will accept it) it will hopefully help pay for my book to be published once I finish it.

This may be dangerous, but I am committed to finish my novel in six months. Yeah, I said it. Six months.

But I’m planning on having a first draft within three months. That probably seems like no time at all to some of you.

But the great thing about this novel is I already know almost exactly what is going to go into it. It is also mostly chronological, so I don’t have to skip around a whole lot (though there will be some movement back and forth through time to make a point). Plus I have the free time to write at this point in my life, and I have put this off for too long. My original goal was to have published my first novel by 25 and my first collection of poetry by 30. So I’m a bit behind on the novel. But I am going to have a draft by April when I turn 27, and it will certainly be published before I turn 28.

Wow. Ok. I know, it seems ambitious. But I think I have been too passive. I haven’t set goals. I have just tried to “see how things work out” with my writing in the past. Guess what? That doesn’t work for me. I don’t produce anything.

But I am committed to produce this time. Nothing short of an act of god will stop me from finishing this novel. My hope is that the produce of this project will not only be an interesting story for people to read, but also possibly provide a small measure of hope to those who struggle with genetic illness, addiction, or just what to do with their lives.

That purpose helps drive me, even though I don’t have a literary producer. That purpose keeps me getting up in the morning. It keeps me taking the time to write. It keeps me leaving the house and going to coffee shops when I really need to focus. In short – it is this purpose that is likely to create the produce.

I think perhaps this might be a law of the universe: that purpose produces, and without purpose, production cannot take place.

And with that thought, I will leave you for today.

Peace and produce to you all,



I guess part of me has always liked to tell stories. As a kid, I was usually the one interrupting my sister, or even my mom or dad at the dinner table in order to tell my side of the tale. I did this in class, too, resulting in a frequent comment on report cards: “very bright, but talks too much in class” or the similar but more succinct, “intelligent but disruptive”.

Once I learned to read, I realized I loved hearing the stories of others, true or not, as much as I liked to tell my own.

When I was a child, my dad traveled a lot for work. But sometimes he would take me, or both me and my sister along with him to Medford, Ashland, Ocean Beaches, Sunriver, Roseburg, John Day….All around the state, really. And he always made sure he stopped someplace fun for us. But as we drove, he often started a game we called “progressive story”. One of us would start telling a story, and leave off with a big, suggestive, “and” to signal the next person it was their turn to take over.

For example, “There once was a king who lived in an enormous castle. But he was a very, very short king, and the castle felt like a veiled insult. So he decided, after having been king for several years, that he was going to build a very small castle that would be more sensible, AND……”

At that point, the next person would take over and the story would meander all over the place, as none of us ever knew where the other people were planning to take the story. This game was where I learned that a story, no matter how far off its original trajectory, can always be brought back in line. I often had an agenda for our progressive stories, and so no matter where my dad or sister tried to take the story, I would be constantly attempting to force it back to where I wanted it to go.

It was, although perhaps unknowingly on my dad’s part, one of the formative experiences of my childhood. That, and spending hours with my sister in strange hospital waiting rooms while my dad was in surgery, helping the surgeon test out some of the new surgical equipment he was selling.

Before that, when my sister and I were too young to go on trips with him, he used to record himself on tape reading us stories or, more often than not, making them up. Off the top of his head, most of the time, they were usually based on the two detective siblings who were always solving mysteries: Jenny and Ethan. They were vaguely disguised versions of my sister and I. Although if I remember correctly, Jenny was older than Ethan, and she (just like real life) had much more common sense, while Ethan seemed to be able to remember everything that happened and find clues everywhere (less like real life, but at least somewhat accurate).

Obviously, my dad was good at being a dad. He still is, in fact.

But this post isn’t about that.

It is about stories, about narrative.

You see, I am in the process of writing my first novel. It is based on my own life story, sometimes very closely, other times quite loosely. Names, dates, places…they are all going to be altered at least a bit. Some things will be left out. Other things may be embellished. But the bulk of the story will be based on actual occurrence.

I’m writing it in the first person. And it is very, very personal.

I thought, perhaps, that the telling of my own story would be difficult. That with all the *excuse my language* shit I’ve done and all the shit I’ve put others through…well, it would be easy to be ashamed of myself. Ashamed of my story. To see it as worthless.

But the more I have thought about it, the more I see how my story might benefit others. Not just those who might be struggling with addiction. Also anyone with CF or with any sort of chronic illness. Anyone who wants to be a writer. Anyone who feels different. Anyone who has been picked on or made fun of, or generally mistreated by others. My story could help raise awareness for CF and for the dangers of opiate medications. It could also help people see the disease of addiction for what it is and what it isn’t. For addiction is truly a disease of the body and the mind. But it is not a moral failing, a weakness, or a selfish quest toward self destruction. Most addicts don’t want to keep using. Once we know we are truly addicted and we try once or twice to quit without success, most of us begin scheming, trying to figure out some way, any way, for us to get out of the hole we have dug for ourselves. We try doctors, psychiatrists, therapy, rehab, and sometimes we go to jail or to mental institutions.

Either way, we want out.

Often times, it is just very hard to see how that might be possible.

For those with a story like mine who feel caught in the cycle of disease and pain and addiction, my story just might give them some hope that recovery, health, and life is possible. That the cycle can be broken under the right circumstances.

That they can break free, and regain the humanity that is so quickly lost in the living death of addiction.

I thought writing my story would be incredibly difficult. Instead, because I have a purpose now in writing it – because I can see that it will benefit others – because I believe that my story is interesting and meaningful, and offers a new look at some of the issues faced by my generation – because of all these things, my story has been no more difficult for me to write than this blog.

Of course, I pay more attention to grammar, word choice, paragraph breaks, transitions, flow, and style. It will, after all, be my first book.

But I still write what I need to write, and thus far I am enjoying it.

The only thing I think I need to do is to schedule a particular time in the day to work on my book. Like say, 2-3 hours every day in the morning. Plus once  a week I will need a longer stretch so I can finish the chapter I am working on and then go back and edit it.

That long day for Chapter One is going to be today.

But because I have no idea how long it will take me and because I have errands that I need to do at some point, I may end up having to stop, then come back to things. I have been endeavoring not to write a night, to keep my “work” separate from my play and to leave me time to relax so that I can get to sleep at a decent time.

But perhaps one or two nights a week it wouldn’t hurt to do some work on my book. Sometimes I think better at night anyway.

I started a Kickstarter project for my book to help me get it published once I have finished it. I will post a link here once it is fully set up so that you all can take a look, and consider making a donation if you’d like. No pressure of course. The book will be written no matter what. I just could use the Kickstarter funds to hire an agent to help me get the book published once it is finished.

Now back to the grindstone 🙂

Thanks for reading everyone, and Peace to you,