Down the Valley of the Shadow

I’m still sick.

You have no idea how much I did not want to have to start this post with that sentence yet again.

I really thought at the beginning of October that I’d have Diversion finished by the end of the month–I even went ahead and commissioned the cover art, which you can see along with a sneak preview of the book if you pledge $5 or more on my Patreon. When a worsening flare meant work took up all my energy for more of last month than expected, I thought I’d be able to set aside the first two weeks of this month to buckle down and get the book done, assuming I could keep on top of grading well enough not to need to spend much time on it each day.

It hasn’t happened.

What has happened? Fever. Fatigue. Brain fog. Pain. Nausea. Upper respiratory crud. Struggling to figure out what I can eat without spending the day in and out of the bathroom. Struggling to do more than veg out with TV and crochet or computer games or wandering in circles on the ‘Net. The last two weeks have been the worst yet out of this year-plus slog. I’ve barely managed a paragraph all month.

A week from today, I go for what ought to be the final round of tests to get this mess diagnosed and get treatment started. But I have essays coming in this weekend, and grading those is likely to use up all the energy I have between now and the deadline for getting books published through the various outlets I use in time for holiday sales.

Barring a miracle, Diversion may not get finished this year at all.

I’m crying as I write this. I know a lot of the pressure I’m feeling in this regard is self-imposed, but I still can’t help thinking I’m letting you all down by not getting a book out this year. And I’m really, deeply sorry.

How can you help?

  • Buy things I’m selling, whether books or items from my CafePress shop.  Christmas is coming, after all.   Surely you know someone who needs a journal or a mug or a T-shirt or who likes good books, right?
  • Support me through Patreon.  Anything, even a dollar a month, will help.  (I still need to get my backer acknowledgment page set up; it’s on my to-do list.)
  • Help me get the word out about my works.  Granted, I’m horribly introverted, but even if I weren’t, I’m just too sick–and broke, frankly–to do any sort of full-court press of marketing on my own.  Here again, anything will help, even if it’s just a short tweet or a Facebook share. Reviews on Goodreads and Amazon would help, too.
  • Above all else, pray for me.  His ability is far, far greater than my inability (or disability).
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4 thoughts on “Down the Valley of the Shadow

  1. Ugh, I’m so sorry, Elisabeth!

    Maybe you’ve mentioned that you’ve had this done before, but have you ever gotten tested for candida / mycotoxins / mold / fungus allergies, or tested the air quality where you’re living?

    I heard from one young lady who had similar symptoms to what you’ve been describing, and could not figure what the problem was until she got tested and discovered that she had a severe mold allergy — unusually high concentrations of mycotoxins in her body.

    I have no idea. But if they haven’t checked yet, then why not?

    I don’t know if they’d have to do different tests for different species. That is possible. And, black mold is one of multiple mold species (and I guess fungi) that produce harmful mycotoxins.

    I’m told that Texas has a relatively common problem with mold in buildings, so if you haven’t gotten tested for mold or mycotoxin health issues, that might be a consideration.

    As for not getting Diversion finished just yet, that’s really ok. We get that you’re sick right now. A lot of us would probably rather that you not stress about that.

    I pray that the Lord help you, my dear Sister. I know it’s tough right now. May He grant you some answers soon. ❤

    • Well, the tests so far have ruled out pathogens and parasites, and with my other history of autoimmune stuff (which has also been flaring up) and in light of more details than I’ve listed here, the prime suspect is inflammatory bowel disease. The next round of tests should determine whether and what kind. And the upper respiratory crud is probably down to seasonal allergies plus what I suspect was a strep-mimicking virus–I’m prone to those, and the sore throat eased up too quickly to have been strep proper. I am allergic to mold as well, and bleu cheese does tear me up, but I don’t think that’s primarily what’s going on.

      Thanks, though. ♥ You’re a blessing.

  2. Hi, Elisabeth! Good to hear from you!

    Aw, man. Yeah, that’s a lot to contend with. Mold allergies are no bueno, and they can definitely play a big role in a lot of the stuff you mention.

    If it’s any consolation, I deal w/ IBS sometimes. I found that taking a probiotic supplement helped clear up most of that (in my case). Changes in diet also helped: in my case, keeping some dairy, but reducing the amount I used to consume, and limiting my intake of gluten-containing products, while working to up protein and vegetables to the extent I reasonably could. (I know that can be tough on a budget; but it can help in some cases.)

    Sometimes I deal with milder forms of what you’re describing. So, I gotta wonder if maybe part of it might be some pathogen or allergen in the area where you live now — maybe inside, maybe outdoors, maybe a combination of the two. Some folks have found relief from some of the things you mention by moving to a different area, because what they’ll find is that they may have extreme allergies to pathogens, particulates, etc. that will be plentiful in one area, but rare in another area. If you get a chance to visit an area that is known for being very different, it’s possible that a lot of your symptoms could clear up. I mean, I remember how you were at Baylor. You seemed to be doing OK then.

    Also, my own family has dealt with air quality issues in our home. For the time being, we have found some relief by using HEPA air purifiers. The carbon filters especially do need to be changed regularly. This is even more the case when there are a lot of problematic pathogens or particulates in the air. What you could do — if you were able and willing to make the investment — is get a decent, portable HEPA air purifier for one room in your home, and move it as you need to. This could help some.

    And I can tell you from experience this past summer: if you haven’t had your car’s A/C system air intake filter changed in a while, that might also help. (It definitely helps to keep the car clean. If you’ve had car mats that have trapped soil / debris in them that you can’t clean out, you can get a new set reasonably cheap at an auto parts store or some Wal-Marts.) I had to contend with these issues this summer, as well as maybe black mold exposure. Yucky stuff that was making me pretty darn sick. We found that cleaning out this stuff basically took care of things in my case. I realize, though, that everyone’s case is ultimately different.

    Man, I wish I knew exactly what you were dealing with, and how to remedy the issue(s). My gut suspicion tells me that mold / candida-related issues may be one of the larger culprits, but I don’t know for sure. I pray that the Lord help you heal. Hang in there, Galfriend. Blessings to you! ❤

    • Actually, my allergies got way worse in Waco after undergrad, literally overnight! I haven’t been able to afford to see an allergist, but I seem to have angioedema, which especially attacks my throat. And I would often notice a marked difference when I came home and then went back–something would usually get to me somewhere between Gatesville and Waco. That’s also one reason I’m not anxious to move back to a city; I’m much more prone to sinus and upper respiratory infections when I’m in a city environment because of the air quality.

      There’s really only so much I can do given the limitations of my situation, especially with zero disposable income. I can’t just leave without a better job, and there are no better jobs in my field(s) to be had right now that would be flexible enough to accommodate my pre-lupus, even if everything else were in fact allergy-caused and if moving were sufficient remedy. Even teaching jobs are hard to come by because most colleges require new hires to teach freshman comp, which was one of the stress factors that caused my first pre-lupus flare ten years ago. Plus, my doctors and my family are here. Depending on what I hear from the gastroenterologist next week, though, and assuming the financial aid I applied for comes through, I might end up seeing an allergist anyway. The only combination I’ve tried that actually helps the swelling is Aleve and Benadryl, and Aleve can be hard on the GI system and might not be safe to take with whatever he might prescribe if it is Crohn’s. The good news is that the clinic in Round Rock where my rheumatologist practices also has a couple of allergists who list angioedema among their specialties, so Lord willing, I’d be able to get some good help there.

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