The Trouble with Scar Tissue: Part 1


“It seems like every time Kathrine has an important procedure, something always goes wrong.” -my dad

After this last incident, I feel he has a point. Summer 2011 was just a messy ball of wax. My problems were no one’s fault. I’m just incredibly unlucky in the health department. No one could’ve prevented my leak causing me to go septic. No one could’ve stopped the cyst growing to the size of a tennis ball. And no one certainly twisted my bowels to kink shut. I shook the dust off my shoes and pressed onward, as I always do. But after this week, I’m not feeling peace and love for the universe, as I probably should. I mean things could be worse. But then again, things could be better, too.

Let me rewind.

February: Pain in my lower right abdomen, cramping, and random bouts of nausea. I let my medical team know of my symptoms. and my GI prescribed doxycycline, an antibiotic, thinking it was a bacterial infection. I get these frequently since my resections.

March: I didn’t get better. In fact, it was getting worse. The pain came more frequently and severely. My nausea turned into gagging. I even left school one day vomiting. I thought maybe I had caught the latest bug, but in retrospect I didn’t have any other flu-like symptoms. I scheduled an appointment to see my GI.

April: My GI said he didn’t think it was active Crohn’s. Maybe I built up antibodies to doxycyline, my routine antibiotic. He scheduled me an MRI, but also prescribed cipro. If I didn’t feel better from the cipro, then I would keep the MRI appointment. I took my meds like a model patient, but only felt worse. Before my MRI, they tested me for C. Diff, while also prescribing ANOTHER antibiotic FOR C Diff to begin taking IMMEDIATELY. I asked why not wait until I get the test results, but they didn’t want the C Diff to get worse. Take it “just in case.” Fine. I took it. My results came in 2 days later. Negative.

May: I went to my MRI, drank contrast like a good little girl and smiled for the camera with my fingers and toes crossed. I was tired of feeling ill. I hated barely slugging through the day, only to come home and crash in bed while my kids miss time with me. Because I’m half a person all of the time. I couldn’t wait to press “play” on the voice mail. I just knew they had answers for me. “Your MRI didn’t show any active disease or any narrowing of the bowel. So the question we have is what is causing your symptoms. We are going to prescribe another antibiotic for you and possibly schedule a colonoscopy.” Are you kidding me? ANOTHER ANTIBIOTIC??!! I thought we established this isn’t a bacterial infection. I’m doubled over in pain. It hurts to walk. And I puke on a regular basis. Trust me, I’m a pro at holding it in. If I can’t hold it in, something is wrong.

Before I go further, let me explain. I started to second guess myself and unravel mentally. For ten years I’ve kept meticulous tabs on my body, because that is the one thing I CAN control out of this crazy mess. But now they don’t know what’s wrong with me? They just want to throw more antibiotics at my situation? Am I insane? Are these symptoms in my head? Do I need mental help instead?

June: Before the colonoscopy, the doctor said, “I hope this shows us something, because the MRI didn’t show any active disease. If there is a narrowing, I will dilate it with a balloon, and that should help relieve you of your symptoms. I’m just not sure that’s what I’m going to find from this test. We’ll see.”

We’ll see…I woke up to a cramping belly. I’ve had this before, so I shrugged it off with a few toots, getting my kids to snicker. The doctor explained the narrowing was so bad, he couldn’t even see through the bowel. He showed me pictures. I stared at a wall of red with a tiny line running down the middle. That’s it? That’s the hole? For real? Below was an after picture, which was a wall of black, outlined by a ring of red. 18mm. My bowel should be at 30mm, he explained, but he would have to do this over several procedures.

I touched his arm and told him I could cry. I was so happy they found something! No active disease! But no wonder I’ve been feeling so terrible! This was the best news ever. I wasn’t crazy. I didn’t need a psychologist, just a widened bowel wall. Whew!

After I started to wake up from my drugged state, I began to realize something. Hold up. This doctor didn’t exactly believe me when I told him how bad off I was. He kept saying he wasn’t sure he would find anything during the colonoscopy. And afterwards, he kept saying he couldn’t believe the MRI didn’t show the narrowing. Smug is the word to describe me for all of two hours. Because I’m here to tell you, smug didn’t last long.

My cramping got worse, so I took a loritab and laid on my back on the couch, chatting with my mom. I kept thinking it would go away, but within the hour, sitting up was painful. I pulled out my phone and called MUSC…


#QueryKombat Mini Mutants


I entered Hunted Souls, formerly titled Centerra: Awake into a contest called #QueryKombat. 64 out of 230 entries are chosen to battle head to head, competing for the attention of an agent. Now, I’ve entered various contests in the pass for the learning experience alone. Pitching a novel is a skill all on its own, and these contest have taught me volumes. I’ve also met numerous writer friends on twitter *waves ecstatically* who have given me great feedback! I’ve even beta swapped. Say what? Writers giving writers critique is a fabulous thing. No, we are not a group of cut throat, jealous nerds hiding behind our keyboards and words. We care.

Within 3 months, I’ve entered #PitchMadness, #PitMad, #PitchSlam, and #TheWVoice, all ending in nada. Didn’t get in. But each time I made quantum leaps forward in improving my pitching skills and the first 250 words. Cause let’s face it- first impressions are everything.

Then along came #QueryKombat, which requests an entry nickname, query, and first 250. The day of, I had an MRI to test if my Crohn’s is active. After months of feeling rotten and antibiotics doing nothing for me, I entered the test nervous, to say the least. I hoped beyond hope it would show SOMETHING so I can get more medicine and be on my merry way.

After the test finished, it was about time to send my entry into #QueryKombat. With contrast slushing around in my belly and nerves twitching my fingers, I paused over “send.” Seriously. Why be nervous? Probably won’t get in anyway.

And eek! I did! I made it! The contest isn’t over- there are five rounds total. But so far I’ve learned volumes. Here’s my updated query and would love any last minute feedback.

When eighteen-year-old Bixby codes in a hospital, his soul takes a detour to Centerra, a world where giants hunt humans for magic, harvesting it from their blood to gain temporary super powers. Prisoners are kept as specimens for experimentation, as giants seek to make magic permanent, since the gods stripped it from them as part of an ancient Punishment. If the humans in Centerra, all eighteen and under, rescue any of their friends, giants retaliate by killing another prisoner. They call it “insurance.”

A band of teens and kids adopt Bixby into their system of underground forts, so long as he follows rule number one: Don’t be a hero. His choice is to hide below the forest floor when giants’ hunting parties pass through, doing nothing for those who get captured, or risk expulsion from the group. For the first time in his life, the art of fitting in will determine his survival. Given he’s already the odd one out since he can’t seem to discover his own power, Bixby is going to have to do some serious pride swallowing around his bossy leader and overprotective roommates.

But love makes one do stupid things. His house mate, Sacheen, shared a hospital floor with him on Earth, where he watched her suffer and die once before. When the giants take her, he knows he can’t live with himself if he does nothing. He leaves for the giants’ territory, searching for a way to rescue all the prisoners. When he reaches the castle, he hears rumors of four humans who will possess limitless power and destroy the race of the giants. These Four will be identified by a delayed manifestation of specific abilities. By entering the castle before developing his hidden strength, Bixby has just given the giants the key to their survival.