I’m still feeling balanced and it’s a wonderful thing. Being easily distracted is still there, but I’m working with it the best I can. I have a lot of medical issues going on and the fact that I’m methodically dealing with all the doctors and appointments I go to, I’m pleased that I’m not freaking out.

The Brain Game

This may get a little complicated because of the players involved, but I’ll try not to confuse you like I have to the staff at several medical offices.

There are three doctors in this story:
My primary care physician, my neurologist, and my neurosurgeon.

As I mentioned before, I’ve had tingling and small pain on two of the fingers on my right hand, which makes it difficult t use sometimes. I went to a neurologist who did a series of tests. He also sent me to get a physical therapist which turned out to be wasted effort.

Finding a few possibilities, but nothing conclusive, the neurologist referred me to my neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon had me get an MRI and that’s where they found the small benign tumor in my head. He also could not find anything, such as a body part crushing my nerves, to explain why this was happening. This neurosurgreon is considered by many to be the best in the area.

I wasn’t pleased with the “there’s nothing we can do” response, so I went to Long Beach and got a second opinion from a neurosurgeon surgeon. He agreed there was nothing neurological causing the problem and that I should just live with it since I had adapted.

Back to the brain tumor. While it’s small and benign it can still grow. It’s in a really bad location nested in the nerves that come out of my spinal column. My neurosurgeon asked me to come back every year to get a new MRI to ensure it doesn’t grown and cause damage.

I accepted it all and went on my merry way.

Moving forward a few years to now. Suddenly the exact same problem I was having with my right hand started happening in my left hand. With both hands affected, there are limited things I can do. For example, it’s very difficult for me to turn the key to start a car. Usually I can keep trying over and over and get the car started, however, there have been a couple of times I’ve had to ask total strangers to start the car for me.

I hope you’re still with me because this is where it starts to get complicated.

Because of the new problems with my left hand my primary care physician had me get a CT scan and got approval for me to see a neurologist, who happens to be the same neurologist I’d seen several years back.

Back to my primary care. Despite the past conclusions, she said that my stature could change because of my huge weight loss and that’s why I should go back to my neurologist. An appointment was scheduled.

During this time I called to make an appointment for my annual MRI and needed approval from my neurosurgeons office. The office manager told me that’s not how it works. She said my file says I should come back on an as need basis only, therefore she could not approve an MRI. After several frustrating minutes with her on the phone, she said she’d talk with the neurosurgeon. It was during this call I mentioned I already have an appointment with my neurologist. She said that was wonderful and I should have him refer me to get an MRI and have the results sent to the neurosurgeon.

A few days later the woman at the neurosurgeon’s office called me back and told me I was right and the neurosurgeon did want to see me annually.

So far so good. Frustrating, but it looks like things were coming together, until I got a call from the hospital to tell me my primary care physician had scheduled an emergency approval for my MRI and that I should come in.

At this point I went back to my primary care physician and asked her that since she schedule for the MRI, and I had an appointment with the neurosurgeon, was there a reason to go back to the neurologist. She said that was up to me, AAARGHH!

Where it stands today. I kept the appointment with my neurologist for today. Fortunately it will be a virtual visit rather than me going in. I know without a doubt he’s going to ask why I had an appointment with him when the MRI is scheduled and will be sent to my neurosurgeon. It will be a short call and I’ll be on my merry way. Later I’ll have my MRI which will be sent to my neurosurgeon and he will call me with the results and let me know if I should come in.

Done so far! I now simply wait to see if they can determine the cause. If they can’t, I’ll have to search for someone to find what is happening. The one hand was fine, but now two hands have created a disability.

Why this long winded story? One, is to point out the crazy amount of red tape I’ve had to go through to get me where I am today. No one should have to jump through all these hoops, yet most have to. It’s already helped to get it out of my system. The second, and big factor, is I’ve gone through all this mess without becoming depressed or had any signs of major anxiety. It’s been pure madness and I handled each step calmly one by one. THAT my friends is what this is really about. It’s a damn good sign I am in a balanced state and I hope it lasts for a good while.

I’ll keep you updated, but for now the biggest culprit seems to be the disks in my spine are squeezing together and affecting the nerve. We’ll see.

A Little About Zombies, But It’s Really About Storytelling.

*** Warning. Spoiler alerts *** I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible.

The first series in The Walking Dead franchise is the one that goes by that name, which I’ll refer to as TWD. This show has been intense from day one. Yes, there are zombies, of course, but the show is really about small bands of people moving along and searching their best for food and other supplies, such as food, guns, bullets, automobiles and fuel. One band of people would come against another band of people and they would battle for supplies. No one in this world can be trusted. Anyone stranger could kill you to get what you have.

The beauty of the show is no one is safe. There were main characters that, like most other shows, that you knew weren’t going to die…but they did. They’d either get eaten by zombies or killed by a person in a battle against a different group. That kept the tension always there. It’s also beautiful because, while there are zombies out to eat them, the show is really about the human psyche.

TWD started in Atlanta, and our band of heroes wandered around killing people along the way until they reached Virginia near Washington DC. The show has been on for ten years.,

Because TWD was a massive success, the network created a new show called Fear The Walking Dead, which followed one family and a small cluster of others they met along the way. The show started in Los Angeles, they eventually went to Mexico and then back north. They are now in Texas.

The time on TWD was over for some of the major characters. Their contracts were up and they wanted to move on to other things. Some were killed off, but most disbanded from the group with one explanation or another.

With time, our group on TWD grew to the point that they were able to build a village with a wall to keep out the zombies. During this time they found three other villages. The villages fought a little back and forth for awhile until one of the groups became serious bad guys and murdered people right and left. Eventually the three other villages banded together and ripped apart the bad community. This allowed them to settle in, grow food and trade with each other.

Well, you know what? People having happy lives with no threats is nice, but it makes for a boring show. Therefore, from one season to another they progressed the time six years. It was nice to know that the friendly villages worked together each with its own form of government. But, knowing happy people walking around in simple lives, the producers brought on another band of bad guys, wars ensued, a lot of our good guys died, their villages were destroyed, but they won. They’re now back where they started from. A band of people struggling to survive and meeting up with one group of baddies after another. The show hasn’t lost its conflict. It hasn’t lost its tension.

That’s where TWD stands, but what about our friends on Fear the Walking Dead? Although the show was also very successful, there was a lot of flack from fans that they didn’t like the characters at all. Therefore, in one form or another, they quickly killed off all but two of the original cast members.

There’s a guy named Morgan. He left our friends on TWD in Virginia to go on a spiritual quest. Yes, he’d kill zombies when needed, but he swore to himself to no longer kill the living. Where did Morgan walk to? He reached our friends in Texas and got to know them. At this point the group became kind of a cult. Following Morgan’s lead, making peace with themselves, and vowing not to kill the living. They have about thirty-six people in the group now. So, unlike the life or death challenges of people on TWD, the people on Fear help people. They drive along the highways leaving boxes of food and supplies for those who may be wander by. If they find someone struggling, even if that person was about to kill them, they would talk calmly to the person, making them accept to change their life, and join their band with the goal of helping others.

What’s wrong with this show? IT’S BORING! There is a group of baddies they deal with, but they are more of an annoyance than dangerous. There is no tension watching people drive around and leaving boxes along the highway. They may meet up with a person who is on one or two episodes and then get killed somehow, but our main characters have remained intact. They may get attacked by Zombies, but two years into the apocalypse they’ve all become good at killing them and moving on. So, you’ve got bad guys who aren’t so bad and zombies who aren’t so dangerous. It’s pitiful.

There is an expectation in the viewers mind that this can’t go on forever. Eventually the good guys will come across a difficult situation and some will probably die. Then we will have tension. We will have conflict. We’ll have adventure. It’s just taking too damn long.

So, I said this is all about storytelling, and its. It reminds me, as a writer, that there must be conflict. Without it the reader will be bored. It’s possible to write what may seem a brilliant chapter, but if the writer sees the plot does not serve the story, sometimes they have to break their heart and rip that chapter out. Occasionally, you can rewrite it to add conflict, but in most circumstances it needs to be tossed away. This is actually a very basic rule that any writer should know, but it’s nice to be reminded sometimes. In my second novel, I had this struggle. I absolutely loved a chapter I wrote, but it didn’t move the story forward. I sucked it up and took it out. Watching these two Walking Dead shows are really good lessons for me. Sometimes they remind me to stick with the things I know, but sometimes they make me see a story in a whole new light.

Maybe I’m making excuses for watching shows about zombies. Don’t get me wrong, I love their entertainment value, but it’s difficult to sit back and watch a show without analyzing it. That’s a good thing.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed it and needed to get all this out, so it was good for me. That’s the important part.

For now I will leave you to go about your day as I go about mine. A gentle reminder – I love comments.

4 comments on Balance

    1. Thank you, Carol Anne. I just spoke with my neurologist and he said it was good she did the MRI, but wants to make sure it includes my cervical spine which they suspect is where the real problem is. I’m waiting for a call back from my primary doctor to be sure, but I think I recall her saying the MRI will include that area too. We’ll see.

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