My disappearance from the public eye began several years ago when I had to cancel part of a book tour due to a heart abnormality which resulted in the sensation that I had stopped breathing (actually, my heart was stopping), followed by a series of extremely rapid heartbeats as my heart rushed to catch back up.
I underwent a heart ablation, which literally everyone told me was a standard procedure and there was "nothing to it". I was on the table for about four hours, under general anesthesia, and the procedure was not successful.
And there was a complication.
Shortly after the procedure, I complained that my leg was hurting. I was assured that it was normal and it would soon heal. Not only did it not heal but I soon found myself almost unable to walk. I went through a variety of diagnoses and treatments from knee pain to arthritis to hip pain, but none of the medication worked and I began relying on a cane. Steroids resulted in a lot of weight gain, which put even more pressure on my leg.
Then, quite by accident, we discovered the root cause.
It turned out that during the heart ablation, I suffered nerve damage. And it turns out that approximately 10% of nerve damage is brought about by heart procedures. There is no cure for it, and in my case it created excruciating migrating pain from the bottom of my foot to the top of my hip.
Once we had the diagnosis, I was placed on Lyrica. That's when things became real interesting. The Lyrica immediately blocked the nerve pain, allowing me to begin to get back to my former self - physically. Unfortunately, a side effect was the inability to write. I simply could not focus. Even following a conversation was challenging. I stopped public appearances because I couldn't even focus enough on what I was saying.
Flash forward to today and I am on a different medication - Gralise, which was originally developed for nerve pain resulting from shingles, but which also has had a tremendous affect on my damaged nerve. It helps with the pain and I no longer feel as though I am in a thick mental fog. I have been able to exercise again and more importantly, I am getting back to my writing.
I have been incredibly fortunate because my doctor took me seriously and he stayed active in finding the cause, even though it took several years, specialists and tests. When I was ready to give up, he was not.
So now I am catching up on four books and if I can meet my deadlines now (fingers crossed!) they will be released in 2017 and 2018:
|Near Neely Home (now gone) at Glencull, |
outside the village of Ballygawley,
County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
- The sixth book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series has political strategist Christopher Sandige paying a visit to a human genome specialist after her report landed on the President's desk - a report that could have catastrophic repercussions.
- The seventh book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series has Dylan Maguire and Vicki Boyd heading to Dylan's native Ireland for their wedding. Of course Sam wants them to take care of a small CIA mission while they're on their honeymoon, which leads to another encounter with Dylan's past.
- The third book in the Ryan O'Clery Mystery Series has the Irish detective investigating a series of disappearances that lead him to a prominent citizen's doorstep.
- And another historical book about the Neely family. This one is inspired by my trips to Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, the home of my ancestors. In the 18th century, three brothers left Ballygawley for America and this book follows their lives as they chase the American dream. One became a pub owner in New York, another owned a fleet of sailing ships that took goods - and later Irish people fleeing from famine - between Ireland and America. The third became a successful rancher. His son, William Neely, would later clear the land around the original Fort Nashborough, and William's daughter, Mary Neely, would be captured by Shawnee warriors in 1780. (The rancher brother, by the way, is also my ancestor.)
It's great to be back!