Seattle Walk and Roll for Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Event LogoAs a Guillain-Barre survivor, I like to help out those who have just found out that they have GBS, or are struggling to recover from it. I was encouraged by so many other during my recovery, but nothing does as much good for the soul and the spirit as seeing that others have made it through, and are going about living normal lives.

Three years ago, I couldn’t walk to the mailbox. Things are infinitely better now. To prove it, on Sunday, June 14th at Magnuson Park in Seattle, I’ll be participating in the GBS|CIDP Foundation International Walk and Roll to support those who are still dealing with this debilitating syndrome.

This effort will raise the profile of GBS within the general and medical community. Immediate and proper diagnosis of GBS is critical to a speedy treatment and recovery. The quick diagnosis I received at Puyallup’s Good Samaritan Hospital was key to stopping the symptoms before they became life threatening and permanently debilitating.

If you want to attend to show your support for this worthy effort, please sign up. If you can’t attend, but still want to donate (or even share some words of support for those dealing with GBS), please visit my donation page on the site, and help the team reach our goal.

Please spread the word, and feel free to share my story. It’s a disease that can be beaten, and I’m proof of that.

Save the Date! Nowhere Wild Launch Party–August 24th, 2015

I am very pleased to announce that we will, in fact, be having a launch party for Nowhere Wild on Monday, August 24th, 2015 at 7:00 PM at University Books in Seattle. This is actually the night before the books go on sale throughout Canada and the US, but I have been told there will be stock available for purchase at the event for those who want to get an early start on reading it. And if you would like, I will even sign it for you!

So save the date, and come on out! I hope to see lots of familiar faces there!

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A Day Trip

I took a trip into Toronto today where I met up with Rachel Letofsky from The Cooke Agency. We headed over to Yonge and Bloor and up to the HarperCollins offices on the 20th floor. We were grandly welcomed by a sign in the lobby. How cool is this?

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Hadley Dyer (not pictured) led us on a tour of the office, where we met many of the folks diligently working on many projects, including Nowhere Wild, which was just being sent to type-setting when we arrived. (Again, how cool is that?) It hit me this morning, while there, that “Holy cow, this is actually happening!”

I managed to snap a shot of Yonge Street from one of their conference rooms. It’s been 20 years since I’ve been in Toronto, and it seems so much bigger. It absolutely sprawls, in every direction, even up. Seattle is big. Toronto is massive.

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After the meet and greet, we went out for celebratory lunch (as we in the publishing industry do), to talk about the book and things to come as we approach the launch date. Nothing is written in stone at this point (besides the launch date which is set for August 25th in both US and Canada), but we covered a lot of ground, and it was a very productive and enjoyable meeting.

I’m rather exhausted after 7 hours of driving today, so it may take me a day or so to recover, but hey, this was a really cool experience, and I had to share. G’night!

Breaking News: Nowhere Wild US Launch Date Moved UP!

Yes, you read that correctly. HarperCollins has moved the US launch date for Nowhere Wild up from February 23rd, 2016, to August 25th, 2015. Yes, that is the same day it launches in Canada.

Why did this happen? Not exactly sure. Something to do with warehousing, of all things. Someone must have waved a magic wand somewhere, and poof! Launchus datus accelleratus!

Now if only they can wave a magic wand over me and clone me for the next 6 months. So much to do! So much writing to be done! 173 days until launch. Holy Cow!

Getting All Professional

With all the book stuff going on, and things picking up in my career at work, it was time to replace the photos I had done a few years ago, with some new head shots done by a professional photographer. Jen Sanders from Jen Sanders Photography had me wander around a local park last Sunday morning as the sun climbed up over the Cascades and filtered through a chilly layer of thick fog. I am very pleased with the results. Here are some of my favorites.

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3 Years with Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Just over three years ago, I wrote a blog entry chronicling my first three days with Guillain Barré Syndrome. In it, I wrote that recovery times vary from 3 weeks to 3 years. I obviously didn’t heal in three weeks. My process took much longer. At the three year mark, however, I can say that my recovery is pretty much done. That’s not to say I’m completely back to normal, but, considering that 36 months ago, I was walking with a walker, unable to see well enough to read, and sleeping 20 hours a day, I’m doing pretty well. Things have stabilized—for the better.

I do have some long term side effects from the GBS. My eyes aren’t what they used to be, and when they get tired, they tend to jump a lot and make it hard to read. My balance is way off, especially in the dark. That could be related to my CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth Disease) as well, since it does cause both balance issues and numbness in the extremities, but I have no doubt the GBS exacerbated the issues. I don’t have quite the stamina I used to have when it comes to physical exertion, though that could just be a side effect of getting older. When I get tired, I still get numb patches in my cheeks and in my left leg. If I really overdo it, my nose goes numb. The feeling comes right back if I rest even for a few minutes, but it’s my signal to sit down, and take a breather.

I’ve definitely made some changes to my life that have helped to mitigate some of these long term effects. I moved closer to work so I wouldn’t spend so much energy commuting. That was probably the best thing I did to push over the hump. It’s amazing how much energy being stuck in traffic two-plus hours a day can steal from your life.

Last summer, I also cut gluten from my diet. My joints had started to swell and become painful—maybe from the stress of my commute, or maybe from the GBS, or maybe from some other kind of auto-immune reaction. It took a while to figure it out, but once I cut out gluten, most of the pain went away, and the swelling subsided. When I get really stressed out, it comes back a bit, but it always goes back down, as long as I stay off the wheat.

Along with the gluten, I’ve also cut most of the “good stuff” from my diet. No more alcohol, no coffee, no black tea, no soda, very few refined sugars. I eat a lot more vegetables and fruit and  proteins. I still have a weak spot for ice cream and gluten-free brownies, but I try to limit that to a couple of times a week, if not twice a month. Dining out is ridiculously hard, but I try to look for things that are GF on the menu, and if they aren’t labeled, I try as hard as I can to pick the least likely foods to have gluten. I know within a couple of hours of eating whether or not there was gluten in the food. The pain comes back that quickly.

But overall, these changes have been easy compared to what could have been the worst case scenario all those months ago. There were days where I didn’t know if I would ever be able to walk again, and days I worried that I would never be able to work or write or even read again. Those worries are gone now, and with them, the other stresses in my life don’t seem so large. It’s incredible what you can cope with when you have the perspective of history. The weekend before last, we moved into our new house, and my Microsoft Band said I took about 22500 steps in one day. Three years ago, 500 steps would have put me back in critical care.

I don’t blog a lot about my GBS anymore. The therapeutic value of doing it is gone, and frankly, I’m just too darn busy to focus on the negative all the time. But I thought this month I should at least let people who followed me through the worst of it, know that I did come out the other side of the tunnel. Hopefully, those who are just starting their journey with GBS, or are in the midst of their struggle, can gain some solace from my story of recovery. It’s a long road, but you are not alone.

One final thing. Here’s a picture of tonight’s sunset from my front porch. Seemed a fitting way to close out my GBS story. Simply amazing.

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US Publication Date for Nowhere Wild!

I just received an note from my editor at HarperCollins Canada that the US launch date for my debut novel, Nowhere Wild, will be February 23, 2016! This is almost exactly six months after the Canadian release date of August 25th, 2015 I’ve blogged about previously.

This is obviously huge news, and I am absolutely thrilled!

Why the delay in the US? Lots of reasons, and none of which I have any worries about (marketing, buying cycles, etc.) But if the book really does well in Canada, word of mouth should give it a big boost come February and the momentum can build from there.

I’ll blog more on this (and many other things) in the coming days. I’ve got an editing deadline on Nowhere Wild of next Monday, and will be heads down until that pass is done. But I just couldn’t wait to share this news!