Monday, January 31, 2011

Medical Mondays: Seize And Desist


Welcome to today's Medical Monday! Our question today is from Stephanie, who asks:

"What kind of complication from epilepsy could land someone in the hospital?"

First, let's do a quick overview of epilepsy.
Epilepsy occurs when neurons in the higher levels of the brain fire abnormally.
There are generally two types of seizures in adults.

Partial seizures occur in only a part of the brain, usually in one hemisphere.
  • In Simple Partial Seizures, the person is usually aware of what's happening and can have symptoms such as a jerking limb, smelling something strange, belly discomfort, or fear.
  • In Complex Partial Seizures, consciousness is altered. They may exhibit staring or repetitive movements such lip-smacking and chewing. They do not remember the seizure.
Generalized seizures occur in both hemispheres of the brain, and consciousness is always impaired.
  • Grand mal (tonic-clonic) are the seizures we often see in movies or stories. The person will start off stiff, followed by jerking of the entire body.
  • In Petit mal or absence seizures, the person doesn't jerk or go stiff, but instead stares straight ahead.
After seizures, especially generalized or complex partial seizures, people often suffer from a post-ictal (post-seizure) state, with symptoms of sleepiness, confusion, nausea, or headache.

Now, what would land a person with epilepsy in the hospital? I'll give Stephanie a selection of possibilities.
  • Injury. People with epilepsy have a higher risk of injury from falls, motor vehicle accidents, and drowning. For a hospitalization, it should be a pretty serious injury. A drowning, major accident with severe head injury or multiple body injuries (broken bones that require surgery), would buy a hospitalization.
  • Psychosocial Issues. Patients are also at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and have a three-time higher risk of suicide. Severe depression or a suicide attempt would do here.
  • Drug side effect. Commonly used anti-epileptic medications such as carbamazepine, oxcarbamazepine, phenytoin, and lamotrigine can rarely cause life threatening skin reactions (Stevens-Johnsons and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN)) which can land someone in hospital ward, or if very severe, a burn unit for care because of the high probability of death.
  • Status Epilepticus. This is an unrelenting seizure that last for longer than 5-10 minutes, or recurrent seizure that doesn't give the person a chance to return to baseline from the post-ictal states. Causes are usually stopping anti-epileptic meds, heavy drinking or withdrawal from alcohol, prior head injury or brain damage, metabolic disturbances (abnormal electrolytes, extremely low blood sugar), medications (certain antibiotics, tricyclic antidepressants).
Hope this helps!

Please keep in mind this post is for writing purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice (see sidebar disclaimer).

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at
All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer.
Also, don't forget to check out Mental Health Mondays at Laura's Blog and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation!

Oh, and last shout-out: Shelli is having an amazing Pay-It-Forward Pitch contest. I'd like to thank my English teacher Mrs. Brown from RPCS who got me to write my first fantastical short story way back when! You guys should check it out, it's a great opportunity!

Friday, January 28, 2011

There a-movin' on up, to the big leagues!

This post is dedicated to my poor, neglected books, which have lived with patience and neglect on a closet floor for the past five years, brutalized by cold basement temperatures and haphazard tossing (see earlier post on My Book Pile=My Brain)

The are no longer homeless!

I've got one shelf (of many) dedicated to the YA I've been reading.



And here's one (behind glass!) dedicated to Tolkien. We are LOTR geeks, and not ashamed to admit it.


And one shelf for some kid classics I've read hundreds of times. Really. I can comfortably quote any of these Laura Ingalls Wilder books. ("Where's my half-pint of sweet cider half-drunk up?")


Of course, I won't stop dog-earing them and dripping soy sauce or cookie crumbs into them either, but this is at least a step in a civilized direction.

Do you treat your books well? Or are you as abusive to them as I have been?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Literary Techniques: The Framed Story

If you have a moment, Deb Salisbury is discussing her Writing Goals for 2011 for the Sisterhood blog. Have a look see!

As for today's post, I got the idea for this post from Patti Lacy's blog. Her new book, The Rhythm of Secrets (now available on Amazon! Woot!) is a framed story.

What's that, you ask?

*cracks knuckles*

A framed story is a technique of introducing a story within the framework of another original story. It can get more complicated, with multiple short stories introduced, or a telescoping story within a story within a story.

Cool, huh?

Framed stories go way back to ancient times and were seen in Sanskrit epics.

Some well known framed stories include:

One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights)
Canterbury Tales
Wuthering Heights
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

I repeat...cool huh? Ever thought of writing a framed story? Know of another one that I should put on this list?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top Ten Songs Blogfest

One quick announcement first. Angela posted another one of my poems on her blog entitled "The Lost Birds." Go check it out if you'd like!

Okay, I'm a little late coming to this...I signed up last night! I'll resume Medical Mondays next week. And if you haven't had a chance, please sign up for my Giveaway on the linky to the right!

Here's my list for Alex's Awesome Top 10 Countdown Music Blogfest.

Truth is, I can't really do just ten songs. I decided to hit a few favorites from different stages of my life. I really have a top 100, so, this is more of a snapshot than anything.

So, I'm not even going to number them. Sorry Alex!

Kate Bush: This Woman's Work.
So painfully beautiful! Her voice is crazy and boy does she have some bizarre videos out there, but she was a visionary. This one still makes me cry.

Depeche Mode: Question of Lust

I went through a huge Depeche Mode phase way back when, in conjunction with a wardrobe heavy on the black clothing. I love the glass bells in this song. OK, I know it's a synthesizer. I can pretend.

REM: Fall on Me/Find the River

Crap. I'd put twenty REM songs on this list if I could. I love these two. See? I'm already cheating the top ten concept.

Jason Mraz: Beautiful Mess
This song inspired a lot of writing in the last two years, so it makes the list.

Pixies: Debaser

It's the Pixies. 'Nuff said.

Sarah McLachlan: Time
She's got a lot of my favorites, but this one is poetry.

KT Tunstall: Other Side of the World
Oh man. All my favorite songs are so depressing! I'm not depressed. Really.

Echo and the Bunnymen: Bring on the Dancing Horses
The first tape I ever bought as a kid. Yes, I just dated myself. I was striving for alternative at a tender age. What a lovely song, though.

Billy Bragg and Wilco: California Stars
One of many fabulous songs by Woodie Guthrie. An amazing album.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Ship Song
What a voice. What a song.

So again, thanks for reading my list. I look forward to seeing your top tens! Hop away!

Friday, January 21, 2011

600 Followers Giveaway! Come Get Herpes! Or a Gift Card. Your choice.

I've been thrilled to meet so many new bloggers lately. In honor of hitting the 600 mark, I'm going to completely geek-out on this giveaway.

Nope. I'm giving away diseases. Risk free!

(OR, if you're totally grossed out, then yes, I will instead offer a $10 Barnes and Noble Gift card instead.)

I'll be giving away to FOUR lucky winners.

Nothing necessary to enter except leave a comment, your email address, and tell me which disease you are dying to have!



One of my all time favorite plush microbes, this is Syphilis. Cute and sexually transmitted. Not a good combination!










It's not a sunny side up egg, but the sun may cause an outbreak on your lip. A big round of applause for Herpes!









So innocent, yet responsible for deadly epidemics and ouchy vaccines.
Say hi to the Flu!








This is not the machine from the Matrix movie. It's E. Coli. Don't let him touch your hamburger patties.











This little clucker, Chicken Pox, left me a few scars on me way back when. I've forgiven him.











For all you beer-loving people out there, this is the guy that make all that bubbly goodness happen. Say hi to Beer Yeast.









This blue guy is the Common Cold, or Rhinovirus. Yes, you've all had it. But now you can snuggle up to it and not be snotty at the same time!






So don't forget. Tell me which one you'd like, your email address and a comment.

(AND if you'd prefer, let me know if you'd rather have the bookstore Gift Card!)

The giveaway ends on February 4th, so spread the word, and spread some fluffy germs!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fear of the Spotlight

Two things recenty got me thinking of author safety. First, the recent shooting in Arizona, and second, an author friend who recieved some scary emails from a reader.

Many of us are trying to get published (and a bunch of my blog followers are), but becoming an author buys a step into a spotlight. We could be watched and regarded by thousands of strangers, some with unbalanced mental states.

Are you ever afraid to become an author? Do you ever wonder if you will fear your readers/fans?

I know I'm just being paranoid, but in this day and age (sadly) it's not a bad thing to look over your shoulder.

Thoughts?



Also, please take a moment to welcome our newest Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog sister, Sarah Fine who'll be blogging about her 2011 Writing Goals. Go Sarah! And stay tuned for next week's post by Deb Salisbury.

If you missed it, I blogged about it last week, and Laura Diamond the week before!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Medical Mondays: Face Blindness



This post is bit inspired by last week's post on Capgras Delusion.

Prosopagnosia ("prosopon" [Greek] = face; "agnosia" = inability to recognize) is a disorder whereby people cannot recognize faces. It's also called face blindness. A person with this disorder may have a two hour, face-to-face conversation with a person, and then then next day pass them in the hallway and have no idea who they are.

It can occur following brain damage, but there is also an inherited version that occurs in a staggering 2.5 % of the population.

People with prosopagnosia must learn techniques to recognize faces, such as individual feature recognition, clothing clues, and other things to get by.

Some of the more famous sufferers include:

Chuck Close, a favorite artist of mine
Oliver Sacks, writer/neurologist
Tom Stoppard, British playwright
Jane Goodall, British primatologist/anthropologist

A bunch of great stuff is out there tackling this issue:

  • Here's a fantastic and funny Radiolab podcast starring Oliver Sacks and Chuck Close entitled "Strangers in the Mirror"

I'm happy to admit that I don't have prosopagnosia. I'm good with faces, but I'm terrible with names. *Sighs*

I've heard there are more books out on this subject in fiction and literature, so if you've heard of them, please share!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Writing Osmosis


When I'm reading a book I really enjoy or admire, I find that my writing reflects the style of the author I just read.

Could this be related to this other factoid? When I hang out with someone with a southern accent, my very even-sounding, mid-Atlantic accent goes southward too. Who knows. Well.

After I read Suzanne Collins, my writing grew more spare and less fluffy.

After reading Wintergirls recently, I added more poetic bits and pieces to my emotional descriptions.

Whatsupwithat?

Does this happen to you guys too? What influences your style of writing?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writing Goals for 2011


Hello all. This month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog topic is writing goals for 2011.

I have to say, this comes with a lot of fear and embarrassment, because if I fail spectacularly in my resolutions, it's out there for all to see.

Kind of like visible panty lines, or spinach-riddled teeth. None pleasant to look at, but most unpleasant for the said possessor of the unpleasantness.

Okay, here goes.

1. I am going to finish my current WIP by the end of January, revise and query it soon after if my crit partners say it's not complete garbage.

2. While querying that piece, I'm going to start outlining a new WIP and have it written by June. If this trajectory works out, that leaves room for a third WIP in the summer/fall.

3. I'm going to publish at least two poems to journals and get one non-fiction piece published (okay, I'm cheating here, because I already know I have one accepted to a journal for early 2011. Whatev, I can cheat.)

4. Finish interviewing my parents for a family history project I started (gulp) five years ago.

And lastly,

5. (*whispers*) Get an agent.

There. I said it. Somehow putting it out there feels like jinxing myself, which is odd because I'm not that superstitious. Well, er. Maybe a little.

Anywho, if you didn't get a chance, check out Laura's post last week,and next week we'll welcome to our newest Sister, Sarah Fine!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Medical Mondays: Are You My Mother? Capgras Delusion


Today's Medical Mondays continues in the vein of the bizarre.

Capgras Delusion is a disorder where a person believes that their spouse, parent, child, or other close family member has been replaced by a look-alike and sound-alike imposter.

It's most commonly seen associated with schizophrenia, but can also be seen in cases of dementia or brain injury. Cases can last a short or very long time.

In literature, Capgras Delusion has been seen in:

Richard Power's The Echo Maker
Rivka Galchen's Atmospheric Disturbances

In movies, it was first seen in The Curse of the Cat People in 1944 and more contemporary TV shows like CSI, Law and Order, and Scrubs.

Capgras wouldn't be such a great disorder to have. It would brings a whole new meaning to the question, "Who's your Daddy?" Er, or Mommy?

And if you have a moment, check out Angela Felsted's blog where she's got one of my poems up for reading. Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Can you replicate your writing?


Every time I write a sentence or two, I hit the save button.

I'm petrified of losing my writing. What if I can't rewrite that sentence I just crafted?
Maybe this is just me, but I think about this all the time, especially if I write something I'm half-proud of.

Do you think you could recreate your writing if you had to, if someone stole all your files and *poof* it was gone? Just wondering. Random Friday Thought, here.

And in case you are worried about permanently losing your stuff, check out this old post of mine about Backing Up Your Writing: Is it Secret? Is it Safe?

Don't let MY fear become YOUR reality.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Reading Binge


I managed to infuse the publishing world with a small a small chunk of change last week.

During vacation, I had no internet access or computer. I dutifully packed two books to read.

Four days later, I was hungry for more, so I read the book I bought my hubs for Christmas. Three days later, I bought another one in the airport bookstore. It was finished before we landed.

I was hungry. I didn't realize how long I'd gone without reading because I've been writing like a fiend in the last two months.

It. Was. Goooooood.

Here's what I read:

Matched, by Ally Condie
Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini ****
Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson **

I generally don't do reviews, so I'm going to be irritatingly mum on what I though of them.

Okay, I will say one thing. The stars represent how many times I cried during the reading. I am a saline faucet when it come to sad scenes. Then again, I also cry during Kleenex commercials, so yeah. That's me.

So. Did you guys read during the holidays? Dish!


Also, please stop by Laura's Sisterhood post on 2011 Writing goals. I'll post next week!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Medical Mondays: This is me nagging you.


Ohhhhh it's a New Year.

Shiny, early, young and expansive in possibilities.

I'm going to take this moment away from my usual Medical Monday's post (as I am very sleep deprived and recovering from the holidays so I can do anything right now and not even the run-on sentence haters can touch me) to nag you.

Yes, nag you. I almost hosted a blogfest about it but figured that would take nagging to a whole new level.

See, I like you guys. A lot. I want you all to have fulfilling writing careers. But that takes one, itty, bitty ingredient we often forget while our muses (bless their spike heeled black boots) press our faces into computer keyboards.

A healthy body and mind.

Ha, so, did you see this coming?

What is your New Year's Resolution for keeping your writing body happy and healthy this year?

I'll go first.

1. I'm going to let gravity torture me at least twice a week (read: weight bearing exercise to reverse the rear-end drag effect of time).

2. I'm actually going see a doctor for a check up (instead of talking to weary spouse and/or self about my degenerating bits and pieces) in bland effort to shoot down the "doctors are the worst patients" myth, which is probably not really a myth but quite true, and after taking my run-on sentence pill (which is very small, naturally), I'm gonna make the appointment.

Geez, that was hard. My muscles are already sore just thinking about my resolutions.

So. How 'bout you?
 
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