My Novels

Monday, April 02, 2007


Okay, I admit it: I'm a pessimist, a realist. Always have been, always will be. My motto in life (and it's served me well) is: "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." Not a bad one-line philosophy for any human to follow.

However, I do believe that having nearly died at the age of 23 from what doctors (specialist galore) told me would never allow me to live to see 30...was, in fact, almost a galvanizing effort on my behalf to "spit in their eye." And now at 55, I would just LOVE to do that! LOL! Unfortunately, I've outlived some of the specialist, and some have retired permanently into obscurity.

I DID go through a horrible, suffering time for several years, and despair was my constant companion. I have always been somewhat depressive, melancholy (what writer isn't?), but fell into the depths of an abyss from which I could not climb out, no matter what. It didn't help that my husband, at first supportive, grew weary of the battle and simply vacated the premises. Not with a divorce, but in a career that only added MORE stress to a life/illness that certainly had enough stress already.

Then I read a book (oh yes, books can be saviours). I am not sure where I found this paperback book, for I was always reading and collecting books...but the title of it (which I still have to this day) is: "The Will To Live," by Arnold A. Hutschnecker, M.D. It is copyrighted originally in 1951, to give you an idea of how old it was even when I found it in the mid-70s. But in this book, a spin on our current "positive thinking" American culture, there were many passages I marked, re-read and practically memorized. In particular was this excerpt that I realize changed my life:

"Doctors have observed that people who have gone through grave illness in their youth are likely to live long and in good health. I had a friend, a respected writer, who in his seventies was in excellent health and mentally as keen as a far younger man. He had been a premature baby, always delicate, painfully aware of the contrast between himself and a robust older brother who was an officer in the army. As a child his chances of living even to middle-age were considered poor. Yet at seventy he was in sturdier health than any of his contemporaries. It is a familiar pattern, the sickly child who grows up to be a vigorous man or woman. There are biological explanations, such as the development of immunity. But there is also another possible explanation. Such an individual often makes a strong effort to overcome his bad start in life. The prospect of inferiority, of perhaps an early death, seems to galvanize the will to live in many small but significant ways. Such an individual takes better care of himself, conserving his strength for the things he wants to accomplish. He strives creatively to make his days meaningful since he may enjoy fewer of them than the average man. In time by these efforts he does in fact overcome his weakness, and he goes on to a life of normal length and better than average health and achievement."

This book's author, far ahead of his time, also is of the opinion that "STRESS IS A MAJOR FACTOR IN MOST ILLNESS."

I think when I first read this book, it allowed me to come out of my morbid idea of dying (as the doctors said I would) and determine to show them all I would LIVE. And LIVE well. At my young age of only 23, it was the very best prescription ANY doctor could have ever given me. And it has served me well, for I am now 55 and even against those doctor's advice, I stopped taking the prescription medications they said would save me (but caused so many ill side effects) and I am, to this day, ALIVE.

And yes, I did make many selfish, life-preserving decisions such as not having children, becoming creative with my writing, withdrawing from any and all situations that caused too much stress (making me a bit of a loner/solitary), and various alterations over the years that I know now were deliberate, conscious choices to help me survive and live longer.

A word of caution, though: I am not in any way equating youthful illness with aging and the kinds of incurable diseases we humans will all eventually fall victim to. You cannot stop aging, and I have always felt that cancer in those past 50 is simply an age-related disease. You can beat it back for a certain time period, some longer than others, but you cannot whip it -- because, of course, we all die of one or another age-related disease.

What made me think about all this is having just read Elizabeth Edwards book, "Saving Graces." While a lot of it seems highly sentimental and pathetic (especially having two children in her 40s because their first son died in a car accident), I did recall that book in my past. So I don't think hope is always a delusion; but when you are getting older, and you are aging and cancer/whatever disease is slowly but surely killing you, maybe there is a point beyond which "treatment" is merely another form of torture. In other words, YOU and YOU alone know when ENOUGH is ENOUGH. And when YOU say that it IS, everyone should respect your wishes. Who knows, as in my case when younger, you might live longer WITHOUT the kind of torturous treatment doctors prefer?

{As an aside, I'm reading fast and furious these days, and growing wise on this intellectual feast!}


A Postscript to this entry: Many say that the Edwards camp is trying to get the sympathy vote. I don't think that will work, if it's the case. And many say there's never been a political situation like this: HOW SOON they forget. Lurleen Wallace, wife of Alabama George Wallace, had cancer and died of it while in her term as Governor of Alabama. I have a book here, also one of those "old collector's items" entitled, "Lurleen Wallace, Her Crusade of Courage," by Anita Smith, copyright, 1969. I never liked George Wallace, but I totally despised him after reading this book, though some may have thought otherwise. But you see, George Wallace (once he couldn't run for Governor yet AGAIN) chose to run his wife as sort of a 'stand-in' or 'political puppet' while HE, in fact, would be pulling the strings. And when she was suffering/dying of cancer (no doubt brought on by YEARS and YEARS of stress simply having been married to good ole George) he was off conducting a political agenda. Then, of course, she died and he married a...well, Anna Nicole wannabe.

Now, I like John Edwards, liked him the first time around in his bid with Kerry. But I'm having second thoughts, especially after seeing Nightline tonight and hearing Elizabeth say that, basically, if she dies she expects her eldest daughter, Cate, to take care of her two youngest children (the ones she had in her late 40s to make up for losing the son in a car accident--and I don't hear any debate about her 'fertility treatment' maybe causing breast cancer either). But what a terrible burden to put on a young woman, an eldest daughter!!

I don't know, but I am thinking Hillary has better odds, and will get my vote.

Consider this a minor history lesson for the younger folks. And while you're at it, read this truthful, eye-opening article about false advertising in drugs and/or "preventative procedures" such as mammography:

A Manifesto for Truth-in-Mammography Advertising

By the way, I've never had a mammography, nor do I ever intend to do so. And so it goes...

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