The Queen's Proclamation

 

 

 

December 2007
News, updates, & pronouncements from Pat Ballard,
the Queen of Rubenesque Romances

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. 
Eleanor Roosevelt

Something to think about....

Specialized Medicine: Progress or Problematic?

As a child, growing up in south Mississippi, we had a "Family Doctor." Chances were, as in my case, that doctor delivered you into this world. My family doctor was my pediatrician, my childhood doctor, and my doctor as an adult. If I needed surgery, most of the time he could perform it. If not, he could recommend someone who could―but he, my doctor, would be right there making sure everything went okay.

Now I do realize that we've come a long, long progressive way since those days. But recently I've wondered if we've lost something along the way.

Up until November 12th, I had a long "bragging list" regarding my health. Other than having our son, Eric, 32 years ago, I had never spent a night in a hospital. As an adult, I had never taken an antibiotic. I had never had any kind of surgery, and I had never been "put under" via anesthesiology or any other method. But that "bragging list" crumbled around my feet like a huge bag of gallstones on November 12.

After spending a week and a half in severe pain, throwing up, and more pain, I went to a doctor. She sent me to have a sonogram. On Friday, November 9, the doctor called and told me to get to a hospital ASAP, that my gall bladder was infected and possibly headed toward peritonitis. So at 11:00 A.M. that Friday morning I found myself checked into a hospital about five miles from our home. I was put on an intravenous drip because I was dehydrated, and was given an antibiotic through the drip every four hours.

In going into this situation, my main concern was the fact that I bleed very easily. I've never been diagnosed as a hemophiliac, but most things will thin my blood down to the point that I will get a nosebleed. That's my warning that my blood is too thin and that I will bleed freely if cut. Aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, garlic tablets, etc. are just a few things that affect me like this. So I made very sure that that information was entered in the hospital computer system when I checked in. I also told every doctor who darkened my door. There wound up being six, I believe.

On Monday, November 12, I had the laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, which usually takes 45 minutes to perform. It took one and a half hours to do mine. The doctor said he literally had to chisel the gallbladder out, it was so packed with stones. (And I've wasted all these years trying to eat healthily―I might as well have just enjoyed myself!)

Anyway, the surgery went well, they said. But when the nurse took my blood pressure after I got back to the recovery room, it was 70/33. I could sense some panic in her voice until she finally got the bottom number up to 50.

The next day I had to have a lighted scope run down my esophagus to make sure that all the gallstones were gone. So I was put to sleep on both Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, I thought I would die from the gas that they pump you up with in order to do surgery. They put me on three different pain pills. Two of those three meds carry warnings to "tell your doctor if you're taking any kind of blood thinner."

By Thursday, all my "numbers" had settled down, and the doctors were talking about letting me go home on Friday. But―not yet. Thursday night my hemoglobin had dropped from 13, where it was when I came into the hospital, to 8. And my hematocrit (a measure of red blood cells) had dropped from 40 to 24. I had "lost" 5 pints of blood . So now they wanted to "watch" me and see if my numbers came back up.

But the numbers stayed the same all day Friday and all night Friday night. By Saturday morning they were talking about giving me two pints of blood. As one of the doctors put it, "You 'may' have lost more blood during surgery than we realized, we 'probably' thinned out your blood too much with pain meds, and we 'probably' diluted your blood with too much drip. You're a mystery to us." He went on to suggest that I have a blood analysis done so this doesn't happen again.

My entire stomach and around onto one hip looked bruised, with purplish and bluish colors. I wondered if they'd dropped me off the operating table. But finally one doctor explained it this way: "When your blood gets too thin it seeps into your skin, kind of like water seeping into a sponge."

So after much discussion, two of the doctors actually "googled" cases like mine. I was told that unless my hemoglobin went down to a 7 I really didn't need to take blood, and that I have very strong bone marrow and should be able to rebuild my blood in a few months. In the meantime, I have to take it easy and do what I feel like doing, but don't overdo.

By now, you're probably thinking that I'll never go back to this hospital again, or use these doctors again. But that's my point. I believe this would have happened to me anywhere that I went. And I would go back to this hospital again, and I would use these doctors again, because by now, they understand me a little better. And the nursing staff was absolutely wonderful. I could not have asked for better care.

Here are the things I've concluded:

1) Doctors can't possibly know all the side effects of every medication out there.

I do think they should make a concerted effort to find out the side effects, however, especially if the patient has a strange problem.

2) If you have any kind of situation like mine, or an allergy, or any kind of different problem, you need to have it written down, with copies that you hand out to each doctor.

My mistake was that I verbally told each doctor, but didn't have anything for them to keep and read. Also, I said I "bleed easily." From now on, I will say in ALL CAPS that I'm allergic to any blood thinner. And I will have a blood lab done on myself and I will carry it with me in my purse, in case of any kind of emergency, and I will have copies with me if I ever have to go back into the hospital.

3) Don't be afraid to tell the nurse or doctor that you refuse to take a certain medication.

After I was off the drip, the nurse brought me four little pills in a medicine dispenser. I asked, "What are these?" "Two are antibiotics, one is an amino acid vitamin, and one is Diflucan, an anti-yeast infection med." Within two hours after taking those pills, I had a nosebleed. When they came back around, I pointed at the little yellow amino acid and said, "You see this little vitamin? This is the only thing I'll take because one of these others caused my nose to bleed." The nurse very graciously told me to tell my doctor that I had refused the meds. Come to find out, the Diflucan is a blood thinner.

4) Most of you probably have a primary care physician. I don't. I'm not sick, so what do I need with a PCP?

Well, this is why I need one. I need someone who knows what makes me tick. I need someone who will be at the hospital watching over all the "specialists" and telling them, "NO! She can't take that." I've decided that the PCPs are our guardians and we all need one. I wound up having a wonderful PCP assigned to me in the hospital. He was the one who had the level head. But he only works at the hospital, so I can't have him as my regular doctor.

5) If you have large arms, make sure the person taking your blood pressure uses a large cuff. Do not let them tell you it doesn't matter.

I only had one nurse argue with me in the hospital. I learned early on to tell the difference in the colors of the different sized cuffs. She started to put the small one on me and I told her I needed the large one. "Oh, this one will be fine," she said. So I let her take my bp. It was something like 140/94. Very high for me. Then I said to her, "Now, use the other one." I didn't ask, I told her. She did, and the reading came out 120/75. She said, "Hmm. It does make a difference!"

6) Don't be afraid to "ban" a nurse from your room.

It is very hard for anyone to take blood from me. My veins are small, close to the surface, and have a tendency to roll when a needle is trying to invade them. Proof perfect: I was stuck at least 25 times while in the hospital. Thankfully, I'm not a queasy person when it comes to needles. In order to find a vein to put the stent for my drip, the "lucky" person looking for the vein would have to stick me two or three times to find a vein that yielded blood. And in a couple of days, the needle would break through the vein and start pumping the drip into my skin. I could always tell when this happened, and would have to tell them. And, of course, they drew blood for the lab several times a day. I had one nurse trainee who came into my room 3 days in a row. She would try to hit the "big" vein where most of the others could get the blood, and she would miss every time. She would get nervous and start shaking. Three days in a row, at least two sticks per day, then she'd have to leave and send someone else to get the blood. After the third day, I said to the woman who could get my blood every time, "Please don't send her back. You don't have to let her know I said so, but I don't want her back in my room." I never saw her again.

7) When we're in a hospital-type setting and have all these different doctors coming in and out, we have to make sure they know which patient they're talking to. We have to make sure that they know, "Hey! It's me! Have you read my chart?"

The way the doctors work where I was, it's seven days on and seven days off. So if your stay overlaps their days off, their "partner" will come in and check on you. I experienced this over the second weekend I was there. One "partner" came in and asked me, "How long have you had hypertension?" I looked at him and said, "Hypertension? I don't have hypertension. Never have had it!" I'm sure the disgust sounded in my voice, because I was thinking, "Did you bother to read my chart before you came in here?"

The next day another "partner" came in and said, "How's your diabetes?" I didn't bother to hide my irritation at that point. I said between clenched teeth, "I don't have diabetes!" He said, "Oh, I'm sorry, that was the patient before you."

So make sure when they're talking to you, they're talking to and about you.

These are just a few of the things I've learned. I hope they may be of use to some of you along the way. Not that I hope any of you ever get into this kind of situation.

A Word From Pat

Is it December yet?

Thank all of you who emailed me with "good wishes" and "get well soon" notes.

I was barely home a week from the hospital when our poodle, Rowdy, got up on a Saturday morning just too sick to keep going. I could tell by the signs that he was not going to make it. Joe took him to the vet, who said he was probably having renal failure. So we had to say "goodbye" to Rowdy.

He would have been 13 years old in January. Joe stayed with him until it was over. I won't even try to say how much I miss him.

I'm sorry that this newsletter is such a downer, but sometimes life has its downs as well as its ups. That's just part of it. The downs make the ups seem so much sweeter. And let me just say I'm ready for 2008 and some sweetness!!

Everyone have a safe and happy December

                                                     Love,

                                                                    Pat

Visit Pat's Place at www.patballard.com | Write me at patballard@bellsouth.net
 

New from Pearlsong Press:
Pat's new Romantic Suspense novel,
The Best Man

Sparks fly the night Lana Clarke meets to plan her sister's wedding―and not just because curvaceous Lana announces she's stopped dieting and doesn't care if she's fat as maid of honor.

The strong-willed sister of the bride attracts the attention of the groom's devastatingly handsome best man, Anthony Angelino. But when the sparks become flames, Lana's in trouble.

Tony's first wife died mysteriously. Will Lana be next?


Read an excerpt online  | More info at the Pearlsong Press website.

Links About The Queen & Her Books

Pat's Place website
The Queen's Blog
About Pat Ballard
Dangerous Curves Ahead
The Best Man
Abigail's Revenge
Wanted: One Groom
Nobody's Perfect
His Brother's Child
A Worthy Heir
Pearlsong Press blog posts about Pat

Weighty Matters

We're constantly bombarded from the media about the "obesity epidemic." It's so bad that those of us who have a little meat on our bones are paranoid about going to doctors because we think the first thing out of their mouths will be "You need to lose weight!" And a lot of times that's the case.

But I have to share my experience regarding this subject with you.

The first doctor I went to with the gallbladder pain was a female. Even though their scales weighed me in at 12 lbs more than my home scales―which I seldom get on―she said nothing about my weight. But later in the conversation she asked what I did, and I told her that I write romance novels with Big Beautiful Heroines and that my first non-fiction book, 10 Steps To Loving Your Body―No Matter What Size It Is, is coming out in 2008. I'm thinking, "'okay, here's your opening if you want it." But she totally surprised me by saying, "Oh! I have to get one of those books for my sister. She constantly battles the body image thing. Good for you for writing a book like that!" So, of course, I gave the good doctor "10 Steps" bookmark ribbons for her sister and her.

During my entire stay at the hospital, dealing with all the varied doctors, not one single word was said to me about losing weight. The only time my weight was mentioned was when one doctor was talking with me about initially taking two pints of blood. He took a Sprite bottle from the stand and said, indicating the entire bottle, "This is how much blood you're supposed to have." Then he indicated the bottom 1/4th of the bottle and said, "This is how much you have. Our blood feeds our brain, heart and muscles. You're a big girl and we don't want to damage your heart." It was said very gently, very kindly, and in no way a put-down.

So I've concluded that not all medical people are caught up in the "obesity epidemic" craze. I know that there are some, but I didn't run into any of them, thank goodness.

Also, I spent my last two days in the hospital passing out pens, bookmark ribbons and talking to people about my books. One of the nurses said to the doctor who did my "internal scope" as he walked into the room, "She's an author!" He said, "I know, I heard about her down in post-op."

I guess this just proves that even with half my blood missing and the loss of one very bad gallbladder, I can still promote my books!
 

Reader Review of the Month

Editor's Note: We're now featuring reader reviews of Pat's books in
The Queen's Proclamation. Post a review at an online bookstore, magazine, or public website and email us at proclamation @ pearlsong.com to let us know, and we'll consider yours for inclusion in The QP

This month's Reader Review of Nobody's Perfect was posted by Linda C. Wisniewski on Amazon.com.

A few years ago, the editor-in-chief of a well-known publishing house gave a speech at our chamber of commerce's annual dinner for women in business. She "confessed" that reading romance novels is her favorite form of stress relief. Her talk was so convincing, I vowed to give them a second look. Okay, maybe a third, fourth or fifth look. Let's face it. Romance novels do not have a good reputation among "serious" readers and writers. They're not "literary," whatever that means. And the covers feature shirtless Fabio look-alikes embracing beautiful women in various stages of undress. Our public library shelves them in a separate section and places hot pink stickers on their spines, lest a hapless browser pick one up by mistake. The stickers also identify them to their legions of female fans, who must know something.

I enjoyed that editor's speech, but I still didn't read romance novels, until I heard about Pat Ballard's books. She calls them "motivational romances" with Big, Beautiful Heroines. Curious, I picked up a copy of Nobody's Perfect and spent several hours intrigued and enthralled.

In the novel, the love interests are Nella Covington and Samuel L. duCannon. Are those perfect names for a romance or what? Nella is a young woman in her mid-twenties who has long since given up trying to be thin. She takes good care of herself, eats healthy foods and exercises. The women in her family were heavy and she is no exception. But Nella goes beyond just accepting herself. In this novel, she uses her size to her advantage.

We see her save a child from drowning by using her strong arms and skillful swimming. She helps a young wife frustrated by constant dieting make herself over with makeup, a new hairdo and clothes, without losing a single pound. When the woman worries she might go back to feeling discouraged about gaining weight, Nella gives her a gentle pep talk. "You see what you can be if you want to, and it's your decision whether you spend your days looking your best, or looking your worst. That's a decision we all have to make each day. You're no different than anyone else."

Of course, romance novels have a predictable formula. That's why so many women love them; it's reassuring to know the good characters will win. After a few adventures and problems, the heroine always gets the good guy, and this book delivers that, too. But first, we have evil in-laws, a family home in jeopardy and a little boy who needs a mother. Nowhere does Nella play the helpless female. She is strong yet vulnerable, powerful yet seductive.

And Pat Ballard sure knows how to write a good sex scene. Be forewarned: this story is definitely rated R, and the heroine's large size adds to her attractiveness. What a switch from the message aimed at women in magazines and television!

Although the ending was pre-ordained (remember, it's a romance novel), I didn't guess how the author would wrap it up. I lost myself in the story and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. In other words, I had fun. If you read Nobody's Perfect, I predict you will, too. I also predict you will be left with some very thought-provoking ideas about what our society's ideal body image does to every woman's self-esteem.

(Previously published at www.storycircle.org)

Communicate with Pat via her "Amazon Connect" blog on Amazon.com!
http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/id/AC8LT66HFJQ1Y/ref=cm_blog_blog/102-0429066-5275365

Pat's romantic suspense novel Abigail's Revenge is featured on the Beautiful Portal website: http://www.beautifulportal.com/news.php?item.900034.8
and has been reviewed by AmaZe eMag:
http://www.venusimaging.com/Magazine/2005/decjanrealistic/jennifer.htm

 An article on Pat has been posted at:
http://eastmanpublishing.com/epextra/articles/eparticle1007.htm.
And an EP Extra review of Abigail's Revenge is posted at
http://eastmanpublishing.com/epextra/articles/eparticle1011.htm 

Look for an interview with Pat on Lonnie Cruse's blog at
http://www.lonniecruse.blogspot.com.

Calendar of Events

New from Pearlsong PressPat's latest Romantic Suspense, The Best Man.

See http://www.pearlsong.com/thebestman.htm to order. Read an excerpt online at http://www.pearlsong.com/thebestmanexcerpt.htm.

Hear―and see―Pat on the air at Radio Free Nashville! Listen to or download the mp3 recording of Pat's Oct. 29, 2007 guest appearance on the Health At Every Size show with Dr. Peggy Elam on WRFN Radio Free Nashville by going to http://www.healthateverysize.info/2007/10/october-29-2007.html.

Pat regularly guests on Radio Free Nashville's Health At Every Size show, which airs every Monday morning. She's usually in the studio on the fourth Monday of every month. The show is streamed live over the Internet 10-11 a.m. CST Mondays .

Listen to the live broadcasts over the Internet at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/. You can also listen to the live broadcasts through your telephone via UPSNAP.COM. It's free for wireless internet enabled phones, but there's a small monthly charge for other phones. See the Health At Every Size show website or the Radio Free Nashville website for details. Davidson County, Tennessee residents can also hear the show live through the Secondary Audio Programming of Comcast cable's Channel 10.

For more on the show, check out the show blog at http://www.healthateverysize.info. You can also listen to or download recordings of some of the shows, including several with Pat, at www.pearlsong.com/audio.htm.

You can still hear the taped radio shows from Size Matters with Veronica, WCRS Radio, on Pat's website.

Show #1 discusses Pat's romance novels
http://www.wcrsradio.org/RadioStage/size/SIZE051.mp3

Show #2 discusses women of size and their sexuality
http://www.wcrsradio.org/RadioStage/size/SIZE052.mp3

And check out the photos from the Nov. 6, 2004 Mississippi Authors Festival that are online at The Queen's Proclamation blog and The Pearlsong Letter blog. (Click on the Mississippi Authors Festival link under the "Photo Albums" heading in the lefthand column of either blog to view the photos.) While you're visiting, post a comment on the blog!
 

Give someone a good read as well as support in loving themselves.
Pat's books make great gifts!

 

Book Contest

Register to win a free copy of the Pat Ballard book of your choice at
Top 100 Women Sites: http://www.top100womensites.com/contest.htm.
 

Newsletter Archives

Read previous issues of The Queen's Proclamation at http://www.pearlsong.com/newsletterarchives.htm.
 

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The Queen's Proclamation is published by Pearlsong Press.
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2007 Pearlsong Press