Book Description: When she was suddenly assaulted by myriad baffling symptoms of joint pain and extreme fatigue, the author embarked on an intensive search for diagnosis and treatment of what would be diagnosed as systemic lupus erythematosus, a little-known autoimmune disease that promised to destroy her body, her mind and her spirit. From the pages of her intimate daily journal, we travel with her through chronic joint pain, frustration, anger and grief for her former self to her current state of remission. Far from being a litany of complaints, the author’s pages reveal her unexpected spiritual growth and gratitude for life itself, and she hopes she can be of help to others who suffer from this disease or other chronic illnesses.
Thanks for answering some questions about your writing.
I've always written, since I was in kindergarten and had a pencil in my hand. I figured out right away that the letters on the blackboard made words, and words made sentences, and sentences made stories. I was off and running!
2) Why did decide you wanted to be a writer?
I think the answer is "revenge." I was in a very troubled marriage, too afraid to escape it, so I turned my energies to writing for publication. My husband, in the divorce decree, wanted to include a clause that stipulated any income I derived from my writing while I was married to him would entitle him to half the proceeds. I squashed that right away, and when 'Sabbath's Room" came out, I felt such a thrill. It was also kind of "See, I told I could do it!"
3) What was the first job you had with writing?
Actually, I began with a local newspaper, writing a couple of columns. Then I turned my attention to Sabbath's Room. I had been editing some work for a friend who had his book published, and I thought, hey, if he can do it, so can I.
4) In your life who has influenced you the most?
I pull on my parents, who recognized my drive early on, and encouraged me.
Three, so far. Or four, really, if you can count the one that's hanging out there in limbo.
The first book and my first novel is Sabbath's Room, Publish America, 2001. It's a paranormal murder mystery:
When New York writer Joanna Elliott flees her abusive husband to the Texas Hill Country, she and her six-year old son Jason unwittingly become a killer’s prey.
Despite Realtor Tommy Joe Greenleaf’s warning that Wanda and Ralph Spencer had mysteriously disappeared from the remote farmhouse ten years earlier, Joanna moves in, and makes the sun room into her office.
Joanna adopts a cat from the local veterinarian, Sam Kelly, who tells her that Sabbath “had belonged to a witch.” Immediately, unexplained events unfold: Joanna is locked overnight inside the storage shed, footprints appear under the sun room windows, and Jason’s dog, Mournful is found poisoned.
Sheriff Judson Pollard investigates. He is puzzled by Wilma Foulkes’indifference to her sister’s fate, the activities of an itinerant evangelist, Brother Adam, and Joanna’s former husband has arrived in town.
My second publication is Once a Brat, Publish America, 2002:
As one of the first dependents to be sent overseas at the end of WWII, eight-year old Marilyn Celeste Morris received her very own orders from The War Department. From Seoul, Korea to Linz, Austria, she traversed the globe from 1938 to 1958 with her Army Officer father, mother and younger brothers. Between assignments in the primitive world of the Far East, to the sublime luxury of exploring castles in Bavaria, the family shuttled between the various Stateside Forts: Bragg, Bliss, Hood and Sill. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes gut-wrenchingly sad, her narrative is part travelogue, part therapy session. She still cries at “Taps” and stands tall when the colors pass; yet she realizes she carries an odd mixture of pride and resentment over her nomadic way of life.
Her conclusion, however, is that she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Once a Brat, Always a Brat.
My third publication is Diagnosis: Lupus: The Intimate Journal of a Lupus Patient, PublishAmerica 2005.An intimate journey of a lupus patient taken from personal journals as she embarks on a three-year, five doctor search for a diagnosis of her baffling symptoms.
Their experiences in a far-flung military compound strengthen three of the women, but a fourth chooses to end her life, and during a reunion twenty-five years later, long-held dark secrets and sorrows are revealed.
The site has since closed down and this novel will probably be tied up in bankruptcy proceedings for quite some time.
I'll take my lupus book as an example for that. I can deal with making up stories and characters who encounter various difficulties, but with my lupus book, I laid my feelings bare. I exposed all my little secrets, like having a melt-down in my parish priest's office because I couldn't afford my prescription meds that month; raging at God for allowing this to happen and admitting that I had difficulty accepting help from others and from various government agencies such as the country health system. But I also recognized that I learned much about myself and was willing to share it with others so they won't feel alone.
I found my work just flowed, explaining why I wrote the book, what I had learned and how this book might help others, thus setting the stage for the actual journal entries.
What sets the book apart from the other things you've written?
It's factual, and I expose my shortcomings.
Marilyn Celeste Morris may be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a speaking engagement or arrange for editing services.
Her book is available at http://www.amazon.com/
Someone You Know Has Lupus
4:35 PM PDT, May 15, 2007
Half of the Proceeds from the Sale of This Book Will be Donated to The Lupus Foundation of America for Research to Find a Cure for This Disease.
The Story Behind Diagnosis: Lupus: The Intimate Journal of a Lupus Patient
Like many lupus patients, I had suffered for years before finding a diagnosis and treatment for this baffling disease. As part of my ongoing personal therapy, I had kept a daily journal, venting my frustrations, pain, hope and despair as this disease progressed and no progress was on the horizon. I wrote of losing jobs, applying for food stamps standing in line at the Unemployment Commission, filling out volumes of paperwork for various agencies, and seeing a “shrink” at one of the Alphabet Soup social services agencies, all the time in physical pain that responded to no treatment.
First, Some Facts…..
Some symptoms of lupus:
Do you have/ever had/been told you have:
Achy, painful and/or swollen joints for more than three months;
Fingers and/or toes becoming pale, numb or uncomfortable in the cold;
Sores in the mouth for more than two weeks;
Been told you have a low blood count, anemia, low white cell count or a low platelet count;
Ever had a prominent redness or color change in the shape of a butterfly across the bridge of your nose and cheeks;
An unexplained fever over 100 degrees for more than a few days;
A sensitivity to the sun where the skin breaks out after being in the sun (not a sunburn);
Had chest pain with breathing for more than a few days (pleurisy);
Been told you had protein in your urine;
Experienced persistent, extreme fatigue and weakness for days or weeks at a time even after 6-8 hours of restful nighttime sleep.
If you have 3 or more symptoms, you should see your doctor.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, Lupus is more common than Leukemia, Hodgkin’s Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Cystic Fibrosis and Multiple Sclerosis. And yet, the average person rarely knows about lupus and is generally misinformed, vaguely believing it to be “kind of like arthritis, isn’t it?” While my symptoms first presented themselves as “kind of like arthritis,” and I was thus diagnosed and treated for two years for RA, other symptoms soon presented themselves, until, after three emotionally charged and pain-filled years from the onset of symptoms, laboratory tests confirmed the presence of SLE, or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
There are two distinct types of lupus. One is discoid lupus, where the skin shows large “splotches” or red rashes in clusters, mostly on the face, across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, creating a “wolf-like” mask. One can have discoid lupus and systemic lupus at the same time; generally, those who suffer with the discoid form of lupus do not develop the systemic form.
The second is systemic lupus; that is, it is throughout the body. It has been classified as “an autoimmune disease.”
Lupus has nothing to do with AIDS, I must point out. I like the ‘short’, understandable description of what lupus is: Think of the body as a fort, like in the Wild West Days. Every now and then, Indians would attack the fort, and the soldiers inside the fort (white blood cells) would repel the Indians (the infection). Then the fort (body) would settle down and go back to its usual routine, until the next Indian attack
Only with lupus, THERE ARE NO INDIANS. The soldiers inside the fort are ever ready for an attack, but the Indians don’t arrive, so the soldiers (stressed) turn on each other, fighting among themselves, eventually destroying the fort itself: lungs, kidneys, central nervous system, etc.
As of this printing, there is no cure, but it is treatable.
For more information or to make a donation, go to http://www.lupus.org/
Marilyn Celeste Morris
Yet I also found in these pages, as I looked back on them from my current stage of remission, a spark of hope, a determination to survive and even thrive, and a realization that God had not forsaken me. I joined a local Lupus Support Group, sponsored by the Lupus Foundation of America, and discovered many members had felt the same as I had; yet they had also felt so alone in this disease’s symptoms. That was when I decided to take the best – and worst – of my journal entries and put them into a book format, which was released in 2005.
This book has been designated in the Lupus Now magazine, Spring 2007 edition as earning the LFA Education Committee Seal of Approval.