Chiari Malformation: Coming to Terms with a Neurological Disorder- and keeping my sense of humour!

I gave some serious thinkage as to whether to share this or not, and to paraphrase from the legend, Frida Kahlo, I am not sick… though I may be a little bit broken. In the bigger scheme of life, I see where I am today and count my blessings. Life is short, too short to ponder on what others might think of you – that’s not your business as another popular saying goes – so I’m getting on with things. And more thinkage.

I’m one of the millions who deal with pain, often chronic, on a daily basis – always have. Back and spine issues have been the bane of my life, but also migraines, neuroglia and a host of other maladies that would make me sound like a hypochondriac if I were to list them here! I’ve also battled serious anxiety and depression, some of it, though not all of it, I can certainly link to carrying pain, physical and emotional. I am not divulging this information for sympathy. Like I said, I am one of the millions, but if I am to write about this health issue, it has to be done with an all or nuthin’ honesty!

A couple of months ago, I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease in two areas of my spine, which although is a pretty grim result, actually helped me to come to terms with a lot of the symptoms that have been getting progressively worse. I can handle DDD – I just need to mind my back and take appropriate care to try and slow down the degeneration.

However, other ‘symptoms’ prompted my neurosurgeon to investigate further, and that’s when the real bombshell hit. Something else had shown up, a rare (though the jury is still out on the rare bit, from what I can gather) neurological disorder called Chiari Malformation.

And yes, I was as dumbfounded as you might imagine – WTF??? being the questioning phrase of choice!

So, with this, let’s face it, pretty shitty diagnosis on top of the DDD, and the further examination and treatment plan that lies ahead for me, I decided to try and find out more about this unknown thing that I could quite possibly have had since birth. It can be congenital, with serious complications for infants and young children.

There is a lot still to be discovered about CM, it appears, and information is constantly being updated.

If we are honest, we can all admit to trying Doctor Google for what ails us, but I am steering clear of anything that is not verified and documented by experts. And, I have decided to write about it in the hope that this process might help me to drill down into a disorder I must learn all I can about, but also to share my experience so that anyone else who is presently, or might be diagnosed with this in the future, can at least have a place to check in with a fellow soldier!

So here are the deets! (A brief amalgamation of information I researched from medical websites – without the gruesome graphics!)

Chiari Malformation is a condition named after Hans Chiari, an Austrian pathologist who first described it in the late 19th century. It is a disorder in which the cerebellum is smaller than normal (YES, I do have a rather small head, thank you very much for noticing!) causing the cerebellar tonsils to migrate into the spinal canal. (Mine have travelled 10mm). If the cerebellar tonsils obstruct the opening of the skull that connects the brain to the spinal cord, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid can be blocked, pushing the cerebellar tonsils down even farther and exerting pressure on the lower stem of the brain.

Yes, it all sounds yuck and quite serious, which it is, though I’ve been told that if properly diagnosed and monitored, with accompanying pain relief of the constant and serious type, it can be manageable. An invisible disorder, (because ya don’t look sick!) the condition can cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness and balance problems. It can also produce hoarseness, sleep apnoea, weakness or numbness in legs or arms, neck pain, pain across shoulder blades, general body pain, ringing in the ear, trouble walking, blurred vision, mood changes, anxiety, and problems with memory or concentration.

Apart from the sleep apnoea, I have been dealing with all of the above in varying degrees for more years than I can count. Insomnia is also another problem for me, and I can only assume that this too is linked to CM.

Searches on pain management and associated issues of fatigue brought up a couple of helpful links. This LINK for more detailed information and also, this useful LINK from writer and broadcaster, Andrea Hayes, who has also been diagnosed with CM. These are not definitive portals of information by any means, but they may help in gaining a basic understanding of the condition, and in Andrea’s case, her personal account as detailed in her book, Pain Free Life, my journey to wellness. 

So for now, I’m dealing as best I can with it all, staying positive, though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry about what might be waiting for me down the years. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted! And I’ll keep doing what I do, writing out the thinkage! And if anyone reading this has CM, hugs to ya!

Talking Publishing at CelticCon | JuneFest2019

What better way to spend a bank holiday Monday than chatting alongside a panel of talented fellow writers at the CelticCon2019 | JuneFest2019 event, happening in Newbridge Town Hall, County Kildare, this coming Monday, June 3rd from 11:00am – 6:00pm.

There are lots of interesting guests and events throughout the day, and our panel will discuss ‘Our Publishing Journey’ from noon until 1:00pm, but we authors will be there until 6:00pm, so if you have any publishing, writing or filmmaking related questions that you’d like to ask, come and chat to me – I’ll be hanging around the MAGENTA section – Table 5 – see the plan below. 🙂 ↓ 🙂

And I’ll have copies of my novel LADY BETH for sale at a specially reduced price for the CelticCon. Make sure to say hello!

Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Da Vinci Eye Award Nomination for Lady Beth

I am delighted to announce that as part of The Eric Hoffer Book Awards, LADY BETH has been nominated for the da Vinci Eye Award for Exceptional Cover Art. This is an additional distinction beneath the Eric Hoffer Award umbrella and is judged on both content and style.

The cover was designed by Mike Murray of 13th Door Creative


Image on cover by Anita Kulon Photography, featuring Sinead O’Riordan

LADY BETH REVIEWS on GOODREADS

The Eric Hoffer Awards honour books from small, academic, micro presses, and self-published books and is a champion for the independent voice. Winners of the Hoffer receive prizes, honours, and worldwide media exposure, as well as being covered in the US Review of Books.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Caroline E Farrell is a writer, filmmaker and blogger. Author of the novel, LADY BETH, Caroline has written and directed the short film FRAMED (2018). She has also written and co-produced the short films IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013).

Read an eBook Week!

Read an Ebook Week Sale has Begun!

Now through Sunday, March 9, at Smashwords, you’ll find exclusive deep-discounted deals on over 45,000 ebooks, with hundreds of new titles joining the sale each day. My books are there too, see link below!

 

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CarolineFarrell

 

Write. It. Out.

It won’t last. That dull thud in your chest. The lump in your throat that keeps you silent. The sweaty palm thing won’t ever go away, but that’s okay. It’ll happen less and less. There’s a name for it, and you will call it. You remember everything. You are not weird. You are not a reject. You are not bad. You don’t know what you are. It takes time to understand, to channel it into something you can grasp. Something that is yours. But let me tell you, those floodgates will open wide, gushing wisdom and empathy into your blue, blue heart. And you will. Write. It. Out.

Battle with the TBR Tower: October Reads

I’m a bit late with posting this as I’ve hit the ground running for November, but I’m still here, continuing my reading challenge, and in October I chose to read spooky novels, and ended up sneaking in a couple of titles that were not on the original list. See HERE

I only managed to read 3 and not 5 novels, as I had hoped, but no apologies, and no excuses – time has a mind of its own! Also, as you know if you have been following me, I’m not in the business of slating other writer’s work, and I only post about books I have enjoyed. Luckily, all three from October’s pile have gotten the thumbs up!

 

Unluccky

The Nightmare: F.B. Hogan

This collection of 7 short stories contains themes of horror and tales of the unexpected. A great little book to dip in and out of on a cold, dark night be the fire, or tucked up beneath the duvet! The ghostly in the everyday is acutely observed, my top 3 favourites being, Ventry, the hauntingly sad, yet retributive Always, and the wicked I’ve Got My Eye on You. These stories will keep you suitably chilled!

_____________________________

 

The Lingering: SJI Holliday

A couple with a disturbing secret enter a spiritual commune, their aim, to make a fresh start, and to get away from their dark past. The commune just happens to be located in a rambling, haunted manor house, which also used to be an asylum. All the ingredients for a fairly spooky read, The Lingering is a disquieting blend of suspense and horror.

____________________________

 

39856154

You Let me In: Lucy Clarke

Chilling and compulsive reading, I didn’t want to put this down until I had read the very last page. Lots of twists and turns, but so expertly structured that I followed along seamlessly, and woah – I’ll bet that there will be authors out there who identify so much with the character of bestselling writer, Elle Fielding and her social media persona! This was my first Lucy Clarke book to read, but it won’t be the last.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Caroline E Farrell is a writer, blogger and filmmaker. She is the author of the award-winning novel, LADY BETH. Her short film, FRAMED (2018) is currently screening at festivals worldwide, and she is also the writer of the multi-award winning short film IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). Caroline was a finalist in the 2018 Blog Awards Ireland.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Wonderful Things!

Three wonderful things happened this week.

The First Thing! This blog was a finalist in the Irish Blog Awards in two categories: Books & Literature and Arts & Culture, so naturally, I was pretty chuffed to attend the awards night in the TRAMLINE Venue, Dublin. The theme of the night was Dia de los Muertos, hence a great excuse to dress up, and the place was only heaving with positivity and good will, and although I didn’t win, I am delighted for all those who did, particularly those in my categories. I keep this blog going because it gives me pleasure to do so, and I get to share, through The Librarian’s Cellar, my favourite books, films, guest interviews and occasional theatre reviews. Through the general side of the Blog, SHE BLOGS, I can write to my heart’s content all things that relate to my personal passion: writing and filmmaking.  So thank you, Irish Blog Awards – the recognition is much appreciated!

The Second Thing! FRAMED, my directorial debut, is in the official selection of The Directors Circle Festival of Shorts in the horror film category. Supporting bold, visionary filmmakers while advancing the art form of film with remarkable cinematic technologies and experiences. the festival takes place in Erie, Pennsylvania, and is the eleventh film festival that FRAMED has been selected to screen at – so far!! I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of such a generous and talented cast and crew, so here I go, thanking them profusely, once again!

The Third Thing! LADY BETH, and a lovely reminder that it is one year since my book won BEST NOVEL at the Carousel Aware Prize Awards. It’s been a fantastic year (moving way to fast though!) and for this too, I am so grateful to everyone who encouraged me to push it out there, read it, praised it, critiqued it, and helped to spread the word. For all these reasons, I would like to pay it forward and have 10 signed copies of Lady Beth to give away. Simply let me know if you would like one.

I am a firm believer in magic, whether it pays you the occasional visit or you make your own, keep creating. It might even return threefold!