Montana Women Writers hosted a reading event and book sale at our local community center over the weekend. Betty Kuffel, MD, kicked off the afternoon with an informative talk about heart disease and how the symptoms and disease itself differ in men and women. Women have died from heart attacks because they ‘present’ differently from a typical male patient. I’m so grateful that this new information is available and that the scientific community is beginning to change their research protocols to address our differences. Why were health and drug studies traditionally conducted only on men? My favorite reason was that women’s ‘pesky’ hormones might confound study results. Makes sense to me. I have, on occasion, been at the mercy of my pesky hormones.
The topic of differences makes me contemplate how our bodies produce chemicals that can render the individual quirky, unpredictable, dare I say… interesting. Sure, our environments shape much of who we are, but our bodies make chemicals that deeply impact how we’re predisposed to experience the world.
Pesky and complicated, all of it.
I’m polishing my second novel, Serita’s Shelf Life, which is about a vibrant woman with mental illness who feels emotionally blunted by her medications. She unwisely stops taking her meds, and after a brief period of joy, careens into her illness. She finds love and a lost family, but she must choose between emotionally numbed stability (meds) and the excitement of intense, uncontrollable feelings.
Which would you choose if you were at the mercy of those pesky chemicals?
I look forward to reading your novel, Ann. What you wrote here made me remember reading Lying Awake by Mark Salzman. In it, a nun is having incredible visions which enable her to write incredible poetry. It turns out these are caused by a benign brain tumor. She has to decide whether to have the tumor removed (Her Mother Superior gently tells her she is disturbing the other nuns.) or continue the visions. Fascinating questions. Do we have the right to be sick if it makes us feel good?
Oooops. Karen Wills wrote the comment above.