Jul 31 2012

MEET SIMON HAY

Published by under Interviews



This week, my guest is Simon Hay, soul healer, psychic, and medium. In an extraordinarily candid interview, Simon shares a great deal about his work, his background, his joys, his sorrows, and his thoughts on subjects that most of us don’t discuss publicly. Sit back, cool peeps, and get to know this very interesting man.

Greetings, Simon. It is my extraordinary pleasure to have you as a guest today. You have offered to share some of the most personal details of your life with us. Few people are willing to share such intimacies. Why do you think you’re so different?

Many of us maintain safe online personas; we temper our personalities to match our careers, or our audience. I prefer to be transparent. With my work I investigate and intuit my client’s most personal thoughts and memories. I see images from the past and experience emotions that they’ve not shared with anyone else. Energy healing, for many, is an intimate experience. I believe, for people to trust me, it’s respectful to let my guard down.

I’m also a private person, which may seem like a contradiction, I respect everyone’s right to privacy, but I don’t want to be so professionally polished that I’m not real. I protect my family, friends and clients, but I believe that the experiences I’ve had in my past have shaped me to be a healer now.

You are a full-time healer and medium. Tell us how you came upon this profession.

In 2000, after the death of my partner’s father, my uncle and two mediums visited my home. During that visit four glowing human-shaped beings appeared in my lounge room. I felt peaceful and curious, so I attended the spiritual church run by the mediums.

Each service spiritual churches have guest mediums that speak about working with spirit and do readings for members of the congregation. The first four weekends I attended, the guest medium told me the same thing: “You should be up here doing readings.”

Their messages encouraged me to attend a meditation evening for psychic development and to connect with spirit. The first time that I meditated I lost control of my body: my eyes were closed and I couldn’t open them, a weight, like the feeling of a wet blanket, held me in place, I couldn’t move my limbs, I felt nauseous, and it felt like something liquid-like was forcing it’s way down my throat.

I popped out of my body and, standing and confused, I looked back at my seated body. Out of my body I was drawn to a light illuminating a tree. I walked towards the light and met my spirit guide, Gegu, a Buddhist monk and my twin brother in a past life. In an instant I knew who Gegu was, and the landscape he was standing in felt and looked real.

After this incident I meditated nightly and communicated with Gegu. He introduced me to healers from all cultures and periods of time, angels, indigenous elders, biblical figures, and then Jesus and his family arrived.

At this time, spirit and angels were physically materialising around me. Today, I see and communicate with angels, guides, Jesus and his family clearer and more directly than with spirit.

At the time I was a plumber, and, after watching a healing in the spiritual church, I volunteered to place my hands on someone. Heat flowed from my hands and the man I was touching fell asleep in his chair. I continued to heal, and lay drains, and often miraculous healings occurred. I don’t like using the word miraculous, but it seemed that way.

In 2005, due to a chronic illness, I retired from plumbing. Conventional medicine didn’t help me, so, with spirit’s guidance, I healed myself. When I recovered I became a full time healer & medium.

I know that ghosts hang around for many reasons. Can you tell us what some of those reasons are? I’d love to hear about some of the most interesting ghosts you’ve met? (As if they’re not ALL interesting! ☺)

The haunted house ;) variety of ghosts are usually attached to a physical memory: a location, a vehicle, an item of furniture, an event. In some instances a period of time replays over and over and causes a poltergeist type experience.

Violent and sudden deaths – impact, gunshot, explosion – can also cause a spirit to hang around. Surprised and in shock, they simply miss the opportunity to go into the light.

Some spirits don’t move on because of stubbornness or unfinished business. I advise everyone to sort out or let go off any uncomfortable emotion between family and friends.

Spirits need to return to the light, whatever the light is (?). I can tell you it’s peaceful and spirits there are relaxed and happy. Also, all spirits are welcomed into the light, regardless of the nature of their deaths and lives.

A common visitor to my home is Mitch from Oregon. Mitch is a US Ranger and he brings spirits, who died in combat, to me to heal and pass into the light. He misses and visits his wife and daughter, but he can’t go home until he’s saved everyone. He brings combatants from both sides and civilians, and he breaks my heart with images of the daughter he never met.

Although he mostly observes, I enjoy visits from Pope John Paul. I wasn’t raised with religious beliefs, and the Jesus I talk to in spirit is the man, not the Christ, so I was surprised when John Paul visited. He’s curious about the real Jesus and is a warm intelligent energy to have breakfast with.

As a reporter and an ever-curious human being, I love opening my mind to possibilities. Do you run into a lot of skeptics? Or as the word is spelled in British English: sceptics. What would you like to say to them?

“Hi.” :) I like sceptics, and I get good results when I heal them, and this is the reason why: they’re honest, “I’m a sceptic, and I think what you do is bullshit!” and they turn up.

I don’t know why I have experiences with spirit, or how or why I’m able to heal, but I do have lots of interesting stories to share.

You didn’t have ordinary parents. Can you tell us about them?

My father was a carpenter and then a school teacher, my mother was a housekeeper and then an alcoholic. She also spoke to ghosts. My father has told me that the first time he met her she was levitating a coffee table. She also did séances with friends and I joined in during my teens. She was a gifted trance medium and the scribe during the séance. Her posture and style of writing changed, mimicking the communicating spirit.

My parents separated when I was thirteen, it was inevitable. The wealth my father had accumulated was eroded when he was unable, due to an injury and botched surgery, to continue being a carpenter. My parents argued, and slept with other people, and it’s that memory that shaped my future, the confronting and open sex, not the arguments.

The sins of my parents haunted me and, in hindsight, my relationships were doomed to failure. I found peace, healed, and broke the relationship patterns of generations of family.



You’ve told me that the mother of two of your daughters abused them and so protecting kids is especially important to you. Can you tell us more about this?

This was a difficult period in my life. The girl’s mother was manipulative and predatory and the legal and social systems in place to protect children in Australia are inadequate, underfunded, poorly managed, and fail.

As a father and man I wondered how I didn’t know. I felt guilty and angry for many years. Fathers are supposed to protect their children. For five years child protection services and the court system forced me to return my daughters to a pedophile.

We spent 200+k on legal fees over a five-year period to save my girls. It almost bankrupted me and contributed to my illness. No one was held accountable, the mother wasn’t charged, and even though the girls came to live with me and had no further contact with their mother, no one was unscathed.

Pedophiles are protected in Australia and their victims have limited support. There is no justice in our courts, police and child services are powerless. This activates a vibration in consciousness, “it’s okay to harm children.” Something’s wrong with that.

Governments spend trillions on war, and pennies on social issues. I agree with Michael Jackson, “children are our future.”

You’ve shared with me that you were married once and in defacto relationships with three other women, and that you have a 26-year-old daughter and two teen daughters who don’t speak to you. I’m sorry to hear that. Do you feel that emotional healing is a lot more difficult than physical healing? Are you optimistic about reconnecting with your daughters?

Emotional healing is difficult because the circumstances and the thoughts associated with the trauma – depression, anxiety, fear – replay over and over in our subconscious minds. Our energy fields vibrate at, we’re broken, and it’s this signal that attracts similar situations to us.

My parents separated, all my uncles and aunties separated, so an active vibration in my family is separation. Often, our environment creates our future (read Bruce Lipton’s Biology of Belief). My stepmother’s nephew died drunk in a single vehicle car accident one metre from where his dad died drunk in a single vehicle car accident. The nephew is vibrating at, I will die drunk in a vehicle accident, and in this case is magnetised to the location.

Healing is the bravest journey we can embark on. Essentially, we have to understand ourselves intimately – I call this process seeing the lies. Belief, “I’m happy.” Vibration and subconscious programming, “I hate myself.” – and then reinvent ourselves. It’s like being reborn while we’re still living. Mastering our mind is a beneficial practise for living a joyful and healthy life.

I’m hopeful that I can reconnect with my daughters, but I believe I’ll never have a relationship with my eldest. We tried, but some things need to be left alone. My teen daughters are hurt that I separated with their stepmother, the only mother they care to have in their lives. I have to take responsibility for that, love them from a distant and allow them to heal.

Interestingly, I have two daughters born on the same date to different mothers. Both have been abused and both now don’t communicate to me. I see and heal these patterns with clients, and I hope I can prevent this from reoccurring in future generations.

You have raised stepchildren. What have you found most challenging and difficult about doing so?

Not imposing my will and lifestyle into the home. Change has to happen without disruption. The souls of all children love their father’s and whether father’s are violent or kind, children will feel abandoned and miss them when they leave.

I believe, stepparents, driven by insecurity, often try too hard to be accepted. Love and respect grows over time. Patience ;). As an adult it’s confronting to realise that, like children, we long to be loved. Love is a feeling and state of being we all seek.

I know it is painful for you to be a weekend/single dad. Please, tell us more about your feelings on this. What would you suggest to other men in the same situation?

Keep busy! I’ve spoken to a lot of single dads and most want to spend time with their children. It’s a difficult subject to address because many of us are wounded by divorce and stay in the energy of blame or victim. Relax, and stay out of the fight.

It’s not worth spending time with your children if you’re arguing with your ex. All that tension affects the children. For me, it was the lack of control over my life and time with my children that frustrated me. Children should never have to suffer physical or emotional harm. Fathers, make peace with yourself first, then the past, and then enjoy every minute with your children.

You have views on sexuality that might shock a lot of people. I’ll let you take it from here.

We focus too much on sexuality rather than love. Gender and sexuality have become interconnected and, I believe, the phobias around sexuality have been created by belief systems.

I have a lot of gay clients, and I’d like to drop the gay label. How about, beautiful people come to see me. With the first woman that I saw, as my hand floated across her hips I felt – my hand was 2cm above her – male genitals. I was surprised and moved my hand backwards and forwards: male genitals, female genitals … I concurred that this was spirit’s way of telling me she was gay, which was perception, and I realised I was stereotyping my client, “You’re gay.”

In actual fact her energy field was perfectly balanced, equal parts male and female energy. My partner has a masculine feel in her energy field, but she’s happy being hetrosexual. Does that mean I’m attracted to male energy? I’m comfortable if that’s the case, and at ease with the idea of sleeping with a man. I haven’t, and he’d be the one in a million man, or Jason Bourne, but that admission shouldn’t be judged and it shouldn’t sway me to act on that knowledge. I choose not to because I have a partner, family and a best friend who love me. I know myself, and love is love.

What’s out of balance is society’s perception and judgement. The weight of guilt and fear in my gay client’s energy fields concerns me, and it’s something we’re all responsible for. How’d we get so hung up on sexual preference, practices and regularity? There’s an association with relationships and marriage, and the whirlpool of emotions that stirs up, but, looking at the track record of longevity and happiness in relationships, something’s wrong there.

Sexuality is an environment influenced and lifestyle choice, which is a human consciousness created state of living and not a state of being. Something to ponder :).

I’m forever being called picky but I maintain we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?

The shoe rack! It drives me crazy when shoes are left on the floor in front of the rack. Actually, I have a list! How much time do we have?

I’m self-critical, I want to be the best at everything I do, but with healing and my work with spirit, there are few certainties, and it’s probable that they’re only experiences and not fact. I have to surrender control of my mind and body to forces that I know almost nothing about, which is liberating and terrifying.

Also, young dudes, pull your damn pants up!

I know that you do healing and mediumship events. How can people learn more about all that you do and contact you for an event? Do you do events all over the world?

Visit my website and blog :). I’ve been to the US and Canada, and I travel interstate here in Australia. If I had a host I’d travel anywhere. Contact me if you’re interested.

Where else can people find you in cyberspace?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter. Connect and say hi :).

Any parting words for the masses?

I love you :).

Molly, thanks for having me ;). Nice shoes! Have you changed your hair?

17 responses so far

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Jun 26 2012

MEET SAMMY SUTTON

Published by under Interviews

This week, I’m delighted to introduce author Sammy Sutton, one of the nicest people I’ve had the good fortune to meet in cyberspace.

Welcome, Sammy. Please, tell the cool peeps about yourself.

Thank you Molly, it is truly an honor to be interviewed by someone as distinguished as yourself.

Currently, I am writing and editing several works of fiction. I recently released a revised version of King Solomon’s Journey and the sequel Hidden Mountain as part of The Dominguez Adventures. I am also happy to say I am in the process of healing after undergoing surgery in February to remove six benign tumors in various locations inside the left region of my head.

Most authors choose a subject and characters for a reason; what was the driving force behind your need to write King Solomon’s Journey?

About a year after I was diagnosed, I realized that I might not find a surgeon experienced with the particular skills I needed. This reality prompted me to think about my three sons. I’m a talker, so my sons already had heard what I had to say to them as children and young men, but I needed a platform to help them see the lessons I had learned or tried to learn as an adult. So I imagined what I might like for them to know as mature men, maybe around age 40. I decided a story with awesome complex characters would best get the point across.

After deeply personal struggles with health matters, family illnesses, and loss, did it change the way you write now (from a place of health and inner peace)?

When I wrote King Solomon’s Journey I was surrounded by the fragile idea of mortality, my Dad was dying from ALS, and my son from convulsive seizures. I had a tumor that at the time was inoperable. I wrote from a place within my soul as if it would be my last. My son’s seizures were stabilized in November of 2011, and unfortunately my Dad lost his battle with ALS in December of 2011. In February of 2012 an amazing team of doctors removed six tumors from inside my head. I awoke from surgery alive and well without any of the possible surgical traumas. Each day since, I feel a burning inside my solar plexus, I’m alive and well and can now approach life with the reasonable belief that I have a whole lot more life to live, and many more stories to write.

Can you briefly describe what King Solomon’s Journey is all about?

King Solomon’s Journey is a chronicle based on the parallels of science in relationships, humanity, nature, and the cosmos designed to tell a wonderful story, but to also provoke thought.

Have you researched the biblical King Solomon and the possibility that this journey of the Hebrew fleet to the Rio Grande could have actually taken place?

There is a multitude of plausible evidence that suggests King Solomon possessed the fleets the treaties and the path to sail the Atlantic Ocean and ultimately into North America. King Solomon’s Journey reveals much of this evidence.

What actual artifacts that have been discovered led you to the ability to fabricate a fictionalized journey based on realistic findings?

Paleo-Hebrew carvings consistent with those found in the Middle East appear in several locations along the Rio Grande and elsewhere in the United States. The Decalogue Stone at Hidden Mountain does actually exist along with several other carvings mentioned in the book. The inscriptions on the Decalogue Stone have been dated and ultimately were verified in a court of law during the 1980’s. The markings of a campsite identical to those dating back to King Solomon’s time are also ingrained within the landscape.

You bring several elements to King Solomon’s Journey that are not generally connected. Why do you think the ideals of spirituality, mysticism, Paleo-Hebrew pictography and Native American lore work so well together in your novel?

On the surface these people and their cultures seem very different, but the deeper I dig, the more I find hard evidence of our interconnectedness. Advances in science and the availability of research materials have revealed amazing results to me and left me with factual results far beyond my own imagination.

You seem to have an insight into the male psyche. (And what a great insight to have!) I’m curious. Does your home life or work experience provide the basis for the subtleties of male thinking and behavior?

I have spent my entire life around men both personally and professionally. I grew up with brothers and have three sons this has left me in constant contact with the male psyche. In the second book, Hidden Mountain, I wrote from Antonio’s first person perspective, I enjoyed this immensely and am very pleased with the results.

Did you find it important to tie together the physical fictional journey of Antonio and Amanda with their journey as individuals along a path of rational thinking that aligns with mystical and spiritual seeking?

Absolutely, they must conquer their own demons in order to see the greater problems that plague humanity. The differences they bring, and learn to accept, makes them stronger as individuals as well as partners. It becomes a marriage of science and spirituality.

Family dynamics appear to be a large part of the book’s central theme. Do you see this fictional family with realistic problems that can be worked out or adjusted as important for the characters to succeed on their journey?

I think families are like battery-operated electronics; they work best when all the cells are operating, and it is important to strive to achieve the proper function. I believe those between parent and child are vitally important. It is not always possible. Antonio’s relationship with his father is the most commented on in the book.

Do you think that in reality, we as humans need to adapt and come closer to the ideals of Antonio, Amanda, and other deeply mystic characters in the book?

I think it is a vital component to achieving better relationships both intimate and social. I think everyone should have at least one relationship in his/her life that is chemical, whether it is intimate, professional or friendship everyone needs to feel connected to another on a molecular level. I believe these same characters provide important ideas about our relationship to Earth and man’s ability to adapt to change he cannot control.

What are you doing right now, while you plan the next adventure for Antonio and Amanda?

Writing, biking and from within the spin of a hula hoop, I’m breaking in my hiking boots so in July, I can climb Hidden Mountain with a gold club!

I’m forever being called picky, but I maintain that we are all picky creatures. What are you picky about?

I’m picky about a lot of things, both professionally and personally.

Where can people find you in cyberspace?

Twitter

Facebook

Blog

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Amazon Author Page UK

Hidden Mountain (Amazon)

King Solomon’s Journey (Amazon)

Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs?

I would like to encourage your readers to read the current installments of The Dominguez Adventures so they will be well involved as the next two adventures are made available, Reliquary of Dimensions and the fourth, well they will just have to wait as we must withhold the title for now, but both are sure to surprise and please.

Molly, many thanks for this opportunity it has been a lot of fun.

7 responses so far

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Jun 19 2012

MEET STUART ROSS McCALLUM

Published by under Interviews

This week, my special guest is Stuart Ross McCallum, author of Beyond My Control: One Man’s Struggle with Epilepsy, Seizure Surgery & Beyond, an honest, easy-to-read, and compelling account of his struggle with temporal lobe epilepsy.



Thanks for being my guest today! Please, tell the cool peeps about yourself.

Thank you for inviting me today, Molly. It is a delight to be here on my favourite character blog. I am married to the most awesome girl in the universe (Lisa; my wife will be reading this) with two wonderful kids and a couple of fine furry pooches. (Just kidding about Lisa, she is truly the love of my life!) ☺

Your memoir, BEYOND MY CONTROL: One Man’s Struggle with Epilepsy, Seizure Surgery & Beyond is a very personal story and couldn’t have been easy to tell. What made you decide to make your story public and write a book?

It is an extremely personal story and (truth be known) during the final editing stages, there were divisions within the book that I considered removing, as many passages, which were described in detail are deeply shameful, embarrassing, and frightening experiences. However, by relaying the story exactly the way things happened is what makes Beyond my Control a very real account of living with epilepsy. There are several reasons why I believed my story should be told. I hoped by sharing my experiences written in a manner, which is not geared exclusively towards the medical community would create greater awareness. The many books I have read about epilepsy are heavy and overly clinical, and I believed there was a need for a human story that people with and without epilepsy could relate to. After all, as people we all share experiences, which are beyond our control.

Did you have thoughts about how the book would be received? Were there any surprises along the way?

To be perfectly honest I had absolutely no idea how well my book would be received. My only aspiration was that it would be read and people would find it an enjoyable and an educational book. Not too heavy as there is no shortage of humour throughout. The feedback I have received from people is humbling indeed. One particular occasion was receiving a thank you email from a lady, who had just finished reading my book. She suffered many similar, ultimately bizarre experiences that I did, and believed she was slowly going insane. My story reassured her that she wasn’t losing her mind, and she couldn’t thank me enough. We have been good friends ever since.

I was deeply honoured when the world’s leading online resource for epilepsy chose my book (out of the many written on the subject) as their first book to review. It is a thousand words in-depth review, so I will just share a small part with you here. To quote: Robert S. Fisher, M.D., Ph.D. Director Stanford Epilepsy Centre.

Beyond My Control, Mr. McCallum puts the bewilderment, frustration, fear and anger surrounding having seizures into language that everyone can understand. When he says things like “I felt like a walking time bomb; always thinking, when is it going to explode?” he makes epilepsy real and not an abstract medical disorder. For people with epilepsy and their families, reading the book may help to decrease the sense of isolation brought on by a chronic medical illness. But epilepsy affects many people differently. Some with epilepsy will observe that they do not become violent after a seizure, do not always have an aura to warn of an oncoming seizure, or do not have seizures like the ones described in the book. Some who take the journey through epilepsy surgery sadly will have ongoing seizures or complications of surgery. Therefore, the book is not a compendium of what someone with epilepsy should expect for themselves. It is one person’s story, an example of how epilepsy can be faced with courage. The tale is told with sensitivity, humour and honesty. It is a strongly recommended read for people with epilepsy and those who care about them.

I know you have a great interest in the genetic side of epilepsy, yet you didn’t discuss it in the book. Can you tell us a bit about it here?

I would love to shed some light on the genetic side of epilepsy. Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) was once considered an acquired form of epilepsy and wasn’t listed among the presumably hereditary. Our daughter, Lucy, had her first seizure at the tender age of twelve-months. Lisa and I both thought that there must be a link to my condition; surely, it couldn’t be just a coincidence. A few years later our family was asked if we would like to take part in a study looking into the possibility that (TLE) could be inherited. After extensive testing here in, Melbourne, a gene was detected in our family and a family in America. Since the discovery, many families have shown to carry the gene. Interestingly, my father carried the gene yet never had a seizure in his life. Being a carrier doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up having full-blown epilepsy, it will raise its ugly head in some people and not others. Which doesn’t surprise me as epilepsy is an insidious condition which often strikes without warning.

What do you think people most misunderstand about epilepsy?

Epilepsy has been shrouded by myths and misunderstanding for centuries. The lack of awareness and understanding has allowed many of these myths to flourish in some communities. To name just a few: Epilepsy is contagious. People with epilepsy are disabled and unable to work. You can swallow your tongue while having a seizure, which is physically impossible. Epilepsy is a form of mental illness, and the list goes on…. Even today many sufferers are afraid to speak out about epilepsy in fear of ridicule or rejection. I must add, all over the world there are many organizations and epilepsy advocates working diligently to dispel these, and many more myths. It will take time to educate people and remove the stigma which has been unfairly attached to people with epilepsy for centuries. However, today, we are much better equipped with the advances in technology (social media) to spread awareness than ever before.

How has your life changed since publishing Beyond My Control? What kind of impact has social media made?

My life has changed remarkably since publishing my story. Before I put pen to paper (literally) I did write Beyond my Control by pen; many pens and reams of paper! I have become much more aware of the challenges people face with epilepsy and an array of adversities that affect human beings today.

Social media has played a huge role, and through the various online networks, I have connected with some of the most genuine, talented, and sincere people I have ever known, many of whom will become lifelong friends. Late last year Lisa and I had the opportunity to visit America and meet up with some of our online friends. We had the time of our lives as the people we met were even more fascinating and wonderful in person.

While we’re on the subject, I’m always fascinated by the way people use (and misuse) social media. What have been your observations on the social media beast?

Perfect analogy, Molly, social media can be a beast at times. I am active on Twitter and Facebook, and I have found (personally) Twitter to be the most beneficial way to reach new readers. However, I do have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. I love the camaraderie I have with like-minded people genuinely wanting the best for each other. Never expecting anything in return, I take pleasure in sharing tweets which I find interesting, informational, and beneficial for a good person or organization. I am a strong supporter of other writers (indie and mainstream published) who I like as a person. I enjoy shouting out about great books which I have read, or definitely plan to read. This leads me into something I truly loathe; the all-about-me people on Twitter. And disappointingly, there are countless writers in this group. They are under the illusion that Twitter is the place to – constantly – shout out about their own work and precious little else. A pet hate of mine is people I follow back who immediately send me a direct message with a link attached to purchase their product. This annoying behaviour prompted me to add a motto to my bio: e-converse before e-commerce! Thankfully, the vast majority of people have grasped the communal side of social networking. And I do find my time spent networking most enjoyable.

What are your plans for the future?

My future, now that is a loaded question, as I have found that happenings in my life have often created pathways into new areas of interest. I can foresee that I will continue being an advocate for epilepsy awareness. It is immensely rewarding knowing that you are able to assist people who are going through a very difficult time in their lives. Writing will always be a part of my life; and I hope to write more books on a variety of topics. I would also like to try my hand at writing fiction.

Can you share with us your feelings about the ever-evolving publishing landscape. What are the pros and cons? Any predictions?

The publishing industry has changed dramatically since I published Beyond my Control. Interestingly, everyone I speak to seem to have an opinion on the way publishing is heading, and I suppose I am no different. We have entered a new publishing era, and I predict electronic books will continue to increase their market share, opening doors to unknown writers worldwide. Readers (like me) are embracing this new technology, as books have become more affordable and accessible than ever before. I don’t believe printed books will at any time be phased out entirely; however, their competition is fierce. I grew up reading printed books and I will always buy the printed edition written by my favourite authors.

I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?

Yes. I agree. As human beings we are all a little quirky and picky about something. Mine would have to be clothing. I love wearing quality clothes and shoes. I often browse through thrift shops and pick up amazing bargains. Admittedly, I have a ridiculous number of suit jackets, which I periodically donate to a worthy cause. I look at it as a form of recycling. ☺

What do you hope to know in five years that you don’t know now?

Great question, Molly. As scientific research and development into finding a cure for epilepsy is happening daily, I (among millions of others) would love nothing more than to hear a cure has been found for this insidious neurological disorder.

What do you know now that you wish you knew five years ago?

Finally, I can now type quicker than write. I would – never – consider using multiple pens and paper for my next book! ☺

Where can people find you in cyberspace?

I have embraced cyberspace with gusto, and I am practically everywhere online. I can often be found mooching about on facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. ☺

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs?

Thanks again for inviting me here today, Molly, I have had a delightful time. I would also like to thank all the wonderful people I have met online and readers (with and without epilepsy) who have appreciated my story.

Amazon U.S.

Amazon U.K.

www.beyondmycontrol.net

25 responses so far

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Jun 12 2012

MEET SHERI A. WILKINSON

Published by under Interviews

This week, I’m interviewing a very special guest. Sheri A. Wilkinson, who has graciously accepted my offer to share her battle with Crohn’s disease with my readers, in hopes of raising consciousness, educating people, and allowing us to get a glimpse into her world. Sheri is one of the coolest peeps I know — a ninja warrior with a big heart, a fighting spirit, and a love for her family and friends that knows no bounds. (Sheri has kindly updated us on her life since the original publication of this blog in 2012. You can find that update at the end of this interview.)

Hey, Sheri. Thanks so much for being my very special guest this week. Please, tell the cool peeps about yourself.

I am originally from Chicago, born and raised until 1998 when I moved out to rural Illinois. I am happily married; I have two daughters, five stepdaughters, four grandsons and two granddaughters. My family is my whole world. I am also a Crohn’s warrior, avid reader and animal lover.

I’m very honored that you’ve chosen to talk to us about Crohn’s Disease (CD) and your personal battle with it. It is important for everyone to understand that you are here as a person battling CD, not as a doctor or medical authority, and that your responses are based on your personal experience and knowledge only.

Yes, thank you for stating that. I always let everyone know I am not a physician and even though I feel an expert on the subject, any questions or doubt on what I say should be discussed with your doctor. If this interview can help one person, I would feel as if I made a contribution to society. So many people suffer in silence and embarrassment when they don’t have to.

Most people have heard of CD but many do not understand exactly what it is. Can you explain?

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and even malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people.

The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Like ulcerative colitis, another common IBD, Crohn’s disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. Sadly there is no cure for CD, my dream is to one day wake and find there is a magic pill/drug to cure this disease.

What are the causes of CD? Who gets it? Why?

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease remains unknown. Previously, diet and stress were suspected, but now doctors know that although these factors may aggravate existing Crohn’s disease, they don’t cause it. Now, researchers believe that a number of factors, such as heredity and a malfunctioning immune system play a role in the development of Crohn’s disease. My doctors believe I was born with a deformation in my transverse colon (upper part of small intestines).

Why people get it is still not know, Some researchers suggest that people living in large metropolitan areas are more susceptible, but this has not been documented to my knowledge, as fact. As I mentioned, I am from Chicago, a large area, so my personal belief is that this could be true.

What are the symptoms of CD?

Inflammation: In some people, just the small intestine is affected. In others, it’s confined to the colon (part of the large intestine). Inflammation may be confined to the bowel wall, which can lead to scarring (stenosis), or inflammation may spread through the bowel wall causing a (fistula).

Signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or come on suddenly, without warning. Some of the symptoms are:

Diarrhea.
Abdominal pain and cramping. (In serious cases, the pain may be severe and include nausea and vomiting.)
Blood in the stool.
Ulcers (As well as ulcers in the mouth similar to canker sores.)
Reduced appetite and weight loss.
People with severe Crohn’s disease, like me, have also experienced:
fever, fatigue, arthritis, eye inflammation, mouth sores, skin disorders.

How is CD diagnosed? Is CD often mistaken for something else?

When CD cannot be diagnosed it is often just classified as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or in my case stress and anxiety. And I must tell you having this does cause stress and anxiety!

Some of the tests to diagnose CD are:

Blood Tests, fecal occult blood test, colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance Imaging, capsule endoscopy, double balloon endoscopy, small bowel Imaging, barium enema.

I have had all of the above except the capsule, and though these tests are not pleasant, I feel it is necessary to get a correct diagnosis and to ease suffering faster. The final test that gave me a definite diagnosis was a biopsy; that was when I knew I officially had Crohn’s Disease. It was a bit frightening and depressing knowing there is no cure and what lies ahead for me.

Are there certain risk factors?

Yes here are some risk factors for Crohn’s:

Age. Crohn’s disease can occur at any age, Most people who develop Crohn’s disease are diagnosed before they’re 30 years old.

I was in my mid 40s when finally diagnoses and was told I had probably had it for over 20 years due to all the damage and scarring to my intestinal tract. I went through so many tests and medications and was told it must be stress. I am happy to say I finally found the right doctors, and am glad times have changed. My life would have been much more painless if I had found out, say 20 years ago.

Ethnicity is another factor. Although whites have the highest risk of the disease, it can affect any ethnic group. People of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish descent have an even higher risk.

Family history and cigarette smoking is also a risk. Smoking is so dangerous in many, many ways. I highly suggest that you smokers quit. Being a former smoker, smoke-free for three years now, I just had to throw that in!

What complications can arise from CD?

Crohn’s disease may lead to many complications. Some are:

Bowel obstruction.
Ulcers. (They can occur anywhere in your digestive tract, including your mouth and anus, and in the genital area and anus.)
Fistulas. (They can be life-threatening if left untreated.)
Strictures.
Anal fissure.
Malnutrition.
Colon cancer. (Having Crohn’s disease that affects your colon increases your risk of colon cancer.)

How is CD treated?

Anti-inflammatory drugs are often the first step in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Some are Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) Mesalamine (Asacol, Rowasa). Corticosteroids.

If those fail then we move on to immunosuppressant drugs some are
Azathioprine (Imuran) and mercaptopurine (Purinethol). These are the most widely used immunosuppressants for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

Infliximab (Remicade). This drug is for adults and children with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease. It’s also used after other drugs have failed.

Adalimumab (Humira). This drug may cause remission, and is used when Infliximab has failed.
Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)
Methotrexate (Rheumatrex).
Cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune)
Natalizumab (Tysabri).

Antibiotics:
Frequently prescribed is Metronidazole (Flagyl). Ciprofloxacin (Cipro).

There are other medications to ease symptoms including:

Anti-diarrheals. Laxatives. Pain relievers. Iron supplements. Vitamin B-12 shots. Calcium and vitamin D supplements.

And the last resort is surgery. I am not sure of the percentage, but most people with CD will have at least one surgery in their lifetime.

What are some common misconceptions about people with CD? What are your personal pet peeves?

I feel the most common misconception that people have is, “you are just not eating right,” “it’s all in your head,” and it is “just stress.” Although stress does bring on “flares,” it is not the cause of CD. My biggest pet peeve is my weight (Isn’t that a touchy subject for most women? LOL).

As I have stated, the most common sign is diarrhea and most people with CD are thin (It is kind of hard to maintain weight with all that is going on in our digestive tracts). Plus we just do not like to talk about this. I cannot tell you how many times I have cried over the insensitive remarks people have made over my weight. I am a tiny woman to start, but before my surgery, I was so ill, malnourished, and underweight that I just stayed in my house to avoid whispers, stares and rude comments. If I had a dime for every time someone asked me if I was anorexic, I would be a millionaire!

I do not like when a complete stranger comes up to me and asks me if I am anorexic, how much do I weigh, and the dreaded, “My dear don’t you ever eat? You need some meat on your bones.” **eye roll** Can you see me rolling my eyes, Molly?

What can people do to raise awareness for CD and to understand more about the disease?

For one, The CCFA (Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America) CCFA.org has a lot of helpful info and ways people can help to (fund) research to find a cure. They also have so much information on Crohn’s Disease.

I also found support groups for IBD, since most people just do not understand us (people) with CD. And the main thing I feel is, if you know someone with CD ask questions!

We (at least I don’t) mind answering questions. I just wish more people understood what we go through daily. Having to plan trips around injections, making sure I know were a restroom is AT ALL TIMES, not eating the night before so I won’t have any “accidents” along the way. Just going to the grocery store or to the theatre can be a stressful event for me.

Is there anything else you want to tell us about CD that I haven’t asked you?

There are just a few things I would like to mention.

CD is not contagious; it is not easily recognizable, (unless we lift our shirts and show off our scars), and often we do not look sick.

Also, CD can be found anywhere in the body (although most common in the digestive tract). I have it in my intestines, stomach, esophagus, throat and mouth. Right now my gallbladder is being watched for signs of possible granulomas. But I will face that battle when the time comes. My friends know I have a great sense of humor and I call myself the CD ninja warrior.

It has taken over 20 years and many misdiagnoses before I finally was diagnosed with both CD and UC (Ulcerative Colitis). I have had a Right Hemicolectomy (also known as a bowel resection) along with my appendix removed.

You are a vociferous reader and friend to many authors. Please, tell us about your love for reading.

I have had a love for reading for as long as I can remember; I will read just about anything I can get my hands on! I have just recently entered the electronic world and yes, I caved and got a Kindle. I now have almost 200 books downloaded, but my love will always be a hardcover book. And, Molly, since your blog, I have to admit my TBR pile is rapidly growing! I have to admit if it were not for my books, I would not have made it through my recovery and all the horrid tests I endured.

Who are the special people in your life you’d like to brag about?

There are too many to mention, all my friends and family are special to me in their own way. Molly, you, of course, are my favorite.

But I have to say number one is my husband Lewis, he has been my rock and been with me through all my “health Issues.” He has seen me at my best and at my worst. He is my strongest support and I could not have faced all of this without him.

Also my daughter Lizz, she is a remarkable young lady who is wise beyond her years. She is my “mini-me” and a tremendous helper. She is always there to help me in any way she can. Whether it be helping with housework, making my meals, and just sitting and reading with me or telling me about her day when I am at my physical worst.

And I could not end this without the mention of my wonderful doctors who have (literally) saved my life twice in 2011. Dr. Gregg Davis (my PCP), Dr. Jae Kim (my G/I) you are the man! And finally Dr. Mark Williams (my surgeon) who endured many humorous encounters with me, not knowing I was joking…seriously Doc do I look like I had breast implants!? Inside joke. LOL! I just have to make sure they read this interview.

All joking aside I would not be here today if it were not for these remarkable, wonderful, knowledgeable and awesome physicians/surgeons.

Social media, that ever-evolving beast, has changed the way we do everything. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I love the chance at meeting new people, I have meet a few wonderful people online, namely one Ms. Lisette Brodey ☺! If I named everyone else, this interview would never end, but you all know who you are.

The bad part of social media is that private parts of my life (that I do not want made public) always manage to become public knowledge. Seems in this modern world we are losing our privacy, the price we pay to interact online.

I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?

Cleanliness. I cannot stand clutter, dirt or disarray. Dirty dishes in the sink has to be my biggest pet peeve! I am a neat freak and my house can never be too clean. Call me OCD Sheri. I don’t care. My house has to be clean at all times.

Where can people find you in cyberspace?

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Any parting words for the masses?

As I always say: “Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.”
I may have Crohn’s, but Crohn’s does NOT have me. Peace.

MARCH 2014: AN UPDATE: by  Sheri A. Wilkinson

Thanks for having me back. A lot had changed since my surgery and this interview. Due to my wonderful doctors and medications I am finally in remission. My flares were minimal post surgery, they did not last long, nor were they intense. I have overcome some obstacles along the way. I have had problems with my HGB (Hemoglobin) and am now permanently anemic (Due to CD). I have had another blood and iron infusion. I will need to be monitored (through blood tests) for life. I also have lost 40% of my hearing in my right ear, and my vision is poor and I now need bifocals, due to the toxic medications I need to keep my CD under control. But this is just part of Crohn’s and I make the best of each day.

I still have to be careful around people. Since my immune system is weak, using Humira makes it worse. But to me it is my “miracle” drug. When I leave my house (especially during the cold and flu season) I have to wear a mask. I also have to sanitize my house with bleach and keep it as germ free as possible to avoid the risk of a serious illness. But I have always been a neat and organized person, so it is not a big deal to me to take extra precautions.

But all is not bad. I have good news as well. I have exceeded my weight goal! This to me (which may seem trivial to most), is my best news ever! Having Crohn’s makes it so hard to gain weight, like the average person. I am so thrilled to be able to wear adult clothes. I also love my new healthier weight. I no longer have people coming up to me (embarrassingly) asking how much I weigh, how much I eat etc. I can now enjoy food! Before due to all the pain and discomforts of Crohn’s eating was for survival, now eating is a pleasure.

Sheri

I am adjusting well to my new life with Crohn’s and I still hope and pray for a cure some day. The CCFA (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America) is a great organization that offers advice and raises money for research in hopes of one day eradicating this debilitating disease.

On a personal not I also gained a granddaughter, and another granddaughter due this July. I also lost both my parents, my father to liver disease and mother to cancer. My family is still the center of my universe. They all mean the world to me. Once again I have to give credit to my wonderful husband Lewis and My youngest daughter Elizabeth (Lizz). They help me when I am at my worst and deal with me when I feel like giving up. Yes they have seen the best and worst of me and they never give up on me.

Lizz2014

 

My parting words, if you suspect something is wrong with your stomach/intestinal/digestive tract seek medical attention. Do not suffer in silence. Crohn’s is not a “designer disease.” Most people have heard of it but know little about it. You often cannot tell a person has it. Although the testing and procedure for a correct diagnosis are not pleasant, they can and will help you.

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